Monday, March 29, 2010

Best meal of the trip

There were tons of gastronomic highlights along the way but one restaurant stood out above the others - Vineria San Telmo in Sevilla.  It was just so outstanding.  I want to try every single item on the menu.  I found it on TripAdvisor.  I will post a glowing review in the hopes that other travelers who love food as much as I do can find it and enjoy it. 

Stay tuned for my photos

I will post them online soon to bring some life to my blog entries.


Loved Spain.  The trip was great.  The trip was super busy.  I covered a ton of ground.  I visited 5 cities in 10 days.  I'm bummed that I lost a day in Madrid to start my trip since that city was so awesome!  I drank tons of wine and beer.  I learned about sherry and manzanilla.  I learned a ton about Spanish food.  History, there was a ton of history I learned about.

I have a new team to root for in the upcoming World Cup.  Go Spain!

Starbucks in Sevilla

This has to be the worst business decision ever by Starkbucks.  3 euro for a huge cup of Starbucks coffee or just over a euro of the local coffee which is superior in every way.  The coffee is Spain is very legit.  Delicious.  I loved starting my day with a cafe con leche.  Cafe solo very good too.

Who the hell is going to pay the price for Starbucks??  No way the local people will.  I suppose that leaves the tourists and American students.  I don't believe there are enough of them to sustain the business.  I saw at least 4 Starbucks in close proximity.

Starbucks in Sevilla is destined to fail.

Thoughts on Sevilla

My first impression was that it was touristy.  The town really grew on me once I got away from the heavily touristed Bario Santa Cruz.  The city is extremely beautiful and definitely a great place to linger.  The people are well dressed and love to stroll.  If I lived in Sevilla I would be out strolling all the time too.  Tons of great tapas in Sevilla.  In summary, I loved the town.

Final day in Sevilla!

Glorious weather!  22C which I'm guessing is probably 76F.  Super comfortable.  No wind, no clouds.  Visited the bull fighting museum in the morning.  Very, very interesting.  I would have liked to have seen a bull fight.  Next time!  The season doesn't start until April.  Visited the Alcazar in the late afternoon.  Super interesting with lots of similarities to the Alhambra in Granada.  A great garden to walk through at the end.

Dinner was the best I had of my trip at Vineria San Telmo!  Amazing food and super reasonable.  I wish I went earlier in Sevilla since I would've been there every night.   #1 in TripAdvisor for a very good reason.  The food was classic Spanish with a modern twist.  The tapas were unbelievable!  Service was great too.

Enjoyed my second Flamenco show after dinner.  Very nice!

Back in NYC!

Great trip.  I have some final thoughts on Sevilla and Spain though.  More posts to come.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Enjoying my final day in Sevilla

A lovely day here in Sevilla.  Blue skies and plenty of sun.  Enjoyed a tour of the bullfighting ring this morning.  Wish I could have seen a bull fight.  The season runs from April to October so I am out of luck.  I have only one more sight to see in this city so I´m having a relaxing day of just walking around.  As with the other cities I have have visited in Spain, Sevilla is perfect for strolling. 

I have been having fun speaking a little Spanish with the locals here.  I like to try to order things at restaurants in Spanish and make a little small talk.  Would be fun to take a Spanish language coarse and try to get better.  As of now I feel inspired to do so. 

I begin my journey home tomorrow early afternoon by flying from Sevilla to Madrid.  I hope my luck is better on the return trip in terms of delays.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Did the day trip to Cordoba.  Very nice town.  Loved the famous Mezquita.  Tomorrow is the last day in Sevilla.  Some ground to cover including the bullfighting museum.  Hit Dave´s favorite tapas place tonight.  Great food.  Lovely Rioja by the glass.  Saw an interesting religious procession in town at 2300.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cordoba tomorrow?

Might switch gears and do Cordoba as a day trip instead.  Any thoughts Dave?

Italian dinner was a major bust

Must stick to Spanish food while in Spain.  They don´t have much in the way of other cuisines available.  The Italian place recommended by Rick was awful.  I´ve had better frozen pizzas before.  I asked for a Rioja and got something else.  Asked for tap water in Spanish and got bottled water.  Oh well. 

Watched Real Madrid bury some other team.  Not a big club.  CR had an extremely sick goal.  The Spanish guys were going nuts. 

Dinner tonight

Taking a break from Spanish food and trying an Italian place near my hotel.  The inside looks great.  Pizza sounds good.  I wonder if they will serve Italian wine.  I have yet to see anything other than Spanish wine at any place I have visited.  The beer continues to be great in this country.  Very light and fresh tasting.  Love the small cups they serve it in. 

