Málaga y Granada 2017.

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How do you follow Paris? Andalucía, in the south of Spain, of course. Después de París, ¿qué hay que hacer? Desde luego, Andalucía, el sur de España. 

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I have been to both Málaga and Granada many times before, and although I wanted to take my mom on a road trip from Cádiz to Almería, time wasn’t going to permit us. Granada is one of my favourite cities in Spain, and I hadn’t been since 2013. I thought my mom would like the mountains and coast aspect of Málaga as her favourite state is Hawaii and Málaga reminds me of Hawaii. Había estado en ambos Málaga y Granada en varias ocasiones anteriores, y aunque quería llevarle a mi madre en un viaje de coche desde Cádiz a Almería, el tiempo no nos permitió. Granada es una de mis ciudades preferidas de España, y la última vez que fui era en 2013. Pensaba que a mi madre le gustaría los montes y la costa de Málaga, como su estado favorito es Hawaii y Málaga me acuerda de Hawaii. 

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We flew to Málaga from París Orly without any problems, and my huge backpack (that will not be part of Camino 2018 #lessonslearned) arrived too. We rented a car, and driving in Málaga was a bit of a nightmare. I am not a fan of driving in Spanish cities. Salimos de París Orly en un avión destinado a Málaga sin problemas, y la mochila grande (que ni pienso llevar en el Camino 2018 #lessonslearned) llegó también. Alquilamos un coche. Conducir en Málaga era una pesadilla. No me gusta conducir en las ciudades españolas. 

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We stayed in some tourist apartments. They needed a lot of small repairs. My mom stayed to rest (theme of the holiday) and I went for a sunset walk around the Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro. It was a bit cloudy, and there were a lot of tourists doing the same. Nos alojamos en unos apartamentos turísticos que necesitaban muchas reparaciones pequeñas. Mi madre se quedó allí para descansar (como hizo durante todo el viaje) y fui por un paseo por la Alcazaba y el Castillo de Gibralfaro. Estaba nublado, y había bastante turistas haciendo lo mismo. 

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The Christmas lights were turned on in Málaga as it was late November. For dinner, I found my fave restaurant from my 2016 tripYa habían encendido las luces navideñas de Málaga como ya era finales de noviembre. Para cenar, encontré mi resturante favorito de mi viaje de 2016

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I wasn’t sure of the plan on Monday. Once again, I had planned on doing the Caminito del Rey, a famous hike through the mountains of Málaga, but alas, they’re not open on Mondays. I ended up staying in town exploring on my own. No tenía plan para el lunes. Quería hacer el Caminito del Rey, una ruta conocida por los montes de Málaga, pero no está abierto los lunes. Al final me quedé en Málaga para explorar más de la ciudad. 

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Around sunset, I found a short hike that I was originally going to count toward the 40 hikes, but it was only about 2 km total. It took me around the castle with beautiful views. Durante la hora de atardecer, encontré una ruta cortita que iba a contar con las 40 rutas, pero solo era una ruta de 2 kilómetros. Iba alrededor del castillo con vistas preciosas. 

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I had the opportunity to see the Christmas lights show. As I am more or less Valenciano, I did feel it was derivative of the Fallas Streets of Lights, but it was still fun to watch. Tenía la oportunidad para ver el espectáculo de luces navideñas de Málaga. Como ya soy más o menos valenciano verdadero, pensaba que era una copia de las Calles de Luces (Careers de Llum) de Fallas, pero era divertido. 

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On Tuesday, we headed to Granada with a stop in a Málaga pueblo, Frigiliana, which I will write about more later. The trip in total takes about two hours without stops. Martes, fuimos a Granada con una parada en un pueblo malagueño, Frigiliana. Voy a escribir de ello después. El viaje tarda unos dos horas sin paradas. 

