traveling

Do You Need a Break?

Many people come to Spain hoping for a break—from workplace and cubicle monotony, from the demands of a high-powered job, from the stresses of everyday life.

5 Ways to Tell it is Time to Get Away Infographic

But Spain is not the only place to “get away from it all.” Indeed, Mario and I will be heading to Destination #2 (Romantic Getaway) in mid-November. He’s never seen Paris, while I have.

Destination #1 (See the Sights)—London

Kaley London

I totally agree about London being a place to “see the sights.” Sometimes Spain’s monotony of cathedrals and castles gets old, and it’s fun to be in place with a ton to see! I loved the red telephone booths, of course, along with just about everything else!

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The Rain in Sevilla

Our trip to Sevilla got off to a rainy start. After checking into our hotel after an unsuccessful attempt to visit the dentist (another story altogether!), night had already fallen. Another thing falling? The rain, of course.

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My first view of La Giralda

Luckily, Sevilla is still pretty, even amidst the drizzle. The Christmas lights were lit, and it was hard to feel discontent with the whole city wishing us Felices Fiestas (Happy Holidays).

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Everything in Sevilla seemed so cozy

One of my favorite parts was seeing the juxtaposition of an orange tree with Christmas lights. Thus is Sevilla.

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Luminous

Our friend from a town near Sevilla had recommended La Carbonería to us. La Carbonería, according to Tertulia Andaluza, was “the meeting point for the vanguard of Seville, a space for independent and alternative thought.” In the past, the site was a coal warehouse, thus the name, which in English would be “The Coalyard.” In 1975, Paco Lira converted it into the place it is today, a venue to hear and see flamenco, for ideas, for art of all kinds.

We saw a flamenco show and ate food off paper towels. It was an intriguing show. What’s more, it was packed. Good thing we got there early.

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I found the female dancer especially intriguing. There was something there in her face, impossible to articulate but powerful nonetheless. She may not have been famous, but her whole self radiated the spirit of flamenco.

The next day we got up, and after a quick visit to the dentist who confused me with his sevillano pronunciation, we had some breakfast. Mario took his Cola Cao with extra sugar.

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I had a tostada con jamón along with a café con leche.

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Mario chose to go with a recommendation from our waitress, the pringá. Pringá comes from the verb pringar, meaning to dip or to dunk in this case, is made up of the ingredients from the traditional Spanish cocido, known as puchero in many places. The meat portion, which consists of things like morcilla (blood sausage), chorizo, and tocino (fat), is cooked along with the rest of the stew, and then made into a spread to eat with bread. Yum! Actually, it was quite good, we both agreed, although perhaps a bit more fuerte than the typical Spanish breakfast.

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Next on the docket was a bit of sightseeing. Of course, you can’t go to Sevilla without seeing the cathedral and la Giralda.

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La Giralda is a former minaret that the Christians made into a bell tower for Sevilla’s cathedral. It stands high above the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Courtyard). The area of the courtyard is supposedly the area the old mosque occupied, as two of the courtyard’s exterior walls belonged to. During the time of the Muslim occupation of Spain, the area served as the space for the Muslims’ activities, including cemetery and cultural events.

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Seen from above, as we climbed the Giralda

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Besides seeing the sites, we also wandered around a bit. Getting “lost” (is it possible to get lost with a smart phone nowadays?) is one of my favorite ways to see a city.

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We had lunch at Bar Alfalfa, another recommendation from our Sevillana friend. A real winner! We really enjoyed the food we had, and with the prices in Sevilla, you can’t go wrong.

After a bit more wandering, we headed over to the Plaza de España, where it was already starting to get dark.  Unlike most Spanish plazas, this one is not centuries old. It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition (often referred to simply “la expo” by Spaniards), which was held in 1929. Along its walls there are tiled alcoves, each of which represents a Spanish province, from Álava to Zaragoza.

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It has also been used as a film set: in Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Our day in Sevilla ended with—you guessed it!—more tapas at a popular local bar, Los Coloniales, located in the town center. These tapas included, of course, the typical Sevillan picos, a type of small crunchy breadsticks. They usually accompany ham/chorizo/cheese, but we found them to come with almost anything! Yum!

