Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Who said Las Fallas are only in Valencia? Las Fallas of Cordoba 2016

Las Fallas is one of the biggest and most famous celebrations in Spain. And they take place in Valencia every year in March. However, no one ever said that they only take place in Valencia. This year marks the fourth consecutive year that the group "Fallers pel Mon" (Fallas-makers of the World) will hold a second Fallas festival within Spain with the aim of helping the rest of the country to understand and appreciate the culture, language and traditions of Valencia. If you needed any further proof that Spain is a multiecultural and plurinational country, this is it.

The idea of a "Plantà i Cremà" fallas celebration began in the city of Avila in 2013. Its resounding success and the interest it generated in Valenci's culture and heritage inspired the group to continue their endeavors over the next years, each time choosing a different national location. In 2014 it was the city of Granada, and in 2015 Toledo. This year the magic touches down in Cordoba, a city well-known for its own festivals and for the amiable nature of its inhabitants.

From April 2 through April 4, Cordoba will host Valencian "Fallers and Falleras" who have come to proudly share their culture and their festival with other regions. In two intense days the Valencians will take locals through the highlights of the Fallas festival, including the "Crida", "Plantà", "nit de foc" and the "Mascletá". There will even be the traditional floral offering to the Virgen.

If you missed out on this year´s Las Fallas in Valencia, this is a great way to see what it is all about. Discover just how diverse and unique is the country of Spain, and learn about the culture and traditions without having to leave Andalusia.

Contact us for more information or for private tours in Cordoba or Valencia.

Toll free (US): 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: (+34) 616-103-536

The Iberian Lynx, endangered species

Picture taken from www.lincepedia.com

The Iberian Lynx is considerd the most endangered feline in the world. The only known surviving members of this species are found on the Iberian Penninsula. In recent years a lot of efforts have been made to make sure the lynx doesn't disappear completely, and to raise awareness of the situation. One of the habitats of the lynx is Doñana Park, in Andalusia. In Seville this year, in the month of April the 5th annual International Seminary on the Conservation of the Iberian Lynx will take place, with the aim of designing a long term conservation strategy that will allow for the continuing of the work that has already begun and will facilitate the incorporation of new suitable places on the Penninsula for the lync to live (Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón, La Rioja, Valencia,…). In order to accomplish all this, the main idea behind the Seminar will be to determine the work needed to be done in order to move the Iberian Lynx from "endangered" to "vulnerable", as well as the financial aspect which would make the work possible. Coinciding with the seminar and also in Seville are the so-called 'Jornadas Iberlince', workshops directly basically at the younger public and done in a festive environment to help children learn about the lynx in a fun, dynamic environment. 

Contact us for a Doñana Tour or check out our other tours in Seville and Andalusia:

Toll free (US): 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: (+34) 616-103-536

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tapas Festival in Barcelona

Tapas are one of Spain's most popular exports. Everywhere you look you find new tapas bars, offering a wide variety of small portions of almost every kind of food imaginable. How to choose the best ones? Well that's a question of personal taste, but through the end of March, in Barcelona there is a tapas festival going on to help you broaden your understanding of tapas and help you narrow down the top options for you.

Twenty five local restaurants have joined together with Barcelona brewery Estrella to offer a Tapas Menu for locals and visitors alike at spots throughout the city. For just 25 euros you get a menu of 5 or 6 tapas dishes, 2 drinks and a dessert. That's a pretty nice deal! And the tapas are as varied as you can imagine. Traditional dishes like Spanish Omelette (Tortilla de Patata) and Patatas Bravas, local seasonal treats like calçots and strawberries share the menu with more exotic flavors like shrimp ravioli, minicanalons of foie gras and "mojama" tuna on a salmarejo sauce bed.

For more information about participating restaurants or to sign up for one of our tapas tours, do not hesitate to contact us:

Toll free (US): 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: (+34) 616-103-536

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lanzarote creates the largest underwater museum in Spain

From the waters of Cancun, where we find the largest underwater museum in the world, to the waters of the not-less-exotic Lanzarote, we find Europe's largest underwater museum. The "Museum of the Atlantic", as it is known, of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands has a collection of 400 pieces by British artist Jason deCaires.

