Spain Series: Pilgrims

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Tables chock full of pilgrims eating supper. We hike, eat and sleep together, but saw vastly different people everyday.

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Both on trail and off I don’t think I have ever seen so many friendly and exurberant people.

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One of our trail friends even made supper for us! Much cheaper to throw in euro for groceries and applaud the skills of our chef from Holland.

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One gal from Canada met the chef from Holland on trail and they started dating! They had even made plans to visit each other after the long hike. Found out the gal from Canada is YouTube famous. Jess recognized her immediately as Lindsey Cowie and praised her for how much help she was. I hadn’t seen her videos, but she was a wonderfully friendly human being to be around.
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Even though we saw some people almost daily–breakfast or we stayed at the same hostel–others we only saw once or twice. We hiked a half day with a nice guy from Italy and we swapped vocabulary.

There were many other wonderful people that I wasn’t able to take photos of during my time on trail. Some guys in their 40s from a country town about two hours from Liverpool. They cracked me up and we kept trying to get them to say things in their adorable accents.

Supper was always fun or interesting because we kept meeting people from Europe and all over! They would tell stories of previous trails they had hiked, blisters (ampollas).
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At the end of my hiking time we got a photo with Jess and two good friends we made on trail. Daniel of Sweden and Yan of China. Good cats in their own rights.

The pilgrims were by far one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.

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Spain Series: Food pt. 2

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After our first long day of hiking we enjoyed a big Pilgrim’s meal at one of the two cafes in Roncesvalles. The pasta, wine and bread was gobbled quickly, but Jess and I both had to pause before digging into our fish. Neither of us were experienced with eating too many fish bone-in. Luckily, we had awesome dinner mates at our table. They were patient and encouraging while we fiddled with forks and fingers. After our first few bites we needed very little encouragement to continue.
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Like I mentioned, the pasta was typical part of the pilgrim’s menu. Some were better than others. After hiking all day, we ate every bit and slept well with full bellies.
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We had several different types of pre-packaged desserts. The cup of flan was on a quality on par with the snack pack pudding cups. A Spanish couple at our table taught us how to flip the cup and hit it against the heel of our palms before opening. This knocked the sugary caramel syrup down so it blended better.
image Museo del Jam on was a chain fast food joint. It was a novelty to us in that everyone stood at the bar or around the shop-there were no seats. During busy times, you couldn’t stir them with a stick. It was a mingle, eat and drink type place. The most popular menu choices were dirt cheap. We bought bocadillos (boe-kah-dee-ohs) and glasses of beer. The bocadillos were thick, crusty sandwhiches with a thin slice of Spanish style ham in the middle.
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I wish I had gone back to this cafe when I wasn’t jetlaggin’, but it was still good. We had fresh churros, coffee and hot chocolate.
We could see the cook pulling the dough, twisting it and dropping it into the fryer.
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The hot chocolate was a bit of a surprise. It was perfect for dipping churros, but was almost took much of a pudding conaistancy for drinking.
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The fun Spanish and English menu for the Churros y Chocolate that we went to in Spain. After looking at the menu, I pretty much wanted everything.
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This part of the meal was a surprise to us. We ordered it, I loved it. Then we looked it up on my phone back at the hostel.
“Sepia plancha” is grilled cuttlefish. Cuttlefish are boss at camouflage so I felt a little bad, but it tasted so darn good. The consistancy was similar to scallops or squid.
image We also split an empanada for our first meal in Spain. It was yummy too. Perhaps I could make empanadas here at home. Anyone know an easy version of this?
image At the same meal were some veggies in a light vinegar. They had a good flavor and a nice crunch. Much like a salad served before the meal and along with the bread.
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Along the Way, we stopped at a cafe that had an outdoor oven where they baked pizza, tortillas, and other good things. A tortilla in Spain is an omelet. Believe it or not, even the Fanta soda tasted different.
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Fell in love with an adult beverage while I was in Spain. Apparently this is a thing in USA too, I just didn’t have a clue.
In Spain it is called a pica or clara and in the U.S. it is called a Shandy.
Whatever you call it, it tastes awesome! Fill a glass half full with light beer and fill it the rest of the way with lemonade. Best cocktail ever. I have been drinking them at every opportunity since I have been home.

Spain Series: Food pt. 1

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This was the main course of the meal in a small town called Obanos (Oh-bahn-nose). If it looks like a mystery meat drowning in a peculiar sauce then you’d be spot onto how it tasted. It was supposedly chicken, but the other folks who ordered beef got a similar murky looking plate. Thankfully, I had filled up on the previous soups and starters before the main course. No pix of the starters—that’s how good it was!

