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Lesser Known Madrid Museums

by John Bascombe on Thursday, April 24, 2014

Top 5 Lesser Known Museums in Madrid When we think of museums in Madrid, the Prado and Reina Sofia are usually the first to come to mind. These are great museums, no doubt, but like any great European capital, Madrid has many more museums available for the visitor to see. If you don’t know what to do in Madrid and are avoiding going to a museum because the idea of large crowds turns you off, we have just the thing you’re looking for.  Among the many Madrid attractions available, I am going to propose 5 museums that will surprise you and give you the opportunity to know another side of the Madrid museum scene—and without the crowds… read more »

10 Must-See Semana Santa Processions

by John Bascombe on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Semana Santa in Spain Signaled by the full moon, Semana Santa (holy week) launches us on an annual journey of reflection and tradition. It’s a time celebrated by both the religious and those who simply welcome a few days off from work or school to watch the spectacular recreations of scenes representing the passion of Christ. No matter what it is that attracts visitors, Semana Santa in Spain offers an incredible amount of celebrations which center mostly on processions that take place throughout the country… read more »

Top 5 "patios" in Salamanca

by John Bascombe on Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spanish Patios When we visit a city we are almost never able to see what’s behind the doors of the homes and historic buildings that we pass by and when we do, more likely than not, we’re paying for a ticket to get in. Spain has many hidden nooks and crannies and Salamanca is no exception. The patio or claustro is a typical element in the construction of the buildings in Spain; even today you will find blocks of flats constructed with an interior patio. This means that some of the best tourist attractions aren’t even on the map and the tourist don’t know that they are even attractions!  So I’m going to let you in on 5 hidden gems hiding behind the walls of some of the most historic buildings in Salamanca. If you’re looking to get off the beaten track and want to soak up some history, here is where you need to go when you are in Salamanca :… read more »

Cherry Blossom Festival in Spain

by John Bascombe on Thursday, April 03, 2014

Cherry Blossom in Spain Cherry blossoms are usually associated with Japan or even Washington D.C. but Spain also has its own particular cherry blossom festival.  In a corner of Spain between Salamanca and Cáceres, close to the town of Plasencia, is a valley tucked into the mountains of the central system. Within this 70 kilometer long valley—Jerte Valley—is a growing region home to the Picota cherry, one of the sweetest cherries on earth . This cherry comes with a Denominación de Origin (Denomination of Origin) certificate that classifies this fruit as being of the highest quality and coming from only this area of the world… read more »

Chinese Students Studying Spanish

by John Bascombe on Thursday, March 27, 2014

The following is largely a translated exerpt of an article that appeared this week in the online periodical El Confidencial :… read more »

National Parks to Experience in March

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Top 10 National parks in Spain and Latin America In Spain, we’re preparing to dive head first into spring and all the natural splendor that comes along with it, and we’re suggesting a few of Spain’s most treasured places for appreciating nature. Keeping in mind that the southern hemisphere will soon be welcoming autumn, we’ve included suggestions of natural paradises to visit on both sides of the equator, in Spanish… read more »

The Route of the Castilian Language

by John Bascombe on Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Camino de la Lengua Castellana is a private foundation that was created in February 2000 with three overarching intentions. Firstly, to encourage, develop and expand knowledge and awareness of the Castilian language ( Castellano = Spanish).  Secondly, to publicize the “Route of the Castilian Language” as a historical journey that started thousands of years ago and to display the global spreading of the language. Lastly, the Foundation serves to educate people about the cultural and ancient origins of the locations that the Route of the Castilian language encompasses and the affect that these places had on the evolution of the Spanish language … read more »

Registration for the 2014 DELE Exam is Now Open

by John Bascombe on Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Official Spanish Proficiency Exam The DELE exam has seen some recent changes. Its formatting is different and this year it’s being offered for the first time during 5 different examining periods (instead of only 3). Registration is now open for all five periods. Check out this handy DELE infograph and get all the details on when you can take the exam and how long each exam section lasts for all 6 of the levels that candidates can choose to take. The different sections are designed to test different language skills including reading and listening comprehension and oral and written expression.  … read more »

