A day in Cádiz

On June 24, my last day in Jerez, I went to Cádiz for the afternoon.  I had spent a week there in 2012 in the apartment of my first flamenco teacher and friend, Rafaela de Cádiz, and had fallen in love with this charming coastal city (as I tend to do with most cities in Spain the first time I visit them). Since I was so close, only about 45 minutes by train, I decided a day trip there was in order this year.

It was a short walk from my apartment to the beautiful Jerez train station, and I found myself on a train platform full of people all geared up to spend a day at the beach, as it was a sweltering day in the area, with a high in Jerez of 43 degrees centigrade, or 109.4 degrees Fahrenheit.



Cádiz is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, founded in 1100 B.C. by the Pheonicians.  It was one of the most important ports for trade with the Indies.  Evidence of its many phases is everywhere, for example in the ruins of the Roman theater, and in the Pópulo neighborhood, which is one of its oldest and one of the cradles of flamenco.

I wanted to spend my limited time in Cádiz mostly in the historic center, which is still mostly preserved in its original state within the walled part of the city.  My first stop to orient myself before the maze of narrow medieval streets was the Plaza de San Juan de Dios, which was previously the Plaza Mayor of the city and is where the Ayuntamiento, or City Hall, is located.  There was a small artisan bazaar in the plaza that day.



After wandering the pretty streets of that area for a while, I looked for a restaurant that my new friend Tatiana (introduced in the last post) had recommended I try for lunch, called “La gorda te da de comer”.  I found this very busy little restaurant without any problem and had a seat at the bar since it was so packed.  Despite how busy they were running back and forth, the staff at this cute spot was super friendly and even took a moment to pose when they saw I was taking a picture.  The tapas were great, with generous portions and really reasonable prices.


After I cooled down and refueled at La gorda te da de comer, I headed for the cathedral. Known as the Catedral de Cádiz and also la Catedral Nueva, it was built beginning in 1722.  In its chapels, there are many important works of art. Visitors can also go down into the crypt where, among other important figures, the composer Manuel de Falla is buried.




A nice long and leisurely audio guided tour of the cathedral allowed me to cool down before climbing to the top of one of the cathedral towers, La Torre del Poniente, where there are breathtaking views of the city and of the sea beyond.




After the cathedral visit, I wandered the old city a little more and headed toward one of the many beautiful beaches in Cádiz, Playa de la Caleta, and then visited the Castillo de Santa Catalina, which is one of the few sites I hadn’t visited when I stayed there in 2012. Built as a military fortress in 1596, it’s currently a cultural center and art gallery, open to the public with free entrance.  When I visited there was an intriguing art exhibit of several female contemporary artists.





After my visit to the Castillo de Santa Catalina, I was exhausted by the heat and decided to slowly make my way back to the train station, winding back through the old city.  On the way I came across yet another religious procession, my third one in one week.  This one was the Magna Mariana, in which floats bearing statues of the Virgin Mary are carried by “costaleros”  through the streets to the cathedral, accompanied by bands and incense bearers, and I encountered the early stages of one of several processions that would continue well into the evening. Here’s a link to see a video of the 2017 procession Magna Mariana Cádiz 2017.





It was a short but sweet visit to Cádiz, it was time to head back to Jerez and get ready for my trip the next day to Granada.

Next up:  Granada, week 1.




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Jerez, part 2: Flamenco y más…

My principal reason for spending a week in Jerez before starting the second phase of my Master’s program in Granada was to experience as much flamenco as possible in this town in which flamenco is part of daily life for so many, and which is considered one of the birthplaces of flamenco.  This second post about my week in Jerez will describe those experiences among others from  that week.

