Tag Archives: Spain

Midsummer & Sangria

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We are already past Midsummer and the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and the best of the summer is ahead. Midsummer is a big celebration for us in the Northern part of Europe and thus the Sangria recipe. I have to thank my niece E for the lovely drink, recipe and the stunning picture. You can tell she is an art student, can’t you?

This is what you need for a large jug of Sangria:
2 bottles of Spanish red wine
1,5 l lemonade, Sprite or the like
2 dl Limoncello
2 oranges, 2 lemons and 1 ruby-red grapefruit

Wash and slice or dice the fruit. Pour in the rest of the ingredients. Add sugar to taste but the Limoncello should take care of the sweetness. Enjoy!

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Caldo Gallego

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Caldo Gallego, a Galician soup with seasonal greens and pork, is a dish that was the starter for several menu peregrinos on our way to Santiago de Compostela last September.  Along the roads and paths we could see fields with vegetables and especially those high stems of kale. The very cabbage was the seasonal green in September.
I was overjoyed to find the very same Spanish leaf cabbage at the grocery store and decided to cook up my very own caldo.

This is what I put in the pot

vegetable oil
1 red onion, 2 cloves of garlic
400 g pork loin with bone
100 g spicy chorizo sausage
4 potatoes
2 carrots
1,5 l water
200 g shredded kale (cabbage with wrinkled leaves) or any other greens
2 dl cooked Lima beans

1 Chop the onion and garlic. Peel and dice the potatoes and carrots. Brown the pork. Add the onions and the sausage. Then the potatoes and carrots. Sauté for 4 minutes.
2 Add boiling water and let cook until the potatoes are almost done.
3 Add the cabbage and the beans. Cook up and add some salt if needed.

Enjoy with freshly baked bread.

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Camino Real and Hiking in Grand Canaria

I want to share my experiences of hiking in Grand Canaria. The island might be outlived as a tourist destination for many and there are many more exciting and exotic destinations. The Canary Islands are, however, sun safe this time of year (November – December) and once travelling from the North one wants to be sure of sun.

Today Grand Canaria is changing and it offers much more than sun and endless beaches. I learnt about its hiking possibilities before opting for a holiday there. The island has about 800 km of hiking routes, most of them Camino Real i.e. royal hiking paths. One of the dreams on my bucket list the year has been, and still is, a hiking trip in Nepal but is has got to wait.

Before leaving home I pre-booked two hiking trips on the net. The tour operator we used cooperates with this company, Rocky Adventure, and at their web page I also read interesting articles in the Swedish press. The company is Swedish owned and they arrange hiking tours guided mostly in the Scandinavian languages. On the second tour I took there were people who needed English guiding and they were provided their own guide.

The frist trip I took headed to Santa Lucia and Guayadec Valley. The hiking started at 700 meters above the sea and after 2 km we could decided which route to take: the 7 km easier one or the 14 km route with a rise of further 700 m. I chose the longer one which was a challenge. We headed uphill at a brisk pace and continued uphill for an hour and a half , perhaps even more. On the top we had a lunch break (everyone carried their own lunch and water). And then continued a down towards the valley, and met the other group in the awesome Ristorante Tagoror, a cave restaurant dug in the mountain.

The other trip was meant to take us to the highest point of the island, Pico de Las Nieves at 1949 meters above the sea level, but the plan was changed because of the weather. It was cloudy and the forecast promised rain and mist for the top. We could not see the top for clouds when we had our ‘pit stop’ at St Bartolomeo. Instead the guides decided to take us to the Santa Lucia trail. I opted for the longer and same route I’d taken earlier because I was looking for some challenge.
It was a challenge in deed! The weather turned a bit nasty. The rain came down as mist and it was windy and cold. Was I ever so glad to have packed mittens and a wool cap in my rucksack. It was fun nevertheless and I was hiking in good company. By chance one of my former students had decided to take the same hiking tour and it was fun to meet her there. She’d just started working for one of the Scandinavian tour operators in Maspalomas.

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Pepperones, Bruschetta and Spagetti Marinara

Another week has started and we’ve started it with a home-cooked Spanish meal. For starters I made tiny roasted belly peppers and tomato bruschetta. Have to say that I took the easy way to prepare the main course, spaghetti with sea food, because I got this sea food mix at the market. It has got mussels, different kinds of octopus and some onions, olives and strong chilli pepper in it. The meal turned out to be delicious and it tastes, oh, so much better here in the South and eaten on a terrace.

