Semana Santa

Semana Santa

We planned ahead and picked up a parade schedule from the tourism office. Not much help, though: the list included start time, starting point, ending point, and float(s), but not the actual route. The list of the floats proved to be the most helpful in putting photos into some semblance of order – we were able to figure out which parade was which after the fact.

float - edited

We caught the first parade by accident when we left the apartment mid-day Palm Sunday. We were headed to the barrio and La Rambla, but the Hermandad de Jesus Triunfante passed through Plaza Luceros. We watched children and adults wave palms, and grinned as children received candy from parade participants.

float - edited 2

Monday evening, we caught Cofradia Cristo “El Morenet” de los Hombres del Mar passing in front of St. Nicholas Cathedral as we were leaving an early dinner.

Later, we managed to get seats on La Rambla for Hermandad Penitencial and its two floats: Stmo. Cristo de la Humildad y Paciencia and Nstra. Sra. De las Lagrimas.

hoods

The hoods.

The robes.

The mantillas.

incense

The incense.

We missed Tuesday’s parades because we were in Madrid picking up our friend Roxanne. She was our first visitor, and she had planned her trip to coincide with Holy Week.

float - edited

Wednesday we scored seats on La Rambla for Hermandad de La Santa Cruz and its three floats: El Cautivo, Cristo de la Fe “El Gitano”, and Virgen de los Dolores.

The first parade we saw Thursday was an impressive four floats: Santa Cena, Stmo. Cristo de La Caida, Stmo. Cristo Esperanza de Los Jovenes, and Maria Auxiliadora del Pueblo Cristiano. And we caught it right downstairs from our apartment.

disciples 2

 

Representatives of the disciples.

140 carrying

140 carrying each float! Lots of rest breaks, with crews subbing in to carry floats.

crowd outside church

We then followed the sounds to our local church and caught the beginning of another parade and saw the floats salute the open doors of the church.

float closeup

Friday night, Rox and Todd saw the ultimate Good Friday parade.

up the coast: Jazz at the Parador

up the coast: Jazz at the Parador

After debating about it all week, we decided Friday morning to make the trip to Javea for that week’s Jazz at the Parador program.

Some time spent online, and tickets for the performance were booked. It was a little expensive to stay at the Parador, but breakfast was included, and we wouldn’t have to taxi to and from the concert. There was a bit of concern because the tram line was under construction from Calpe through Denia, so we would have to use the bus to get to Teulada, then taxi to the Parador in Javea.

A quick packing of backpacks and a bag of snacks and we were off!

Tram 1 from our own Plaza Luceros – running uncharacteristically late. A ticket purchase in El Campello to get us the rest of the way. Change to Tram 9 in Benidorm. Switch to bus in Calpe. Dropped off in Teulada at a roundabout. No taxis to be seen:

Teulada bus stop.JPG

We wandered down the street until we found an open restaurant, where we had wine and beer and had the waitress call us a taxi. 20 euros later we arrived at the Parador.

A quick bite in the café/bar, then a quiet half hour or so in our room before we headed downstairs for the concert.

After visiting with a couple from Belgium – retired and spending winters in Benissa – we sat where Todd could watch the base player. Actually, the keyboard player, Richard Busiakiewicz,  had more of the too-cool-for-school persona usually associated with bass players. But the most interesting character was definitely the drummer. He was definitely in his own world, and the audience was irrelevant to him.

The leader of the group, Enric Peidro, was Spanish, and the drummer was French. Okay so far. But the guest tenor sax player, Ray Gelato, and the keyboard guy were English – somehow, that doesn’t make sense to me for a jazz combo playing American jazz.

But they were great!

Back to our room for a beautiful view of the bay. The recent storms had done significant damage to the beach, so they had brought in a truck load (or more) of sand and were spreading it. Kids were playing on the giant sand pile while a bull dozer scooped and spread sand.

After breakfast, we reversed our trip to get home: taxi to bus stop, bus to Calpe station, train to Benidorm, transfer to Tram 1 to home.

 

Carnaval!

Carnaval!

I’ve never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but I have now experienced Carnaval in Alicante!

On Saturday night, we roamed through our neighborhood to la Rambla, then along the Esplanade along the pier into Old Town.

We saw:

  • Ladybugs, bumblebees, and Dalmatians – lots and lots of ladybugs, bumblebees, and Dalmatians
  • A family of Smurfs
  • Lots of leftover Moors and Christians costumes
  • A group of Jedi, with only one light sabre left among them
  • Some girls – we weren’t sure if they were in costume, or just being their usual slutty selves

In short, if it could be made out of or done to tulle, we saw it!

a Monday in Cordoba

a Monday in Cordoba

Upon arriving in Cordoba, we followed the GPS instructions to our hotel and ended up, after roaming through narrow streets, with side mirrors tucked in, at the wrong NH hotel. With annotated map in hand, we wound our way back out and into relatively spacious public parking under the medieval wall.

We dragged our bags out of the parking garage back through the wall and through the narrow warrens of the Jewish quarter to our hotel, where they showed us the back door that would take us directly through the wall about a block from the parking lot. Vale!

I think this part of Cordoba was my favorite of the whole trip: Muslim meets Christian in the Jewish quarter.

But we made an inadvertent miscalculation: We arrived on Sunday afternoon, with Monday as our sightseeing day. Most sights were closed on Monday.

