Where are we?: Germany
countries Visited: 9
Days on the Road: 111

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tours in Seville Spain - The Jewish Quarter

On our second day in Sevilla, we joined Pancho Tours, sunset tour. It was a
chilly night and we ventured into the Jewish Quarter, or Santa Cruz, which is
known to be at least a few degrees colder than the rest of Sevilla.

The Quarter was built as a labyrinth of tiny streets and alleys, that helps keep
out the sun, and the Christians during the rule of King Ferdinand the 3rd. We were
shepherded through this now touristy area, and fed the most romantic, and horrid
stories that I have ever heard.

Two of the most popular streets, when you first enter Santa Cruz are called
Muerte, or Death, and Vida, or Life. During the time of the Black Death, when
many Christians were getting sick it was thought that the Jewish community was
to blame. The Christians laid siege on the community, hoping to scare them away
from Sevilla. In one night the killed 4000 Jews on Calle Muerte, the survivors
escaped by taking Calle Vida, and hiding in Alcazar.

Many of the streets have 3 or more names, for instance, Calle Muerte is also called
Calle Susona, and Calle Cadenas, which means chains. The story we were told,
is that years after the siege a man named Suso Diego, planned his revenge on the
Christians. Suso Diego had a daughter named Susona, who was at the time having
an affair with a young Christian Soldier. Susona told her father’s plans to her
lover, and thus thwarted his plans, and lead to the capture and murder of her entire

As punishment to Susona, they left her alive to live with her guilt of betraying
her family, and her community. Years later, she returned to her family home, and
hung herself from her balcony with a chain. She left a note saying as retribution,
she wanted her head to be displayed in a window on the street, so everyone could
see her guilt and shame. Her skull stood as a monument for 106 years, before it
was removed, and replaced with an image of her skull, which can be seen today.

Not all the stories of Santa Cruz are as dark, we also heard of local artists, kissing
neighbours from balconies, and a King who planted thousands of orange trees,
to please his bride who wanted to see snow. Late April in Sevilla is said to be
the most beautiful time to visit, because all the orange trees blossom, and leave a
blanket of white petals on the streets, as close to snow as Sevilla will ever get.

Thanks again Pancho Tours, and Anya our guide. It may have been a cold night,
but we were left with the knowledge of such a rich and extensive history, it won’t
be one we will forget any time soon.

Many more adventures to come!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Loving Tapas!

Being in Spain, its kind of impossible not to enjoy an eating style they call tapas. Tapas is basically smaller plates of a dish maybe 3-4 pcs. Its more like a communal eating style, so everyone gets to try everything! Its wonderful and I love it. In fact a lot of smaller bars/restaurants will off a free tapa with the purchase of an alcoholic beverage, larger or more popular bars/restaurants will offer the same thing just during an allotted time...say after 9pm or during happy hour, something to that affect!

While we were in Sevilla Spain we had the opportunity to check out quite a few tapas style places, some were good and some were well...not so good, and some were AWESOME!

There is a lot of fried fish bites, olives, mushrooms, sardines and anchovies, cheese and meats,  Spanish style omelette's and much more!

Here is a snap reel of all the yummies we got to gobble down in Sevilla!!!

A little History on Tapas (Tapas from the Spanish verb Tapar = To Cover)

The original tapas is said to be the slices of bread and meat that the Andalusian people used to protect their sweet sherry from fruit flies in between sips! The style of service was created to encourage conversation, so that people weren't so focused on finishing a gigantic meal set in front of them. Also in many Spanish countries it is custom to stand up and move about the room during dinner, this custom is much easier with a tiny plate over a huge dinner plate! Now a days tapas has turned into a wide variety of hot and cold appetizers that can go from simple bread, olives and chorizo to sophisticated tomato and eggplant salad with goat cheese and a sugarcane reduction sauce!