I had arranged in advance to take technique classes with Mercedes Ruíz and bulerías classes at the Academia de Tatiana Ruíz, and I got started right away on Monday morning.  Having taken classes with Mercedes last year when I was with the Experience Flamenco , I was already familiar with the studio and with Mercedes’ teaching style and some of her technique exercises. However, taking her class together with several professional or semi-professional dancers was a new challenge.  I loved it and felt pretty good about the fact that I was mostly able to keep up.  The footwork exercises were sometimes beyond my ability level, but they were a good challenge.  And although I was definitely the least advanced of the group, Mercedes was supportive and kind and no one made me feel like I didn’t belong.  I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to study with her last year and this year.  Here’s a link to a video of an interview with Mercedes that was recorded in her studio where I studied and that includes clips of her dancing:  Interview with Mercedes Ruíz

In the class with Mercedes, I also met a new friend who was taking the same technique class and, as it turned out, was living in the same apartment building.  Tati, who is a flamenco dancer from Brazil, went with me to a couple of shows at tablaos and introduced me to lots of interesting people, most of whom are local flamenco performers or aficionados.  Although we only started spending time together a few days before I had to leave for Granada, it was great getting to know her and I know we’ll keep in touch.  This is a photo from the first show I saw with her at the Tabanco Cruz Vieja, followed by one taken at Peña la Bulería where we saw a fin de curso show, which is kind of like a dance recital, but way more festive, and where I had seen a couple of shows the previous year.

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One of the evenings I went out with Tati, it turned out that a well known singer, El Almendro, was singing on the patio of one of Jerez’ hot spot bars, El Gallo Azul.  One of Tati’s friends, a very friendly palmero whose name I’ve sadly forgotten, is a friend of El Almendro and pulled us up to accompany El Almendro with palmas.  I joined in briefly, then made my exit to go capture the moment.  After he finished singing, Tati’s friend introduced us to him.  Here’s a photo of El Almendro con Tati and her friends.

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The other flamenco teacher I took classes from in Jerez is Tatiana Ruíz, daughter of La Chiqui de Jerez, well-known and respected dancer, singer and teacher.  I took private bulerías classes with Tatiana at Chiqui’s studio (photo below) and we had a lot of fun together.  She is a very sweet and generous teacher.  It was fun to learn a few new moves to add to my bulerías repertoire.

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Part of the flamenco experience in Jerez for any dancer has to be a visit to the store (and creative work space) of Fátima Canca, designer of flamenco wear for many well-known artists, including Mercedes Ruíz.  Last year I purchased some shoes and a bolerito from her, and I was looking forward to seeing her again and visiting her store.  Here’s a picture of her putting the finishing touches on the handmade one-of-a-kind blouse I bought from her this year.

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I loved the part of town where my apartment was for several reasons: its proximity to both studios that I took classes at, its proximity to two peñas, the fact that I walked by this amazing sculpture of the legendary jerezana singer Lola Flores every time I walked to the center of town, and because my favorite restaurant in Jerez is right next to that work of art.

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The restaurant I refer to above, which is right across from the Lola Flores monument, is Atuvera.  It was reasonably priced, with beautifully presented versions of typical dishes as well as dishes from other cuisines, and interesting decor.  Another reason I went back to Atuvera a few times this year was the super friendly and helpful waiter, Angel.  The first time I went to the restaurant this year, I just stopped in to ask if they still were serving my favorite dish from last year, Zanahorias (literally “carrots”, but carrots prepared in the special way they’re prepared in Jerez, which I absolutely love and had been craving for a year).  He said they did and I told him I was so glad because they’re my favorite Jerez dish, and that I’d be back soon to have some. When I went back the next day for a light dinner, Angel remembered and gave me the carrots on the house. Another dish I loved at Atuvera was the falafel, which was no ordinary falafel.  Here are a few photos from Atuvera, including the falafel and a delicious and different salmorejo, as well as their cute cards with pictures of various menu choices.

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Another gastronomic treat in Jerez is the assortment of ice creams that contain sherry, as well as the granizado made with sherry.  A granizado is kind of like a slushy, but much better. What a treat on a hot day!

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My first day in Jerez coincided with Corpus Christi, thus the procession to the cathedral that I featured in the last post.  My last day in Jerez coincided with the saint’s day of San Juan Bautista, which of course called for another procession.  This time is was a procession of the statue of San Juan Bautista which was carried through the town to a chapel which was located next to the monument to another legendary singer, La Paquera, at the other end of La Plazuela.  I love this photo of San Juan Bautista and La Paquera.  Following it is a picture taken the previous night, when the bearers of the statue were rehearsing with the band that accompanied them in the procession.

