November 18, 2019
Best Things to do in Soria and Around

Best Things to do in Soria and Around

November 18, 2019
soria duero douro river rio spain otoño autumn fall foliage
Soria is a hidden gem located in central northern Spain, at the eastern end of the Castile and Leon region. This land of poets is about two hours from Madrid and is one of the least populated regions in Spain. The city lies by river Douro (or Duero as we say in Spanish) which is right now surrounded by spectacular fall foliage. Therefore fall is the optimal season to visit the area.

On this blog post you are going to find a complete guide to Soria and the surrounding area: best things to do, what to see, day trips, typical food and much more. Let's take a look at this gem waiting to be discovered. At the end of this post you can find a map that you can take with you on your trip.
soria duero douro river rio spain otoño autumn fall foliage
soria duero douro river rio spain otoño autumn fall foliage
soria duero douro river rio spain otoño autumn fall foliage landscape
soria duero douro river rio spain otoño autumn fall foliage
More interesting places in Castile and Leon:
The Complete Guide to Leon
A Guide to Avila for First Time Visitors
Spectacular Roman Ruins in Palencia
Palacio de la Granja de San Ildefonso in Segovia

THINGS TO DO IN SORIA: HERITAGE

Soria's heritage is a history lovers dream. From the archeological site of Numancia, to its numerous Romanic churches, Soria is one of the most important parts of Spain in terms of historical sites. Plus, it has been birthplace and home to very important poets and writers such as Antonio Machado, Gerardo Diego, Gustavo Adolfo Becquer and athletes as well.

These are the places in Soria that you can't miss:
  • Numancia: just 8 kilometres from Soria there is a settlement that dates back to the 3rd century BC and is set atop a hill. Here you can find defensive walls, streets, houses or thermal baths. Part of it has been reconstructed which helps you imagine what life was like back in the day. If you go there in summer, on the last Saturday in July, different episodes from the war between Romans and Numancians are re-enacted in the very ruins of the city. Plan your visit
  • Arcos de San Juan de Duero: this monastery was built between the 12th and 13th centuries and the most impressive feature is the arcaded cloister that still maintains the original Gothic and Mudejar elements.
  • Ermita de San Saturio: this 18th-century Baroque chapel blends perfectly with the mountain and looks as if the building had naturally grown from the stone. Inside you can see impressive frescos that narrate the life of San Saturio, a hermit from the 5th-century family who donated all his goods to the poor and went to live in this grotto where you can find his tomb.
  • Walking paths to San Saturio are lovely specially this time of the year. Leave the car and walk along river Duero from Arcos de San Juan to Ermita de San Saturio and enjoy the landscape. It takes about 30 minutes.
  • Church of Santo Domingo: this spectacular Romanesque temple was built using the façade of the church of Notre-Dame la Grande in Poitiers as a reference.
  • Palacio de los Condes de Gomara: this impressive 16th-century Renaissance palace cannot be visited as it is being used as the Provincial Court, but admiring the architecture is totally worth it.
soria spain numancia yacimiento arqueologico
soria spain numancia yacimiento arqueologico
arcos monasterio san juan duero soria
arcos monasterio san juan duero soria
soria spain chapel san saturio ermita autumn otoño fall foliage landscape

