Today we decided to start off in a very touristy way: ride the funicular up a nearby hill and check out a new view of the city. After a three-minute ride, we were able to wander the grounds that included a defunct and creepy amusement park, pay museum and a hotel that bore an uncanny resemblance to the Overlook from The Shining. Still, the views were nothing short of amazing.
We then headed out for a private cooking class taught by a local. Such a fantastic experience! Amaia met us at an historic plaza and gave us a bit of background on the area before we set out for provisions together. She guided us through this residential neighborhood where not a souvenir shop was to be seen, populated only by locals. We stopped for fresh bread and fruit, then watched a very strong woman handle a gigantic tuna at the seafood store. It was amazing to see how butchers and fishmongers will cut your chosen protein for you right on the spot, tailored toward how you will be cooking it later!
Amaia told us about the custom of a relaxed, fresh lunch at home and how this was the most important meal of the day. We were given vegetables to chop while she taught us new techniques in making these simple, beautiful ingredients shine.
When all was done, we sat down for a relaxed lunch and great conversation.
I'm a bit jaded when it comes to cooking as I'm a competitive cook and recipe contest winner, so for me to learn new kitchen skills is truly a testament to Amaia's talent as a teacher.
Loved the class and loved the Urban Adventures philosophy- we will definitely book again! (Link to follow when I'm not trying to post overseas!)
After a nap, we poured a bottle of local Rioja into a water bottle and set off toward Parte Vieja (old town) and our paella restaurant destination. There are flights of stairs set along the beach promenade at regular intervals so we thought we'd take a stroll along the water and sip some wine on the way. No sooner did we reach the water than we heard a BOOM of thunder! Looking to the sky, we say dark, roiling clouds straight out of a horror movie, punctuated by crackles of bright lightning. Racing away from the ocean, we found shelter under an awning just as the rain began to pound the sand. There we stayed for about 20 minutes, sipping wine and making conversation with another local waiting out the storm.
When the skies cleared, we continued our walk to the restaurant. I'm not sure if I've ever been in such a well-lit eatery; I felt like I was in a grocery store or cafeteria. But, the place had received stellar reviews for its paella and that's what we were here for. And, for more Txoctali, a local, sour white wine that I have been in love with since first sip. The paella was good but not mind-blowing. It had the requisite clams and langoustines on a bed of peas, peppers and rice, but the rice lacked that bottom crust from the pan that I can't do without.
Walking back to the hotel we stopped at a near-empty bar on the water, where old 90's dance tracks filled the air. We were the only Americans there and the staff was much more interested in their Facebook status updates than seeing if we'd like a refill. Ah, it was time for us to go back to the hotel anyway.