The Long and Short of San Isidro

San Isidro, Nerja, Spain

Whilst it’s true that there are fiestas and festivities in Spain throughout the year, I always feel that it’s the month of May that really kicks off the party season!

At the start of the month there’s El Día de la Cruz (the Day of the Cross) and last week I posted about my visit to the Patio Festival in Córdoba where I saw the most amazing displays of flowers.

The Romería de San Isidro takes place on 15th May each year, in honour of Isidro, a farm labourer who, according to legend, received divine assistance to perform his work and was known for his goodness toward the poor and animals. As a result he has become the patron saint of farm workers and other labourers in many Spanish-speaking countries.

San Isidro is also the patron saint of Nerja, so this is one of the biggest fiestas of the year to be held in the town.

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The festivities begin with a service at the church of El Salvador on the Balcón de Europa, before the effigy of the saint, (which normally resides at the Caves of Nerja), is taken back to the Hermitage of San Isidro in Maro.

The spectacular procession to accompany the Saint normally takes more than three hours and is a fantastic opportunity to see the many decorated carts, Andalucían thoroughbred horses, traditional costumes and pairs of magnificent oxen pulling beautifully adorned carts, including the one carrying the statue of San Isidro, himself.

San Isidro, Nerja, Spain

What was of particular interest to me this year, were the beautiful dresses worn by many of the ladies.

I noticed that as well as the traditional Spanish dresses, many of the younger women were wearing much shorter “flamenco-type” dresses with flat boots.  

Long Spanish dresses, Nerja

I love the elegant, longer dresses – but which do you prefer?

Short Spanish dresses, Nerja

Spanish dresses - long and short, Nerja, Spain

Anyway – back to the procession!

On arrival at the Caves of Nerja the celebrations really begin, with families and friends sharing picnics, paella, BBQs and, of course, plenty of wine and beer. This is followed by singing and dancing amongst the thousands of revellers until late into the night.

San Isidro is one of the best festivals of the year – vibrant, colourful and great fun. It usually heralds the start of good weather for the summer, as many locals say that the summer starts on 15th May!

Here´s hoping!

Which is your favourite Spanish festival or fiesta?

 

Cordoba’s Patio Festival 2014


Patio Festival, Cordoba , Spain

Even though I live in Spain, where it was Mother’s Day last Sunday, I still celebrate the day at the end of March, at the time of Mother’s Day in England, because that’s where I’m from and my family live there.

But, I know that many of you are celebrating Mother’s Day today, so I’ve got a real treat for you.

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Last week I visited Cordoba, one of my favourite cities in Spain, for the annual Patio Festival (La Fiesta de Los Patios de Cordoba).  

 The old part of the city consists of narrow cobble-stone streets with the houses white-washed to keep them cool during the very hot summers.  Many of these old houses or apartments are situated around a private, interior courtyard accessible only to residents.

Patio Festival, Cordoba , Spain

The origin of these courtyards can be traced to Roman times, when the courtyard (known as an atrium) was a place where rainwater was collected.

Later, the Moors who dominated this area of Spain for so long, made the courtyard a much more social space.  They planted vines so that their branches could offer shade during the very hot summer months, and pretty water features and pots of flowers were added making the patios a place where neighbours could get together and enjoy the cooler temperatures.

Patio Festival, Cordoba , Spain

Of course, these courtyards or patios form part of private houses, so are normally closed to the general public.   But, for two weeks in May each year, as families compete for the most beautiful patio in Cordoba, they are thrown open so that members of the public can visit each of these patios.

Patio Festival, Cordoba , Spain

A few have plaques on the wall outside, announcing their previous successes in the Patio Festival, but all of the competing patios are identified by two little conifer trees in red pots outside the gate.

All, but one or two of the Patios are FREE to visit, though a small donation is appreciated (but not obligatory) as you leave.

Bear in mind that Los Patios de Cordoba is a very popular (and famous) Festival in Spain, with hoards of tourists – both international and local – descending on the city every day.  Weekends are especially busy, and a free ticketing system has now been established, to enable some semblance of order and safety when visiting the often tiny patios.  (See link below to get your free tickets).

Patio Festival, Cordoba , Spain

You can collect a map from the Tourist Office, on which six colour-coded routes to visit are identified, each with between 8-12 patios to visit.  (See link below to download a map).

The competing patios are open from 11am – 2pm and 6pm – 10pm each day from 5th – 18th May 2014.

How would you fancy watering all these pots?

Further information:

HISTORY OF THE PATIOS

PROGRAMME

DOWNLOAD A MAP OF THE ROUTES

FREE TICKETS

 

Following the tapas route around Torre del Mar

Ruta de la Tapa, Torre del Mar

From 1st May until 1st June, Torre del Mar is hosting the third “La Ruta de la Tapa” (Tapas route) around the town.  With 24 establishments taking part, and a drink plus tapa for only 2 euros, it’s a great way of trying out some new places to eat.

Here’s how to join in the fun!