THINGS TO DO IN SORIA: DAY TRIPS

Soria is a natural paradise with stunning forests and rivers. It's a predominantly agricultural region and thanks to the vast areas of countryside we can admire spectacular views and scenes around the area. When you visit Soria make sure you have time for the following:
  • Natural Park of the Urbion Mountain Range and Laguna Negra: this fascinating lagoon lies within massive granite walls surrounded by infinite pine groves. Since you are in the area, you can't miss the quaint village of Calatañazor.
  • Cañon del Rio Lobos: this beautiful natural park belongs to two regions, Burgos and Soria. It is a deep 25-kilometre-long calcareous canyon formed by the erosion of the Lobos River passing through this land. 
  • Acebal Garagüeta: this is the biggest holly forest in the Iberian Peninsula and in southern Europe. If you continue driving north you can find Yanguas a village that is on the list of the Most Beautiful Villages in Spain.
  • Medinaceli is also on the list of the Most Beautiful Villages in Spain. The spectacular old town is on top of a mountain and consists of houses made of stone and several Catholic heritage buildings. We stopped at Medinaceli for lunch on our way back to Madrid and we really enjoyed the visit. We had a delicious meal at Bavieca Restaurant. They have an amazing menu that includes starter, main and dessert for just 20€. 
medinaceli soria spain pueblo bonito calle casa piedra quaint
medinaceli soria spain pueblo bonito calle casa piedra quaint
medinaceli soria spain pueblo bonito paisaje

WHERE TO STAY IN SORIA

Paradores are our absolute favorite hotels in Spain. In fact, we are on a quest to visit all 98 of them. We love the remarkable quality and how friendly and professional the staff always is. My favorite Paradores are those located in historical buildings and even though the one in Soria is a modern building, it didn't disappoint. Being as cold as it was outside made the Parador extra cozy, especially on the morning we left when it started to snow and we could see a very Christmasy sight while having breakfast. Another unforgettable memory from Paradores...
You can book your stay at Parador de Soria here

Read more posts about Paradores
parador soria antonio machado hotel restaurante
parador soria antonio machado hotel restaurante pedro ximenez
parador soria antonio machado hotel restaurante fachada otoño

THINGS TO DO IN SORIA: FOOD YOU MUST TRY

Right now that is mushroom season, you have to try the different types that grow in the area. All year round torreznos de Soria are very typical, they are meat obtained from pork belly, marinated and once dried, cut into strips and fried in olive oil. The result is a very tasty and crunchy appetizer. Butter industry is also very big in Soria and they make with it a delicious sweet treat called mantequilla dulce (sweet butter). However, the number one dessert in this region is costrada, a classic and traditional pastry made with puff pastry and two fillings; meringue and pastry cream, crowned with almonds.
torreznos soria medinaceli restaurante bavieca

WHAT TO SHOP IN SORIA

The best place to buy Soria's top things, like sweet butter, is bakery and patisserie Mantequeria York.

THINGS TO DO IN SORIA: MAP

This Soria region map includes all the things you need to do in the area. Click on the star next to the title to save to your maps in Google.

WEATHER IN SORIA

Soria is famous for being one of the coldest places in Spain. The cold wind we experienced on the weekend we visited is one of the most freezing we've ever felt. So layer up!
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November 4, 2019
Best Day Trips from Madrid: Manzanares el Real

Best Day Trips from Madrid: Manzanares el Real

November 4, 2019
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain
The region of Madrid may be one of the smallest in Spain but there's still a lot to see. There are plenty of charming villages and historical sites surrounding the capital of Spain. Some of the best day trips in the area of Madrid include Aranjuez, Chinchon, Patones de Arriba or Manzanares el Real among others. Today I'm taking you around the latter.

Manzanares el Real is one of the most popular Madrid day trips. Manzanares is a village in the north of Madrid that has something for everyone. Do you like cultural trips? Visit its impressive castle. Are you a nature-lover? Check out the National Park of La Pedriza with its beautiful walking trails.

Hungry for more? Check out these other Madrid posts

Without further ado, let's take a look at the best things to do in Manzanares el Real.
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain

Best Day Trips from Madrid: Manzanares el Real

MANZANARES EL REAL: THE CASTLE

Castillo de los Mendoza is one of the top 3 most visited sites in the region of Madrid together with the Palace of Aranjuez and Monastery of El Escorial (we are not counting Madrid city here). It's easy to see why. The imposing castle is one of the best conserved in the area and is surrounded be the even more imposing mountains of Sierra de Guadarrama National Park.