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Here are a few more photos of Jerez that don’t necessarily fit in with the topics of this post but that represent my week there.

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Jerez, part 1

June 18-June 21

After my short but fun day in Madrid, I boarded the train to Jerez on June 18.  As always, it  was a pleasant way to travel to Andalucia:  comfortable, quick, clean, and with a cafeteria car and movies and music.

The taxi ride from the train station to the Plazuela, the part of Jerez that I would be staying in for a week, is short and inexpensive, and I was quickly settled into the apartment that would be my home for the next week.  For more information about this special part of Jerez, see my post from last summer, Days 3 & 4.

I was so happy to be able to stay in the same apartments as last year, owned and managed by the nicest people:  José Luís and Maribel.  How nice it is to return to a town one is familiar with and be reunited with people one already knows.  As I arrived on a Sunday, I was out of luck in terms of buying some groceries for the week.  In Jerez, everything but the restaurants and bars is closed on Sundays, so once I was settled in and unpacked, I headed into the historical city center for some dinner.

As it turned out, I unwittingly arrived on the date of Jerez’ Corpus Christi celebration.   It didn’t take long to figure it out once I ventured out.  It was clear that preparations were in process for a religious event, so I asked around a bit about what it was and found a spot for dinner that gave me a front-and-center view of the religious procession that would be happening that evening, and which I then followed toward the cathedral.  Here are a few pictures of the preparation for the procession.  All of the Catholic societies in the town prepared altars, and the path for the procession was lined with “rugs” made of carefully arranged dyed salt.  Here are some photos of the preparations and a few of the many altars that were scattered throughout the historical center of the city.

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Corpus Christi is a Catholic festival honoring the Eucharist.   Although each town has its own unique way of marking it, in most towns in Spain, this includes a procession through town in which the elaborate custodia from the local cathedral is carried through the town on a pre-determined route, usually leading to the cathedral.  In Jerez, it seemed to me that a rather large population of the small city was either participating or observing the procession, complete with music from bands.  However, one gentleman I spoke with that evening, Manuel, was not interested in the festival and made it clear to me that in his opinion, it was only for very religious people.  He was surprised that I was interested in it, and I explained to him that all local traditions are of interest to me, especially those that we don’t have in our relatively young country.  Here are a few photos of the procession.

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On Monday and Tuesday, I had a morning flamenco technique class with Mercedes Ruíz for an hour and a half in the morning, and I had the rest of the day free to explore the town.  This year was quite different from last year, as I was there on my own without the relative “safety” of being a part of Laura’s carefully planned and led Experience Flamenco tour  .  (Read more about last year’s experience with Mercedes Ruíz here. ) This time, I was in class with Mercedes’s regular students, who are performers in their own right,  along with a few others who seemed to be there from other countries for the same reason I was: to learn as much from Mercedes as possible in a short period of time.  I was so happy to be able to keep up with the others, and then the footwork sections started.  The whole week I struggled to keep up with them in the footwork.  Despite my efforts, I never really was able to, but Mercedes was kind and warm and helpful,  and I didn’t feel judged or looked down upon by any of the other students, which is surprising in the world of flamenco!  I made progress each day though, which was enough for me. Starting on Wednesday, I also had a few private Bulerías classes with Tatiana Ruíz.  More about that in the next post!

Having afternoons and evenings free on Monday and Tuesday allowed me to do a lot of exploring around the historic center of Jerez.  Here are some of my favorite photos from those long walks, including some street scenes and city views.

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Tabanco el Pasaje, one of Jerez’ most famous sherry and flamenco bars.

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Next up:  Jerez, part 2 (and an afternoon in Cadiz!), in which I meet some special people and have some exciting experiences.

