A day trip to Italica

When we first started planning our trip to Seville, we thought we would take quite a few day trips to surrounding towns.  As it turned out, we absolutely fell in love with Seville and didn’t want to leave.  So, we didn’t take many day trips at all.  However, the Roman ruins of Italica were only a short bus ride away (some websites even suggest walking, but we do not), so we did devote half a day to a visit.

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Statue at Italica.

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A day trip to Cadiz

After spending a several months in Cadiz, Kentucky (where the town is pronounced kind of like kaye deez), it was time to see the REAL Cadiz (where the town is pronounced kind of like ka dee).  So, we dragged ourselves out of bed before it was even light out, walked 30 minutes to the train station in Seville, and hopped on the 8:30 am train to Cadiz.  Just under two hours later, we arrived in the REAL Cadiz.

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Robert outside the train station.

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What to eat in Seville

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.

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Yema sobre bizcocho de boletus y vino caramelizado at Eslava.  It is a slow cooked egg on (I think) a mushroom cake with a caramelized wine reduction.  Robert said it was delicious — I didn’t get near it.  I do have to admit it was pretty….

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What to do in Seville

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.

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One of the many cones eaten in Seville.  This one was coconut gelato and blood orange sorbet.  So good!

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Final thoughts on Mexico

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?

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Iguana at the pool.

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Where to eat in Puerto Vallarta

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.

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Slicing the al pastor.

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The critters of Puerto Vallarta

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.

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Ducks in the swimming pool.

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Puerto Vallarta Food Tour

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.

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Fish roe taco, octopus wrapped in bacon taco, and a boring old bean taco on the side at Pajaritos,

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Only in America….

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.

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The world’s biggest covered wagon.

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Wisconsin is weird — Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron

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.

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A small portion of the Forevertron.

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