Spanish food & how to eat it! Spanish plonk & how to drink it!

Paella in Spain is all you really need!
Paella in Spain is all you really need!

It’s May!

And therefore Spring.

Thank goodness, as in the last few weeks in Germany, you might be forgiven had you thought it was October!

Yep.

Around here it was Autumn!

Around here it was Autumn!
Around here it was Autumn!

As you know, my family and I went to Spain and Portugal. Here are the last few posts in case you missed them:

If you’ve been following me for the merely two years that I’ve been blogging, you’ll see that I like travelling and experiencing the local gastronomy. I mean, just take a look below and you’ll see what I mean…!

Belgian mussels flowing in lemon and wine!
Belgian mussels flowing in lemon and wine!

BELGIUM:

THE CZECH REPUBLIC:

A portion of chips in Bristol.
A portion of chips in Bristol.

ENGLAND:

ESTONIA:

Have you ever seen such a fantastic creme brulee? So creamy, so delcious, so....!
Have you ever seen such a fantastic creme brulee? So creamy, so delicious, so….!

FRANCE:

FINLAND:

Yummy delights for you and you and YOU!
Yummy delights for you and you and YOU!

GERMANY:

HUNGARY:

Pelmeni served with sour in Latvia.
Pelmeni served with sour in Latvia.

LATVIA:

The magic drink of Latvia is basalm and I drank it!

LITHUANIA:

My fantastic pierogi with a smattering of bacon pieces, sprinkled with parsley.
My fantastic pierogi with a smattering of bacon pieces, sprinkled with parsley.

POLAND:

SCOTLAND:

Sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf - Bangkok, Thailand.
Sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf – Bangkok, Thailand.

THAILAND:

Yummmy Yum Yum!

So without further ado, let’s talk about Spanish food.

Here we go!

SPANISH FOOD AND HOW TO EAT IT!

Spanish food for everyone!
Spanish food for everyone!

We spent three (3) days in Madrid and three (3) days in Seville and we were really able to get a good insight into what the lovely Spanish cuisine is made of.

Food in Spain is important.

It’s a message of love, desire, fun, and good fortune. It’s something that is shared, divided and passed around among friends, families, neighbours and strangers.

Many a time, I have been to the Mediterranean and there has been one street festival or the other. And what did the locals do? They invited us in and shared what they had.

That is what food is all about.

A message of love!

A message of love!
A message of love!

Spanish cuisine is heavily influenced by geography, climate and local culture. Food has a great amount of influence on cooking methods, local ingredients, and a complex history of traditions, religion, art and music.

When we think of Spanish food, we don’t necessarily think of gourmet, and as for vegetarian food? Well, it exists in vegetables of course, but beef, pork and seafood still reign, as the local eating monarch!

In fact, “The Tall Young Gentleman” who, as a male 14-year-old tween, spends much of his time eating, grew tired of devouring long slabs of ham and pork!

I mean whaaaaaat!

A hostal is Spanish in style but does the job!
A hostal is Spanish in style but does the job!

While we were in Madrid, we stayed in a Spanish-British run hostal.

A hostal is a type of lodging found mostly in Spain and Hispanic America. They are often family run independent businesses with a strong involvement, with the local community. They’re also very reasonably priced.

Madrid! Madrid! In Spain!
Madrid! Madrid!
In Spain!

Madrid is expensive so it’s best to stay in the centre rather than the suburbs. I finally managed to find a hostal that could fit the three (3) of us into one (1) room, was within walking distance of the sights, and only cost €88.00 per night!

It wasn’t of the quality that I’m used to, but was Spanish in style, and definitely did the job! I’m not going to write about the hostal on my blog, but if you want the name, just contact me via the usual way!

Get ready to lick your chops!

A SPANISH BREAKFAST

Spanish cold cuts and cheese. Plenty for breakfast!
Spanish cold cuts and cheese. Plenty for breakfast!

Breakfast wasn’t provided so we went out to eat. Our hostal was on C/de la Cruz not far from Puerto del Sol, and there were absolutely loads of restaurants, cafes and bars to choose from.

Bear in mind that a lot of restaurants didn’t actually open until after 10:00!

Eeeek!

A local Spanish baguette sandwich filled with slices of Serrano or Iberian ham accompanied by very, very squashed and sqeezed tomatoes!
A local Spanish baguette sandwich filled with slices of Serrano or Iberian ham accompanied by very, very squashed and squeezed tomatoes!

We tended to have a local baguette sandwich, filled with either slices of Serrano ham or Iberian ham, and accompanied by parmesan and very, very squashed tomatoes!

I love tomatoes and in pretty much every sandwich shop we went to, they squashed them so that every ion of liquid was squeezed out, resulting in a bit of a mush!

