Tag Archives: Spain

spanish red wine, rioja, spanish rioja, vino tinto

10 must-have home essentials in Spain

A key expat skill is packing light but there’s another important art to master – knowing the essentials to buy for your new home once you arrive. Fitting it out in truly local style will help you not only to fit in with your new neighbours, but also to impress the flock of eager visitors who will no doubt soon be arriving as your guests, lured by the prospect of a moneysaving holiday.

Here’s our top 10 list of items for living in Spain and kitting out a sunny Spanish pad:

One: Olive Oil

Spain is the world’s top producer of olive oil, and, if you’re planning to embrace local cuisine as well as culture, bottles of high quality olive oil will soon become a cupboard staple.

Two: A clothes line

Tumble dryers are rare in Spain – why use further electricity when the weather is so good? Even if you don’t have a garden, stringing up a line on your apartment balcony is more than acceptable, and many apartment buildings have an internal patio where laundry can also be hung.

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Spanish Olive Oil, Source

Three: Napkins

Not just for restaurants or special occasions, Spanish guests will expect to have a napkin handy while eating.

Four: Una Cafetera

Good coffee requires a cafetera, so banish that jar of instant coffee and wake up and smell the real coffee!

cafetera1 10 must have home essentials in Spain

Una cafetera in its three parts. You’ll figure it out when you get here…

Five: Blinds or shutters

Blinds and shutters aren’t anywhere near as common in the UK as they are here in Spain; ask any Spaniard who’s gone from here to there– it’s a big shock for them! Curtains just don’t keep out the hot summer sun (or the light when indulging in a siesta), so which will it be – Venetian? Roller? Made from esparto grass?

Six: Bombonas

Plenty of Spanish properties don’t have access to a mains gas supply, so you may need to get bombonas (bottled butane gas) delivered and get used to changing the cylinders as needed.

bombonas 10 must have home essentials in Spain

Lovely aren’t they?

Seven: A mop

Carpets are rare so housework is no longer dominated by the whirr of a vacuum cleaner. Instead tiles (often decorative as well as practical) are most common, along with wooden floors which can require waxing and varnishing. And apparently the mop was invented in Spain, so even when cleaning you’ll be following a local tradition.

Eight: Vino

This should be red and plenteous, and, with the highly affordable local prices, your home should always be well-stocked!

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Red wine is often served in glasses like this at home… (Source)

Nine: Side plates

Serve bread with EVERYTHING. Even meals which are already carb-heavy.

Ten: Un brasero

Not strictly necessary (central heaters will do) but worth having just for the novelty of it. This ingenious, electrical contraption is placed, or sometimes even fitted, beneath the tableclothed dining room table and serves to keep your legs warm during the cold winter months. This is about as Spanish as it gets!

brasero 10 must have home essentials in Spain

El brasero, hiding beneath the table. Pure genius (Source)

This is a guest post by Expat Explorer. If you feel that you represent a brand that can work with Spain For Pleasure, feel free to get in touch via my contact page.

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san fermin, running of the bulls, pamplona, festival

A Few of Spain’s Famous Festive Traditions

Spain loves its festivals. From the smallest villages to the very biggest cities, at least a few days a year are dedicated to a good old fiesta filled with feasts, parades and celebrations. These go to the heart of Spanish culture, and it is hard to beat the experience of participating in one of them, as a local or a tourist.

A typical Spanish festival will involve a curious blend of religious and pagan rituals, with a large dose of food, drink, merrymaking and several elements of the bizarre.

One of the most well-known festivals in Spain is San Fermín The Running of the Bulls – in Pamplona during July. Bulls are let loose through sections of the town’s streets whilst revellers, all dressed in red and white, daringly dance and dodge their way around them. Given the thousands of people that participate and escape unhurt in the event, the odds are that you won’t get injured. However, 2013′s event saw one man gored in his leg and groin, another in his arm and another in his stomach, so severe accidents do happen!

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San Fermín, Pamplona

Another famous festival is Semana Santa (Holy Week), which takes place in April throughout Andalucía but is most renowned in Seville, the region’s capital. Each night, relatively sombre processions of life-sized figurines, representing the story of Christ, are carried through the streets by costaleros, all hiding under the holy floats. Flanking the floats are various church groups or ‘brotherhoods’ wearing their traditional capriote uniform, which, to the unknowing eye, may seem a tad frightening. In the second half of the month Feria is held in Seville, which is a much jollier and more colourful affair involving six nights of dancing, dressing up, eating and drinking.

