08 Spain


Last November me and my dear Stevie went to Sevilla for a weekend. For me it was a really special trip. Let me explain: three years ago I spent a year in Holland, studying Indo-European Linguistics at the Leiden University. That year I met a lot of people. It wasn’t an easy year, but the memories that remain are just awesome and always make me smile. I’m still in touch with most of that people, and from time to time we have the chance to visit each other. I went to Sevilla to visit a dear friend from that time: Ana. And for me, going there with a friend from New Zealand was pretty special. It meant knowing again that no matter what happens with my life, good friends are always there: the old ones, the ones that I meet travelling and the ones that I met travelling and are still there. Ana, Stevie: I love you guys.

So, after this cheesy introduction let me get to the point. I had never been to Sevilla before. And God, it’s AWESOME! The weather that November weekend was shit, and I didn’t feel really well, but thanks to the company and the amazing city, that weekend was incredible.

Sevilla is the capital of AndalucĂ­a and, unexpectedly, from the very first minute I learned that tapas are not free there. apparently that only happens in Granada. Nevertheless, Sevilla’s cuisine is superb. We had unbelievable tapas everywhere we went. Their cooking tradition is like their architecture, like their city: a mixture of the roman, arabic, and christian cultures. Different flavours are put together in this city to give it something special, something indescribable, something that made me consider how easily I could live there.

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Foggy and empty city center of Sevilla

Thanks to Ana, best touristic guide ever although she only lived there for a couple of weeks when we got there, we saw the most typical spots and also the less typical but also impressive ones.

If you ever go to Sevilla, you obviously have to visit the Cathedral. The biggest Gothic Cathedral and third biggest church in the world. Pretty impressive, huh? You can’t imagine how beautiful it is in the inside. I couldn’t believe it. I think from now on is my favourite Cathedral in the world. And hey, I’ve seen LOTS. The details in every corner had us there for more than 2 hours. I also spend half of that time catching up with Ana. Best place to catch up ever!

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Me with Latin inscriptions. YAY! 🙂
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ceiling detail of the Cathedral.

The bell tower is the famous Giralda, a former arabic minaret reconverted into a christian bell tower for the church. Impressively beautiful.

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La Giralda

However, as it usually happens to me in most cities, what really gets me is not just the environment but the people. And Sevillanos are as friendly as I expected. Maybe it was because they were Ana’s friends, maybe because I really missed my country during a whole year. I don’t know, but I felt really welcomed in that city. Definitely, the andalucian character is way different from the catalan one. they are way more open and friendly from the first minute. For us, Catalans, it takes ages to consider someone a friend or to start a conversation. Each of us has its good and its bad things. For a while, though, I loved being surround by Andalucians.

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After work beers in a random square.

I wanted to post about nice bars to go or some awesome places to visit but hey, just go there. You’ll find your way. Sevilla is a really friendly city and its people are willing to help.

All in all is as the famous song says: Sevilla has a special colour. Thanks Ana, Lidia, Guiri and Stevie!

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A couple of weeks ago my dear friend Vin sent me a link to her own blog saying that it was a surprise for me. I opened it curious, and after reading I was like a child waiting for Christmas: I needed my present immediately! The idea seemed sooo cool!

UPDATE: Not only Vin talks about it in her blog, also The Fitzroy Flasher mentions it and Katie Jayne too in her blog. It’s all around! Who’ll be next?

Let me explain it: Vin found out about Chris and she decided that the ring should come to Spain. Ok, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Let’s start from the beginning then.

One day Chris Massey was bored in his house (or that’s my guess!) and didn’t know what to do with some rings he just made. Chris, who is doing a BA in Fine Arts at RMIT was looking for a participatory artwork, integrating it with his jewelry and ceramics practise. And he did it. How? He created 40 unique rings and gave them to friends and strangers with just one condition: they couldn’t keep the ring, they had to give them away and tell Chris where were those rings going. Cool huh? You can check more information in his facebook group: A Giving Ring.

Another day my beloved and talented Vin Knight found out about Chris’ rings. That night she had a really vivid dream with me in it. So days after she went to the Rose Market in Melbourne and she got to get one of the rings. She decided that the ring had to come with me to Spain.

A third day in this story I received the package.

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a present from Australia

And what was inside? Of course the ring, which turned out to be way more beautiful than I expected. Made with sterling and ceramics is one of those rings that makes you feel unique, different, gorgeous. Problem? It’s so precious that I’m afraid of breaking it. It’s way too special for me! But on the other hand, such a beautiful ring should be seen around.

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a giving ring

Vin liked the idea of “passing happiness” so much that she decided to start her own “passing” thingy. Along with the ring I received two little envelopes with the instruction that one was for me and the other one should be for someone else. God! It took me hours to decide which one I kept! Finally my mum picked up one and it was the end of the deliberation. I already wrote in this blog about Vin’s amazing art, but again, I love it. Every series that she does keeps surprising me, it’s so Vin but different from all her work at the same time! Her use of colours, textures, her love for different papers and colour lawyering. I need to frame it!