There are 3 ways to visit this 15th century castle: on your own, as part of the guided tour or on a 45-minute dramatized tour with actors representing Don Iñigo Lopez de Mendoza and his daughter Brianda that guide you through the rooms.
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain

MANZANARES EL REAL: HIKING TRAILS

La Pedriza is one of Madrid's most popular hiking trails. The rocks have been sculpted over centuries by water and wind which gives the mountains unique and interesting shapes. La Pedriza is part of the Guadarrama National Park where you can also see amazing fauna like vultures and the Spanish ibex.

On the other side, the town is surrounded by the Santillana Lake, around which you can take a very pleasant walk.
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain pedriza sierra guadarrama mountain

MANZANARES EL REAL: FOOD

Being near the mountains, the most typical food is meat. I highly recommend trying their traditional Castilian style roasts. We made reservations at La Parra because of its raking and opinions on TripAdvisor. The food was good but overpriced in my opinion. The prices of the dishes are similar to those you can find in a luxury restaurant in Madrid city. Normally, villages have lower priced menus.

We haven't tried any other restaurants but after being in Manzanares a friend suggested trying La Charca Verde and we just loved what Casa Goyo looked like. All three restaurants mentioned are walking distance from the castle.
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain restaurant
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain food

MANZANARES EL REAL: GETTING THERE

Manzanares is a short drive from Madrid, just around 30 minutes. You can also take bus 724 from Plaza Castilla which takes about 1 hour to get there.

Read more about best day trips from Madrid without leaving the area:

Chinchon
Patones de Arriba
Aranjuez

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You can find my Kate Spade bag here (hurry up, it's on sale!).

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madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain
October 28, 2019
A Healthy Guide to Madrid: Plans & Food

A Healthy Guide to Madrid: Plans & Food

October 28, 2019
cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo
There are plenty of healthy things to do in Madrid. From international races to good-for-you food, the list of options for health-addicts are endless. It hasn't always been like this, though. The terms flexitarian, paleo or vegan were unknown in Spain a few years ago. Even though the famous Mediterranean diet that characterises our lifestyle is good for you in general, things like our delicious fried calamari and most of our tasty tapas are on the greasier side. However, the healthy lifestyle movement is catching on so those of us who want to eat what's good for our bodies have all the resources available.

On today's post you are going to find a healthy guide to Madrid. We are going to see plans and food for those of you who want to feed their bodies and souls with the very best things only.
carrera ciencia madrid csic 2019

A HEALTHY GUIDE TO MADRID: PLANS

I am all about healthy eating but I must confess that I have a hard time keeping up with a workout routine. On the contrary, my husband practices a lot of sport and once a year runs a race. His favorite is Carrera de la Ciencia (Science Race). It takes place once a year and it raises money for scientific reasearch.

Other important races in Madrid:

  • Women's race (March 8)
  • Race against cancer (March)
  • Madrid's half marathon (April)
  • San Silvestre Vallecana (December)

Find the complete list here

If you aren't a runner, there are plenty of gyms and fitness studios like:

Finally, the cheapest workouts you can get are renting a bike or just walking around one of Madrid's biggest green areas like Madrid Rio, Retiro Park or Casa de Campo. It's my absolute favorite plan when the weather is good.

Do you need to relax after all the exercise you've done? Check out some of Madrid's great spas:

graffiti madrid basketball court urban art sport workout

graffiti madrid basketball court urban art sport workout
cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo

A HEALTHY GUIDE TO MADRID: FOOD

The eating options in Madrid are endless and the number of healthy restaurants is skyrocketing. We recently discovered Cafe Run Run Run which opened last may and is a haven for runners. It's a restaurant and running club all in one place. Their menu includes foodie faovrites such as avocado toast or eggs benedict and many vegan options. There are many flexitarian and a few paleo friendly dishes as well. The decor is fun and unique which makes it also one of those Instagram worthy spots that you can't miss in Madrid.

