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Fallas 2010: La Despertà

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For hostel/hotel bookings during Fallas, we’ve found the best rates at Hostelbookers and Booking.com

Luckily for us, the world’s most annoying alarm clock only goes off once a year. But it’s a bastard.

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At 7:30am on the last Sunday of February, Valencians take to the streets for the despertà — the waking up of the city for its most important celebration, Fallas. The sudden noise, if you’re caught unaware and anywhere within a 3km radius, is terrifying. We lived near C/ La Paz during our first despertà, and I leapt out of bed thinking (a) earthquake, (b) war, (c) Armageddon, convinced that death was upon me and hoping it be swift.

But by now, we’re grizzled veterans of this very Valencian foolishness. I slept through the fire and brimstone, showing up only for the concluding mascletà in the city’s Ayuntamiento, but Jürgen marched along and got some great pictures of the revelers.

Despertà 2009 (pictures and video) / What is Fallas

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More photos of the Despertà 2010:

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February 28, 2010 at 11:58 am Comments (4)

Sunday Flea Market at the Mestalla

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Looking to pick up some junk fished out of garbage containers? Then head on down to the Mestalla this Sunday and marvel at the wonders of the Flea Market!!

flohmarkt-valencia

The Sunday morning flea market in Plaza Lluis Casanovas, adjacent to the Mestalla, is probably the best known & biggest in the city. We went a few weeks ago, and were amazed at how crowded and popular it was.

I was skeptical before arriving, but this actually wasn’t so bad. Yes, there were some blankets spread out where the trash for sale was literally trash. But there were also a lot of acceptably decent items as well. If you’re in the market for things like picture frames, used books, ornamental figures or second-hand toys and trinkets of all sorts, you’ll be in heaven here.

We loved the flea markets of Berlin during our time there, particularly in Friedrichshain, and while the Sunday Mestalla market doesn’t quite rise to the same level of quality, it comes decently close.

Spanish Bargain Site

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February 26, 2010 at 4:35 pm Comments (0)

Granada – Las Alpujarras

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Hotels in GranadaHostels in GranadaFlights to Granada

The second half of our Granada day trip took us east from Almuñécar along the Costa Tropical and then north into the Alpujarras. A gorgeous mountain district of Granada, las Alpujarras contain a number of picturesque villages spread across the habitable spots of the Sierra Nevada. Comprised entirely of white houses, the villages resemble errant spots of snow on the mountains, when seen from a distance.

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Our path wound through a number of poetically-named towns: Albondón, Cádiar, Bércheles, Juviles. In between each, we soaked up the mountainous landscape, looking back over the Mediterranean. Our favorite was Trevélez — the highest recognized town in Spain at 1486 meters above sea level. As we arrived, the sun was setting over the town, nestled in a snowy valley with shadows falling across the white rooftops, and the effect was incredibly romantic. Trevélez is known for its cured hams, and we made sure to sample some.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to idle about, as driving through the Alpujarras during the night wasn’t an adventure we wanted to partake in. On the way back to Granada, we saw a fireworks display over the town of Lanjarón. It felt like they were just for us; a perfect conclusion to an incredible day.

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More from Our Granada Trip

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February 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm Comments (2)

Valencian Vocab: Parany

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Parany is a curious word I’ve been seeing a lot of in the Valencian press lately, usually appearing alongside words like “protest”, “anger”, and “controversy”. And “killing”. Naturally, I was curious.

Parany is a form of hunting song birds, described here by thepetitionsite.org:


accioecologista-agro.org
The Parany trapping technique involves the planting and cultivation of high stands of trees (mostly enclosed on private property), interlaced with poles to which sticks impregnated with glue or lime are attached. The migrant song birds are attracted to the tree groups as ideal night roosts. To ensure a high catch illegal electronic lures are also employed. The plumage of the birds settling on the sticks becomes glued together and the birds fall helpless to the ground. There they are collected by the trapper who kills them – often by crushing the bird’s skull between thumb and fingers.

Keep in mind, this information comes from a site dedicated to banning the practice, and might not be the most objective summary. The last sentence is particularly manipulative. Who wouldn’t be against crushing birdy skulls by hand?!

The Valencian government recently legalized parany, to the elation of “hunters” throughout the Comunidad. But their joy was short-lived, as the national government stepped in and banned it again, three months later.

We don’t know enough about parany to weigh in either way. Honestly, skull-crushing seems like a painless way to die, but if it’s endangering entire species, it should probably be stopped. Leave a comment and let us know your opinions on this controversial topic!

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February 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm Comments (3)

Granada – El Suspiro del Moro and Almuñécar

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Legend has it that when the Moors were finally conquered and kicked out of Granada, Boabdil, the last Moorish king of Al-Andalus, paused at the southern mountain pass for a last mournful look at his beloved city of birth, and sighed. His mother smacked him, saying “Now you weep like a woman over what you could not defend as a man!” Ever since, the mountain pass has been known as The Gate of the Moor’s Sigh (El Puerto del Suspiro del Moro).

Sierra-Nevada

From the spot, you get a lovely view of Granada, and it’s not difficult to empathize with poor Boabdil. But though it’s little comfort for those being expelled from their homeland, the route leading from The Gate of the Moor’s Sigh to the Mediterranean is incredible. Take the A-4050 south and you’ll be rewarded with a long, narrow road winding around cliffs, providing unbelievable mountain landscapes and vistas of the sea.

The road ends in the neat seaside village of Almuñécar, on the Costa Tropical. We marveled over the crystal blue waters, but unfortunately weren’t able to explore the city; a delicious and inexpensive meal on the beach was all we had time for. But with an immense castle near the ocean and history dating back to 800 BC, when the village was established by the Phoenicians, Almuñécar is certainly worth an entire day.

Cheap Hotels in Almuñécar

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Andalusia Car Hire
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February 23, 2010 at 6:06 pm Comments (3)

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