Showing posts with label Andalucia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Andalucia. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

TPThursday: Searching for Duende in Seville

Duende.  A Spanish concept as hard to define as it is to find.

But I was bound and determined to find it last year in Andalucia.

Prior to our trip, I was inspired by the writings of Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca who discussed the elusive concept in the book “In Search of Duende” (A New Direction Pearls publishers, 1975).

Lorca described duende ‘as a power, not a work. . .a struggle, not a thought.’ Likening it to a demonic ‘earth spirit that captures an artist, be it a bullfighter, Flamenco dancer or musician’  in such a manner as to cause an emotional – even physical response – by the audience.

In theory, we would know it was duende when we found it.

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With our legal and journalist backgrounds, finding such a thing would be a stretch of our ‘fact and figures’ approach to life. I anticipated it would require attending a bull fight or a flamenco performance to even have a chance at experiencing duende, but then as we walked back to our hotel in Seville late one night. . .

DCVegasSeville2011 243

We saw through the open back door of a tavern that is was packed with men in dark robes with colorful sashes, patches and a few tassels. We’d noticed similar dress on a few people we’d passed earlier on the street. It sounded like they were having fun, so curiosity – or was it that rascal duende – led us inside for a closer look . . .

DCVegasSeville2011 241. . .at the red and white sashes, the patches and other adornments on  their outfits:

DCVegasSeville2011 252

It didn’t matter that we were the only English speaking twosome in their midst; certainly the only Americans.  In our broken English/Spanish conversation we think they told us they were from various universities, they gathered annually at different locations in Spain.

DCVegasSeville2011 245To this day and despite Google searches we still aren’t sure exactly who they were or what they did, why they gather, or why they were in town. 

But sometimes that really isn’t important when you think back on an experience. . .

Especially when it was an experience like no other we had in Spain because when they picked up their instruments and began to play music. . .and sing. . .

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The atmosphere changed as first one and then others picked up instruments and joined in. . .

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The man in the center, a patron at the bar, requested a particular song and they began to sing it. . .

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A song of such power and emotion that soon the patron – with a deep, strong voice – had joined in. . .

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Here I should note that earlier in the evening Joel had told the woman in the photo that I had been searching for duende on this trip. . .

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We were caught up by the music’s intensity, the vibrancy in the small place, the spontaneity of the continuing song-fest . . .

DCVegasSeville2011 254Duende?”
You want duende?” 
This, . . . this, is duende!” she said to me.

But she didn’t need to tell me that.
I knew it was duende – I’d felt it too.

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“But there are neither maps nor exercises to help us find the duende. . . .
The great artists of the south of Spain, whether Gypsy or flamenco, whether they sing, dance or play, know that no emotion is possible unless the duende comes. . .”
- Federico Garcia Lorca

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Have you ever searched for something so elusive in your travels? Did you find it?

It’s Travel Photo Thursday so head over to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox.  Hope you also sign up to receive our posts in your email or become a follower of TravelnWrite. . .thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TPThursday: Do you ‘Capture the Colours’ or Clichés?

We’ve sometimes overlooked the ‘colors of  travel’. So often, I am trying to capture the memory of a particular travel moment, that I don’t notice the colors that contributed to it.

I traveled down a number of Memory Lanes to find photos that express each of the world’s primary colors: blue, yellow, red, green, and white for today’s post. I did so after Cathy Sweeney of Traveling with Sweeney and Vi at Short Travel Tips  tapped me for participation in a contest being sponsored by TravelSupermarket.  (I never win contests, but this was a great exercise - you should try it.)

DSCF0617The contest judges don’t want photo clichés: a blue sky, a red sunset or a yellow flower (like the sunflower photo here that I took in Stehekin, WA. It’s a great memory but cliché).

They want color in photos that give a sense of place, perhaps even ‘a splash’ of color.  Something that ‘captures a place so well that even if I’ve been there before, I think to myself, ‘Wow, I have to go there', ” says one judge.
With that in mind, here’s the travel palette of colors I chose:


It was simply, a fairy tale. One of the most stunning road trips we’ve ever taken was high up into Spain’s Andalucian hillsides.  We lost track of the number of small hamlets – the famous White Towns – as we followed the winding road on that magical journey.



Sometimes the ambiance and charm are so intense that a place seems unreal, almost as if it were a movie set; one in which we are lucky enough to be among the cast members.  That was Gibraltar.  This pair of street musicians provided the movie’s soundtrack. Their melodies followed us for blocks in this little bit of England on the Iberian Peninsula.



Greek ferries. They come in every size, shape and color creating a rainbow in the harbor at Piraeus, the port city serving Athens. If I were recommending travel experiences you must have before you die; sailing a Greek ferry from this harbor is at the top of the list.



I called it the Emerald Empire in an earlier post; The Palouse, that agricultural land that makes up the Eastern part of Washington State.

