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Women on the Road Blog

Solo travel tips for women like you - the first Tuesday of every month >>

(and to say thank you I'll send you the 'list of 9' indispensable items I NEVER travel without!)

spain

A Delightful Dispute About the Perfect Tortilla

the perfect tortilla

Here's how an evening out in Spain might go. "Let's go to the Alcazar/Rincon/Whatever bar, it's got the best tortilla." "Forget it - they put onions in their tortilla." "Onions?? Sacrilege!" Me, timidly: "But... without onions it's not tortilla, just a bunch of eggs and potatoes..." And that's enough to spark a heated discussion I've "enjoyed" at [...]

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The Countless Legends of Girona

Girona, Spain

Once upon a time, in the days of the Egyptian god Osiris, there lived somewhere to the south a giant monster with three heads, called Gerió. Seeking to enlarge his empire he headed north where he built a castle and founded a city that would one day bear his name: Geriona, today's Girona. Or not. Perhaps Girona [...]

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Catalonia’s Castellers: A Peek Behind the Scenes

Castellers Vila de Gracia Barcelona

Imagine an agile six-year-old clambering up the face of a five-story building, waving from the top, then slithering back down. Leaves your throat dry, doesn't it? Yet several times a week, that's exactly what happens when the Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia rehearse their castells, or human towers. "It's not as dangerous as it looks," said Helena [...]

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Of Discos and Serenos in Madrid

Serenos of Spain

It started with the keys. Clanking, jiggling, each heavy skeleton banging against a clutch of loose weighty metal. Then clap, clap clap. We clapped our hands, at first lightly, then with the growing impatience of youth. We could hear the keys in the distance. He couldn't be far. It was somewhere between Saturday night and Sunday [...]

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Which of These Two is the Best Food Market in Madrid?

Jamon iberico at the San Miguel market, Madrid

Choosing the best food market in Madrid shouldn't be too difficult. Madrid is, after all, a city to be eaten through, a city of interminable tapas, taverns, restaurants and bars with as much solid as liquid sustenance. And now it is also a city of markets, revitalized after years of decay. When I was a child growing up here, we [...]

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Guernica or Gernika: What’s in a Name?

Picasso's Guernica

Everything, it seems. Guernica is the Spanish name of a small Basque village leveled by the Nazis in 1937. And Gernika is how the Basques themselves spell it. The two reflect radically different realities and how you spell the town says a lot about how you view its history. Today the Basques of northern Spain [...]

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The Tapas of Santiago: Falling in Love with Pimientos de Padrón

Pimientos de padron, among the best tapas of Santiago

It was a week-long bar crawl in search of the best tapas of Santiago and once I sampled my first plate of pimientos de Padrón there was no turning back. I'd heard of them but never tasted them and for years I thought the name meant 'peppers of the boss' (padrón means boss in Spanish). It doesn't. Padrón is actually [...]

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Blown Away by Bilbao, Spain

Outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao Spain

Not many years ago Bilbao, Spain was the heartland of the Basque independence movement, a no-go zone where few outsiders dared to venture. ETA, the independence movement, killed hundreds of people in its fight for a Basque homeland and was particularly active under the authoritarian Franco regime. But when Franco died the Basque country was [...]

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A Taste of Old Madrid

dipping a churro into Spanish hot creamy chocolate

I grew up in Madrid in the 1960s and 70s and then, as now, life often revolved around food. This visit would last just a few hours on a Sunday between flights so I'd have to be quick but I visit Madrid whenever I can. It is a stunning city, but it also represents more [...]

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Santiago de Compostela: My One-Hour Camino

censer swings at Santiago de Compostela cathedral

While I can't claim to have walked the Camino, I can certainly confirm I have walked on the Camino. For an entire hour. I wonder whether I should have walked at all... I was a tourist, not a traveler, a sightseer, not a participant, a voyeuse in a way, or to put it more kindly, [...]

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Girona. Barcelona. David. Goliath?

Unusual architecture along the river in Girona, Catalunya

How a smaller, more provincial town not only survives but thrives next to a much larger urban neighbor is a bit of a mystery. It's common for people to visit Barcelona on weekend city breaks from around Europe, and the Catalonian capital's name is the upstart darling of the travel set. How then can little [...]

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The Train in Spain Stays Mainly on the Plain

My decision to experience the 13-hour train journey from Santiago de Compostela to Barcelona was made by Paul Theroux. Maybe not directly, but The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express and his other railway epics have always drawn me to lengthy train journeys. I craved the sound of metal on metal, the accelerated change in [...]

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