jump to navigation

Welcome to Galicia! (¡Bienvenidos a Galicia!) December 3, 2009

Posted by Marissa Friedman in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Welcome to Galicia!

Spain is divided into 17 micro-states called Comunidades Autonomas. Normally when speaking about Spain people think about bullfighting and flamenco, but those are part of the culture of the south of Spain. If you go to the north of Spain and you ask somebody if they know how to dance flamenco they would laugh at you, nobody knows about flamenco there!

Due to the various invasions that Iberia has suffer during history every corner of Spain shows a different origin, dressing, music and even language. An example of this is Galicia, a comunidad autonoma that was a Celtic kingdom. You would amaze  if I tell you that nobody there knows a word about flamenco but a high percent of them know how to play bagpipe, their regional instrument, and speak a romanic language close to portuguese with celtic words called Galego, and wear a regional suit really similar to the Scottish one… that’s why some people call it little Scotland.

Apart from that Galicia is the rainiest part of Spain and so its vegetation is so green. The Capital of Galicia is Santiago de Compostela. Galicia’s main tourist attraction is “El Camino de Santiago”; that is a pilgrimage that came out during the Middle Age. At the beginning was a christen activity but nowadays thousands of  people walk to Santiago the Compostela yearly as an auto-discovering trip. The second one are its landscapes both in mountains and beaches/cities.

Places to Visit

1. Catedral de santiago

2. Torre de hercules

3. Islas cies

4. Santiago de Compostela

5. La muralla de Lugo

6. La playa de las catedrales

7. Los cañones del sil

8. La fortaleza (Portugal)

9. Vigo

10. La ria de Vigo – Isla de San Simon

11. La peninsula de O Grove

12. La playa de la lanzada

13. Las dunas de corrubedo

14. A Coruña

15. Malpica / Finisterre / Carnota

Catedral of Santiago de Compostela

Torre de Hercules. One of the last Romanic construction pieces that still works.

Rande Bridge

Cies Islands

¡Bienvenidos a Galicia!

España está dividida en 17 comunidades autónomas. Normalmente cuando se habla de España la gente piensa en flamenco y en tauromaquia, pero esos son rasgos característicos de la cultura del sur de España. Si  vas al norte y preguntas a alguien si sabe torear o bailar flamenco se reirán bastante, nadie sabrá como bailar flamenco allí!

Debido a las múltiples invasiones que la península ibérica sufrió durante la historia cada esquina de España muestra un origen cultural diferente, así como diferentes ropajes, música e incluso lengua. Un ejemplo de esto es Galicia/Galiza, una comunidad autónoma que fue un reino celta. Seguramente te sorprenderá oír que nadie sabe nada de flamenco allí pero muchos de ellos tocan la gaita, su instrumento tradicional, y hablan una lengua romance diferente del castellano y cercana al portugués con palabras prerrománicas llamada “galego” o gallego. Además su traje regional es realmente parecido al escocés, es por eso que alguna gente dice que Galicia es como una pequeña Escocia.

Aparte de eso, Galicia es también peculiar porque es la zona mas lluviosa de España y por tanto su vegetación es muy verde y frondosa. La Capital de Galicia es Santiago de Compostela. La mayor atracción turística de Galicia es “El camino de Santiago”, que es una peregrinación que surgió durante la Edad Media. En sus comienzos hacer el “camino” se trataba de una actividad cristiana, pero a día de hoy se trata de una actividad de autodescubrimiento que miles de personas realizan anualmente. La otra gran atracción de Galicia son sus bellos paisajes naturales, los vestigios de los pueblos que la poblaron y las pequeñas villas con encanto.

Lugares para visitar

1. Catedral de santiago

2. Torre de hercules

3. Islas cies

4. Santiago de Compostela

5. La muralla de Lugo

6. La playa de las catedrales

7. Los cañones del sil

8. La fortaleza (Portugal)

9. Vigo

10. La ria de Vigo – Isla de San Simon

11. La peninsula de O Grove

12. La playa de la lanzada

13. Las dunas de corrubedo

14. A Coruña

15. Malpica / Finisterre / Carnota

Welcome to Fall 2009! December 3, 2009

Posted by Marissa Friedman in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Welcome to Your Mosaic – Mosaic International Institute´s blog!

