The Spanish Revolution Continues – Notes from Spain Podcast 79

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Ben and Marina discuss on-going events in “The Spanish Revolution”.

Other links mentioned in the podcast:

Our Cazorla coverage
The 150 posters and slogans from the Sol encampment
The best one of all, from this South of Watford post
– Rosa Diez’s party mentioned in the podcast (that we couldn’t remember the name of!) is Unión Progreso y Democracia (explained on wikipedia here)
Our Spanish learning site: Notes in Spanishnew videos up for Spanish learners!

And Finally… 2 Videos

The first, from 4Ojos, shows life under the awnings in the Puerta del Sol encampment at its height, just a day before the May 22nd elections:

And this wonderful video (in Spanish) that is doing the rounds at the moment that really explains the whole mess in Spanish politics and economics about as well as anyone could hope to:

6 Months without Twitter and Facebook

Apart from my 6 month blogging absence here at, I also avoided almost all interaction with Twitter and Facebook.

I would occasionally log in to both to post news of new updates at, our Spanish learning site, (as well as my personal Twitter we have a NIS FB page and Twitter account), but this almost felt like it wasn’t ‘playing the game’ – using FB and Twitter as a service to publish news without being ‘social’.

Now I’ve been dipping my toes back in the FB and Twitter water, and have come to the following conclusions.

1. Both services are a huge distraction to getting any real work done – and I have minimal time to work as it is!

2. Twitter is much better for getting news, and for getting pointed to interesting stuff going on around the net, but it’s also a place to get pointed to an awful lot of stuff you just don’t need to know about at all, ever.

3. It is kind of nice when Facebook tells you what an old friend is up to.

4. When I use twitter (mostly via the Mac’s Twitter App), and follow links from there around the web, my blood pressure rises very quickly – so I’m not sure Twitter is good for my health!

5. My life was not in any way poorer for not being engaged with these services for 6 months. Therefore, I could give them up again, but the fact that EVERYONE is now in there, and that they form such a firm part of the fabric of the net, will probably keep drawing me back every now and again. FB is winning over Twitter though, as the distraction factor is lower, and it doesn’t make my blood pressure go up so much.

6. As a wise person once told me, you have to give something up to really understand it, and what it does to you. He was talking about wine, though I think there are parallels with the long term effects of Social Media!

Stunning Sierra De Cazorla

Last weekend we headed about 5 hours south of Madrid to the stunning Sierra de Cazorla. If you don’t know where it is, then don’t worry – hardly anyone does! Which is a very good thing, as there is hardly anyone there at this time of year. Here is our trip in photos, with accompanying notes.

First we did the Cerrada del Utrero walk, an hour’s circular ramble, the highlight of which is this stunning waterfall pouring from a vast, sheer rock face as vultures circle above:

La Cerrada del Utrero

We spent the first night at the lost-in-the-hills Hotel Coto del Valle – 4 stars, a bit more luxurious than we need, but at 60 euros a night we felt it was a good place to start. (Later we moved to self-catering accommodation down the road in Arroyo Frio.) Just outside the hotel gates a large family of wild boar wandered past, watched by a stag further up the hill:

Wild Boar in Cazorla - Jabalis

Our main excursion was a full days walk along the Sendero del Rio Borosa, a long dirt forest track beside a crystal clear, trout-filled mountain stream, than turns into the highlight of the trip, the narrow path known as the Cerrada de Elías, one of the most beautiful gorge walks I’ve ever encountered – filled with wild flowers and fig trees overhanging the stream:

La Cerrada de Elías

La Cerrada de Elías

Fly Fishing in La Cerrada de Elías

Here’s the map, below, of where to find the Sierra de Cazorla, and here are instructions for the Cerrada de Elías route. I hope you get to walk it one day!

View Larger Map

The Spanish Revolution

I hadn’t bought a newspaper in a very long time until I heard about the incredibly exciting events of the Spanish Revolution last week – then I bought El Pais every day while we were out of Madrid on a short break, amazed by what has been happening in the capital’s Puerta del Sol and other parts of the country.

Rather than comment more on these historic events now, I refer you to two much better informed sources of information, that, unlike me, have actually been down on the ground in Sol to see for themselves what is going on.

Check out South of Watford’s reports from Sol, and Enrique Flores’ excellent reportage drawings and videos from the scene.

Photo Wander Madrid

A wander from Atotcha up to the Plaza Santa Ana this morning shows that, despite myriad changes, Madrid is still the same old Madrid, and Spain is still fantastically Spanish… Much of what I saw reminded me of the city as I first found it, 12 years ago…

Here a lottery seller stands in the Paseo del Prado, the week’s previous results pinned to the tree behind him:

Lottery Seller, Paseo del Prado, Madrid

And still the bright red, back-breaking Bombonas (gas bottles) are a viable source of city energy in 2011… Fiambres (ham, chorizo etc) and Frutos Secos (nuts) are a viable source of human energy too!

