Ribadesella: the Northern Coast of Spain

October 5, 2014

This is Marta another friend from my language exchange who we got to meet in person while we were in Spain. She’s a journalist and whip-smart, not to mention hilarious. Before we left for our trip I told her I was taking a first-aid course to prepare for our crossing and we discussed all the potential health emergencies we could be facing. So when I sent her a text to tell her we’d arrived safe and sound, she wrote back asking if I’d had to take anyone’s appendix out. Thankfully, no! Anyway, she’s pretty funny.

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She and her husband Isidoro split their time between Madrid and Alicante, but they also have a summer place in Ribadesella, Asturias, where she invited us to come stay with them while we were in Spain. We weren’t sure if it would work out, but we’re so glad it did because not only is Marta awesome, but Asturias, way up in the north of Spain, is really beautiful…and completely different from anyplace we’ve ever been in Spain. It reminded us more of the Pacific Northwest with its cooler, rainy climate.

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When we arrived in Ribadesella, this was the sign that was hanging outside her apartment. Cute, right?

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Valencia: Paella, Calatrava, and New Friends

September 20, 2014

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My friend Susana and I have been doing a language exchange for about a year now over Skype. We’ve become pretty good friends in that time, but since she lives in Spain, we never had the chance to meet in person. That is, until our whirlwind trip to the Iberian Peninsula, post–Atlantic Crossing. When she met us at the train station, we just picked up right where we’d left off in our last WhatsApp chat. Susana was kind enough to invite us to stay with her while we were in town so we got to see firsthand what it’s like to live in a tiny village near the Valencian coast. She and her daughter, Victoria, live in a house that has been in the family for generations and is very typically Spanish with its tiled roof, wooden ceiling beams, and thick stucco walls for keeping out the heat.

We wanted to see old stuff so Susana took us to Valencia’s cathedral, which dates back to the 13th century. It was a twisty, somewhat death-defying 207 steps to the Miguelete, or bell tower, at the top, but the views were totally worth it, or as they say in Spanish: vale la pena.

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Lisbon to Cáceres, Spain

September 7, 2014

As much fun as the Azores were, we were excited to be on our way to Spain to visit my host family from college. We flew to Lisbon where we had booked two nights in a little apartment situated high up in the steep, hilly streets of the Alfama district below São Jorge castle.

While we were there we climbed up to the castle to check out the amazing city view. Afterward we stopped for lunch at a place called St. Andre. The guy working the grill there really seemed to know his stuff. We ordered sardines along with some house wine. Best sardines we’ve ever had, hands down.

Lisbon was beautiful and we’re both looking forward to spending more time exploring Portugal one of these days. But we had a bus to catch the next morning for Spain. My host family, who I hadn’t seen in 22 years would be picking us up at the station. I was crossing my fingers and hoping I could still speak Spanish…

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