The weekend was almost a disaster when I work up 10 minutes before my train was to leave the station. (My fault, but I’ll blame it on the karaoke competition the night before.) By some miracle, I managed to throw stuff in a bag and run the kilometer to the station in about five minutes (definitely a personal best). It was a panicked and dramatic ten minutes!
I would have been so mad at myself had I missed the tennis tournament, so it was my lucky day. I spent the whole day at La Caja Magica. Seeing Nadal play in the semifinals agains fellow Spaniard Andújar, and in front of a Spanish crowd was so much fun…and totally worth the mad dash.
On Sunday, my friend Elvira and I went to Segovia for the day. The streets were full of puppeteers, musicians, and children’s shows. We walked through the entertainment to see the famous (and incredibly impressive — there is no cement between those stoens!) aqueduct, the castle that inspired Disney’s, and the ornate cathedral.
We finished the weekend back in Madrid, and as I was wandering the sunny streets Monday morning it hit me that I only have three weeks left in Spain… a karaoke win (and being subsequently interviewed on Huelva radio?!), a full day of pro tennis, a day trip to yet another beautiful Spanish town, and a last day of exploring the capital city…it wasn’t a bad way to enjoy one of my last weekends here! Hope your weekends were great as well! Un beso:)
A homemade Mexican feast, sunny southern Spain, day drinking, and lovely girlfriends…definitely a perfect Sunday afternoon and a perfect Cinco de Mayo.It’s the kind of sunny afternoon that you’d want to last forever (which I kind of managed to do, with an evening siesta and a walk along the pier at sunset). It was summertime in Andalucía, and the living is easy…
(My contribution to our lunch was my go-to one bowl chocolate cake— just added cinnamon and orange zest to the cake, and lime zest to the cupcakes to make things slightly more “Mexican” in a pinch!)
My ninth graders and I spent Friday cleaning a beautiful beach, Cuesta De Maneli, in Mazagon. Although the area itself is stunning– a boardwalk winds through sand dunes to the beach below– there was a surprising amount of trash. We filled over twenty big garbage bags (as the students squealed in disgust when they found increasingly yucky things) and although it was hot, stinky work, the day went by quickly and we rewarded ourselves with an afternoon spent in the ocean and siesta-ing on the beach. Not bad for a school field trip…The tricky part came when we had to lug the garbage bags two kilometres back over the sand dunes to the parking lot. I was informed by the students that it should be considered “explotación infantil”, but we made it.
Tortilla is ubiquitous in Spain and was at the top of my bucket list but it took me until last week to finally make it all on my own. (I think it was the flipping part that scared me away.) The bilingual coordinator at the school I work at showed me how to make tortilla my first weekend here in her beautiful country kitchen. Since then I’ve had it for breakfast, in sandwiches, in the woods for a picnic, as a fancy tapita, and recently we went out to try the best tortilla in Huelva. It’s versatile, and totally adaptable to your taste so whether you keep it traditional or spice things up a bit it is sure to please (and give you a taste of Spain!).And if you choose to smother it in mayonnaise, that seems to be very Spanish, too.
With people taking advantage of the day off (día del trabajador) in Spain to demonstrate and protest I went with a couple friends back to Aracena for the day. We left the palm trees and city streets behind in Huelva for the rolling green hills of the Sierra, spring blossoms, and the best ham in Spain.It’s a short, and beautiful, drive up to la Sierra– and there’s lots to see out the window…I was mesmerized again by the landscapes at the Rio Tinto mines.
Rainbows of skirts, flowers, and snapping fans. Horses. Fiery flamenco and fried fish. Blazing sun, frosty rebujitos. Tradición. Welcome to la Feria de Abril de Sevilla! With a week of singing, dancing, drinking and showing off your finest Sevillana moves (and outfits), la Feria de abril is just one giant party. The atmosphere was contagious and for me, seeing all the amazing flouncy skirts was reason enough to go! With horses and carriages taking over the streets, and everyone dressed in their traditional finery it felt like another era. To be honest, it all seemed a little bourgeois, but the feria de Abril in Sevilla certainly dresses to impress, and I loved it. Spain does it again!
Last weekend seemed to announce the beginning of summer in Andalucia with temperatures up to 30 degrees and brilliant sunshine all over the south.
It was the perfect weekend for walking the old streets of the Albaicín, exploring the Alhambra, and finishing off the days with tapas, tapas, and more tapas. The atmosphere in the city was just lovely with music on every street corner and colourful art everywhere you looked. I particularly liked this guy handing out free poems at his typewriter. As if Granada needed to be more poetic!
The reason for many (if not most) people’s visits to Granada, the Alhambra is a jewel atop the hills of the city. After basking in the sunshine around the fortress we wandered through the palace as the sun set.
The tiles, the arches, the marble, the carvings…I was in awe of every part of the decadent Moorish architecture. Water features reflect the Alhambra’s beauty, and its gentle flow is the perfect soundtrack to accompany a visit through this magical place. (Trust me, anyone could wax poetic about La Alhambra, I’m not just being corny!)
Despite a bout of conjunctivitis that was a real aguafiesta (party pooper), Las Fallas was an amazing thing to see. I already knew it to be true, but after experiencing Carnaval and then Las Fallas, it’s clear that Spain just really knows how to party. I’m impressed. (And, after seeing everyone from babies to grandparents partying it up late into the night it makes me wonder why this cant happen in city X, Y, or Z in North Amercia?!)
Every barrio makes their own mezcleta, larger than life figures traditionally made of papier mâché that are today made of some kind of plastic(?). The festival revolves around the judging of these amazing creations and their subsequent burning at “La Crema” (“The Cream”, which I wasn’t able to stay for), along with the amazing displays of fuegos artificiales — night and day. I’m still not too sure what the point of day time fireworks are; the noise is incredibly impressive on its own, and it certainly is something to see people put up umbrellas to shield themselves from the falling fireworks’ cinders, but it doesn’t really compare to the beautiful colours that fill the sky at night.
At night, everyone who is in Valencia during Las Fallas gathers in the streets to see the amazing display that seems to make the whole sky sparkle.
Then there are processions of “falleras” through the streets; men, women and children in traditional dress followed by marching bands. They bring flowers to the huge statue of La Virgen in one of the main plazas, La ofrenda. Over the course of Las Fallas, the statue is ‘flowered’, what seems like a time consuming process, but with gorgeous results. I was in awe.
I was feeling pretty rotten, so I was really lucky to be traveling with a good friend (thank you, Matt!!) and staying with such considerate hosts (muchas gracias y obrigada Daniela y Marcelo!!). Marcelo made us breakfast every morning and Daniela showed me around the beautiful Ciudad de las ciencias y artes (the city of arts and sciences) and the old barrio Carmen. So, despite struggling through the celebrations at times, I am so grateful I was with such friendly people and am so glad I got to see this amazing festival. Spain knows how to party (por supuesto).