Friends, wine, and octopus.
That’s exactly what I searched for in Ourense, Galicia. Well mostly just the friends and wine.
I took the 5 hour high speed AVE train to visit my friend Alex where she’s also teaching english in Galicia. Public transport is pretty great in Spain and train might be one of my favorite modes of transportation. Not teaching on Fridays has many benefits and one of them is being able to catch an early morning train and arrive in an entire different part of the country by noon.
I arrived Friday afternoon and spent the day walking around the town and doing some shopping. Ourense is a big city compared to my little village. So a day of shopping was much needed, oh and of course after some jamon for lunch. 🙂 We headed out for a night on the town to try some specialities of Galicia, like pulpo. Pulpo is a dish with octopus tentacles and potatoes dressed in olive oil and spices. ACTUAL TENTACLES like suction cups and all. Needless to say that I think it’s an acquired taste.
Saturday we had a relaxing morning and afternoon spent at the Termas (hot springs). Ourense is a famous location for famous natural hot springs; we took a little train to the spa and let the minerals do the work. It was a perfect way to unwind after a couple busy weeks. Then we went to a basketball game, because football (American soccer) in fact isn’t the only sport that is played in this country. And not exaggerating but I’m pretty sure my grade school basketball could have beat this team. Definitely a more relaxed version of the sport than we are used to seeing in the US. Also side note: I’ve seen more Michael Jordan jerseys, t-shirts, and no. 23 around Spain in these three months than I have in my entire life in the US.
Saturday night we celebrated Halloween and it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. First of all, Halloween isn’t really celebrated in Spain at all. However, their idea of Halloween is based upon scary things: witches, ghosts, and goblins. I didn’t see a single little kid dressed up as the latest Disney princess or a Superhero, yet every kid was dressed up as a goblin, ghost, or witch. My students had warned me that there were witches in Galicia and maybe they were right. So Alex and I dressed up and headed out to meet her friends for some drinks and dancing. We were at one bar when the bartender pulled out a big pumpkin from behind the bar. He opened the top to reveal what could only have been a witches’s poison, also known as quemada. The pumpkin was filled with liquor, they poured a bag of sugar into the mixture and lit it on fire. The bartender started chanting in Gallego a verse and moving their hands around an actual witch from a movie. Now I knew my student’s weren’t kidding around.
Sunday morning came faster than I would have liked and I had to return to the land of Don Quixote. It was a great weekend with a great friend in Galicia. Thanks Alex!