Monthly Archives: March 2009

Spring has Sprung

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Last weekend I experienced another typical Catalan tradition. In Spring families and friends gather in country homes or restaurants for ‘Calcotades” Calcotades are spring onions (giant sized compared to the ones that we get in Scotland!) and they are cooked, barbequed really, on a wood barbeque. When it comes to eating time, you pull down and off the outer burnt layers and dip the sweet white calcotades into Romesco sauce. Romesco sauce is made with almonds, garlic, sweet paprika, and a few other things that have left my memory. Delicious! But very messy! I was invited to join one of the teachers in my school, with whom I also have English classes, to Calcotades with friends and family. I had met most of them on other occasions, so it was a nice day. The spring onions are treated as a first course (an enormous first course!) and followed by barbequed meat, such as lamb chops, sausages, baked potatoes and artichokes. A feast. A pudding of some kind follows, and then coffee or tea. And then you’re unable to move for fifteen minutes! I really enjoyed the food and company, and it was a beautiful day. Lots of fresh air and some running about playing some basketball and hilarious Catalan games! Even managed to fit in some dancing! A very relaxing day, but tiring for me, with lots of food and fresh air, but especially from thinking and speaking in Spanish- the wheels start getting slow in there!Plenty of photos were taken! Then we went to Cambrils on the coast for a a walk along the port and a coffee to warm-up. A wonderful day with wonderful company.

My busy next two weeks have begun. Mum and Dad arrived on Thursday, staying for a week. I left in the morning on the bus to Barcelona airport to meet them off their flight. It was when I was standing at arrivals that I received their message saying that due to a plan hitting a flock of birds at Glasgow airport, their flight to London had been delayed, causing them to miss the next one! So they wouldn’t be arriving until after 5! I went for a wee visit into the city to help pass the hours! But we made it back to Reus in the end. We wandered around Reus the next morning and then went through for a little explore of Tarragona. I’ve yet to properly visit Tarragona. It was a beautiful day and we caught some sun sitting on the beach. We met up with Joan and family: Deidre his wife; and Maria, Alex and Danny, for some lunch on Saturday. We went to a lovely restaurant in a neighbouring village for some Calcotades. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all! Dad especially enjoyed his rabbit! They took us for a little trip further into the mountains to a hermitage precariously perched on a mound of rock. The weather wasn’t so great, our first damp and windy day in a couple of weeks, but it was amazing nonetheless. Beautiful scenery, with views right to the coast. The boys especially enjoyed exploring all the nooks and crannies in the rocks and running up and down the steps cut into the rock!

No plans are set for the rest of the week, but I’m sure we won’t be lost for something to do. Lots of walking is tiring certain visitors out! We’ll make the most of it anyway. And next weekend, I’m hoping to have more visitors! Two from home staying in the same hotel that Mum and Dad are in. And one of my friends from my Spanish class at University who is also working in Spain this year is stopping over with me for a couple of nights. That’ll bring me up to the Easter holidays. We only have a week, but enough time to do something. I haven’t made any plans yet. I don’t think I’ll be going home, Glasgow maybe, but I’m not sure its worth it for such a short time. I’d like to do some more exploring here, but my fellow students abroad are planning on going home so I’m on my lonesome, and exploring doesn’t seem quite as appealing without company. So, if anyone wants to go somewhere….! Even just here, I have time! Otherwise I might just be forced to go and sit on the beach all day and work on the tan!

February and March

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Things have been rather busy since my last attempt at blogging, when I tried to write about my visit to a town called Montblanc. Technology decided that it wasn’t good enough to share with you however and sucked it into a black hole somewhere! Well, one Tuesday, in the typical you-never-know-what-a-day-will-bring routine of my say here in Spain, I was given the opportunity to visit Montblanc. Montblanc is the main town of the La Conca de Barberà region, about half an hour away from Reus. Montblanc used to be a Medieval stronghold an its old walls remain around the old part of the town. It was a very cold day, but I enjoyed my hour or so of roaming around a wee bit. I would like to go back sometime and explore in less of a hurry. The old part is a maze of really narrow streets, at one point I actually had to breathe in to avoid a car wing mirror as it slowly tried to squeeze past some pedestrians! At every turn you came across something exciting, be it an old church, a stately building, quaint pebbled paving or an enticing cake shop! I have a  Montblanc photo set on flickr that will give you a better idea than my words can.