The recipes are for four.

Bruschetta

8 slices of white bread, olive oil, one clove of garlic, two tomatoes, half of teaspoon coriander, black pepper

Heat the olive oil and frost the garlic in it. Fry the bread in the oil. Cut the tomato into tiny, pieces and mix in the chopped coriander. Cover the bread slices with the tomato mixture and sprinkle with olive oil. Add some black pepper on each slice.

Roasted belly peppers

400 g small green belly peppers, salt and a dash of olive oil

Rinse the small peppers. Heat a large frying pan and put the peppers on it. Roast for five minutes. Add some salt and roast for a couple of minutes under a lid. Add some olive oil and roast for a few more minutes. Keep the peppers warm until you serve them. They are, of course delicious even the following day and cold.

Spaghetti Marinara

100 g of spaghetti per person, prepared as instructed in the package

500 g seafood mix, 2 tbsp chopped coriander, one lemon, three cloves of garlic, olive oil and 1 dl white wine

Start with getting the pasta water cooking. Heat olive oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic. Add the seafood mix and fry for five minutes. Add the white wine half of the lemon as wedges and the coriander. Let simmer on low heat for five minutes. Add the cooked pasta and turn down the heat. Let the pasta mix into the sauce for five minutes. Add some salt and pepper before serving. Serve with the same wine as you used for the sauce (always, always use good wine!).

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Langoustines for Lunch

Back to Spain and Spanish kitchen. It was time for home made lunch after various meals in bistros and restaurants. We visited the local supermarket, Mercadone, and could just not pass the seafood. Prepared langoustine with tomato salad for lunch. So quick and easy to make, and sooooo delicious.

This is what we had for two

500 g langoustine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic
Half of lemon
Handful of parsley

Heat a pan. Peel and slice the garlic clove and put it into the pan. Add the langoustine and fry for 3 minutes. Add the parsley and squeeze in some lemon juice. Save some lemon to be added on the plate.

Salad
Lettuce, tomatoes, belly pepper, olive oil, white wine vinegar, pepper and salt

Wash and slice the tomatoes and pepper. Build a salad on a plate starting with lettuce. Sprinkle with olive oil and garlic, and add some black pepper and salt.

Serve the langoustine with the salad and fresh bread.

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The End of the World, Finisterre

The journey to Finisterre, the end of the world, was long despite the distance from Santiago is only 87 km. The bus ride took 2.5 hours on the way there and the return journey was 3 hours. The cost of a return ticket was only 24 euros. It was weird to think that we spent 5.5 hours on a bus to travel 87 km when we’d just walked 120 km in seven days.

The road to Finisterre was beautiful and it seemed shorter in time than it was thanks to the beautiful scenery. There were beaches and small villages, people collecting shellfish in the low tide and occasionally someone walking an empty beach. This is area in Northern Galicia is where I believe percebes, the delicate and delicious goose barnacle, has it’ home. It is a well appreciated and expensive delicacy. Expensive because of the danger the divers set themselves to when collecting them in the surfs and turfs of the Atlantic.

Fish and seafood were splendid in Galicia and we ate mostly fish. It was only one steak I had during our 15 day journey. Oh well, we did have pechuga (chicken breast) too and a lovely dish of pig cheek. We learnt also about other fish and seafood dishes. Earlier I’d thought that there were only one type of octopus served in different ways. Now I know that you can order pulpo, calamare and chippirone and that they are all different types of seafood, not the same animal. There are probably many more but these are the ones I tasted. Hake, merluza in Spanish, was the most common fish on the menus. We were also happy to find grilled sardines in one restaurant.

The actual end of the world, finis de terra, was breathtaking. The views were splendid. You could see the sea and only the sea. It seemed that the horizon were curving and could imagine that one could really imagine that all would end where your vision ended.

The Lighthouse, faro do Finisterre, is a big building still in use but also with a museum and a photo gallery. We got our last cello, Camino stamp, on our credentials in the faro although we had already received our Compostellas in the Camino office upon our arrival in Santiago. There is also an albergue in the cape of Finisterre. It must be an experience to spend a night there. On the rocks in the cape there was a grave with mementos, incents and stones on it; remnants of bonfires where pilgrims had burnt their clothes. I left my stone there on the grave, a stone I’d been carrying from home. I wished to leave something on my Camino and take something home, the stone was a symbol for what I wanted to leave behind. It is a tradition that pilgrims burn their clothes or boots there. Finisterre has also pre-Christian history as a sacred place.

