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Into Spain

We were really lucky to be able to fulfill a wish of ours for our trip. originally, we had planned to rent a place in the country of France or Spain in an attempt to save money and to really get a feel for life in one of these countries. But it wasn’t going to work out. We had too many places we wanted to go and no time to rent a place for the two months or so that we wanted and so we shelved those plans.As it turns out, our two weeks in Provence were exactly what we needed to replace it. We got to see what country life was like with a bunch of locals and slow down. We even got to cook a few meals – something we greatly miss while traveling. And when the two weeks were up, we felt we HAD been there long enough and were happy to move on.

After a short drive to Marseille where we had a wonderful dinner down on the beach, we went to bed in a hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The next morning we took a cab and a bus to the airport and after a heated dispute that with Ryanair over the size of our carry- on that ended with me forking over another 20 Euros, we were on our way to Madrid.

Madrid was hot like Provence but at least the nights were cool. We spent a couple days there with an old friend of Kelly’s and her family. I love French food but I have to say that sitting down to our first meal in their house provided a welcome change to the subtle flavors we had been eating. A tray of lomo and cured chorizo along with crusty bread came out, followed by ham covered in paprika and olive oil, three types of Manchego along with quince paste and olives in a tangy brine. The acidity and saltity so much different from Provencial food.

The next day we walked around the old city a bit and visited the local market, but the highlight was clearly the Mercado de San Miquel. Opened just a few months ago in a converted structure near Placa Mayor, this cooperative of food shops and tapas bars was buzzing with activity when we came by at 11am. People were circulating to different spots, picking up a dozen fresh oysters on the half shell, a 3 euro glass of wine from the wine bar (which had about 50 different types of wine by the glass), diving into ham and cheese croquettas, giant grilled prawns in olive oil and salt and then just hanging out with friends and family for hours, which is just what we did. I think we spent 2 hours there, just the two of us, enjoying the wine and food.

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