Tag Archive | spring

Cordoba

Following last week’s post on the Patios of Cordoba, in this post I’ll put up other things to see and do in Cordoba.

Cordoba Mosque

Of course EVERYONE has heard about the Mosque of Cordoba. It’s right in the centre of town so if you head straight to the centre, you won’t miss it.

Cordoba Mosque

The mosque used to be, well, a mosque! That is, a place where Muslims went to worship, built during the centuries of Moorish rule in Spain. So of course, the architecture is typically Arab, similar to what you can also find in the Alhambra of Granada and other Moorish sites and monuments.

Cordoba Mosque

It was built over several centuries by a bunch of Moorish Caliphs with lovely Arab names but unless you’re really into this, I won’t repeat their names here. You can find their names in the pamphlet that they give you when you go to visit the mosque. Or in Wikipedia.

Cordoba Mosque

After the Reconquista, that is, when the Spanish Christians fought the Moors and regained control of the peninsula, the Mosque of Cordoba was turned into a cathedral. The cathedral itself was actually built inside a small section of the large mosque, respecting the rest of the building and its architecture and designs.

Cordoba Mosque

It’s a historic monument, like a museum, so of course entry is not free. It’s not very expensive although I don’t remember how much exactly. We went to Cordoba with not a lot of money because we went on a tour where everything was paid for (breakfast and lunch as well as, of course, transportation to and from the city, + entrances to all the winning patios from the patio competition I talked about in last week’s post). Even so I had no difficulty paying the entries to the mosque for the three of us.

Cordoba Mosque

This was an attempt to capture the original, old entryway to the mosque (NOT the huge mass entrance through the courtyard where everyone must go now to access the monument, where the ticket office is located) – without capturing the heads of hundreds of tourists walking all around it and posing!

(Okay it’s true, we were tourists too – but we didn’t pose haha!)

Cordoba Mosque

I’m sure the whole world must be familiar with these arch-famous coloured arches, and you’ve probably seen more than a dozen photos of them all over the place. Well here I regale you with a few more!

There’s also a very nice river, with a Roman bridge, that passes through Cordoba. It’s the Guadalquivir, actually. The same river that passes through Sevilla. Anyways, I didn’t remember that the Guadalquivir passes through Cordoba too, but later I remembered it.

Cordoba Roman Bridge

Cordoba is also the city where the movie Carmen with Paz Vega was set. So if you’ve ever seen Carmen…… you’ve seen the city haha! (Okay, not really.)

There’s a synagogue (not a current one in use, the one that used to be used by the Jewish community before the Reconquista) as well, but it was only open in the mornings. So we didn’t get to see it because the visit to the patios was in the morning.

I had lots of photos of typical streets in the winding Arab historic centre, but they were jammed with tourists! This was the only pristine photo I managed to capture.

Cordoba Typical Street

We had time to browse through some souvenir shops and grab an ice-cream. The ice-cream was really necessary as the temperature was over 40 degrees! And it was only the beginning of May.

Although it might seem corny, I do rather like to wander through souvenir shops. I don’t usually buy anything. But I do enjoy seeing what strange and funny relics are available. There’s always something weird or original to catch your eye!

Cordoba Abandoned Building

Okay, clearly this was not taken at a souvenir shop haha!

Finally, you can also listen to Medina Azahara crooning masterfully about Cordoba on YouTube, here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9vE8zFvG78

Have you ever been to Cordoba? What did you do during your visit? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

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Poetry by Hermenegildo: Bienvenida Sea La Primavera

Today’s post isn’t mine, but my son’s, “Hermenegildo”. He asked me to post up a poetry of his on this blog. So here it is. Who knows, maybe ten years from now he’ll be publishing his own book of poetry (in Spanish, of course).

Bienvenida sea la primavera
y entramos en una nueva era.
¡Qué divertido es esto!
Si te va bien eso y eso
será divertido con la primavera.
Muchas, muchísimas abejas
sin que ellas tengan orejas.

I thought I’d accompany his lovely verses with a couple of (rather humdrum) images of spring in the city.