Colombia's Barranquilla Carnival Festival

by John Bascombe on Thursday, February 27, 2014

Anxious revelers in many parts of the world are gearing up to party at carnival festivals this weekend. It’s a time when expressive excitement fills the electrically charged air, mingles with magical music, and inspires multitudes of merrymakers masquerading in multicolor costumes to move to lively rhythms. Every year, Colombia’s Barranquilla carnaval attracts countless party goers eager to experience the vibrant celebration, where Caribbean cadences and cumbia accents accompany vibrant day festivities and sizzling nights… read more »

10 Romantic Places in Spanish Speaking Countries

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Special Month for Romantic Getaways Valentine’s day is right in the heart of February, and it’s a day that makes this a special month for anyone with a special someone in their own heart. Allow us to suggest ten places where romance fills the air and mingles with Spanish… the perfect language for talking about love according to Bob Dylan… read more »

Team Spain at the Winter Olympics

by John Bascombe on Thursday, February 13, 2014

The 2014 winter Olympics are in full swing in Sochi, Russia, and team Spain is striving to ski, sled, skate, and snowboard their way to Olympic glory. The 20 athlete team is representing Spain in its 19 th winter Olympic appearance since 1936, hoping to bulk up their country’s winter games medal count. Spain has won only 2 medals in the history of the winter Olympics. Curiously, a bronze and a gold were won for Spain 20 years apart (1972-1992) by a brother-sister pair, both in slalom skiing… read more »

Good bye to Luis Aragones

by John Bascombe on Thursday, February 06, 2014

In the early hours of Saturday 1st February, Spain lost one of their must influential footballing figures. Luis Aragonés, at the age of 75, passed away in a Madrid hospital after losing his battle with leukaemia.  Condolences came in from throughout the footballing world and a special tribute was paid to him on Sunday night at the home of his beloved Atletico Madrid. A minute´s silence preceded the kick off before his name was chanted repeatedly throughout the match, particularly after each of Athletico’s four goals… read more »

Ronaldo Wins FIFA Ballon d'Or

by John Bascombe on Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cristiano Ronaldo On 13th January 2014, having waited patiently since his last Ballon d´Or win in 2008, Portugal´s Christiano Ronaldo was crowned the best footballer of the past year . This will be a particularly enjoyable victory for Ronaldo as he managed to overcome his nemesis Leonel Messi who had won the award for the previous four years. These two astonishingly gifted footballers, in recent years, have turned this prestigious award into a personal duel. Two of the most talented footballers to have ever graced the planet are different in so many ways. The diminutive Leonel Messi whose balance, vision and dribbling ability have seen him break countless records for his club Barcelona. Ronaldo of Real Madrid has also sent records tumbling with his raw pace, power and finishing ability considered to be his strongest attributes. Both players have the invaluable ability of being able to win a football match single-handedly, creating a goal out of seemingly impossible situations… read more »

Lesser Known Varieties of the Spanish Language

by John Bascombe on Thursday, January 23, 2014

Spanish outside of Spain and the Americas Equatoguinean Spanish Spanish is one of the official languages of the small African country of Equatorial Guinea (interestingly Spanish is not defined as an official language in two of the countries with the largest populations of Spanish speakers , Mexico and the United States). Equatorial Guinea was a Spanish territory from 1778 to 1968. Today, although Spanish is generally not used as a first language here, it is still spoken by an estimated 87.7% of the people. This unique variety of Spanish is influenced by local native languages such as Fang. The Association of Spanish Language Academies has proposed creating an Equatorial Guinea Spanish Language Academy… read more »

Top 10 Essential Films in Spanish

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Film viewing gives us the chance to experience the lives of others from the comfort of our own living room. Putting together a top ten movie list is not an easy task, because a list like this will inevitably be incomplete, and it won’t satisfy everyone’s tastes –it probably won’t completely satisfy anybody’s tastes… read more »

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