Monday, April 12, 2010

Holy Week..Sevilla! Cadiz! Barcelonaaaaaa!!

So, back in good ol' Calata, the weekend over as well as the week long adventure around Spain. Glorius things are happening here in my life. Just being happy everyday is an incredible feeling. And I feel as I'm going to get a few skeptics who are reading this, saying under their breath "Yea, well you should try my job sometime," or "you're just on a really long vacation, of course you're happy everyday." However, being here, with people who have really good energy and are thankful for things like sunshine, open windows, or the fact that they have fresh basil at the supermarket is contagious, and everyday there is a reason to smile. :) So try it!

So bring on Semana Santa, a week long excursion to Sevilla, Cadiz and Barcelona! Karli and I hopped a train down to Andalucia two weeks ago, since all the regular tickets had been sold we were kinds forced into buying 1st class tickets ( was a rough ride all right.) So we had nice seats, movies, lunch, and a bar at our disposal. I mean, you can't see fresh Spanish Cava on the wine list and not get it, right? So to celebrate our journey we decided to have a bottle of Cava with lunch. The train ride was pleasant and we arrived in nice and toasty warm Sevilla around 3:30 in the afternoon. The whole world was traveling down to the south for Semana Santa, so things were a bit crowded. Sevilla is like the Mecca of Semana Santa in Spain, everyone in the world heads down to this city to do some celebrating.

Riding 1st class down to Sevilla....
Hurray for individual bottles of Cava...

SO we arrived at our hostel, sweaty and hot from the bus ride and it turns out that the hostel was a converted old Spanish house, complete with central atrium that let i nthe sunshie and marble floors to keep in the cool. Exploring was a must, processions were happening everywhere and we needed to see some of this goodness that was happening in the streets.

The Guadalquivir

It did not let us down.

Isn't this tree great?

The Guadlquivir
So, Sevilla is famous for their processions, the fact that their traditional dress is extremely similar to that of the KKK is something interesting and shocking at the same time. It doesn't really hit you until you see them coming down the line all dressed alike and extremely solemn. I'm sorry, but the only time I have seen that image was in my history books with these hoods trailing down a dusty road with a lynching in the next tree over. Some shivers continued up and down my spine the whole weekend. However, these processions have NOTHING to do with that sort of thing and it just dates back hundreds of years.

There are not only procession of people dressed in white. In Sevilla, they have what are called cofradias, or brotherhoods, and each one is responsible for representing a different point of Jesus' story. They have a procession in a part of the city and they each carry a different float with the image of Jesus or Mary. The coolest thing about this is that the floats are not pulled by 18-wheelers or trucks, every single one is carried by people, about 20 to thirty people that manually get under the float and carry it throughout the parade route. It truly is something impressive to see. Also, the music is somber and melancholy, never leaving the minor range, the whole tone is just set throughout the city.

One of the floats while it was still inside the church.

Karli grabbed this shot. It looks like God is trying to say something....

The giant Mary float. It really was giant.

People actually pay money to get good seats for these processions....

Funny story about this actually. Karli, thinking that we weren't going to see many people dressed up (this was early on in the trip) saw these guys crossing the street, an said 'Sara, run, go get their picture!' So, 5 blocks later, staring people, and 3 strollers...I got them in front of a Burger King. Go figure.
Doens't it feel like the Ghost of Christmas past should be here?
Me and a cofradia

This sucker is pulled by about 20-30 people...

Procession time....
Now, since one can only see so many processions, Karli and I decided to wander around beautiful Sevilla. This city is magical, and there is no wonder that it is so famous. We walked the river, the famous Guadalquivir, sat under one of its bridges, the famous Puente de la Triana, (Bridge of Triana) which is the neighborhood where it is said that Flamenco sprang up so many years ago. We walked over to the beautiful Plaza Espana, which in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful plazas in Spain. We were entering a random back door when we looked up and discovered that we had entered through the 'Puerta de Aragon'...what luck! So random too. As the sun was setting, is just changed the beautiful colors of the plaza into this frenzy of warmth and wonderfullness....I think I could have spent all day there.

Puerta de Aragon!

Plaza de Espana

Representing all of those Aragoneses in the world....relaxing on the Aragon Bridge
The architect of this project knew what he was doing. Look at the way the sun sets on this Plaza...


The next day was Palm Sunday, or Domingo de ramos...and EVERYBODY was dressed to the nines....not a single Spaniard was caught dead in jeans or a regular tshirt. It definitely set apart the travellers from the natives. Again, more processions were to be watched and friends to made. Karli and I decided to create a botellon for ourselves next to the river one night and we made friends with the group next to us....all Americans! (Some were from Mexico, some Brazil, some Argentina) it was an American mixture waiting for us! They were fun people and we enjoyed speaking in spanish and playing the guitar with them. A perfect way to end the night in Sevilla. The next day was on to Cadiz!

For some reason, all little boys were dressed like this. I didn't realize they manufactured red shoes like that for little boys!

La Giralda

The beautiful, gothic, Sevilla cathedral

haha. I just can't get away....

Cadiz, located on the southwest coast of Spain, is said to be the oldest, continually inhabited city in western Europe. Also known as little Havana, because it was the port city that connected the Americas with Spain. First thing we did when we arrived there was head for the ocean....Oh! How I'd missed the Atlantic! The sound of waves is something we take for granted. There's something about the sound and about the way the waves hit the shore that is breathtaking. We frolicked and played there for awhile appreciating the fact that for the next three days the ocean was ours. Our hotel was pretty bomb, thank you internet deals. Four star hotel for 30 euro a night? Yes please. The only downside was that there was a ten minute walk to get into the old center, but since when was walking bad for you?


The Roman forum...second in size only to Pompeii

The beautiful Cadiz Cathedral

The casco antiguo was impressive. There was something about his port city that was just a little different than all the others. There was a lightness about it that I've only seen in the Caribbean. Old stones, great baroque architecture mixed with Roccoco, and throw in some neo-classical just for fun. A mixture of styles. Of course, since we hadn't left Andalucia, there were still processions going on and we caught them in front of the breathaking Cadiz Cathedral. Such a gorgeous piece of architecture. Add the full moon in and you have got yourself a beautiful evening.

I stumbled across this chruch one day....completely white.

From afar....

We decided early on that Cadiz was going to be our relaxing piece of our trip. We wanted to do absolutely nothing. We spent time on the beach (that's right, we were on the beach in March) and we went shopping and just slept a lot. We found some bomb bakeries with some traditional gaditano treats and we just passed the days under the sun. The ocean was good to us and the weather stayed warm, with a hint of ocean breeze coming from the west. Processions were all around just could not get away from them! It's a good thing holy week is only once a year.

More processions. This time, at night.

The sunsets were absolutly breathtaking...

On Holy Thrusday, we had to go back to Sevilla to catch our flight to Barcelona. While we were sitting having a coffee we realized that Holy Thursday is the day that all of the Spanish women dress in black and wear their traditional mantillas. It was actually extremely somber looking, however I have never seen so many incredibly beautiful women. They were absolutly gorgeous and completly decked out. What a sight to see all of these elegant ladies like that.

After that, Karli and I caught our flight to the Barcelona airport where we reunited ourselves with Emily and her friend Alex, who had spent the week in Amesterdam, and with Lindsey, My friend from Mallorca, and Karli's friend Kendi, who is spending three weeks with us here in Spain. All of us had a friend with us! So the threesome became six....what a party! It was gonna be good....

This is already to long. Part two: Barcelona, coming your way soon....

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