31 Mar 2013

Remembering a Polish Easter...

Originally posted April 13th 2009. I'm reposting this now because I think it will interest some of you who didn't read it back in the day! Happy Easter to all! :o)

All this Easter talk and reading (I've been visiting other blogs) has reminded me that I discovered some new (for me) Easter traditions when I was visiting friends on a wonderful trip to Poland several years ago and I'd like to share them (and some of my photos from the trip, click on them for bigger views) here with you.

Statue of Pope John Paul II in Warsaw

28 Mar 2013

Torrijas: French toast is a special Holy Week food in Spain???

Torrijas are a typical sweet in Spain during Holy Week. You see them on the menus of cafés or for sale in many bakeries. I bought a couple of slices the other day for my "merienda" (mid-afternoon snack) and boy were they yummy! But I got to wondering why on earth were they considered a Holy Week specialty??? I mean, torrijas are basically French toast made with baguette!!! (Note: in France they make the same thing and call it "pain perdu" or "lost bread", and as far as I know it's not a special Holy Week thing.) In my family French toast is breakfast and is valid all year round (unless we start worrying about calories and stuff, which we don't... which explains a lot!).

Delicious torrijas in my local bakery

27 Mar 2013

Holy Week again!

We're in the midst of Holy Week again, and in Spain Semana Santa = processions in almost every town and city across the country!!!

I missed out on my favourite procession this year, Palm Sunday, because I was out hiking (very cold and windy hike, but a fabulous outing! Will write about it asap). But because it was such a nice day when we got back into Alicante, a few of us didn't feel like heading home! So we wandered around downtown for a bit and popped into a place to have a merienda (snack). 2h later (lots of talking!) as I'm walking back to where I left the car I found I couldn't cross the Rambla because that evening's procession was underway!!! So I stayed and watched for a bit... and of course filmed it for you guys! ;o)

It's just one "paso" ("paso" = statue of a Saint, or the Virgin or Jesus on its throne, accompanied by the faithful and a marching band or two), I didn't stay around for any more (tired and in desperate need of a shower, lol!), but I thought you'd enjoy it! So here you have the Cofradía de San Pedro Apóstol, completing a loop through downtown (they had started off from the Cathedral and were only 2 blocks away from returning there). You can see members of the brotherhood wearing a medallion with their emblem, and three ladies carrying the symbols of St Peter (keys, fishing boat, net) on cushions.

I don't know if I'll be able to see any others this year... I wanted to last night but had to work late. I might talk with a friend about going to Elche on Sunday to see their Easter Sunday procession (is supposed to be beautiful), but we'll see. Anyhow, if you want to see what I wrote about other Semana Santa processions in the last couple of years follow these links:

And going through this I just realised I didn't write about the Procesión del Silencio in Elche last year!!! Well then, looks like I've got work to do this week! Hopefully I'll be able to make some time for that... Kind of depends on how many photos and video I took... :p

23 Mar 2013

Gorgeous hike up the Maigmó

Woah! Has it really been 4 1/2 months since I wrote a hiking post?! YIKES!!! 
It's not that I haven't done any hiking since then... it's that I didn't do any hiking in Nov-Dec (missed 2 hikes 'cause I was sick, another got rained out) and since Christmas I've been über-busy so haven't had time to edit the photos and write about the hikes! There's also the fact that the Christmas hike and January hike were kind of repeats, so I couldn't muster as much enthusiasm as usual to work on them... I'll get to it at some point ('cause the Christmas one was worth talking about!)

Anyhow, on to this hike! I'd like to get this post out today... 'cause tomorrow I'm heading out again and I don't them mixing up in my mind when I'm writing about them later! :p

So on February 24th we (the Centro Excursionista de Alicante) met up bright and early -as usual- at the Plaza de Toros in Alicante, piled into our cars and headed to a lonely road going from Agost to "Rincón Bello", near the "Vía Verde". Our starting point was at 493 metres above sea level (so ~ 1617 ft) and we were going to cover roughly 19km (~11.8mi) in a circular route that would take us up to the summit of the Maigmó (1296m ~ 4252ft above sea level). Now when I first heard about this hike I wasn't feeling too inspired, because I'd already climbed the Maigmó with the CEA last year in March. But Alberto assured me we were doing a completely different route, with the only thing in common with the previous hike being the actual summit (which we climbed up a different way!). Suddenly the outing was much more interesting!

Just after 9 a.m. we all gathered round Alberto at the starting point for our briefing. And boy was it COLD!!! Barely 5ºC (41ºF). And windy. Hats, gloves, scarves... everyone was bundled up, not a common sight in Alicante! :p

The morning light was gorgeous, and let me get some really nice shots along our trail.

Barranco de la Zarza with Maigmó in the background

13 Mar 2013

Habemus papam

First Jesuit Pope, first Latinamerican Pope (actually first non-European!) and first Pope Francis! I'm hoping this is a sign of more new things in the Church. In any case he has a kind face and a sense of humour! :o)

Watching all this live has been quite moving and thrilling!