Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

How to Gesticulate, Nomad Style.


And for today’s Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays, we have this old chestnut…

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I was pondering recently, whilst watching my hands flounder about in front of my face as I spoke, on those gestures that are specific to each country. One ponder led to another, and I decided to make a list of all the ‘sign language’ I have picked up over the years and incorporated into my own body language.

Each sign comes with instructions. Remember, us Anglo Saxons are used to only very basic hand signals; to avoid injury to yourselves or others begin in slow motion, you can then gradually work up to continental speed.


“Your girlfriend/boyfriend/Wife/Husband is not taking the whole fidelity issue quite as seriously as you might wish.” Clasp your ring and middle fingers to your palm with your thumb, and point your fist, with index finger and pinky outstretched towards the unfortunate cuckold…

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Living on a Whim part one


Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays – a trip down memory strada…

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I am moving to Italy!

Now, I am extremely well acquainted with the whole moving scenario, but this particular shift in location has a sense of inevitability that was perhaps absent in most of my previous moves. It somehow lacks the frisson of excitement associated with my usual style of launching myself ‘dans la vide’ on little more than a whim and a prayer. Could that be because I have been pondering this for at least the last seven years? Does that mean that this relocation actually constitutes a well-considered plan rather than a thrill-seeking mission? How could I have missed the signs? It’s time to face up to the truth! MUMMY, YOUR LITTLE GIRL IS GROWING UP!

Up until the age of eighteen, I lived, to all intents and purposes, a pretty average life – premature expulsion…

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Revisiting the Fandango


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

What with all the other recent goings on, I have of late been rather neglectful in checking the Amazonian progress of “An English Fandango”.

So on my last visit over to the site, I was thrilled and hugely grateful to see how many of you have very kindly left reviews; a few of which I have posted below:

“This is a funny, honest and well written account. It is neither too serious nor too flippant and is perfect for those “what if” moments which we sensible ones have all experienced whilst on holiday in those balmy (and sometimes too hot) southern climates.”

“What is it like to live, to make a living, in Spain?
Not the Spain of the blocks of seaside flats nor the Spain of the remote farms romanticised by their owners in a desperate attempt to get enough publicity to sell their white elephants.

This is Spain, described and experienced by a young woman who went out into the world to see what she could make of it and how she muddled, worked and learned her way through it all.

You want to know about the ways of Spanish restaurant owners…look no further.

You want to know about clingy boyfriends…likewise.

You want to know how to survive and win… it is.

I learned a lot about Spain here and a lot more about life.

I hope she writes a follow up on her time in France.”

“Il libro è scritto bene e si legge molto rapidamente, il registro utilizzato, pur con alcune peculiarità, non è troppo complesso persino per la mia conoscenza ridotta di questa lingua.
Il ritmo è sostenuto e le pagine scorrono senza fatica, mentre si segue la protagonista nel suo adattarsi a un paese e a una lingua del tutto nuovi.
Gli episodi sono sempre raccontati in modo leggero, non privo di ironia e la lettura procede spedita e fa sorridere più di una volta.
Lo sguardo riservato al mondo sconosciuto che l’autrice si trova davanti, è quello di qualcuno disposto ad imparare e “fare come i romani, quando a Roma”; nessuna pretesa di superiorità culturale o altro.
Ho molto apprezzato anche il candore che l’autrice ha nel raccontare sé stessa e le sue potenzialità e come scoprire certe cose sia stata una sorpresa anche per lei; non voglio spoilerare troppo, perché vale la pena di leggerselo per proprio conto.
Mi spiace sia durato poco e spero che l’autrice abbia in programma di parlare sia dell’esperienza in Francia che di quella in Italia.
L’autrice ha un blog, Status Viatoris, che seguo da un po’ di tempo.
In attesa dei, spero, seguiti, non posso far altro che raccomandarne la lettura; a me è piaciuto.”

Gabriele: Qua vorrei aggiungere che ho appena visto quello che hai scritto del libro su Polideuce, e ti ringrazio veramente tanto! Thank you!

“A great read! Whether you are a young person embarking on discovering the world, an older and wiser self looking back, or even their parent, its a great read – hilarious and anguishing by turn, and never dull! Also informative for anyone who likes bite sized nuggets of fascinating stuff about all things Spanish – music, dance, art, architecture, history and political double standards – all served up in a lively and digestible style. A very good first work from Kirsty Lowe – I already look forward to her next one…..”

