|The four of us enjoying a tourist horse and carriage ride in Seville on Saturday|
Hello again my friends and readers.
|I joined the Spanish revolution on Election Day and was happy to see it for myself at the Puerta del Sol. |
Now I can say "I was there"
Since our visit the movement has grown, rather than died down after the local elections which were won by a huge majority by the opposition party, the Partido Popular. In Barcelona this week, the protestors were ousted out violently by the police of the emblematic Plaza de Cataluña to make way for the Barcelona football club fans in anticipation of their team winning the Champions League as this is where their victories are mainly celebrated. This was much criticized in all corners of the country but thankfully they have been allowed to return after the celebrations took place yesterday. For yes, Barcelona won their 4th European Cup on Saturday night at Wembley against Manchester. I am happy for them but will not hide the fact that I would far have preferred Real Madrid to win. It annoys me to read that they are now considered the best football club in history. Hang on a bit, I think that it is still Real Madrid who can claim that place with 9 Champions League cups to their credit against their arch enemy, Barcelona’s 4. I think we ought to wait for Barcelona to have 9 cups before we make a similar comparison. Don’t you?
|The opening of the envelope at the Spanish Secretariat for Telecommunications. A great day for Yoigo.|
|The open prawn sandwich that was waiting for me for dinner when I arrived at the hotel in Stockholm last week.|
The day and a half of discussions with my colleagues, many of whom I was meeting for the first time were quite enriching. It’s great to meet people who are equally interested in social media. However whenever I scented a hint of fanaticism, I kept pinching myself and reminding us all, that social media is just another channel for communication. Ok so it’s a two way dialogue but no need to make so much fuss about. There is a lot of ridiculous hype around social media that is frankly a bit of an obstacle in understanding how to use it for your company, your customers and your and brand. Our meetings were held at the lovely Skating Pavilion across the road from our hotel and on the tiny island of Kastellholmen. I loved the building and its location.
|The skating pavilion on Kastellholmen where we had our social media conference last week in Stockholm|
The best thing about the conference was meeting my colleagues and they were from some diverse places. If I remember rightly there was a representative or two from the following countries: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, Spain, Nepal, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and last but not least, and this was a new country for me, Tajikistan. Try locating these last on the map. I couldn’t do it.
|With some of my social media conference colleagues in Stockholm last week.|
Stockholm was at its most beautiful in the late spring. Everything was green and the advantage of going at the end of May is the long days of light. There was no time for tourism but just an hour or so for a walk into the town centre to visit shops such as Lindex or KappaAhl. I did manage to get a pair of tight jeans (size 38 for the record!!) and a typical Scandinavian blue and white striped long sleeved t-shirt that are so in fashion this season.
|The handwritten menu with spelling mistakes at the bar where we had dinner in Torremejia on our way to Seville on Friday|
We arrived in Seville just past midnight and couldn’t believe it was 30ºc at that time of night. It was impossible to find our hotel and we found ourselves lost and driving round streets where traffic is forbidden. Finally we found a car park and walked with our luggage to the hotel. I should add that Seville is notorious, like Naples, for street robberies and it would have been dangerous to leave the car in the street. We were delighted with our rooms and whilst the rest of the family went straight to bed I went down to the open air swimming pool for a dip to cool off before following them. I repeated the experience next morning, the following evening and on the morning we left too as the experience of having the pool to myself at a quiet time was something I didn’t want to miss.
|The Giralda in Seville|
|The view from the belfry tower of La Giralda in Seville on Saturday.|
When we came down we promptly decided to take a tour of the city on one of the many horse and carriages that sell the tour to tourists. It’s not cheap at 80 euros for an hour but well worth the experience. Our gypsy driver with his thick Sevillian accent drove us through the Barrio Santa Cruz with its narrow white streets and out of the quarter to the Guadalquivir river where we saw the other most dominant monument in the town called the Tower of Gold and of course the famous bull ring, La Maestranza. From there he took us through the pavilions of the different countries built for the 1929 Universal Exposition. Then we drove into the lovely Maria Luisa park and saw some of the 2000 different bushes and trees it holds as well as the monument to the romantic Spanish poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. Our driver even recited one of his poems and I was delighted as I had once studied Bécquer whilst at Nottingham University where I “majored” in Spanish. Our next stop was the magnificent Plaza de España, the Spanish pavilion of the same Expo.
