i had a few comments about my hong kong pics
from people saying i should have put captions with them.
personally i thought the pics looked good by themselves without captions.
also i didn't want to bore you with my ramblings.
however, even though this post also has a lot of photos, i've decided
to write a few words about each shot.
i hope you like it.
so last thursday i took jess over to spain, where she will be studying
at university in leon.
it's a tricky place to get to. no direct flights from london.
first up was a ryanair flight from stanstead to madrid
i asked for an upgrade but the ryanair staff were having none of it.
we had a 10 hour wait in madrid before our flight to leon, so we put jess's
bags in left luggage at the airport and headed into madrid for the day.
first stop in madrid was a beautiful little bar tucked away in a side street
casa labra. it's a madrid institution and is over 150 years old.
although it's right in the heart of busy touristy madrid, it is a bit of
a secret that only locals know about.
they do just three types of tapas.
a chunk of tuna, croquetas and bacalao.
you'll have to take my word for it... absolutely incredible food.
it was a very special occasion for me. it was the first time i'd
sat down with jess with us both having a beer
if you're ever in madrid, you have to go to this place.
after walking around for a while, we stopped off at another madrid institution
chocolateria san gines.
it's open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
the interior is beautiful but we sat outside.
it's famous for it's chocolate and churros but we just had a coffee each.
first coffee of the trip. cafe con leche.
i saw this sign in a restaurant window
after lots more walking we found a cracking little place for hot chocolate and churros.
this might not look much, but it was amazing chocolate, and really hot too.
the churros were decent, but 3 between the two of us... hmmm
the churros and chocolate... when they met...
we walked around, all through little back streets and turned a corner to see this...
outrageous elephant behaviour !
this was outside an art gallery near the retiro.
we walked through the park, which took about an hour, skulked
around an upmarket area of madrid then caught the metro back to
waiting for the flight to leon and feeling a little fatigued, it was
coffee time again. this was at a place called 'ars' in terminal 4
we had an iberian airlines flight to leon.
very comfortable leather seats with loads of legroom.
the best thing about the flight though was the difference between the staff
on ryanair and iberia.
i won't even describe the ryanair staff. but on this flight the staff were
it's hard to tell from this pic but believe me. this stewardess was a dead ringer
for the actress anne hathaway... you know, the one from 'the devil wears prada'
she was also so cheerful and smiley. maybe it was her first day on the job ?
honestly, i've never seen such cheery behaviour on a plane.
after 45 minutes or so, leon came into view...
next morning, in leon, we decided to familiarise ourselves with the town.
jess found a cafe-bar featuring her favourite bird
and i discovered that spanish housewives have fantastic knockers...
after cracking myself up at the thought of the knocker gag, we headed off
to leon market in search of one of my favourite things...
check out the chorizo...
it was magic darts !
after sampling a few different types i bought a really spicy chorizo.
we walked around the many tiny backstreets and saw a bit of street art
there are quite a few big squares in leon
you can just about see jess here, going in to ask about art classes.
we checked out the university where jess will be studying
it was in a really nice park with rubbish statues.
now here's the thing about leon...
it's a really interesting city, well worth a visit for many reasons.
however one reason in particular makes it a place i think you should
definitely check out.
you go to any bar or cafe in leon... you order any drink...
here i opted for a cafe con leche...
and they bring you...
free food !
the most genius melt in the mouth tortilla in this case.
i'll explain more about it later in this thread... infact i'll probably explain about it
a little too much, as you know how i like to photograph my food, and on this trip
there was lots and lots of ( free ) food.
after the coffee and tortilla we explored a little more.
it seems that leon loves meat almost as much as i do.
what the what ?!
a meat boutique ?
and look at this shop... selling all your sausage needs
and this shop sold all cuts of meat. i particularly liked the window display...
just incase i wanted to buy a pigs face.
sorry if this is all a little disjointed but all the pics are shown in the order
in which i took them.
next up look at this gent studying a model of leon city centre.
the old chaps have such style.
at lunchtime i stopped to cool off with a beer and jess had a famous
naturally the drinks came with free sausages !
we then went to a square in the centre which was to become our favourite
square... plaza santa maria del camino
first drinks at the bar griffin came with this
one with cheese, one with ham... genius ham !
second drinks came with...
two ham sandwich kind of things
muchas gracias !
now i should point out that the drinks are cheap too.
also the thing in leon is to drink a 'corto' which is a small beer.
it's less than half a pint and it costs 1euro
so for one euro you get a nice little beer and a snack...
then move on to the next place.
on the way to the next bar i saw another of dr hofman's stencils
very high up though.