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People dressed in the traditional capriotes during a Semana Santa Procession (Source)

Easter Monday in Salamanca is spent celebrating, picnicking and relaxing by the river, a tradition that stemmed from the 16th century when, during the 40-day lent period, prostitutes of Salamanca would be confined to the other side of the city’s Rio Tormes and then allowed back over the river on Lunes de Aguas – Easter Monday – when they were welcomed with huge parties. It’s just the picnic bit these days.

Catalan Christmas festivities involve several intriguing traditions, the caganer, small defecating figurines found amongst nativity plays and the Caga Tió, a log which is traditionally given human features, cared for by the children in the lead up to Christmas and then beaten to encourage it to excrete as many Christmas presents as possible. Yes, really.

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Traditional (shitting) Catalan Christmas Ornament (Source: Greg Gladman FlickrCC)

Valencia city’s wild spring festival, Las Fallas, is one in which vast papier-mâché puppets are lovingly crafted by the different neighbourhoods, then paraded and finally set alight. Throughout the five days and five nights of partying, fireworks are set off throughout the streets as part of the celebrations.

In February of each year, the city of Cadiz hosts Carnaval, an exuberant celebration fuelled with drink and colourful, original and witty costumes. Many of the people who attend dress up together as large groups, or chirigotas as they are known in Spain, who practice various chants and songs – often politically motivated – for weeks before Carnaval takes place. The celebration actually lasts two weeks but the most popular time to go is the opening night. See this post for a detailed step-by-step guide on how to survive Cadiz Carnaval.

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Cadiz Carnaval 2013

Barcelona’s biggest party is the Festes de la Marce, held every September, and involves parades of firework spitting demons and dancing. Also in September is Bienal de Flamenco, a huge flamenco festival held every other year in Seville, and the Fiesta de San Mateo, a La Rioja harvest festival where hundreds flock to Logroño to watch the grape-crushing ceremonies and drink wine.

One of Spain’s more bizarre festivals is the extremely messy La Tomatina, held in Buñol in August, where the streets are filled with people pelting tomatoes at each other.

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La Tomatina, Buñol

Festivals are very busy periods in Spain so if there are any that you’d like to attend then booking accommodation well in advance is recommended. Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to stick to a budget hostel or splurge on a luxury spa hotel, which offer excellent amenities for families such as children’s pools, tennis courts, pony riding, bike hire, sailing, children’s mini-clubs, family activity programmes, daycare and children’s menus.

About the Author:  Divyanshu Sharma has been traveling around the world and sharing his experiences with fellow travellers through blogs and articles. He is also a food aficionado and loves to highlight the luxurious aspects associated with traveling.

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el albaycin, alhambra, granada, spain

Win FREE Flights to Granada!

This is a slightly modified reblog of a post from Cheeky Jaunt – a new, part-time travel blog that desperately wants you to enter its one-off giveaway:

A return flight to Malaga (with bus transfer to Granada) and 3 nights’ accommodation!!

 

omg cat Win FREE Flights to Granada!

I kid you not. All you have to do to enter into the draw is:

1. ‘Like’ Cheeky Jaunt on Facebook.

2. Share the original blog post on Facebook (or Twitter via @CheekyJaunt) with your own personal tagline.

3. Subscribe to Cheeky Jaunt, either via Email, RSS or WordPress (I promise I won’t spam you).

4. Register that you have entered on Rafflecopter by clicking here.

 

The return flight would be with an airline of my choice from any UK or Spanish airport that flies direct to Malaga (please go to rafflecopter.com for all of the terms and conditions of the giveaway).

The accommodation will be provided by the fun, funky and friendly White Nest Hostel, one of Hostelworld’s and TripAdvisor’s top-rated with 85% and 90% respectively. It is nestled within the lower part of the famous Albaícin barrio of Granada and offers incredible views of the stunning Alhambra Palace, daily excursions (all free), very clean and comfortable beds/facilities and an enviable atmosphere. I have stayed at this hostel myself and was extremely happy with my experience. Click here to read some of past guests’ glowing reviews.

