Tag Archives: spain

Radikal Readings: The Ghosts of Spain

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If you scroll through my blog you’ll notice that I usually post about one book review a week, however, lately that hasn’t been the case.  That’s not to say I haven’t been reading.  I actually decided to re-read my favorite author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and favorite set of books, Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, and The Prisoner of Heaven, which I do every so often.  For that reason I’ve been behind on my Radikal Readings posts.

All three of Zafon’s novels are based in Barcelona, Spain which help feed my obsession with the country.  Re-reading them left me longing to return to the place that stole my heart, but alas that just isn’t feasible at the moment.  So I did the next best thing, read a book about it.

The Ghost of Spain by journalist Giles Tremlett had been sitting on my shelf for quite some time but never got around to picking it up, but this was the perfect moment.  It begins with an in depth look at the country’s history with dictator Franco at the helm and turns into a look at modern social history and a travelogue rolled into one.  Having visited the modern Spain only for a short time, the look in on Spanish life and how the country has dealt with, or hasn’t with it’s dark past is fascinating.

Admittedly, while well written, it does get dry at times, as Tremlett repeats himself aplenty.  However, it is still a great read for anyone interested in knowing a little a bit more about Spain, or a Spain fanatic like me.

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Song of the Day: No Te Olvidaré

download (1)When I find a voice that resonates with me, I tend to go to the extreme and listen to anything and everything I can get my hands on by that artist. It’s happened with my favorite musicians like Prince, Sade and Maxwell to more recent artists like Paolo Nutini and Adele. Such is the case with today’s song of the day artist, Pablo Alboran.

I first heard his music in the background while in Spain in 2012 and I was instantly hooked. Without trying to sound too cheesy, Alboran’s voice is so beautifully addictive; to the point of a weak in the knees feeling. Add to that, the fact that he plays his own instruments and writes his songs and you’ve got a talented winning combination.

It’s hard for me to choose just one song as my favorite, as I quickly bought every album he has released, however, there is something about No Te Olvidaré that I just can’t get enough of (Te He echado De Menos and Extasis were close contenders).

I’ve spent many a day listening to nothing but Pablo Alboran’s music. My only regret is that I didn’t catch a live show while I was in Spain, however, that’s always something to look forward to.

Anthony Bourdain Obsessed

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I love No Reservations. I love Anthony Bourdain. I am seriously obsessed with this show. Even though it went off the air in 2012, and Bourdain now hosts a very similar show on CNN called Parts Unknown (which I like just as much, with better cinematography provided by a larger budget, no doubt) I still find myself watching a marathon of No Reservations on lazy days. I’ve watched my favorite episodes multiple times, thanks to Amazon Prime.

Admittedly, there are some not so great episodes (Egypt, Ireland and many of the US episodes) but when he gets it right, it’s so, so right.

Check out a few of my favorites in no particular order:

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Spain, My Love

IMG_0294That’s me in Malaga, Spain. I had been on vacations before – Hawaii, Canada, Australia, the Fiji Islands and more, but Spain? Spain changed my life.

When I was in high school, I was obsessed with all things England. I listened to the BBC, I watched British television, I wanted to live in London and above all I wanted to be British. So naturally, I always thought my first trip across the pond would be to London, but it just so happened to be Spain.

A night of drinks at a cousin/best friend’s house turned into coordinating dates, looking up flights and choosing which cities we would visit. March 2012, 3 girls, 10 days and 4 cities – Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla and Malaga.

The country stole my heart, between the awe inspiring architecture, the beautiful and genuine people to the late night dinner culture and afternoon sangrias and tapas – there’s magic in Spain. Days were spent walking around each city, taking in everything we could, devouring the cathedrals, cobble stone streets, cafes, restaurants and bars.

However, one of the most beautiful aspects of the country is that beneath the bright, beautiful surface is an undeniable darkness. Streets that hold so many stories of pain and blood. It’s history is haunting. Yet, that makes it all the more beautifully intriguing and that much closer to my heart.

I love you, Spain. If I could have another life time, I would want to be born in that magical place.

An American Girl in Barcelona

From the moment you step into an American sports stadium, rowdy fans, team merchandise and advertising surround you.  Beer overflows in cups branded by Budweiser or Miller Light, or posters lining the hallways selling the latest smart phone.

American sports culture is so closely engrained with advertising that many don’t even notice anymore, but take a trip to Europe and it hits you like a weight.

During a trip to Spain this past Spring Break, I attended a F.C. Barcelona game versus Athletic Bilbao in Barcelona on a Saturday night. The immediate difference in culture is apparent as soon as I stepped foot into Camp Nou.

The halls were bare stone as I maneuvered my way through 100,000 people to find my seat.  Once there, fans around me were tense as they awaited the start of the match, with almost no one holding beers or food in their hands and no food, drinks or candy were sold by workers walking in between aisles shouting “peanuts, lemonade.”

In fact, the only time I saw people around me eat was during halftime, when many pulled out food they had brought from home in bags that aren’t checked at the gate entrance.

Fans stood up to cheer only when a goal was made and politely clapped when a goal attempt was missed.  There were no high fives, discussions about the game or casual conversations around me.  My friend commented that it was as if everyone was watching the game on television with how they were watching the game so intensely and silently.

European futbol culture is vastly different from American sports, from advertising to fans in the stadiums.  While I attended a rather tame game, many matches are intense and even become violent.

Racist taunts of players by fans are a major issue in European matches, as well as fights between fans.  Spain’s clubs dominate championships, but a majority of them are deep in debt even though fans fill stadiums nightly.

There are fears of the same happening in England “There is a real danger that English football could go the same, catastrophic way of the financial world. Corrective action needs to be taken now to address serious weaknesses in the governance of the game a well as severe financial imbalances,” said Alan Keen of the governing Labor Party in England in 2009.

In America, advertising, food sales, merchandise and more have commercialized sports in a way that teams generate millions.  In contrast, European soccer is still very much about the sport, and fans there scoff at American sports where rules are changed just for television.

While both are rampant with major issues, who’s to say which sports culture is right or wrong?  I will say, if you ever find yourself across the pond, attend a futbol game, for the experience if not for anything else.