Whilst this was written by a British author, it’s about the Spanish Civil War and therefore totally counts as Spanish. Whilst many are familiar with George Orwell‘s Down and Out in Paris and London/ Animal Farm/ 1984, far fewer know about Homage to Catalonia. While this may seem very superficial of me, I was in two minds about starting this novel as the cover seemed rather dull (I know, I know, so stupid of me). However, it’s surprisingly readable! Orwell describes the Civil War in a way which really makes it come alive, something I haven’t really come across before, and it opened my eyes to the harsh realities soldiers faced, much like those in WW1. I’d recommend Homage to Catalonia to people with zero knowledge of the Spanish Civil War – it really does teach you about it in an accessible manner, and for anyone studying Spanish or Spanish culture, the civil war is something we need to know about. It doesn’t even take that long to read!
La Boqueria Market, as well as being somewhere you can buy amazing Spanish food, is one of Barcelona‘s most popular tourist attractions.
According to the market’s website (yeah, that’s how famous it is)….
At the Boqueria people eat, shop and gossip together doing what the Spanish excel at, living life well and enjoying a sense of community.
The fruit is so fresh and good value – especially compared to the outrageous London prices. A whole punnet of organic strawberries costs around 1 euro, and the best thing of all is the fresh juice. You can find almost any flavour under the sun – my favourite being coconut and banana. They mix exotic fruits like papaya and mango, and the juices only cost 1 euro 50 for a big serving. It’s possible to spend all day at the market sampling the local food and gawping at the watermelons the size of two basketballs – but it’s best to get there as early as possible before the tourists arrive en masse.
If you ever go to Valencia, one thing you have to try is the traditional local drink, horchata. It’s made from tiger nuts and is kind of whitish in colour – it’s a thick liquid but in the summer it can also be drunk slightly frozen, like a slushie. I have to be honest, the first sip was kinda dodgy but it’s weirdly addictive. Horchata is typically accompanied by fartóns, long sweet dough sticks glazed with sugar. Whilst the drink is quite refreshing, the fartóns mean it’s not the healthiest of snacks, and you’re left feeling slightly sick. Even so, if you’re in the main Market – the Mercado Central, buy a glass (which is about €1) just to taste it…
If you’re looking for somewhere cool, cheap and fun to visit to in Valencia, the IVAM is the place to go. IVAM (pronounced like ee-bam) stands for the ‘instituto valenciano de arte moderno’ and for students, entry is only €1. It was the first museum in Spain devoted exclusively to modern art, and is now the main attraction for art-lovers who visit the city. The building itself, along with the actual art inside, is super cool: it has a glass staircase which is kind of funky to walk up… When I went to IVAM there were various exhibitions open, but the two best were called “ARTE Y ESPIRITUALIDAD” (Art and Spirituality) and “After all, tomorrow is another day”. Jorge Pineda was the man behind After all, tomorrow is another day, which is weirdly varied and seemingly random. There’s a big box on the floor filled with the circular bits of paper you get when you holepunch and page, a cardboard forest, and a golden skeleton lying in a room with blackboard walls scribbled on by visitors in chalk. Probably the weirdest/ freakiest is a set of kids (made out of wood or something maybe?) with their heads against the wall…
(photos from www.turisvalencia.es and tumblr.com )
Saying thank you is always nice. And it’s even nicer when you can say it to someone in their own language. Nelson Mandela once said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language – that goes to his heart”. And whilst you probably won’t be able to speak every single language on the planet (about 7,000 of them), it’s still nice/useful to be able to say a few words of Albanian, isn’t it?
There are an estimated 260 languages spoken in Europe, but here’s how to say thank you in 15 of them (that’s 5.7% of all the languages of Europe!!!):
1. French – merci
2. German – danke
3. Dutch – dank u
4. Spanish – gracias
5. Italian – grazie
6. Portuguese – obrigado
7. Croatian – hvala
8. Danish – tak, Nowegian – takk, Swedish – tack
9. Greek – ευχαριστώ (efcharistó)
10. Bulgarian – благодаря (blagodarya)
11. Polish – dziękuję
12. Russian – спасибо (spasibo)
13. Irish gaelic – go raibh maith agat
14. Turkish – teşekkür ederim
15. Albanian – falemnderit