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Published: October 23rd 2009
The infamous 13th Century Romanesque Cathedral
Last weekend marked the annual celebration of the Feast of Saint Ermengol in the Catalonian town of La Seu d'Urgell. It is supposedly documented as the oldest festival in all of Spain! La Seu d'Urgell, despite only having some 13,000 inhabitants, holds many festivals throughout the year and attracts people from throughout Catalonia as well as Andorra. It is also important in that the Bishop of La Seu is one of the Andorran co-princes. Said bishop actually died a few weeks ago, so now there's a new one, but that really isn't relevant.
La Seu also was the site of the kayaking and canoeing activities for the Barcelona '92 olympics. Its Parc Olimpic del Segre still functions today. Other than that the city's appeal lies in its quaint little streets and its 13th century Romanesque Cathedral.
We've not had the best history of mobilizing on Saturday mornings, but finally around 12 noon we managed to leave the Palau and head to the bus stop. It took some time for the bus to come (to think we almost abandoned our plans!) but finally after maybe 15 minutes the bus toward La Seu arrived. Luckily it only ended up costing 2.80€-ish
We took home a kilo of 3 types of these - the best were were pickled along with whole garlic cloves and roasted peppers
for the maybe half-hour trip across the border and into Spain. Per usual customs was a joke, and in no time we were there.
At first we were a bit confused, as all we saw were tents set up with different car companies, but after moving through a bit we found food. Thank god. The spreads at all the stalls were....glorious. Some were just massive vats of olives under a tent; others just hundreds of pounds of cured meat - xorico, salchichon, dried pig faces, morcilla, and so on and so forth. Then of course was all the cheese and sweets - cakes, magdalenes, cocas, ensaïmades, etc. Luckily we were able to sample all along the way, even bits of salted fatback. Can't say that would be something tasted in the open air in the U.S. This is why I'm probably never coming home.
Moving on through we bought some roasted candied almonds, tried some artisan beer, had a shot of an herbal liqueur, ate a muffin, and sampled all sorts of fun things. The best was this pickled artichoke thing stuffed with pickles. Eating it was a trying experience giving that it squirted everywhere with every bite,
People crowing around
but it was worth the effort. While eating said artichokes we were approached by some old Catalan woman who, after literally staring at us indiscreetly for 2 minutes asked what on earth we were eating. It took quite some time to explain given that her hearing abilities were more or less gone.
After washing our hands, we moved on to the cheese tent. Yes, the cheese tent where the separate cheese festival was going on. Inside were stalls with representatives from all over the Pyrenees and bordering territories - Basque Country, Catalonia, France, Spain, Andorra, etc. It cost 15€ or something to get a little cheese table, the privilege of tasting 3 large portions of cheeses, and a small booze glass, but given that samples were also available without having to pay, we chose the latter. We tasted some delicious cheeses and fresh goat's milk, among other things, but honestly we were a bit underwhelmed. I think I have a better time in Andorra tasting all the samples at the Casa de Formatge.
Once out of the cheese tent, we went back for round two through the outdoor market section. I really had a taste for sobrassada (majorcan
salty pork paste - amazing), but unfortunately the woman in the seemingly only tent that had it was on break or something. Her loss. We were pretty hungry for something more substantial at this point so it was decided that we would have a cake tasting and ended up getting 4 fat slices of various delicious cakes (plus one flan) made with almonds, walnuts, chocolate, and so on. We also got a big empanada with sausage and eggs in it, but we figured it would be better heated up once at home. Finally we completed the day with some fresh mandarin oranges to make up for our not-quite-healthy consumption habits.
Quite satisfied, we returned to the bus station and waited for the bus that would take us back to the mountains of Andorra...
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