Oh Macarena and Jesus too
I’m going to preface this all with a. I’m not Spanish, b. I’m not Catholic, and c. I’m not always in tune with Christianity. I’m so bad at the Christianity thing that I didn’t even think about Easter during my vacation planning; I especially didn’t consider the implications of touring Seville on Palm Sunday. Holy cone heads, chafed nether regions and blistered calluses it’s a big deal. Swarms of people dressed in their Sunday best ( by puritanical standards there were some outfits that would have melted a few holy wafers) descend upon the city to parade with repenters adorned in medieval hoods, and to applaud gilded floats carrying village statues of Macarena (the virgin Mary) and Jesus. I don’t know which was more shocking to us —- the medieval garb (which was apparently mimicked by the KKK) or the amount of women in pantyhose, shorts (or short, tight skirts) and heels high and sharp enough to ward off evil spirits. The devotion is real because when the Macarena or Jesus make their appearance all hush (and rude tourists who don’t know any better are immediately shushed). The faith is real because apparently the Covid aint got a chance during this crusade (please let that be so!). I haven’t been this close to this many people in a very long time.
The parades go on all day and much of the night, and while we were totally overwhelmed by the crowds, we are incredibly grateful to have been able to witness this treasured bit of Spanish culture.
I will also now forever think of Spain when I smell incense and orange blossoms (with maybe a tinge of lilac — oh and lets not forget grilled meat, yum). It’s everywhere and heavenly.
I wrote above early last week, and then got busy with my vacation in Spain, which began in Barcelona and ended in Madrid. Sevilla was our second stop on our train rides throughout the country. I highly recommend using Renfe, their high-speed line. Fast, efficient and comfortable, plus you get to whiz through more of the country and see cattle and sheep grazing amongst old villages and steep hills.
Today is Easter, and we’re back home. It’s sunny, and I’ll be busy cooking and visiting family (online of course), so sadly I’m going to rush through the rest of this blog with quick snapshots of our fantastic trip.
We stayed in the Montjuïc area of the city, which is lovely. Our hotel was steps from a metro station (so easy and cheap to use!) and an easy walk to the ‘magic fountains,’ which was perfect for our first night there. We walked up to a platform where a lovely woman made us Sangria. The absolute best way to begin our vacation, sipping while surrounded by amazing architecture, water fountains and flowers — and great people watching to boot.
We loved Barcelona. The people, sights and food were wonderful. We didn’t go to the beach, but we did stroll through park Gruel, Sagrada Familia, the Gothic area and the boardwalk near the Christopher Columbus statue. We ate and sipped our way through so much. Our hotel also had a lovely rooftop terrace where we could sip our wine and watch the city lights.
Above is just a quick flash of some of the amazing things we got to see. I had issues uploading photos (and I’m still using my broken phone, so many are taken from Joe’s phone.).
Barcelona has everything, including all we fascinated tourists, Seville has seduction. She is breath taking with her river walks, churches, parks and palaces. There’s also flamenco dancing, sunshine and so many flowers. With a friend, we rented a lovely Airbnb that had TWO rooftop terraces. One with lots of space to sit and a hot tub, and another higher up with a view of the river and city. It was amazing. On top of witnessing all the Palm Sunday processions, we also took a hop on hop off tour, which gave us glimpses of city highlights, and we toured the bull fighting museum and Alcazar. All of it was incredibly beautiful, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.
Joe and I spent the night in Cordoba just so I could walk the halls of its Mosque-Cathedral, which dates back to the 6th century and has served God under the Catholic and Islamic realm and shows off the beauty of Spain’s many layers of history. Cordoba itself was a bigger city than we expected, but of course nowhere near as large as Barcelona or Seville, but we only stayed in the historic area. The weather wasn’t on our side, but it didn’t matter because we had amazing tapas and drinks everywhere we went. As with everywhere else in Spain, people were friendly and accommodating. What more could a girl ask for?
We didn’t do Madrid justice because we were wore out by the time we arrived, and while we had a lovely time in Cordoba, our hotel room was awful (imagine how much sleep we got in a moldy room with a window-front view of a busy, graffiti-scarred alleyway). So, we were exhausted, and very happy that we booked our last two nights at the Hard Rock hotel in Madrid because it was just a few minutes walk from the train station, it was clean and vibrant, and it had everything we needed. This room had a view of the hotel atrium, but lol nothing closed curtains didn’t fix, and we liked any music we heard so all was well.
The only things we toured in Madrid were the nearby botanical gardens (lovely) and the Prada museum. The Sofia was just across the street from us, but we just didn’t have it in us. That said I thoroughly enjoyed what we did see, and we took our time — no rush, no stress, just art, flowers and rest.
Several of Prada’s paintings or sculptures pulled me into their stories. There was a room dedicated to Charles II, which caused me to google him later because he was such an odd-looking king. Turns out he’s the final Habsburg ruler of Spain, and his death brought on a 12-year war since he had no heir. Long story short poor guy is the poster child for why inbreeding is not a good idea. There was also a statue of a mother who had killed her son and then stabbed herself in the heart because she didn’t want them to be ravaged by the Corinthians. It pulled me in and wrecked me, and then there was the painting near it of men awaiting execution for some rebellion or other, and the portraits of the young girls in the process of being betrothed — they were so young. There were also lovely portraits of fruit, wine and cheese that said eat me! And plenty more of the Virgin Mary and all her stages of wonder and grief.
So, for a haphazard Christian, I was blessed with the sights and sounds of the many ways of who we are during the holiest of weeks for Spain.
And that is my way-too-quick rundown on our trip. It was so much better than my words convey, but I’m in a rush (ugh).
Regardless of your faith (and whether you’re good at practicing it or not) I hope you have a lovely holiday and imbibe in as much sun, flavor and zest for life as we were lucky to do this past week.