'get carter' if i'm not mistaken
as it got dark i left my camera in my hotel.
next morning i read in marca all about the big match which was on
in madrid in the evening... el clasico... real madrid v barcelona.
marca had a big photo essay showing famous images from previous
matches. this was one of the most famous pics...
when the barca fans threw a pigs head at luis figo...
of course they would never do that in leon... they would never waste a pig's head !
of course they would never do that in leon... they would never waste a pig's head !
we walked to the square where jess enquired about art classes the previous day...
the big empty square was now bustling and noisy. it was market day.
impressive selection of shopping trolleys.
impressive meat stalls too
i liked this little package
all you need to make a fabada asturiana
can you tell what is sealed in these packets ?
i reckon they were cows tongues
and what goes on here ?
is it really a horsemeat shop ?
moving on, it was time for a coffee
which sure enough came with a free tortilla
near the cathedral we saw some locals who were promoting a shop
called 'el mutante' which was opening that day
they were dressed as alice in wonderland characters.
i was dressed as a miserable tourist
in my loopwheeler fleece.
here's a shot of jess infront of some graffiti
or i guess technically it's a shot of some graffiti behind jess.
look at this little lad's style
i like the bobbles on his socks. good lad !
it was time for limonada. it must be a leon thing but
almost every bar going has a big sign in the window saying
yet the 'lemonade' is not what it seems... for one thing it's red.
for another thing it definitely has wine in it.
anyway we ordered up a lemonanda each
and we got free tapas... bacon and chips.
it was thirsty work so we ordered another drink each and...
this time we got given potatoes with a chickeny gravy on them.
i can't get over this free food situation !
we went for a big walk out of the walled city and saw this most
we then went for a walk through a little park which had peacocks
walking around as if they owned the place. it also had lots of very
after the strain of photographing all that blossom, i felt i need of a lemonade.
hard to tell, but it came with ( free of charge ) some chips with ali-oli and two
croquetas containing a big piece of ham and some cheese.
it was about this point that i started considering moving to leon !
jess went back to her accommodation to meet her new room-mates and
i went for a wander by myself...
as a photographer i must admit it can be annoying sometimes when i'm
on a shoot and somebody comes along with a camera and starts
taking photos over my shoulder. or if they start telling me that they are
a photographer too.
so when i saw a wedding nearby with not one but two photographers...
well i just did the professional thing... and joined in and started
snapping away with my little gf-1 !
both photographers seemed pretty annoyed with me, which only made me
move in a little closer...
to be honest the bride and groom didn't seem to mind, and the two photographers
did seem to be a bit useless.
the two of them started looking at the backs of each others cameras
comparing what they'd shot and the happy couple wandered off to join their friends
at the bar in the square.
i ran ahead of them and took this one frame
i think it's a decent shot.
i also think it's a shame that they paid two photographers and neither of them
captured this nice little moment.
so i gave my card to the groom and asked him to email me and i'd send it to him.
i then settled down to the important business of the evening...
uno corto por favor
have a closer look at the free food
go on... have another look...
i can't explain how tasty this was.
after the nearby wedding party started throwing fireworks everywhere
i decided to head for the town centre. to the place where the tapas bars are
all in a row.
first stop, i had a corto at... well, i can't remember the name of it
but they gave me some chips and a couple of little sausages.
i bought another corto
and got given a larger portion of chips and spicy sausages.
i then went to the bar next door...
a corto with chips and cheese sauce
check them out...
i was in my element here. i ordered up another corto
and boom ! got given more chips and cheese sauce.
