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A Spanish Countryside Experience
The land of wine and Tapas
Glasses are clinging and the smell of garlic is in the air. People are out an about with kids in strollers and although it might be almost midnight on a weekday. Each bar is packed displaying an assortment of tapas and bottles of wine. Where is this place you might ask? Well, welcome to Logroño!\n\n
When I first found out that I’d be teaching English at a Spanish High School in Logroño I had no idea what to expect. Logrono is the capital city of Spain’s wine region “La Rioja.” I knew that it was a small region in the Northwest of Spain not too far from France. However, what I didn’t know that this would be one of Spain’s best-kept secrets. Logroño is famous for a street named “Calle Laurel” and although it’s only a little more than 200 meters long, there are over 65 restaurants and bars. These are seriously some of the best tapas in Spain. Not to mention it’s also fairly inexpensive with most starting around 2- 3€ for a tapa and a glass of wine can cost you well under 1€. It’s fair to say that I a lot of time exploring Calle Laurel and trying to find the very best of tapas or ending a workday with a glass red wine. However, even after living in Logroño for a year I didn’t even come close to trying every bar and although it’d be hard to pick a favourite. Although a few of my top choices would be eating a garlic roasted mushroom topped off with a shrimp at Bar Soriano, toast with goat cheese, Serrano ham and raspberry jam at Blanco y Negro and a shrimp and pineapple kebab at Juan y Pinchamé, and not to mention a wine slush on a hot summer day at Taberno del Tio Blas.
Logroño took me by surprise and would consider it as one of Spain’s most underrated places to visit. Located between rolling vineyards and just a short trip to San Sebastian, Bilbao or Pamplona it’s a great place to stop for a bite to eat, explore its cathedral and historical quarter or take a walk on a stone bridge over the Ebro River. If you’ve finished eating your way through Calle Laurel, there are also many other beautiful cities to visit or go wine tasting. You can take a short 20 min bus to Laguardia, a medieval city dating back to the 10th century and wander its cobblestone streets or go wine tasting at Ysios Winery, designed by the famous Spanish Architect: Santiago Calatrava Head over to Haro which is famous for its Wine Festival every summer in which locals have a wine battle. \nAnd make sure not to miss out at Bodega Marques de Riscal, La Rioja’s oldest vineyard designed by Frank Gehry and is made to look like a glass of wine.
Logroño is very laid back and friendly (maybe because of the large amounts of affordable wine and tapas). You can find most of the locals hanging around Calle Laurel or strolling around the city. It is also located on the famous pilgrimage “Saint James Way” to Santiago de Compostela.’,’The best way to get to Logroño would by Bus or train. You can find information on how to get by Spain’s bus company Alsa http://www.alsa.es/ or by train with Renfe http://www.renfe.com/. The only negative thing about Logroño is that it only has a small airport with a few flights per week. It is better to get to Logroño by other bigger cities such as Bilbao, or Pamplona with destinations to other European countries and offer flights with low budget airlines such as Ryanair or Vueling.’,’
I shared an apartment in the center of the city with two other international students. If your looking for a place to stay, I’d recommend to stay near the city center. If your on a budget I’d check out airbnb https://www.airbnb.es/, or couch surf with a local https://www.couchsurfing.com/’,’
How to go about it
I worked as a Language Assistant teaching English at a public high school with a program offered through Spain’s Ministry of Education called “Auxiliares de Conversaci ón.” I worked 12 hours/week with a stipend of 700€ per month. If you are looking work abroad in Spain I’d recommend applying to this program, which has placements over all the country. You can apply towards the end of December beginning of January https://sede.educacion.gob.es/catalogo-tramites/profesores/convocatorias/extranjeros/auxiliares-conversacion-extranjeros-espana.html’,’Eat as many tapas as you can 🙂 Also, to blend in with the locals to order wine in Spanish red wine is (vino tinto) and white is (vino blanco) and rose (vino rosado) If you really want to show your stuff, to order the house wine which is usually the cheapest option you’d like to ask for (vino de la casa) To step up a notch crianza would be your next best bet which are aged around 1 year in oak barrels. Feeling a bit fancier, go for a Reserva, aged for a minumum of 3 years and are the winemakers usually select the best grapes\n\nThe crème de la crème would be a Gran Reserva are aged the longest and are the best picked grapes. They are aged at least 2 years in oak barrels and 1 year bottled, however some can be aged for about 10 years which comes with the price. Cheers!
My experience living with other international students was great! We celebrated many holidays together or would often have roomate dinners. Since both of my roomates were French we made a lot of crepes, which was a plus!’,’I really enjoyed teaching English, it has overall been a great experience which has allowed me to travel around Spain and Europe.
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