We had an exciting walk through the hills and Monte Facho back to the village. On Monte Facho you can see the remnants of the house of San Guillerme (Pedra do San Guillerme). The path was not clearly marked but you could see that someone had taken it several time on horseback. The hills were steep and it was not an easy passage in any way, especially the down hills. It seemed that we got lost but did find our way out of the forest, and back to the village. And to the restaurant streak and the bus stop.

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Santiago, Sardines and Shopping

There is Santiago beyond the historical centre, monuments and pilgrims. This is what we set to discover on a bright Thursday morning. To be more precise, we wanted to do some shopping and give it another try after Tuesday. The receptionist at the hotel had given us directions to shopping streets earlier but we’d only made a short and lousy effort. Being in busy shopping areas and the thought squeezing into tiny fitting rooms had been too much on Tuesday afternoon. I was met by angst in five minutes in Zara. I had been so pleased with my Camino and then I felt horrible and ugly in the shop in my sports gear. Had no choice but to escape. Now then, after a couple of days in town it was much easier to approach the shopping areas.

There were busy streets beyond the tourist attractions. In the morning the streets would be bustling with people going to work, unlike the countryside where we would not see a soul in the mornings except the occasional herds with cows or sheep. There were parents with children on their way to nursery school and school. Those tiny boys and girls in their school uniforms: orange and green or maroon and navy blue; pleated skirts, trousers, cardigans and vests. So cute! I bet the children do not love the uniforms but they certainly looked nice. A bit older children seemed all to have their rucksacks on wheels – they where pulling something like old ladies’ shopping charts but with hello kitty, angry birds etc on them.

We also saw cafes and restaurants that were crowded but with no tourists at all. The other day we’d had lunch at Traperia Boroa. The service was not that friendly at first and we were sent upstairs to an empty hall because we were only two – or because we were tourists? Well, other people would soon follow us, and yes all came in twos. The starters were the best ever, chipirones (small octopus) with tiny grilled belly peppers. The main course I chose was baklava which was also very good. All this was accompanied with water, wine and cafe solo or dessert. And all this for 11 euros! It was a late lunch around 2:30 and we did not feel hungry for the rest of the day.

In the end we did not do much shopping, some souvenirs and presents to take home. Among them were conchas (shells), a cook book (:- a book on Galician seafood dishes), some postcards and a rosary to remind of the journey afterwards and to help me calm down. We found a nice park near Porta Faxeiras and near Carballeira de Santa Susana, a big park, and decided to have coffee a llevar/take away there. It was in the end much more relaxing to sit in a park, sip coffee and enjoy people watching. There were quite many people jogging, coming out of and going into the big park. Teenagers on break. Pensioners taking breaks, mothers, grandparents and children (both with babies and older children like a mother with a daughter expecting a grandchild). This was part of Santiago and Spain too. The family seemed to be there for each other, all generations. Grandpas and grandmas pushing prams or walking hand in hand with small schoolchildren. Three generations having their evening walks or on their way to a meal.

Come lunch time we strolled towards the old town and the street full of restaurants. There were fish and sea food on display in the restaurant windows. The had something like small locker windows full of e.g. pulpo, calamari, crabs and mussels. Hoy sardinos caught our eyes and sardines it was we had for lunch. And some tortilla espagnol and calamares. The place was busy and full of locals. A lovely lunch in a bustling restaurant.

 Spanish omelette and deep fried octopuss – sorry no picture of the sardines.

The evening was topped with an open air concert by a municipal brass band playing Bach and some Spanish pieces the names of which I cannot remember and I’ve lost the programme. This was on Praza da Quintana right by the cathedral. We all sat on the cathedral steps. What a way to finish a good day! Saw even the first sparrows on the steps – the first ones in Spain, had been wondering how come there were no sparrows in Spain.

 Praza da Quintana, view from the cathedral steps before the orchestra was there.

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Forest Walk and Santiago in Fog

In Arca we got up early in the morning. Everyone else seemed to be extra early too and you did not have to mind about waking others. We started the journey and searched for the way out of the town. There were others too. Soon we started to follow an elderly couple who were joined by another couple. More people joined the group and we were nine walking together in the morning fog. We had read that the first leg would be in an eucalyptus forest.

