April 08, 2012

Happy Easter from Spain

Semana Santa, the week leading up to Easter Sunday (Domingo de Pascua), is a very big week in Spain.

Different "parroquias" (parishes) in every city celebrate the Passion and Resurrection of Christ in long and solemn processions during the whole week. There are special gowns and dresses worn and brass bands play slow marches to the steps of sometimes more than 100 people carrying immense altars with a statue of Jesus on the cross or Holy Mary.

On the sidelines people are often less serious. Hotels everywhere are booked to the limit when loads of tourists flood Seville and are handed schedules where to be at what time. It is a holiday week and the processions are an event that you attend socially. Spaniards sit for hours on their prepared stools and chairs next to the street where the procession will pass, eating "pipas" (sunflower or pumpkin seeds) and chatting with friends. Until finally a big "Aww" spreads across the crowd, when the altar comes into sight around a street corner and people marvel at how beautiful the shrine looks and clap for the people carrying it. Sometimes the procession stops for a while, giving the altar bearers a moment to gather strength again. With a ring of hand bells the altar is picked up again and is carried further down the streets until it enters the church it belongs to.

 In other news my travel companion and I were stuck in Málaga for two more days than we had originally planned. We had been informed that all the supermarkets would be closed on Thursday and Friday and we had duly bought all the extra food we needed. What I forgot to consider however was that I had parked the car in that same supermarket's free parking lot ;-) Things happen, and I have no regrets for spending an extra day in a very pleasant coastal city after many days of constant travelling.

Today I am sending a big "Happy Easter" out to all of you. I do it in the hope that - whichever faith or non-faith, persuasion or non-persuasion you adhere to - you are enjoying a peaceful Sunday with your loved ones.

April 02, 2012

Travelling together

In the past I have tried out a lot of different travel styles (except for all inclusive vacations, not really my thing) and travelled with many people. I travelled alone in my car, took planes, buses, trains and ferries. I have slept in hotels, hostels, motels, on people's couches, in my car, went camping and even spent nights at bus stations. I went on some trips with people I had only met a short while before and took journeys with some of my closest friends and my family. You should think that by now I should have decided which is the best way to travel for me :)

But it's not like that. With every new destination and every new person things are different. I change while travelling and learn something about myself. Travelling with only one other person is maybe the most enlightening experience among the possible constellations, more enlightening to me than it was travelling alone and certainly quite different from travelling with two or more people.

Being on the road can be stressful. There is a co-dependent relationship between two people who have decided to stick together for the time being. None of you can easily do "their own thing", take all their time, be always comfortable. So you need to do a lot of planning, calculate for down-time and food and accomodation to everybody's liking. I have heard stories of many a travelling group that has broken up over some sort of fight or other. If you wanna test a relationship, go on a long trip with your partner. By the end, you will know what the two of you can withstand and you will not only know your partner better, but also yourself. And you will be better for it.

On a related note I send you greetings from Portimão (Algarve) in Southern Portugal. I might tell the many adventures I have lived through with my travel companion on another day. Life is good and time is passing quickly :) For your benefit I have added a picture of probably the most perfect travelling couple I have met so far, two charming Chinese people I saw at the Mosteiro dos Gerónimos in Belém (Lisbon).