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My take on blue is probably as cliché as it gets, but after years of dreaming about visiting Greece and then finally getting there, I couldn’t believe it was as picture perfect as we found it. And this time I did notice the colors because it made the travel moment unforgettable.


Have you been capturing the color or clichés?  On your next trip keep those primary colors in mind when you take aim with the camera – I will.

That’s it for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday. Hope you’ll head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos.

I’d also like to tap the following fellow bloggers to join in the Capture the Colour contest:
Dick’s Travel Tales from the Road
Keryn’s Walking on Travels
Heather’s Lost in Arles
Andi’s The Particular Traveler
Five American guys’  Travel Philosophy

Thursday, December 29, 2011

TP Thursday: Osuna, Spain The Land of Olives

The air in Osuna, Spain was so thick with the scent of olive oil that we’d often pause stop during our walks through town to take deep breaths just to savor the invisible delicacy.


Osuna, the Andalucian town 90 minutes from Seville, is in the midst of The Land of Olives. Lucky for us that our November visit was during harvest.  (This tree at the Santa Teresa Company’s 1881 Olive Oil plant is more than 100 years old.)

Spain is the world’s leading olive oil producer with more than 300 million olive trees and groves that cover more than five million acres - 80% of the total crop is grown in Andalucia.


Trucks stacked high with branches laden with olives rumbled along the city’s narrow streets as they made their way to one of several olive oil processing plants.

DSCF1614In Osuna  more than 250,000 kilograms of olives are refined every day and 30 million liters of oil are bottled each year.

There were simply enormous amounts of  olive oil. . .as evidenced by these storage tanks  and the tanker trucks at Coreysa’s olive oil plant an easy walk from our hotel. 


Coreysa was founded in 1917 by Daniel Espuny Aleixendri, whose  family in the 14th Century owned oil mills in Northern Spain’s Catalonia region.  He worked his way to Osuna and started what today continues to be a family operation, today it is run by his grandchildren and their children.
Across town at another processing plant, the entry gate displays the generations who’ve carried on the family’s oil production since it was begun by Daniel Espuny Aleixendri.

We often buy a couple of bottles of wine to bring back from our travels but this trip the wine was left behind to make room in the suitcases for the olive oil.

DSCF1690 These bottles now have a place of honor on our kitchen counter. Not only is the oil superb for eating, but its taste – and smell – are great reminders of our short stay in The Land of Olives. 

For those of you cooks out there: the larger 500ml bottle cost a bit over $4US in Osuna (back home at our neighborhood grocery similar Spanish oil sells for $28). The smaller bottle was a gift from the fellows  I wrote about in an earlier post who introduced us to gourmet tapas.

Note: Today is Travel Photo Thursday so head to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox for more photos from bloggers around the world.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A donde va? Osuna!

“A donde va?,” asked the rotund bus driver as I stood at the Seville bus station. “Osuna a  la once (own-say).” I answered.

osuna 001[ “Where are you going?” the bus driver asked. “Osuna at 11,” I answered.]

And 30 minutes later at precisely 11 a.m. we were off on our second phase of this Andalucian Adventure.
Osuna is located an hour and a half from Seville, nestled into the Sierra Sur foothills; an agricultural and  university-town. 

osuna 005 Signs  remind visitors that we are in one of the towns on “La Ruta de Washington Irving.” (Irving’s “Tales of the Alhambra” is set in Granada but  begins with his trip from Seville to Granada through the Andalucian countryside.)

We came here not for the town, but for the hotel that called out to us during an internet search back home several months ago. More on the hotel in the next post. . .today is about the town; a place quite popular as a base for hunting and fishing trips in the surrounding areas.

Although Lonely Planet’s “Spain” guidebook devoted a portion of a page to the town it didn’t prepare us for the enchantments that it held.  Enchantments, remind me of Don Quixote’s travels – so it seems fitting that we are under their spell in a hotel that is on Plaza Cervantes, named for the author of the fictional character.

The first thing we noticed was that prices here are so incredibly inexpensive that we pause each time a bill is presented. . .”It can’t be THAT cheap, can it?” we ask ourselves.  (For example, two caffes con leche (cafe lattes) with a large glass of fresh squeezed orange juice was 3.5E this morning - $5.)

osuna 009 We’ve wandered cobble-stone streets racking up double digit miles on the pedometer passing blocks of mansions dating back to the 1700’s; a church built in the 1500’s, a university with centuries of history. Plazas, fountains, squares; gathering places for young and old. 

And then there’s the olive oil factories that fill the air with the smell of olives and olive oil. Those, too, will be written about later.

And then there’s  the Roman ruins. . . We are headed out to see them this afternoon – obviously way too much to see and do!

Hasta manana!

Note:  We’ve enjoyed using our Spanish – limited as it is – but it wouldn’t be necessary to speak the language to visit this area. 

The photos in order: from the bus arriving in Osuna, one of the many “Ruta” signs in town and a view from the university parking lot out over town – the large building in the distance is a hospital.


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