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Spain 2017

Despite good intentions, I ignored this blog for most of the school year (which was a great one, with the best classes I’ve had in years, maybe ever, new inspiration and ideas from last year’s studies in Spain, and a terrific student teacher).  And now, it’s back to Spain for more flamenco and to finish my Master’s coursework at the University of Granada.  I’ll be spending the first week in Jerez, dancing and exploring, and then it’s on to Granada for five weeks.  My goal is to post about once a week during this time, and to include lots of photos.

I arrived in Madrid on Saturday morning, June 17.  After getting settled into my room at the Hostal Rincón de Gran Via and having a short rest, my former student Brittany and her boyfriend José met me for a walk and some drinks and tapas.  Since I was staying close to the Malasaña district, which I hadn’t explored before, Brittany suggested we start there.  She described it to me as the hipster part of town, which it is, but it also still maintains much of its older traditions.  The first place they took me was one of the original vermouth bars in Madrid, La Ardosa, founded in 1892.  Besides vermouth, it’s known for having some of the best Tortilla de patata  of Madrid, so of course, I had to try that, and it didn’t disappoint.

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After that, we walked a bit through the area and made our way to one of the other most famous vermouth bars in Madrid, Casa Camacho, founded in the 20’s.  One of its claims to fame is a cocktail invented there called “Yayo” (which is an endearment meaning “Grandpa”), made with vermouth, gin and soda water.  We each had a yayo and enjoyed the traditional ambience and the very friendly and funny server.

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A little more walking through the Malasaña district took us by several typical and landmark sites, including: a very trendy-looking book store; an old pharmacy which has since been converted into a different business but conserved the exterior artwork; and finally some of the most famous nightlife spots, dating back to the time of the Movida Madrileña counterculture movement in the 70’s and 80’s and still popular today (pictured below are Madrid Me Mata and El Bar de La Chica de Ayer, which is named for one of the most popular songs from the time period.)

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Next, we headed to the neighboring district, La Chueca, known now as the gay district.  La Chueca was gearing up for Pride Week, and signs of that were everywhere.  Madrid is known for having one of the biggest Pride weeks, but this year is even more special, as Madrid is the 2017 location for World Pride.

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Our main stop in La Chueca was the San Antón, a very modern and foodie-oriented marketplace, with 3 floors of amazing food, an art space, and a rooftop terrace bar, where we sat for a while before heading back toward Gran Via.  I also had a delicious dish from the Canary Islands that was basically a fresh tomato, stuffed with a filling of goat cheese, garlic, oregano, and avocado, and drizzled with  amazing olive oil and topped with more oregano.  Sooooo goood!

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As we headed back to the Gran Via, there were all kinds of interesting things and people to see.  There was also a rally in favor of immigrant and refugee rights happening very near my hostal.  Before separating ways, we went to the top of the Dear Hotel, on Gran Via across from my hostal and the Plaza de España, where there’s a beautiful rooftop bar and terrace with great views of the city.

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The next morning, I took a short walk around the Plaza de España before heading to the always gorgeous Atocha train station to head south.

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Next up:  Jerez!

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Last day in Spain!

It has taken me a long time to get around to this after my return home and the beginning of the school year, but July 30 was a very special day that deserves a post to wrap up my blogging about my trip, even if it’s two months late.  Why was it so special?  Well, because I got to spend another day with my former student Brittany and also with her kind Spanish boyfriend José.

Although the bus ride from Granada to Madrid was long, it was pretty pleasant as bus trips go.   I arrived at the Hotel Claridge without any problems, where I was met by someone rare at most hotels these days, a porter who brought my luggage in from the taxi to the lobby and then up to my room.  Although I spent only one night there, I found it to be very comfortable and would definitely stay there again.

After a quick lunch at 100 Montaditos, kind of like Subway but way better, I walked to Parque del Buen Retiro where I met Brittany and José.  We had a nice walk through some of the highlight sections of the park, such as the Monument to Alfonso XII and the Crystal Palace, where there was a thought-provoking art exhibit.   Interestingly, the park was very full of people many of whom happened to be gathered there playing Pokemon go.8165-edit





After that, we walked through the city through Plaza del Sol and to the Templo de Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple which was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid.  It was donated to Spain by Egypt in 1968 after it was endangered in 1960 by the construction of the Aswan High Dam.  It was rebuilt in the Parque del Oeste, which also happens to have some very nice views of the city.