But we caught the synagogue just before it closed, and we were able to stroll through the gardens of La Mezquita before it closed Sunday.

We returned to La Mezquita first thing Monday morning for tickets and the audio tour. To our delight, they were harvesting oranges in the garden. Oh, the smell! And what an awe-inspiring sight – the years and layers of worship that have occurred there: Visigoths, then Muslims, then Christians. Mass has been said there every day since the Christians took it over in the 13th century.

We window shopped throughout the Jewish quarter, admiring the silver filigree. We strolled across the Roman bridge and marveled at the intact history before us.

As warned in the guide books, we were frequently met by (typically) older woman trying to sell us rosemary. Not as ubiquitous as we were expecting, and truly no worse than the folks selling wooden apple baskets in Alicante.

Dinner Monday night was at a lovely Italian restaurant just outside the wall. Seems you can find only Spanish wine in Spain, not French or Italian. When we asked the waiter if they had Chianti, he was quite confused: seems he had never heard of such! So we enjoyed a great Italian meal with a lovely red Spanish wine!

 

 

 

 

bar tales

bar tales

As Texans, we are always appreciative of a good margarita. The best one we’ve found in Alicante so far is the one at the Gourmet Experience at El Corte Ingles. Expensive by Alicante standards at 6 Euros, it is nonetheless excellent! And when Darin, our favorite waitress, is working, we get sample mango margaritas with la cuenta.

I’ve already posted about the disappointing pina-rita at Tia Juana’s. Last week, we stumbled onto Cactus Alicante, where the kitchen was not open, but the margarita was excellent, if a little sweet.

As we’ve ventured beyond Alicante, we’ve had other alcohol-related adventures.

Note: in Andalusia, even the seco wines are somewhat sweet.

In Jaen, we taught the bartender how to make a Rus Blanco with a dusty bottle of Tia Maria. With that successful experience under our belt, we settled into the lounge area of our hotel in Cordoba one evening for Tia Maria and cream. When the waitress seemed confused, we were able to convey that we were wanting a coffee liqueur, glasses with ice, and cold milk. She returned with Kahlua (even better), the glasses with ice, and the cold milk. She was amazed at our creation, I think mostly at the use of cold milk.

We tried again the next night, with a different waitress. We asked for Kahlua. She insisted they didn’t have it. After several exchanges, we settled for Tia Maria. This time, she brought warm milk. Not the same, as the ice melted quickly, but yummy dessert drink nonetheless.

Our last evening in Cordoba, we followed the desk clerk’s recommendation for Italian. The food was excellent, but they had no concept of Chianti. We settled for a local red. When in Spain…

Vale!

la Alhambra

la Alhambra

It truly is a palace of dreams. And absolutely the best way to see it is to spend at least 2 nights in the Parador. We could have stayed a week and not gotten enough.

parador

Every time we turned around, we found a new stunning view that was our favorite. We still couldn’t pick just one. We have 300+ pictures to prove it!

The Moorish Nasrid dynasty wanted to build a palace that delighted all the senses, and Alhambra does that: beautiful views (even in winter), the soft sound of water throughout, plants with different textures and smells.

We began at the Generalife, truly a place apart. We could have spent hours in each of the garden locations, listening to the sounds of the water and of birds. We watched the groundskeepers updating the flower beds with pansies to add color in February. And the views…

Then down to the Alhambra.

The Alcazaba, the oldest part of the Alhambra, was more about exercise (stair climbing) and views (hence the stairs) than about history.

alcabaza-towers

The best for last: the Nasrid Palace. We visited the Imperial Harem at Topkapi Palace in Istanbul a few years ago, and Todd said then that it might even be more spectacular than the Alhambra. Now I know what he meant. I would say just a different kind of spectacular.

 

One disappointment: the Courtyard of the Lions was partially netted for restoration. I know it has to happen, but, still.

All in all, the best 14 Euros you can spend!

Tips: You have to get tickets ahead of time, so plan ahead! I’d recommend scheduling your entrance time for mid-day, arriving to pick up your tickets first thing, then starting with the Generalife and working your way down to the palace. Food options are limited, so you might want to pack snacks.

futbol!

futbol!

Our first cultural event: futbol – the local Hercules de Alicante v FC Barcelona.

We bought our tickets for the game ahead of time – riding the bus out to the stadium neighborhood, then walking uphill and around the stadium to the ticket office.

Todd found the special bus that ran from our plaza to the stadium, and we were off for a 10:00 start on a Wednesday night – that’s right, 10:00 on a weeknight! WHAT???

Until the last pickup, I was the only female on the bus. Many of the guys were obviously regulars, arguing with each other about teams and players while others on the bus laughed at their raising voices.

Once we got there, we couldn’t find our seats. It seemed that no one who worked there could help. So we worked section by section. Todd finally found the row numbers: on the steps, facing the field – so you couldn’t see them unless you were standing below the row you wanted. Problem was, we were to enter our seats from the concourse above. Once he found our row, it took a bit to find the seats – they were numbered from the center of the stadium – evens in one direction, odds in the other, under the seats. WHAT???

Carefully carrying our open bottles of water, we found our (skinny) seats and wrapped our coats around us to watch the nighttime game, just like the locals!

Vale!