Valls: Food + festival + human towers = best last-minute trip ever

Late January, Dreamer was browsing her well-worn copy of Fodor’s Spain travel guide, looking for a weekend destination for February. She looked up the Catalan city of Sitges, thinking it might be a fun destination for Carnival, and as she read a couple pages past that entry, a tiny paragraph about the nearby town of Valls caught her eye. Three things immediately jumped out: calçotada castellers and, most relevant, last Sunday of January. “Wait,” she thought. “That’s this Sunday!” It was Wednesday. But hey, we’re used to doing things the Spanish way now, right? And we love eating onions. The dynamic duo,

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Oranges at midnight: New Year in our old home

Feeling a little homesick for our first Spanish home, we accepted an invitation to spend New Year’s with friends in Vila-Real in the Valencian Community. The visit included a day trip, some jaunts into Valencia, and lots of oranges. Our first night in Vila-Real coincided with the San Silvestre run, an amateur event featuring a bevy of costumed runners. We were excited to sample some fresh-squeezed orange juice at this event, made in a giant orange and served near Vila-Real’s city hall. We even made a new friend, Andrés, who was kind enough to bring us some sweet new posters

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Christmas in Madrid

We spent our second Spanish Christmas in Madrid, a city that really embraces the holiday spirit. We were excited when we learned a Catalan couple living in Madrid was hosting traditional Catalan holiday dinners. We enjoyed the typical food and drink, but let’s be honest: our favorite part was singing the Caga Tío song. For our part, our stable of caganer were ready. Also in season? Nativity scenes. The kind a caganer might inhabit. They’re kind of a big deal here, in case you didn’t know. We went to an exposition featuring pieces from around the world, as well as a pretty

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Mah-mah-my Girona!

After spending a couple of early December days in Figueres, hometown of Salvador Dalí, we moved on to the nearby Catalan city of Girona. Girona’s old town is beautifully preserved, and best seen while walking along the old walls. Girona’s old town includes El Call, an old Jewish quarter. A famous Jewish scholar named Nachmanides (aka Ramban) was born here. We visited the old Synagogue to understand this history better. But back to modern-day Christian traditions. While this city didn’t have a Christmas market as cute as the one in Figueres, we did spy a Tío de Nadal in the local

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Figueres: Surreal long weekend

We delved into surrealism last December with a trip to Salvador Dalí’s hometown over Spain’s early December puente, a term used for a long weekend here. The Dalí Theatre and Museum in Figueres holds the largest collection of the artist’s work. The whole thing is . . . well, surreal, from the giant egg-adorned facade to sculptures that were kind of pay to play. You can bet Dreamer was all over capturing that Rainy Taxi experience… and then, everything else on display here, too. It’s a very unique place. Perhaps our favorite parts of the museum were the ones we

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Mallorca: Buenas ensaïmadas por allí

As winter descended upon Madrid last year, we really started to miss the Valencian Community – the weather, the food, the language, the sea. So when we came across some discount plane tickets to Mallorca in November, we decided it was finally time to visit the Balearic islands off the coast of our old home. Of course, first order of business after landing in Palma de Mallorca was to try a local delicacy: ensaïmada, a flaky pastry made with lard (saïm in the Mallorquín language), and often filled with cream or fruit. According to our research, the best ensaïmada in

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