We also had Spanish Croquettes that were stuffed with more ham, cheese and sometimes pork.

The highlight of breakfast however, were the churros.

Lovely churros made ready for the morning punters!
Lovely churros made ready for the morning punters!

Mmmm!

I can’t stand coffee as I must have my daily cup of tea! However, I do enjoy a hot cup of chocolate, with a swirling of whipped cream, sprinkled with white chocolate flakes!

Ahem!

In Spain, locals tend to go to a chocolatería, so why not do likewise?

"The Tall Young Gentleman" devouring his morning churros con chocolate!  Delish!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” devouring his morning churros con chocolate!
Delish!

Savour in the delicious taste of goodness, and get yourself a local titbit known as a churros con chocolate. This “meal” is a fried churro dipped in a lovely thick cup of dripping hot chocolate!

And you do need to dip the sweet churros in your drink, ‘cos the hot chocolate is extremely thick and slightly sour!

SOUPS AND SAUCES

Soups & sauces!
Soups & sauces!

Stews, broths, soups and sauces have always been stables of any cultural tradition.

Spain has a large variety of soups and sauces made with beans and tomatoes, full of spice and full of flavour, available to eat in both hot and cold varieties!

Spanish traditional dishes!
Spanish traditional dishes!

The dishes above are called pisto. They are traditional dishes made from tomatoes, onions, eggplant or courgette, green and red peppers and olive oil. Similar to ratatouille, they are usually served warm with a fried egg on top!

A lot of the sauces have spicy beans in them.
A lot of the sauces have spicy beans in them.

The stew above is pretty spicy served with seafood. Eat with a crusty loaf of bread.

Vegetable stew.
Vegetable stew.

Vegetable stew filled with all the goodness of Spain! Serve hot. Or cold!

PAELLA!

Paella is Spain's national dish and traditional enough to be a symbol of Spanish streetfood too!
Paella is Spain’s national dish and traditional enough to be a symbol of Spanish street food too!

OMG!

If you haven’t had paella, you haven’t lived!

Paella is a rice dish invented in Valencia and consisting of white rice, green beans, chicken or rabbit, white beans, snails, and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary. Sometimes also including artichoke, seafood mixed vegetables and olive oil.

Spain has a large collection of rice dishes but it’s important to note that paella is the national dish of Spain!

Paella with sausages, rice & peas!
Paella with sausages, rice & peas!

There’s a lot of paella to go around.

Made in huge pots on large open-air stoves, it’s a meal made for the world and it’s mother!

TAPAS OTHERWISE KNOWN AS SPANISH SNACKS!

Tapas otherwise known as Spanish snacks!
Tapas otherwise known as Spanish snacks!

A few weeks ago, I spoke at length about tapas and how you can order them at a local bar. 

Simply put, a tapa or tapas are a wide variety of food served as an appetizer or snack.

The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish verb “tapar,” meaning “to cover,” and also “on top of” or “a lid” and even to mean “small portion” and there are many stories, depending on which Spanish city you happen to be in lol!

One theory is that the tapas were slices of bread or meat which punters in taverns used to cover their glasses against dirt, dust, and fruit flies, between sips. The meat used to cover drinks was usually ham or chorizo, which were both very salty and activate thirst.

Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners created a variety of snacks to serve with alcohol, thus increasing their alcohol sales.

A nice plateful of tapas is well served.
A nice plateful of tapas is well served.

A nice plateful of variety is well served.

On the left-hand side, you have a bowl of potatoes which they describe as “roast” potatoes but are actually fried, covered with a tomato and pepper sauce called Xató or Romesco. On the right-hand side you have a bowl of fried squid, and in the middle, a bowl of chistorra which is a type of sausage made from minced pork, or a mixture of minced pork and beef, flavoured with garlic, salt, and paprika, and usually baked, fried, or grilled.

OTHER SPANISH STUFF. LIKE EMM. DESSERT!

Tortilla Española or a Spanish Omelette.
Tortilla Española or a Spanish Omelette.

A Spanish omelette is the English name for a traditional Spanish dish called tortilla española, or tortilla de patatas. This dish consists of an omelette made with eggs and potato and fried in oil.

It can be eaten warm or cold.

Speaking of cold. Let’s not forget dessert.

Spanish crème caramel or caramel custard, with a huge dollop of whipped cream!
Spanish crème caramel or caramel custard, with a huge dollop of whipped cream!

Enjoy this Spanish crème caramel or caramel custard, with a huge dollop of whipped cream!

Go for Spanish strawberries & cream!
Go for Spanish strawberries & cream!

Or stay “healthy” and go for strawberries and thick swirly cloted cream, instead!

