As always, I smelled it before I saw it. And then I had to search around until I found the source. The FIRST AZAHAR OF THE YEAR was spotted in Plaza Nueva at dusk (which explains out of focus, dimly lit shot) and marks my happiest time of year in Sevilla. Wish you could all smell it too.
It seems like this year the annual orange harvest is taking a lot longer than usual. It’s rare to see trees full of fruit – especially in the centre of town – at the end of February. Not only are the oranges somewhat past their prime, but they become a hazard for people walking below.
I came across this group picking oranges in Plaza Santa Cruz at midnight, on my way home from a tapas tour. No sign of The Dude of course, with all this going on. It was also the first time I recall seeing people harvesting so late at night. Budget cuts perhaps? Who knows?
So you really can’t go to Cádiz without taking this iconic postcard shot of the Cathedral with the pastel painted houses on the left, the sea in front of you, and preferably with a cooperative seagull passing by. Could’ve done without the ugly building crane on the left, but oh well.
And just below this viewing spot dwell a crazy number of “sea cats”, who always look to be thriving. In fact, there are little cat houses put out for them, with food and water dishes outside them. Given the number of orange cats roaming around (even more out of camera shot) there must have been at least one big ginger tom out there having a good time recently.
Just above “cat city” I spotted several seagulls vying for ownership over a whack of small fish that were laying across one of the boulders. Clearly tossed there by someone. And then one of them posed nicely for me…
Looking up at the Cathedral from the square. From being either high above the city to being on the beach at low tide, I went from giddy to almost giddier, but it was all very enjoyable, and I got LOTS of extra FitBit steps in 😉Looking out from the clock tower – very windy (eek!)
Looking down from Tavira Tower
Looking out at the sparkly sea from La Caleta beachLooking at the sea from the San Sebastián Castle.
You can’t see them but there were some (crazy) people out there, walking along the bits of land still above water at low tide, on a very blustery day.
View from La Caleta beach at low tide
Every since I first experienced David Muñoz’s Street XO in Madrid in the summer of 2014 I’ve been wanting to go back. In fact, I did try going back with Jo when I was in Madrid this past summer, but we got there too late and they had already closed off the queue. We ended up next door at the fabulous Cascabel instead, which wasn’t a bad “consolation prize” at all, but it still wasn’t StreetXO. So during this Madrid Getaway Peter and I made sure that we got there early, just before they opened for lunch service, and before long we were happily ensconced at the bar, ready for the show to begin.
Since my 2014 visit, StreetXO has moved to bigger digs, upstairs at the Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience in calle Serrano, a space it shares with two other Michelin-star chef ventures: Cascabel by Roberto Ruiz and Rocambolesc by Jordi Roca. The set up is more or less the same as at the original Callo location, but the horseshoe bar is about three times as large, and there are also a few tables along the side. The menu is similar with a few of the old favourites still available (pig ear dumplings, steamed “club sandwich”, pork belly and smoked mussel in lettuce leaves). The dumplings were a must, and after that we tried two new dishes: presa Ibérca a la robata and Korean wonton lasagna.
Service was impeccable, but I did miss the presence of chef Jhonny, who is now manning the flames at the new StreetXO location in London. Can’t wait to go back again.
I have been thinking about where to go for a big 60th BIRTHDAY TRIP, since I reckoned that making it to my 7th decade on January 7th was indeed something to celebrate. But my first choice (San Sebastián) fell though because my friend Gabriella is going to be away all month, and one of the main highlights of going to SS would be to hang out with G. And then I thought about Lisbon, but direct flights are difficult to find, so I may hold out on that one until I can go by car. Also, both places are iffy weather-wise in January, especially as I was planning to spend a week wherever I went, and a week in the rain anywhere would not be pleasant.
And so I have come up with a new plan, which is to celebrate my birthday all month long (!!!) with a different overnight getaway each week. Four destinations that immediately came to mind – Cádiz, Ronda, Córdoba, Granada – are all places I haven’t visited for a couple of years (or more) and so I thought this would be a nice way to “catch up”. Also, since I’ll be travelling by train or bus, I can pretty much book last minute, and avoid rainy days.
So… first stop Ronda! 🙂
So I woke up today (December 29th) thinking about my upcoming (60th!) birthday next month and also how next year will be my 25th (silver!) anniversary of arriving in Spain. And I realized that it’s going to be quite a special year in terms of personal milestone moments. And so after visiting the fabulous Murillo-Velasquéz exhibit at Hospital de los Venerables I found myself having a glass of wine at La Azotea (aka The Office) and I decided to start taking this anniversary thing seriously. As in… it was time to plan A PARTY!
So far I have a first draft guest list and a possible venue. But the date was clear – I shall celebrate this very special anniversary on May 29th. I think the actual day I arrived in Spain was May 23rd 1992, though that may have been the day I left Bristol. And as there was no Internet back then, I cannot check back to confirm this. But May 29th is a Monday – great for my friends who own or work in bars and also easier for booking the venue I want. And well really, it’s close enough. And also exactly five months from the day I decided to do this. So there. 🙂