This initiative is not just a way to add a little something extra to your visit to Lanzarote, in addition to enjoying this amazing show you will be collaborating with the research and understanding of the richness of the marine species and the sea bottom of Lanzarote since 2% of the profits go directly to the cause.

For more information or to book your vacation in the Canary Islands, please contact us: 

Toll free (US): 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: (+34) 616-103-536

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The meaning behind Madrid's 'El oso y el Madroño' statue

One of the most common pictures taken in Madrid is unquestionably at the statue of 'El Oso y el Madroño'' (the Bear and the Strawberry Tree). But what is the significance of this statue, right in the heart of Madrid?

The bear and the strawberry tree also appear on the coat-of-arms for the city of Madrid.

Historians tell us that the origin of this coat of arms is a familiar story for medieval standards, and can be traced back to the 12th century when it was used as a standard for the army to distinguish groups of knights. It was first used by the troops from Madrid in the campaigns against the Moors in Andalusia.

According to legend, the bear was chosen as the emblem in honor of a brown bear that King Alfonso XI killed on a hunting trip in the mountains surrounding the city. At that time it was not uncommon that these large animals would wander into and around the city limits.

The bear was initially seen with a tower, which was later substituted for the strawberry El oso estaba al principio unido a una torre, que sería sustituída ree. These evergreen trees were a common site in the outskirts of the city during medieval times. However, the origin of this image has a concrete act that took place in the 13th century. At the time there was a dispute beween the city and the clergy about some lands that both sides claimed. They finally reached an agreement with the town kept the tree-filled area and the clergy kept the pastures. That explains why the tree is in the city crest, and the bear was included because at that time it was believed that eating the leaves of the strawberry tree was a rememdy for the Plague.

This is part of our job: telling you the stories and histories of the things you see in Madrid (or any other city) that might otherwise have gone by unnoticed.

Check out our private tours in Madrid and contact us for more information: 

Toll free (US): 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: (+34) 616-103-536

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Hanging Bridge of Bizcaia Tour

The Hanging Bridge of Bizcaia


This 4-hour tour take you to one of the most important industrial and commercial sites in the region along the banks of the Nervion River: The Hanging Bridge of Bizkaia. Selected as a World Heritage Site in 2006-07, the bridge was built in 1893 and was the first metal-structured transporter bridge in the world. That fact and the industry that passed beneath it have made the bridge one of the symbols of the re-emergence of the region’s powerful industry. Considered one of the engineering wonders of its age, this iron-plated masterpiece has overcome its own pragmatic function and a number of mundane disputes to become a symbol of the whole region.

After crossing the bridge on its panoramic walkway, we will visit the village of Portugalete. This 700-year old village sits on the end of the Nervion River, and was once one of the most fashionable places for the upper classes to visit. Visit the Iron Wharf, the Salazar Tower and walk the cobblestone streets of the Medieval town center.

Contact us if you want to take our Hanging Bridge of Bizcaia Tour or for more information about our private tours in Bizcaia and Bilbao

Toll free (US): 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: (+34) 616-103-536

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Tarragona Day Tour, just an hour outside Barcelona

More and more of our clients are choosing the city of Tarragona as one of their choice day tours while they are in Catalonia. Many people use Barcelona as their base but visit sites outside the city like Montserrat, Girona, the Costa Brava, the Dali Museum ... as a part of their Catalonia itinerary. that leaves Tarragona on the outside looking in. But Tarragona wins its visitors as soon as they visit the city, and it often becomes one of the highlights of their trip. One reason is that visiting Tarragona is like visiting an open history book. The sheer quantity of remains from past times is astounding: the amphitheater, Roman aqueduct, the Roman circus, the Gate of Sant Antoni.... it's not a coincidence that the city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage City.

Let us dive in together into the history of the Tarragona region, its culture and its people. We will show you its hidden corners and curiosities and legends, and you too will fall in love with the city. 

Contact us for more information about our private tours in Tarragona

Toll free (US): 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: (+34) 616-103-536

Monday, March 07, 2016

'Ninot' exhibit before Las Fallas in Valencia

You still have time (until March 14) to enjoy the exhibition of the 'ninots' that is celebrated every year before the Las Fallas festival. This year you can visit the exhibition within the grounds of the Ciutat de les Arts i Les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences), at the Science Museum.

