Tag Archives: santiago

SPAIN IN 2014 (OCTOBER-DECEMBER)

Hola to all our readers! Can you believe it´s already fall? Even though a few summer days always manage to sneak in during October… Winter is Coming! And there’s much to look forward to… The final months of the year are host to some of the most exciting concerts, festivals and traditions in Spain.

Two events will be taking place for most of the remainder of the year that are sure to excite lovers of art and culture. In Toledo, a special exhibition called El Greco: Art and Skill will be taking place until December 9th, giving visitors the opportunity to see over 75 works by the celebrated Spanish artist. And farther south in Jerez, be sure to check out the exciting events planned from October 9-January 6th related to wine, flamenco and Andalusian horses in honor of Jerez´s selection as the European Wine City of 2014.

October 2014

Although October marks the end of the season for most local festivals around Spain. in the northeastern corner of Spain, you´ll find the region of Aragón celebrating the Fiestas de Pilar from October 4th-13th. The streets of Zaragoza fill with maños (locals from Zaragoza) donned in traditional Aragonese attire and the red and black handkerchiefs that have come to symbolize the festival. The week of celebration culminates in a huge floral offering on the 12th in the Plaza del Pilar in the city center. Thousands of people dress in traditional costumes and come to the plaza to leave flowers before the Virgin. On the 13th, the festival closes with an offering of fruit in the morning and a parade that runs through the streets of Zaragoza at dusk.

Fiestas del Pilar. Source: Redaragon.com
Fiestas del Pilar. Source: Redaragon.com

In Jaén, fiestas in honor of the patron saint, San Lucas, take place from October 11th-19th. The program is full of exciting events including bullfights, dancing, and the National Autumn Show Jumping Competition, held at the Alameda Horse Riding Club.

Those interested in Spain´s “toro bravo” culture also should check out the Autumn Fair in Madrid at Las Ventas from October 3rd-12th. Madrid has a great bullfighting tradition and the Autumn Fair stands out among the world’s most important bullfighting festivals.

Also taking place at the same time is International Madrid Architecture Week. A wide array of activities related to architecture has been planned, including building visits, guided tours, exhibitions, courses and lectures. There are also children’s workshops for younger visitors to learn more about the world of architecture in an entertaining way.

Jazz music takes over the capital of Catalunya again this fall when the Barcelona International Jazz Festival kicks off on October 10th. Artists including John Legend, Wayne Shorter, and Chucho Valdes headline this year´s festival, with concerts planned at sites like the Palau de la Música Auditorium and the Espai de Danza y Música de la Generalitat de Cataluña until November 30th.

The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias complex in Valencia will host the Valencia 500 Tennis Tournament from October 18th-26th this year. This annual tournament attracts numerous elite players from around the world who come to compete for the top spot. Valencia has made a name for itself as a top venue for major sporting events such as sailing, motorcycling, Formula 1 racing, equestrian competitions, and now tennis.

Valencia Tennis Open. Source: Industriadeltenis.com
Valencia Tennis Open. Source: Industriadeltenis.com

November 2014

Contemporary film takes the cake again this year at the 13th annual Seville Film Festival from November  7th-15th. Events are held at a variety of venues such as the Nervión Plaza Cinema and the Lope de Vega Theatre. It aims to concentrate on the promotion of European cinematographic culture while also paying the way for new media for cinematographic expression.

Top riders and horses from the international equestrian circuit will gather in Madrid at the Parque Ferial Juan Carlos I from November 27th- 30th for Madrid Horse Week.  Equestrian arts The international show-jumping competition is the main event, with over 100 of the world’s top riders participating this year. There will also be dressage and vaulting displays and exhibitions and demonstrations for audiences of all ages. The show will be accompanied by an recreation area featuring street entertainment, concerts, and a children´s area.

Looking to try some of Spain´s top tapas in one of the most beautiful cities in Spain? Then look no further and head to Santiago de Compostela  (Galicia) from November 7th-24th for the citywide tapas competition, Santiago (É) Tapas. The competition is a great opportunity to get to know the city (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and its´ gastronomic culture. Over 40 bars, restaurants and taverns will be taking part to create delicious and original tapas which are then judged by the customers.

Santiago (e) Tapas. Source: Paxinasgalegas.es
Santiago (e) Tapas. Source: Paxinasgalegas.es

December 2014

More than 600 yachtsmen from around the world will compete for the Ciutat de Palma Trophy Cup in the waters off Palma (Mallorca). From December 5th-8th, the Royal Nautical Club of Palma will host this year’s championship, considered to be one of the most prestigious in dinghy sailing. The most stunning race is almost always the Optimist regatta, with more than 400 boats taking part.

