Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bilbao, Birthdays, and Last Meals

So after my 24 hours + of birthday, celebrated with a considerable amount of beer, cider, and other things liquid and intoxicating, we took the morning bus to Bilboa, a city that reminded me in so many ways of Seattle, if Seattle was 1000 years old or so. Both are rainy, grey, surrounded by mountians, formerly industrial and reinvented as centers of cuisine and cutting edge culture. Both have a collection of strange architecture, an old town dominated by punk shops, head shops, hippy shops, and fliers plastered damn near everywhere. Both have thier own independence movements.

I loved it.

and the pintxos!!!! the food people! grrrrraaawwwrrrrrrrrrr......

Sorry, bit of a foodgasm there...

This morning I went out with Iñaki and bought a steak the size of my head, along with good cider and other ingrediants for my last home-cooked meal in Spain. Seriously you should see this thing. bigger than my head...I'll take pictures.

I've loved Spain, for the most part. It took some getting used to though. A few things that stuck with me, in no particular order:

In the US, walking down a dark narrow alley is a good way to get mugged. In Spain, its where you find all the best food.

WTF is up with the Spanish mullets!?!!?! Especially the ones that consist of a couple of waistlong nappy dreads?!?!?! I mean ¿Pór fucking qué?

As soon as you leave the coast, finding someone who speaks English is friggin' golden.

In Iceland, the vast majority of the graffiti is some spoiled teenager tagging to feel like their pathetic lives mean something. In Spain, the graffiti really does mean something, a kind of social code crying out for revolution or evolution or just joyous absurdity. Icelandic yuppy spawn needs to learn!

Any place where you can buy a litre of cold beer at a candy store is alright in my book!

Friday, August 22, 2008

El Gringo Tinto

I'm going to move to Spain. The village of Laguardia in fact. An old walled stone village, commanding a high hill overlooking rolling vineyards and rugged mountains, with a lazy river snaking through the valley below.

I'll work part time through the crisp fall days as an English teacher, spending my afternoons drinking local wine in a cozy tavern, eating my pintxos for lunch with a well-worn book in hand. I'll go for walks through the fields, puffing away on a pipe, walking stick in hand and a shaggy dog running ahead of me. Spend my nights in a small stone house within the village walls, cooking for freinds and the buxom peasant girl who adores me.

She'll have long black hair and dark brown eyes, and a smile like an angel.

I'll become an expert on local mushrooms and wines, spend my summers picking grapes or leading tours around the wineries. I'll hunt wild boar in the mountains, fish in the river, spend my holidays in a little stone cottage miles from anywhere.

I'll let my beard grow long and start wearing white shirts and a black beret, learn a smattering of Basque, make my own cider in the fall.

I'll drink so much wine the locals will shake thier heads and call me "El Gringo Tinto".

Yep. That's the plan...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Loungeing in Logroño.

So I get into Logroño at the ass end of the morning, and Iñaki picks me up, walks me to his place, and lets me take a much needed shower before collasping into the cool comfort of a bed.

Slept like the dead save for a troubling dream about the former roomates. Turns out later they were getting hitched while I slept. Best of luck to 'em.

I´m digging Logroño. Maybe because I have freinds here, maybe because the pinxtos are better and cheaper, maybe because its considerably cooler, maybe because I got to go to an awesome punk concert my first night where I met a fellow expat, who used to work in friggin' Orting of all places!

Its a very laid back, pretty town, newer except fot the mandatory old town full of funky little bars, and freakishly clean. Like cleaner than Northwest clean, and we're the most culturally clean freaks outside of fuckin' Utah.

So far we've walked around, drank some beer and ate some nibbly bits (the wild mushroom dumpling was heavinly!) went to the lovely park down by the river, went shopping (the food! the prices! the fun cooking!).

Tonight me and Iñaki and possibly his ex-girlfreind the Buffy Fan (Noe isn't a fan of this) are going to a new wine tasting, and then maybe an outdoor concert.

Pics are coming soon, I just don't feel like trying to plug the camera in as it involves climbing behind a desk and I'm currently busy with beer.

More later my punks!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How not to enjoy beautiful Barcelona...

In order to have a less than stellar stay in this bustling and beautiful city, it is important to first get some kind of chronic stomach/intestinal problem for the week leading up to the trip, which doesn´t want to go away. Then arrive late at night to a filthy hotel just off Las Ramblas where you, having no other options, are forced to pay considerably more than the booked price for your room. The room should lack any and all kinds of air conditioning, save for a smallish window facing the tiny back courtyard. This ensures that while you sweat away in your tiny room, the you´ll not only be kept awake by the drunken shouting of sunburnt Brits, but by the loud whirling of all the other air conditioners keeping everyone else cool.

Spend the next day still fighting the galloping trots, blow a shit load (pardon the punage) on an excellent meal of paella con arroz negró and then hop in the Med for about 4 hours to cool off, after visiting El Barrio Gotico and a couple of museums. Go out drinking later. Get lost. Wake up with a screaming hangover a few minutes before check out time, then spend the day wondering around the Botanical Gardens and other tourist attractions (not La Sagra Familia unfortunately, have to hit that on my way home) with 20 kilos of backpack strapped to your dehydrated sweaty self until you can catch a bus to Logrono at 22:00.

This is not to say that there were not highlights. Meeting Lauren and Raffa (my drinking buddies) was a treat, the beach and the Med were more fun than I´ve had in a long time (and not just because of all the bronzed perky breasts, not that they didn´t help elevate my mood), and just bumming around Barcelona was actually an experience in and off itself. And the food!

ahhhhhhh........yummmmmm....the fooodddddddddd....

Any meal that can make you forget five or six days of stomach troubles is beyond orgasmic.

Basically, I was on my own in a country where I barely speak any of the language, without a guide or partner in ignorance.

I would have been a totally different trip if I was with a freind.

Like I now. Safely and happily esconced in Iñaki´s family´s appartment, full of wonderful lunch and looking foward to an afternoon of sangria and movies to pass the heat of the day, followed by sitting in the park and a good dinner, perhaps with some pintxos and fresh cider inbetween.

Víva fucking España!

I´ll post the pics in a day or two.