Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The holy grail in Valencia

Maybe this is a well known fact, but I did not know it. When wandering around Valencia, passing the Cathedral a picture at the entrance caught my attention:

The Holy Grail. Really? Most Christian historians all over the world declare that this Valencian Chalice is most likely the authentic one being used at the Last Supper. And it was also the official chalice for many popes, and was recently used by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. The chalice is kept in one of the Cathedrals chapels and dates from the 1st century. I think this is a cool fact!

The Cathedral is one of many old, beautiful cathedrals in Spain, adorned with gold and 15th century paintings. Unfortunately the lines to get in to the chapel to actually see the chalice was so long we just left. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Beautiful Valencia!

Yes indeed. I absolutely fell in love. Valencia is a very, very beautiful city, and the people, so friendly. I have had the best days in Valencia, I hope to come back some time. (Soon.)

Valencia is the third biggest city of Spain (after Madrid and Barcelona) and its historic centre is one of the largest in Spain. (Hurray!) I love historic centres in Spanish cities, always so beautiful. Narrow cobbled streets. All the details on beautiful buildings. The romantic plazas. Taking a seat at a terraza with a glass of chilled wine in hand simply enjoying the warm sun. It doesn’t get much better if you ask me! There is just such a great atmosphere to these old historic centres.
Ah, and another fact about Valencia, the Paella originated here! What more could one want? 

Some of the top tourist attractions are the Cathedral, and the City of Arts and Science. The latter being famous for the fancy architecture, and all the fun things you can do there. I took so many pictures, thought it was very impressive. A post is coming... but a little sneak peak is in order: 

Isn't this supercool?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Soap! (The show)

Another great weekend is over in Barcelona, and I am on my way out to visit another city in this lovely country. But first, a quick note to tell you that if you happen to be close a theatre that puts on Soap The Show, go see it! 

I saw it this Saturday in Barcelona, and it was a brilliant show. Fun, surprising and sexy! It’s all about las bañeras, the bathtubs, and what sort of acrobatics and fun stuff you can do in and around them. There is  dancing, acrobatics, juggling and humor. A great show, absolutely worth seeing!

They are in Barcelona until May 26th, before resuming their tour visiting Stockholm - Singapore - Madrid - Brisbane - Hamburg.  (What’s already programmed anyway.) 

Now I have a train to catch, and I will be back by the end of the week. Have a great week everyone!

Trailer of Soap! The Show:

Friday, May 18, 2012

How did Francisco turn into Paco?

There is a funny little thing going on with names here. It seems there is a bit of an obsession with making and using nicknames. In my whole life in Norway I have never had a nickname. Here, I have 4 different names, in addition to my real name. That’s 5 names made out of my 8 character long name. I am impressed!

It seems it’s very common. People just make up new names for people, nicknames, shorter versions. I’ll throw in some examples for you to see what I mean.

Begoña -> Bego
Desireé -> Desi
Montserrat -> Montse
Concepcion -> Concha / Cochita
Manuel -> Manu / Manolo / Lolo (¿?)
Daniel -> Dani

…well I guess you get the picture.

But what I find really interesting and fascinating are the other names. The ones that change completely and seem to have nothing to do with the original name. For instance the male name Francisco. Most Francisco’s will also be called Paco! It took me quite some time before I realized that Paco was not the “real” name, I didn’t know it actually came from Francisco and that was the real name. Same thing happens with Jose, most Jose’s will also be called Pepe! I didn’t know why this is, but I found it so fascinating I had to find out. 

So I started digging, and it seems that Jose comes from Padre Putativo, father of Jesus, Jose de Nazaret. Padre Putativo was abbreviated P.P., which made Jose become Pepe. ( How you pronounce PP in Spanish.) I knew there had to be some kind of explanation to this!  This is just the history though, I don’t think Pepe is used with a biblical hint these days..

I also found an explanation for the Francisco/Paco-situation. San Francisco de Asis (Francis of Assisi, in English) was called Pater Comunitas / Padre de la comunidad. Paco comes from PAter  COmunitas.

If these are the correct reasons, I have no idea, but at least I got an explanation to a phenomenon I found most strange. Thus far, I have only found these two “strange” name abbreviations. Maybe there are more? Feel free to share with me in the comment section if you know more about this!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sangría, sangría, sangría!

It’s been really hot and summery lately. Very nice! I thought it perfect to share a recipe for sangria then!