After that visit, we walked to Restaurante Botín, a historic restaurant founded in 1725.  It is said to be the oldest continually operating restaurant in the world, although there seems to be some dispute about that.  The specialties they’re most known for are cochinillo asado, roast suckling pig, and sopa de ajo, garlic soup, which is what I had.  Its other claims to fame are that Goya worked there as a waiter, and that it was mentioned in Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”.  Inside and out, the owners have tried to preserve as much of the original look of the restaurant as possible.  What a special dinner that was!




After dinner, we walked through the Plaza Mayor, different at night, as I had only been there during the daytime before, and then a little further to the Círculo de Bellas Artes, where we went up to the rooftop bar, where an amazing view awaited us.  From the very hip rooftop bar, you can see the Gran Vía, including the beautiful Metropolis building with its iconic sign and much more.  Having my last tinto de verano of the summer there with Brittany and José, I felt like I was in a movie.  I also realized that it was the perfect note to end my extraordinary afternoon and evening with my wonderful guides for the day, Brittany and José, since I had to be up very early the next morning to catch my plane home.  So I hugged them goodbye and left them to continue enjoying their lovely Madrid, late for me, but still early for most madrileños.



It was a perfect last day in Spain, and I am more grateful than I can express to Brittany and José for spending it with me and sharing so much of their beautiful city with me.   If I remember right, we calculated that we had walked approximately six miles that day exploring Madrid, so clearly, I have only highlighted a few of the sights and scenes of the day in this post.  Goodbye Spain, until next summer!


I had a fairly uneventful trip home and was happy beyond words to see my husband and boys waiting for me at the airport in Portland.  6 1/2 weeks proved for me to be too long to be so far from them and that was difficult for me, but I learned and saw and lived so much in that time that I don’t regret it.  I am very grateful to have a family who supports me in my travels and my educational and life goals.  I couldn’t do it if they didn’t.

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Granada, Week 5: July 24-29

The five weeks in Granada passed so quickly, even though at the beginning it seemed like an impossible amount of time to be away from my family.  On my last Sunday in Granada, I spent the day doing a little more slow-paced exploration of the city and visited one more spot that had been on my “to see” list, Carmen de los Mártires.  Of course, there were a few more special moments that last week that I will share here.

Despite my initial American culture inspired frustration that practically everything is closed on Sundays, I eventually came to appreciate what that really means for people in Granada.  People stroll in pairs or groups, often hand-in-hand, at a leisurely pace, in no hurry to get anywhere in particular, just enjoying each others’ company and the beautiful city, stopping to sit for a while in a plaza, perhaps to have some ice cream or coffee.  I really enjoyed walking around and noticing people engaging in their Sunday strolls. Here’s a series of pictures that in my mind I think of as “Sunday scenes”.

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Speaking of stopping to share an ice cream with a friend, I really enjoyed my two visits with friends to Heladería Los Italianos, an Italian-style ice cream shop in Granada that’s busy any time of day, even late into the night, and for good reason!  It’s considered by many to be the best ice cream shop in Granada, and it’s been in business and run by generations of the same family since 1936.  I’ve heard that Michelle Obama visited it when she visited Spain in 2010.  Here’s a picture from Los Italianos.

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Eventually that last Sunday, I made my way to Carmen de los Mártires, now a park owned by the city and free to visit, but with a long history.  Before being donated to the city, it was a privately owned home, before that a palace, and before that a convent (originally including one of the earliest Catholic churches in Granada).  It’s located near the Alhambra and is a pleasant uphill walk from the city.  It includes gardens with beautiful structures, fountains, patios, statues and sculptures, a pond with a bridge and tower, peacocks, and beautiful views.  I spent a couple of hours ambling through the gardens, which are surprisingly cool even on a hot Granada summer day.  Here are a few pictures from that visit.7763 edit 2

