07.11.2010 - 17.11.2010
First of all, I'd like to apologize for the lack of stories and new posts after Portugal. I really meant to share more about my trip. Most of the pictures are on facebook already, but the stories are all in my head. Here's what happened: After Lisboa I traveled to Barcelona, Sevilla, Madrid, Talavera to visit my cousin one last time, and back to Madrid before going home . In Barcelona I stayed for 5 days and was busy enjoying the warm-weather at the beach in Barceloneta, the live music at Park Güell, the fantastic soccer at Camp Nou (BARÇAAAAAA!)....and so much more.
My first night in Barcelona I stayed in a hostel that was really peaceful and met some interesting people. At this hostel I cooked for the first time in my trip, and shared my meal with a Canadian friend. Soon, the number of guests in our dining table began to grow....after dinner a few of us decided to play a word game in English. Funny thing was that the majority did not speak English so well. The situation made for a very entertaining night. The game itself was fun, but when you add wine and language issues, it makes it that much better!
At this hostel I met a Portuguese couple, Mariana and Fabio from Porto (where I had just been a few days earlier). While talking to Mariana, she showed me their tickets for the Barcelona vs. Ceuta match. I was crossing my fingers hoping that tickets wouldn't be so expensive and still available. Fortunately this match was not really that important, so I was able to find a ticket to sit on the 9th row, right in the middle of the field!!! What an incredible game!! Final score was 5 - 1... and I was able to film the first two goals! (I will post videos of that too).
Bueno, the next few days in Barcelona I spent with a new friend, Sara from Atlanta. Together we explored the city and got lost together. Going to Park Güell took much longer than it should ever take. We ended up taking the advice of old ladies and clueless students. Not a good idea, but we weren't in a hurry, so why not? Turns out that we missed the main entrance, and had to hike up so many hills and a mountain to get to the park. It wasn't until much later that we ran into another tourist and realized we were getting closer to the right place.... and what a beautiful reward we had for hiking all the way up... we had the most amazing view of the entire city and the beach! At the park we enjoyed a variety of live music...and this leads me to the title of this new blog post. I have filmed (and tipped!) so many street musicians in Spain. I saw so many talented, professional musicians playing on the street, trying to make a little money. Sometimes there were groups....and of course the occasional clueless street performer who plays two bad notes and asks for a tip. hahahaha My two favorite groups played in BCN. The first is called "Made in Barcelona" ... I was walking to the Barceloneta beach one day, and heard live Salsa from blocks away. I followed the music and found this incredible and energetic group playing to a crowd of people, and decided to sit and watch. (I spent a lot of time during my trip watching live music!). Here's a video from Made in Barcelona group:
The next videos are from Park Güell...
My Barcelona stories suited for a public blog end here. The rest are for me to remember and for my good friends to laugh at.
Sunday I left BCN and was actually excited to be going to Sevilla - I needed a few days to recover
...Barcelona, I will never forget you. Here I admired Antonio Gaudi's amazing designs, enjoyed the beautiful sunny weather at the beach in November(!), experienced the passion at Camp Nou with Barça fans, realized I can't understand Catalán, and learned a few life lessons on the way....
Bueno, Sevilla was my next destination. In Sevilla I rested. I enjoyed the food a bit more than in Barcelona and realized I was in better shape than I thought. I arrived on a cold, rainy Sunday. Walking in the rain with my backpack while looking for the hostel wasn't so exciting. I was cold, wet, my back was already hurting from carrying my mochila, and my directions were all wrong!!! Not an ideal start, but it's ok.
After finding Calle Santiago, everything was ok. I checked-in, dropped off my bags in my room (shared with 8 people this time), and went back to talk to the staff.... After about 30 minutes of chatting with a friendly older man, I learned he was the owner of the hostel. We talked about food and traditions of Sevilla. He told me about his wedding, his family, his love for Manzanilla (a type of wine, typical from the area)....This friendship turned out to be very influential on my Sevilla stay. The next morning I greeted him at the main desk, and he asked if I would be interested in taking one of his bikes to explore the city. For a second I doubted the idea. I thought to myself "I don't know where anything is, traffic is a bit nuts, and i haven't been on a bike in ages".... but I felt bad to refuse his offer. He seemed really excited and told me it was worth it..... so I did it. I had my camera hanging on my neck, purse across my chest, and map in the little bike basket - I was as ready as I could ever be to go and explore...
