When Kris was younger, his family hosted a boy from Spain, Diego. Our next destination after Madrid was to see him. It was Christmas Eve. He lives in a town that is about 1.5 hours on high-speed rail from Madrid, Valladolid. We arrived early, around 10am. He picked us up from the train and drove us to his parents apartment. He is in the military and is now living in Valencia but was also spending Christmas in Vallodolid. His family welcomed us so warmly. They were so kind, and really excited to have us there. We stayed in Diego’s old bedroom. The bed was very comfortable and we had our own bathroom (always a plus).
Diego took us out for a walk around town before we needed to return by 1pm for lunch. The town was adorable. Much like Madrid, there was similar architecture and there was a church on every corner. Some teeny, some gigantic. He showed us his school, his favorite places to hang out, and had plenty of stories as we walked around. He is very proud of his town and where he comes from.
We stopped in the square and had a glass of wine and a snack. I had some kind of delicious soup, and they had a
Diego told us a story about the church in the photo below. Apparently it was designed to be one of the largest cathedrals but the man who was paying for it decided half way through that he didn’t wan’t to finish it. You can see the shiny marble towards the right and then you can see where it abruptly ends. The buildings that are nearby were supposed to be completely leveled, in addition to a church that was directly behind where I was standing to take the photo. Inside the cathedral, there are regular church services held but there is also lots of information about the building and how much bigger it was supposed to be (you can also see below on the plaque). When I walked in there, I was amazed at how massive it is for it only being half way completed. What an incredible story.
I really can’t say enough about how darling this town was. I think there was some significance in the history of Spain. In fact, I remember Diego telling us lots of stories as we walked around, however, it is now April so my memory of the stories has faded. But it is obvious when walking down the streets and there are little plaques like the one above telling the story of a building or site. The municipality has literally made the entire town into a museum. Along with being very clean, safe and friendly. I didn’t mention at the start that the population is about the same as Reno, but covers far less square miles because everyone lives in tall buildings.
After our little tour of town, we headed back to the flat for some lunch. Diego warned us that this wouldn’t be an ordinary Spanish lunch, it would be far more special because it was Christmas Eve. The food was incredible. At first, I wasn’t aware that they were bringing the dishes out one at a time, and I also wasn’t aware of HOW MANY dishes were coming. After a few, I got smart and started taking a picture of each. Some of my favorite things about Spanish food include the ‘jamon’ which is basically a gazillion types of cured pork. They hang a whole pigs leg after its been cured. Most shops have them. Apparently they are good for a few years. Something about that just doesn’t seem right, but it is certainly delicious. Getting back to lunch…here is a bit of what we enjoyed!
These are pictures from a few meals since I didn’t capture all. Basically, we had a HUGE lunch, then took a nap, then we woke up around 8, went for a walk and started dinner at 10pm. Jeez! On the plus side, staying up so late was nice because we could face time with the family on their Christmas Eve morning. When we finished dinner around 1am, his family all went to their grandparent’s house, we were invited, but we skipped out (more like wimped out). I was actually really glad we didn’t go, they didn’t come home till 5am!
Side note on the Spanish and how they eat: I really love how they really take their time eating. Diego’s mom (who was just adorable) literally spent all day in the kitchen preparing all this food and somehow managed to serve each course separately, hot and fresh. It was amazing! When I host a big dinner, half the time some of the stuff is cold, and I serve all the food at once, so all that build up and the food is devoured within 30 minutes. It must be a little more rewarding for the cook to serve this way, though. She brings out one dish at a time, and we ooo and aahhh over it and eat it slowly. Once we are done, she clears the plates and serves the next dish. That is why dinner would take about 2 or 3 hours. It was even the same when we’d go with Pablo. We’d have a reservation for 2pm lunch and would leave when it was dark. Those Spanish do it right! Don’t worry, I bought a spanish cuisine cookbook (Tapas y Pinxos).
It was an incredible Christmas away. We celebrated a truly authentic Spanish holiday.