Almonds in the CityRed Flowers in the City

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Holy Week in Malaga

I wasn’t going to put up a post on Holy Week, but we went to see processions and they were so beautiful, I just had to take some photos even though I hadn’t brought the camera along. But I’ve got a mobile phone, even though it doesn’t take such nice photos as the camera.

Cross

On Holy Thursday, the city is filled with processions running up and down all over the place. You can do like what we started to do, which was “procession hopping”, jumping about from one procession to another to see all the different religious statues, or tronos.

However we soon got tired of that activity, and just decided to situate ourselves next to the Alameda, the main thoroughfare in Malaga, because all the processions pass down that way at some point.

Penitents

These people carrying a glittering cross and wearing “cone hats” are penitents.

Trono de virgen

There’s a lot of religious fervour and excitement during Holy Week processions. Even people who haven’t entered into a church for the past fifty years feel awe-struck.

Spectators also applaud the brave and strong men who bear the tronos as they pass by. Each trono-bearer is carrying about 20 kg. on his shoulder. This is very exhausting work and they deserve all that applause, encouragement and confetti!

Niños aburridosHowever, the ones who would probably rather be sitting at home playing with their Nintendo or Gamebox are…… the kiddies. Here are some who are clearly bored out of their minds. But fortunately, today we have portable electronic apparatuses to play with.

Rows of Penitents

My son was quite fascinated by the penitents. He told me that he wanted me to fashion him a cone-shaped hat covered with velvet to wear around the house, and a huge gilded staff like the ones that the penitents carry.

My son’s cousin, a hale and hearty teenager, decided to participate in a procession this year bearing a trono. This wasn’t due to any religious zeal. He just wanted to know what it felt like. He ended up all ground up and declared that he was never going to do this again.

A little boy by our side apparently also had his father carrying a trono. As the statue paraded past us, the little kid just wouldn’t stop screaming at his dad to look at him.

Given the number of processions taking place each year, and the number of men required to make them happen, most of the inhabitants of Malaga probably know someone personally who is bearing a trono.

Another cross

Religion is a pretty important theme during Holy Week, of course – but so is partying! Everywhere we went, it seemed more like a carnival or a fair rather than a supposedly sombre religious event commemorating a rather tragic occurrence. There were people at stands selling everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to donuts and home-grown lemons.

Papas asadas

I think the line-ups to get baked potatoes stuffed with delicious hot filling were just as long as the ones to see a trono pass by.

Apparently, on Holy Thursday all of the processions consist of two tronos coming out of every church that participates. The first trono is always a statue of a cross, Jesus Christ or Jesus Christ on a cross. He is always followed by a statue of his mother, the Virgin Mary. Because if they were carting your son off to hang him, wouldn’t you go running after him too?

Cristo en la cruz

Well, I took a few more photos but I got so tired editing them, and besides which, they were all pretty much more of the same, and not such good quality anyways (after all, I do not have an iPhone!). In the end, what caught my fancy was this large tree with its roots hanging off of the high branches.

Tree Roots Hanging From Tree

I have no idea what this tree is called though. You can see the full moon shining beside it.

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Preparing for Holy Week

I’d been getting this post ready for the past week or so, and then I realized that I’d better get it up soon or as they say in Spanish, “se me iba a pasar el arroz”. Which just simply means something like, the right time is about to pass you by.

Sentencia

Sorry for the rather iffy quality of the photos, I took them all with the mobile phone, just little reminders posted everywhere as I walked about town, about the imminence of Holy Week and its numerous processions (procesiones de Semana Santa).

Semana Santa Malaga

People get really excited about Holy Week processions around here. Even very young people (like teenagers), whom you would expect would be more into fashion or clubbing than religion, show tremendous zeal and anticipation. And several young men that I know with big, strong shoulders can talk about nothing else for weeks except the “trono” that they are planning to bear around the city.

Cristo Triston

As you can see, everyone gets in on the act, and even the owners of convenience stores have Holy Week posters up.

Because, of course, all of those heavy “tronos”, or religious statues, that you will see marching around during Holy Week, are borne solely by the shoulders and feet of the “trono-bearers”. Each procession lasts for several kilometres, so you can imagine the exhaustion that these people face. But they are very proud of what they do and even compete with each other for the privilege of bearing a trono around town.