SPANISH PLONK AND HOW TO DRINK IT!

Spanish beer.
Spanish beer.

And lastly, you can’t be in Spain if you haven’t at least tried, and tasted some good ol’ Spanish plonk!

That’s right. If you’ve ever thought about whether to start drinking beer or not, Spain is the place!

Spanish beer & my little red handbag at a street food market in Lloret de Mar - Spain.
Spanish beer & my little red handbag at a street food market in Lloret de Mar – Spain.

You can’t compare the quality to German beer of course, but at 50 cents per glass, you really can’t go wrong!

Drink a few glasses of beer washed down with tapas to start your evening!

How about a glass of Spanish Tinto de Verano otherwise known as sangria?

It’s not like the cheap stuff you would normally get at a packaged beach destination on the Spanish islands, but is rather quite nice and refreshing!

More drinks are always welcome in Madrid!
More drinks are always welcome in Madrid!

If you drank it with a few cubes of ice and slices of fruit. You’d be in clover!

Now I didn’t know this previously, but were you aware that gin and tonic is a huge thing in Spain?!

A huuuuuge thing!

Drinks & nachos on me!
Drinks & nachos on me!

We found out by accident as we went to a tavern and were served jars of clear liquid, which we thought was water.

At first!

But it wasn’t!

It was Gin and Tonic!

And the first time we knew of it was when “The Tall Young Gentleman” took a gulp of icy “water” and instantly spat it out, declaring that the “water” had gone off!!

Ooops!

Drink up. You don't want to be dehydrated!
Drink up. You don’t want to be dehydrated!

We were supposed to try out the traditional Asturian Cider, but for some reason, we were served Spanish red wine instead!

I’m not complaining though.

A few glasses or bottles of wine drunk while people-watching, snacking on tapas, or generally “going out for a drink” is not to be sniffed at!

Prices for freshly pressed fruit juice are outrageous!
Prices for freshly pressed fruit juice are outrageous!

Oh yes, lest I forget,

Prices for freshly pressed fruit juice are outrageous. And in some cases, as much as €4.00 per glass!!

Yikes!

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hola!

Spain's most famous snack - Tapas!
Spain’s most famous snack – Tapas!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the heavenly sangria and splendid wine, are my very own!

In the summer I’ll be going to Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and possibly Russia!

Next week, I’ll be focusing on Portugal!

On May 5th, I’ll be at a Travel Massive & DNX Mingle so if you’re a blogger or just interested in travel, lifestyle or travel technology, then come and meet us! Registration and attendance is free of charge!

From May 18th – May 22nd, I’ll be at the Berlin Music Video Award ceremony.

May is going to be thrilling!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in May, you must be off your Nelly!

Watch this space!

Spanish food & how to eat it! Spanish plonk & how to drink it!
Spanish food & how to eat it!
Spanish plonk & how to drink it!

Have you ever had Spanish food or drink? Tortilla or Hot Chocolate and Churros?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

To be or not to be? That isn’t a question, that’s the Queen’s dinner & a Night Out with William Shakespeare!

A Crown fit for a Queen, or any of the other Kings!
A Crown fit for a Queen, or any of the other Kings!

Last week was so exciting and was very, very British!

Why, you might ask?

Well, it was the Queen’s birthday as well as being the birth and death of William Shakespeare!

I know!!

Anyhoo!

I was invited to participate in a gala show and performance celebrating Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY YOUR MAJESTY!

Royal Mail Stamps with the Queen's head!
Royal Mail Stamps with the Queen’s head!

The Queen was 90!

Wow!

I’ve always found her to be absolutely marvellous and looking equally amazing at 90, as she did at 19!

I remember the letter that she commanded her Lady-in-Waiting to send me, in which I nattered away about my family holiday at the most delicate age of 9, and I never forgot the reply!

I was so proud!

WHEN IS THE QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY?

The Queen is 90!
The Queen is 90!

The Queen celebrates two birthdays each year: her actual birthday on 21 April, and her official birthday on (usually), the second Saturday in June!

The Queen usually spends her actual birthday privately, but the occasion is marked publicly by gun salutes in central London at midday, a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park, and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London!

On her official birthday, Her Majesty is joined by other members of the Royal Family at the spectacular Trooping the Colour Parade, which moves between Buckingham Palace, The Mall, and Horseguards’ Parade, as well as a public appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

And in case you didn’t know, and of course, you did!

Queen Elizabeth has reigned longer than my namesake – Queen Victoria!
Queen Elizabeth has reigned longer than my namesake – Queen Victoria!

Queen Elizabeth II has ruled for longer than any other Monarch in British history becoming a much-loved, and respected figure, across the globe.

