All posts filed under: Destinations

What To Do In Barça When Not Stuffing Your Face

After settling in, we decided to take the Free Walking tour of Gaudi. Sure we wanted to know what he had n common with Star Wars and Chupa Chups, but more importantly, it was our opportunity to connect with an insider from the city so we could learn about where to eat and where to avoid. So really, what to do when not eating in Barcelona is really just optimizing where to eat in Barcelona. The tour was great, our guide knew where Austin was, he comes down with his band for SXSW when he can and could relate to just wanting a salad after pounds of salty cured meat. Now we would gladly trade all the vegetables back for some more jamon. The tour took us to major architectural sites, we utilized the metro and ended at La Sagrada. It was well worth the tour and we got some pretty good pointers. If you really want to get down to the local level, we strongly recommend Eat With. The entire experience was phenomenal. First …

A Backpackers Guide To Eating Barcelona

Prefacing Barça We traveled to Barcelona via train from the station in San Sebastian, we left at 16:10 and were scheduled to arrive at 22:09. As far as I recall, there were no problems with the train, the ride was long, but it was much better than a bus as you have the freedom to move around if needed and much more spacious. Funny that I used some of the time to catch up on blog posts and yet they are just being posted now! Writing can be exhausting. We took a cab to the room we rented which was in a phenomenal part of town, blocks from La Sagrada Familia, the metro rail and great places to eat. However, we were rather concerned because upon approaching the flat, we could smell cannabis fumes and the stench grew stronger with every step we took. When the apartment door opened, the wave pierced through the doorway like a sonic boom, freed from its constraints to diffuse and permeate every corner of the building and redefining the …

San Sebastian: Some Food, Some Sightseeing, Sum Journey

We arrived very late on the night of October 30th, our driver dropped us off at plaza letting us know he couldn’t go any further,  that the streets to our flat are for pedestrian use only. We were exhausted from our longer than expected day in Bilbao and just wanted to crawl into bed, but we couldn’t, we had no idea where our AirBNB contact was. We arrived at our apartment with no way of ringing in so I went to look for wifi to contact our host. I walked around and tried to connect, but no use. I gave up and my wife was gone. Luckily she spotted me from the balcony of our apartment just before I walked away, turns out our host was at La Cepa, a pintxos bar next door, he saw her waiting and let her in. If that was the price we had to pay for the awesomeness San Sebastian was about to provide us with, then it was worth it. We rented a lovely little room in an …

San Sebastian, 4 Days, 5 Nights, 20 Pounds. You Do the Math.

As americans, we love food; hell, we have networks dedicated to broadcasting food 24 hours a day, 365! However, I have never been more inspired and in awe of food than our experience in San Sebastian. Here food is an art. Don’t get me wrong, there are several places you should avoid, or if you must, use them as your baseline to recalibrate, for there are so many degrees in between good and great that you need to know what rock bottom is. How else could we know good without bad? First on you list should be Borda Berri on Fermin Calbeton Kalea. Everything here was divine. This was our first pintxos experience in northern Spain and we will never forget it. Tender octopus, melt in your mouth veal cheeks, savory risotto, perfectly seared steaks where just a few items that we tried listed on a chalkboard full of dreams. This was the happiest place on earth, not one frown could be seen, and everybody’s eyes lit up when a new plate was placed in …

Journey to Basque Country

We left Sevilla via bus up north to Basque Country, the culinary excellence of San Sebastian on our mind. We decided on a day trip to Bilbao to visit the Guggenheim and it was a splendid idea, the metro rail was a street down from where our bus dropped us off, so getting their was convenient. With time to kill before our departure to San Sebastian, we ate lunch at SushiShop then visited the shopping district of Bilbao. It was no different than any other metropolitan shopping district in Spain, giant 7 story Cortes Ingles, Mango Man, H&M, Zara’s but it was fascinating to read signs in Spanish and see them in Euskara (the Basque language) as well, a language that has no roots to other European languages. It was finally time to depart. It was nice to visit Bilbao, and I am sure there is plenty to do there, but our day trip left us satisfied and we did not question if we had made a mistake not staying longer. It was about a …

Seville or Sevilla? That is the question.