“Kirsty Lowe writes beautifully about her world – within minutes you are pulled in and can’t wait to find out what will happen next. The book is a perfect little window on the fabulous wisdom of youth as the author finds her path in life. She writes about her exploits with members of the opposite sex along the way with such humour and honesty that it’s immediately identifiable with. I laughed out loud at how she got to grips with her rescue puppy and the challenges he brought to her life. This book will be enjoyed by anyone who’s ever been young and particularly those that love dogs.”

Being particularly useless at promotion, I haven’t managed to get the book “out there” in any real sense – sales still barely breaking double figures, so if anyone has any fabulous or inventive ideas for spreading the word, I would love to hear them!

Also, having just opted out of “KDP Select” (a Kindle lending library program that netted me zilch but which prevented me publishing elsewhere for three months) I am now free to market the book in other cyber bookshops. So if anybody has any requests/advice on which marketplaces to head to, again, I would love to hear them!

Massive thanks once again for all your support.

This is Status Viatoris, not Fandangoing all the way to the bank quite yet, but who knows what the future may bring 😉 in Italy.

An English Fandango hits the cyber-shelves


I am excited, terrified, pleased but nervous to announce that An English Fandango is now on the Amazon shelves in Kindle format.

If you fancy a gander at the cover – hilariously executed by the very talented Simone Chararyn – or if you would like to review and/or even buy, then the link can be found by clicking here.

Any feedback, even here on the blog, will be most gratefully received.

I have already had requests for non-Kindle formats, but as I have initially placed the book with KDP Select (which apparently enables wider promotion) I will only be able to do that after the 90-day exclusivity period ends.

(Please could those interested in another electronic format let me know what that would be? I am utterly clueless about such matters…)

Requests for paperback copies have also been forthcoming, but I have no idea if that will be financially viable on a small-scale – I will report back as soon as I know.

Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend!

Popping Out From Behind the Fandango…


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

… to say HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A bit late, I know, but I wanted to see Mallorca through to its natural conclusion before breaking the spell 😉

I imagine the sudden change in subject from Current Life in Italy to Distant Past in Spain may have come as a bit of a surprise to some, especially as I chose not to usher it in with even the smallest parp of a fanfare.

In fact posting the book chapter by chapter on Status Viatoris was an idea that came to me in the dead of night whilst I was mulling over a lack of success in locating my blogging mojo; and in typical SV fashion, no sooner had the thought popped into my head than I found myself seated expectantly before the computer in my pyjamas…

Although I had long since resigned myself to never making a peso from An English Fandango (unless the clamour for an e-book reaches intolerable decibels, natch), I find I do regret choosing the point of lowest reader traffic in my blogging journey so far to launch it into the bogglesphere.

It feels as though I’ve let it down somehow, and, despite the relief of finally having made a decision about its destiny, I can’t help but worry that I am ill-prepared for the possibility of seeing my little creation sink into oblivion without even a small flurry of bubbles to mark its passing…

Oh the ego is a terrible thing, so it is!

So, 2012 has been and gone since we last spoke, and I for one was a little sad to see it leave.

Because without causing a flap or creating a fuss, it turned out to be a pretty fabulous year for me (poorly Pooches notwithstanding): the house, all bar the leaky roof, is finished; I seem to have landed myself with a highly entertaining business venture; English-teaching is turning out to be a lot more satisfying than I found it nine years ago; I have spent the last two months being paid to translate descriptions of thrilling things to do in Kenya; An English Fandango is slowly being released from the prison of its word document; my relationship with Tigger is growing – although the last time I wrote something similar that part of my life temporarily went tits up – and my previously incorrigible itchy feet are now made conspicuous only by their absence.

Challenged and yet content, ferociously busy and yet fulfilled: it’s only taken thirty-five years for me to be able to cautiously stick my bonce over the parapet and declare that I might, just might, be settled.

And as I doubt very much that I would have been able to reach that point without the increase in confidence gained from the writing of this blog, and most especially from the encouragement and affection of so many of its readers, I want to thank you all hugely for sticking  with me over the last thirty-three months and 328 posts.


This is Status Viatoris, wishing all SV readers, their families, friends and loved ones much health and happiness in 2013 – take care of each other and make every day count, in Italy.

P.S An English Fandango – Granada will have its first airing on Monday 14th January. Don’t miss it!

Indubitably Intoxicatingly Inebriated


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

One of the many “issues” that recent British governments have attempted to resolve, is the culture of binge-drinking so prevalent in the UK.