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In our final week of classes, we wrapped up our classes that had begun the previous week and added one more, “Literature in the Classroom”.   We also had our final Cultural Visit to the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel, led by the professor who had taught “Andalucía in History¨ and ¨Spanish Art and Culture¨, Dr. Salvador Gallego.  One of the most fascinating parts of this visit was seeing the tomb where the Catholic Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand are buried, along with Juana la Loca and her husband.  The Royal Chapel was built in 1505, only 13 years after the end of the Christian Conquest in 1492.  The Cathedral itself was built afterward and has more Renaissance influence.  The Cathedral features several important pieces of art by El Greco and Alonso Cano.  Photos are not allowed inside the Royal Chapel, but here are a few from the Cathedral.

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The group outside the Cathedral, with Profesor Gallego near the center.

One highlight of my last week in Granada was one of those unplanned surprises that can happen when you travel if you are open to them.  On Monday after our morning classes, I had taken my time heading back to the hotel for lunch and had wandered through the Realejo one last time in search of more street art, so I was in a bit of a hurry to make it back to the hotel before the lunch buffet ended.  As I was just leaving the Plaza de la Trinidad, I heard the sound of someone singing flamenco.  I was torn between going to find it and making it back to the hotel before 3:30, but a little voice in my head told me that an experience was calling to me and I would regret it if I chose food instead.  So I followed the sound and found a restaurant patio table where two older gentlemen were taking turns singing, playing palmas for each other and rapping the rhythm on the table while a younger man looked on.  I paused to take a picture and some short video after getting their permission, and they invited me to join them at their table for a glass of beer.  I ended up spending an hour or so with them, playing palmas, chatting , and mostly listening while they discussed all kinds of topics, such as why they love flamenco, what is true flamenco, what makes Granada special, how a woman is like a guitar, the importance of always looking your best, and what it means to have a true friend.  In between talking, one or the other would suddenly start singing. sing a letra or two, then stop and continue the conversation. These gentlemen were Juan de Córdoba and Antonio, and the younger man was Juan’s son Juan.  It was a special hour and an half and well worth missing my lunch. They invited me to return later that evening with friends and said they’d try to find more friends to come too for more music.  As it turned out only Juan and his son came back that night and there wasn’t a lot of music, but my friends Andrea and Julia and I had a nice time chatting with them anyway.  Here are Juan de Córdoba, his son Juan, and Antonio when I first met them.

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There were several cafés in the area around our campus that students frequent, but the one just outside the entrance to the school, Potemkin,  became one of the favorites, not just for its proximity, but also because of the friendly service and perfect coffee.  Also, the sugar packets served with the coffee always had a special inspirational quote that we looked forward to reading each time.  Here are my friends Andrea and Julia enjoying a break during our morning classes, and some of the famous sugar packets that so entertained us.

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We had our last classes and tests on Thursday, and afterwards some of us met for one last round of drinks in the Plaza Bibrambla.  Here’s part of that group getting ready to celebrate the end of classes.


On Thursday night, it was time for my last visit to Peña la Platería for this year, and it was another special one.  I had reserved a table before leaving the previous Thursday night and we got a front table, inches in front of the stage.  It was the first show in this summer’s peña series that I got to see with two dancers, one male and one female.  The bailaora, Vero la India, was very powerful and had a style that seemed more raw and perhaps more gitano than many modern flamenco dancers.  The singer Antonio Gómez el Turry blew me away…I just loved his cante and the expression he was able to convey.  The talented bailaor was José Núñez, and the guitarrista, also excellent, was the same one who had played for the flamenco demonstration at the campus, Rubén Campos. It was fun to share that last show with friends from the program who share my love and enthusiasm for flamenco.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get very good pictures of this show, but here are a couple.

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On our last Friday in Granada, we had a short closing ceremony at which we were presented with our certificates and grades and took some group pictures in the school patio.

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All in all, my five weeks in Granada were everything I hoped they’d be and more.  The classes at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas were very interesting and intensive, and the professors extremely knowledgeable and passionate about their areas, but the workload not so stressful that we couldn’t enjoy our free time in Granada.  The hotel was very comfortable and the hotel restaurant food was high quality. The cultural visits were fascinating and informative. Many of the program participants formed close new relationships that we all look forward to continuing next summer.

