Saturday, January 17, 2015

And... I'm back!

A belated Happy New Year to everyone!

I was lucky enough to have a few weeks off over Christmas and New Year's, so we decided to go climbing with some friends in Spain.

Jeff actually flew to Spain two weeks before I did and was pedaling his bike from Barcelona to Madrid while I was stuck at work. This is the first time that I've been the one who gets left at home. It is not as fun as being the one who gets to go galavanting.

I stopped over in New York City on my way to Madrid. It was Christmas Day, and I had an amazing dinner by myself at Perry Street. Was it a little bit awkward? Yes, but the delicious food was worth it. I had a green salad, lobster poached in coconut milk with kaffir lime leaves and potato dumplings, and chocolate lava cake. The potato dumplings were probably one of the tastiest things I've ever had. 
Lobster for Christmas dinner
Next, I made a quick stop in Zurich to catch up with a friend. When I landed, I texted him that I'd arrived... and he sent back a message saying that I would soon be welcomed by the sights and sounds of Switzerland. There's a very efficient train that whisks passengers from the arrival gate to the baggage claim area, and this is what you see from the train:
And this lovely montage is accompanied by the sound of mooing and alpenhorns. Seriously.
We only had a few hours. Fortunately, there is a Confiserie Sprungli conveniently located in the terminal for all your Luxemburgerli needs.  See previous post about Luxemburgerli here.

Next stop was Madrid. Jeff met me at the airport and we caught a high-speed train to Alicante. From there, our friends picked us up and drove us to the casita we were renting near Alcalali, about an hour away. The casita was surrounded by fruit orchards and vineyards, with the nearest climbing just 10 minutes away.

We quickly established a routine of getting up in the mornings, having some fresh squeezed orange juice, and then going climbing.
Who needs the Dawn Wall? Jeff is wearing red and I'm the little pink speck
Tucked into the only shady spot on the cliff
Views of the Penon from the Olta climbing area
 On our rest days, we tried to do some sightseeing, which was kind of tough during the holiday season. Almost everything we tried to see was closed, including the castle at Guadalest. This is supposedly one of the most visited tourist attractions in Spain. We had the GPS give us directions from Alcalali, and the most direct route took us up and over the mountain pass on the left side of the picture. It was a single lane gravel road which was very poorly maintained and covered with snow at the top. I wasn't sure if our rental car would survive the trip but we made it one piece.
Since we couldn't go in, I settled for standing on the castle wall
We spent a few days in Madrid at the end of the trip. If you go to Madrid, my best tip would be to rent one of the city's electric assist bikes. These are available all around the city at little kiosks and the drivers in Madrid tend to be very accepting of bikes. With the electric assist, you can easily go around in traffic and zoom up hills without breaking a sweat.
View of the city from the Temple of Debod, a group of Egyptian ruins that were rebuilt in Madrid
We had two very memorable meals in Madrid. The first was at Camoati, a hipsterish restaurant in central Spain that had great wine and delicious roasted vegetables, among other things.

On our last night in Madrid, we ate at La Capilla de la Bolsa. The Epiphany (when the 3 kings were said to have visited Jesus) is a national holiday in Spain, and the restaurant was packed. My favourite dish was this salad with shaved asparagus, radishes, prawns and anchovies. I don't usually like anchovies, but there was something about the anchovies and the fresh asparagus that was really amazing.

And of course, it wouldn't be a trip to Spain without a lot of jamon iberico and tapas.

Meat candy!
Tasty little tapas
 I know I'm behind, but how were your holidays? Did you travel?


  1. Lucky you! You found the best view :)

  2. Happy New Year, Liana! Welcome back!

    Sounds like an amazing trip. I still get a little scared when I see you on the side of a huge mountain. LOL Such awesome photos though!


    1. Happy New Year to you (and Marcy, of course)!

  3. You are fearless! Seeing you stand on top of the castle wall made my stomach dip! And the picture of you and Jeff climbing is amazing. I could never be as brave as you. You also must be in the best shape! That food looked so good. I love your food pictures. I want a potato dumpling now and oddly enough some meat candy!

    I am glad you had a fun break and trip!


    1. Aw, thank you Jenni!

      I do miss the ham...

  4. What an amazing adventure - how exhilarating! Those shots above the city take me back to our hike up Arthur's Seat in Scotland. I have the wanderlust itch right now (don't I always?), so I guess it's good we're off to New Orleans and Mexico next month. For the first time ever, I'll be one of those people who actually needs resort-wear mid-winter. I'll actually have a tropical locale I'll be jetting off to. I'm excited to try some Yucatan food. I hope we can find some authentic spots instead of just touristy places.

    Your sense of adventure inspires me. :-)

    <3 Liz

    1. I would love to go to Scotland. There's lots of climbing there, and my husband is part Scottish. I'm looking forward to seeing your photos from New Orleans (never been there, but it's on my list!). I hope you have a great trip!

  5. wow, the view is beautiful! and so cool that you got to travel to that many places over the holidays! the hike looks amazing <3

    1. Yes. I can't really complain about being stuck at work for the next few months... Happy New Year!

  6. I want to go to Spain just for the iberico ham, I'm jealous. A Christmas dinner alone sounds kinda lovely, actually. Your climbing trips always have the best views, I guess that's the incentive to do them?

    1. I think it's totally worth going there just for the ham. They had stores that just sold different kinds of ham! And the wine, the art and the paella is not too shabby either.

      Honestly, my husband and I go places for the climbing... but it's mostly about the food!

  7. You are one brave lady L!

    P.S. I especially loved all the food shots (:

    1. Glad you liked them! I'll try to post more in the future!