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Granada, a city of 237,540 residents, is one of my favourite cities in Spain. It was the last city to be reconquered from the Moors in 1492 and the influence can still be seen today. The views of the Alhambra (and the Arab palace itself) are the highlight of an incredible city. Granada, una ciudad de 237.540 habitantes, es una de mis ciudades favoritas de España. Era la última ciudad para ser reconquistada de los mores en 1492, y todavía se nota la influencia hoy en día. Las vistas de la Alhambra (y el palacio) son uno de las mejores cosas de una ciudad increíble. 

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We stayed near the city centre. My mom had to rest, of course, so I went off to the Albaicin, one of my favourite barrios in all of Spain. It was an overcast day, so the sunset from San Nicolas wasn’t as spectacular as normal, but I wasn’t complaining. It still had the same vibrant atmosphere. Nos alojamos cerca del centro de la ciudad. Mi madre, como siempre, tenía que descansar, y fui al barrio del Albaicin, uno de mis barrios preferidos de todo España. Era un día nublado, y la puesta del sol desde San Nicolas no era tan espectacular como normal…pero no me quejé. Todavía tenía el mismo ambiente vibrante de siempre. 

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Do I wish my mom had seen more of the cities along the way? Definitely. I had been wanting to show her my home for nine years. It was frustrating and disappointing that her health wasn’t 100% to explore the cities like I had. Am I glad for the opportunity? Definitely. Ojalá que la salud de mi madre le permitiera explorar más de las ciudades que visitamos. Quería enseñarle mi hogar durante los últimos nueve años. Me puse frustrado y me decepcionó que no pudo explorar las ciudades como me gusta. ¿Me alegro haber tenido la oportunidad? Desde luego. 

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We still had the drive back to Valencia left. Todavía nos quedaba la vuelta a València. 

A continuación…

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Christmas Eve Eve in Dublin

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I gave Ireland a short second chance to make an appeal after my holiday of errors in 2014, and it completely won me over, despite having less than 24 hours in Dublin. He dado Ireland una segunda oportunidad para ganar mi afección después de un viaje de erroes en 2014, y este vez ha ganado mi corazón, aunque tenía menos de 24 horas en Dublín. 

Every year, I visit my mother back in the States, and this year, the cheapest flight for several weeks included an overnight layover in Dublin. This was the flight I chose. I flew from the Alicante airport with Aer Lingus, which was a pleasant enough company.  Todos los años, visito a mi madre en los EEUU, y este año, el vuelo más barato encontrado durante unas semanas incluyó una escala de noche en Dublín. Al final era el vuelo que compré. Salí desde el aeropuerto de Alicante con Aer Lingus, que es una compañía bastante bien. 

Due to rain storm Barbara, the incoming flight from Dublin was late, which meant the flight from Alicante to Dublin left an hour late. No problem! The flight went by quickly, and before I knew it I was on the Air Coach to Dublin City Centre (13€ return/round trip). Dado a Tormenta Barbara, el vuelo de Dublín llego tarde a Alicante, que significaba que el vuelo de Alicante a Dublín salió una hora tarde. ¡No problema! El vuelo pasó rápido, y dentro de nada estaba cogiendo el Air Coach al centro de Dublín (13€ ida y vuelta). 

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The city is positively magical at Christmas time. I love Christmas lights, and Valencia is disappointing at Christmas time (all their lights are displayed in March for Fallas). I stayed close to St. Stephen’s Green. Although it was around 9 by the time I finally checked into the hotel (which left a mint on the pillow. How quaint!), I went for a quick burrito (because I mean, Dublin just screams out “Eat Mexican”) and wandered around the City Centre, making my way to Temple Bar. La ciudad tiene una magia durante Navidades. Me encantan las luces navideñas, y Valencia me decepciono en Navidad (todo su dinero para luces es guardado para Fallas en marzo). Me alojé cerca de St. Stephen’s Green. Aunque eran las 9 cuando llegué al hotel (que me dejó una menta en la almohada, ¡que chulo!), fui a cenar un burrito (claro, uno siempre piensa en Dublín cuando piensa en comida mexicana) y pasé por el centro de la ciudad hasta Temple Bar. 

