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Granada – The Cave People of Guadix

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Guadix is a beautiful town an hour east of Granada, which we visited on our trip back to Valencia. (It’s also the home of the pyrotechnic company who put on the March 2nd Mascletà — the only non-Valencian company invited, and did they impress!) But I digress.

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The walled-in town of Guadix is neat — winding alleys and an impressive cathedral. But we were drawn by famous cave dwellings, found on the hill overlooking the city.

All painted in white, these abodes are stunning. We took a little tour of one. The matriarch let us look around and take pictures, while she provided cave-person trivia, such as: cooking inside them is forbidden; they must be whitewashed thrice yearly; they maintain the same temperature (20° C) year-round.

I can’t imagine living in one, except perhaps during a vacation. And you can actually rent them out for extended stays. They’re not all that expensive. Here’s one booking website.

Guadix was an interesting final stop on our long weekend in Granada. After two years in Spain, this was our first vacation outside the Comunidad. Shameful, considering the amount there is to see in this beautiful.

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March 31, 2010 at 5:43 pm Comment (1)

Fallas 2010: Bullfight on March 19th

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ponce-valencia

We took my dad, a lifelong fan of Hemingway, to his first bullfight on the last day of Fallas, squeezing into the stadium’s tiny bench seats as best we could. Next to us, a couple of gray-haired Spanish ladies sat gossiping; in front of us, a rowdy group of Spanish youths smoking and eating bocadillos… a perfectly Spanish day, which could’ve come straight out of Death in the Afternoon.

Enrique Ponce, one of Spain’s most celebrated matadors, started the day with a great performance, and received an ear for his efforts. Kind of gross… he tossed it into the crowd, during his triumphant lap around the arena.

We stayed for the first three bulls, but left mid-way through. Attending a corrida is an intense, uncomfortable and interesting experience, but there’s just so much we foreigners can take.

I know, I know, we’re awful people for attending a corrida — last time we wrote about it, we got a bucketful of hate mail screeching about our depravity. That’s fine, and I understand the argument; an arena filled with people celebrating the death of an animal is pretty barbaric. But I don’t get the intensity of the opposition. The world is full of real problems, like wars, genocide and poverty. Global warming. Female genital mutilation. Deforestation. Catholic rape orgies.

Sigh, but if you must share your hatred with us, at least make sure to put that hamburger down. You won’t want to get your keyboard greasy!

Buy Valencia bullfight tickets here (change location to Spain)

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March 26, 2010 at 5:14 pm Comments (2)

Fallas 2010: The Winner

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Filmed with the Sanyo VPC – CS 1 (super tiny) available here: USA, UK, Deutschland and Spain

After 6 years of dominance by Nou Campanar, the judges of Fallas’ "Special Section" monuments have crowned a new champion. Ladies and Gentleman, put your hands together for Convento Jerusalen.

When I first heard the results, I was unbelieving. At $300,000, Convento’s monument cost just a fraction of Campanar’s obscene final $1.6 million tally, and it was much smaller. One conspiratorial theory I’ve heard is that the jury decided to award frugality in this Year of the Crisis. But perhaps Convento just deserved it more. We loved their creation, and have no quarrel with its victory.

"Path to Paradise" was the theme, with a humongous tree playing host to the lady of summer, the old man of autumn, the lord of winter and the beauty of spring. The summer lady held a winking sun made up of figures of flame — one of the the monument’s most beautiful touches. Around the base, were ninots who described our various paths to paradise, including a humorous tribute to the deceased Michael Jackson (whose accompanying angels were confused that he was white, and were about to repaint him).

Enjoy the pics of Fallas 2010’s best monument — if you didn’t get to see it, too bad! Now, it’s no more than a pile of ash.

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

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March 23, 2010 at 4:50 pm Comments (3)

Fallas 2010: La Ofrenda

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high-fashion-fallera

During the last couple days of Fallas, thousands of falleras from all over the province make a pilgrimage to Valencia’s Plaza de la Virgen to deliver flowers to Our Lady of the Forsaken, during one of the festival’s most awe-inspiring events: The Ofrenda (The Offering).

You’ve never seen anything like it; traffic in the inner city is completely brought to a halt. That goes for foot traffic, too. Young falleras, old falleras, baby falleras, musicians, cigarrette smoking falleras pushing strollers, hungover falleros, all on their way to the Virgin with flowers.

Once there, the flowers are used to dress the Virgin in dazzling reds, oranges and yellows. Regardless of one’s religious affiliation, it’s difficult to remain unmoved by the sight of the gigantic statue covered in flowers. The tradition is for the falleras who’ve just completed the journey to break out into tears, and many of them do, though a lot of them just pretend to (especially when the camera’s on them!)

Enjoy these great pictures and videos from The Ofrenda — one of our favorite parts of Fallas.

Filmed with the Sanyo VPC – CS 1 (super tiny) available here: USA, UK, Deutschland and Spain

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

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March 23, 2010 at 9:38 am Comment (1)

Fallas 2010: The Nit de Foc

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nit-de-foc

Filmed with the Sanyo VPC – CS 1 (super tiny) available here: USA, UK, Deutschland and Spain

The Night of Fire is one of the most eagerly anticipated events during Fallas. Thousands of people gather around the Paseo de la Alameda at the ungodly hour of 1:30am on March 18th to see some of the best fireworks in the world.

At least, usually they are. We weren’t terribly impressed with the Nit de Foc this year, but it might have just been the cool weather or general exhaustion.

As always, the true adventure starts after the fireworks show, during the walk home. There are so many people on the street, and with drunk kids shooting off firecrackers from the river bed, getting home can be a somewhat scary experience.

Did you see this year’s Nit de Foc? If so, what did you think?

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

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March 22, 2010 at 5:17 pm Comments (0)

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