Posted in Spanish life

Why do the Spaniards call red wine vino tinto instead of vino rojo and what the heck is Tinto de verano?

The color red in spanish is rojo but, for red wine, they say vino tinto, not vino rojo.  Why, you may ask?

It essentially relates to the latin origin of the word “tinto” and also to the process of wine making.  “Tinto” comes from the Latin word “tinctus”, which means “dyed”, “stained” or “tinted”.

If you know about the wine making process, you know that it is the skin of the grapes that gives the wine its color.  Green grapes for white wine, red grapes for red wine unless you only use the flesh of the grapes.  Therefore, red grapes tint the white juicy flesh and dyes it its distinctive color.  Therefore, it is not really “red wine” it is “tinted wine”.

In Spain, you can order vino tinto, vino blanco, vino rosado which is rosé wine and Tinto de Verano!  What the heck is tinto the verano?!!  Its literal translation is the “Red wine of summer”.  It is a refreshing drink Spaniards enjoy in the hot summer months made of vino tinto and a lemon sparking pop called Limón.  I know, it sounds terrrible but believe me, it is deliciously cooling and perfect for the boiling hot summer days of Spain.  Most tourists will have a sweet and juicy Sangria but Spaniards on the other hand,  will for the most part, enjoy an icy cold, not too sweet, Tinto de Verano!




Posted in Spain, Spanish life

In Spain, you say going Tapas, not going to eat Tapas. Find out why here.

One of Spain’s true joys are Tapas.  These are the small dishes now so popular around the world who originated right here in Spain.  A Tapa is simply a small snack or appetizer traditionally consumed at lunch or in the early evening before a main meal. They are always enjoyed with a glass of wine, a beer or water if you don’t drink.  You never have a coffee or tea or cocktail with tapas in Spain.  It is just not done.  Also, the Spaniards will rarely drink without eating something at the same time.  The proper way is one tapa for each drink you order.

The word tapa means top, cover or lid in Spanish. The most likely legend is that the first Tapa was simply a slice of bread which was placed over the wine glass to keep the flies out.

The most interesting fact learn last night about tapas is that the Spaniards do not say, lets go eat some tapas.  They use the word as a verb.  It is an action to go Tapas, meaning getting together with friends for a drink, a bite and some fun social time.  Don’t you love how they live!!

In Andalucia and other parts of Spain, a tapa will often be given to you for free.  Yes, gratis!! when you order a drink.  How wonderful is that!!  And they are delicious, sometimes a culinary experience and source of pride for the bar.  Take a look at the feast we had on a night out with our wonderful Spanish school, La Escuela Idioma de Nerja.

Tapas are just another wonderful reason to come to Spain and enjoy its culture!  Salud!

Posted in Spain, Spanish life, Travelling with a dog

Madrid and driving on Spain highways

Madrid and driving on Spain highways

We are just back from a great 3 days getaway in Madrid. Here are our tips and notes which you might find interesting or helpful if you plan to go someday.

We drove from the costa del sol on highway A4 and it took us 6 hours including 2 stops of about 20-30 minutes each. Driving in Spain is fantastic. The roads and drivers are very good, safe and there were no tolls are all! There are lots of gas stations/restaurants on the way. There are very few rest areas however. This makes sense since the Spaniards love to enjoy lunch. The gas stations toilets are remarkably clean. Spotless bathrooms everywhere. We have noticed that Spaniards are, in general, very clean people. Their tile floors are spotless everywhere you go even in public places. Look at this gas station toilet!!


Amy Lou was a doll on the road. Not a peep. We had her in her large carrier for part of the way and some of the way in her comfy velour bed where she dozed off a little. She is an amazing traveler!!


We rented a small penthouse apartment in Plaza Major in the center of Madrid’s Centro. What a perfect location. Walking distance to everything. We saw all the sites on foot over two full days. The first day we went to Puerto del Sol, the Prado, Retiro Park and the Gran Via. We stopped for coffee at a really cool cafe recommended by my Spanish friend Sandra and had lunch on a sunny terrace off the Gran Via. We had dinner at the Mercado de San Miguel where you grab a glass of vino or cerveza and eat your way through sampling tapas! What a great spot to sample and mingle. We met an exuberant American and a friendly Italian!!

