Ribadesella, A Gem on the Asturian Coast

Recently, while going through my Instagram, Mario commented sardonically, “You didn’t like Asturias much, did you?” True enough, there are six consecutive photos of Asturian scenery, along with one delicious tomato and sardine salad we enjoyed during our two-day stay there. I couldn’t help it! Asturias was everything I adore: beaches inspiring awestruck silence and wonder, mist-covered mountain ranges, the sounds of bleating sheep and barking hunting dogs, dangerously tortuous mountain roads, and the ringing of autochthonous cows’ bells while they munched happily on the local vegetation. So sue me—I loved Asturias!

Ribadesella (Asturian: Ribeseya) was one of our first stops after our brief pause in Burgos.

Asturias Ribadesella

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Chinchón—A Plaza Mayor to Rival Salamanca’s

As far as as Plaza Mayors go, I’ve always had a clear favorite: Salamanca. Now, not to hate on Madrid (though I don’t have a problem doing that at times), but for me, nothing rivals Salamanca’s gorgeous Plaza Mayor. It’s where I met up with Mario on our first dates (we met, as do most couples and friends, debajo del reloj), it’s where I picnicked on sunny days with my guiri friends, it’s the square I crossed daily on the way to my internship.

Last autumn, though, some friends of ours invited us to visit Chinchón, a small village about 50 km southwest of Madrid, with a population of roughly 5,000 people. They too are a couple like us: one Spaniard, one guiri from the Midwest. They got married in this town, and I immediately saw why they were drawn to it.

Chinchón Plaza Mayor Madrid

Its Plaza Mayor, Main Square in English (though I never translate this phrase), is a classic medieval construction. All around the outside are houses and buildings with balconies. Many of these have been converted into restaurants, so you can sit outside on the rickety (or so it seems) wooden scaffolding and enjoy your menu del día.

Since its construction, the square has been home to various events: royal fiestas, comedy shows, jousting, bullfights, religious sacraments, executions, and even home to a movie set or two (Around the World In 80 Days, for example).

Chinchón Plaza Mayor MadridChinchón Plaza Mayor Madrid

Chinchón is also known for its eponymous beverage, a form of anisette, made from aniseed macerated for half a day in a hydroalcoholic solution (usually wine). Later it’s distilled in copper stills for different amounts of time, leading to distinct varieties, including:

Chinchón Anis Sweets
The liqueur is also used to make many sweets (Source)

  • Sweet, useful for cooking at 35% alcohol
  • Dry, no sugar and 43% alcohol
  • Special Dry, a stronger variety at 74% alcohol

I actually hate aniseed, so we passed on trying this libation.

Chinchón Plaza Mayor  Madrid

Chinchón Plaza Mayor  Madrid

Chinchón Madrid

Which villages have you visited around Madrid? What’s your favorite?

Traveling through Ibiza by Motorbike

As a tourist, what’s the best city to visit in Spain? Many will say Madrid or Barcelona, those being the biggest cities, while others might mention pueblos that they visited in the past, perhaps located in Asturias or Galicia. But all the party animals will say definitely Ibiza.

And it’s true, Ibiza is the party capital of Spain, but maybe you don’t enjoy crowded places, or perhaps you’d like to visit different parts of the island.

If you enjoy riding a motorbike, there are lots of different things you can see. There are several routes you can take with your motorbike to enjoy Ibiza’s wonders, from its beaches to its villages and forests located in the interior of the island. You can check some of them in the Official Tourism Site of Ibiza.

What if you don’t have your own bike or can’t bring yours to the island? No problem, because you can rent a bike on the island, and for a pretty good price as well!

So, where can you go with your bike? Here are some recommendations from the islanders.

La Cala Benirras (The Benirras Cove)

Located 9 kilometers from San Joan, this cove has some of the most amazing views in Ibiza, but you must have a vehicle, since there’s no public transport available in the area. If you like the sun, you can lay out on the beautiful sandy beach. You’ll find craft vendors, music, and chiringuitos here, but the best way is to traverse the cliffs surrounding the cove and visit the pueblo San Miguel.

La Cala d’Hort (The Orchard Cove)

Ibiza-CalaHort

Who doesn’t like a beautiful sunset? You can’t miss La Cala d’Hort. Most islanders consider this cove the best spot to see sun set in all of Ibiza. With the giant rocks Es Vedra and Es Vedranell, two rocks surfacing from the sea in front of the cove, it’s an image worthy of a postcard as the sun sets on the distant horizon. After darkness falls, you can drive to the nearby village San José to have dinner before retiring for the night.

Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera

Ibiza-SantaGertrudis

If you’d like to get away from the crowds of the beaches and the cities, this town is the perfect spot to do so. Located in the geographical center of the island, it’s one of the iconic villages of Ibiza, due to its unique Ibizan ambiance (though calm and peaceful—no party vibe). With its white houses and pleasant streets, those who like quiet and calm will feel quite at home.

Have you ever traveled by motorbike anywhere? What’s your favorite spot in Ibiza?