Visit our blog for different travel information, Madrid events, and updates on Mosaic activities. Posts will in English and Spanish for everyone to practice. Email us at info@mosaic.edu.es to submit a post!

Music in the streets June 3, 2009

Posted by tplotkin in Uncategorized.
add a comment

One thing that Madrid doesn’t lack is music. No matter where you are, there is a good chance that you can hear some kind of music. The Parque Retiro is full of people playing accordions, guitars, saxophones… Not to mention the amount of music that is played on the metro. I’m not sure why but “When the saints go marching in” is a popular song for accordion players. Other than music, there there are street performers of all kinds everywhere. People dress up as cowboys and indians and pose as statues on the sidewalk. There is even a woman in Sol who flies. No joke. It’s pretty crazy. I can’t figure out how she does it. She just floats. It’s pretty amazing. You have got to check her out. That’s her up top by the way. 

The video below is a group of street performers in Sol. The instruments they were playing looked like cracked open pianos. They are literally hitting little piano strings with mallets. It’s pretty awesome.

 

Soraya is #1 in my book June 3, 2009

Posted by anelson11 in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

Last week was a very exciting week here in Madrid and with all the San Isidro ferias and Eurovision madness, I can’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed. However, taking part in my first fiesta de San Isidro and first Eurovision espectacular makes me feel like I can now consider myself Madrileña. A year ago I came to Spain as an extranjera, a guiri, and very shortly I will be leaving as a Madrileña. It is almost as if I have gone through right of passage this past week and as I watched Soraya (Spain’s representative) in Eurovision I felt compelled to root for her simply based on our common tie to Spain. As I walked through the dense crowds at the fair while drinking my mini of calimocho (which is everything but mini and is made of red wine and coca-cola), I felt like I fit in.

If you did not see the Eurovision competition, which is a singing competition of many European and central Asian countries, you certainly missed out , but you can always watch full performances on Youtube! Every country performs one song and in the end all of the countries vote (but cannot vote for their own country) for the best performance. Spain’s performer, Soraya, was the last performance of the night and she sang “La noche es para mi”. Her performance may have not been the flashiest, but it was certainly good. In the end, good was not quite good enough. Soraya fell in the penultimo (second to last) place with her biggest point givers being neighboring Portugal and Andorra. I must admit that I badly wanted Soraya to do well and have a fighting chance against another one of my favorites, Alexander Rybak of Norway who sang “Fairytale”,  but that was an impossible feat all of the countries. Norway´s Rybak scored received more points than any other country had ever earned in the Eurovision competition.

When all the results were in, I was saddened to see our Soraya near the bottom of the list, but this was about the time I realized how hard it is to be objective. I no longer view anything in Spain objectively as I did upon arriving here. Now that I consider this one of my countries (the other being the United States), I am jaded. I am ok with being jaded because I quite like the feeling of pride. So, to all those other Soraya fans out there (and I know that most of Spain is!), I´m with you and we can enjoy Soraya´s performance together one more time.

Art imitates art June 3, 2009

Posted by tplotkin in Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,
add a comment


Las Meninas is a painting created by the Spanish painter Diego Velazquez. I would say that about 9 out of every 10 Spaniards, maybe even 10 out of 10, could recognize the painting. Needless to say it is very popular. Las Meninas is the symbol of Spanish art.

A little background: Velazquez was the official painter for the high court. He painted the royal family often. He was Jewish which at this time in Spain meant death, conversion or exile. Because the king was so fond of Velazquez and did not want to lose his service, he made him a member of the order of St. James. This made him untouchable. So, during the inquisition he worked for the king as painter even though he was a Jew.