In Spain, Noche Vieja (New Year´s Eve) is a very special celebration, where the fun and partying go on well into the early hours. If you want to get the year off to a good start, you musn´t forget to eat your 12 grapes at midnight for good luck!  If you can´t make it to the Puerta del Sol in Madrid for the famous official countdown, don´t worry! There will be celebrations in every city and town. Many hotels and restaurants organize special parties called cotillones that including dinner, dancing, and entertainment that will set the bar high for New Year´s celebrations for years to come.

New Year's Eve in Madrid. Source: Abc.es
New Year’s Eve in Madrid. Source: Abc.es

If you feel like taking a more adventurous approach to the New Year, Barcelona is the place to be!  The 3rd Barcelona World Race begins on December 31st in the Port of Barcelona. The race is one of the world’s most important yachting competitions and the only two-handed, non-stop round-the-world race. The finishes are forecasted for the end of March 2015. This incredibly demanding sporting event lasts for three months and covers a distance of 25,000 nautical miles across areas with the most extreme climates and the most inhospitable seas on the planet.

Stay tuned for more interesting articles on Spain. In the next weeks, we’ll post a fascinating interview to an extraordinarily unique character and collaborator of Madrid & Beyond… Don’t miss it out!

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE “CAMINO DE SANTIAGO”

My name is Clara, and I’m the Madrid & Beyond “expert” on the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James). Before arriving to Madrid & Beyond more than 12 years ago(!) I worked as a guide, leading small groups from the USA on biking and hiking tours all over Spain & Portugal and many of these were along the Camino de Santiago. I hope you enjoy this post on this legendary route, based on its long history and my personal experience…

My bike and me

My bike and me

The Camino de Santiago is a journey through the History, Art, Culture and tradition over 1000 years. I’m sure it will ring a bell for most of you as it has become one of the most popular outdoor experiences in Europe.

Although it was conceived as a religious pilgrimage, nowadays more and more people are attracted to it as the best way to combine great walks along different regions of northern Spain and a superb spiritual and cultural experience.

There are different “Caminos” (Ways) that lead to Santiago de Compostela but the most popular is the “French Way” that begins in the Pyrenees and crosses the north of Spain through Navarra, La Rioja, Castilla, León and Galicia.

Old Map of 1648 which shows the French Way to Santiago de Compostela (Source: todocoleccion.net)
Old Map of 1648 which shows the French Way to Santiago de Compostela (Source: todocoleccion.net)

My first contact with the Camino was around 1994 and I immediately fell in love with it. I discovered a path of History and legend that was an unforgettable personal experience.

 For over 5 years I had the privilege of leading small groups along the Camino de Santiago, sharing this experience and experiencing it for myself through the eyes of many different people. The trip is indeed a very rewarding experience.

The most popular way of doing the Camino is on foot or by bike and although I’m an active cyclist, I must say the Camino is best done on foot in order to interact fully with this experience, it is also more relaxing this way.

Cycling the Camino is also an option, but I personally think it could be sometimes a rather annoying experience especially in high season. We must bear in mind that you will be sharing the path with hundreds of walkers (who have priority) and you may end up getting out of the original way in order to avoid them and have a more comfortable ride.

So, if you are thinking of doing the Camino I strongly recommend walking it.

camino de santiago shot2

When and where should I start my Camino?

The best months will be May, June and September. Summer will be nice in terms of weather, but it gets busier as most Europeans travel during the months of July and August.

The initial starting point depends on how many days you have for the journey. If you plan to walk the Camino from St. Jean Pied de Port, you may have to prepare for at least a month.

Unfortunately nowadays, not many people have this amount of time available to spend on one trip, so you can either start from the beginning and do the whole Camino by shorter stages or begin closer to Santiago to finish in Compostela.

So if you have 10-12 days, you could start in the province of León and walk all the way to Santiago.

Qualifying pilgrims can receive an official “Compostela” (a certificate confirming you have made the trip) bearing their name upon arriving in Santiago.

To qualify for the Compostela, you must walk the last 100km or bicycle the last 200km of one of the recognized Caminos.

To prove that you met the requirements, you must have a Pilgrim’s Credential, which must have been stamped along the way at churches, pilgrim’s refuges, or other way stations, which are sometimes bars or stores in smaller villages.

Source: peregrinoszaragoza.org
Source: peregrinoszaragoza.org

For those who are tempted to discover this fantastic path, I recommend to see “The Way”, a film by Emilio Estevez starring his father Martin Sheen. A wonderful tribute to the Camino de Santiago.

 ¡BUEN CAMINO!