|Just one section of the magnificent Plaza de España in Seville|
|The Plaza de España in Seville when the Nokia Totally Board event took place in 2003 with its huge snow ramp.|
Later we walked through more of the old streets of Seville, including the most famous of all, Calle Sierpes. It was here in 1983, the year we got married, that I brought my parents to visit on a trip from León, through Portugal and Huelva and to the capital of Andalucía. And it was in this street late at night when we were walking back from the Cathedral that a motorbike passed my Mother and the driver snatched her bag. Eladio and my Father tried to run after it, Eladio shouting “ladrones” (thieves) but all we could do was go to the police station to report the theft. There we found a crowd of other tourists in a similar situation and I remember being of great use to the police by serving as an unpaid translator for a night. My Mother had lost their passports, jewelry, medicine and money. I remember the next day begging at the British Consulate for replacement passports and after much pressure from us, as we had nothing to identify my parents, they were issued with passports which would be valid just for their journey back. So being in the Calle Sierpes on Saturday brought back vivid memories of that most unforgettable experience.
|The Calle Sierpes in Seville where my parents were robbed in 1983 and which we visited on this trip|
For lunch we happened upon what turned out to be one of Seville's best restaurants, Casa Robles. I can't recommend it highly enough. The local gazpacho was just superb as was the rest of the meal.
|My beautiful girls at Casa Robles in Seville on Saturday|
|Having a cocktail on Saturday afternoon in Seville and watching the world go by|
|Sevillian children learning how to carry a float for the famous processions.|
|The stunning Calle de las Flores (Flower Street) in Córdoba|
|Delicious salmorejo at the Caballo Rojo restaurant in Córdoba on Sunday|
|The Cathedral Mosque in Córdoba is spectactular|
|Inside the Cathedral Mosque in Córdoba|
Sufficiently filled with culture, food and too much heat for our liking, we left the city in the mid afternoon and drove home to Madrid. You can see the rest of the photos of our quick visit to the beautiful and ancient city of Córdoba here.
It was great to be home and that evening we were in for a pleasant surprise. Olivia had gone off to the cinema with her beau but had told us to watch a documentary report she and her fellow students had done as a project for the TV master degree and which was being showed on TVE. We never managed to see it as it was probably rescheduled so I started making our dinner when Susana and her boyfriend Gaby called us urgently to the sitting room where they were watching the TVE1 evening news. Suddenly I was watching my beautiful daughter Olivia on the screen talking about what the master degree in TV journalism meant to her in a short report about it on the national news. You may be wondering why this would be on the news and the answer is that Spanish TVE sponsors and organizes the course. Oli looked spectacular and everyone who saw her thought the same. We are so proud of her. Now after a short break (she’s gone off to London today for a 4 day visit with her Erasmus friends, Shino from Japan, Sandeep from India and fellow Spaniard Rafa) she will be working for 3 months as a trainee for the TVE 24h evening news programme with a famous news presenter she admires enormously, Vicente Vallés. I can only hope that they will take her on afterwards but that could be a pipe dream, however good she is, as TVE is not hiring people, rather firing them in these times of crisis. In any case the experience will be fantastic. Well done Oli!!! By the way you can see it here on this link at minute 43 but you may have to buffer the video on your pc first.
|Vicente Vallés, presenter for the TVE24h news programme who Olivia will be working with this summer|
Later that night, inspired by our use of the pool at the hotel in Seville, Eladio, with Gaby’s help, removed the tarpaulin cover on our own swimming pool to get it ready for the summer. Eladio spent most of yesterday filtering the water and generally repairing its condition. So who was the first person to use it you may ask? Not me as it was too cold yesterday but Olivia who enjoyed a nice long swim, despite the cool temperature. Later the three of us went for our hour long daily walk with Norah, something Norah will have missed in our absence of course.
|Eladio removed the cover and cleaned the water of our pool yesterday. |
The table you can see is where I work from in the Summer
|Ratko Mladic, known as the butcher of Srebenica was finally caught last week and will be tried for his horrific crimes.|
|Barack and Michelle Obama visited the UK last week|
The man of the week in Spain must surely be Alberto Contador for winning the Giro (cycling tour of Italy) on Sunday. He was awarded the famous pink jersey called the "maglia rosa" and it was his second win in this country, much to the chagrin of the Italians of course. Believe it or not in the ceremony they played the wrong national anthem of Spain. This has happened on other sporting occasions around the world and is quite unexplicable and in my mind unacceptable in these days of internet where organisers should be able to get the right music at the touch of a finger. In any case my hearty congratulations go to Alberto Contador. I write that with a heavy heart though. I was once part of the cycling world and am saddened to see the sport tainted with stories of doping, including Contador's own unresolved case which certainly puts a damper on what otherwise would be another magnicent page in the story of Spanish sport.
|Alberto Contador, Spain's man of the week who won the Giro on Sunday|
|Could hardly believe the story of the so-called "Spanish cucumber crisis" and we don't even eat this type here in Spain.|
And with that hope in mind I come to the end of this week’s very packed blog post which I hope you enjoy as soon as I upload the photos, include the links and finally publish it.
Cheers my friends till next week.