The composition of the painting is very interesting. Some have called it “the painting that doesn’t exist.” This is because if you look closely, you don’t know what is being painted. It is a painting of the act of painting. Velazquez himself is in the painting. He is the figure on the left in black with the cross of St. James on his chest. In the background you can see what should be a mirror. In the mirror is the image of the king and queen. The viewer is to presume that Velazquez is painting the king and queen. Then on the right there is little infanta surrounded by her little “monsters” as they were called. This is to show the contrast between the beauty of the infanta and the “ugliness” of the dwarves.
Now, I am not sure that many Spaniards know that much about the painting, but they are very familiar with it. Because it is such an icon for Spain, it is widely reproduced. It was redone by many artists over the years, and now it has been redone by El Cortes Ingles in their new ad campaign. Check it out! Velazquez has been replaced by a photgrapher and la infanta is now a model. Very interesting….

CANDY!!! May 14, 2009

Posted by tplotkin in Uncategorized.
add a comment

 

They should probably add an extra spot on the food pyramid for bulk candy. Well, at least in Madrid. There is sooo much candy here! It is better than Halloween. I am not sure how much of my semester budget has gone to bulk candy, but it is a lot. Those gummy strawberries are the best. And, it is pretty cheap. Bulk candy is much more expensive in the States, which is good, otherwise I would buy much more of it. 

Madrid is the candy capital of the world as far as I am concerned. I am totally addicted. For 2 euros I can buy enough candy to last me for about 3 days… ok .. maybe a little less than 3 days, but still. It’s a bargain and I just can’t stay away! I tried to quit cold turkey and only lasted 2 weeks. My favorite shop is caramelos. It is in Moncloa. You MUST check it out. It’s the best!

Botellon-ing May 14, 2009

Posted by tplotkin in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Botellons are a staple of young Spanish culture. Sometimes they constitute nightlife, sometimes they happen during day. One thing is for sure:  kind of like the philosophy of “it’s 5 O’clock somewhere”, anytime is usually a good time for a botellon. 

Botellon literally means “big bottle” in Spanish.  In practice, “botellon” refers to a huge group of people gathered outside drinking in medieval city squares. Despite being technically illegal, botellons are a favorite Spanish pastime. There are two huge botellon locations in Madrid: one in the Malsana neighborhood, and the other  in the La Latina neighborhood.

 The one in La Latina is a pretty special example. It is probably the biggest botellon in Madrid and it takes place on Sundays – ironically, in a plaza surrounded by a towering cathedral. Throughout the day hundreds of people gather there to drink and hang with friends.

So how do hundreds of people drinking in one place go unnoticed by the police? Well in La Latina, they kind of don’t. Since the financial crisis hit Spain, some people have opted out of going to bars to drink with friends because it is too expensive. So police decided, well, they have to drink somewhere. So, now it is kind of an unspoken rule that you can botellon in this plaza in La Latina on Sundays between 2pm and about 12pm without getting in trouble. How considerate of the law enforcement – people have to drink somewhere….

So the picture above is from a botellon in La Latina. Sorry it’s not so good. It was kind of rainy that day so the turn out wasn’t so good… but you get the idea…

Enjoy!

The Bigger the City, the Smaller the Dog May 7, 2009

Posted by tplotkin in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Photobucket

Madrid has its fair share of dogs. Not a large variety of dogs though. They are all really tiny dogs. I asked my host mom why Spanish people liked small dogs so much and she said “the bigger the city, the smaller the dog-And Madrid is a pretty big city…” So I guess that explains it. There is another thing about the dogs here that I have never seen anywhere else. A lot of them don’t have leashes. I mean, at home a lot of dogs run around in the park or in the back yard with out a leash, but this is different. The little dogs follow their owners on the street without a leash. When their owner stops, they stop. And get this- when the owner goes into a store, the dog stops and waits at the door without being instructed to do anything! My dog would never do that. These Spanish dogs must be a smaller, smarter and more loyal breed than we have in the US. – who knew?

P.S. that picture is not of a Spanish dog. That’s my dog Scooter. I just thought she added a little comedic essence to the post. Couldn’t resist..🙂

What do jamón, jackets, and paper towels all have in common? May 5, 2009

Posted by anelson11 in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

It is inevitable that when living in a foreign country you don’t come across cultural differences that stick out like a sore thumbs. There are various cultural differences here in Spain that I just can’t seem to wrap my head around.