Her extraordinary reign has seen her travel more widely than any other monarch, and undertake many historic overseas visits. Not only is she known for her sense of duty and her devotion to a life of service, but she also carries out all of her duties against the backdrop of a full personal life, which has seen her raise four children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren, to the Royal Family.

Her Majesty has been, and continues to be, an important figurehead for the UK, the Commonwealth, and indeed, the world! At a time of enormous discord and strive, she remains unswayed, and ever solid and constant.

Her birthday celebration was a great day and made me feel proud to be British, and a part of the pomp and pageantry.

Long Live the Queen!

A DINNER FOR THE QUEEN!

The Queen's favorite dishes!
The Queen’s favorite dishes!

I was invited to honour the Queen and enjoy an exquisite gala evening at the Wintergarten Varieté theatre in Berlin.

The Wintergarten Varieté Berlin is a venue that was considered one of the stage entertainment places to be, between 1887 and 1943.

Today, the Wintergarten Varieté Berlin is a large variety theatre and located in a different part of Berlin known as Schöneberg which is a stylish, leafy suburb with boulevards and open-air markets, just great for lovely Saturday morning walks at a local farmers’ market by day and Berlin’s popular centre of gay life and community, by night!

Going bonkers at Sheer Madness or Der Helle Wahnsinn in Berlin! @ R.Pater
Going bonkers at Sheer Madness or Der Helle Wahnsinn in Berlin!
@ R.Pater

I’ve written about shows at the Wintergarten Varieté theatre in the past. Here they are below:

On this occasion, it was a black tie affair with a distinct British flair so I invited another member of the British community to accompany me – The Tall Young Gentleman – otherwise known as my tween son!

We had a delightful evening hosted by one of my musical friends and fellow MancurianJack Woodhead – and the internationally acclaimed Australian artist – Sarah Bowden.

We were comfortably seated having arrived early and shown to our table, pretty much at the front of the stage, when the rest of the table (a group of 4) asked if we could swap seats as the rest of their party were on the other table!

Of course, we obliged.

A basket of warm bread and creamy-chived butter!
A basket of warm bread and creamy-chived butter!

We started with an apertif of prosecco (for me) and orange juice (for the tween), accompanied by a basket of warm bread and creamy-chived butter. And then a camera crew swooped in.

Imagine my annoyance when the TV reporter looked briefly around in some sort of confusion, and then quickly proceeded to interview the pleased but startled middle-aged man, who was seated in the chair that I had just left!

After about a minute, they switched off the camera light, took off the mics, and belted out the left hand stage door!

Me being thoughtful and looking as if I'm about to sing! © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
Me being thoughtful and looking as if I’m about to sing!
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

Hmmmrff! Have I become one of those people..”but don’t you know who I am?!!!”

I hope not. Eeeek!

Jack took us through an artistic-culinary programme bursting with artists and performers, not only from the United Kingdom, but other Commonwealth nations too!

And then we had our starter.

A bowl of cream of apple cider soup with fresh chopped chives and butter croutons. Yum!
A bowl of cream of apple cider soup with fresh chopped chives and butter croutons.
Yum!

We had a bowl of cream of apple cider soup with fresh chopped chives and butter croutons. Yum!

After that, we had the 40-strong (!) choir – The Embassy Singers – from the British Embassy in Berlin who did a marvellous job of entertaining us.

Next, were more friends of ours, the hilarious comedy duo Carrington-Brown, who came along with their cello – Joe!

Somewhere along those lines thereafter, we had our main course.

We were served roast beef à la Wellington. Delicious but chewy!
We were served roast beef à la Wellington.
Delicious but chewy!

We were served roast beef à la Wellington with Cumberland sauce, sautéed green asparagus and mashed potatoes.

Everything was wonderful except for the roast beef. It would have been nice if it had been rare. It was however, well-done, but a bit chewy for my taste.

Ah well, “The Tall Young Gentleman” was pleased, as he had the most important job of polishing it off, while I had his cumberland sauce!

After dinner, the sexy-gracious English aerial artist Emily Kinch gave us a lovely acrobatic performance.

Another of our personal friends also came on – Sanjay Shihora – a talented artist and famous TV comedian from India, as well as being the owner of a well-established comedy club called Kookaburra, which we all used to hang out in, back in the day, before everyone got famous lol!

And soon it was time for dessert.

Rhubarb crumble and custard.
Rhubarb crumble and custard.

We had maple syrup-walnut pudding and rhubarb crumble and custard.

I’m allergic to nuts so I had two servings of rhubarb crumble sprinkled with strawberries and cherry compote, while “The Tall Young Gentleman” had two servings of maple syrup-walnut pudding!

