Sunday, August 31, 2014

August Roundup

evening walk in denia
August. Or Frozen Yogurt Month. Same thing. We got settled into our new place, had our first guests (my cousins!), went to the beach, and saw some pretty neat places around Madrid. The heat isn't gone, and school doesn't start until next week, but when August 31st arrives, I feel like summer is coming to a close. Once again I've linked up with Leigh for What I'm Into.

What I'm Into  
Going: To some new-to-me tourist attractions in Madrid. I’m very excited to add to my list of places to see in the city. The Cerralbo Museum, The Palace of Cibeles.

Denia, the beach, is always wonderful no matter what season it is, but of course summer is even better because I can swim in the sea! We took one day off from beaching it to go to Les Fons del Algar, one of the most Bear Grylls-like experiences I’ve ever had. There are these waterfalls, which are beautiful, and you can swim at the bottom in the water (pretty cold, a nice change from the sea) after you hike through the river, carrying your things over your head! Sounds like a soap commercial, but then you can hike-swim toward the source and Irish Spring turns into Tide Tough Stain Remover. It was awesome. Actually, my cousin Tweedle N said it was one of the most awesome things she has ever done. Tweedle E was just glad to make it out of there. Highly recommended if you’re around the Costa Blanca.

together again in cuenca
An afternoon in Cuenca, a cliff-top town with impressive views of karst landscape. Also impressively, with houses build onto the cliff sides. As in, they're just handing there.

Merida, where we saw some very impressive Roman ruins. Nerd alert - I love ruins, and so should you! Isn't it amazing to think how far people managed to travel sans airplane, and how good they were at building? 

We also went to Caceres, a newer, but still old city (especially for North Americans - we really don't have any old-old buildings, do we?) which is a UNESCO heritage site. It has a very impressive old town centre with buildings mainly from the 14th to 16th centuries, although some date back to the 1200s and part of a wall from 29BC. Wow.

old post office ceiling (!!!), madrid
The village festival. It was like going to a fall fair, only with more fireworks, more music, more food, more days and wearing a prom dress. Intense.

Reading: Impressively (to me), I'm nearly through a 1000 page Spanish novel, Dispara, yo ya estoy muerto (Shoot, I'm already dead). It's taken me a while; I started at Easter but didn’t really dive in until we were at the beach. This is not a commuting book. It’s huge and thanks to reading it I have biceps that would make Tony Danza cry.

I loved this story – it followed two families, one Jewish, one Muslim, from the Jewish family’s escape from revolutionary Russia to Palestine via France. Settling near Jerusalem, they purchase some land and became the Muslim family’s landlords. The two families work the land and become closely intertwined against a backdrop of growing unrest, first in the Ottoman Empire and Russia, and the wider spread conflict of the Great War. The story (stories, actually) are told by an NGO reporter, trying to help restore land to Muslim families, and the son of the original Jewish immigrant, now an old man. Two different viewpoints, two different religions, two different countries, but one end – understanding. A timely book.
pigeons helping themselves to some chips
Watching: Thank you, Tweedle E, for introducing me to Brooklyn Nine-Nine. If you’re looking for a laugh, check it out. Lots of SNL people in this, a police version of 30 Rock.

“Psychologists are just people who weren’t smart enough to become psychics”

“I was born for politics – I have great hair, and I love lying”

"Any food-related crime is a tragedy!"

Eating: Frozen yogurt, as I mentioned. Specifically, Greek frozen yogurt with fruit, with toasted coconut sauce, with dark chocolate, or plain. SO GOOD. And very easy to make.

Pisto, a good food to transition from summer to fall. It's Spanish ratatouille - onions, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and of course, olive oil, and you can eat it hot or cold.

Gazpacho, a cold tomato soup, is also frequently on the menu. Packs in veggies and refreshing coolness in one.

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