Encierralo

This is a poster with a play on words. It’s urging people to shut their cars up at home during Holy Week and come to see the processions by bus, in order not to clog up the frenetic traffic downtown. However, it’s also playing on the term “encierro”. Encierro means to shut something up, like your car in the garage, but an encierro is also when the procession is finished and the trono is brought to rest in its “home” in the church that it belongs to.

There was one other scene that I wanted to capture on film (well, digital film, nowadays), a religious scene that was set up in a shop window, but whenever I passed by the lighting was never right. Either it was too bright and everything was reflecting in the window, covering up the scene underneath the pane, or it was night-time and too dark. If I ever manage to pass by at just the right moment, I’ll flash a pic of it and post it up here too.

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Pa Amb Tomàquet

Oops, that’s not quite right, wrong Community, I think. I meant: pan con aceite!

Andalucia Flag

Next week is the Day of Andalucía, which commemorates the date when Andalucía won the status of Autonomous Community within the country of Spain.

People get patriotic and hang out flags, and in the schools they set up little plays (which unfortunately we parents won’t be privy to observing). My son’s got a role in the play his class has mounted up at his high school: he’s going to open the curtains at the start of the show and close them when it ends. (He hates acting!)

His little brother cracked up when “Hermenegildo” proudly announced his important assignment. But I explained that it’s very important that someone open the curtains too, because if no one does that, then the show can’t go on!

What the kids love most about the Day of Andalucía, however, is pan con aceite!

Pan con aceite

Yes, the schools regale them with a typical Andalusian breakfast: rustic bread dunked in pools and pools of fresh virgin olive oil.

Too bad this wonderful meal is also accompanied by homework assignments for spring break (okay, winter break, since I guess technically it’s still winter……).

Thought I’d close this post with a flash of almond blossoms. Living in da inna big city isn’t the hottest thing, but occasionally, we get a real treat from Mother Nature too.

Almond Tree

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Bye Bye Birds!

Every morning as I take the kids to school I see all the birds lining up in the sky and taking off to their homes in the north. Hundreds and hundreds of migratory birds that all head northward in perfect “V” formation. I feel so sad to say good-bye to them, they were so happy here playing, eating, enjoying the great weather. I also want to tell them how lucky they are, to be able to spend every winter jumping around in the sun while their human counterparts are trembling to death in the snow in northern Europe!

I think how perfect their natural instinct is, that just tells them so naturally and wordlessly when exactly is the right moment for them to line up and return home. How do they know it will soon be spring? And how do they know how to line up so perfectly? How does each bird recognize where is its precise place in the “V” formation, and none of the birds loses the rhythm as they fly?

They have such a long ways to go now. I estimate maybe by the end of March they will be digging up worms in the parks of Amsterdam, Copenhagen and London, and enjoying the first green buds over there. They have to cross the entire Iberian peninsula from south to north, then wing out over the whole European continent before they reach their homes. They travel all that distance using the power of their own wings, no airplanes, trains or cars for them!

And I also think how we’ve lost touch with our own natural nature. The natural thing to do is to head south in the wintertime, where food continues to be plentiful and you can go to bed without waking up transformed into an ice cube. It’s we humans, in our advanced human civilization, who are going counter-nature by persisting in remaining in arctic lands and heating ourselves using artificial (and non-renewable) sources of energy.

Once upon a time we used to do what birds do. We used to be nomadic, and we followed the food supplies and the warm rays of the sun all around the globe. Oh well, but times have changed.

Local birds here, on the other hand, really know how to live it up, and these days they are busy building nests. The other day my son and I enjoyed the spectacle of a neon green parrot busily hawing away at a tree branch. It picked and pecked and wouldn’t give up until it succeeded in breaking off the thin branch. It then proceeded to take off with the enooorrrrmous branch dragging about in its beak until it arrived at its own tree nearby, where we could observe how it added the tree branch to its nest.

If I could ever take the time out during out daily morning marathon to snap a photo, I’ll add a pic here of birds flying north for the spring another day.

Green Buds

But in the meantime, here is a pic of some green buds. Although on the other hand, green buds here don’t necessarily mean spring, either, because here we have blossoms all year round!

Red Flowers

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