I have the feeling more tourists than locals drink sangria, but this fresh and fruity drink is still synonymous with Spain for a lot of people. On second thought, I can’t quite believe what’s considered one of Spain’s national drinks to be all touristic..? I am sure locals enjoy it too? This needs more research. In the meantime, here’s a recipe!

What you need:
  • 1 litre red wine
  • the juice of two oranges
  • fresh fruit cut in pieces
    o   peaches strawberries 
          o   apples
          o   pears
          o   melon
          o   lemon 
          o   oranges
    o   strawberries 
  • 5 tablespoons of sugar
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • (optional: brandy or rum)

      Mix the wine with sugar, and when the sugar has disolved, add the orange juice. Stir. The wine doesn’t need to be the most expensive and wonderful one, inexpensive wine works great in Sangria cause there are so many other ingredients to make this lovely!

    Add the fruit. For one litre of wine the amount should be equivalent to 4 average size pieces.
For example 4 peaches/2 apples and 2 peaches etc. Mix whatever you like the most!

If you want it stronger, add some liqueur.

That’s it! Easy isn' it? Now put the jar with the sangria in the refridgerator until cold. Must be served chilled and with ice. To be enjoyed in a lovely relaxed, happy state, preferably in the sun. 


Monday, May 14, 2012

Fancy visiting a designer outlet while in Barcelona?

If so, I’ll tell you a little bit about La Roca Village, a “village” filled with outlet shops. It’s located just outside Granollers, about 30 minutes from Barcelona by car.

I am not one to buy designer clothes, and honestly there isn’t all that much to come for if you’re not interested in all these expensiveeee brands, as those fill up most of the locals at the village. But still, there are a few shops that would make me come back just because of  the concept of getting great things at a great discount!

For example, L’Occitane has a shop there, one of my favourite brands in natural, paraben-free skin-and bodycare. To be able to get these wonderful products at a lower price is worth a trip of its own!

Mango has an enormous shop there, with loads and loads of nice clothes at a great discount. Nike also has an enormous shop. These two are located just outside the village, in warehouses. 

A whole list of all the shops and brands can be found here.

La Roca is built like a pedestrian street running through the "village" with shops on both sides. It's quite nice!

How to get there? By car is the easiest and fastest option. But you can also get the direct bus “The Shopping Express” from Barcelona centre. The third option is to get a train from Barcelona to Granollers Centre, then change to a bus to la Roca. The frecuency of the bus is not too good though. 

I don't really know Granollers, but the lovely Kate behind The Catalan Way is writing about her life there and around. Do you remember I wrote about tango dancing in the gazebo at Parc De la Ciutadella
Kate goes there to dance! There is just a special atmosphere to it, it's beautiful!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The concert will start totally punctual!

I have talked about punctuality on a couple occasions. Or the lack of it. I can say however, after spending some time in this country, it seems it not something I can learn. To not be punctual I mean. No matter how many times I have been waiting, and waiting for my friends to appear, I still arrive at the appointed time. They might get it right this time! The optimistic me takes over as I am considering the option of arriving late intentionally.  Every time.

I was pondering this, wondering why I am like this. Then I remembered that I have probably not been late for class ever during my years of school. Back then, it was the ultimate mortification to get in late after class had started. Don’t ask me why, but it was just so deep in me that you DON’T ARRIVE LATE. It seems I have always been like this. Also, I remember having the conception of arriving late being rude.

To then find myself in a country where basically everyone arrives late, and looks at it as it’s the most natural thing in the world, takes some time getting used to. It’s not rude, it’s just “normal”.

What inspired this post, was a poster for a concert. At the bottom it stated: 
“Note that the concert will start with total punctuality.” 
In Norway, it would’t be necessary to write this on a poster…

Keep Calm and Never lose Hope // Beyzaengel

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Glass blowing workshop at Poble Espanyol

The other day, I told you about Poble Espanyol, the  open-air architectural "museum-village" depicting a miniature Spain, or well at least representing architectural and cultural aspects of many parts of Spain. There are a lot of things going on there, and one of the things is a glass blower workshop where you can see how they make little animals out of glass. 

So fascinating, I had never before seen the whole process and I was impressed with how he just swung the hot glass around on its stick and little animals magically appreared in less than a minute. Swans, horses, bulls etc. 

Tada! Glass horse ready!