We stayed in a flat just 20 minutes walking distance from the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium and a large shopping mall, which we frequented. During our two week vacation in La Mata I read The Martian in anticipation for its release. We were fortunate that the theater in the mall had a screening everyday at 4 in VOS (signifying original language). It is really interesting observing different movie customs in various countries; the patrons in Arequipa are loud during the previews but quiet down as soon as the lights come down, Santiago’s viewers were extremely quiet, even during the previews. We went to a 4pm Tuesday screening of The Martian in English that was pretty empty, so we had no real sample to gauge sevillano etiquette. The San Sebastion horror film festival had a pretty hostile crowd and Rome’s theater was strange because its owners made you wait in the lobby 5 minutes before the movie and offered no concessions. Though we love movies, we love food even more. Sevilla was all over the map …

Alhambra to Piononos, What’s Not to Love

Whilst in Granada, we opted for the free Feel The City tour. We have put many miles into free walking tours and this one did not disappoint. We enjoyed the little glimpse into the historical background of each major site and nice walks through small streets we would not normally have seen. We were slightly disappointed by the lack of insight into modern day culture or insider tips into places to go and restaurants. The only modern tip we got was that Piononos originated from Granada. We found a tiny shop on our own, La Piononeria on Calle Zacatin, and they were delightful. We also found Rey Fernando off of Calle Reyes Catolicos, but we felt they put the no-no in piononos. If you wish to visit the Alhambra but have heard horror stories of the long lines to acquire tickets, we are here to help. Do not try and secure tickets at the Alhambra itself, but rather at the Alhambra Bookstore on Calle Reyes Catolicos. We stood in line for about 20 minutes and …

Spain Episode III Granada a New Hope

We are going to write the Spanish posts Star Wars style, mainly because we are behind in posting but also because we are not sure if we want to release the rights to the Madrid and La Mata episodes. As always, the brief introduction: A long time ago in a continent far away: SPAIN 🇪🇸 our protagonists Princess Bekah and Tony Solo (and I might as well be preserved in carbonite after I thought Chew-Bekah would some how be approved and appreciated) were fighting and fleeing the dark side, Madrid, after she used her Death Star to destroy any hope we had of excellent food. Evan Calrisian (a dear friend who I taught with for three years back in Austin) let us seek refuge in his flat, cloud city, before we fled to the south. We now find ourselves in Granada, tapas capital of the world. Travel days are the worst, not just because you have been on a bus for 20 hours or flying for 16 or on a train for 6, but because you …

RTW Vacation? Two Weeks in La Mata, Spain

With limited vacation time in our careers, we chose to spend our travel time immersing ourselves in culture, nature and new activities. We had never taken a beach vacation prior to the RTW trip and since we tend to prefer mountains or urban settings, it wasn’t high on our list. However, 3 months into our trip we were more than ready for some time to just relax. We spent 2 weeks in La Mata, Spain. This small resort town, about an hour south of Alicante is one of a string of small towns that thrive only a few months a year. We arrived in the shoulder of the shoulder season, experiencing an area of merely 10,000 inhabitants where only a month prior there would have been more than 100,000. We wanted slow and quiet and that is exactly what we got. One quiet, super sunny week enjoying the calm Mediterranean waters in almost complete solitude (we shared with scattered groups of local, retired, nude, leathery tanned friends). The following week brought several days of cool …

Berlin, A New B to Love

Bekah, Buster, Bri (and Brie) Brisket and Burgers composed the B-list of my life then Berlin made a B-line for my heart. It is the polar opposite of Bavaria, her streets are dirty and rough, the walls are covered in graffiti and there seems to be no symbiosis between the wall artists and the taggers. Not a day went by without the smell of fresh paint in the air. The metro cars seem much older and get really crowded, but they run much more frequently. Kids in their punk garb who ran away from society’s pressure to submit and conform come out at night to panhandle or creatively try to earn a euro or two. So how is it possible that both Bekah and I fell in love with what topically appears to be a dystopia? Simple, it felt real and authentic. Berlin is everything Austin wished it could be. Don’t get me wrong, it is the lone star of the state, but she hyper-evolved and now you can’t even listen to live music after …