Seville is a food lover’s paradise. But, first, you have to get on the Spainish schedule. What is the Spainish schedule you may ask? Well, first breakfast (or desayuno) is from around 7 until around 9 and typically something small. We never made it out of bed for first breakfast. Second breakfast (or almuerzo) is around 10:30 to around 11:30. This is often some sort of sandwich or churros. And, you will often see locals having a small beer with second breakfast. Lunch (or comida) is generally from about 2 to about 4 and is the biggest meal of the day. Comida literally translates as “food” which tells you something about how important lunch is to the Spanish. Then there is snack time (or merienda) around 5 and that is usually something sweet like churros or something cured like a small ham sandwich. Dinner (or cena) doesn’t start until 8 and most people wouldn’t think about dinner until 9 or so. Got it? It was a real struggle for us (ok, for me) to get on the Spanish timetable.
So, we spent far more time in Seville than I’m guessing most tourists do (about two weeks). And, we weren’t bored for even one second. So, what should you do?
Well, let me start with the most important thing. First, you need to book a room about a mile or so outside of the main tourist area. Better still, make it a third floor walk-up. Trust me on this. You are going to be eating a lot. You will need to walk a lot too unless you want to gain 10 pounds. More on that in a later post. Anyway, check out the Macarena neighborhood — lots of bars, restaurants, groceries, and locals. It was the perfect place for us and it meant most days we walked a minimum of four miles.
We spent a month in Puerto Vallarta. Here are some random thoughts from our time there.
We were in Puerto Vallarta during the slowest time of the year (September). Many of the restaurants were closed. Some nights, we were the only couple eating at a restaurant for most of the night. We never had a problem finding a beach chair or getting a seat at a bar or restaurant without reservations. It was a bit strange, and I don’t know how any place stays open during September. We met an expat who called it the “perfect season” because the streets weren’t filled with tourists. But, we were also told that the locals call it the “hungry season” and are forced to barter for what they need because nobody has cash. I guess it is all about one’s perspective, huh?
Puerto Vallarta has every class of food imaginable, from dirt cheap to Chicago expensive. And, to be quite honest, we didn’t have a single bad meal the entire month we stayed in Puerto Vallarta. So, where should you eat?
First, you have to try some tacos. They seem to be the most popular dish in town and are cheap too — generally around 15 pesos (about 75 cents) a taco — although perhaps I should say cheap for us because the locals consider 15 pesos to be expensive for a taco. I never knew I liked tacos until I had tacos in Puerto Vallarta….
There are two very important things to know about tacos in Puerto Vallarta. First, the most famous tacos are “tacos al pastor.” Basically, the chef takes slices of pork, stacks them on a vertical spit, and then slowly cooks them as they spin around next to a nice hot fire. When the pork is done, the chef slices small pieces off the spit and puts them on a tortilla or two. Voila! An al pastor taco. If you are familiar with schwarma, same concept, very different protein.
One of the things we really enjoyed about Puerto Vallarta was the wildlife.
We saw some really cool duck-like birds. Mom, dad, and a whole ton of babies decided to swim in our hotel swimming pool one day.
One of our favorite things to do when we visit a new place with delicious street food is to go on a food tour. It is a great way to get a feel for the local food and to find a venue or two with good food to use as a comparison going forward. While in Puerto Vallarta, we booked the Tacos and Street Food Adventure with Chef’s Pass.
Our first stop was a hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Pajaritos. It was just a couple of blocks from our apartment, but we would have no doubt never found it on our own. Pajaritos is a seafood joint and had some very interesting tacos. Think things like fish roe tacos, octopus tacos, and shrimp wrapped in bacon tacos. Robert loved all the tacos. Me, not so much. But, I did love the aqua fresca. The restaurant makes it fresh each day and the flavor varies. On the night we visited, it was made with some sort of local fruit we had never heard of and it was delicious.
One of the things we enjoy when taking road trips is stopping along the way to see cheesy, corny fun stuff. And, boy, did we succeed recently.
Did you know the world’s biggest covered wagon is located in Lincoln, Illinois? Yep, it is. It sits on the lawn of a Best Western. I have no idea where the world’s biggest horse or oxen went off to after parking the wagon in front of the Best Western…. And, I have no idea why Abe Lincoln sits in the front seat reading a book.
Continuing with the theme of how weird Wisconsin can be, as we road-tripped south we stopped to see Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron in an art sculpture garden in the middle of pretty much nowhere situated back behind a place called Delaney’s Surplus Sales.
No, I didn’t spell that wrong. Jurustic Park and Jurassic Park are two completely different things.
One of the things growing up in Wisconsin taught me is that Wisconsin is weird. Come on, Wisconsin is home to at least two world famous serial killers. Ed Gein liked to make lampshades out of human faces and cover his furniture with human skin. Jeffrey Dahmer engaged in necrophilia and liked to keep skulls as souvenirs. Look it up if you don’t believe me. If that isn’t weird enough for you, the official state dance is a polka — seriously, the polka. Wisconsin produced both Liberace and Joseph McCarthy. Kids compete in jump rope competitions every year, hoping to earn a trip to Bloomer, the jump rope capital of the world. While the official state beverage is milk, any true Wisconsinite will tell you that the unofficial state beverage is beer and that the unofficial state cocktail is a brandy Old Fashioned (although, personally, I prefer a brandy slush served out of a Kemps ice cream bucket). You won’t go to a potluck without finding a bowl of Cool Whip mixed with red Jello (often with a can of fruit cocktail mixed in for good measure). Hunting season is a school holiday in rural areas (or, at least it used to be). And, Wisconsinites are proud to be called Cheeseheads. Which might just be because, at least as of a few years ago, Wisconsin was home to 7 of the top 10 drunkest cities in the country.
But, if you have any doubt about how weird Wisconsin is, just visit the House on the Rock.