Have you ever been to Sevilla?

Not Just a Flyover

Esta entrada va dirigida a aquellos españoles que siguen mi blog, y, por eso, escribo en castellano. Además, nunca viene mal escribir en el idioma que quieres perfeccionar.

Como he trabajado con muchas personas de todas las edades aquí en España, creo que puedo decir con confianaza que la mayoría de vosotros querría visitar los EEUU algún día. Pues me alegro de que lo estiméis un buen sitio para visitar. Pero la verdad es que no me alegro de que sólo queráis visitar Nueva York. Nueva York no tiene nada de malo, pero… quiero animaros a visitar otros sitios, otros estados, precisamente sitios que no se encuentren en las costas.

¿Por qué? Os lo voy a explicar.

Soy de Indiana y, si lees mi blog, pues, a lo mejor ya os habréis familiarizado con mi estado (lo conoceréis por el nombre y no porque hayáis estado. Sólo Mario habrá estado, supongo.) Pero cuando me presento a la gente, no suele saber ni dónde está. Tengo que decirles que cerca de Chicago. Y lo entiendo. No es Nueva York, no es California y no tenemos famosos ni el Empire State Building ni Times Square ni la Statue of Liberty. No somos tan interesantes y no nos consideramos tan interesantes.

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Mario piensa que somos interesantes, sin embargo

Pero EEUU es más que Nueva York. Es más que California. Somos un gran país, lleno de maravillas, naturaleza y gente maja. Tenemos de todo: playas, montañas, géiseres, grandes llanuras, atracciones turísticas estrafalarias (Wall Drug), la Ruta 66, el Gran Cañón del Colorado… y no he hecho mas que empezar.

Insisto en que el Midwest, como lo llamamos nosotros, no es una zona flyover (el término flyover se refiere a las regiones de EEUU entre la coste este y la costa oeste. Normalmente se usa en un sentido peyorativo, cuando uno quiere referirse a las regiones sobre las que se vuela en los vuelos transcontinentales.) Como he dicho, soy Hoosier (término que se refiere a la gente de Indiana). En mi estado no existen muchos sitios turísticios, pero, si alguien va a estudiar a una zona como Indiana, yo diría que qué bien, porque esa persona va a aprender cómo es la gente normal de EEUU, va a poder ver la vida diaria, va a conectar con la gente. De hecho, si va a cualquier estado del famoso Medio Oeste, también podría decir lo mismo.

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Disfrutando de Chicago

En fin, a lo mejor un día vas a Nueva York. Y lo disfrutarás, seguro. Pero si tienes una oportunidad para volver, vete a otro sitio. Vete a recorrer la Ruta 66, como hicieron mis (nuevos) primos este verano. Vete a ver Yellowstone y las preciosidades naturales que alberga. Vete a las montañas de Colorado o Tennessee. No te decepcionarán.

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A lo mejor podrás ver un mogollón de autobuses como Mario

Scenes from Ávila

Another check mark on my list of cities to see in Castilla y León: Ávila. It seems Mario has family en todas partes, and thus our visit to his aunt and uncle’s house did not go by without a visit to the famous muralla de Ávila (wall of Ávila).

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Ávila is known for its wall (seen above), as well as where Saint Teresa of Ávila was born. Santa Teresa de Jesús is the patron saint of headache sufferers (apparently), so if you’re suffering from a headache, she’s your woman!

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This guy popped his head out. What a weirdo.

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Picture of Mario’s family (L-R): Mario’s godfather Alberto, his godfather’s children Sergio and Sara, his brother Víctor, his uncle Jesús, Alberto’s wife Lola, and his father Jesús.

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A lion statue in front of the cathedral

But Ávila’s real claim to fame is that its famous sweet, Yemas de Santa Teresa (egg yolk cakes), are actually too sweet for Mario.

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Who knew such a thing was possible?

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Have you ever been to Ávila?