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The Teacher and the Beatle

by John Bascombe on Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Beatles was a band that swept over the world with startling speed, even a country like Spain couldn't avoid this English steamroller thanks in part to Radio Luxembourg and its shortwave transmissions of rock n roll into Spain. One person, in particular, who was an admirer of the group, also used the lyrics from these transmitted Beatles songs to help teach English to his students. Juan Carrión, now 90 years old, was an English teacher at the University of Cartagena and his story was the inspiration behind the movie Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed by David Trueba which was selected as Spain's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 2015 Academy Awards… read more »

Update: The Search for Cervantes

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Versión española abajo … read more »

Downtown Madrid - El Madrid de los Austrias

by John Bascombe on Monday, February 16, 2015

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Visit Spanish Landmarks Virtually

by John Bascombe on Thursday, February 12, 2015

Internet giant Google is always up to something. Sometimes it takes the form of something not very useful or, possibly, ahead of its time (think Google Glass) but there are other things that are infinitely helpful, like Google Maps and its associated Street View. Back in the day, we had to use Thomas Guides (if you lived on the west coast of the U.S.) at home and Michelin maps when traveling abroad—two costly, but necessary tools for finding your way in strange places. But Google changed all of that, with street maps for just about anywhere and point to point driving directions that you could print out in the pre-smartphone days. Later, Google took things further with Street View. With this add-on to Maps, you could now SEE the address and visualize your destination.  With all of Western Europe, most of North America, and almost all of South America and Australia uploaded and ready for yo to use, you can travel virtually to just about any place in the world. But in Spain, Google has gone a step further—with Street View, you can now "walk" through some of Spain's most emblematic landmarks such as the Alhambra and Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona … read more »

The Thyssen Goes for Gamers

by John Bascombe on Thursday, February 05, 2015

I had no idea how popular video games were until I heard about gamers becoming celebrities by posting videos of themselves on youtube talking about the games they play. Personalities like El Rubius have inexplicably amassed millions of fans around the world. The number of viewers anxiously tuning in everyday to watch Minecraft players talking about Minecraft is mind blowing… read more »

Rooftops As Cultural Spaces in Spain

by John Bascombe on Thursday, January 29, 2015

The rooftops of buildings in Spain , as elsewhere, are generally not used for much beyond accommodating satellite dishes and laundry lines. But in urban areas where attractive event space gets spendy and space itself is limited, some groups and communities have begun to rethink the usefulness of rooftops, particularly in the warm southern Andalusia region, where outdoor activity season extends much longer than in the north… read more »

The Borja Painting: Pennies from Heaven?

by John Bascombe on Tuesday, January 20, 2015

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Spain's Word of the Year

by John Bascombe on Sunday, January 18, 2015

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Goya's Los Caprichos in NYC

by John Bascombe on Thursday, January 15, 2015

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes or simply "Goya" (1746-1828) is one of Spain's most famous and recognized artists . His mastery of art allowed him to bridge the romantic with the modern; considered the last of the Old Masters, he was able to change his style with the times in a way that few other artists have been able to accomplish. Today, the National Arts Club in New York is showing one of his seminal works, the Los Caprichos (Caprices) series of prints in its entirety.  Subversive and critical, Goya was never afraid to air his opinion through his art and deftly aired his feelings through his work—even as court painter—and with Los Caprichos we can see how he pushed the limits (and buttons) of Spanish society in an era of instability and unrest… read more »

The Erasmus Student Exchange Program

by John Bascombe on Thursday, January 08, 2015

The concept of the Erasmus program has been known in the sphere of higher education for many years now and it is still gaining in popularity around Europe. Since its establishment in 1987 millions of students have participated in the program, obtaining invaluable experiences and memories from their time spent abroad… read more »

Spain's Most Famous New Year's Tradition

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Madrid's Puerta del Sol New York has the glass ball, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Rio de Janeiro has fireworks on the beach and Tokyo has Shibuya crossing. In Madrid, we have the Puerta del Sol—Spain's kilometer zero where all highways radiate from reaching all of the areas of the country. Located in what is Madrid's Times Square, is a stately baroque Post building with a landmark clock tower called the Reloj de la Gobernación or the Clock of the Government in English. When twelve o'clock strikes in Madrid, all of the country tunes in to the Puerta del Sol and listen to the distinctive chimes of the clock striking twelve which is called the Campanadas de fin de año or the last bell tolls of the year. Curiously, the chimes of the stately clock are not the main attraction. Instead the tolling of the bell marks the rhythm for what really matters— eating 12 grapes to welcome in the New Year … read more »

Cuba - A New Day

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It has recently been announced that one of the longest and most bitter embargoes imposed on a country is about to lifted by the United States from Cuba. After 54 years, this embargo instead of forcing the departure of the Castro dictatorship had reinforced it. The Cuban government deftly managed to blame the economic woes and suffering of Cuba on the embargo imposed by its northern neighbor. Now, thanks to various parties including Pope Frances, Cuba and the United States have begun to thaw their icy relationship in the hopes of starting a new era of cooperation and understanding. American tourist will be one of the first groups of people to benefit from this monumental moment in American history… read more »

Christmas Markets in Spain

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas markets in Spain might not be as grand as the northern European ones found in for example Germany, but they are nevertheless important for the Spanish people as a Christmas tradition. Another important tradition in Spain involves the nativity scene, belén , and in Spain these vary from very simple and small ones for your home to much elaborated and life-sized ones which decorate the cities and provide a true Christmas feeling… read more »

The Best Places to Live in Europe

by John Bascombe on Thursday, December 11, 2014

When one thinks of living in Europe, we usually think of the large cities and capitals of this old-world continent like London, Paris, Rome, Geneva or Brussels. But are these places really the BEST places to live? The EU has released a survey trying to answer that very question. In a survey to determine the best place to live in Europe 2013 , the Quality of Life in Cities study released by the EU contains some surprises for everyone. Some of the more common places to visit in Europe are surprisingly not listed like the great capitals listed before and the issues that most concern Europeans with respect to how they feel about where they live is the value placed on good healthcare facilities, unemployment and education/training. So what is the best place to live in Europe? The answer is Aalborg, Denmark with an overall satisfaction score of 99/100. Not to be left behind, The Spanish city of Málaga also scored remarkable well with a score of 96/100 tying with cities like Amsterdam, Graz or Munich. Another Spanish city to pass with honors (and with the most individual top scores) was the Asturian city of Oviedo… read more »

Orange County and the United Languages of America

by John Bascombe on Thursday, December 04, 2014

The US is a multi-lingual country with no official national language, a place where according to the 2011 census report, 20% of the people speak a language other than English at home.  In California that number is 44%. Orange County, located just south of LA, is California’s second most densely populated county, a place that reflects changing language trends across the country… read more »

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