Wednesday, December 18, 2013

To Burgos We Go!

Hi everyone who takes time out of their busy day to read this! (Thank you!) What have I been up to lately, you ask? Well, last weekend I went to Burgos!

So Nacho helps to coach a soccer team of girls around my age, whose practices I sometimes go to (cough-once). The girls are so sweet and nice to include the awkward American girl with the broken Spanish. One member of the team, Ana, has a family house in a very small town called Villagutierrez (population- 75!) Because last weekend was a puente (3-day weekend) because of the holiday of Constitution on Friday the 6th, she suggested people of the team, boyfriends and friends stay in the small town for the weekend, eat, drink and be merry together in the ancient country home, and explore the beautiful neighboring city of Burgos. I was up for the adventure!

Spain is broken up into communities, and within each community there are provinces. Madrid is a community with only one province- that of Madrid. Burgos is a province in the community of Castilla y Leon (See below: first find Madrid in the center of the Community of Madrid, then find the much larger community of Castilla y Leon, and within that community you will see the province (and city) of Burgos):

After about a 3 hour drive with traffic, a bumpy, dirt road that went on seemingly forever led us to the tiny town of Villagutierrez on Thursday evening. The house was everything I could have expected and more. I love country homes, and even though this one was thousands of miles from my own, its similarities filled me with a nostalgia for Salem and the simple, country life. Complete with creepy dolls and taxidermied owls, I knew every painting and knick-knack in the house had a story behind it. After exploring the house, choosing rooms, and turning the heat up up up, we gathered around a delicious meal and spent the night warming by the large fire in the fireplace, drinking and playing games. I taught my Spanish friends flip cup-hilarious! 


Yep, that's the town. All of it. Who needs more?

Friday was my favorite day. Waking around noon, drinking some coffee (or for others, cola-cao, a nesquick-type of chocolate milk that people are crazy for here..) we were ready to head out in search of some morcilla. 

Let's talk about morcilla. Blood sausage. Sounds tasty, right? Well, it is! And Burgos is famous for its morcilla. It is a sausage that is filled with rice, pig blood, onions, and some other spices- sounds simple enough but the blend of it all is magical. And spicy! It is absolutely delicious. 

So on Friday we drove to the neighboring town of Estepar, which is a little bigger and has a general store where we found and bought out their stock of morcilla.

Shopkeeper of the General Store in Estepar- seemingly shocked that her store was at capacity (all 8 of us..)
After that it was off to the cheese factory. This factory, also in the middle of nowhere, was not that big. But I learned quickly that its name is huge! The cheese of Sasamon won the silver medal for best cheese in the world! The man working there was happy to give us a taste and sell us some cheese- but it was lunch time and he was ready to close up shop. Disappointed and wanting a tour of the factory, my Spanish friends explained to this poor man that I was a journalist and potential investor from the U.S. who was quite interested in the factory. After that, he was happy to give us a full tour- and that he did! He spoke at great length to me (I understood about 15%), but I was grateful to have the tour. After stocking up on cheese we had all we needed for a hearty feast, we spent the rest of the day was spent eating, having our siesta, and enjoying another night cozied up next to the fire, playing cards, and of course- after the drinks flowed- getting everyone to speak a little English!  ;)


Telling us all about the cheese
mmmmmm mold

Open Spaces. Countryside. A feeling close to that of being home.

Saturday we headed to Burgos. About 20 minutes north of Villagutierrez, Burgos, the historic capital of the Castile region, was home to medieval hero El Cid. So there was some famous medieval guy, and yea, there's this really pretty cathedral, and the Camino de Santiago runs through here, but what has caught everyone's attention here recently is Burgos' newest title, 'The Gastronomical Capital of Spain 2013.'

I really fell in love with this city. The mix of the old, detailed buildings and the trees, flowers and lights which lined the clean streets full of space for walking made me feel on the set of a movie...and ready to move here and live. The people of Burgos (typical of many cities north of Madrid) seem quite posh. Women and men dressed to the nine's perused through the streets with their vintage strollers- hell even the babies were better dressed than me! But I wasn't interested in the clothes or the shoes. I was interested in the award winning restaurants, tapas and wines- dressing like a local is far inferior to me than eating like one! So, after taking in the views of the breathtaking Gothic cathedral which stands high above the surrounding ceramic tiled roofs, we set out for a little tapa-hopping around the city. 

They shape the trees so that their branches connect and form a canopy over us- one that's wrapped in Christmas lights :) So pretty!

Oreja- pig ear! Tasty but the texture didn't sit well with me, the meat was too soft and the cartilage too hard 

Sneaking a pic inside the cathedral
The cathedral was stunning. 

A view of Burgos from above.
Chestnuts (castaƱas) roasted on an open fire!
Sun setting over the city
A walk near Villagutierrez. Almost looks like Connecticut!
The weekend came to an end on Sunday, after a group lunch together. We were tired, but everyone had a good time. I was happy to have the opportunity to practice my Spanish, and make some new friends in the process. The weekend, I'd say, was a success. On to the next adventure!

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