Thursday, January 21, 2010

Always on the Hunt for Good Bread - Success in Valencia Spain!

While I have found some wonderful bakeries making traditional and artisanal breads in Paris, Barcelona, Barcelona again and Madrid (see posts), I had yet to find any such bread makers in Valencia.

While Valencia is dotted with bakeries, it suffers as does the rest of Spain from a shortage of what I would categorize as really good bread. Happily I discovered serendipitously a bakery just off the Plaza de la Reina that makes a large variety of artesano breads and pastries. Among their offerings are a Pan de Gallego made from wheat (trigo in Spanish) grown in Galicia, the region in northwestern Spain, and Espelta Ecologico made from organic spelt.

One friend of mine who is a bit of a bread connoisseur said after sampling the PanPan Gallego baguette, “Wow I haven’t had bread like that since……well, since I was in Paris.” Tall praise for PanPan. The counters overflowing with breads can be accessed all day during the week and on Saturday mornings, and PanPan could not be more convenient as it is right around the corner from the Plaza. PanPan Atelier, La Paz 1, 46003 Valencia;; open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Monday, January 18, 2010

More Unusual & Green Accommodations in Spain

To celebrate the upcoming release of the Green Earth Guide: Traveling Naturally in Spain, I am posting here some fantastic accommodations that I learned about after completing the book - thank goodness for blogs and web sites!

The InOut Hostel in Barcelona is part of the Hostelling International network of worldwide hostels, but it is unique in that it is established as a nonprofit organization whose workforce is comprised almost entirely of people (96%) with disabilities including Down’s Syndrome. 

Located about fifteen minutes from the heart of Barcelona, InOut Hostel sits on almost sixty acres in the Collserola Park. The hostel is large, clean and airy with more than 150 beds and a restaurant serving fresh foods. The hostel is handicap accessible and offers terraces, lawns, and footpaths through the park. InOut Hostel, Major del Rectoret, 2, 08017 Barcelona; Tel: 932 800 985; Email:; Web:; Metro: FGC S1 or S2 to Baixador de Vallvidrera. 

Available from the beginning of May to the end of September, you can stay at the mountain retreat of Molino Taponero where you will find a cottage sleeping up to four people and a house sleeping up to six people nestled in the Andalucian mountains by a river - a former water mill - near the town of Gaucin and forty minutes from the famous white village of Ronda. The houses are rented by the week for £480 per week for the house and  £380 per week for the cottage - or equivalent in Euros. Owners Dawn and Paul Sutcliffe are weavers and produce natural fiber shawls and blankets in the winter months. Molino Taponero, Gaucin, Andalucia; Email:

Nearby the Molino Taponero you can find the solar-powered Andalucia Yurts. Here you will find two locally crafted yurts which sleep 4-5 people and a double-guest-room on the side of the main house. There are indoor and outdoor showers - the outdoor has riverstones on the floor and eucalytus wood walls. Natural health services are offered and they have a wood-fired sauna by the river. You can stay for 35 euros/night and have dinner for 20 euros per person.  Andalucia Yurts, La Huerta, Gaucin, Andalucia; Tel: 952 117 486 (evenings & weekends) or cell: 686 888 409; Email: Kit and Penny Hogg at

Nearby is a WAY cool yurt making company, Baltasar Bent Yurts, which makes handcrafted yurts from chestnut wood. They say, “We make the wooden elements of our yurts using traditional hand tools and sew the canvas using sustainable solar power where possible. All the poles are cut, stripped, sanded and oiled by hand - the result is a yurt with no hard edges - all in all a magical, organic, beautiful space.” 

For a further variety of eco-accommodations in Spain check out the wonderful Organic Holidays Web site developed by Linda Moss, author of Organic Places To Stay UK & Ireland.

Lucky you if you get to stay in any of these wonderful places….

Friday, January 15, 2010

Meditating in Spain...literally

If you want to combine a trip to Spain (or are already in Spain) with a meditation retreat, you can go to a very special place in the province of Granada in the Andalucian region of southern Spain. Here you will find O.Sel.Ling.

