Wanderlust, Galicia

I’ve mentioned before that Galicia is one of my favorite places on the planet, and hands down one of my favorite wine regions in the world. Often overlooked for San Sebastián or Barcelona, this autonomous community in northwest Spain is lined with beaches, inundated with rivers, packed with green hills and mountains and stocked with some of the best seafood in the world. You could spend weeks here hiking, beaching and eating your weight in pulpo, but here are my personal tips (in no particular order) for experiencing one of the best vacations Spain has to offer.

Playa de Nerga-

Galicia is lined with over 1,660 kilometers of coastline including its offshore islands and islets, so finding a beach is no problem. My day on and around Playa de Nerga, however, was one of my favorite. Playa de Nerga itself is gorgeous, fairly secluded and typically sought after by locals. There’s the tiniest little bar/restaurant on the beach should you want to enjoy a delicious beer or glass of Albariño. The real treat here, though is a small restaurant on the way to the Playa in Puerto De Aldán. Here, the most wonderful man by the name of Manuel stands at a table outside the restaurant and cooks up the most delicious pulpo. Steamed, Galician style and tossed with delicious olive oil and paprika. Manuel even bakes the fresh bread served along side this delicious plate of octopus and, having lived in Texas for 5 years, his english is perfect. You are in Rías Baixas here so don’t sleep on that Albariño.


The Albariño flows like water in Cambados, located in the Rías Baixas wine region in the province of Pontevedra. And while I do have a serious relationship with the pulpo of Galicia, the cockles, clams and various other marine fixings of Cambados are like none other. Grab a table almost anywhere that doesn’t look super touristy, or hit the fish market and take home anything from eel to sardines. Do not forget to was these sea creatures down with a bottle of salty Albariño. Afterwards, hit any of a number of beaches near Cambados. Playa de Lanzada, Praia Da Braña and O Grove were all beaches I hit up at some point, but the world here is really your oyster.

The Camino de Santiago-

Okay, so I’ve never actually done this, but seeing as though it’s probably Galicia’s most well known activity, I couldn’t leave it out. The Camino de Santiago or, The Way of Saint James is one of 8 paths, each winding up at the shrine of the apostle, St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Back in the day, when Catholicism was more like a death sentence, the Camino was recommended as a pilgrimage of indulgence or, a walk you could take to make either hell or purgatory a little less painful. Today, the route is taken by some as a path to spirituality, an amazing conduit for a little exercise or a sweet way to experience the Galician countryside. Pick your own path or take a guided tour – bring rain gear, people.

The Miño River- 

I have so many good memories of this river it’s hard to know where to begin. Guided tours that lead to waterfalls, kayaking or simply sitting on the grass and reading Hemingway are all excellent ways to enjoy the Miño. Head to el embarcadero de Belesar, in the town of Belesar to take a catamaran tour led by a woman named Luisa. Luisa will take you down the Miño from Belesar to A Maiorga, passing vineyards and tiny beaches before finally arriving at a small swimming hole with an insane waterfall. On the ride back, opt to stop at the river house for meats, cheeses and the quintessential bottle of local wine. For a refreshing swim and an excellent Gin Tonic, head to the little village of Os Peares in the Ribeira Sacra wine region. Bring a bottle of Mencía and a blanket and take a siesta on the grass; this cold pocket of the Miño is perfect for combatting Ribeira Sacra’s high summer temperatures.

Hot Springs-

As if we need another reason to love the Miño river- this delightful river is loaded with natural hot springs. There are plenty of spots near the town of Ourense to hop in the springs for free, but why not live like Tom and Donna and “Treat. Yo’. Self.” Chill for a couple of  hours in the Termas Outariz, a super slick spa and hot springs with a Japanese vibe. I believe there’s a sushi bar, or head to Ourense after and grab yourself a tortilla and a bottle of vino. Try to go on a weekday for a lighter crowd and mucho relaxation.

Wine Tasting-

So, while Galicia is pumping out some of the best wines in Spain right now, it’s a long way from the Napa Valley. Most of these cats don’t have tasting rooms, winemakers gather grapes from various vineyard sites and the majority of these folks are farmers. This can make tasting a little more challenging, but there are always plenty of options. For the best wine tour Galicia has to offer, hit up Fazenda Prádio in the Ribeira Sacra region. Xavi, the head winemaker, offers a tour of the vineyards, tells you stories about the region, and opens up the good stuff for a taste of some of the best wine coming out of Galicia. You can stay for lunch if you like (stay for lunch!!) and he has a rad hotel/guest house should you want to stay in this central area of Galicia. There are certainly wine tours in the Albariño land of Rías Baixas, and larger houses like Algueira and Guímaro in the Amandi subzone of Ribeira Sacra are usually able to host you with a little notice. Smaller wineries in the Ribeiro or Valdeorras take a little more digging, but you can always ask me, or any other wine maker you visit in the region and one of us will point you in the right direction.

Blogged at: Boot and Shoe Service, Oakland

Soundtrack: SZA, Ctrl 


Playa de Nerga


Os Peares

Fazenda Prádio

Termas Outariz








A Love Letter to Barcelona

I want to take a moment here for Barcelona.

I was just in Barcelona a little over a week ago. I had a shift in plans during the last month of my trip, so I somewhat unexpectedly spent the last four days in Barcelona with my friend, Miriam. That Sunday, we had plans to drive to H20 Vegetal, a natural wine fair a couple hours outside of Barcelona. It was going to be pretty epic. At least 5 of the producers I’d met on my travels were going to be there, I was going to get the chance to sample the Ratafia I’d made in Terra Alta and- no joke- my favorite Thai restaurant outside of Thailand, Night Market + Song, was cooking food there. It was going to be kind of Spanish send off  that would take “It Rains in Spain” from a wine blog to a James Beard award winning novel (ha.) Only come Sunday we wake up to find there are zero cars for rent in Barcelona. There are no trains to take, no friends with whom we could get a ride. No wine fair. We were crushed.