(to read more about her and to see some of her awesome creations, don’t forget to go to her blog: http://vincenteknight.wordpress.com/ )

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a giving postcard

That envelop definitely made my day yesterday! Isn’t the ring awesome? Maybe for me it’s all the history that has behind. But I can’t help smiling when I look at it.

I have already decided where the other little postcard is going. But so far that’s a secret. Eventually you’ll all know.

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ring in Spain

The main problem when I decided that I wanted to visit small parts of my country was that everyone was working but me. Also, I couldn’t afford big trips: I wasn’t working! However, I wanted to take my dear Marty on his day off to visit my favourite spots in Catalunya (or Catalonia, as you like!). Obviously my first thought was Costa Brava, but unfortunately I can’t drive, so we had to choose a place reachable by train: Girona.

Girona! Many foreigners visiting Barcelona never think of that cozy little city! And, as you’ll see, it’s a huge mistake not visiting it.

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Houses in Onyar river
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crossing the river

The main attraction of Girona is its Jewish QuarterCall in Catalan -, apparently the best preserved and largest Jewish Quarter in Europe. Its beauty it’s obvious. You feel the history in the air just walking along those cobbled streets. Marty asked me if they knew how beautiful it was while they were building it. And that kept me wondering: did they know? I mean, of course it was built narrow for protection and the only thing they had were those amazing stones, but, did they realize how special was that place? We will never know. Luckily, we still can enjoy it.

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Me at the Jewish Quarter

In the area it’s also nice to visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria from XIth century or the church of Sant Feliu, from the XIVth century. I can’t help it: I loooove churches! One day I’ll tell you about my obsession with religion being totally and deeply atheist.

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Esglèsia de Sant Feliu

I also have to mention the Medieval Wall, from 9th and 14th century. Stunning!

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Medieval wall

After the whole morning visiting this amazing city, we followed my friend Titus recommendations and we went for lunch to Hostal Coll: a classic. The average age was around 50 years old. The food was damn good! We ate a 3 course meal (including fideuá or pig cheeks) plus desert and a bottle of wine (properly mixed with soda to do a “tinto de verano“) for around 12 euros each. Awesome!

The only problem of eating so much and so good was that afterwards we couldn’t even walk. All we wanted was to have a siesta! We wandered around for a while and obviously went to have some beers. After that, train back to my town, where I had cooked some canelones for dinner, but I should talk about them another day. So much food!

All in all, a perfect sunny day in Girona!

us.

Did you really think this blog was going to end just because I was back to my country?

Ok, I did think so. But one day I sent an e-mail to my dear friend Jai and I told him that I was pretty sad that the whole trip was over although I was looking forward to seeing every one of my friends. Jai replied a really nice email that ended with a sentence:

THE DREAM IS NEVER OVER.

And guess what? He was totally right. It doesn’t matter where I am, it doesn’t matter with who I am or what I do, from now on I will always be travelling, I will always be dreaming, I will always be experiencing new things. The trip taught me that the world is not how I used to see it, everything changes depending on the glass you look through. And I’ve changed my blurry glass for a brand new one filled with hopes, dreams and amazing memories of the time I spend abroad.

Do you know my country? Probably most foreigners know it better than I do. I did describe in this blog how I saw New Zealand, Australia, New York, Cook Islands, Indonesia, so, shouldn’t I be able to do the same with my own but unknown country?

Last 11th of September I went to visit my friend Titus to Reus. 11th of September is the Catalan National Day. We commemorate our defeat during the Spanish Succession War. We commemorate a really sad thing, the loss of our freedom. But it is a reminder of who we were, who we are. I’m not a really political person, but I can’t help getting goosebumps when I hear our anthem and I think of what happened by then.

So, in that special day I went to Reus, a city located in the Tarragona province, in Catalonia. I had no expectations at all about the city, I just wanted to see my friend. But it turned out to be a pretty nice and interesting spot to visit.

Reus is famous for being the home town of Antoni GaudĂ­, our most famous architect. Ironically enough, there is nothing built by him in the city. However, I still got the chance to see some nice architecture like modernist Casa NavĂ s.

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Casa Navàs by Domènech i Montaner

Or a nice church from the XVI century: Prioral de Sant Pere de Reus.

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Esglèsia Prioral de Sant Pere

What surprised me most was just wandering through Reus’ little streets. Really catalan, but with a different atmosphere than the far north. It’s difficult to explain, but I could totally tell a different character in the area. It is a really beautiful city indeed!

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Castells in Reus

As it was 11th of September, I got the chance to see some of the celebrations. In the area it is a tradition to build human towers, also known as “Castellers“. Although I’ve seen it hundreds of times, I still think it’s an amazing heritage.

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Castells in Reus

All in all, a nice morning that ended with a delicious paella with Titus’ friends. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of that, but believe me, you’d be pretty jealous, so I’m making you a favour!

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Catalan flag in Reus