Fiambres and Bombonas, Huertas, Madrid

Nacional products, like these walnuts, are still considered to be highly superior:

Walnuts in shop display, Madrid

Spot the odd can out (hint, by Heinz!):

Canned food, shop display, Madrid

Posters on a closed-down fish market advertise a protest organised under the slogan “Joventud Sin Futuro – Sin Casa, Sin Curro, Sin Pensión, Sin Miedo” (Youth without a future – no house, no work, no pension, no fear):

Protest posters, Huertas, Madrid

The walk was roughly this:

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More good stuff: Did you catch yesterday’s podcast?

Big Vultures in Sepulveda – Notes from Spain Podcast 78


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Ben and Marina are back, talking about Sepulveda (photo above), the Hoces Del Rio Duratón, life in the Barrio and more…. Leave us a comment if you’ve listened, or have a question or topic for the next podcast.

More photos… A typical Castilla y Leon roadside landscape:

Castilla y Leon Landscape

A view over the valley below Sepulveda town:

View from Sepulveda town

Amusing sign on the wall in Sepulveda:

Sign on the wall in Sepulveda

Where to find Sepulveda:

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A short history of Spanish cinema, and Spanish graduates heading abroad…

Cabo de Trafalgar, Near Vejer de la Frontera
Photo: Cabo de Trafalgar, near Vejer de la Frontera

Two very interesting articles in the Guardian have recently been pointed out to me by listeners at our Spanish learning sister site

First, A short history of Spanish cinema – loads of trailers.

Do read the Guardian comments too for more recommendations. (As the first comment points out, you might need a 3 hour lunch-break to watch all the trailers in the article!)

Secondly, Spain’s lost generation of graduates join wave of migrants in search of jobs tells the story of those fleeing the crisis in Spain to seek work in locations like London.

Finally, a quick plug…

…a very good friend of mine has put a website together to help his mother (also a great friend of mine!) rent her very nice house in Vejer de la Frontera. Even if you don’t want to rent a holiday house in Vejer, then I thoroughly recommend looking at the photos in the galleries, they are great! This is without doubt one of my favourite parts of Spain. Check it all out here: A house in Vejer

Tremendous Castellers Video from Tarragona

Casteller from Mike Randolph on Vimeo.

In the city of Tarragona, Spain, castellers gather every two years to see who can build the highest, most intricate human castles. It requires astonishing strength, finesse, and balance. Not to mention courage.

Thanks so much to Mike for sending me this video. I went to this event, the Concurs de Castells, about 10 years ago (and wrote about it in Errant), and have longed to go back since, it’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life. If you want to go in two years time, get a ticket as soon as they are released, they fly!

Quick Notes from Spain…

Competition time!

Over at Notes in Spanish we are holding a quick competition with a 100 Euro prize for the best Spanish-learning question.

Virtual Business cards!

I was in our local herbolario (health-food store) the other day, when I saw that there were a bunch of cards on the counter belonging to a friend of ours that has opened a yoga studio. How nice for the store owner to advertise this for them for free.

It made me wonder what the online equivalent of ‘leaving a few cards on the counter’ would be. I know the web has ‘link exchanges’ (though we don’t do that), and just plain linking to something one likes (we do do this!), but how would a friend leave a card on the Notes from Spain counter?

Later that day I got an email from Simon at Los Gazquez (where we recorded a great podcast!) sent out to all his friends:

If you believe in sustainable and cultural tourism, if you believe art has the ability to make communities and individuals thrive, if you believe that a house built on profound ecological principles as a means to set an example to the world on how individuals can bring change and reverse the adverse effects of climate change and environmental pollution then become an Amigo de Los Gázquez.
All we ask is that you help out with a little promotion. From time to time we will produce a new graphic image such as those you can see on the blog page (cool, tasteful and entertaining, not spammy) promoting either new residencies by artists, creative courses or eco-holidays.

Well we certainly believe in all those things, so here is Simon’s card, on our counter, from these Amigos de Los Gazquez:

At last, Apple is doing film rentals in Spain

Spain has been way way behind on the on-line rentals thing (no netflix for us!), but according to El Pais, Apple has finally opened up a modern-day video club to the nation. It will be interesting to see how much uptake it has in a country that is rather fond of the bit-torrent option… “According to the United States, Spain has one of the worst file-sharing “problems” in the world.”

Click here to see what movies Apple is offering in iTunes so far in Spain – not much!