Showing posts with label Osuna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Osuna. Show all posts

Thursday, March 1, 2012

TP Thursday: A Spanish Food and Wine Fest

Food and wine. What’s a trip without them?
In Spain, a country known for its many festivals, we created our own food and drink fest everywhere we traveled last year.

In Madrid:  A trip to our favorite Cervecerias, Los Gatos on Calle Jesus, 2., phone: 914 29 3067) became an almost nightly ritual during our week-long stay. 

Our dinners – tapas and pintxos --were often eaten standing at the wine barrel table under the watchful eye of  “Satchmo” Louis Armstrong and next to a tribute to bullfighting that included a matador’s pink cape.



In Osuna:  We followed the suggestions of our hotel owner and visited Casa Curro, at Plazuela Salitre, 5, phone 955-820-758 where we found a dizzing array of choices ….. all in Spanish which made our dining a fun adventure.




Another night ate at Meson del Duque on Plaza de la Duquesa, 2, phone 95-482-2845 where we let the staff choose for us and were delighted with the culinary artistry. This dish in the shape of bull horns is battered and deep-friend shrimp served in a special dipping sauce. This place was so incredibly good we may go back just to eat there!


In Barcelona:  When not eating food, one of our favorite past times was looking at displays of it.  And one of our newly-discovered favorite places to do that was the Santa Caterina Market  (Avinguda de Francesc Cambo, 16) a few blocks from the Gothic Cathedral.   Its undulating roof is a mosaic made up of 325,000 Spanish tiles. (It isn’t the more well-known market on Las Ramblas.)


I’ll close with a toast to Spanish Cava. It’s  Spain’s version of  champagne; a bubbly glass of happiness. There’s no better restorative for sightseeing sensory overload than a tall flute of it served with a side of salted Spanish Marcona almonds.


Have any tapa favorites in Spain?  Where do we find them?  And remember, it's Travel Photo Thursday so serve yourself a helping of some great destinations and photos by visiting Budget Travelers Sandbox. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

TP Thursday: The Train in Spain

We have limited options for train travel in the Pacific Northwest so we savor the experience when we are in Europe. In November, we traveled in Spain by train:


We first hopped aboard in Osuna, the town I’ve written about in earlier posts – Land of the Olives.  We loved its small station, opened in 1874. The agent who manned the ticket window also had the only desk job. Prior to each  train’s arrival, though, he’d put on his uniform’s cap and head to the station’s platform to manually adjusted the large levers that set the tracks in the correct position.

DSCF1696 From that history-laden platform, we caught a regional, regionales, train - similar to this one - that delivered us to Malaga. Two tickets cost 22.40-euro, or about $31US.  We purchased them the day we traveled.

After spending a week on the Costa del Sol, we returned to Malaga’s station to catch a long-distance train that would take us north through central Spain, hurtling us as speeds reaching 300 kilometers an hour through Andalusia and its neighboring Castilla-La Mancha region to Madrid.

DSCF1908In stark contrast to Osuna, Malaga’s train station is an enormous – think international airport size – modern facility.

DSCF1911The trains are equally as modern . . .and large; very large. Renfe is the national train service that runs most of Spain’s trains.

We walked past the engine pictured above to get to our car, half way down the length of the train. Note how far behind me the train stretches back to this engine.

The cost of our two AVE (the high speed train) tickets, which we purchased before leaving home and printed out on our computer (Malaga to Barcelona), was 316-euro, or $433US.

We would  have paid less to fly; it would certainly have been faster, but for us, the trip is as much about the journey as the destination and had we flown we would have missed scenes such as these:


One of Spain’s “White Towns” – loved the castle on the hill to the left.


Spectacular vistas stretched for miles in every direction. . .

DSCF1933At Madrid’s Atocha Station we connected with the train that would  take us to our final destination, Barcelona, on the northeast coast.

Again we had a slide show of Catalonian towns through the power lines that often line the tracks. 


Trains are a ticket to adventure for us. Got any suggestions for our next train trip?

Today is Travel Photo Thursday so be sure to visit, Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos and destination temptations.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

D2G loses to Spain’s Tapa Temptations

Yes, that healthy eating we’ve been touting for the last year – our Diet to Go, or D2G – met its challenge in Spain’s Tapa Temptations.

osuna 021 So we said “Adios” to that eating plan and each night saddled up to a tapas bar to eat our way through several of the small plates that offered a variety of meat, fish and vegetable tidbits; some of the best food we’ve had on our travels.

Potatoes and bread  – those things we’ve bragged about eliminating (or greatly reducing) in our lives this last year, were key ingredients in most of the tapas we ate. And Spain’s famous rice paella couldn’t be missed. . .

When in Spain eat as the Spanish do. . .and we did! In a manner of speaking anyway. Each night we’d wait as long as our American appetites allowed (somewhere around 7 or 7:30) and we’d go in search of a tapas bar. Tapas bars, like restaurants, don’t open their kitchens for hot dishes until 8:30 in most cases, so we’d work our way through cold dishes and wind up the feast with a couple hot dishes.

Tapas are generally inexpensive. So were the many varieties of Spanish wine we quaffed down with them.