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I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. I did get a hug from a random drunk Irishman, which has to be on some Bucket List somewhere. He was with a group of lads going to the pubs, whereas I had to return to get a decent night’s sleep before the long flight the following day. Permito las fotos hablar por mi. Por cierto, recibí un abrazo de un irlandés borracho, que tiene que ser algo de algún Bucket List. Estaba con un grupo de amigos en ruta a los pubs, y yo tenía que volver al hotel para dormir un rato antes de coger un vuelo largo el día siguiente. 

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I’ll go ahead and say that the flight from Dublin to Chicago was hell. Once again, for the second transAtlantic trip in a row, we were sitting on the plane for an hour before they announced technical problems and we had to switch planes. I got to recreate that scene from Home Alone where they run through O’Hare to make my connecting flight.  Vale. Admito ahora que el vuelo desde Dublín a Chicago era una pesadilla. Otra vez, el segundo vuelo transatlántico seguido, estabamos sentados en el avión durante una hora sin salir antes de nos informó que tuvimos que cambio de avión dado de un fallo mecánico. Después, tenia la oportunidad re-crear la escena de Solo en casa cuando corren por el aeropuerto de Chicago O’Hare para llegar a mi vuelo de conexión. 

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I will also that the Preclearance through US Customs at the Dublin Airport is amazing and allowed me to not worry about having to clear it upon touching down in Chicago. También quiero decir que el Preclearance de las aduanas estadounidenses en el aeropuerto de Dublín es genial y no tenía que preocuparme durante el vuelo de tener que pasarla en Chicago cuando el avión llegó. 

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I am now itching to visit Ireland again at some point. There are just so many beautiful places in the world. Maybe if the return flight gets delayed and I have time to explore Ireland a bit, I can do it some justice! However, I’d rather just get the flights without any problems. Ahora tengo ganas de visitar Irlanda otra vez en el futuro. Hay muchos sitios bonitos en el mundo. A lo mejor si hay un retraso en el vuelo de vuelta y tengo tiempo de explorar la isla, puedo hacerlo justicia. Sin embargo, quiero poder coger los vuelos sin ningún problema. 

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Galician Christmas

Two years ago, I wrote about some of the different Spanish customs. As I haven’t travelled much to Galicia, I was completely unaware about their traditions. This calls for investigation! Ya hace dos años, escribí de algunas tradiciones españolas de Navidad. Como no he viajado mucho por Galicia, no sabía nada de sus tradiciones. Por eso…¡he de investigar! 

Before Santa Claus’s influence arrived to Spain as Papá Noel, Galicia had their own Apaldador, somewhat similar to the Basque Olentzero.  The Apaldador is a giant miner who lives in the mountains. Every Christmas, he visits the villages and touches the belly of children to see if they were well fed and leaves them with a handful of roasted nuts. He wears green, smokes a pipe and has a beret. The tradition is becoming popular once again. Antes de la influencia de Papá Noel en España, Galicia tenía su propio Apaldador, algo parecido al Olentzero vasco. O Apaldador es un carbonero y gigante. Vive en las montañas. Todas las Navidades visita los pueblos y toca la barriga de los niños para saber si se alimentan bien y les deja un puñado de castañas asadas. Se vista en verde, fuma una pipa y lleva una boina. La tradición está haciéndose popular otra vez. 

The Cepo de Nadal/Tizón de Nadal: It is also traditional to burn a log slowly, which represents the birth of a new sun (new year?) and whose ashes are thrown on the fire afterwards to protect from lightning. El Cepo de Nadal o Tizón es otra tradición gallega. Se quema un tronco lentamente, que representa el nacimiento de un año nuevo. Las cenizas se echan al fuego para proteger la casa de rayos. 

Galicia is a region that I hope to spend a lot of time next year when I finish el Camino del Norte. I’ll be able to write more authentically once I know the region better! Galicia es una región donde espero poder pasar mucho tiempo el año que viene cuando acabe el Camino del Norte. Ya podré escribir más auténticamente cuando conozca la zona mejor. 

