Subject: Spain -North
Hi David, Going North of Madrid I loved Leon a middle sized city, a very nice little hotel restaurant is la Posada Regia, this is a quaint small restaurant + hotel. It is in our hotel data base. The rooms are all different and very nice, and the food...well the food is excellent, the owners are two chefs, she is young and very nice and cooks, he is the PR older that she, with a belly, very charming, I imagine he also cooks sometimes. Anyway it is a bargain, used to be 85 with breakfast in 98 during our last stay in Leon. We actually stayed at the Parador which is very excellent but had dinner and lunch in there and he showed us the rooms. I love to visit cities that are not that big, Leon has the right size with some beautiful things to visit, : a great gothic cathedral with the most outstanding vitreaux and the most amazing frescos from the Middle Ages are in San Isidro Real Spaniards have dinner late, but often they cannot afford paying for a late dinner as often as they wished so they go out for tapas, I guess that tapas are like small dishes instead of a big dish full of food. Everything is available in this small versions, which in turn come in three sizes, I guess they are called, tapa, porcion, and media porcion ... sometimes in the same restaurant they have different places for eating one for a full dinner and others for having drinks and tapas which can amount to dinner depending of what you eat and how much .. the tapa tables do not have a tablecloth Leon we joined a group of locals and went with them for tapas here and there which was like a dinner, some tapas are very inexpensive like the tortilla (thick potatoe omelet), some can be cold like ensalada de cangrejo (crab salad).. a real expensive is the jamon serrano which comes with different names and qualities . You will find that in a small city like Leon they still are delighted to meet someone from Miami like us or from California like you...all the action in Leon is in the Barrio Humedo, where the Posada REgia is located, each bar there has a distinct tapa that is given free with drinks.In this case is better to have the drinks standing at the bar. What I mean of the tapa is that this way you can have dinner anytime and you do not have to wait till their dinner time after 9:30. Also in the Paradores they star serving dinner aprox. 8.30,which is early. You can follow from Leon the road to Santiago de Compostela, kind of a must if you go N. Or you can go towards the mountains called Picos de Europa which are beautiful. They rise to some 2500 meters high or more. They are as beautiful as the famous Dolomites in Italy. Before Leon you should visit Burgos, - a more touristic place - but worth the visit. Again the cathedral is beautiful , I loved the Monasterio de las Huelgas reales, most of the coffins where desecrated by Napoleon ( he was pretty busy all over Europe ...) .....anyway the have some amazing textiles from the Middle Ages very well kept because of prevailing weather conditions in that region. I was really fascinating with the textiles and pieces of the knights' wardrobe. Note: In Spain although it is generally safe you should be particularly alert in the bigger cities or in the very tourist places like Burgos. On trick they play : they cut a little one of the tires of you car, then they come to help when you have a flat tire, then they they rob you , that for sure...they usually cut the right back tire if you have a 5 door car. Be alert... A good book for planning itineraries is Karen Browns Charming Inns and Itineraries. The are several sites regarding Santiago and the roads to Santiago. In Galicia and Asturias there are many charming little towns, fishing towns, etc. we visited here and there and spent a couple of days in the Parador of Bayona, ask for a room facing the ocean, Paradores are as you know are excellent, they are good buys and depending on the season offer all kind of special deals, remember the paradores offer specials in many places from Monday to Thursday, also you can buy a book of coupons to spend in the Paradores this way you get a better deal. Well it is late here in the East Coast, so I am going to bed. Buena suerte. Graziella Miami Beach.