Monday, May 7, 2012

La Boquería - Mercat de Sant Josep

La Boquería is always something that impresses visitors to Barcelona. I feel privileged to have such a wonderful market available. Where I come from, the fruit and vegetable sections at supermarkets are rather dull. There aren't a lot of exotic fruit and well vegetables are small and kind of sad. Tiny cauliflowers, tiny peppers... Here, everything is big and bursting with flavour. Makes you realize what transport does to fruit&vegI mean, Norway is basically covered by snow half of the year (potencially anyway) and naturally we have to import a lot of produce.

Back to la Boquería. 

Bulging with exotic fruit I have never before seen, all thinkable and unthinkable vegetables and meat products, fish & seafood, nuts, fruit juices, chocolate, and some really good tapas bars. Word is that the better restaurants come here to buy their products, and that is nice considering that this market is situated right in the middle of the centre, at La Rambla. (Could make you think it’s all for the tourists but it isn’t.)

All possible combinations of fresh fruit juice:

Ready cut fruit to go:

Popsickles from fresh fuit juice:

Lovely vegetables used in South America, and I am sooo happy to have a great place to find Platano Macho, such a wonderful vegetable! (That's the big orange/green banana there, used for cooking, it's not  eaten raw)

Jamón, of course!

Having this kind of markets available makes it easy to eat healthy! 

Location: at the middle of La Rambla, close by metro stop L3 Liceu.

Friday, May 4, 2012

El Poble Espanyol, Spain in miniature

Back in 1929, it was Barcelonas turn to host the World Expo, and Poble Espanyol was built. (Poble=town, Espayol=Spanish) Josep Puig I Cadafalch, modernist architect, wanted to build something extravagant, a miniature Spain. An open-air architectural museum located at the hill of Montjuic in Barcelona. He wanted to build a "town" where architectural style and culture from various geographical locations in Spain was represented in one single space. In the end the idea was set into life by architects Ramon Reventós and Francesc Folguera and the artists Xavier Nogués and Miquel Utrillo.

The idea was to make this a temporary museum, just for the world expo. It took them 13 months to build it, and it was only going to be there for 6 months before being demolished. It was preserved as it turned out to be such a success and there were big protests against its destruction. 

The creators made several trips around Spain, visited about 1600 towns and villages to get a good image of the typicalness of each part of the country. Photographs, drawings and notes helped them build this open-air museum. It oppcupies a total of 42000 square meters and contains 117 buildings with streets and plazas reproduced to scale. 

It is like a separate town in the city. Beautiful architecture, a collection of contemporary art, craft workshops, restaurants and shops with products and souvenirs from different parts of Spain.

When I saw the advertisement for the Calcotada back in February, there was no doubt in my mind that I would go, as it was held at el Poble Espanyol. Two birds in one stone! And it was great to see the Poble on a day like that, where the atmosphere couldn’t be any better and there was a lot of people. It felt like I was away in some other Spanish town and I loved it! 

It amazed me that all these beautiful buildigs were supposed to be torn down!

Apart from serving as a museum day-time, you can find a lot of things going on; festivals, concerts,  as well as other events. Some nights of the week the Poble is open at night too, and you can eat dinner at one of the restaurants there.

Here, shop from Andalucía, typical ceramic tiles and platters

Looking at the photos don’t you agree that it seems like a whole real town? 
I can’t believe it was supposed to demolished!

On a side note, this was the second time the World Expo was held in Barcelona. First time was in 1888, when among other things, el Parc de la Ciutadella was reconstructed. (It really is beautiful, make sure to visit if you come by Barcelona!)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Let's make a quick stop by Marbella

Marbella in Andalucía is for many synonymous with big money and big fancy boats, but I wanted to see if there wasn’t some more typical Spanish charm here too. And I do believe there is.

We just stopped by on our way to Gibraltar and didn’t even see the famous port with all the gigantic yachts. We did go by there though, it just felt like the sort of thing one should see when in Marbella, but it was so crowded and there was no parking anywhere close so we just dropped it. And you know what? I think I can live on without having seen it!

The old town is quite much like many others in Andalucía, whitewashed houses, flowers hanging from the walls, narrow cobbled streets, beautiful plazas and little terrace tapas bars all over the place.

Plaza de los Naranjos is a plaza in the middle of the historic centre surrounded with Orange trees. What I loved most was the smell! I loooove orange blossom and it was wonderful to walk around with this lovely scent perfuming the air. This was something we found all over Andalucía, lots of orange trees everywhere and they were all in bloom. 

It was just a quick stop, and our focus was not on the rich, modern Marbella. We were curious to 
see if there was more to it, and there was!