No matter where you are in the world right now, Happy Holidays (Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Winter Solstice, and Happy New Year!), ¡Felices fiestas! Bones festes! Boas festas! Zorionak eta urte berri on! No importa donde estás en estas fechas, os deseo Felicies fiestas, bones festes, boas festas, zorionak eta urte berri on.

May your 2017 be better than 2016! ¡Qué vuestro 2017 sea mejor que vuestro 2016!

Thank you, gracias y graças to the following sources of information/a los siguentes fuentes de información.

Gastronomía de Galicia
La Morada del Búho

¡Feliz navidad!

As today is Christmas around the world, I thought I might take this opportunity to write about some of the various Christmas traditions in the Greatest Peninsula in the World. I nearly laughed a few weeks ago when one of my students’ mother asked the innocent question “Is Christmas as commercialized in the United States as it is in Spain?” I wanted to be like “Spain has reached 1914 levels of commercialization compared to the United States” but instead explained to her the insanity of holidays in the States.

In Spain, Christmas Eve is equivalent to American Thanksgiving, minus the explanations of how thankful you are and how ready you are to fight to get more at midnight when Black Friday sales begin. Families and friends get together to have a big dinner. Thanks to the influence of American culture and the attempts to expand the knowledge of the English language in the Greatest Peninsula in the World, Papa Noel (Santa Claus) may bring a present or two for the children. The importance of the day is not presents but being with family. On Christmas Day, it’s not uncommon to see restaurants and bars open, although most people spend the day with family.

The presents come on January 6, El Día de los Reyes (The Day of the Kings, The Twelfth Night, Epiphany). On January 5th, the Three Kings (Wise Men) arrive to the cities, towns and villages in a huge parade, where candy, sweets and presents are thrown to children. Some children still put a shoe in the windowsill, although many weren’t aware of this old tradition, for the Three Kings/Wise Men to fill with presents and sweets. The presents opened on Jan. 6 almost always trump any present Papa Noel might bring.

In the Basque Country, things are a bit different. The Three Kings may or may not visit on Jan. 6 depending on how Basque the family feels. The Basques have their own Santa known as Olentzero. Olentzero is a former miner who lives in the mountains somewhere in Euskadi (although it’s Mungia who has a house in his honour). He gives presents to the good children on Christmas Eve and coal to the bad ones. He is dressed in blue and still smokes a pipe in the 21st Century, and like Quijote, he has a burro (donkey) to move around on. Once upon a time, Olentzero used to kidnap bad children, but in the 20th Century and under Franco, took a more gift-giving and positive image. You will not see any Santa hats in Euskal Herria.

Catalunya has adapted Santa more than the Basque Country but continues with their own traditions. The caga tío is part of a trunk of a tree hollowed out to place presents in. He’s sitting on legs so on Christmas morning, he…how should I put this? “defecates” the presents. The Catalans like connecting Christmas to shit, as they also have caganers, or a Catalán figurine crouched on his legs with some human droppings on the ground below him that they place in their nativity scenes to bring luck. Today it is considered an honour to have a caganer made of you. All the cool Iberian celebrities and not-cool politicians have one, and important foreign politicians have one made of them too. Thankfully the one of Obama I bought for my uncle (complete with “Yes we can” written at the bottom) made it past TSA and American customs.

On New Year’s Eve, Spanish, Basque and Catalan families get together to have another meal, and at the first 12 strokes of the New Year, they eat a grape. 12 grapes in 12 seconds for each month of the year to bring good luck for the year. When I’m visiting family in the States, I always watch it on peninsular time and eat grapes with the Iberians. They wear red underwear for good luck in romance for the New Year and then leave to spend the night dancing at a disco or at a cotillion.

I’m sure there are a ton more traditions all across this great nation of nations that I haven’t discovered yet. Feel free to let me know about the traditions in your neck of the woods.

And a ¡feliz navidad! Bon Nadal! Zorionak! Bo Nadal!

And also…¡Prospero año nuevo! Bon any nou! Urte Berri On! I haven’t learned it in gallego yet!