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The dessert at Obanos was good, but I wasn’t sure where to put it. I believe they called it tiramisu? I can’t recall. It was a good cake with super sweet raspberry sauce and fluffy whipped cream.
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The meal we had in Cirauqui. Although the Spinach soup doesn’t look like much it had a phenomenal flavor! It also warmed us straight to the bone. The dining room was a little odd as we went downstairs to the basement underneath the hostel to eat. It was a very nice dining area.
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In Estella, we checked into our albergue and went in search of food. Yan (our friend from China) knew a good place to eat and we did eat well!
We had sandwhiches and gobbled our weight in patatas bravas. Brava has many meanings, so I assume the translation would be hot potatoes. Fierce potatoes sounds more awesome though.
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Yan–ever brave–ordered this to share with us. I was shocked that i liked it. I ate it, but was quite hesitant. This was squid and the sauce was made from its own ink. The sauce and meat were both good. I ate it on a crust of bread. Too fishy for Jess’ taste.
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Ice cream or helado (el-ah-doe).
Mango flavored! It was so good! Very creamy with that unmistakable fruity mango flavor. It wasn’t a super common flavor, but we did find it in many of the ice cream shops we went to.
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Green soups seemed to be a common starter when we ordered the Pilgrim’s menu along the way. Although the presentation was better than some we ate the flavor was not as complex. The hostel was being run by two couples from Holland. They spent 3-6 weeks working there then another set of people would come run the hostel.
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Pasta was the typical second or main course in the Pilgrim’s menu. This was some sort of bolognaise sauce–or so I was told by my more traveled eating companions.
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A custard was a typical postre (poe-strey). It was a surprise when we got bread pudding. I make bread pudding so I am a bit particular. I was satisfied with the quality–the whipped cream was yummo too. The people from Europe at the table were more wary of it than I expected.
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My coworker told me I had to try paella (pie-eh-yah). Which, near as I can tell, is a baked skillet of saffron rice and some sort of meat. I wish I could have found some grandmother to make it for me. Homecooking always wins. This was quite good and makes me want to experiment with saffron.
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This was an adventure of a meal. Yan, Daniel (hiker from Sweden) and I met our new friend and hospitelero (hostel host) for supper in Logroño. He decided to order for us and we all ate family style. This is how we ended up with a salad that included a goat cheese (I think), a balsamic vinegar dressing and thin slices of cooked duck. The duck is what looks like the purple slices of meat. It was an awesome salad. I ate mostly that.
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Blood sausage. Despite its terrible appearance and name. It tasted much like liver; that high in iron taste. It was mixed somehow with rice so I’m not sure what order they did things in to make it taste the way it did.
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More of the fancy pinchos (similar to tapas) we ate wers octopus on bread with other veggies. It was delicious and I would have gotten another one if they had more. can you see the tentacles!?
The ordering style at the bar involved pointing and stating a quantity. Because of that, I have no clue what they called this type of food. It was pulpo something. Pulpo just means octopus.
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Along the Way we ate at an outdoor oven cafe. It was lovely and their food was flavorful. Jess got the asparagus pizza and she was lucky I didn’t steal it from her.

There was too much good food for one blog post! I am splitting this into two parts so I don’t make my readers too hungry. So wipe away the saliva, fix yourself a PB&J and wait for another post about food that is coming soon.

Spain Series: Bread, Coffee, and Wine

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If anything can be the staple of a country it must be the bread in Spain. Followed closely by the local wine and coffee.
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This was a snack or light breakfast that I discovered by way of the lovely Chinese woman I met on trail. Yan has lived in Spain for several years. During her time there she learned language, worked and found all the awesome foods.

Tostada con tomate means toast with tomato. The unlisted ingredients makes it delish too. Diced or mashed up tomatoes mixed with olive oil and spread on toast. Sprinkle with black pepper. Maybe it doesn’t sound too special, but I can promise it is good. I can’t wait for my garden tomatoes to come up so I can make this for my hubbster.
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Red wine (vino tinto) was another common sight in Spain. Every single town had their own brand of wine. I don’t just mean the wealthy towns either. I mean the po-dunk of the bunch with a population of 200 or so. You want to know what comes from the town of 350 where I grew up? Mullets.
The folks in Spain have as many bodegas (wineries) as we have cricks around Kentucky. Crazy frequent.
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Like I said, bread is a staple. We had some sort of bread with every meal. The particular meal (pictured above) is a breakfast made up bread, bread, and bread, with coffee and juice.
Really. There were two sweet breads and a toast for breakfast.
Other meals were usually served with a crusty French bread.
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Some wineries took their business very serious. This huge form of advertisement was along side the Camino and invited a photo.
Link to Irache free winery