One thing, that is very obvious for a girl from California like myself, is the amount of cigarette smoking. Many people had told me that I would get used to it and that I would eventually not notice that my hair and clothes reeked of smoke after a night of going out. However, after almost a year of going out and being engulfed in the grey clouds and haze of the discos and tapas bars, my eyes still turn bright red and I can smell the strong stench of musty smoke in my hair for the next two days (despite showering several times). This is, by far, the number one thing that I will not get used to.

Another thing, but probably minutely noticeable is the way that jackets and coats are so neatly laid over their arms as if they were waiters in a four star restaurant. On the metro, walking down the street, wherever they may be, if it is too warm for the jacket then it will be laid over one arm. I certainly do this myself, but what I can’t seem to figure out is why the jacket is always folded inside out. Is there any method to this madness? This is one thing that before leaving this country I will seek to find out the reason behind.

Here is another, and probably the most obvious of cultural differences: pork, jamón, cerdo, solomillo….however you name it, it is the same product and it is everywhere. Ham is definitely a symbol of España. I never thought a type of meat could be so symbolic of an entire nation until I came to Spain for my first time. Every corner is littered with a Museo del Jamón or a restaurant that displays their glorious ham leg in the window. In a literature class here in Spain (at Complutense) I learned about Xauxa, which is the Spanish utopia where ham grows on trees. I found this particularly interesting, and in a strange way it does make sense. In a country where this product is vital to their way of life, and can also be a very expensive amenity, it only makes sense that the perfect world would have ham available at all times and growing on trees. A curious fact is that jámon has not always been as deeply rooted and important to the country. During the days of the Inquisition many laws were put in place to discourage Judaism. In addition to the laws, jamón was eaten frequently and became a staple of the spanish diet and culture simply because Jewish people could not eat it according to Judaism.

What made me begin to think of these little differences here is Spain was an article I read the other day. The article was warning about Swine Flu and advised on how to prevent contracting flu viruses. It recommended to not touch the faucets in the bathrooms or the door handles. Instead of using your hand it suggested grabbing a paper towel after thoroughly washing your hands and using that to turn off the faucet and open the door. While in the bathroom of a local bar I realized that I was unable to use a paper towel because here in Spain it is common to have the environmentally conscious air blowers. This is when I began to think….Neither my culture (American) nor the Spanish culture is right or wrong about the way things are done, but it does raise a lot of questions about where traditions and cultural norms come from. I always wonder about their origins, so if anyone knows why I always see people carrying their jackets inside out, let me know!

On the topic of pigs (Swine Flu and jamón), I saw this video the other day. Enjoy!

True story… April 24, 2009

Posted by tplotkin in food, Uncategorized.
Tags:
add a comment

Photobucket

So one thing that is not very understood here is peanut butter. I mean it’s sticky, you always have to have something to drink with it, some people are allergic to it… But really? Peanut butter is probably one of the best creations ever. EVER! I can’t really imagine anything more satisfying than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when I’m really hungry. It’s like … great! 

Anyway, enough rambling, back to the point. People outside the US, don’t really get peanut butter. Where I live here, my host mom has it because her nephew really likes it. She didn’t really know what to do with it though. She asked me how I usually eat it, and now that’s what we do with it. When I bring lunch with me to class she always makes me two sandwiches, even though I told her I only want one.  I always have one peanut butter sandwich, and one turkey sandwich. It’s pretty routine, pretty normal. Well ok, here is where the story gets interesting.

Every  Thursday a woman comes to clean the apartment. I also always take lunch with me to class on Thursdays because my class schedule makes it hard for me to come back for lunch. Anyway, so yesterday my Senora was really busy so she had the woman that cleans the apartment make my lunch. I thought everything would be fine. NO! When I took out my sandwiches for lunch I discovered that I had two of the same sandwich! No big deal, I can live with that. The horrible part was what was on the sandwiches! Both had  Mayo, Turkey, Cheese, AND PEANUT BUTTER!!!! I guess I had totally taken for granted that everyone knew what to do with peanut butter. 

AHH so gross. Needless to say, I didn’t eat my sandwiches yesterday for lunch. Tried with the first one… no dice.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.