 

In case you need persuading, there is a glut of reasons for why you should enter and be in with a chance of winning a completely FREE trip to Granada – just have a poke around this blog and you’ll see. In the meantime, here are five of them, in no particular order:

The Architecture

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Plaza de Armas, Alhambra

Thirteen centuries ago, much of southern Spain was invaded and subsequently ruled by The Moors– a medieval, Islamic race from Northern Africa, for the best part of 800 years. During this period, Spanish customs were all but lost to Moorish practices, including the design and structuring of buildings, the absolute iconic reminder of which is The Alhambra Palace. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and regularly listed as one of those ‘Top 30 Things to See before You Die’ sort of things. This Moorish influence extends into the city too, most noticeably within the Albaícin bario, where you would be staying were you to win the prize…

The Culture

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Although the native Spanish Catholics retook Andalucía (Granada was the last stronghold of the Moors) way back at the end of the 15th century, much of the Arabic influence – other than the Alhambra – has stayed behind. These days, the city boasts an eclectic mix of Arabic, traditional Spanish, Gypsy and cosmopolitain cultures, which combine to create something very special indeed. There are often free parties held in the overlooking wooded area of San Miguel Alto.

The Sierra Nevada

img 0428 copy Win FREE Flights to Granada!

Not one hour down the road is Granada’s stunning mountain range, the Sierra Nevada. Here you can ski, go hiking, kayaking, rafting or just admire the views. The ski-season tends not to last as long as it does in the Alps, nor is the snow quite as fluffy and durable, but given that it is in the south of Spain, where – frankly – skiing isn’t exactly the first pastime that springs to mind, one can’t really complain.

The Beaches

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La Herradura, Costa Tropical, Granada

Oh yes. And there are beaches too – just 45 minutes away by car in the other direction. In fact, an outing to both the Sierra Nevada and the beach is possible on the same day, should you wish to take on such an endeavour. Though Granada’s beaches are stonier than they are sandy, I for one find that this isn’t necessarily a shortcoming; sand gets in your beach garb, your iPod, your lunch, your ears, your everywhere basically. Stones don’t. Salobreña (pictured) is Granada’s nearest beach, where – aside from sunbathing – you can throw yourself off big, gnarly cliffs (into the sea of course) and chow down on freshly barbecued squid for the afternoon.

The Free Food

Al Sur de Granada Win FREE Flights to Granada!

Tapas at Al Sur de Granada, Source

Tapas is something I’m sure all of you are familiar with, though free tapas might not be. Here in Granada, the locals are evidently inclined to abide by long-standing traditions, since tapas was – up until the advent of tourism – always served free with a drink. A beer or glass of wine sets you back around €2, and with that you’ll be gifted a tapa which, depending on where you go, can be anything from a thick slab of Spanish Tortilla to a Thai Chicken Curry. There is such thing as a free lunch.

So I repeat – all you have to do is:

1. ‘Like’ Cheeky Jaunt on Facebook.

2. Share the original blog post on Facebook (or Twitter via @CheekyJaunt) with your own personal tagline.

3. Subscribe to Cheeky Jaunt, either via Email, RSS or WordPress (I promise I won’t spam you).

4. Register that you have entered on Rafflecopter by clicking here.

The giveaway is already 10 days old, meaning that there are just two weeks and five days remaining (providing that the minimum number of entrants are reached). So I implore you, enter now!

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spain football, spanish football fans

5 Things to Know Before You Watch a Spanish National Football Match

Here’s a tip: if you ever get chance to watch the Spanish national football team in action, grab it with both hands. At the moment La Furia Roja are rated as the best international side in the world. Throw in the electrifying atmosphere most games generate and you’re sure to have a great time.

So what are the things you need to know before you buy a scarf, cover your face in red and yellow paint and head off to a game?

#1 The Players’ Names

Firstly – for those of you who haven’t a clue about football but just want to see a match – you ought to remember that neither Messi nor Ronaldo are Spanish, so don’t go asking after them. The Spanish superstars include Andres Iniesta, Ilker Casillas, Gerard Pique and Jesús Navas. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the team before you head off, especially if you’re keen on impressing a local or two by striking up a conversation about Navas’s wide game or something. Also, many English-speaking commentators can get Spanish players’ names very wrong, so perhaps a quick check up on how to pronounce names like Iniesta, Silva and Villa might be worthwhile.

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Spain win the World Cup in 2010 (Source: Wikipedia)

#2 Common Football Words and Phrases

Even if you think you have a decent grasp of basic Spanish, you will doubtless encounter certain words and phrases you’ll never have come across before, not to mention the brutal insults that are sometimes so lewd they’d make the likes of Roy Keane gasp with horror. On the pitch, the goalkeeper is el portero, the defense is la defensa, the midfielders are centrocampistas and the forwards are delanteros. The referee is el arbitro, the sideline is la banda and to score a goal is marcar un gol. Or there’s “La puta que te parió!”  ‘the whore of a mother that birthed you’, popular with el arbitro, strangely enough. Most of the words you learn for watching football will be of absolutely no use to you in any other context of Spanish life but you will still feel great using them.