so let's get this straight once more...
a beer for one euro and the foodage is free.
i moved to the next bar, where the barman looked like harry hill.
with my corto he offered me albondigas or croquetas.
i opted for albondigas... meatballs in gravy, with a few jockeys too.
i stayed in this place for another but they didn't have a telly and 'el classico'
was about to begin.
i headed to the nearest bar with a big screen and ordered up a corto cerveza
the waitress asked me if i wanted huevo or queso ?
i opted for huevo and with my 1 euro beer got given this...
it's called huevo con piccadillo and it's a fried egg with fried pork and
a piece of soft bread.
i stayed in this place for another and had the same again, fried egg, pork and
at half time in the match i moved to another bar. a bar where i knew
what the free tapas was... i ordered up a beer and got given
i know it looks mad, but it is hot and spicy and is absolutely genius.
barca won el classico 2-0 and i was full on free tapas.
next morning and i met jess for a coffee
i liked the yellow plastic tablecloth. old school.
walking around leon i saw another street art stencil.
one of my favourite charcters... lupin the third !
before i knew it, it was time for a drink. it was a scorching hot day
so a lemonada was called for
it came with potatoes and gravy
then the next one came with...
bacon, chips and gravy
let's have another look at it...
free food. love it.
i took time out from eating to knock off a quick self-portrait
same old look. even the free food couldn't make me raise a smile.
after a sneaky siesta i went for a walk by myself...
i noted the typically spanish sweet advertisement in a shop
and took a photo of this perro tied up outside a bar
i treated myself to another cafe con leche...
and went for a look around leon cathedral
sitting outside the cathedral were the leon equivalent of hoodys
just hanging around looking for trouble... i stayed well clear of them.
i was joined by jess for my last night in leon.
what should we do ?
first bar, free chips and cheese sauce
second bar, free bacon croquetas
third bar, free chorizo and empañaditos
the third bar was a special cideria.
it sold local cider which was fantastic. have you ever seen how they
pour the cider in spain though ? traditionally the barman holds the bottle over
his shoulder and pours just a little into a small glass held at an angle.
the idea is to get a lot of froth and you're supposed to drink it before it clears.
well this bar had a machine which does this for you.
i don't have a photo but i did make a little video of it. when i've figured out how to
download the video and transfer it to my blog, i'll post it up.
moving on, we decided our last drink and bite should be at our favourite bar...
we'd visited la bicha on friday night and it is so unbelievably amazing
that honestly, it's not worth me trying to explain the theatre that goes
on in there. the fantastic food ( the best of the trip ) the drink, the
atmosphere, but most of all, of the one man who runs the joint.
it has to be seen to be believed. if i could offer one tip it would be...
'go to leon, go to la bicha'
here's a shot of it from the outside
here's my corto in la bicha
here's the free tapas in la bicha
off the hook !
all opinion seems to be that la bicha has the best murcilla in the whole of leon
it's pretty pointless to show this photo. it's all about the taste and the atmosphere.
here's the main man in full flow...
he was making our bocadillo de lomo y queso.
it was so impressive that we had people come up to us and ask us about it.
somebody told jess that they had sandwich envy.
go to la bicha !
next morning i had a coffee in my hotel at 5.20am before heading to the airport
for the long journey home.
7 hour wait in madrid this time so i pegged it to the city centre and
headed straight to the chocolateria for churros y chocolate
i love churros more than i could love a human child. that's a fact.
i went off in search of the newly opened stüssy shop and found it...
next to a coffee shop.
by sol, i spotted a very nice reflection...
as i kept trying to frame the shot properly, others noticed me standing
staring at my own reflection
then they looked and saw themselves and got out their own cameras
ha ha !
my day in madrid was nearly over. i just had time to feed myself once more.
on the way to casa labra i took a photo of something that had bugged me for days...
everywhere in madrid and leon was this wretched character...
'angel cat sugar'
a blatant hello kitty rip-off. i think sanrio should have a word.
and so, the last snack of the trip. a corto with three pieces of bacalao
it was the first food i'd bought in days !