Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celebrating Cervantes in Alcalá de Henares


Did you know that Don Quixote has been translated into more languages than any other book in the world, aside from the Bible? I suppose you could say that Miguel de Cervantes is kind of a big deal in Spain. So, it's no surprise that his hometown hosts a fiesta of epic proportions to celebrate his birthday every year.


This past weekend I ventured to Alcalá de Henares to celebrate Cervantes at their annual medieval festival. Just a 45 minute train ride away from the center of Madrid, this charming UNESCO World Heritage Site is where the acclaimed author was born and baptized. 

Nestled between the picturesque buildings and lively plazas, one can find many homages to the iconic creator of Don Quixote. Alcalá de Henares is also home to one of the oldest universities in the world, and it's where Christopher Columbus had his first meeting with the Catholic Monarchs to receive funding for his voyage to America.


Of the festival's many attractions, the most prominent was the medieval Quixote Market. An abundance of colorful stalls lined the cobblestone streets, each selling handcrafted goods, mojitos, flower crowns and delectable fall treats. 

The intoxicating smells of freshly grilled meats, sizzling crepes and roasted chestnuts wafted through the air, prompting us to follow our hungry bellies through the maze of mouthwatering temptations. As we hopped from stall to stall, vendors in period costumes sold us piping hot castañas, savory Manchego cheese, and pimientos de padrón fried and salted to perfection. I think it's fair to say that we were in foodie heaven.


Between the medieval costumes, music, processions and treats, the Cervantes festival in Alcalá de Henares completely captured my heart (and my stomach). I'd love to go back again when I have even more time to explore and admire the quaint town. While I still have much to discover, Alcalá de Henares has easily made my "favorite day trips from Madrid" list. Espero que nos veamos pronto, Alcalá!

Have you ever been to Alcalá de Henares?
What's your favorite day trip from Madrid?

38 comments:

  1. ¡Hola! I need to go there, what a cool atmosphere for a day out with the children. I'd buy some manchego cheese (my favourite cheese in the world!). I've never been to Alcalá, but my friends say it's a lovely town and the uni is good, too! Best regards from Barna,
    Marta

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  2. Yuuuum! I haven't noticed grilled squash/pumpkin at the fair before, but it looks divine.


    Glad the rain didn't damper your day of Alcala-adventuring!

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  3. I'm so shocked that it seems to be such a famous place and yet I have never heard of it! It absolutely looks like a foodie's dream place ha! I mean I'd take that crepe any day :)

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  4. Definitely, there were tons of activities for kids at the festival! Manchego is probably my favorite cheese too - I seriously can't get enough of it. Alcalá is undoubtedly worth a day trip next time you're around Madrid - the town is incredibly darling and its history is really fascinating!

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  5. All of the pumpkin goods definitely had me drooling :) And we seriously lucked out - it didn't start raining until we were just about to leave!

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  6. It was seriously foodie paradise! But the whole town in itself was absolutely darling, I really do need to go back when I can see more of it!

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  7. Ah, seriously, now I've got the case of the wanderlust! I love Italy but Spain will always have my heart! It would be amazing to get to explore all these Spanish towns! Everything looks so yummy! Btw, that last picture, is that Nutella?!

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  8. This town looks beautiful! I'm am hoping to visit Spain next year, so I will have to check this place out!

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  9. Looks amazing! I've only ever been to Spain once. We went to Ibiza...does that even count?...

    I'd love to go back and visit some of the more cultured areas. Lovely blog!

    V
    Life+1

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  10. Thank you! I'd like to think that Ibiza still counts, even if it is it's own little world haha :) I'm still dying to go there soon!!

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  11. It's definitely worth a visit if you have a few days in Madrid!

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  12. It definitely is a fantastic place... I can't complain! Although there's still so many parts of Spain that I have yet to explore! I believe the crepe was banana and Nutella, but I didn't get to try it myself since I have Celiac disease :( In my mind, I'd prefer to fantasize about it being Nutella haha

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  13. ...Alcalá looks fabulous--looks as though you enjoyed some Fiestas, as well!!...

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  14. The place looks amazing! Never been there but Spain is full of treasures isn't it? I love Madrid whatsoever!

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  15. I was bummed to miss it - I was even in Madrid last weekend!

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  16. Holy crepes! This looks amazing. Great photos! I'm heading to Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato, Mexico next week. It's centered more on art and theatre, but I'm hoping that tons of people there for the festival will mean tons of street food too!

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  17. Oh yes! Do you have any plans to visit Madrid anytime soon?

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  18. It sure is! I love how many diverse places there are to visit and how relatively close they all are. There's too many good day trips near Madrid to choose from!

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  19. Bummer! But next time you're in Madrid, let me know if you wanna grab a vermut or a glass of vino! :)

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  20. ...I mean, after all, if my Aunt's visiting me this winter, I'd have to meet her there before flying to our first destination!!...

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  21. Thanks! That festival sounds awesome. Looking forward to reading about it!

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  22. Can't believe I missed this festival...... It looks like SO much fun!!!

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  23. Oh my gosh. Everything about this seems amazing. But especially the food! x

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  24. This looks like so much fun! That food...wow. And what a cool reason for a festival!

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  25. Wow, this place looks amazing! And that food, yum! Lovely photography too :)

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  26. Cool! That's awesome that your aunt is coming to visit. Let me know whenever your travels bring you to Madrid!

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  27. It was definitely unexpectedly awesome. Have you been to Alcalá yet?

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  28. It definitely was! So much good food and picturesque buildings... couldn't ask for more!

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  29. I'd be lying if I said the food wasn't the best part... :)

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  30. Agreed! I could be convinced to eat, drink and be merry in the name of literature any day :)

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  31. Thanks Jenn! It definitely was the perfect place to explore and sightsee through my taste buds!

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  32. ...AWESOME--What's the best way to contact you???...

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  33. You can email me at courtneylikkel@gmail.com :)

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  34. Glad you enjoyed your trip to Alcalá! Think it makes a great, easy day-trip any time of year as it's so pretty & the university is really interesting to visit, but this looks like a great idea to visit during the Cervantes festival too!

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  35. Thanks Kate! I would still like to go back again and explore the university, because it was closed when I tried to go inside. I've heard the tapas + drinks are cheap and delicious there, so really I have no excuse not to go again ;)

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  36. Nope! Hoping to make it soon! Looks like such a charming little pueblo!

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