It seems like an age away already, but my 21st birthday will always be one to remember. I was surprised by some gifts from the teachers I world with and a lovely dinner in the evening with them both and two other teachers who we often eat lunch with. And then on the Friday, Colin, Seoras, Mairianne and my friend Alison came to spend the weekend with me in Barcelona. We stayed in a really nice hostel (the beds were amazingly comfy-so much better than mine in Reus!) and spent a busy five days marching about Barcelona, Reus, Montserrat etc and eating and laughing an awful lot! They also transported some of my presents from friends and family back home. Thank you very much to you all! And thank you to my visitors-don’t be shy in coming back, you’ve only seen a tiny bit of the wonders of Barcelona and Catalunya. And feel free to join me in visiting the rest of Spain too!

Yes, I have begun to venture outside of Catalonia. It has suddenly dawned on me how little time is left, and although I feel I would quite gladly pack up and go home right now, I’m going to force myself to make the most of it. The weekend after my ‘birthday weekend’ I went to the city of Valencia with two girls who are in my University class and working as Language Assistants in Barcelona. We spent Friday and Saturday there, it only takes a couple of hours by train. Valencia is a beautiful city, and very unique. There is dry river bed through the city which has been adapted into a park with numerous walkways, playing fields etc. There is so much to see, with old buildings, churches, the Towers that are all that remain of the old walls, the beach, the modern buildings of the Science centre and Aquarium. There really is something for everybody, and its not quite so huge as Barcelona so easier to visit. Sadly our plans were thrown out the window when Saturday dawned with grey skies and lots of rain! But we had a nice time nonetheless, and I will definitely be going back, sometime!  We are planning a trip to Madrid after Easter for a long weekend, to visit another friend from University, so that should be good.

The Thursday after Valencia saw me boarding another flight to Glasgow. This visit was a surprise for Colin for his 30th Birthday. Mairianne came down from Lewis as well, and he had NO idea! He was absolutely shocked and speechless when we turned up at his flat that evening! And not too impressed with the announcement that this was just the beginning of a weekend of surprises craftily organised by our friend Nma and Seoras! We left with the sunrise on Friday morning for a day trip to the Lake District! We spent a lovely day by Lake Windermere, England’s largest lake, with the ducks and geese, and the snow on the mountains around us. Colin made good use of his birthday present, a new camera he’d been drooling for, and we all made good use of our fresh air appetites in a restaurant called ‘Lucy’s on a plate’, amazing food. And to top the day, we had a supper of fried duff when we got back to Glasgow! Mairianne brought half a duff down with her from home for a birthday cake for Colin and I! This is a sad story- they had brought me a slice when they came to Barcelona, but as it wasn’t ‘fresh’ I was going to fry it. So I left it in the flat in Reus when we went to visit. As I sat on the train after seeing my visitors off, the thought of fried duff cheered me up, but what hey, my duff was all mouldy. I told you, very sad! So I made the most of it in Glasgow! Thanks mum!

Colin’s weekend continued with surprise lunches and get-togethers with friends. I also caught up with friends on the Saturday and Sunday. My friend Flora who studies in Aberdeen was wonderful (the only word to explain her!) and came down on the bus Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. We had a lovely spontaneous and relaxed catch-up day on Saturday with no major plans, just going with the wind! I really miss friends when in Spain. Its strange seeing Glasgow life carry on as ‘normal’ without you in it. And I really enjoyed a ‘normal’ Sunday, with church in Dowanvale and lunch at my auntie Flora’s. So good to see everybody. But I had to leave on Monday afternoon. Thankfully I had a rare glitch-free Ryanair return trip.

So, things have been quite busy! And for the next couple of weeks they’ll be busy with visitors. Looking forward to my parents coming on Thursday, and then the following weekend I have two friends from home, and a friend from University who is also in Spain. I’ll try to keep up a bit better with the blog, keep you up to date with excitement in Spain! I seem to have really busy spells and then spells that are so quiet I don’t know what to do with myself. But I’m looking forward to see what the Spring will bring (yes, it has definitely arrived in all its glory!) and to visitors, and hopefully keeping my renewed resolve for learning more Spanish.