Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bienvenida a España

Hopefully that's grammatically correct. Did I mention I don't speak Spanish? I'm trying to learn but let's face it I suck. Anyway, we've entered Spain via Barcelona. Spain is one of the gazillion places I haven't been to before and Lex hasn't spent any time here either (aside from some islands as a kid) so it's new for us both.

We took an over night flight from Athens to get here on a fairly budget airline. Let's just say it was a rough ride but luckily I was tired and still managed to sleep through most of it. Arrival time was about 5am. After waiting around for about 30 mins for the buses to start running and a little argument with the ticket machine for the bus we snagged a ride to Placa de Catalunya. Then to a little metro ride back out of the city center for our first hostel stay (my first hostel ever). This was located within a 5-10 min walk to the metro stop and on a mountain/hillside. Due to it's partial woodland location, one night when we were walking back to our dorm we saw this litle piggie:
Yup, a wild pig. Also a first for me. It (can't honestly say whether it was a boy or girl) was munching on grasses and roots around the buildings making her little (big) piggie sounds. When we saw him we just froze, carefully got out the camera for a couple of quick shots before it wandered off in search of more munchies.

It is true what they say about Spain and veganism. It can be hard. It really depends on how you approach it. Speaking some Spanish will definitely help you here but it's not necessary. Eating out at your regular omni establishments is hammy and fishy. Only tell you are vegetarian and they will bring you fish and ham or just stare at you as if to say "how do you live like this?"

Traveling in Spain my first bit of advice would be to stay at hostels with a kitchen. Lots of them have communal kitchens and there isn't a shortage of delicious ingredients. And please for the love of cute furry bunnies don't leave your mess in the way of other people waiting to cook. Cook your grub, wash your pots, then go eat. But I won't rant on about it. Due to this being the land of pig legs and chicken of the sea I don't feel like I'm missing out by cooking for myself all the time. Hit any supermarket and you'll find: rice (brown isn't as common but it's usually available), pasta (watch out for eggs), canned/frozen/fresh fruit & veg, sauces and condiments (as usual don't assume and read the labels), bread, herbs/spices, and oil. Even the little markets seem to have all these things.

Vegetarianism isn't completely missing here and there are restaurants to go to. The ones we've hit I'll blog about don't you worry. There are also healthfood stores and even the larger supermarkets seem to carry a few "specialty" or "international" items like tofu, veggie burgers, seitan & tempeh. Barcelona is especially easy to shop in due to it's size. There are healthfood stores and large supermarkets where you will find almost everything you are accustom to eating and more (kamut milk?!?! I didn't buy it because it was rather expensive but I am intrigued). Soy milk is easy to find everywhere, Spain does cater to it's lactose intolerant. Almond milk also seems to be easy to find although, again, it is rather pricy.

And just for pure touristy stake:
and welcome to Vegan MoFo 2009!!


Susan said...

I'm looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip and your vegan adventures. I had heard that Spain was hard for vegans, but it is a place I really want to go!

Anonymous said...

Beware - many places in spain make "vegetarian" sandwiches with tuna! I learned that when I was living in Madrid. Have you felt lonely without pepper? For some reason when I was in Madrid salt was everywhere but no pepper! If you have the chance visit Pamplona, San Sebastian, Burgos and Toledo aww memories I want to move back some day.

Mihl said...

I love Barcelona so much. There are really a lot of vegan places with awesome food. And the markets!

Wow, that wild pig is so cute.

Jeni Treehugger said...

That piggie is adorable. I live in Spain (about 5 hours drive south of Barca) and I am so looking forward to going there for a mini break next year. I can't wait to hear about your experiences in the restaurants there - I've heard there's some great vegan friendly places.

Cooking Vegan With Soul said...

I heart Spain so much. I spent a month in Salamanca. I swear I would live there if I could. For that reason, I'll be reading your blog and drooling over food and pictures, LOL!

Enjoy your travels!