I certainly do not speak from any dizzy moral heights on this topic; my “all or nothing” personality type lends itself almost perfectly to the excesses of binge-anything: drinking, eating, watching three dvd box sets of LOST back to back – overkill rules in the world of SV.

But living abroad for so long has, amongst other things, given me the opportunity to observe other nations’ attitudes to alcohol consumption; in turn leading me to wonder where on earth us Brits have gone so very wrong.

Arriving in Spain at 18, freshly plucked from the almost obligatory booziness of my British peer group, it took me some time to realise that when out with Spanish friends, I was the only one knocking back rum and cokes to the point of incoherence.

It took me even longer to notice that this behaviour was regarded with something other than amused indulgence.

But it was not until I got to France, eight years later, that I really grew-up as far as alcohol was concerned. Nights out with my new Gallic friends tended to consist of a civilised meal, with one bottle of wine shared between three or four of us, and then a drink or two at a local bar should the mood strike.

No stumbling, no slurring, no soulless sex, no sick, no shame and no regrets: it was a revelation, and I was chuffed to bits to finally be able to have an adult relationship with liquid refreshment.

But then I went to work in a Scottish pub for seven months, and was abruptly deposited back into the Danger Zone…

A zone where people from practically all age groups are only too happy to get absolutely lathered, pie-eyed, bolloxed, trollied and pished as veritable farts.

A zone where that is, in fact, the primary aim of many of their evening excursions.

A zone where there is little shame in drinking so much that you fall arse over tit, vomit copiously, pick fights, talk shite or jump the bones of complete strangers before falling into the dribbling snoring slumber of the soon to be deservedly hungover.

A zone where the following day’s amusement is the recounting of the previous night’s drunken humiliations.

Yes, it’s the Brit Zone, and yes; I have been there. Again. And again. And again.

So why are many of us seemingly wired up so very differently from our Continental cousins?

It’s not as if booze does not form a part of European life: in fact in all of the countries in which I have lived, alcohol figures very prominently in most social activities. But in Spain, France or Italy it is rare to see the extreme levels of inebriation that we are faced with in the UK.

Is alcohol treated with more “respect” in other countries?

Well yes it is, but I would not say that was a reason in and of itself. It appears to me to be more due to the fact that most Spaniards, French, Italians and others don’t “need” alcohol in the same way that we appear to.

They are confident enough to be able to converse, to laugh, to dance, to have a generally good time, without requiring to be a hat trick of sheets to the Mediterranean breeze in order to do so.

So what are we Brits so scared of?

This is Status Viatoris, would murder the box set of Homeland right now, in Italy.

Twinkletoes Twirls Again


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Quite the natural.

All us village lasses were simply thrilled when the kiddies’ ballet teacher started aerobics lessons up in the school gym.

A month down the line, and most of us are slightly less thrilled to have discovered just how truly uncoordinated we are. Freestyle bopping in the piazza when high on a euphoric cocktail of summer madness and a few glasses of vino, turns out to be not at all the same as being put through strict “Waka Waka” and “Candyman” paces in front of a horribly reflective mirror.

I suppose the fact that the teacher is a Russian ballet dancer should have been an indication that  star-jumps and sit-ups were unlikely to be the sole ingredients of our fitness regime, but I’m not sure any of us were truly prepared for the amount of rhythm she was going to ask us to force from recalcitrant limbs.

These feet were made for dancing…

Shoes not being allowed in the gym, the humiliation is completed by colourful socks with grippy bits on the bottom, or tweet ickle ballet shoes, much like the ones in the photos.

(My bunions are not keen on either of them, but have learnt to keep schtum and twirl on regardless.)

So for the princely sum of 30€ a month, twelve to fifteen girls and ladies sashay up the hill to school two evenings a week; hobbling sweatily back down again an hour later, egos in tatters.

…so that’s just what they’ll do. Sort of.

In Southern Spain I alternated between envy, admiration and a mixture of the two when observing how naturally people there moved to music, especially the female of the species. A culture of sevillanas, rumba or other dances learnt from childhood definitely breaks through the self-concious jerkiness that so many of us suffer from when confronted with the prospect of a dance floor.

And although it was a relief to get to France and discover that the French are no more gifted in that department than the Brits, it was also a little sad to realise that there was now zero chance a sense of rhythm was going to inadvertently rub off on me.

Italy differs from the previous two, in that although Italians do not have the natural dancing abilities of the Southern Spaniards, they do have a thriving culture of learning how to fake it.

Dance classes.