A Iniesta

Watched FC Barcelona last night.  Iniesta is a damn genius with the ball.  He assisted on both of the goals.  Barca won 2-0.  Iniesta is just an outstanding football player with amazing vision, good speed and control.  Xavi did not play.  Don´t know why.  Messi had his chances but did not score.  I will watch Real Madrid tonight at 20:00.  Very fun to watch these matches with the Spanish in a local bar.


Long train trip yesterday from Granada.  It seemed to take forever.  Some good views along the way.  Lots of olive trees in the country side.  Walked around the town yesterday in the afternoon.  The Santa Cruz neighborhood was very charming but unfortunately overrun with tourists and tour groups.  Did I mention how much I hate tour groups??  Did Rick´s walking tour yesterday and took a nap.  I was worn out from my final night in Granada.  Too much Rioja and sherry.  Had to watch futbol after dinner with some beer too. 

Doing more walking today.  I must have walked 100 miles already.  Death march stuff that Bunksy hated.  Saw the church here this morning.  Went to bullring for a tour but it was closed.  Will see it on Saturday.  Doing a daytrip to Rondo tomorrow.  I feel like I can easily cover the sights in Sevilla in a day.  Ronda is a hill town.  2 hour bus ride.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tiger Woods

Just saw his short interview on the BBC this morning.  This guy sounds like a total deuche bag!  He should just keep his mouth shut and play golf.  What a tool he has turned out to be. 

About last night

Forgot to add that the American lady in the restaurant asked for Tabasco sauce!  Come on lady.  You aren´t at Applebee´s!  What a fool.  I couldn´t believe she was complaining that her bread was tastless.  They give you bread to pad your bill dummy!  I just refuse it when I sit down. 

Buenos Dias from Granada

Enjoying some coffee and checking mail this morning prior to my trip to Sevilla.  Granada was an amazing city to visit.  2 days was the perfect amount of time.  Thanks again for the tips Dave O.  To walk around in a city with such a long and rich history is just awesome.  I am very thankful to have this opportunity to see and enjoy it. 

I woke up to a nice phone call from Lilly.  She stayed up late to give me a ring.  Oh and I had a little bit of a hangover from all the beer, Rioja and sherry.  Damn that sherry was good last night!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A generous gentleman in Granada

So tonight I was comtemplating dinner.  I had two options - one a tapas bar specializing in fried seafood and two a sit down Spanish place that is known for its main dishes.  Being a solo diner I started at the tapas bar.  It was very local.  Very good for me, I love to immerse myself in the local scene.  Not a foreigner in the bar as far as I could tell.  This makes me happy.  The menu was all deep fried fish and shellfish.  Not exactly what I was in the mood for.  My backup restaurant is a sit down place, more of the typical restaurant.  The word is it is tourist early and local late.  The Spanish don´t do dinner early.  They start at perhaps 2200.  I was hungry so I did the tourist thing and ate early.  I sat down in between two tables of Americans.  The first, a table of parents with their college aged American daughter.  I saw this in Madrid.  There are a lot of American college kids studying in Spain.  This table did not sit well with me from the start.  The mother had a LV bag and dyed hair.  She talked like she thought she was the Queen.  She was a typical well off American ignorant cow.  Her husband was overweight, poorly dressed and had a goatee.  The daughter talked like a drunken sailor.  I guess she thought since she was studying Spanish she owned the fucking world.  What an embarrassment.  So many rich and sloppy Americans in Europe. 

The next table was an American couple.  I´d estimate they were in there late 50s.  The woman was dictating for 20 minutes straight out of the Rick Steve´s guidebook to her hapless husband.  He was a sad sap that had no balls.  She was a type-A American woman with sharp glasses and a large mouth.  She addressed the waiter in accented American English.  No attempt at Spanish.  No gracias.  No la cuenta por favor.  Nothing.  She thought she owned the fucking place.  What an ugly American.  I hate people like that.  She complained about how tasteless her 0.60 Euro bread was.  Get a grip lady.   