The second day, we walked to the Palacio, Plaza España and did a little shopping on the Gran Via. We had a long lunch at another fantastic sunny terrace. We stayed in our little apartment at night after a short stroll in our neighborhood.

A few notes regarding dogs in Madrid. They won’t let you in with your dog in Museums or other government buildings. We tried to go in with her incognito in her purse carrier but they scan the bags so, we could not go unfortunately. Also, in restaurant, unlike the costa del sol, they won’t allow dogs but we had her safely hidden in the purse bag and was able to take her out at the end of the meal on terraces. She was a hit everywhere we went. Spaniards are major dog lovers and could not stop saying “que lindo, muy préciosa”, so cute, very beautiful!!

Madrid is a BIG city with a LOT of people everywhere. So many that it is hard to walk. With a small dog it is good to have a carrier or this type of legs out knapsack otherwise they might get trampled.

We liked Madrid but we can’t say that we loved it and are dying to go back soon but probably will someday to explore more thoroughly.  The weather was cool and the city very busy. It must be insane in the summer. The main attractions are the museums and art galleries and we were not being able to see them with Amy Lou very unfortunately.  I would have really liked to see the Prado especially.  If and when we go back someday, it will be in the early fall and I will make sure to plan ahead to leave Amy Lou with a trusted friend to be able to go to the museums and galleries.

Posted in Spain, Spanish life

Madrid’s Mercado San Miguel, an absolute Foodie’s paradise

We just got to Madrid and discovered the Mercado San Miguel right next to the little apartment we rented for 3 nights by Plaza Mayor. What an amazing place. Muy maravilloso!!! We have never seen anything like this. It is an epicurean’s delight of food to buy and eat on the spot with a glass of wine, beer or premium sangria. Wow! Look at that food. Everything is so fresh and delicious. A feast for the eyes and the palate. What a great idea to be able to just walk in with a friend, and have a bit to eat with a drink. Can’t wait to go back tomorrow!!


Posted in Spain, Spanish life

Here is my Spanish language friend Sandra!

I completed my first two week Spanish course but I need much practice.  I therefore found a friend to speak with a couple of times a week.  Here is the gorgeous and fun Sandra.  She is mucho guapa y muy sympatica!!  We talk of everything and nothing and she is very patient even if I am struggling a lot.  She gives me great tips about the culture and what to do and see in Spain.  She lived 12 years in Madrid and had great recommendation for our getaway to the capital next week.  Stay tuned, I will share them with you!!


Posted in Spain, Spanish life

What is the weather like in southern Spain in the fall?

We got here on November 1er and so far, we had one cloudy half day and an evening of thunderstorm.  I did not have to use my umbrella in 3 weeks!  This is a first for me.  In fact, this is the longest stretch of sunshine I have ever been exposed to in my entire life.

The days are very bright, sunny and warm.  Shorts or a light dress is what you need to dress in.  You may need a wrap in the shade or light cardigan.  In the sun, it can be just too hot.  Terry and I find that we need a hat and definitely sunglasses.  It is very bright.

The nights are cool however.  You need a sweater, light jacket or warm wrap but if you walk, it is quite pleasant.

So far, we love the weather and our neighbor says that it does not get much colder than this.  Looking at the forecast however, we can see some colder weather and rain, yes, rain! coming next week.  We will be sure to report on that event!!

The picture below is yesterday in Malaga.  Just a fantastic city half hour from Nerja where we plan to go often during our winter stay.


Posted in Spain, Spanish life

More sun but also more daylight!

2FA3E6FC-44E9-4058-B84A-E6058A35849F.jpegThis is a picture taken from our living room this morning.  The sun rised at 7:53am and will set at 6:08pm today.  In Vancouver, by comparison, the sun rises at 7:20am and sets at 4:32pm.  More sunlight is another great benefit of spending the winter in Southern Spain.

We like that the sun gets up at the same time as we normally do and that it does not set until 6pm.  Even in December, in the darker hours of winter, it won’t get much worse than that.  Google says it will be light from 8:20am to 6:02pm on Dec 20.  That sounds pretty good to us!!