A "ninot" is one of the enormous paper maché dolls that fill the streets of Valencia during Las Fallas and are especially decorated for the festival. The lifespan of the "ninots" is short. It takes a year to build them, and then at the end of the Las Fallas festival - on the last night - they are burned in a tradition called 'La Cremà'.

Every person who visits the exhibit has the chance to vote for his or her favorite 'ninot'. When the exhibit closes, the votes are counted and the ninot with the most votes get special exemption: it has the honor of being the only doll that will not be burned during 'La Cremà'.

Toll free (US): 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: (+34) 616-103-536

Friday, March 04, 2016

What is a 'ninot' or a 'mascletà' during Las Fallas in Valencia?

It's almost time for us to celebrate Las Fallas in València. If you are looking for more information about this festivity, you will find different "key words" that make up the "popular slang" and that are important in order to understand what Las Fallas really are. Some of the key words you will see are:

  • Ninot o falla: A "ninot" is an enormous paper maché doll that fill the streets of Valencia during Las Fallas and are specially decorated for the festival. The Valencians who work on the ninots spend the entire year getting them ready. The ninots traditionally represent the current sitaution or a character in a burlesque and critical way. There are two types ninots and fallas: childrens' ninots (they are smaller) and the full-sized festival fallas. 
  • La Cremà: The lifespan of the "ninots" is short. It takes a year to build them, and then at the end of the Las Fallas festival, on the last night in fact, they are burned in a tradition called 'La Cremà'. This year la Cremà will take place on March 19. The childrens' fallas will be burned at 10:00 at night and around midnight the big ones go up.
  • Mascletà: Every day from March1 through March 19, at 2:00pm in the town square one of the most impressive acts of Las Fallas takes place: la 'mascletà'. The people gather to listen to more than 100 kg of gunpowder explode in seconds. There are also nighttime and beach 'mascletàs'.
  • La Crida: This kick-off public event is the invitation to everyone to participate in Las Fallas. This year it took place at the emblematic Serranos Towers on February 28.
  • Nit del Foc: From the night of March 15 through the 18, every night there is a massive fireworks display (literally a Castle of Fire) over the Alameda (main street). The most spectacular castle is the one that is sent off on the night of March 18, the appropriately named 'Nit del Foc' (Night of Fire). 

All that's left to do now is the enjoy the party!

We are experts in Spain. Contact us for more information about our private tours in Valencia and our Vacation Packages in Valencia and Spain.

Toll free (US): 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: (+34) 616-103-536

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

'Tamboradas' during Semana Santa

A 'tamborada' is a large group of dummers all playing together. This is something very typical in Spain, that is done for military or religious motives. during Holy Week in Spain there are a number of places where the "tamborada" is the climax of the local festival.

One such place worth pointing out for its "tamborada" as a part of the local festival is Baena (Córdoba), which is celebrating from March 4 - 6. However, perhaps the most popular of the "tamboradas" takes place in Hellín (Castilla La Mancha). Hellín is famous for its drummers and its "tamborada". In fact, during the local festival it features the greatest concentration of dummers in the world, when approximately 20,0000 drummers meet every year in this small town. Here are some pictures of the festival:

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Passion Plays during Holy Week in Barcelona

Every year in Esparraguera (a town about 45 minutes outside Barcelona) during the celebrations of Easter Week, you can see the theater show of "The Passion". This is one of the must-sees if you are in Barcelona from Februrary 28 to May 1, 2016. The Passion is divided into two parts and 48 scenes: the life of Jesus and the Passion; and the second part: Death and Resurrection. There are morning and afternoon performances.

The Passion itself is a logical evolution of the "mysteries" of the faith. A "mystery" began as a dramatic representation of Medieval origen in which passages of the life of Jesus, Mary and the saints were acted out in public. Eventually the genere evolved: the scenery became more complex, the performances went from inside the church into more public forums, music became an increasingly important part, the clergy ceaased to be the only actors, fraternities were formed around the plays...

The evolution continued until be the 14th century the mysteries had become full theatrical productions in their own right.

For more information do not hesitate to contact us:

Toll free (US): 1-888-480-0013
Spanish office phone: (+34) 616-103-536