At the far table was a Japanese couple in their early 60s I would estimate.  The man was ordering up the whole damn menu.  Hamon Iberico, a bottle of Reserva wine and an assortment of other things.  He reminded me of Francone.  The dude wanted to taste the whole damn menu.  I liked that.  He asked the waiter for some grilled shrimp in very broken English.  The waiter did not understand what he said.  My Spanish is limited but I knew what he wanted.  Gambas al la plancha.  I communitcated this to the waiter.  The Japanese man thanked me in his broken English.  I knew he was from Japan so I asked him where he was from.  Osaka, he answered.  I have been there with Dave last year.  Great city, tons of lights.  A very futuristic place for a kid from the Valley.  I told him that I had been there and then I listed off some of the native foods from Osaka.  Okinomiyaki and takoyaki.  He was so happy to hear this.  I told him I had been to Japan 4 times and that I loved it.  I really do.  Japan is one of my favorite places to visit.  I love the food and the people.  I know they have a brutal history.  Tora, Tora, Tora and other unspeakable atrocities but I´m too young to hold that against them.  What I know is a people with great mannors, a love for travel, deep respect and honor.  I asked the couple about their wine.  I don´t think they understood me.  They asked me if I liked sushi.  Well of course I do.  I told them I love toro and uni.  Oh yes, he was happy.  I told him I love shabu shabu, sake and shochu.  I love yakitori too.  He loved it. I spoke to him in the Japanese that I know which is minimal.  I know how to say delicious and a few other basic things.   

My meal had ended and I ordered a glass of sherry.  The sherry in Spain is different from what we have in the USA.  This was a dry sherry and damn delicious.  Knowing that my new Japanese friend was a man of great taste I told the waiter to send him and his wife glasses of the sherry on my tab.  The man was so taken by this gesture.  His wife downed the glass of sherry.  I love a woman who can drink.  Japanese women sure can drink with the best of them and this woman was no exception.  When my new friend´s bill came he instructed the waiter that he wanted to cover my bill.  I refused but he also refused.  We went back and forth.  The Japanese man covered my bill in cash.  My main was 19, my bottle of wine was 14 and my sherry was something like 5. It was super generous of this complete stranger to pick up my bill.  I absolutely refused to the waiter but the cash did the talking.  I insisted on treating my new friends to more drinks after dinner but they were keen to get a taxi as they were visiting the Alhambra in the morning.  I have never had a complete stranger pick up my dinner tab like this.  I am deeply humbled by this man´s generosity.  I think he could sense my love for Japan and its culture.  Funny how my grandfather was set to fight against the Japanese before he was held back by polio.  He referred to them as Japs.  I wish he had the chance to know them like I do.  Amazing how things can change in a short period of time.  The Japanese are good people.  I feel the Germans are good people too. I have some great German friends. 

I finished my evening by watching some futbol and enjoying a caña.  I chatted with a nice Romanian lady working at my hotel.  She immigrated to Spain 10 years ago and has never been to Madrid.  I told here what a party town it is.  This girl is in her mid 20s.  She should get to Madrid and enjoy the great party action there.

Spain is a wonderful, vibrant country.  I feel very comfortable here and I enjoy using what little bit of Spanish that I know.  I try my best to act like a local.  I feel inspired to learn more of their native language. 


Visited the famous Alhambra this morning.  Super enjoyable visit.  Took lots of photos that should be wonderful to share with you.  Since this is a major attraction there were tons of large group tours.  I really find these groups highly annoying.  They take up a ton of room and don´t seem to care when they block a major walking path.  The main culprits today were Germans and Italians.  I was surprised not to see large Japanese tour groups.  In fact, I think I only saw one today.  The Japanese love to travel in large tour groups.  Thankfully I didn´t see any American tour groups.  Just a few other people like me with a Rick Steve´s guide to Spain. 

Had a shawarma for lunch (not so good) and then popped into a nice little Spanish place for 2 cañas (small beers) and two plates of delicious tapas. 

Right now is siesta time with many sites closed.  I will resume my walking of the city at 1600. 

Another beautiful day in Granada. Adios!

Monday, March 22, 2010


There are tons of tourists in Spain right now during the shoulder season.  I would say the majority of the foreigners that I have heard speak are Americans.  You can´t tell by the dress - most of the time.  You have to hear the spoken words.  So many Yanks in Madrid and I´m finding the same thing here in Granada.  Who said Americans don´t travel abroad?  I said that many times but I appear to be wrong.  Lots of American college students in this country too.  I sure wish I would have gone abroad when I was in college.  I seem to have made up for it though. 

