We headed to Bilbao in the morning to see the famous Guggenheim museum! It was really cool! They had a giant dog made out of flowers in the front and some really good and powerful pieces inside. Then we got lunch at a place called Don Crepes which was delicious! We kept trying to find crepe places because we thought we’d have better luck there with the food, and this one did not disappoint! Afterwards we headed to Castillo de Butron, which is a gorgeous and spooky castle in the middle of a small town in the hills that is completely abandoned. It kind of broke my heart a bit to see it in such terrible condition, but I guess it was too expensive to keep up with due to the wrong building materials for the weather in that area being used when it was first built! Walking around the castle was super spooky because it’s surrounded by a lush green forest and there are no buildings around it. It was beautiful there though, but I totally was nervous we’d be murdered or something ha ha
We headed to San Sebastian but first explored a bit around the tiny town we had been staying for the last two nights called Deba. Both places were gorgeous. There’s just something about overcast, kinda rainy days and beaches that just fill my soul with sheer joy and contentment. Then we headed to and spent the night in Zaragoza!
In the morning we walked around for a bit in Zaragoza, saw their giant cathedral, bought some souveniers for the kids and then ate at a yummy place called Meli del Tubo! It was nice to find a spot with good food! Then we drove back to Barcelona for the rest of the day to spend out last night before our flights left the next morning.
And before I end- here are the details as to why Spanish food was hard for us!
I think there are a couple of factors that were kind of working against us here - I think the main one is that the Spanish people eat at different times than Americans. Their breakfast was more around 10/11am, lunch was 3/4pm and dinner was 9/10pm. So when we were hungry at typical American times, none of their higher rated restaurants were open. And the only ones that were open were a lot of smaller, cheaper places that didn’t have the best options.
I think the other big struggle was that I’m not sure if Spain has health code food regulations, and if they do, it seemed like they were different than the US, at least from our experiences. Most of their restaurants and cafes we went to would have food already made in their display windows and on their countertops to show what kind of food they offered. But these food items weren’t being refrigerated or heated while on display- they were just sitting out. And when you ordered an item, if it was already in the display, they’d take it from there and just reheat it, which often meant we got luke warm food, and we had no idea when it was created. (could have been a few days ago, could have been that morning, who knows!) So I think that was hard on our stomachs since we’re used to really strict health code laws in America. (we sometimes complain about all of the regulations and “hoops” we have to jump through at times but I see the genius in it now!) The cheaper food places would also advertise really good looking food in their menus, and then the actual meal looked nothing like it ha ha I’m sure some places do that in America too though!
The last thing is that in America, we spice the heck out of things, add all the butter and sugar and have a LOT of options of food to eat -no matter your food budget. It’s totally why we’re all struggling with being chubby ha ha but in Spain, they prefer natural flavors and hardly any spices (not even salt and pepper!) and like to stick to the basics!
I’m sure if we had been able to readjust our meal times we would have had much better luck for sure! Their pastries were definitely yummy, and we loved their gelato. (although I guess the company we loved most is actually Italian ha ha Amorino! The best.) And not every meal we ate was bad either. :) We had some good ones in there!
They are really big on things called Tapas- which is basically just how they serve their food. Everything on the tapas menu is basically like a little appetizer plate of something, and it’s usually customary to order multiples of them for your meal! They are also big on Paella which is kind of like a seafood curry- lots of pieces of seafood in a sauce with rice. We also tried the Tortilla Espanola, an omelet of potatoes and eggs (kinda bland in my opinion- no spices or cheese or sauce with it) and many many other things. My greatest advice to you if you are ever headed to Spain would be to look up the higher rated restaurants in the places you are going before hand and try to plan your meals and day on when they’ll be open and just eat snacks to tide you over until then! In our experience, cheap paella was blech, expensive paella was really really good. I feel a little nervous to share all of this because I don’t want to seem like a spoiled and hard to please American ha ha but most people I’ve talked to who have also been to Spain have said similar things!
One other funny thing about being outside of America is customer service, or the lack thereof ha ha In America, we take that very seriously, (“the customer is always right!”) and we’re afraid of bad reviews but pretty much everywhere I’ve traveled to thus far, no other country seems to care about the customer, and frankly they seem to see you as an annoyance really ha ha (definitely true in Argentina and France, as well as Spain) the people working in the restaurants and cafes especially - they acted as if they were doing us a huge favor by feeding us, and didn’t seem to care if we liked it or not ha ha SO different than America! The overall attitude seemed to be “here’s your food. Be grateful.” ha ha ha we just found it so funny how different our countries were in this manner! I’ll also add that not EVERY restaurant was like this, some servers were incredibly kind and went out of their way to talk with us and be helpful, but I will say that this kind of annoyed attitude seemed to be norm during our time there. And admittedly, as tourists, we could have been doing things oddly or wrong and bugging them! ha ha who knows!
The other funny thing servers did was they’d often stand behind you or in front of you and just silently watch you eat your food! ha ha this was the most awkward in the restaurant in Valencia where I posted those pictures of sea food in part 1. This girl and another waiter stood in front of us, LOUDLY talking so we couldn’t even hear each other, and just watched us eat our food. We were the only people in the section of the restaurant too so it felt extra awkward. And really most restaurant employees did this all throughout the country! So so funny. In America we are so big on privacy and convenience and being professional, and they just have different priorities in Spain. :) Not wrong at all! Just different than what we were used to and documenting here so I don’t forget!
But truly we loved our time in Spain. Their country is gorgeous and so dang clean, their people are beautiful, their architecture is heartbreakingly beautiful and it was so fun and inspiring to be in a land so rich with history. It is definitely a place you need to visit!