Valladolid: Spain’s best kept secret
After two months of huddling in our Salamanca apartment, Kyle and I decided that it was time for us to have a weekend getaway. We were only going to get a hostel for one night so we had to choose something within the Castile and León region of Spain. First, I ruled out Madrid. Personally, I don’t like to spend too much time in the bigger cities of Europe. Expenses are high in the summer and so are pick-pocketers. So to narrow down our options I did two things.1 I Google image searched all cities near Salamanca to get an overview of photogenic cities that also looked like it encapsulated the vibe that we were looking for in our weekend getaway.
2 I ‘TripAdvisor‘ searched for things to do in each city so that I could make sure that things were going to be open on the weekends for us to sight see.
After researching this, Valladolid won out. Most of what we found on TripAdvisor showed that museums were open on weekends and that they had free entry. The bonus (for me) was that it also had a Science Museum that looked really fun and I really wanted to see a planetarium of some sort.
Since it’s August, traveling Spain (or Europe) is somewhat of a gamble since the cities’ seem to be dead – I guess everyone goes on vacation in August. This is something that we saw first-hand in Valladolid. When we got there, it was a complete ghost town. Luckily though, we still found a few open monuments to see and a few open restaurants to eat at.
The first restaurant that we went into was really beautiful inside. If you’ve ever been to Casabonita in Colorado, it kind of reminded me of that. Actually a lot of places that we went to in Valladolid had something that reminded me of Casabonita. Anyway, this restaurant had a really pretty scenery set up inside. The waiter that worked there was really nice, he gave us some suggestions on where we thought we should go in the city. We ordered ham there and I must say, I thought it was the best ham I’d ever tasted.
This will sound cheesy but seriously, everything that we ate in Valladolid, was the best that we ever had of that food. And not just at this pretty restaurant, at every place we ate at in Valladolid. The ham tapa was the best ham that we ever had, the hummus was the best hummus that we ever had, the tortilla de patata was the best we ever had. We had more friendly conversations with people in the two-days of Valladolid’s dead season than we did the past two months of Salamanca. The people were phenomenal in Valladolid.
This is why we’re now going to refer to this city as Spain’s secret. What a beautiful city. clearly the photos do not do this restaurant justice.
After going to visit a few of the free exhibits in Valladolid, we got thirsty and hungry and decided to look for a place to feed ourselves. As we stood at the center of several connecting roads, we both looked down each path to decide which way to look for food and drink. But down every path, everything looked shut down. Down one road, Kyle saw table umbrellas and so we walked towards it. It was open but they didn’t have a kitchen and only served drinks. We decided to have drinks there anyway because the drinking-glasses looked pretty. The one food item they did serve, hummus. No joke, the best hummus i’ve ever eaten. Not sure what they had on it, I think it was drizzled over with olive oil, dates and no idea what the brown sauce was but it was really effing good. The only thing it was missing was pita bread but toasted wheat bread definitely sufficed. When we ran out of bread we just used our fingers anyway – we weren’t going to waste any hummus.
I also ordered a mango daiquiri. All of their cocktails were made with fresh fruit and served in huge bowl-like glasses, complete with a cute little giraffe on top. The waiter here was also nice. He spoke with us in English after we struggled in Spanish and then talked to us about his experience in the US, about the states that he’s been to and a little about the drinks and food at his restaurant. When it was time to go, he wished us well on our tip. Kyle and I both agreed that it was rather devastating for us that we can never have that hummus or mango drink again until the next trip out to Valladolid. I guess we’ll have to start frequenting this city a lot more. But the next time we’re in Valladolid, we’re going to look for the restaurant called, La Passion.
There was one place in particular that Kyle was really looking forward to seeing in Valladolid. We’re from Colorado and so any opportunity to sample a microbrewery we have to go see, and there aren’t very many that we know of in the region of Castile and León, which made this hunt even more important. Kyle read an article online about this microbrewery in Valladolid called Blow and we crossed our fingers hoping that they wouldn’t have the ‘closed in August’ sign posted on their door. Lucky for us, they didn’t. And also lucky for us, the guy that owned this place, Pablo, was one of the coolest Spaniards we’d ever met.
Pablo had two ambers, one was ready and the other was still brewing. The one that was ready to drink had a very unique flavor to it. I love beer with a subtle oak-wood taste to it, which this one had. I don’t know if I can relate it to any beer specifically but Kyle probably could since beer is his specialty. Kyle tried to dark beers, but i’ll let him get into that.
Some random facts we learned about Valladolid is that it is where Christopher Columbus died and that it used to be Spain’s capital until it got reassigned back to Madrid.
More photos and more Valladolid stories to come …