El Parc Natural del Delta de l’Ebre

25 10 2013
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

The city’s yet new, but weekend nature escapes feel just right. This time, amiga Maite invites me to el Delta del Ebro, Ebre en Catalan.

I have (very) vague memories of Histories of Spain 365 with Chris. There was some mention that the Peninsula was drier than you might expect, and I’m sure there was a quiz question about the major rivers that I missed. I do remember the name Ebro, though. The etymology of Iberian derives from it.

Where fresh meets salt, the shallowest of islands are swallowed up in seagulls. The short cruise we take doesn’t swing by close enough for a proper shot of the birds, but I’m pretty sure I note a faint “Mine? Mine?” in the humid air anyway.

Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

Post-boat, we head to Casa de Fusta, an institution in the Delta since 1926. The whole area is covered in swampy rice fields; the grains here are so renowned they actually carry their own D.O.P. to ensure the enthusiast of quality.

We split the menú de desgustación plus a few extra special entrantes between the table. The menú is a wide amalgamation of goodies from the sea, including brandada de bacalao, cigalas y sepia con cebolla y patatas, y arroz caldoso con rape y langostinos.

I’ve been promised that one may enjoy ortiguillas rebozadas – fried anemone – in this area, and so request it. They’re the mysterious breaded gooballs pictured above. Ñam!

Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

The terrain here is so flat that people build lookout points to be able to take a proper survey. There are 316 species of birds that make the Delta their home. Elongated necks and beaks can be seen picking about the fields from up here for kilometers.

Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

Post-rice feast, we take a much needed long walk on Playa de la Marquesa.

Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

Sea to one side, rice to the other, and this tiny strip of sand in between.

Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

Weekends are just so much longer this way.





Looking to Cuenca

5 02 2013
Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha
Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha

I first visited Cuenca in 2008 as a junior in college doing my study-abroad in Valencia. It was at that point in the program when everyone’s simply sick to death of each other, and hackles are raised by even the slightest provocation. Absolutely no one had any desire to be shipped away in a bus together, much less to this dinky middle-of-nowhere destination.

Although it was well into spring by the time of our visit, we were hit with a combination of sleet and hail upon arrival. None had thought to bring boots/umbrella, and the soggy time spent prowling the extreme slopes of Cuenca’s hills just served to exacerbate initial crankiness. Supposedly there were hanging houses somewhere in the murk, but hell if we cared enough at that point to suss them out.

Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha
Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha

After an obligatory group tour through the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español (which we all grudgingly admitted was pretty damn sweet. Check out Antonio Saura’s rendition of Brigitte Bardot), we scattered as far apart from each other as possible, each holing up in a different rincón of the city for stress beers. The designated hotel was located far from the center, however, and the mandate from on high was to be back in the bus by 10PM at the latest. Anyone who’s gone out at night in Spain knows this is early to the point of absurdity, and as such resulted in great trudging of feet.

Sopping, grumpy, and half-intoxicated across the board, we winced our way one by one onto the bus like bedraggled cats, and waited for a complete head count.

The last one to show was Chris, our coordinator for the semester. She was ripped, and immediately invited everyone to further drinks in the hotel bar. Well hey.

Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha

The mood did a 180, and the Backstreet Boys made an a capella appearance. Loud and thoroughly guiri, we burst all at once into the couldn’t-be-chintzier bar. Rum and cokes sprung into eager little fists, and we had ourselves a catharsis. Animosity blurred along with vision. Chris enthused about pool boy butts. And I’ve loved Cuenca ever since.

Returning this late December bore no comparison, and was completely lovely in its own right. I tried ajoarriero (the wiki makes it looks appealing. ours was a cold ceramic cazuela of white gloop) and zarajo (… don’t). I hit up another abstract art smorgasbord, Museo Fundación Antonio Pérez. And I managed to spy the hanging houses with my own eyes, unobstructed by cloud or malice.

Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha

w/r/t the title:
¿Alguna vez has puesto a alguien mirando hacia Cuenca? Sea cual sea tu respuesta, es muy probable que necesites esta aplicación.