And yes, as you might have guessed, this is in fact a shoulder of jamón. My roommates are very sweet and this was an unexpected gift from two vegetarians. Jamón is a type of cured ham that can come from the shoulder or the leg of an Iberian hog. It is a staple of Spanish cuisine, and they are obsessed with it. There are schools where one can learn how to cut and serve jamón. Needless to say I was incredibly excited at the prospect of carving up my own ham and spent the next three or four hours experimenting.
Here I am, posed and all, in front of the shoulder with a jamón-specific fillet knife.
Once the outer skin and fat has been removed, the jamón is served as thin almost transparent slices called lonchas. Here's my first attempt at slicing. They came out a little thicker than I had hoped, but oh well. Practice, practice, practice.
The rest of my birthday was very nice and very relaxing. We went over to a friend's apartment for tapas and drinks, then out to a few bars. I don't have too much to tell from the night. Just an easy night in Spain with great wine and great people. The jamón was truly the highlight and made the day.
After my birthday celebrations, we decided to finally head over to Gibraltar and make a Sunday trip up the old rock.
The Rock of Gibraltar is a little different from what you would expect. Part of the city is built around the base of the rock. The upper, steeper parts are reserved for tourism. When you walk up towards the top, you walk on streets and pass by houses that run right up to the gates of reserve. It was a little surprising, but we did get some nice pictures out of it.
This first one is overlooking the lower part of the town.
This is a glimpse of the Dark Continent and several ships coming into port.
Once you reach the gates of the reserve you have to pay a fee depending on what you want to do. The cheapest was a walking pass for 50 pence. After that it costs more for a car, guided tour, or a pass for the war tunnels and St. Michael's cave. The tunnels and caves pass was pretty expensive, so we just opted for the walking pass.
Here's some touristy stuff that you see right as you walk into the reserve. I couldn't get a good picture of it so the bottom part is a little cut off. Perdóname.
Once you pass by the main tourist candy, the footpath up the rock becomes much more wild and wonderful.
|I felt like I was walking into the jungle.|
The way up was a bit rocky and in the spirit of Europe; at your own risk.
The path eventually turned into some steep steps. Here is Rose on such steps, the first of our wayward travelers.
The path up the back side of the rocks ends in the Mediterranean Steps, which pass through to the other side of the mountain. The guy here is Nate- a fellow English teacher.
Gibraltar is home to many plants that are unique to the rock's environment. Here are some wild olives, which aren't unique, just a rare sight in other places.
Following the Steps ever higher leads to the rock's summit and some truly breathtaking, and windy, views.
The clouds over La Línea and Algeciras.
We kept looking out over the bay and eventually the clouds started to break.
The clouds broke over the ocean, but stayed over Spain. From where we were it looked like the peaks of the Rock had split them in two.