TIP: Desayunos en España

Our breakfast spot in Sigüenza, Spain, on the Plaza Mayor

Our breakfast spot in Sigüenza, Spain, on the Plaza Mayor

By Peter and Jean Richards

If you do not want a large breakfast while touring in Spain, you can savor a lot of local atmosphere and save quite a bit of money by having your desayunos in a bar near your hotel.

We like to stay in the wonderful government-run Paradors in Spain, where you get to sleep in medieval castles, Renaissance ducal palaces, or venerable convents. All of them serve breakfast, a large and varies buffet. But these are relatively expensive (€18 or €16 per person, and occasionally on special for €12). My problem is that I can be an undisciplined eater and often take too much food when it is offered in buffet style, I also feel that €36 (almost $47 at the current exchange rate) is a lot to spend for breakfast,

In a recent trip when we stayed at six Paradors we had breakfast each morning at a bar near the hotel or, on a couple of occasions, at a bar just outside of town or as we entered another town.

Catching up on the morning's news

Catching up on the morning’s news

In  the bars, where you can either sit or stand at the bar or site a table, you get a big does of local atmosphere. Regulars come in, chat with the bartender, read their morning papers, banter with their friends.

We each take a double caffé plus a croissant or pastry of some kind. I usually succumb if they have churros. those slender, crispy, deeply ridged delights which you can dunk in thick hot chocolate or coffee. We also often have orange juice, squeezed to order by a Rube Goldberg gadget which most bars have. The oranges are fed into a tube, and the machine then feeds them into a gizmo that slices and extracts the juice.

Typical Zumo machine

Typical Zumo machine

Since Spain has excellent, tree-ripened oranges grown in the south, the juice, known as zumo, is far superior to what you can get in the United States. Except for Morocco, where we had unbelievably sweet orange juice, the juice in Spain is the best we have had on our travels.

These breakfasts ran from 5€50 to 8€40 on our April jaunt through Spain, and the most expensive one was where I had a second cup of coffee.

Even better, on a nice day you can have your breakfast at an outside table, often in an historic square where you can enjoy the setting and watch the town come to life.

© Copyright 2013 by Peter & Jean Richards

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About oldmainetravelers

The Old Maine Travelers are Peter and Jean Richards, who met more than a half century ago covering President John F. Kennedy on what would become his last trip to Boston.  They worked for many years as wire service and newspaper reporters and editors.  Peter did a nightly television show on WGBH, Boston, before he went into government in the administration of John V. Lindsay, mayor of New York City. After they moved to their brownstone in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, Jean did a spell on Madison Avenue in the real “Mad Men” days and later became public relations officer at Chase Manhattan Bank.  Since 1973 they have worked together first as owners and publishers of a group of award-winning newspapers in Dutchess County, N.Y., and then as antiques dealers.  Now they are old and live on the coast of Maine and in the Southwest of France when not traveling further afield. In the red barn by their house in Damariscotta, Maine, they tend an antique shop specializing in 18th and 19th century furniture, metalwork and accessories, buying objects they know about and like and selling them from May to October to delightful people of obvious discernment and taste. In France, they live in an old stone house in the shadows of the remaining towers of an unfinished 17th century church and above Roman drains in a town along a pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella. They love it — for its authenticity and abundant boulangeries.  The rest of the time they travel the world together seeing the sights, seeking out museums, stumbling into interesting conversations, savoring local specialties and otherwise bumbling along in their own style. For years they have sent article-length postcards to family, friends, fellow travelers and some media. Many of these will now be posted here.
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