After that performance, we had an onslaught of British music from the British / German conductor Rainer Hersch who was just a bellyfull of laughs and very, very funny with his Quartet orchestra and his slap-stick humour! 

Not long after, the leader and singer of the Savoy Dance Orchestra from Berlin and former lead singer of the legendary Pasadena Roof Orchestra – Robin Merrill – breezed in, in full jacket and tails as he had rushed over from another performance on German TV!

A fine reminder of the Last Night of the Proms,
A fine reminder of the Last Night of the Proms,

There was more charming music and a hell of a lot more laughs and towards the end we rounded up with the The Embassy Singers once again, an enthralling black and white video and pictorial archive of selective insights, into the most significant stages, of the life-time of Queen Elizabeth II. As well as a fine reminder of the Last Night of the Proms with pieces such as “We’ll meet again,” and “Land of Hope and Glory.”

It was during the singing of “Rule Britannia” that a gulp came into my throat and a little tear of nostalgia and happiness, that the Queen had made it.

Long may she live!

I had a great time. Thanks very much Wintergarten Varieté!

AND NOW, FOR A TINY BIT OF SHAKESPEARE!

A potrait of William Shakespeare.
A potrait of William Shakespeare.

I love Shakespeare!

Everywhere you go and in my opinion, everywhere you look, there is something influenced by the books and writings of Shakespeare!

As you know, last week was not only the Queen’s birthday  but Shakespeare’s birthday too!

On April 23rd.

In fact, that day not only marked William Shakespeare’s birth, but also his death!

Shakespeare in Love!

2016 was the 400th anniversary of lifetime and all over the world was a live broadcasting showing of Shakespeare Live! From the RSC in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, hosted by David Tennant!

I have to confess that the marketing of Shakespeare in Berlin was so dismal and cruelly inadequate, such that I took up the marketing myself and started blasting my Twitter and Facebook feed, so that my friends and followers would know.

I mean, firstly, there were only two cinemas that were showing the broadcast.

In the whole city!

And secondly, when I went to buy my ticket on April 19th, just 4 days before the showing, only six (6) seats had been sold.

Six!

The house of Anne Hathaway - Shakespeare's wife!
The house of Anne Hathaway – Shakespeare’s wife!

I was amazed and utterly annoyed. So I swung into action and started telling everyone all about it!

Even with all the palaver, I still had a very awesome night.

David Tennant and Catherine Tate were marvellous and even Prince Charles joined in, and made a cameo appearance and was a very good sport!

Let’s just say “To be, or not to be, that is the QUESTION!” or “To be, OR not to be, that is the question!”

It was enormously funny, watch and see for yourself right here lol!

Me thinks there’s a PR job somewhere with my name on it. Hint! Hint!

TO BE OR NOT TO BE? THAT ISN’T A QUESTION. THAT’S A NIGHT OUT WITH WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE!

Shakespeare Lives and there's the living proof. Oh yeah. The skull!
Shakespeare Lives and there’s the living proof.
Oh yeah. The skull!

WHAT IS SHAKESPEARE LIVES AND SHAKESPEARE 400?

King Ed VI - William Shakespeare.
King Ed VI – William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Lives and Shakespeare 400 is:

  • A life’s work.
  • A 400-year legacy.
  • A year of celebrations.

It’s also a worldwide celebration of the enduring global impact, relevance and creativity of William Shakespeare – the world’s best known Briton – and the UK’s most successful cultural export ever, on the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016. All over the world are activities and events in more than 140 countries, new creative commissions, partnerships with the UK’s most influential cultural institutions, and a global social media campaign to reach millions of people.

Phew!

FUN FACTS ABOUT SHAKESPEARE!

