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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 »

The Most Dangerous Hike in Spain

by John Bascombe on Monday, November 24, 2014

El Camino del Rey Spain has many famous hiking trails and pathways. In the Picos de Europa is the famous Ruta del Cares which is a path the traverses a ravine that unites León with Asturias. There is also the Senda del Oso, also in Asturias, which winds through the mountains of Asturias along what was once a railway used by miners. Of course, the granddaddy of all is the Camino de Santiago. But there is a little known hike that is very different from the all the rest (and it's not only for its short length of not quite two miles) due to its decrepit state and the fact that it is illegal to hike it. Dangerous in Spanish is peligroso and this trail is about as dangerous as anything can get. In fact, if the police catch you on this trail you risk paying a fine of up to €6000 ($7760 US Dollars). The trail I'm referring to is the Camino del Rey (or The King's Way) located on the Costa del So l right outside of the cosmopolitan city of Málaga in southern Spain. Fortunately paying a fine or paying with your life will soon be a thing of the past since the local government is in the process of reopening the trail for public use… read more »

400 Years of El Greco in Toledo

by John Bascombe on Friday, November 21, 2014

If you’re in Madrid this year, check out Toledo; it’s just a short half hour train-ride to the south and 2014 marks the 400 th anniversary of the death of this historic city’s most illustrious figure. A full-blown fiesta raging throughout the year is commemorating the life and work of famed painter Doménikos Theotokópulos (1541-1614), known to the world as El Greco. A fantastic variety of lively cultural events and handsome exhibits of inspired works selected from this Golden Age artist’s vibrant oeuvre all await visitors. Still not convinced? Keep in mind that the city of Toledo itself displays medieval urban landscapes that seem to teleport observers to a flourishing age of arts… read more »

400 años de El Greco en Toledo

by John Bascombe on Friday, November 21, 2014

Below you’ll find the Spanish version an article about the event El Greco 2014. You can also find the English version on the next post… read more »

Thanksgiving in Spain

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Many American students spending November in Spain and experiencing the unfamiliar silence leading up to Thanksgiving Day will inevitably imagine with mouth-watering envy a distant place called home, where loved ones enshrouded in the warm coziness of company and the pleasant perfumes of piping hot pumpkin pie prepare to hunker over plates brimming with traditional turkey creations… read more »

Acción de Gracias en España

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This is the Spanish version of an article about celebrating Thanksgiving in Spain. If you'd like to read the English version, you can find it on the next post … read more »

Zombie Adventure in Spain

by John Bascombe on Thursday, November 13, 2014

A number of observers, perhaps awestruck by the convincing portrayal of the undead in popular film and TV programming, seem under the growing suspicion that the world will soon experience a zombie apocalypse . Theories supporting the concern abound. Some are kind of convincing. Ever wonder how you would react? What strategies would you adopt in your desperate attempts to guarantee survival?… read more »

Cantinflas Reborn

by John Bascombe on Thursday, November 06, 2014

Charlie Chaplin once called him the "funniest man alive" and many in the Spanish-speaking world would agree. Chaplin was referring to Mario Fortino Alfonso Moreno Reyes , better known as Cantinflas. Cantinflas was born in the Santa Maria la Ribera neighborhood of Mexico City, which today is located in the heart of the downtown, just a few blocks from the landmark Paseo de la Reforma . However, Cantinflas wasn't raised here, instead he grew up in the what continues to be the rough neighborhood of Tepito . Growing up in Tepito has never been easy, in fact the neighborhood from Luis Buñuel's masterpiece Los Olvidados could easily be Cantinflas' Tepito of the 1920's.  Overcoming this environment, Cantinflas would become the most important comedian in Mexico during the 20 th century, although this would come at price. Considered by some to be a puppet of the ruling PRI Party while others saw him as a danger to the status quo. What is not argued was his work as a philanthropist, a fervent Catholic and an artistic innovator recognized by his peers and audiences around  the world… read more »

Ochate - A Spanish Ghost Town

by John Bascombe on Thursday, October 30, 2014

Since Halloween is this week, I thought we could talk about those abandoned cities and towns that give us so much good storytelling material for this time of year. Ghost towns are present all over the world and in just about in every country. In the United States, there are famous places like Centralia, Pennsylvania (the inspiration for the Silent Hill videogame and movie), well preserved Bodie in California and numerous other spots in the west and Great Plains. Abandoned places in the UK are everywhere primarily due to the Black Plague while more recently others were abandoned during WWII like Tyneham and Langford… read more »

The Messi Effect

by John Bascombe on Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spanish as a Second Language British students are increasingly choosing to study Spanish as a second language… read more »

Dolce & Gabbana Go Spanish

by John Bascombe on Monday, October 20, 2014

Spanish Influence Spain has a long history of influence in Europe , all we have to do is remember that Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, was also the same Spanish King Carlos I. As ruler of Spain (and its American empire) he was also the ruler of most of central Europe and Italy. Today this influence is still seen in many parts of Europe, in fact there is an annual festival in Brussels called the Ommegang. In the town square, thousands of Brusseleers participate in this parade that recreates the welcoming of Charles V into the city that would be his principal home during his reign. Another part of Europe that pertained to the Spanish crown was Sicily. This Italian island was first part of the Kingdom of Aragón beginning in 1409 and later as part of the Spanish Empire . This territory would remain under Spanish control until 1860 with Garibaldi leading the charge for Italian unification. So after over 400 years of relations, something must have stuck as far as influencing the culture and life, right?… read more »

10 Spanish Film Festivals

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Top 10 Film Festivals in Spain You could say that Spain is a country you’d see in movie and a country in which you’d see a movie: its scenic landscapes have not only been captured in an impressive number of famous films, but they also capture a big variety of film festivals . You can find film fests here on just about any genre imaginable, from documentary, feminist, environmental, short film, gay/lesbian, fantasy, horror, advertising, international film… Spain holds more than 80 film festivals every year. That’s almost 2 per week… read more »

How October 12 Is Celebrated Around the World

by John Bascombe on Sunday, October 12, 2014

Christopher Columbus arrived to the Americas for the first time on October 12, 1492 . The historic event marks an important change in the course of the history of the Western world, as it lead to permanent contact between Europe and the Americas. The day is officially observed in a variety of ways and called a variety of names in much of Latin America, the US and Spain. … read more »

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