One year in Spain

I’m so happy to share that today marks the one year anniversary of my life in Spain! I think I’ve got things pretty good after one year. I have a job/income, a roof, good friends, and I’ve seen and done many new things. Every day is another learning opportunity and I’m incredibly thankful!

When I look at this list of some things I’ve done in one year I just can’t believe it.

  • Two trips to Sevilla (one was for la feria)
  • Valencia for las fallas
  • Casablanca, Fez, Tangier and Chefchaouen, Morocco
  • Barcelona
  • Zaragoza
  • Toledo
  • Mallorca
  • Trips to Alicante (one for Hogueras)
  • Ibiza
  • Florence and Rome, Italy

In addition to the places visited I completed a half-marathon and finally began to like children. For any close family and friends who read this…you know what I mean. I’ve improved my horrendous Spanish a bit and also found out that I can live on my own without starving to death.

I can only hope the next year and years following continue to get even better. 😉

La Feria de Abril – Sevilla

Oh, Sevilla! One of my favorite cities in the world.

Ever since my first trip to Spain, I’ve absolutely loved Sevilla. It’s one of the places I considered when choosing a location in Spain. In the end, Madrid seemed a better and more central hub to find work.

Back before I even stepped on Spanish soil I researched different things to do in Spain and added “la feria” to my list. When a roommate told me she was going in April it didn’t take much convincing before buying my RENFE ticket. “La feria” is a giant fair in Seville about two weeks after Semana Santa, so either in April or May. After experiencing it for the first time this year I can see myself going back again and again.

Some things which stick out the most are the colorful casetas, and sevillanas dresses and music. This is also most likely what this fair is most famous for. Many families reserve their own caseta, or small house, for family and friends. Normally you can’t enter unless you know someone inside, though there are a few public ones. Thankfully, we were there with some people who lived there, so we were able to enter several.

Most women wear colorful and sometimes extravagant sevillana, or flamenco, dresses. I felt a little awkward (go figure) asking people if I could take their photo, so I didn’t take any good dress photos. I think you can get an idea from this photo, though. So many polka dots!

Sevillanas

There seemed to be a never-ending stream of Sevillanas music and dancing flowing from each caseta, especially at night. Before going I only had time for ONE Sevillanas dancing lesson so I left most of it to the professionals. After a few drinks I may have tried… a bit…

I found this video on Youtube from last years feria.

Another feature of the fair are numerous horseback riders and carriages. Watching them trot down the street was like seeing a very, very Spanish glimpse of the past.

Carriage and Casetas

How cool is that?

It seemed each caseta was uniquely decorated.

At night, the party was turned up a few levels. The music and dancing continued and spilled onto the streets. Like most places in Spain, you could stay in a caseta until the wee hours of the morning. Some common drinks in the casetas are rebujitos or manzanilla.

Feria at night

 

Don’t let my serene expression deceive you. I probably had one too many rebujitos by this point.

I plan on going next year! The next feria will be May 5 – 10 2014. Maybe I’ll even have a dress.

Have you ever been to la feria or Sevilla?

Travel Challenge: Food

In response to Ailsa’s challenge this week, please find my photo from Seville, Spain. It’s a replica of La Giralda… made entirely of SUGAR!

That’s an insane amount of azúcar right there!

Okay, now that’s out of the way we can talk about something we might actually eat. Whenever someone asks me what Maryland is known for, I kind of have to respond with two answers: Football & Old Bay.

It’s difficult to explain exactly what eating Old Bay is like. Or to convey the sheer amount used in food locally. It’s a salty mixture of different spices and used primarily on seafood, but I’ve seen it used on french fries. We even use Old Bay to rim our bloody marys around here. See for yourself. It’s kind of a big deal.

This is basically the Holy Grail of Old Bay usage. Crabs steamed with so much Old Bay that it makes your eyes water and your fingers burn.

Old Bay Galore

We even have an Old Bay parking garage

Travel theme: Night

Gallery

Here’s my try at this weeks theme posed by Ailsa.

This week, the theme is “Night” and the first thing that came to mind was Seville and the performances we witnessed and the smell of jasmine (one of my absolute favorite scents) which seemed especially strong at night in some places.

I loved this mural. Doesn’t it look like the man and the goat have history together the way the man is eyeing the goat so cautiously?

Inside the building with the mural, we watched a wonderful performance.

We never made it into Metropol Parasol, but they really did look like giant mushrooms.

This spot definitely seemed to be more of a local hangout. Anyone could get up and dance.

Puente de Triana over the Guadalquivir River.

If you also participated in Ailsa’s theme I would love to see what you chose.