The hilarious chaps from "Horrible Histories!"
The hilarious chaps from “Horrible Histories!”
  • Shakespeare holds the Guinness World Record for being the most filmed author in the world!
  • The word ‘love’ appears 2,191 times in the complete works of Shakespeare!
  • His plays are set in 12 countries, with cities in present-day Italy being Shakespeare’s favourite.
  • Shakespeare lived in Stratford-upon-Avon, a handsome market town 20 miles south-east of Birmingham a little over two (2) hours from London. I’ve been there and it’s a lovely place with lots of huge swans that bite!
  • Shakespeare married an older woman – Anne Hathaway – who was three months pregnant at the time!
  • The only comedy set in the UK is The Merry Wives of Windsor.
  • Since 1960, there have been publications and productions of Hamlet in more than 75 languages!
  • Hamlet has even been translated into Klingon, Esperanto, and Interlingua!
  • Romeo and Juliet has been performed in 24 countries in the last ten years.
  • Very little is known about the life of William Shakespeare, but between about 1590 and 1613, he wrote at least 37 plays and 154 sonnets!
The gorgeous David Tennant as William Shakespeare's Richard II.
The gorgeous David Tennant as William Shakespeare’s Richard II.
  • William Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets have been adapted into 420 feature films and TV-movies!
  • Shakespeare wrote many plays and many poems. The most famous among his 10 tragedies are Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear.
  • Shakespeare’s best-known poems are The Sonnets, first published in 1609.
  • West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins) was inspired by Romeo and Juliet.
  • Kiss Me, Kate (George Sidney) was inspired by The Taming of the Shrew.
  • Forbidden Planet (Nicholas Nayfack) was inspired by The Tempest.
  • Looking for Richard (Al Pacino) was inspired by Richard III.
  • The most popular name from a Shakespeare play used today is Olivia.
  • Romeo and Juliet is based on an Italian folktale, which Shakespeare read in translation.
  • Shakespeare’s epitaph wards off would-be grave robbers with a curse and indeed, Shakespeare’s remains have yet to be disturbed!
  • It’s believed that Shakespeare wore a gold hoop earring, as he lived a bohemian lifestyle and was not a pirate!
  • Some people think Shakespeare was a fraud and was not to be!
Illuminating Shakespeare Artists' Impression.
Illuminating Shakespeare Artists’ Impression.

That’s it for now!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary invitation, all opinions and the scrumptious rhubarb crumble and custard that I had at the Gala, are my very own!

In the summer I’ll be going to Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and possibly Russia!

In the next few weeks, I’ll be finalising my writing about Spain and focusing on Portugal!

Sometime between now and May 1st, I’ll be visiting the interactive exhibition Discover Mexico or Entdecke Mexiko taking place on Washingtonplatz. It’s free to the public. Go see!

On April 27th, I’ll be attending STRICTLY STAND-UP – The English Comedy Night Show!

On April 29th, the TV interviewed that I did for Deutsche Welle (Germany’s international broadcasting station), about the 5th wedding anniversary of our very own William & Kate, will be broadcast! As soon as I get the exact details, I’ll inform you all via Twitter and Facebook!

On May 5th, I’ll be at a Travel Massive & DNX Mingle so if you’re a blogger or just interested in travel, lifestyle or travel technology, then come and meet us! Registration and attendance is free of charge!

From May 18th – May 22nd, I’ll be at the Berlin Music Video Award ceremony.

April is hopping!

Berlin is going to be so much fun, so if you’re in town, come and join us!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you must be bonkers!

Watch this space!

To be or not to be? That isn't a question, that's the Queen's dinner & a Night Out with William Shakespeare!
To be or not to be? That isn’t a question, that’s the Queen’s dinner & a Night Out with William Shakespeare!

Would you choose dinner with the Queen? Would you choose beer with Shakespeare? Or do you prefer rhubard and custard?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Oranges & Lemons say the Bells of St. Clement’s. Say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!

Oranges in Spain!
Oranges in Spain!

So the last few weeks, I told you about our trip to Madrid, but did I tell you that we went to Seville too?!

Seville!

Ah Seville!

Let me just say that our visit to Seville was the first of its kind!

I know!

We were lucky then that one of our blogger friends KemKem and her Italian husband from – Next Bite of Life – very kindly offered to host us while we there.

Thank you so much guys!

The "Tall Young Gentleman" on his birthday, in Spain. Gosh! He's 14 now. Yikes!
The “Tall Young Gentleman” on his birthday, in Spain.
Gosh! He’s 14 now. Yikes!

When travelling to destinations, I don’t make it a part of my trip to particularly follow a festival, on the other hand, I have followed a piece of Art around the world, but that’s another story..!

In this case, not only was it during the birthday of “The Tall Young Gentleman” who happened to be 14 years old (proud mum here!), but it also happened to be the Easter holidays too.

Now I’m not particularly religious, but the people of Spain are, and we happened to be in Seville right slap in the middle of a most important festival.

That festival called Semana Santa, otherwise known as Holy Week or Easter!

But firstly, let’s talk a little about Seville!

SEVILLE IN GLORIOUS ANDALUSIA!

In the middle of the Old Town in Seville.
In the middle of the Old Town in Seville.

Seville is the capital city of Andalusia and was previously known as the Roman city of Hispalis although, according to legend, Seville was founded by Hercules!

Seville has a population of about 703,000 people and is the fourth (4th) largest city in Spain! It’s Old Town is marvellous and is an area of only 4 square kilometres but has three (3) UNESCO World Heritage Sites namely: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.

On the bridge at the Plaza de España in Seville!
On the bridge at the Plaza de España in Seville!