#3 The Tiki-Taka Rules

If, for example, you have grown up watching British football, then you are probably much more used to a different style of play. The blood-and-thunder-never-say-die attitude that typifies British football is very different from the way the Spanish play it. They use their famous tiki-taka system, which values controlled possession of the ball above anything else. So anyone who just wants to see the goals might get a bit bored, but this style of play is an art form and once you come to appreciate it you will find yourself hypnotised by the incredible way in which the Spanish players retain possession.

FIFA World Cup 2010 Spain Switzerland midfield 5 Things to Know Before You Watch a Spanish National Football Match

Spain playing their famous ‘tiki-taka’ game (Source: Wikipedia)

#4 That You Should Show Your Emotions

Showing your emotions at a Spanish football game is normal. In fact, you shouldn’t be at all surprised to find grown men crying, screaming or gleefully hugging each other when something exciting happens on the pitch. They might even hug you. Games involving the national side are often highly emotionally charged but they are great fun.

#5 A Few Songs and Chants

Singing and chanting is a big part of the football experience and you will want to know what the ones you hear are about.  A Por Ellos” expresses a ”get stuck into them” spirit and is a very simple song you are almost certain to hear. Y Viva España” is another often sung by the crowd. You might even want to join in. A quick look on YouTube will throw up a number of typical chants and songs that you could learn before watching a game.

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Spanish Football Fans (Source)

Author Bio

Untitled 5 Things to Know Before You Watch a Spanish National Football MatchRobert is a writer who lived in Spain while studying the language and is a huge fan of La Furia Roja. He now works as a freelance writer on sites such as Listen and Learn.

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tio pepe sherry, jerez de la frontera, spain, port

Six of the best: Spanish Inventions

Britain has the steam engine, photography and the chocolate bar. The US has video games, guns and atomic bombs (ok, the car and the internet too). And the Irish have Guinness and the the helicopter’s ejector seat.

But what fine inventions has Spain brought forth to the world?

Un mónton  – a shit load, actually. Not just paella and siestas; our Spanish cousins are responsible for various, ingenious gizmos that have helped shaped modern day society and made certain pastimes, like composing music, chain smoking or floating around in outer space, a hell of a lot easier. In no particular order, here are six of the best:

The Original Space Suit

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Emilio Herrera Linares’s Escafandra Estratonáutica (Source)

Neil Armstrong would’ve never uttered those famous words had it not been for a Spaniard. Emilio Herrera Linares invented the space suit in 1935, called the escafrandra estratonáutica and originally designed for high altitude balloon flights. That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for Espain.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Fags*

SmokingF Six of the best: Spanish Inventions

…de españa (Source: WIki Commons Tomasz Sienicki)

Nobody really knows when and where someone decided to roll up some stuff off a plant in some leaves, probably off the same plant, and smoke it. Whoever it was, he was probably Native American, and he probably got very stoned. We can, however, attribute the cigarette as we now know it – smoothly wrapped in those lethal, paper rod-shaped sticks – to the Spanish. Maize papers were originally used to roll with in the 17th century, though by the early 19th century cigarettes had begun to be packaged and marketed in bulk. Here we are 200 years later still puffing away. Hurrah.

(Source: Wikipedia)

*No, Americans, not that kind of fag.

Sherry

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Barrels of sherry at the Tio Pepe distillery, Jerez de la Frontera (Source: victoriapeckham FlickrCC)

Sherry, one of Spain’s largest exports, has been enjoyed the world over for hundreds of years. It all started in Andalucía when the Moors ruled thirteen centuries ago. Jerez de la Frontera, just south of Seville, is its birthplace and it is here where the famous Tio Pepe sherry is distilled. The brand offers afternoon tours of its quintessentially Spanish distillery. Spain’s ‘Sherry Triangle’ is made up of Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and – my first Spanish home – El Puerto de Santa María. Nothing like a thick slab of manchego washed down with a glass of oloroso.

The Automated Chess Board

ajedrez2 Six of the best: Spanish Inventions

Leonardo Torres y Quevedo’s Ajedrecista

The actual game of Chess can be traced back centuries. The Moors are said to have brought the game to Western Europe, where the rubric developed, so there is a tenuous argument that the modern game was first played in Spain. However, what we can be absolutely sure of is that Spanish inventor Leonardo Torres y Quevedo was the boffin behind the automated chess board. This supreme clever clogs –  also credited for a handful of other impressive creations – unveiled his contraption in Paris, in 1914, having taken four years to design and produce it. Initially, the machine was very limited and mechanical arms were used to move the pieces, though these were later substituted in favour of electromagnets beneath the table, which sensed the position of the pieces. His invention, dubbed La Ajedrecista – ‘chess player’ – proved that further advances in machinery were possible at a time when information regarding artificial intelligence was rather limited. Que bien.

