Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Are you missing out on the real Spain?

‘Duende’ is a Spanish term which lovers of flamenco use to describe music that truly has soul. Through its art it achieves a heightened state of ecstatic emotion, expression and authenticity. It is the real deal. As visitors to Spain we are like lovers of flamenco searching for ‘duende’. We are on a quest to find the real Spain - ‘la España auténtica’ - beyond the tourist clichés and English bars.

Unlocking the secrets of Spain

Ludwig Wittgenstein once commented that “the limits of my language are the limits of my universe”. Nowhere is this more true than when in Spain. By learning Spanish you can unlock more about the country’s culture, meet more people and gain a more authentic experience of the country. Learning Spanish is the key to unlocking the real Spain.

Learn Spanish in Spain

There are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the Spanish language by learning Spanish in Spain on your next trip out there. There are schools located all over Spain but Andalucía is a deservedly popular place to base yourself where you will be surrounded by history and culture, which you can explore whilst studying with organisations like the Clic Seville school.

Learning Spanish in Spain can be the chance to start from scratch with the language, to boost your confidence or polish your skills. Weekly small group classes will see you quickly master the language whilst practising it in the city bars at night. You can study for a week, a fortnight or as long as you wish and you can choose how many hours you study if you need more time for sightseeing. Most schools run cultural programmes that include guides to local sights, nights out to flamenco bars, guides to Spanish culture through books or films and explorations of Spanish culture and history.

‘España sin límites’

Learning to speak Spanish in Spain is perhaps one of the most interesting and cultural things you can do whilst visiting Spain and a way to open up Spain without limits. Here are just a few ways learning Spanish can enhance your next trip to Spain.

Popular culture

Simply reading the local papers will make you feel at home and allow you to better appreciate Spanish culture and life. Spanish cinema – from Almodóvar to del Torro – can be appreciated with the locals and books in Spanish are no longer, well, a closed book. Those TV broadcasts and songs become suddenly meaningful and your understanding of politics can be enhanced by understanding the posters and graffiti on the walls.

Transform your travel experience

To really get off the beaten tourist trail and explore the real Spain you will need to know Spanish. By speaking Spanish you will discover just how amazingly generous and warmly welcoming the people of Spain are once they begin to accept and befriend you.

Take home more than souvenirs

Taking home a language from your holiday is a gift that will last a lot longer than your suntan or souvenirs. Spanish will help you communicate with more than 350 million people who use it as their mother tongue and open the door to more trips to Spain or further afield to South and Latin America.

The real Spain

Learning Spanish in Spain will help you appreciate Spain more deeply, understand its culture better, really get beyond the traditional tourist trail and kit you up for future holidays. It will ultimately help you find the ‘duende’ that lies at the heart of Spain.

Useful links

Why learn a language
Find out why people choose to learn a new language.

Get started learning Spanish
Discover resources from the BBC to help you start your Spanish learning journey.

What is ‘duende’?
Explore the history and use of the Spanish term ‘duende’.

Friday, 18 January 2013

The Everlasting Sales

Like many other countries, once Christmas is over it follows a period of sales where department stores try to get those last savings you heroically managed not to spend on Christmas. Well, this sales period (called Rebajas) is especially relevant in Spain for several reasons:
As you know from our last entry, in Spain Christmas is officially over after the Epiphany on January 6th. That marks the start of Rebajas. But there's something even more important for the start of Rebajas than this particular date, and that would be when does El Corte Inglés decide to start it.

El Corte Inglés is, by a fair margin, the biggest department store chain in Spain. It is so big that they are the ones to set the starting time of the sales period. Then the other shops and department stores get benefited from the big marketing campaign launched by this company. Usually, every 7th of January there will be very long queues on every Corte Inglés in the country before they open their doors. These people queuing will anxiously run straight to the clothing section in search for the biggest bargain of the day. 

Another measure to point how relevant this period is that you only have to look at the average spending during this time. This year, the Spaniards will spend an average of 80€ on clothes during this period. This is 33% less than last year, due to the economic crisis. If that number did not impress you, bear in mind that, today, almost 26% of the active population in Spain is unemployed, so the effort these people have to make in order for this number to be this big is impressive, to say the least.

Oh, and by the way, if you are in Spain or planning to go soon, remember that they have one of the cheapest clothes pricings in Europe (partially due to Inditex headquarters being lcoated in Spain) and their sales end on February 28th! So you may want to schedule a quick trip to gear up for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Three Wise Men

Spanish people have 4 significant days over the Christmas period. The first one is the night of 24th, Christmas Eve, the 25th, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and the night of the Wise Men

Every night of 5th of January all cities in Spain celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men. Mounted on three carriages, they make a tour through (across) the main streets of the cities giving sweets and candies to all people.

On the night of the 5th January, all the kids go to bed very early because the Wise Men will visit all houses during the night and leave presents for each family.

One or two weeks before, all kids have to write a detailed letter specifying all presents they want.

This has been a Christian tradition and the Three Wise Men have been more important than Santa Claus - who has gained importance in the last few years thanks to the globalization and media.

Despite the fact that the Pope has recently said that these Wise Men come from Andalusia, the south of Spain, this is not proven at all. It has always been said that they come from Orient, but this is just a belief.

The Wise Men, after Jesus was born, came to pay tribute to him and gave him three presents: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Their names are Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar (in Spanish Melchor, Gaspar y Baltasar).