My opinion on tapas is...awesome! It prevents you from over eating, and creates a social communal atmosphere that cant be beat! The food is (most of the time) incredible and allows you to sample everything!!!

check back soon for a blurb about the day in Morocco!

and don't forget comments and questions welcomed and appreciated :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tours in Sevilla Spain

A Free Walking Tour with Pancho Tours

   We arrive in Sevilla at 9pm, and find our hostel right away. It is luckily only a few blocks away. Oasis Palace is a very clean, very beautiful hostel, and we are happy with our little room, and HUGE bathroom. There are also many planned activities for us, which we didn’t get at our last hostel.
   So our first day we join the free 10:30 am walking tour offered by Pancho Tours, through our hostel and many others in the city. We meet Sam, our tour guide, a history major from the U.S., and also another Canadian, David, at our hostel, then head to meet with others for 11am. We meet with the group at “the fountain”, and then branch off into smaller groups. There are a lot of us on the tour, considering its January, and we have been having a bit of a cold week.
   We take a short walk to Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede, The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Sea, and beside it; Alcazar palace complex. We get a brief History overview, Sam sure does know his history, and advice on avoiding gypsies, LEGIT GYPSIES, that are wandering outside the Cathedral. Interesting Fact #1; the Cathedral is the finally resting place, of the ashes of Christopher Columbus, who set out from Alcazar in 1492, to discover America.
   All around the streets we go, to Rio Guadalquivir, past many consulates, and to Mary Louisa Park. The park is unfortunately closed for the day because of debris, according to Sam; the Spanish are not used to dealing with rainy stormy weather, and tend to panic a bit. We end our tour at the old tobacco factory, now a school, where Sam invites us along for lunch with him to a local Tapas bar. Yes Please! Interesting Fact #2; the tobacco factory in Carmen, the musical, is this one in Sevilla Spain.
   Sam takes us and several other tourists to Huelva Ocho, his favorite little Tapas place. We enjoy cheap sangria, and Salmorejo Cordobes, a cold tomato soup similar to Gazpacho but blended with egg, and a few small sandwiches, while listening to stories about the Running of the Bulls. Sam our tour guide apparently took part in these festivities in 2012, and plans to do it again this year.
   It was a great tour, and very informative. In a city so full of history, we were lucky to have Sam as our guide. Thank you to Pancho Tours and Sam. Good luck in The Running of the Bulls this year, and remember don’t look back!
For more information on the tours, and the different cities they are in, go to;
(34) 664 642 904

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Portugal At Night :)

 We took the advice of the guy running the front desk a the hostel to hit up a strip of restaurants on a walking path in the old part of Lisbon! He recommended one, but we decided upon getting there that we were more interested in another one. There was fresh seafood in the window and a open inviting dining room!
We had our first glutenous meal of the trip! WAY TO MUCH FOOD! But...impressively, we ate it all! A whole crab cooked perfectly,the meat was buttery,tender and just the right amount of flavor from the sea, garlic butter prawns (we used the garlic butter for our crab too...yummmm). Also on our table we had a whole grilled sea bass, flawlessly crispy skin and tender flaky flesh that was brought to life with just a simple squeeze of lemon, fried potatoes, soft warm bread that was accompanied by salty oregano cured olives and two kinds of cheese, one was goat and one was a cows milk...they were both creamy and well made my mouth sing! We shared a bottle of white wine, had two coffees and two glasses of Port, a slice of caramel mousse cake and a bowl of fresh fruit....back home this meal would have been upwards of $180.00 CDN easy! we payed 76 Euros....IT WAS SO CHEAP! When we got the bill, I had to check it to make sure he didn't forget to punch something into the computer!
One thing I love about restaurants in Europe is they are not in a hurry to get you out and turn the table...you can sit there and eat, drink and talk slowly and no one gets upset!We were there for about 2 1/2 hours and there were people that were there longer then us as well! Its quite a lovely way to eat and a nice change from the rush rush restaurants back home in Toronto!
So with our tummies way to full we set out back to the subway and back to the hostel. We both had that "way to full turkey dinner" feeling going on so we called it a night!
Remember to let me know what you think about the blog, and if there is anything you would like to see covered :) Comments, questions and ideas are more then welcome :)