(Source)

Acoustic Guitar

vihuela LucaSignorelli c1500 Italy top det Six of the best: Spanish Inventions

La Vihuela (top centre) being strummed along with various other musical instruments. Now they are what you call Rock Gods. (Source)

Guitars come in all shapes and sizes these days, and can even sound like anything but a guitar. Nine or so centuries ago there were just two variations being plucked across Medieval Spain: la guitarra latina (Latin guitar) and la guitarra moresca (Moorish guitar). These distinct devices were eventually lost to la vihuela, the first guitar to use six strings, in the 15th century. Little else changed until the latter part of the 19th century, when sevillano Antonio Torres Jurado made some major alterations to make it more or less resemble how it appears today.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Futbolín (table football)

futbolin guadalquivir 3 Six of the best: Spanish Inventions

Better known as Table Football or ‘Foosball’ elsewhere…

Known as Futbolín here in Spain, the origin of this pub favourite is a hazy one. Any Spaniard will tell you that its birthplace is without doubt Spain, thanks to Galician inventor Alexandre de Fisterra, who was injured during the bombings of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and subsequently hospitalised, where, inspired by table tennis, he conceived the idea of table football. This allowed he and his wounded comrades to (sort of) play football.

However, other evidence suggests that Englishman Harold Thornton dreamt up the idea in1921, after a match box and some match sticks provided inspiration. He named it Foosball, a term you are probably more familiar with. Evidently, somebody has attempted to settle the argument somewhere along the line by claiming that both claimants have rights to the sport’s origin, on account of the difference between Futbolín‘s two-legged figures and Foosball‘s one-legged foos men, thus, rendering the two as distinct sports But the Spanish are far too stubborn to accept that theory; it’s their sport y ya está.

(Source)

What other Spanish inventions do you know of? Let’s hear about them…

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el nino de las pinturas, el niño de las pinturas, graffiti, granada, spain, españa, violin

CBBH Photo Challenge: Street Art

For months now, I’ve been meaning to get involved with Marianne’s (of East Of Malaga) monthly photo challenge. I suppose I hadn’t until today because I don’t really fancy myself as a great photographer. I take pictures of what I like, edit them, stick a few in a blog post slideshow and that’s about it. My thought process rarely extends beyond that. This month’s theme though – ‘Street Art’ – got me interested. I mean, how couldn’t I participate, given that we in Granada are fortuitous enough to have El Niño de las Pinturas among us. This guy has been smearing Granada’s dull, lifeless walls with his vivid and magnetising imagination for 20 years now. Exactly 20 years, in fact; a documentary about him was made and premiered last weekend in a local realejo bar (my neck of the woods). He has daubed countless pieces in that time, and to choose my two favourites has been virtually impossible! So I chose four instead. Is that cheating? Marianne? In any case, I absolutely adore the style and depth in all of them, and particularly the interpretation in the one of the giraffe. For a look at other examples of his work see my original post here.

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‘Cansao de no encontrar respuesta, decidí cambiar mis preguntas’ (Tired of not finding an answer, I decided to change my questions)

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La Violinista joven

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El Girafe

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La Violinista mayor

But the CBBH Photo Challenge is more than just an opportunity to show off your camera skills; it is a blog hop as well. The first ‘C’ and ‘B’, after all, do stand for conejo blanco (white rabbit). So each post posted in response to Marianne’s original post must include two links to two other blogs that the blogger has visited and commented on in the last month, so that his/her readers can ‘hop’ over to some unchartered corner of the frankly enormous blogosphere. It’ all about helping each other out you see. And we’re good at that in Spain.

So I will take this opportunity to direct you to Clare of Need Another Holiday. Clare’s blog, much like my own, new blog, focuses on part-time travel, as opposed to those that celebrate a nomadic and often vagrant existence. She has been all over. But mostly Greece. She absolutely loves Greece.

Secondly, I’d like to shout out to a blogger who has really wowed me with her vlog series recently. Jess, of HolaYessica!, blogs about Barcelona and various Spanish escapades. Her output rate is frankly unbelievable and her style and writing standards never falter. She’s also – fittingly – excellent with a camera. So go and say hi, and tell her that I sent you!

If you want to take part in the CBBH Photo Challenge, just head over to Marianne’s blog and read on. It’s fun and gives you a chance to share those pics that deserve to be seen!

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