Trapped in Italy! Or, How Fixing my Mistake Cost me €200

Only I could turn what should have been a 12-hour trip into a 27-hours of sleep deprived chaos.
Wait, what? Are you confused?
Okay, it has been a while. So sorry. Between the soon-to-be-recounted adventures and my attempts to return to the responsibilities of daily life, blogging has sort of fallen by the wayside. Anyhow, I have a lot to recap, so in true Jeannette fashion I’m going to go in reverse and start at the end of my Semana Santa/Spring Break trip…
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Entroido! Carnival Celebrations in Laza, Ourense


Carnival is my favorite Spanish holiday! It’s the wonderful combination of Halloween’s costumes and Spanish fiesta hours (as in, sunset to sunrise). This year, my friends and I went adventuring off to the southeastern corner of rural Galicia to enjoy the oldest Carnival in the penninsula: Laza’s Entroido.
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New Year’s in Budapest

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After playing in the snow in Austria, I headed off to Eastern Europe right before New Year’s Eve. Specifically, I spent a day in a car to get from Munich to Budapest (roadtrip!) Budapest is cool, and also freezing cold! I do not appreciate subzero temperatures on my vacations. Luckily, the Hungarians are also big fans of mulled wine and something called palinka (more on that later). During my almost-week there, I had several adventures and saw some requisite touristy things. Like…

How to Cook a Turkey in Spain: Thanksgiving Time

Santiago Thanksgiving was celebrated with two parties and way too much food (and wine, can’t forget about that).

Quila and I had decided that we would host a Thanksgiving dinner at our flat on the following Saturday, mostly because working all day is not conducive to cooking a turkey. However, things became slightly complicated.

Thanksgiving Part 1

Thursday evening I was walking home after my 9 p.m. lesson and hoping that the rain would hold off until I got on my bus. As I waited for the bus, I heard the sound of English voices (When English speakers make up less than 1% of the population, you get very adept at picking out the intonations and sounds from the background noise of Castellaño) and greeted some of my American friends. Turns out they were waiting for the same bus as me…to go to my house!

Turns out someone had got their wires crossed and thought our Thanksgiving dinner was on Thanksgiving Day, not the following weekend. Unfortunately for the girls, it meant we had a pile of mashed potatoes, 2 pies, and assorted goodies to deal with.
Now, as it happened I did know of another Thanksgiving dinner, which WAS scheduled for that Thursday. And they would definitely appreciate extra tasty goodies. It took a few minutes on the phone, some hopeless GoogleMapping before we gave up and decided to hop into a taxi, entertaining the driver with the delicious-smelling pots of food we’d brought into his car.

Party number one involved a house crammed full of Brits and Americans, with the occasional local thrown into the mix. I had to reassure a worried British Seb that, no, it was physically impossible that we’d run out out of food on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Part 2
However…the Saturday that followed was even more epic, and food-filled!

The 7 kilo Turkey!

Quila had ordered a turkey from the street market last week. And the butcher agreed that he could get a 5 kilo turkey for us, no problem. However, apparently Galician turkeys are fat because when Quila went to pick up the bird, it was 7 kilos!

We brined it in the kitchen sink with a ton of salt. A floating turkey with a couple pinfeathers still attached looks quite gross anywhere in your kitchen, I might add.
I made my yummy rice stuffing, using fresh herbs. Apparently the Abastos market has most every herb you can imagine, as long as you’re okay with using fresh ingredients. Mmmm.

Stuffing cooking

We decorated the place while waiting for the massive turkey of massiveness to cook. Apparently having 2 more kilos of turkey than you planned on cooking means that dinner is delayed a little bit.

Quila decorating

Luckily for us, Spanish expectations about their dinner times are quite flexible. We hung around and drank wine and ate pinchos while waiting for the turkey to stop spurting blood when I check it. 

In the end, we had enough food for everyone to eat, and eat, and eat some more! At some point I must have slipped into a pleasant wine and food coma

And because we are in Spain, we decided to go out after devouring mountains of food.


Let’s go climb a mountain, build a fire and drink all day! Sounds like a recipe for great fun, right?

Magosto is the Galician equivalent of tailgating, only substituting football for chestnuts and more alcohol (Okay not always. My school had a Magosto and it was an alcohol-free event, I think).

My roomies and I decided to invade Ourense for the weekend. And invade the house of our friend Sote (well, actually his parents’ house because after all this is Spain).
The weekend started off with my hungover self getting out of bed about 45 minutes before our bus and making the “oh shit” realization that I hadn’t packed.
Which is how I forgot my bathing suit and missed out on a chance to hit up the Ourense hotsprings. Sadly these are not clothing optional; probably has something to do with the springs being in the center of the city.

When we arrived, the mountainside was covered in people, most of them fighting with their tarps and trying to redneck-rig a tent out of rope, sticks, and plastic tarps. Which was working as well as could be expected.

As we set up our tent,  a grumpy Galician man appeared and started lecturing us. As near as I could understand, he owned some of the mountain and didn’t want us on his property. Something about leaving empty wine bottles all over the place.
However, WE weren’t on his land, so I don’t really know why he was talking to us. However, the hippies who were trespassing had no intention of packing up and got into a loud argument with the owner. Because Spain is special, the owner called the cops and then spent 2 hours (I’m not exaggerating) standing under his umbrella, glaring at everyone while he waited for the cops to come and throw out the hippies.

Meanwhile, we were getting soaked from the on-again, off-again rain. For some reason the tent wasn’t as waterproof as we’d thought. At some point we started a fire and began eating chestnuts (and drinking, let’s not forget that).

Cooking note: Chestnuts will explode in a shower of hot nut fragments if you leave them in the fire too long.

At sunset, Sote was drunk enough to constantly shout “¡Viva el vino!” and had decided that he was in charge of maintaining the fire. This lasted until he stumbled and ended up summersaulting through the gorse (better than the fire). He was then promoted to tamborine-player.

About 10 pm we decided to give up on the smoky remains of our fire and join the big party on the next ridge. They had a giant tent, a full sound system, and two huge fires. Which means we had an outdoor dance party for the rest of the night.