O.Sel.Ling, meaning place of the clear light, is a Buddhist monastery in Bubión, in the Alpujarra mountains. The O.Sel.Ling monastery was founded  twenty-five years ago in honor of a local child who was considered the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe. You can visit the monastery if you are in the area or attend one of their educational programs. If you want to go for a private retreat, you can stay in one of their mountain huts - the minimum stay is one week and costs 34 euros/night. You can get their by car or bus, or hike. It is a 3 ½ hour walk/hike from Orgiva – 16km (10 miles). See the website for specific directions. O.Sel.Ling monastery, Apdo. 99, 18400 Órgiva, (Granada); Tel: 958 34 31 34; Email:; Web: Visiting hours are every day from 3:30 to 6:00 pm. Office hours are 9:00 am to 1:00 pm/3:00 to 6:00pm.

If you can't get to Orgiva but still want to include meditation in your Spain travels you can explore the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, a worldwide network of centers established by Buddhist Lama Thubten Yeshe to preserve and make available Tibetan Buddhist teachings of compassion and wisdom. You can find all the centers in Spain at their web site.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cordoba Green Sampling

While you are hoofing around the old sites in Cordoba and wondering where to eat you will be happy to know that you can find delicious lunch or dinner at Amaltea, serving fresh local food with natural and gourmet twists…. arugula, sun dried tomato and goat cheese salad (with pine nuts)….baby squid and curried rice… these are just a few of the choices. Amaltea, Ronda de Isasa 10 – on the street along the river down below the Mezquita.  Tip – get there by 3:30 as they close the doors up for the lunch hours and they do not serve dinner on Sundays).

Numerous hotels surround the Mezquita in Cordoba and any of them are fine, housed in grand old buildings, most with inner courtyards. On this trip I tried the Conquistador, a marble floored hotel on the east side of the Mezquita, with a courtyard, WiFi and a convenient three blocks or so from the Baños Arabes thermal baths.

Cordoba is making an attempt at a cheap city-sponsored bike program called CycloCity. Currently bikes are only available at four sites: the RENFE train station, the Baños Califales museum, Puerta de Gallegos and at the junction of Ave Barcelona and Libia. Unfortunately you can not yet purchase a user card through the internet, but must wait until you arrive in Cordoba and make your way to the government office on Avenida Mediterraneo, open from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm, to purchase a card. Hopefully the program will expand and be more traveler friendly. In any event we can applaud Cordoba for their beginning efforts.

This is just a tiny tasting of all that the beautiful city of Cordoba has to offer, a city proud of its local artisans and rich, diverse history.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Green and Delicious in Granada Spain

Granada seems to be always full of good surprises. This trip I found an incredible morisca bakery with other-worldly pistachio mini pastry rolls chock full of ground pistachios. They also sell dried teas, organic olive oil, and local honey. Natura Morisca Bakery -- pastelería árabe, Calderería Vieja, 12; Tel: 657 528 883; between Plaza Nueva and the heart of the Albayzin neighborhood.
A few storefronts down is the delightful Teteria Al-Andalus where you can choose from a huge selection of teas- both caffeinated and herbal. My party voted the Chai the best we have tasted. You can also partake of the tobacoo hookahs (we did not), and choose from morisca pastries and sweet crepes. Teteria Al-Andalus is small but has great ambience with indoor and outdoor seating, and cheery proprietor Khalil is most accommodating and friendly. Teteria Al-Andalus,  c/ Caldederia Vieja 4, Granada (2nd location Carrera del Darro 49).

Very sadly my favorite restaurant for dinner from my last visit, Canela y Clavo, is no longer there – such a shame as it had delicious fresh food.

However my other favorite restaurant, Hicuri, on Calle Santa Escolastica in the Realjo neighborhood, is alive and well. They serve natural foods with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options from morning until night so no worries about arriving at siesta time. I had lunch two days in a row there - good prices and good food - yum!