Nowhere is that more apparent than My Little Italian Village during the summer festas, when the instructed few strut confidently out into the middle of the piazza, and proceed to put the rest of us to shame.

And if the look of fierce concentration on their faces as they undulate round a bachata, spin off a salsa or unite the dance floor in a rousing Waka Waka, does not exactly convey an impression of enjoyment, they still look a heck of a lot better than me.

But as luck would have it, none of them has yet infiltrated our keep-fit sessions, so a surfeit of left feet wins the day.

At least I can still see my feet, which is a blessing I suppose.

This is Status Viatoris, whose cronky old knees are especially enjoying aerobics, in Italy.

Hi Daze and Holi Daze


Hello Everyone, S’me!

As Mummy is currently battling a non-stop onslaught of germs ‘n bugs ‘n other delights (sinusitis, the squits gastric flu, nasty coughs, heavy colds – all with the most inconvenient side effect of rendering dog walks a scarcity), she has requested that I take over the SV reins, for the purposes of this post at least.

As inconvenient as this is – I am being kept rather busy monitoring the cosiness factor of our new pellet heater –  I agreed to do it for you, dear readers, just for you.

But despite having been in a state of preparatory mental tusslement all day long, I am forced to report an alarming and inexplicable dearth of my usual sparkling repartee and rapier wit.

I will instead have to fall back on that faithful old chestnut: the holiday snaps.

Me enjoying Parc Güell, Barcelona

I think we have all experienced that frisson of delighted excitement when our pink-nosed and peeling-shouldered loved ones hold a tacky souvenir to ransom in return for a lengthy stroll through those alarmingly bulgy and numerous Quik Pix envelopes.

So as Mummy was not generous enough with pocket money to enable me to purchase tacky souvenirs for anyone other than myself (who would have thought a Kiss Me Quick hat would be so pricey), I will make the flick through my photo album a relatively short and painless one.

No need to thank me.

Me enjoying a not scary at all, honest, horse and carriage ride through Valencia.

Me and Mummy hadn’t been on a road trip for quite some time, so I  admit to being pretty darn excited when we were finally packed into the car, excessive numbers of bags, rucksacks and all.

When we stopped to collect one of my most favouritist aunties along the way well, then I knew for certain that a fab time was guaranteed (especially when my peepers alighted upon the bag of snax she had so thoughtfully prepared for the journey).

Ooooo! A Valencia fountain! I wonder…

Apparently I am a Spanish dog, so I expected to enjoy a bit of light relief from the constant adulation I am faced with elsewhere, as I blended seamlessly and indigenously into the local fabric.

It was not to be.

In Barcelona especially one would think they had never before seen a dog, such was the fawning I was forced to endure by all and sundry.

It is as I previously suspected: I are a particularly speshul hound – I just hope Mummy noticed, and took the time to once again thank her lucky stars for her good fortune.

Me performing vital stone-searching services for Valencia County Council.

Barcelona was hot and we walked A LOT.

Valencia was also hot, and we also walked A LOT. But then we found a fountain, so that was ok.

But it’s just the right size to be my bedroom, please can it be my bedroom?

Granada was undoubtedly the fullest-of-sniffs cities I have ever had the opportunity of visiting, but for most of the time I was cruelly imprisoned in the hostel room and left to twiddle my paws in frustration. Mummy claimed to be worried about all the large stray dogs that roam the city, but I think she was just being a fusspot; after all, it’s not as if I would have had the energy to rip them all limb from limb in that heat.

So unfair.

From Granada we drove to another place called Marbella, and there I was struck by a feeling of familiarity that I couldn’t quite pinpoint.

My legs, which had been flagging a little from all the sightseeing nonsense, suddenly started inexplicably whisking me hither and thither, stopping expectantly outside apartment buildings and vet clinics – my tail wagging in independent and excited anticipation of goodness only knows what.

It occurred to me that maybe I had seen the town on an episode of Place in the Sun, or a similarly nauseating program designed to inveigle A Certain Sort of Brit into abandoning their natural habitat.

Yes, that must have been it.

Anyway, my confusion was soon forgotten when my favouritist aunty dropped her g-string in the lobby of the hostel, much to the delight of the two male guests who were checking in at the time.

I’m still chuckling as I write this.

If this really is a porthole, Mummy, where are the leaping dolphins?

Mummy was very hop, skippy and jumpy about returning to Portugal. I was a bit less that way inclined having caught a glimpse of the annoying talking map thing stuck to the window.

The thought of seven hours in a car was not appealing quite as much as it once did.