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The patio in the CLM (Centro de Lenguas Modernas)

Next up:  my last day in Spain, spent in Madrid with my former student Brittany and her boyfriend.

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Granada, Week 4: July 17-23

Week 4 was a comparatively quiet week, with no cultural visits through the school and “only” one flamenco show but, like ever other week in Spain this summer, still full of beauty, learning, friendship and inspiration.   A few of the classes from the previous week continued into this week and new classes this week included Varieties of Spanish, Research in the Classroom: Methods and Design,  and Acquisition and Learning of Spanish as a Foreign Language.

I forgot to mention in the previous post something wonderful that happens on summer Saturday nights in Granada that I saw twice during my five weeks there, including Saturday night the 16th.  On Saturday nights, an outdoor dance party is set up in the Plaza del Carmen.  From 8:00 pm to midnight, there’s live and recorded music of all sorts, from old-fashioned paso doble to salsa and merengue, to Brazilian pop music, to Achy Breaky Heart in Spanish. People of all ages, from kids to very dressed-up senior citizens dance, doing Paso Doble in pairs, American-style country line dancing, and in congo lines.  So much fun!

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The week started with a very special evening spent with my friends Kelli and Rich on Sunday night.  I met them at their apartment in the Albaicín and we walked through streets I hadn’t yet seen in my many wanderings and explorations of this beautiful section of Granada up the hill to the Mirador San Miguel Alto to watch the sun set. It was majestic. After the sunset, we walked back down to the Albaicín to have tapas at Kelli’s favorite restaurant, Bar Aixa in the Plaza Larga.  Here are a few photos from that afternoon and evening of gorgeous views.


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Kelli and Rich on their way back down to the Albaicín

Tuesday night was Kelli and Rich’s last night in Granada, and my friend Andrea and I met them one last time for tapas at El Patio del Toro.  It was so much fun sharing Granada with them and meeting their friends from home who came to visit them while they were there.

Wednesday night of this week, I had my 2nd of three semi-private flamenco classes at Escuela de Baile Marichú with Marichú, from whom I had taken some private classes the last time I was in Granada two years ago.  I had planned on taking classes with her again this year, and then it turned out that two of the other women in the Master´s program had some flamenco experience and wanted to take classes too.  Marichú was super generous with us, as her studio was closed for summer vacation and she was spending most of her vacation at the beach.  She came into town on three Wednesday nights especially for our classes. We learned a fun fandangos from her, and it was so much more fun in a group! Here I am with Cara, Linda and Marichú at her studio after a hot 1 1/2 hour class.


This week’s Thursday night flamenco show at Peña la Platería included some big name artists, legendary cantaores Jaime Heredia “El Parrón” and Manuel Heredia, guitarist Marcos Palometas, and bailaora Irene la Serranilla. I had the pleasure of attending it with some friends from the Master’s program, two of whom hadn’t seen a flamenco show before except for the demonstration at the school.  I love sharing flamenco with people who haven’t seen it before, especially when it’s such an amazing show.

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During this week, I also met with my supervisor for my Trabajo Fin de Master, or the thesis “lite” for the Master’s degree.  I will be researching the use of short films in second language classrooms, looking at the learning benefits of this tools and at best practices and methods.  I’ll also be developing my own didactic unit utilizing the short films that are part of my Spanish 4 curriculum and reflecting on the results of that unit after teaching it.

On Saturday, a few of the other students from the Master’s program and I visited the Huerta San Vicente, which was the summer home of Federico García Lorca’s family.  It was in this home where Lorca wrote several of his most important works, and also where he spent his last days before he was assassinated at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.  It is now a museum, maintained to be very much like it was when Lorca’s family lived there, and housing many family photos and pieces of art by notable artists.  The grounds are a peaceful public park. Here’s a photo of me in front of the house.

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Next up:  My last week in Granada and the end of Phase 1 of my Master’s degree from the University of Granada…



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