Read more about my Self Care Sabbatical and the other places I’ve visited!
The first thing everyone said to me in Spain when I mentioned I was going to Valladolid was “Why?” Apparently, no Americans ever go there so the fact that I was stopping there between Madrid and San Sebastian was a bit strange. Even once I arrived, I received more similar comments from the man at the hotel reception and the waiter at dinner the first night. In fact, I only heard native English speakers one other time, a British couple also staying at my hotel. Otherwise, there were none. Assume all of the other tourists there were Spanish?
Clearly, a weird place to visit for someone like me.
I definitely needed to lean into my poor Spanish a bit more here, but there were people who spoke pretty good English.
There is not much to do in Valladolid. I kind of wish I had only stayed one night (and added a night in Basque Country – more to come on my time there), but it was a nice change of pace from Madrid. The town is small with no real sights. There are some nice restaurants and I found it to be more expensive to eat here than in Madrid.
There were quite a few well dressed older Spanish women here (in general, the Spanish women are very well dressed most of the time which is something I really noticed in Madrid. These women are trekking around the city in these crazy heels and facing hot summer days in very nice dresses.) My favorite older women were the two 70ish ladies in the hotel restaurant having beers around 11am. Seeing people have drinks around 10 or 11 was maybe one of my favorite things to see in both France (Lyon) and Spain.
Getting There: Close to Madrid, just a 65 min train from Chamartin station (accessible via metro). I was also able to get to San Sebastian from here via train directly (though it takes about 5 hours as the train makes local stops in Basque region)
Where to Stay: There are not many options in Valladolid and most hotels were readily available just a week before. I stayed at Hotel Mozart which is close to the center. I had a single room which was relatively large, good price for the room. The hotel also had a restaurant downstairs which offered an inexpensive breakfast (2.50 euro for a coffee and pan con tomate/Spanish tortilla/pan con jam). Close to many shops, a supermarket, and about 10-minute walk to the train station.
So What to do There?
- There are a few sights to check out but nothing really major to see – some cathedrals/churches in the center of town that you can see
- There is a nice park near the river where you can run/walk. Also found a nice little “beach” along the river with people sunbathing (there was also a bar/restaurant there) so I spent some time just hanging out at this beach for the afternoon.
- The plaza mayor is nothing too exciting here but there are many restaurants, bakeries, bars around here. Generally a bit more expensive around here than a few blocks away
Eating & Drinking:
I found that the restaurants here were a bit more expensive than those in Madrid. The menu of the day at most restaurants was at least 15 euro, most were between 18 and 25 euro.
- The bread in Valladolid is very different from bread in other parts of Spain – much denser, better for soaking up sauces, etc than eating on its own. Similar to a pretzel texture.
- Verdejo is a local wine of the region so it’s easy to find and pretty cheap (I was drinking glasses of it for about 1.70 euro). It’s my new favorite Spanish wine.
- There are two markets in town – one in the center of town and one near the train station. I didn’t make it to the one near the train station, the one in the center of town is nice and has some good bars that open up for apero later in the day.
- Taberna El Rincon Del Val – Also near the market, I stumbled upon this place because it was a bit crowded with people drinking outside and looked like they had some salads (which is all I wanted). This is where my waiter was Wowed by the fact that i was from the US. Surrounded by local families. Had a great salad of smoked fish here (salmon, sardines, cod, anchovy) for less than 10 euro
- El Peso – Near Plaza Mayor. I was super hungry and the menu del dia looked pretty good here (18.5 euro which seemed to be average for restaurants around here). Had a nice salad with tuna and pepper, grilled calamari, and flan( like the best flan I have ever had)
- Vinotinto – owned by the local rugby team, good place for steak, wine. I had tapas here (an assorted meat plate) and some wine
- La Garracha – very good tapas
- La Espanola Cuando Besa – near the cathedral, come here for drinks outside to enjoy the view
- Microbodega Urbana – wine bar, close to the market in the center of town. Good wine here, inexpensive