But Portugal turned out to be very nice indeed –  it even had a river, which is always a bonus.

Oooooo! A Coimbra river! I wonder…

It was in Portugal that Mummy appeared to be briefly relieved of her marbles.

It might have been a pickpocket – don’t know, wasn’t watching, too busy being cuddled by strangers – but she disappeared one night, only to return with a twinkle, not in her eye, but in her nostril.

She also appeared to have had her right buttock sort of branded, in the manner of a newborn calf or suchlike.

She calls it her “last rebellion” and says it makes her feel a smidgen “alternative”.

I just try to pretend it never happened, but can’t help suspecting that mummies should behave with more decorum, especially after a certain age.

I’m just saying.

Me providing vital squeaking and splashing services for Coimbra County Council

Regardless, I was sad to leave Portugal especially as something seem to go very wrong between Porto and Santiago de Compostela.

Wrong in a “sunny 32°c abruptly launching into a cold and drizzly 9°c” kind of way.

My delicate little lugs were also buffeted on several occasions by the bizarre torture of an as yet unidentified animal.

Those Celtic barbarians actually get their kicks from manhandling the poor creature into a legs akimbo position, then squeezing brutally on its plump little abdomen whilst blowing viciously into one of its orifices.

Mummy said it was a baggpieps. Perhaps some sort of large rodent? I’m not sure, but I’ll be on the phone to PETA about it just as soon as I can tear myself from the hypnotic flame of the pellet heater.

Begin a pilgrim in Santiago de Compostela is not all it’s cracked up to be, especially when it rains.

The cold weather stayed with us all the way to Burgos.

Burgos was an undoubtedly beautiful city, with a selection of interesting sniffs, a river I wasn’t allowed to swim in in case my willy froze off, and a nice fast food pizza joint which Mummy and Favouritist Aunty probably wouldn’t have admitted to visiting if I hadn’t decided to out them here (they didn’t get me any chicken wings, so I think I’m justified).

By the time we got to Pamplona, I think we were all a little tired of travelling. I know I was.

And I’m guessing by all the rude words Mummy said when we got lost in the one way system, when we lost our map before we ever found the city centre, when we discovered someone had tried to break into our car and when she realised she had left her passport in the hostel photocopier, that that particular city was her point of no return too.

It was definitely time to go home.


Does my bum look cold on this?

Mummy says we can’t afford any more holi daze for a very very very long time.

I can’t say I’m that bothered, our Little Italian Village is extremely nice.

And we’ve got a pellet heater.



Cultural Variations on a Good Time


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

There are certain aspects of life in Spain that had seemingly slipped without trace from my memory box, perhaps because the trauma of  retaining them would have simply been too great.

It was entirely unintentional, but our arrival in Barcelona happened to coincide with the tail end of the Fiesta de la Merce; an annual street carnival held in honour of the city’s patron saint – Mare de Deu de la Merce, and one of the busiest weeks in the calendar. Hence why we were unable to find accommodation in the city itself, and were instead forced to book a hostel in the coastal town of Lloret de Mar.

Women performing a Ball de Bastons.

Street acrobats.

Crazy folk on wheels.

 Fiesta de la Merce celebrations.

The “Correfoc” (fire running)

Rather dangerous for the bolder spectators…

…but undeniably spectacular.

Lloret de Mar being an unknown quantity for  both of us, we were pleasantly surprised when the hostel proved to be situated at the end of a lovely little pedestrian street, heaving with shops and cafés; and that first night we proceeded to  treat ourselves to a veritable feast of tapas at one of the friendly local restaurants.

Hunger well and truly satiated, it was then decided that a nightcap would finish the evening admirably, and so off we meandered down the street in search of some sort of drinking establishment.

The first sign that things were not as I thought, was the sudden appearance of a hen party: a vision of plump, tattooed pastiness, all squeezed into crotch-skimming dresses of varying grimness and tottering along in a garish array of stripper heels; skin mottled blue by the coolness of the night-time temperatures.

Can you guess from whence these lovely lasses hailed, I wonder?

Pre-nuptial celebrations obviously well advanced, the group was causing quite a stir with their vocal exhibitionism, not to mention their less than flattering appearance. The looks of ridicule and disgust on local bystanders faces would have been a sobering sight, should any of the “hens” have still been in a condition to take in their surroundings.

My  hopes that this was a one-off encounter were dashed without a trace when I rounded the corner to find myself in my long-forgotten idea of hell.

I had inadvertently stumbled into one of those ghastly corners of Spain, designed exclusively for A Certain Sort of Brit.