These are our favorite healthy restaurants in Madrid:

  • Mama Campo at Plaza Olavide offers healthy delicious food made with ingredients bought from local farmers. Sustainability is their main goal, which can be seen in the wooden furniture and organic products.
  • Superchulo, a 100% vegetarian restaurant in the trendy district of Malasaña.
  • Elektra serves organic food and has many vegan and vegetarian options. Be sure to check out their Sunday brunch!
  • La Cupula de los Peñotes offers healthy food at an environmentally friendly restaurant napkins are biodegradable and plates and glasses are made with 100% recycled glass.
  • Raw Coco can be found in Madrid (2 locations) Gijon and Valencia. This cafe, bar and restaurant offers organic products and is famous for its cold press juices and smoothies. We love the Caribbean style decor as well!
Healthy restaurants on my list to try next:

cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo
cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo
cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo
cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo
Are you a health-addict? What do you do to keep a sustainable and healhy lifestyle?
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cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo

October 14, 2019
How is Hispanic Day Celebrated in Spain?

How is Hispanic Day Celebrated in Spain?

October 14, 2019
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
Spain's National Day (Fiesta Nacional de España) is October 12, a.k.a. Hispanic Day (Día de la Hispanidad), it commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas. As it is Spain's big day, we get the day off and families celebrate attending one of the many events throughout the country or spending some quality time with their loved ones.

This has been my first time attending the celebrations in Madrid and today I want to share with you photos I took in the impressive National Day celebration of the country's capital and the story behind this festivity, from its origins to how different cities in Spain celebrate.

Read more about Family Traditions in Spain

military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day

HISPANIC DAY: LOOKING BACK IN HISTORY

Christopher Columbus set off from Palos de la Frontera, Cadiz, on August 1492. Two months later he arrived in an island that is now part of the Bahamas. However, this wasn't the original idea. Columbus, who was sponsored by the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, was actually looking for a western route to India but instead stumbled upon the Americas by mistake. Hispanic Day symbolizes the union between Spain and Spanish-speaking Latin America.
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day

HISPANIC DAY: PUBLIC LIFE

Being a public holiday, most shops and businesses are closed on Spain's National Day so it's a pretty quiet day. Some bakers and food stores may be open and public transport services are reduced like on a Sunday.

If October 12 falls on a Sunday, regional or local authorities can move the public holiday to a different date.

Unlike other Spanish holidays, there's no special food associated with this festivity although family gatherings and copious meals full of yummy Spanish traditional recipes happen on Hispanic Day.

Read How to Host Your Very Own Tapas Party

military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day

HISPANIC DAY: HOW SPANIARDS CELEBRATE

The main event taking place on October 12 is the military parade in Madrid involving all the branches of the military: planes, tanks and other bodies. It goes along Paseo de la Castellana and is attended by the King and Queen, their daughters and leading politicians of the time.

There are two impressive moments during the parade. One is when the Spanish Air Force acrobatics team, Patrulla Águila, lets out red and yellow smoke that looks like the Spanish flag. The second one is when a parachutist jumps from a plane with the flag and offers it to the Royal Family upon landing.

Another favorite among those who attend the parade is the Spanish Legion, a unit of the Spanish Army whose mascot is a goat.

Once the parade is over, families enjoy the day off together eating out or doing some other leisure activities. Hispanic Day is also a day when many museums and palaces in Madrid open their doors to the public. There are also various performances at the Cervantes Institute of Madrid as well as special exhibits.

And speaking of Cervantes...Don Quixote's creator's beautiful hometown Alcala de Henares celebrates this day with lots of activities, including one of the biggest Medieval fairs in Spain. Alcala is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's an absolute must if you are in Madrid.

Apart from the huge parade in the capital, Madrid, there are plenty of other celebrations that take place throughout the rest of Spain. For instance, a big one takes place in Zaragoza as it is El Día del Pilar and they celebrate Our Lady of Pilar patron saint.
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day

HISPANIC DAY ALL AROUND THE WORLD

This day is also celebrated around the world: in the United States it is known as Columbus Day; Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Uruguay and Belize; Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) in Mexico, Chile and Colombia; and Discovery Day in the Bahamas.
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
I hope you learnt something new and interesting today. Tell me, how do you celebrate National Day in your country?