It was easy to follow others. It was also quite exciting and surreal. The old man was leading the group with a cross and a shell on top of his stick (or on his pilgrim staff). We could see him leading the way and a torch would light the cross. It was a brisk walk of an hour or so. The pace was fast but it kept us warm. The fog was really thick and you could almost feel the rain drops in it.

I would not have walked that leg alone with my sister in that fog. It was too unreal, too thick a fog and too scary. Now, walking in the group I was not frightened at all. It was sure the old man knew the way and we trusted I’m.

 

 

The fog did not vanish but got lighter. We could see the path but not very far. We passed the airport quite near and could hear the airplanes landing, and would see them very near above us. Unbeliavable how close to the airport the path goes. I guess they just built the airport next to the camino!
The fog was still thick when we reached Monte Gozo around 10 or 10:30 and thus we did not  see Santiago at a distance and could not take photos there.

It was already a good way into the town when we saw the first glimpse of the cathedral. Here too, it was easy to follow the path, the shells and yellow arrows.

We reached the town just a bit after 12 and realised the mass had already started. We would have to wait until the following day. I was happy to be there but in a way disappointed because I was not overcome by any overwhelming feelings. Strange. I’d been waiting for the journey for so long and had so very much looked forward to arriving in Santiago. I needed to wait until the mass.

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Day 7 from Ribadiso to Arca

Up at 5:30 and walking in the dark at seven. A Sunday morning and no coffee bars open. Had to walk quite long, all the way to Arzua to find the first cafes. Then we did not want to go in because the sun was to quite up yet, we were afraid of missing it.
The morning was cloudy and we could see beautiful colours and cloud formations. By the time the sun was up it was cloudy.

It was a very long walk and the rise from Ribadiso to Arzua was quite a lot. There were not any cafes open in the countryside but finally we walked by a stall with coffee, fruit and cakes.
It was a lovely taverna to be (no licence just yet) on a hill kept by a German from Mallorca. His stall welcomed pilgrims to sit in the garden under apple trees. Lovely. Met nice people from Ireland, and talked about Mannerheim and the war compensations. Met up with the two Swedes walking the Northern way and had a good chat with them. Met more Finns. Two sisters with the third one on bike (on another route) and one daughter. We would run into them many times.

We walked much more than planned because we could not find a suitable place before Arca. There were some albergues but they were in the middle of no where and we did not carry any food. Finally, after 5 or 6 hours we arrived in Arca and booked into a local Xunta. Enjoyed the accommodation with 100 others at the price of 5 euro. It was not bad – quite peaceful actually.
I was really pooped after the long walk. The shower helped, again, and food too. I can’ t remember when I’d last been so tired. Constant yawning from 6 pm on!

There are more and more people on the road. Also more and more with tiny back packs. I’m trying not to get irritated. Most people are really nice and I feel we cheer each other with the Buen Camino greetings. We are meeting same people over and over again. It is strange to see that we are all here on the way. We have the same destinations but are all walking and doing our own thing. It is easy to follow the shells and the posts, Santiago is getting closer.

I’m lapping behind with my blog diary because of the non-exciting Internet connections. I see and have heard that some friends are following our journey. It would be great to read any messages. You know you can join in the comments even without a WordPress account.

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Day 6 Country Side Idyll in Ribadiso

Day six took us from Melide to Ribadiso. We decided to take it easy and walk just a short distance of about 12 km. It was an easy journey thanks to the day off and the good night sleep at Pension Beringuela. A wonderful pension, very good value for money. The churros with hot chocolate gave us energy to the brisk walk.

The path took us again up and down to river meadows. We saw and even met many cows and shepherds with dogs on the way. The houses and farms seemed to be better kept and wealthier than earlier. The day could not be better, lots of sun no clouds.

Albergue de Ribadiso is the place where we stayed. It is a lovely place situated by River Rio Iso by a Roman bridge. The estate is a former hospital and today a hostel. The stone buildings are beautifully refurbished. The surroundings were lovely and we spent the afternoon happily sitting and watching the river, the cows and other pilgrims passing by. It was too hot for sunbathing.

After the meal we wanted to take a stroll over to the other side of the bridge and were met by a herd of cows. We backed up and I stood in the gateway to the alberque taking photos. One of the cows strayed and wanted to get in!!!

We had another menu peregrino and hit the bed early so that we could wake up early – see the stars and the sunrise. We were quite many there but it was a quiet night.

Sunrise in Melide. For now I do not have any other pictures to upload because they’re on my cell phone that does not communicate with WordPress.

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