24h Happy  Hour!

24h Premier League Football on the telly!

All Day Drinking at Dave’s Bar!

1 Litre Cocktails!

All Day English Brekky at Cath’s Café!

I crept along with growing horror, watching as gangs of grown men – many of whom seemed to labour under the illusion that a football strip is acceptable evening wear – swaggered thuggishly up the street, apparently deciding which establishment would get them even more embarrassingly loud and belligerent at the least financial expense.

Catching their lusty eyes, were variations on a theme of the previously remarked hen party; groups of women in varying stages of tipsiness who delighted in showing off unattractive acres of goose-pimpled flesh, seemingly unaware that it was inversely proportionate to their dignity.

Places like that typify all  the things I loathe most about the breed of Brits who throng there: the mindless drinking, the lack of dignity, the arrogance, the ignorance, the depressing absence of any level of class. How sad that in this age of affordable travel, there are people who have the wonderful opportunity to visit foreign countries, but take absolutely nothing away from them but a bad case of sunburn.

As miserable as I was to be reminded of the existence of such hell holes, I can at least feel grateful that these particular “travellers” do tend to be corralled in specially adapted corners of Spain, Greece and Turkey, and can thus be avoided with minimum disruption to one’s travel itinerary.

This is Status Viatoris, trying to decide between Torremolinos, Benidorm or Magalluf for her next trip, in Italy.

A Scoffulatory Journey


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Having resolutely put all things culinarias from my mind in 2003, I was barely back over the border before my taste buds began involuntarily wallowing in a swill of nostalgic juices.

All concerns about putting back the weight I had lost over the past nine months disappeared in the squeeze of a lemon and the grind of a pepper mill, as I feverishly started planning my menu for the coming days…

First and foremost on my list of must-have-on-pain-of-deaths, was my definition of a proper Spanish breakfast: café con leche (infinitely more bearable than the gut rot they serve up in Italy), zumo de naranja natural (the health benefits of which are often offset by the addition of several sachets of sugar) and best of all; pan tumaca – fresh pitufo bread rolls, lightly toasted and spread with tomato innards before being drenched in olive oil then lightly sprinkled with salt.

Boy oh boy, some things never change – it turned out to be still far and away my favourite way of starting the day.

The desayuno of Kings

Breakfast taken care of, it was to the famous tapeo that my thoughts then turned.

How I had missed that glorious spread of bits and bobs, each expertly crafted to tickle the taste buds and seduce the senses: tortilla de papas, croquetas, papas bravas, ensaladilla rusa, morcilla, calamares a la romana, pulpo gallego, montaditos, pimientos piquillo, gambas al ajillo, pimientos rellenos, boquerones en vinagre – the mention of any of which is still capable of sending my tummy a-rumbling and filling my greedy mouth with lakes of lustful saliva.

Avocado and prawn montadito nestling happily next to quail’s egg and salchicha montadito

Pimientos masterfully rellenados (and not long for that plate)

Spicy papas bravas, exquisitely accompanied by creamy croquetas de jamón

Calamares, boquerones in vinagre and pescaito frito join in the fray…

Despite the straining of seams that resulted from such excesses, there was nearly always room for pud; and a teensy dish of practically calorie-free crema catalana would do the job nicely, thank you very much…

Crème Brûlée by any other name…

By the time we reached Portugal, even I was flagging a little. And having ticked all of the most important food stuffs from my list, I was ready to return to a more controlled way of eating. So what better than a modest and healthy bowl of seafood soup?

My darling, I dream of you still…

Spicy, fragrant and rich, it proved to be utterly and totally the most delicious bowl of seafood soup I had ever supped in my entire life, and washed down with copious quantities of iconic Mateus Rosé, (complete with fancy ice jacket)…

For re-hydrating purposes only…

…and the odd taste of my travelling companion’s goat (in the nicest possible way, you understand)…

I kid you not.

…it was quite possibly the most fabulous meal of our entire trip. So thanks a bundle, Porto, I will now be unable to visit Portugal without suffering similar paroxysms of greed as those which assailed me in Spain.

And once Burgos had been kind enough to provide us with temperatures wintery enough to allow a guilt free rendition of chocolate con churros, I knew the time had definitely come to kiss goodbye to my scoffulatory journey, and begin finding my way back to a more healthy life.

Spare tyres guaranteed.

(T’was exceedingly nice to be naughty, though…;-) )

This is Status Viatoris, thrilled to have returned to find broccoli season in full swing! in Italy.

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