Archive | April, 2011

Viva Espana! But what do you love most? Give it your vote…

26 Apr

Santiago de Compostela's famous cathedral

When it comes to holiday destinations Spain is a much-loved favourite among us Brits. But when we hop on that EasyJet flight, what is it we’re visiting Spain for? When we think of Spain, from San Sebastian to Marbella, what springs to mind? From a visit to the British-dominated tourist havens of Magaluf, Benidorm or Torremolinos, many Brits could come away thinking Spain is about sun, sea and cerveza, and not much else. Spend a few days in the northern towns of Santiago de Compostela or Burgos, and the cooler climate and gothic architecture will give you a very different impression.

What about Spain’s image overseas, boosted by ambassadors such as Penelope Cruz, (who recently became the first Spanish actress to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame) Rafa Nadal (currently ranked world number 1) and Cesc Fabregas (in the list to please Arsenal fans) to name a few. You don’t need to visit Spain to wear Spanish fashion (Zara, Mango) or to eat Spanish cuisine such as tapas and paella washed down with sangria, all cruelly imitated in La Tasca restaurants up and down the country.
 
Let us know what you think is the best Spanish export. It might be your personal favourite, or what you think represents Spain at its best. And feel free to offer suggestions! How do us Brits, best known for ordering “dos cervezas por favor” and raving it up on the Costa del Sol, really view Spain?
 

Image: Bestourism

Loewe comes to London

17 Apr

Last month Spanish luxury leather brand Loewe opened a new boutique on Mount Street, Mayfair, its first independent shop in London. Previously only available to London shoppers at Selfridges and Harrods, Loewe has found its new home in a gorgeous nineteenth century building complete with cornicing  and pillared entrance; it is almost as attractive as the colourful treats inside.

As pretty outside as it is within: Loewes new Mount Street shop

Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof at the launch

The launch party attracted some big fashion names as well as mainstream celebs; Bianca Jagger, Marie Helvin, Jade Parfitt, Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof were all in attendance. Guests nibbled classic Spanish tapas including chorizo and manchego, washed down by Moet & Chandon champagne and elderflower presses. Sadly, HispanicLondon was not invited, but this doesn’t stop us from lauding this iconic Spanish brand and celebrating its bold arrival in the capital… Continue reading

You got rhythm? Try Flamenco

14 Apr

It may look easy, but flamenco is one of the hardest Latin dances to master. Undaunted, freelance reporter Patrick Smith journeys to London’s East End to test the theory.

It is raining. I am soaking and out of breath as I finally arrive after 20 minutes of cycling up and down Commercial Road looking for the studio. I had been looking for a bright, shiny building with fresh faced people wearing lycra. When I eventually find it at the back of an old warehouse it is marked with a laminated A4 paper sign flapping in the wind, Cable Street Studios.

After ringing the bell I sheepishly step into the small space, dripping. Two diminutive Spaniards, arms crossed, are not happy that I’m so late. As I mutter my excuses to one, the other, Titi, shaven headed with deep set blue eyes pivots elegantly and shuffles off firing a rapid burst of stomping and tapping. Continue reading

Rousseff leads Brazil in mourning Rio shooting

10 Apr

The sad events that unfolded in Realengo, a working-class district of Rio de Janeiro, on Thursday not only stunned Brazil’s very Catholic, very moral population, but also presented a test to their newly incumbent president, Dilma Rousseff.

Relatives mourn 14-year-old Luiza Paula da Silveira Machado

The shooting of 12 children, all aged between 10 and 13, at the Tasso Silveira school by a former pupil, 24-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, was a crime of unprecedented proportions in Brazil. The media captured the panic and anxiety of relatives as they waited outside the school gates for news of their loved ones. A sense of their grief was shouldered by the whole of Brazilian society, seen in the mass funeral for the victims, attended by hundreds of mourners, when rose petals were released from a military helicopter flying overhead.

Rousseff addresses the nation after the shooting

Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, who has been in government since January, reacted to the tragedy both as a statesman and as a mourner. In a position where her femininity could easily be criticised, she still allowed herself to show emotion when addressing a grief-stricken nation. Her eyes flooded with tears, she said: “This kind of crime is not usual here in our country and that’s why I think that everyone here, all of us, men and women, must unite to condemn this act of violence, to condemn this violence against unprotected children.” Continue reading

Spanish students cause a stir in their search for ‘picaderos’

3 Apr

Those who have lived or travelled in Spain will know that the Spanish are hardly shy of a good public display of affection, especially when the sun is shining on Madrid’s Retiro park. But Spanish students have recently made headlines with their search for ‘picaderos’, or places to have sex, and certain universities are scrambling to stem the trend.

Joke warning for a national picadero

For many years the Complutense University campus, situated in the vast Ciudad Universtaria in the North West of Madrid, has operated as a university by day, but something very different by night. A recent article in El Mundo revealed the extent to which the campus is used by students for sex, claiming, in a somewhat mocking tone, that “any area that is slightly dark and away from the road is a suitable place to unleash your passion”. [“Cualquier zona que esté algo oscura y apartada del tránsito es un lugar idóneo para desatar la pasión.”] The article implies these students’ escapades outdo George Michael in “Let’s go outside”, and we all know where that adventurous attitude landed him.

If El Mundo is on some kind of moral campaign to stamp out this sex ‘al fresco’, they’re sure to lose. Not just students, but adults all over Spain in search of a good picadero have taken their search multimedia thanks to a site much like Google Maps, devoted to helping people locate the best places for shagging. The site, www.mispicaderos.net, was created by Josean Gutiérrez, 35, who felt it could prove useful to frisky students. There are over 6,000 people registered on the site and it’s growing in popularity. Each week five or six new locations are added. Gutiérrez said: “It was born as an experiment and it turned out to be useful and people think it’s quite a fun idea.” [“Nació como un experimento y resulta que está siendo útil y a la gente le parece graciosa la idea”] He’s also created an app for the iPhone and Android. Continue reading