Seville is a river destination leading to the Atlantic Ocean and in fact, is the only river port in Spain! It’s a beautiful city deriving its exotic nature from its Moorish roots and the trans-atlantic trade after the discovery of the Americas, art, literature, and architecture, and the Spanish Golden Age.

I’d always known that Seville was a place of history, but I had no idea how much interest and importance Seville had, and this was revealed by our friends.

They took us on a private tour of a hidden place called the Italica Archaeological Complex.

THE ITALICA ARCHAELOGICAL COMPLEX

Jumping high at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
Jumping high at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

Wow!

I had no idea!

I had absolutely no idea that hidden in Seville was the first permanent Roman settlement in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, and the cradle of the emperor Trajan, who was born there in the year 53 AD, and his successor, Hadrian!

If I’d known that a Roman settlement was in Spain, I’d had gone to Seville much sooner!

Mosaics at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
Mosaics at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

I mean, my interest was piqued as I’m from Manchester – a Roman civilian settlement called Mancunium in 79 AD. I went to the University of Chester – a Roman fort called Deva Victrix in AD 79. And even my husband from Osnabrück, was born in a city which successfully won the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest against the mighty Roman army, in 9 AD!

It was surely meant to be!

In the gallery of the Amphitheatre at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
In the gallery of the Amphitheatre at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

The Roman city of Italica was established in 206 BC for the soldiers injured in the Battle of Ilipa, and soon became a city of capital importance between 206 BC and 138 AD, after the reign of that most significant Roman emperor – Hadrian – of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England!

The Italica represented the majesty of the Roman city, clearly visible in the layout of its’ streets, and its’ public and private buildings, which were integrated into an exceptional landscape that was Roman town planning.

All roads eventually, lead to Rome!
All roads eventually, lead to Rome!

Even as a little girl, I had always been impressed by the ingenious of the Romans, and the Italica was no exception!

I mean, there was a Roman amphitheatre, the fully existing tiles of quite a few Roman baths, Roman streets, Roman courtyards, even a House of Birds and a Planetarium.

Astounding!

WHAT SHALL I DO IN THE “OLD TOWN” OF SEVILLE?

 

At the Cathedral in Seville.
At the Cathedral in Seville.

Sadly, we only had three (3) days in Seville and so on our last day, we spent all day and pretty much most of the evening, in the Old Town of Seville. And this is what we did:

  • Use public transport: Our friends lived in the suburbs of Seville, so we took the underground metro into “town.” It was pretty easy to use so we bought one way tickets costing just €1.60 each.
Rafael from Pancho Tours in Seville.
Rafael from Pancho Tours in Seville.
  • Join a free walking tour: I’m a sucker for free walking tours as well as paid tours…! so we contacted a company in Seville called Pancho Tours. Our guide was called Rafael and he was great and rather funny! When it comes to free walking tours, I have my favourites, but it’s always good to mix and match so that everyone gets a free chance, and as many local people as possible, get our custom!
  • Learn about the history of Spain.
  • Go gaga at the fact that Seville has not one (1) but three (3), UNESCO World Heritage buildings!
  • Visit the official tomb of Christopher Columbus, or so they say….!
Drink up. You don't want to be dehydrated!
Drink up. You don’t want to be dehydrated!
  • Drink! Seville is a hot place!
  • For goodness sake, wear a hat and cover yourself with suncream! I’m dark-skinned, but even I wouldn’t mess about with the sunshine!
  • Go all romantic and hire a horse and carriage. Oh go on! You know you want to!
  • Visit the Cathedral.
Hire a horse and carriage in Seville. Go on! You know you want to!
Hire a horse and carriage in Seville.
Go on! You know you want to!
One of the many gorgeous churches and chapels in Seville!
One of the many gorgeous churches and chapels in Seville!
  • Admire the many churches and chapels in the city.
  • Take lots and lots of photographs!
  • Go swimming in the Guadalquivir River.
Hire a rowing boat.
Hire a rowing boat.

 HOLY WEEK IN SEVILLE!

Jesus at Easter. In Seville.
Jesus at Easter.
In Seville.

If you’ve never seen a group of people, in hoods, and walking all over town, you’re in for a shock!

I observed this personally, when I first visited Spain, many, many years ago.

I’m not American. I’m British, but I’ve seen the films and read the history of the atrocities of slavery. And believe me, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw all those hooded parades, and people were smiling and playing instruments!

I was shocked!

The Catholic Brotherhood at Easter. In Seville. I was shocked!
The Catholic Brotherhood at Easter. In Seville.
I was shocked!

So this time around, I wasn’t in the least surprised, still slightly uncomfortable mind, when I observed a whole array of hooded people in Seville. In a variety of colours. Some of them children. And many of them members of the Spanish priesthood! I even saw a few of them queuing up to take a bus!