love Kristen

Friday, January 18, 2013

Road Trip to Lisboa Portugal

While in Spain, we plan to enjoy the short travels to many different cities and countries. Our first adventure planned, a bus ride to Lisboa, then Lisboa to Sevilla Spain, Sevilla to Gibraltar, and from Gibraltar take a ferry to Morocco. Three countries in a weekend; well a very long weekend.
So we set off Thursday afternoon, said goodbye to our new friends in San Javier, and took off on the first part of our journey, a VERY long bus ride to Lisboa, 15 hours in fact, getting in slightly after 6am.
After a bit of a snooze at our hostel, we braved the rain, and the metro, to travel into old Lisboa, and it was well worth it. We caught the old streetcar tram, and headed off on our city tour. It was a good way for us to travel, and see the parts of the city, then decide where we wanted to stop.
Just afternoon, we were kicked off our tram because of an electricity problem, which had the whole street backed up. Lucky for us the sun chose then to pop out for the next hour or so. Our first stop on our walk was just a simple lookout point, where you could look out over the city to the water. We were even lucky enough to get a lady to snap our picture.
Next was Igreja de Santa Maria Maior, or Church of Saint Maria Maior. We skipped the 4 Euro tour, and just walk around. It was stunning, with displays of art work, and old Christian artifacts. It had high decorated ceilings, and really cool doors!
We follow the street car track back to the metro, but found many interesting stores and shops along the way. We even managed to find a
free sampling of port. Then down to the water for another look out, where poor Kristen almost got blown away, hehe. Feeling a bit tired after our long trip, we head back for our now usual siesta and then later out for dinner!!!
Check back tomorrow for Kristen’s take on our dinner in Lisboa
Xo Sarah

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Off on an Adventure

Packed up and Ready to go, I am just sitting here making a cheat sheet of Portuguese phrases and words so that I can comprehend some of what we will be experiencing in the next few days!

We are headed to Portugal in a few hours and from there we are going to come back into Spain and venture around the south of it...and if everything going according to plan we are going to go even further south to Morocco!

We have gotten comfy in our lives in our little house in Spain,I think its about time to shake things up a bit and step out of our comfort zone :)

I am not sure what the wifi accesability with be like so I might have to kick it old school and write down the stories on paper then send them out to you lot when we get back in about a weeks time! So get ready for a Photo blog of our weeks adventure and I am sure some pretty funny stories :)

Love Kristen

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lazy Sundays in Spain

 A Wonderful Sunday Surprise

   Well we have been having some lazy days in Spain. Having accomplished our first set of goals, and waiting for our adventure coming up this weekend, we just don’t have that much to do.
   This past Sunday we decided to walk into town, to stretch our legs, and perhaps finally talk to the very allusive travel agent. Well the travel agent was closed...AGAIN, and all that was open was the Chinese bazzar, where we stopped to buy some household products.
   Slightly defeated we head home, but wait...what is that? We run straight into a little market. Selling handmade goods like soap, jewellery, and toys, this is our happy surprise! We looked at beautiful hand painted pottery, which sadly would never make it home intact, and try some cheese, one straight from Murcia. For 4 Euros I got a chilli pepper necklace, and Kristen got a leather bracelet. We had a nice tour of the goods; there was even handmade Chia Pets.
   Feeling better about our day, we head home for some spaghetti, with tomato sauce and chorizo, mmmmm.
Plenty more lazy days ahead, and some exciting ones too!
Xoxo Sarah

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cartagena, Murcia - SPAIN

Cartagena, Murcia, Spain

   So are first week in Spain, we have spent exploring our little town of San Javier. We have successfully found the beach, a local bar with free tapas, our way to supermarkets, and little bodegas. We enjoyed local celebrations, and even hit the market. So the time came for us to venture out, in the much larger region of Murcia. Our mission; to take the bus!

   For our first outing we chose Cartagena, a larger city a 40 minute bus ride. We catch it at our local bar, which is oddly open at 9am, and we couldn’t be more excited. We both brought books along for the ride, but we were perfectly happy looking out the window.

   We arrive in Cartagena a little before 10, and set out on our way. We followed tiny streets, with beautiful buildings, to the main strip. Following that down to the water were souvenir shops and cafes, and the entrance to “Teatro Romano”, an ancient Roman theater, and our main reason for choosing Cartagena.

   Being the off season, and so early in the morning, we were almost the only people there. We entered into a museum, displaying art work and dishes found during the dig, and then through some creepy tunnels until at last; the theater. It was breath taking. We were both in awe of standing in a place where thousands of years ago, plays, and political speeches were given. To sit in the seats, of ancient Romans, and to have lunch, where we probably were not allowed to.

   We next stop was Castillo de la Concepcion, which was quite the walk, up, up, up, many steps and hills. We were almost to the point of exhaustion when we reach the entrance, but we still had energy to climb up the tower and see the entire city from above. Getting to ride the cannon was a big hit too.
   After all that walking, we decided we deserved churros and gelato at Valor Chocolates, then a walk down the water back to the bus stop. We successful caught the 3:30 bus home, where I now sit, completely exhausted. I’d say our first outing was a complete success!

Keep coming back for more adventures in Spain