28 November 2012

our trip to granada, spain.

Josh and I have been thinking for a while that we should do some traveling in Europe.  We haven't even done much traveling around Norway (although I did go to Stavanger) because I think we've been focused on getting settled in Oslo.  Josh had a break in his class schedule during Thanksgiving weekend, so we planned a trip to Spain!  Before I get into all the sunny Spain details, I would like to note that we had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with some friends here in Oslo.  We cooked all day on Tuesday and then had friends over in the evening.  We took some time to reflect on what we're thankful for, we ate & ate & ate and we sang some folks songs.  It was good and we're both thankful to have some really good friends in Oslo.

On Thursday we flew to Malaga, Spain and then traveled by bus to Granada. We made it to our Bed and Breakfast around 7:30pm and after unpacking we wandered around the Albaycin area (the older Moorish part of the city)  looking for dinner.  Actually a lot of trip we spent just wandering through the streets, which was perfect for us.  We didn't feel the need to see everything or do all of the typical sight-seeing things.  We wanted to do what we enjoyed, which turned out to be renting bikes, walking, eating and enjoying the sun.  Our Bed and Breakfast was awesome!  The room was great, the view was great and we had fresh fruit, toast and coffee every morning.
On Friday, our first full day in Granada, we rented bikes and rode up to The Alhambra, the famous Moorish castle.  We were happily surprised to find that there are many parts of The Alhambra that are free!  Of course, you needed to buy a ticket for the coolest parts of the castle, but we felt satisfied with just exploring the free parts. The architecture is quite beautiful and I'm amazed that so many buildings are still there.  I imagine if we did toured other parts we could have learned more, but I was happy to just see and be amazed.

In the afternoon, as we were wandering around and enjoying the sun we noticed a large group of hippie musicians with matching drums.  It looked to be a drum line, so we stuck around to hear them play.  It turns out they were a sort of drum line with a couple guitars, a saxophone player and a couple singers.  This group starting playing in a plaza area and, after drawing a large crowd, they started walking through the streets of the old city.  We were swept up in the crowd and followed the music for about half and hour.  Cars and pedestrians who were not a part of the parade didn't seem to bothered by it.  For dinner we walked all over Granada looking for hummus and we finally found a little shop that had hummus, delicious salad, falafel and milkshakes.  It was a good day. 

Saturday was filled with more relaxing and wandering.  After breakfast and reading, we went on a long run.  We planned to run to a church that we saw on a nearby hill and, although we asked for directions, we ended up taking a much longer route than we intended.  And although it was hot and uphill most of the way, I enjoyed the challenge.  One of the more touristy things in Granada is the Hammam bath house, where you can relax in three different baths, get a massage, drink tea and sit in the sauna.  We partook in this seemingly extravagant activity and it was totally worth the money.  After a long run it was great to soak in the pools and get a massage.  The bath house was also decorated in a Moroccan style theme.  I just loved it.  On Saturday night our goal (well, mostly Josh's goal) was to watch an Arsenal game, which took some effort because Granada's team was also playing.  We finally did find a place (an empty restaurant) that was willing to change the game to Arsenal.   It was fun and we ate delicious vegetable paella, but Josh admitted that he's struggling with the whole fandom thing as he's not sure he feels comfortable being a fan.  

One reason we chose Spain was because I speak Spanish, so I could help us communicate.  Being in Norway, where we rely on English to talk to locals makes us feel handicapped.  Pretty much everyone here speak English, but it's feels better when we can talk to people in their native language.  So it was great to be able to speak Spanish, but I'm pretty rusty.  I'm not sure why, but a lot of people at restaurants or elsewhere would speak to English the second I fumbled with Spanish.  That was a bit frustrating, but I kept on trying to speak in Spanish.  Josh even picked up on some phrases and talked to people. 

On Sunday we headed back to Malaga thinking we would enjoy the beach and then go to the airport for the night.  Our flight left at 6am on Monday and we didn't want to pay for a hotel.  Our time in Malaga was kind of a bummer compared to Granada.  We spent most of Sunday afternoon walking around in search of a grocery store.  We just wanted some bananas and nutella.  Is that so much to ask for?! Finally, after several hours, we came upon Mr. Choco.  It's not nutella, but it's a hazelnut chocolate spread, so we settled.  We also made two trips through "A Taste of Malaga," where we sampled lots of goat cheese, honey and olives. And we felt guilty after going through a second time.  The beach was quite a bummer, but we still managed to have fun talking and laughing.  

So, we had a great time in Spain!  We were so thankful for sun the whole time and for nice quality time together. 

I had a tough time uploading photos, so I plan to post some more photos on facebook next week.  Tonight I'm leaving for a cross country ski trip and Josh will be home studying and taking an exam.  

05 November 2012

apples galore.

Oh the apples of autumn have been so abundant and wonderful!  Not only do we have a friend who has let us pick juicy, ripe apples off her tree, but we have found various neglected trees which we decided to care for by harvesting the apples.  We've made batches of applesauce and have added apples to our oatmeal, pancakes and coffeecakes.  I thought I would share our applesauce recipe and the links to a few of my other favorite apple recipes.
about 20 apples (but really, use as many can fit into your largest pot)
brown sugar
lemon juice

Okay, we don't really have a recipe with specifically measured ingredients.  But this is what we do:
1.  Core apples and cut into 8 pieces
2.  Put apples into a pot with 1-2 cups of water
3.  Add a few spoonfuls of brown sugar, several squeezes of lemon juice and several dashes of cinnamon.
4.  Cook for 1-3 hours or until apples can easily be mashed.  Taste the applesauce and decide if you want more sugar or cinnamon.
5. Eat some, let it cool and put your delicious apple sauce in jars for the winter!
Some favorite apple recipes found through the internet:
Apple Pancakes
Apple Cinnamon Coffeecake
Puff Pancake with Apples (Instead of sautéing pears, we sauteed apples)
Baked Apples
In addition to all the apples we've collected this fall, we've also accumulated two Norwegian sweaters!
Happy November!