To my surprise, I was able to see all of the places he had suggested and circled on my map....and all of it in 4 hours! It felt so great...After that I parked my bike for a bit and rewarded myself with tapas, vino, and AGUA. Getting back to the hostel before 3pm was my mission. I wanted to go to the free walking tour, and needed to be there on time. However --- the streets in Sevilla are like a labyrinth. Most streets have 2 names, and sometimes 3. Streets are small, narrow, curvy...the buildings are low but block your view, so trying to find yourself by following the sun or landmarks are not an easy task. I was lost again but managed to arrive at the hostel right at 3pm. I returned the bike and joined the group for the walking tour.... and I walked for an additional 3.5 hours with the group. AND this is when I learned that I was in better shape than I imagined.... In the U.S. I would never think to bike and walk for 7.5 consecutive hours...but something about being on vacation makes it not seem so difficult.
I arrived at the hostel around 7 after a short stop at the market. My dinner was quick because I had great plans for later.... I diced a few tomatoes, and seasoned them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic salt, and some herbs.....and that turned into a simple bruschetta....And of course, I had a few slices of jamón ibérico on the side along with una nueva botella de vino....que ricooooo!
After dinner I met with Valentina, an Italian girl who works at the hostel....our plan was to find authentic, live flamenco for the night. Again, I highlight the importance of taking the time to just talk to people.... Earlier that day I had told the owner of the hostel that I loved flamenco and hoped to see a few shows in the city where it was created. By the afternoon, Valentina had told me that through some connections we were going to see a live performance that night...I didn't know what to expect. Had no clue where, who, how much, or how good it would be.
WOW. So this is how my flamenco night in Sevilla began. The city is split by the river Guadalquivir. I was staying on the east side, which has all the main attractions, downtown, etc.... On the other side of the river is Triana, the neighborhood where Flamenco originated. This area traditionally housed many gitanos, or gypsies. Valentina and I walked for about 20 minutes from the hostel to Triana. Shortly after arriving in the area, we realized we were lost but we still had someone to call for help. The owner of the hostel gave us the phone number of Carlos - his brother-in-law who was going to let us in at a show.
Vale and I were standing in the right street, in front of the place they told us to go to....however we didn't see a single person out there. It was odd. We called Carlos and he gave us the rest of the directions. Apparently we were supposed to go inside an old record/music store, and talk to the guy behind the counter. There we mentioned we were with Carlos, and he pointed to the back of the store. As we were walking upstairs, we ran into Carlos (whom we had never met before), and he greeted us with besos and abrazos, you know, the Spanish way. After a few seconds, we began to understand what was happening. Valentina and I had just found our way to an exclusive, private peña...a weekly live flamenco show that Carlos and his friends go to... Each week it is hosted in a different location, and has different dancers and musicians. By luck, we ended up there. There were about 10 tables... Vale and I were invited by Carlos to sit at his reserved table, and enjoy all the drinks and food we could eat! Ohhhh how awesome. Vale and I, sitting with two Spaniards, eating and drinking for free, waiting for a live private show to start.... By the way, I am pretty sure my 'date' was in his 70s. I can't recall his name, but he insisted I had to try Manzanilla wine over and over again...
A few short minutes later, the show started. A brief introduction was given and we learned that the singer and guitarist were father and son. A few songs later, another singer joined the pair...and a beautiful gitana began to show off her moves. WOW, I was mesmerized. The music was so moving, it gave my goose-bumps. I couldn't take my eyes off of the gitana .... Oh, how I wish I could move like her.... At certain points during the performance, the flamenco aficionados would shout 'Oleeeeee' and 'Bravo'... (tourists are not really supposed to say it, by the way...) Here are some videos from the best flamenco I have ever seen in my life so far:
After the show ended, Valentina and I wanted more. We had heard of a bar nearby, owned by an older gypsy woman, that had live music every night.... and there we went! The place was really different from the one we had just left, but the experience was great too. Here are some videos:
And that was my Flamenco experience in Sevilla.... I also had the opportunity to see three other shows in Madrid. This next video was at the Madrid Ballet. Not super authentic, but beautiful anyways. I wasn't supposed to be filming, but I couldn't resist (it was my very first live flamenco show)...so the quality is not so good. The other two shows in Madrid were not filmed or photographed - I was too busy enjoying the moment.
Here are a few more random videos of musicians from Madrid.... I actually have a few more, but I think this is enough for you all to see the variety of talent I saw during my trip. I am so thankful that my Nikon has filming capabilities and that I was able to record some of my experiences in Spain. And I apologize for the quality of the videos, I am HORRIBLE at holding the camera still... Most of the time I am too distracted with what I am filming and forget to keep my hands steady. hahahaha
Bueno, it's all for today. Next I will post videos of fútbol, discotecas, cafés, y mucho más...