People in España

It seems that no one works in this country.  The streets are packed all the time with people strolling.  They love to stroll and I don´t blame them because the city centers are perfect for strolling.  Lots of families and groups are out strolling all the time.  Mid week and mid day.  God bless them.  I love the European lifestyle.  People in the US are too focused on their jobs and other material bullshit possesions.  Here in Spain there are lots of nice cars and the natives dress well so they don´t seem short on Euros.

Hola from Granada

Woke up to a gorgeous morning in Madrid and took a long and slow 5 hour train to Granada.  The weather was perfect.  25C, not sure what it is in American temp but damn comfortable.  Took awhile to find my hotel.  Was a bit turned around on the bus from the train station.  This city is much more modern than I anticipated.  Once I found my room I immediately put my shorts on and grabbed my shades.  Did a bunch of walking again but felt good today.  No back pain.  Had some tapas and wine for dinner.  Heading back out to walk around the Moorish quarter here before going to bed.

Touring the famous Alhambra in the morning.  It looks great from the distance!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Botin for dinner

My last dinner in Madrid on this trip was at restaurant Botin.  A famous place for 2 reasons - Hemingway ate here and wrote about it as the best meal he ever had.  I´m sure Papa would not write about it anymore!  Botin is also documented as the oldest restaurant in the world dating back to early 1700s.  This place is in every single guide book.  Tourist trap beyond.  Usually I run the other way at these type of places.  Oh yes I do.  I had several people tell me that I HAD TO EAT HERE IN MADRID.  THIS IS THE BEST RESTAURANT YOU WILL EVER EAT AT.  Ok, ok, please.  I refuse to believe anything is the best ever unless we are talking about Alinea in Chicago.  Further red flags.  The people giving me these recommendations are not iron clad, can´t miss, God´s palate types like Mark, my brother, Dave O or Khao.  I went anyways.  It wasn´t horrible.  I had the roasted baby lamb - house specialty.  It was OK.  I have had tons of better lamb though.  It was very mediocare to be honest.  Service was friendly but disorganized.  Had a nice half bottle of 2005 Rioja with the baby and a free glass of dry sherry on the house.  Very tasty. 

Granada tomorrow!  Is this a sister city to my hometown Granada Hills????

Solo Travel

Solo travel is fine.  I am enjoying it.  I have met some other interesting travelers.  Haven´t noticed many single travelers like myself.  I haven´t much talked to the Spanish people since the language barrier is too great.  I should´ve studied Spanish harder in high school.  Trying to order in restaurants is a challenge.  Even when I speak Spanish the people here can´t understand much of what I am saying.   

Holy Toledo!

Had a great day trip to the city of Toledo.  30 minutes on the fast train.  Lots of walking in the historic center.  Tons of tourists.  I can´t imagine how many would be there during the high season.  I thought about spending a night there but Dave O was right on with his advice to do a day trip.  Thanks Dave!  I covered the town in a few hours and was ready to get back to Madrid.

Tonight is my final night in this fine city.  I am pretty tired from last night´s excesses.  Might take a nap before hitting my favorite tapas bar Tempranillo and dinner later at the famous Botin.  Suckling pig is the specialty of the house.

I have a 9am train to the city of Granada tomorrow.  Very much looking forward to this next destination.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Big time party city.  During the day the streets are dead and at night it is party hard.  Had great tapas tonight and watched Real take down Sporting.  Tomorrow is Toledo.  Talked with some nice Japanese ladies from Osaka tonight and a couple from Atlanta.  Madrid is great.  I am thumbs up on this destination.

Best Bar Thus Far

Tempranillo on Calle Cava Baja.  Awesome wine selection by the glass and very cheap.  I will be back tonight.  I had a lovely plate of chorizo on top of bread with olive oil last night.  I might have it again tonight.  The menu is entirely in Spanish so it is hard for me to understand what the items are.  I am surprised at how little English is spoken in this city.

Spanish and standing too close

Throughout the day I was subjected to people who stand too close to me.  This was happening when I was in line for things.  People will stand so close to you that they are touching you.  It annoyed me.  I kept moving but it kept happening again and again.  I never said anything about it.  I also noticed how frequently you get bumped walking the streets in Madrid.  There is no mention of sorry or con permiso as I believe they should say.  Just a minor annoyance here. 