Throughout my travels in Spain there were a number of “surprises.” I missed a flight, I missed a rental car, a restaurant was closed here or there. Every time, however, something better was waiting for me around the corner. And it turns out this was no exception. After we found we had no way out of it, Miriam and I decided to dedicate our day to the city of Barcelona. We decided to brunch in it. We drank Bloody Marys and cried together over Eggs Benedict. We went to the beach, we saw a naked guy, we tried (and failed) to walk to the W. We drank Cava and Cider and we ate carpaccios in El Born. We had Martinis and first-time Negronis at El Nacional. We walked past churches and through squares, we saw Gaudi architecture and oversized Zara’s. We saw sunset turn into dark. We made plans for my next time in Barcelona and then we finally made it home to Grácia.

On Monday I spent one last solo day in Barcelona. I hiked one more time to the top of Park Güell- the hike that made me feel so at home my first few weeks in Spain. I walked to the Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum and to one last lunch at Bar del Pla- one of my favorite wine bars in Barcelona. We had ceviche and bubbles for dinner. Tuesday morning I flew back to Oakland.

It’s not that it could have been me on the street in Las Ramblas yesterday. It’s simply Las Ramblas. It’s the street, the city. Tourist, local, shopkeeper, server. People on motos, people pouring beers at La Boqueria. It’s the Gaudi, the fresh fish, the crowded summer beach and the bar where Hemingway and Picasso used to drink Absinthe together. It’s the Catalan flag hung proudly in every window, FC Barcelona and the natural wine bars and the breakfast at Granja Elena. It’s the Picasso Museum and the colors and it’s The Terraces of Barcelona.

Today, my friend, Miriam wrote: “Avui la meva ciutat perd una mica de llum.” Today my city loses a little bit of light. And it’s true, Barcelona does lose a little light today. We all lose a little bit of light today. All I can actually hope for today, or this week really, is with the right amount of love, and maybe with the right amount of Cava we can at least try get it back. Because whatever this hateful shit is, it’s not working. Joder.

I love you, Barcelona. See you soon.

Lessons from an Airport

Airports. I’m tired of crying in them. I’m tired of being in them, really. This is the second time I’ve cried in the Santiago de Compostela Airport. This time it’s my fault. It’s raining. I look to my left, another girl is crying. She has someone holding her, though, so it’s probably for different reasons.

All the men in Galicia wear the same cologne.

This is it, the last leg of my trip. I’m headed to Barcelona for three more days and then home. What have I learned? I know how better to drink Gintonics. I know how to get gas, to order food. I can take a coffee, drive a car, kill roaches in a hotel room, buy groceries. I almost learned how to cook an octopus. Could I do all of that already?

In the last two days, though, I’ve learned 4 new varietals, I drank one of them out of a barrel. Yesterday I drank Ferrol out of a barrel with Luis Rodriguez. On Monday I tasted the wine I helped make last year at Fazenda Prádio. Last week I drank Txakoli like a champion and the week before I drank the wines of one of the funniest, foul-mouthed men I’ve met since my Grandma Jan. I’ve stained my hands making Ratafia. I’ve learned about mildew, about vine training, about planting vines on volcanoes. I’ve learned about sulfites and no sulfites and wind and drought. I’ve learned about solera systems, about making barrels and about aging in amphorae. About sacrifice and loss and replanting for the good of the region.

When I get home I’ll learn how to cook that octopus.

Spain is an incredible place. All of the people I’ve talked to, the winemakers I’ve met- each with different ideas but all with the same goal in mind. There is so much happening here I don’t know how many blog posts it will take to relay the message. I hope I’m the right person to do it. I hope a little Picasso and a stroll through El Born will give me inspiration to pull it all together. Otherwise, what the fuck was I doing here?

I think next I will learn how not to cry in airports. It’s so dramatic, really. Wildly unnecessary. A solid waste of time when I could be enjoying a Gintonic.

Perhaps I’ll start that lesson next time. See you soon, friends.

Blogged At: Santiago de Compostela Airport, Galica

Soundtrack: Tensnake 58 BPM

On traveling alone

Traveling alone has its moments. One day you are inspired by adventure, coincidence and improbability and the next day you are getting kicked in the dick. My ex husband told me, after a few months of sobriety, the best thing about being sober is that you have feelings again…and the worst thing about being sober is that you have feelings again. I think this paradox translates to the process of traveling alone. Every day is a new experience I get to feel in its entirety. I get to throw myself out there, to make 100 percent of the decisions, to communicate with people in an area where I don’t even really speak the language. It is one of the most exhilarating feelings I’ve felt as a human being but, no lie, every once in a while it’s hard AF.

Today I miss my dog, I missed my flight and I’m missing my best friend’s 30th birthday. It’s a kicked in the dick kind of day. At the end of tomorrow I will have met up with some amazing friends from San Francisco, I will have seen them dance Flamenco in Sevilla, I will have gone out in a dress for the first time in a month and I will have (hopefully) forgotten about today.

So tonight, while I’m in this twilight zone region of Tenerife South, drinking a Brandy Alexander and eating strawberries, I’ll thank my lucky stars I have friends here in Spain, that I own this absolutely heroic MacBook Pro, that I have a mom that answers text messages and that I’m lucky enough to live a life like this in the first place. Tell you what, though, tomorrow can’t come soon enough. Vale, babies. See you soon.

Blogged at: Grand Muthu Golf Plaza Hotel LOBBY (There’s no wifi in my room:)

Soundtrack: Eels, Fresh Blood