  • Choose one of the bars and restaurants taking part, and when you go in mention that you are taking part in La Ruta de la Tapa.  You will be served with a specially prepared, gourmet tapa and offered a choice of drink.
  • Ask for a Tapas Route Passport and have them stamp it.
  • Each establishment is numbered and shown on the map on the back of the Passport.   Follow the route around Torre del Mar.
  • Make sure to get a stamp in your Tapas passport for each new place you visit and eat one of the special tapa.
  • When you’ve visited all 24 establishments, hand in your completed and stamped passport for a chance to win 300 euros!

Here are some of the tasty (and not so tasty) tapas I’ve enjoyed so far this month:

Vintash - Ruta de la Tapa, Torre del Mar

This is “Bacalao en tres textures con muselina de alioli”  which is a cod-fish tapa from Vintash, Avda. Andalucia esquina con C/Bateria (and one of my favourites, so far!)

Las Yuccas, Ruta de la Tapa, Torre del Mar

Next is “Volován con morcilla de Burgos, queso de cabra y piruleta de chocolate blanco con chorizo”,  a black pudding dish with a white chocolate lollipop from Las Yucas, Avda. Andalucia 64, dup. (Yes, another favourite).

Bar Centro - Ruta de la Tapa, Torre del Mar

Café Bar Centro, Calle del Mar 25, offered delicious Spanish ham with “Coca de pan de cristal con Ibérico”.

Brujas - Ruta de la Tapa, Torre del Mar

The tapa at Brujas, Paseo Maritimo, Ed. California IV bajos, is “Redondo de verdura, queso y salsa de arandanos” – delicious vegetables, goat cheese and cranberries  (and yet another of my personal favourites!)

20 de Tapas - Ruta de la Tapa, Torre del Mar

“Delicias de primavera” is Spring-time on a plate at 20 de Tapas at Avda. Toré Toré.

Mi Mundo - Ruta de la Tapa, Torre del Mar

“Mini brochetas de polo braseado con salsa Tikka Masala y patatas artisanas” is a delicious chicken curry dish from Mi Mundo, Avda. Toré Toré 16.

A Lareira - Ruta de la Tapa, Torre del Mar

“Roll relleno de pollo y setas silvestres, con reducción de vino de Málaga y virutas de foie” is another tasty chicken dish from A Lareira, Calle Pasillo Batería, 7.

Casa Andrés - Ruta de la Tapa, Torre del Mar

“Brocheta marinera con verduras en tempura y mahonesa de marisco” , is a delicious fish-skewered tapa from Casa Andrés, Paseo de Larios 36.

El Rincón de Paco - Ruta de la Tapa, Torre del Mar

And last and, in my opinion, very much the least, is “Bacalao Rincón de Paco” offered by El Rincón de Paco (Number 11 on the tapas route) on Paseo Maritimo.  On paper it should have been OK (cod), but it was drizzled in loads of unidentifiable sweet stuff, and what the bright pink and green things were, I don’t know!   I left my glass of red wine (vino tinto)  which tasted like vinegar – so all in all they will be getting 0/5  **Shudder**

 

So, these are the bars and restaurants I have visited so far on La Ruta de la Tapa in Torre del Mar, but I’ve lots more places to visit before June 1st.   Wish me luck!  

Which of these tapas would you like to try?  Or, if you are in La Axarquía and joining in – which is YOUR favourite tapa?

 

FYI … there is a similar Ruta de la Tapa going on in Nerja during May, too.  Click HERE for information 🙂

 

Semana Santa: Not only in Seville and Málaga

Good Friday procession, Competa, Spain

One of the biggest festivals of the year in Spain is upon us – Semana Santa (Holy Week).  

Andalucía is well known for the many huge processions taking place each day (and throughout the night), particularly in the cities of Seville and Málaga.

But in even the smallest of white villages throughout La Axarquía, evidence of devotion and penitence can be seen, as religious effigies are squeezed through the often steep, narrow streets.

The images are very powerful as the life-sized religious figures set onto ornate tronos (floats or thrones) sway in time to the slow thud of the drums marking their beat.

The colourfully-robed, hooded penitents of the various Brotherhoods make their way through the streets accompanied by the solemn wail of the trumpets of the local municipal band.

Semana Santa is a festival to be perceived through all the senses. 

You can almost taste the overpowering aroma of incense and flowers filling the air as the processions pass by.   No matter the time of day or night, villagers will congregate on street corners, steps, or hang over their balconies to see and sometimes applaud or cry out to their favourite tronos, often reaching out to touch the display as it mesmerisingly sways past them.

Make no mistake, you don’t need to be a religious person to be deeply moved or feel the passion of Semana Santa.

After all – THIS IS SPAIN!

 

EDITED TO ADD:  After I posted the video yesterday of the Semana Santa processions in Malaga, I was reminded by Gilly, Cristina and Gemma‘s comments to tell you about the hoods that are worn (some conical and some not).   It IS important to know the origin.  Thanks ladies 🙂

A common feature of Semana Santa is the Nazareno or penitential robe for some of the participants in the processions.

This garment consists in a tunic, a hood with conical tip (known as a capirote) used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak.  The exact colours and forms of these robes depend on the particular procession.

The robes were widely used in medieval times for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity.

Sadly, even though these robes and hoods have been used for hundreds of years in this way, they were “hi-jacked” by the Klu Klux Klan in the late 1860s – for which they are more “well-known” outside of Spain.  

More’s the pity.