Busy Saturday on my feet

It was hard to sleep through the night with all the drunks coming back to my hotel in the middle of the night. Seems like most of the people staying here are young Americans. They hit the town hard last night. I was in bed by midnight so I could be up early to visit the Royal Palace. Did a Rick Steve´s walking tour on the way there. Rick is always a very informative tour guide. The palace was very grand. Walked all over the city look for a McDonáld´s for lunch. I was craving a burger and fries. After lunch walked through the massive city park and visited a modern art museum. So much walking that my back is giving out. I´m back at my room resting my feet. More tapas and wine for dinner. Early train tomorrow for my day trip to Toledo.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Will visit the Royal Palace in the morning and find a place to catch some football in the afternoon.  Bummed to be missing March madness.  Always one of my very favorite sporting events.  No, there is no place showing it in Madrid. 

Real Madrid

Took an awesome stadium tour this afternoon.  I would love to see a match there.  They are playing tomorrow afternoon so it is possible.  I just don´t feel like dropping huge coin on it.  I will catch it on TV though.  I strongly prefer the Barca style of play though despite my love for Cristiano Ronaldo.


Lots of American college students here.  Very easy to pick up the English spoken.  Some English but more American college students.  They must love it.  This is a party city without a doubt.


Great concept.  As opposed to a full sit down meal you just stand at a bar and enjoy a small plate of food.  Had some great chorizo tonight as well as fried peppers.  A small beer is something like 1 euro to go with it or a nice Riojo for 2 euro.

Beer in Europe

The taste is superior and the cost is way less.  The same can be said for wine by the glass. 


I finally made it to Madrid after a 11 hour delay on my flight due to mechanical issues with the aircraft.  There was much chaos at JFK due to a lack of communication from Iberia.  I will spare you the details but I did spend a few hours in a hotel near JFK waiting for things to be sorted out.  The flight was smooth once we got going.  The Madrid airport is state of the art with top notch design.  Transfer into the city on the subway was great.  Very clean and modern. 

I found my hotel at 930pm and Madrid was jumping at that hour.  This seems to be a party town.  I dropped my bags and headed out to the tapas bars.  I had a few glasses of wine with my crispy grilled pigs ears.  Super tasty.  Also enjoyed a plate of grilled mushrooms with garlic.

Woke up early to tour the Prado museum.  They say it is one of the worlds greatest collections and I will not disagree. 

Raining now so deciding what to see next.  Thinking of visiting the home of Real Madrid.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Off to JFK

I'm off on my solo adventure to Spain.  It feels weird to not be going with Dave Ritchay.  We've been on a lot of great trips together starting in 2003.  In fact I don't think I have been on a major trip without him since. 

Beautiful day again in NYC.  The type of day that makes you glad to be alive.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Perfect Spring Day in NYC

Today could not have been nicer in New York City.  Pristine weather.  Wheels up tomorrow for Espana.  Shot from my roofdeck at 5pm this afternoon.

Garnet Wines, Upper East Side, NYC

Since my favorite wine store in Manhattan was in the last day of its red sale I had to stop by to pick up a few value bottles - Vietti Barbera, 07 Cotes du Rhone and Scavino Langhe Rosso.  I chatted with JR for awhile about the 08 Rhones.  He thinks they will be a very tough sale given the high prices and less than stellar growing conditions.  I can't disagree.

Lunch at Les Halles

Had an early lunch today with my old friend Thomas Liquard.  I haven't seen him in years and it was great to reconnect.  He is the type of friend that always brings a smile to my face.  We have been friends since we attended USC together.  

The food at Les Halles was super tasty.  I had the skirt steak with blue cheese sauce.  It came with Les Halle's justifiably famous frites.  They are awesome!  I looked for Tony but the only sign of him was his pictures on the walls.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mission Peak Hike

I haven't hiked mission peak in probably 20 years. It was a blast - beautiful views and great exercise. I can't wait to do it again soon. I made it up the hill in about 40 minutes. The weather was perfect for hiking. Crisp with unlimited visibility. I could see downtown LA from halfway up with peak. On my way down I was told of a rattlesnake on the path but I never saw him.

Post pizza ice cream in Brooklyn

After the awesome pizza we walked down the street to share a great scoop of ice cream at the Brooklyn Creamery. I just love this place!  The ice cream always tastes so fresh and rich. 

Pre trip pizza trip over the Brooklyn Bridge

It is amazing all the things you can do in NYC when you don't have to catch the 8:17am Metro North in Harlem and clock in at a job you hate. Lilly and I decided to walk the Brooklyn Bridge and take down a pepperoni and mushroom pie at Grimaldi's during the afternoon. We only waited 5 minutes for a table. The pizza was fantastic! Super thin crust with a great char. I ate four slices to Lilly's two. I had the remaining two for dinner later that night.