Our best tapa dinner was eaten in Osuna, that charming small town outside Sevilla. The restaurant Meson del Duque, (Plaza de la Duquesa, 2, phone 95 481 28 45) had been recommended a couple of times so on our last evening we waited as long our our American appetites allowed and we headed out for what would be the culinary treat of the trip
osuna 020 As usual ‘los Americanos’ (us!) were unfashionably early so we had the place to ourselves. . .which gave us time to visit with Jose, the owner, left, and Paco, the bartender, to his right in this photo.

osuna 018 Since their tapas weren’t on display and we weren’t sure what was available, we asked Jose and Paco to select some plates for us.

They served us a mouthwatering short rib that you could cut with a fork, a fish dish, a pork dish and shrimp with a presentation resembling the horns of bulls in an unbelievably tasty sauce.

osuna 019So good were the tapas that we fell further off the diet wagon and ordered dessert – again their choice. Need I say this chocolate morsel was good?

Our last night in Sevilla we dined at Casa Tomate ( on the 'tapa bar street' of Mateos Gagos 24, phone 954 220 421) and decided to try the combination plate of three hot and three cold tapas; to that we added a half racione (half order) of deep fried calimari. 

As we started to order a salad as well – thinking we’d need a bit more, our waiter politely told us we didn’t need it – we had ordered plenty.  He was right as the tapas plate alone had anchovies, meat balls, veggies, Russian salad and a potato torte (tortilla):

seville 035

If you've been following the blog the last few weeks, I know you are probably thinking, "And then they got on a cruise ship for two weeks and ate some more?"  Yes we did, but I should tell you that we logged some 7 - 10 miles walking each day on land and on the ship either worked out at the gym and walked or did both.

While in Spain we marked the first anniversary of our D2G.  It has been a success despite the eating we did the last few weeks. We weighed in today and Joel weighs five pounds less than he did last year and I am down 13.5 pounds. . .and now that we are home we are back on the D2G way of eating.

Note:  The D2G is based on the Glycemic Load Diet as developed by Seattle doctor, Rob Thompson.  His book of the same title can be purchased from

Monday, November 7, 2011

La Casona de Calderon - Osuna

“So, what about Osuna?” I asked Joel as we surfed the Web prior to this trip. 

Map picture

We wanted a place somewhere between Seville, where we spent the first four days of our visit and Malaga where we will meet friends later this week.  We wanted a place that could be reached by train or bus.

I was looking at a web site called Inns of Spain when a photo similar to the one below made me suggest Osuna:

osuna 004 The photo is of the lobby/courtyard of La Casona de Calderon – a 17th Century noble family’s home in Osuna that has been converted into a hotel with 15-en suite guestrooms and a restaurant. A visit to the hotel's website and I knew I wanted to stay here even though we knew nothing - then - about the town in which it was located. 

The rates for this time of year were so reasonable that we decided to splurge and booked ourselves a Junior Suite at 270E for three nights.

Elena Calderon, along with her sister Aurora, three years ago opened the hotel in this mansion that has passed through generations of their family. She greeted us and showed us to our ‘room’. When Joel said, “This is a junior suite?!” she answered that we'd in fact been upgraded to the suite – we'd call it a casita, a small house!

So here is our ‘suite from the outside (yes, the whole thing is ours)’:

osuna 011

And then you step inside (I am at the table writing this post):

osuna 003  
An open stairway leads  to our bedroom and master bath (there is a second tiny half-bath under the stairs.

osuna 002

We’ve peeked at the regular rooms and and the junior suites and they are equally as well decorated – just smaller. And really this is far more room than two people need but our host's generosity is appreciated. The hotel's common areas are filled with collectible art; it is a museum hotel that has given us a taste of the real Spain. It is everything I'd hoped for and more.

Our days begin in the covered courtyard  - we dine on a European-style breakfast of cold cuts, cheese, fruit, pan and locally made olive oil, which is included in the price of the room.  We’ve ended each day there as well sipping wine and watching the moon play hide and seek in the clouds above us.

No doubt about it, we've found an Andalucian  treasure.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Night and Day ~ Day or Night?

Travel days make a tumbled, jumbled mess out of one’s body and mind.   The longer the journey, the longer it seems to recuperate from it.  We left our home Tuesday and arrived at our hotel in Seville some 22 hours later.

Our routing was an overnight flight from SeaTac that arrived in London at noon (about 4  a.m. our body time).  A significantly long layover there gave us plenty of time to travel from Heathrow to Stansted Airport some 60 miles away for our three hour flight on Ryan Air flight to Seville. . . 

seville 008
We were awake and ready for night life as I mentioned before but found ourselves sitting on our balcony sipping a glass of wine at 2 a.m. with the three street cleaners who came by providing our entertainment.
We awoke yesterday at 11:30 a.m.  But getting into the swing of Seville life we dutifully took a siesta and then headed out for the night. To bed at 1 a.m.  The days and nights are now falling into a pattern of day and night, night or day.

seville 010 Sunday is another travel day. We leave this town of just under 800,000 people with far too many places that we still didn’t have time to get to; but are eager to begin exploring Osuna, population 45,000, some 90 miles away.  Tomorrow we travel by long distance bus – a journey that will take only two hours to complete.  We will arrive in time for siesta and then it will be time to start exploring. . .

Hasta Osuna ~


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