All of this, was a result of Holy Week.

GOLLY! WHAT’S HOLY WEEK ALL ABOUT THEN?

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!

Well, Holy Week or Semana Santa in Spain, is the annual commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ, celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town, during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter.

Phew!

The celebration of Holy Week regarding popular piety, relies almost exclusively on the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities, stemming from the late Middle Ages (1350), to date. Think the Illuminati, Free Masons, etc. Membership is open to any Catholic person, and family tradition is an important element to become a member or “brother.”

Holy Week in Seville is known as Semana Santa de Sevilla and is one of the city’s two biggest annual festivals, the other being the Feria de Abril (April Fair), which follows two weeks later.

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!

Semana Santa de Sevilla features the procession of pasos, floats of life-like wooden sculptures, scenes of the events of the Passion, and images of the grieving Virgin Mary. Some of the sculptures are of great antiquity and are considered artistic masterpieces, as well as being culturally and spiritually important to the local Catholic population.

Members of the brotherhood can be recognised by the distinctive cloaks and hoods of each procession. The ones we saw had tunics and hoods with conical tips, that were used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. Most of the robes tended to be purple, black and alarmingly, white!

Historically, the robes were widely used in the medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity.

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla! © Peter Turnley/Corbis.
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
© Peter Turnley/Corbis.

After exploring Seville, we noticed a high number of Spanish people smartly dressed and full of excitement.

The women were wearing black dresses with a mantilla which is a black lace, silk veil or shawl, that is worn over the head and shoulders, in a high comb called a peineta, and black shoes. All the men wore suits and even the children were smartly dressed, with practically every girl wearing a Sunday Best dress, tights and shiny patent shoes, and almost every boy wearing a suit, a tie and suede shoes. Honestly, it reminded me of my old independent private school uniform!

We decided to follow them.

They led us back into the centre of Seville where practically every road and side-street was closed to traffic. Chairs were lined across the roads, screens were put up, and TV cameras and stages were set.

Why not climb up the Cathdral Tower, in Seville?
Why not climb up the Cathedral Tower, in Seville?

We wanted to climb to the top of the Tower for the sunset view, but due to security, everything had been closed down, police officers were everywhere, and if you hadn’t got a ticket, you wouldn’t be allowed into the cathedral.

However, I managed to sneak in with the flow of the congregation, and observe a little bit of the ceremony and service, before it got too crowded!

The atmosphere was electric, and the streets were buzzing.

Candles for the procession, at the church in Seville.
Candles for the procession, at the church in Seville.

At one point, we were on the front row of the procession and watched the brotherhood as they held candles and went barefooted, on the warm streets of Seville!

In centuries past, these people would also carry shackles and chains on their feet as self-punishment and penance!

It was all rather interesting but as it began to get dark, we decided to leave the locals to it.

Ah well!

 IS IT WORTH GOING TO SEVILLE?

The bells of Seville.
The bells of Seville.

The city of Seville has beauty, Arabic architecture and both Jewish and Moorish influences. It has brilliant weather and fabulous food. It also has a river to recommend it. And bells!

Seville is pretty awesome.

And you heard it here first!

Spanish monuments of yore!
Spanish monuments of yore!

This article isn’t sponsored and the fruity time that I had in Seville, is my very own!

In the summer I’ll be going to Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and possibly Russia!

In the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on Britain!

Sometime between now and May 1st, I’ll be visiting the interactive exhibition Discover Mexico or Entdecke Mexiko taking place on Washingtonplatz. It’s free to the public. Go see!

On April 18th, I’m going to be interviewed by a German TV station, about the 5th wedding anniversary of our very own William & Kate!

On April 21st, Queen Elizabeth II will be 90 years old. Hurrah! Ra! Ra!

To celebrate this most prestigious event, I’ll be attending a Gala Show Celebrating Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday. A Dinner for the Queen performance at the Wintergarten Varieté in Berlin with the talented Jack Woodhead and “a hint of gin and tonic!”

It’s going to be ridiculously exciting, so you’d better hurry up and get your own ticket!

April 23rd will mark William Shakespeare’s birthday and the 400th anniversary of his death with a very special event – Shakespeare Live! From the RSC in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, hosted by David Tennant! There will be live broadcasting all over the world and Berlin is going to be one of the lucky cities. Yay!

On April 27th, I’ll be attending STRICTLY STAND-UP – The English Comedy Night Show!

I can hardly stand it!

Berlin is going to be so much fun, so if you’re in town, come and join us!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you must be bonkers!

Watch this space!

Oranges & Lemons say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!
Oranges & Lemons say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!

Have you ever been to Seville? Would you choose an orange or a lemon?

See you in Berlin.

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