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My first night in Madrid I had to try to wine. It surprisingly helped to settle my stomach, if just for a little while from the gawdawful jetlag. I swear the jetlag felt like a hard night of drinking that left one feeling hungover and unable to sleep it off. So I figured, why not have a glass of wine–
I could feel as though I had earned that sickness.
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I’m normally an anytime of day type of coffee drinker, but this espresso I had to be careful with. Typically, I drank the cafe con leche. Not cold milk, this was heated and sometimes frothy.

As you can plainly see, this was a midmorning snack of champions. Chips and coffee. There were some bread crusts and chorizo.

Just remember, if you end up in Spain and it is not during one of the strangely late meal times you can always have bread, coffee or wine.

What’s Up with Kat

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Since I’ve been back from Spain I have been trying to get my rhythm. Not too hard, but it does take time.
I tried to save the weakest chick of nine thar hatched (just before I got home). Sadly, Mr. Chicklet didn’t make it but we had some happy times before he passed.

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Been cooking with my girl. I assisted with cake decorating for a sports themed baby shower. What is even better is I didn’t mess up the cake. I didn’t do the fancy writing but icing that sucker was a task in itself!

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Picked some fresh strawberries, mashed and mixed them to make strawberry pies. Folks at work made the one pie disappear in under 30 minutes. Maybe more pie next time.

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My poppies and tiger lilies are blooming. It makes the backyard look super jolly!

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Made a fruit tart for some friends with my girl and now that I know how easy it is I really want to do one! Maybe I can borrow her tart pan sometime :-)

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We also purchased a wee soft shell turtle. We plan on letting him grow bigger and releasing him into our backyard pond. There are some sliders in there now and frogs and I don’t want Jubal to be bullied by the other creatures in the pond.

Those are the highlights of the last couple of weeks.
We have been enjoying hot days but not the too stinking hot days we are used to in June. Such a relief after last year’s scorcher.

My Base is Growing…!

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My base of readers is growing slowly but steadily!
I hope to keep posting blogs about things that interest or inspire you!

I currently have 106 followers on wordpress and by email subscription.

There are over 260 people following on other platforms that have the opportunity to see my blog posts as well.

Plus, my mom recently told me that even though she can’t figure out how to subscribe, I should add one more to my count of faithful readers.

More than the stats and data, I appreciate that each individual takes a few minutes out of their busy day to chuckle at my thoughts, comment on my feelings, and enjoy my pictures (mostly of food).

Hugs, confetti, and ‘thank yous’ all around. You cats sure know how to make a girl feel special.

~Kat~

Spain Series: Lodging

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After our first (long) day hiking around the Pyrenees mountains a long haul with perhaps 100 bunk mates was a welcome sight.

The ancient beauty of the albergue was not to be outshone by the many pairs of bunkbeds. The converted churches and monasteries made the prettiest ceilings for sore and tired pilgrims.

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One thing I could hardly believe were the frequency of warm and hot showers. The picture above is the Jesus y María in Logroño and with over a hundred people on two floors in bunkbeds I got a hot shower. Spain must have magical water heaters.

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Not too surprisingly, toilets were more hit or miss. From the toilet/handsoap quantity to the Easter egg search that had to be performed on the flush handle almost every visit.

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The basic formula of an albergue (Al-bur-gay) was a room with double bunk beds, shower and toilet combo (not always split for sexes), a kitchen, possibly a laundry area and a shoe rack designated for dirty shoes that were not allowed in the dorm rooms.

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Some of the private hostels veered away from the dull white on white color scheme. We were always a little shocked when we came upon bright pink or orange sheets. What a treat!

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This was a very visually appealing albergue along the way. Although it was very plain it just had a good feel. Deep brown ceiling and floor with the lighter colors on the bunks themselves.

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Ciraqui (sear-raw-key) had some freaky art and dripping paint effects in the process.

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Although one night we worried about finding an inn with room. We never had to worry about staying in one of these wild looking rock shelters.

So, what can be said about shared living spaces?
• Don’t gawp in the bathrooms.
• Wear earplugs and an eye mask.
• Don’t be easily offended by smells.
• Stay in a hostel when you go to Europe—the experience was very enjoyable.