Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Are you missing out on the real Spain?

‘Duende’ is a Spanish term which lovers of flamenco use to describe music that truly has soul. Through its art it achieves a heightened state of ecstatic emotion, expression and authenticity. It is the real deal. As visitors to Spain we are like lovers of flamenco searching for ‘duende’. We are on a quest to find the real Spain - ‘la España auténtica’ - beyond the tourist clichés and English bars.

Unlocking the secrets of Spain

Ludwig Wittgenstein once commented that “the limits of my language are the limits of my universe”. Nowhere is this more true than when in Spain. By learning Spanish you can unlock more about the country’s culture, meet more people and gain a more authentic experience of the country. Learning Spanish is the key to unlocking the real Spain.

Learn Spanish in Spain

There are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the Spanish language by learning Spanish in Spain on your next trip out there. There are schools located all over Spain but Andalucía is a deservedly popular place to base yourself where you will be surrounded by history and culture, which you can explore whilst studying with organisations like the Clic Seville school.

Learning Spanish in Spain can be the chance to start from scratch with the language, to boost your confidence or polish your skills. Weekly small group classes will see you quickly master the language whilst practising it in the city bars at night. You can study for a week, a fortnight or as long as you wish and you can choose how many hours you study if you need more time for sightseeing. Most schools run cultural programmes that include guides to local sights, nights out to flamenco bars, guides to Spanish culture through books or films and explorations of Spanish culture and history.

‘España sin límites’

Learning to speak Spanish in Spain is perhaps one of the most interesting and cultural things you can do whilst visiting Spain and a way to open up Spain without limits. Here are just a few ways learning Spanish can enhance your next trip to Spain.

Popular culture

Simply reading the local papers will make you feel at home and allow you to better appreciate Spanish culture and life. Spanish cinema – from Almodóvar to del Torro – can be appreciated with the locals and books in Spanish are no longer, well, a closed book. Those TV broadcasts and songs become suddenly meaningful and your understanding of politics can be enhanced by understanding the posters and graffiti on the walls.

Transform your travel experience

To really get off the beaten tourist trail and explore the real Spain you will need to know Spanish. By speaking Spanish you will discover just how amazingly generous and warmly welcoming the people of Spain are once they begin to accept and befriend you.

Take home more than souvenirs

Taking home a language from your holiday is a gift that will last a lot longer than your suntan or souvenirs. Spanish will help you communicate with more than 350 million people who use it as their mother tongue and open the door to more trips to Spain or further afield to South and Latin America.

The real Spain

Learning Spanish in Spain will help you appreciate Spain more deeply, understand its culture better, really get beyond the traditional tourist trail and kit you up for future holidays. It will ultimately help you find the ‘duende’ that lies at the heart of Spain.

Useful links

Why learn a language
Find out why people choose to learn a new language.

Get started learning Spanish
Discover resources from the BBC to help you start your Spanish learning journey.

What is ‘duende’?
Explore the history and use of the Spanish term ‘duende’.

Friday, 18 January 2013

The Everlasting Sales

Like many other countries, once Christmas is over it follows a period of sales where department stores try to get those last savings you heroically managed not to spend on Christmas. Well, this sales period (called Rebajas) is especially relevant in Spain for several reasons:
As you know from our last entry, in Spain Christmas is officially over after the Epiphany on January 6th. That marks the start of Rebajas. But there's something even more important for the start of Rebajas than this particular date, and that would be when does El Corte Inglés decide to start it.

El Corte Inglés is, by a fair margin, the biggest department store chain in Spain. It is so big that they are the ones to set the starting time of the sales period. Then the other shops and department stores get benefited from the big marketing campaign launched by this company. Usually, every 7th of January there will be very long queues on every Corte Inglés in the country before they open their doors. These people queuing will anxiously run straight to the clothing section in search for the biggest bargain of the day. 

Another measure to point how relevant this period is that you only have to look at the average spending during this time. This year, the Spaniards will spend an average of 80€ on clothes during this period. This is 33% less than last year, due to the economic crisis. If that number did not impress you, bear in mind that, today, almost 26% of the active population in Spain is unemployed, so the effort these people have to make in order for this number to be this big is impressive, to say the least.

Oh, and by the way, if you are in Spain or planning to go soon, remember that they have one of the cheapest clothes pricings in Europe (partially due to Inditex headquarters being lcoated in Spain) and their sales end on February 28th! So you may want to schedule a quick trip to gear up for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Three Wise Men

Spanish people have 4 significant days over the Christmas period. The first one is the night of 24th, Christmas Eve, the 25th, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and the night of the Wise Men

Every night of 5th of January all cities in Spain celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men. Mounted on three carriages, they make a tour through (across) the main streets of the cities giving sweets and candies to all people.

On the night of the 5th January, all the kids go to bed very early because the Wise Men will visit all houses during the night and leave presents for each family.

One or two weeks before, all kids have to write a detailed letter specifying all presents they want.

This has been a Christian tradition and the Three Wise Men have been more important than Santa Claus - who has gained importance in the last few years thanks to the globalization and media.

Despite the fact that the Pope has recently said that these Wise Men come from Andalusia, the south of Spain, this is not proven at all. It has always been said that they come from Orient, but this is just a belief.

The Wise Men, after Jesus was born, came to pay tribute to him and gave him three presents: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Their names are Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar (in Spanish Melchor, Gaspar y Baltasar).

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Feliz Navidad!

If you are in Spain this Christmas.. You are a very lucky person.

Rather than wrapping up in a thick jumper whilst sipping on hot, mulled wine.. You could be on the beach sipping on Sangria!

.. Where would you rather be this Christmas?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Week for the Elimination of Violence against Women

If you are in Spain, you may know that this week (19- 25 November) is celebrating the elimination of Violence against Women.

On the occasion of this week, some Spanish cities celebrate major events which culminate in the Sunday 25th of November with a demonstration because of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

These major events are carried out by lots of non-profit organisations such as AmnestyInternational, AFAVIR, Red Feminista or FAVIDE. Although these events are varied (conferences, theatre, Cinema..) they have just one objective- which is to raise awareness about gender violence.

Among these events, it’s worth highlighting some conferences that have been organised in Ciudad Real by the prosecutor Jesús Caballero Klink- which is taking place next 22th of November in the old casino or the theatre La herida luminosa (The Luminous Wound). This is carried out in the Principal Theatre of Castellon, next Saturday 24th.

This week is celebrated with great sensitivity, respect, longing and pain; it should not be forgotten that more than 40 women have been killed so far this year in Spain because of gender-based violence- more than 800 women dead in just 12 years.

Next 25th of November thousands of people will be on the streets of many Spanish cities screaming No more gender violence.

Friday, 12 October 2012


Churros are a great delicacy in Spain. A wonderful dish bringing families and friends together for many decades. It can be referred to as a Spanish doughnut, despite some similarities they are truly one of a kind and must be tested to  understand how incredible they are.

Churros are a Hispanic fried dough treat, typically served for breakfast. However, many people eat it as a dessert or a snack due to it's sweet nature.

There are two types of churros in Spain: one which is thin and 'star shaped' and the other is very long and thick. Both are usually sprinkled with sugar and accompanied by hot chocolate (not the drinking hot beverage many are familiar with but a thick melted chocolate) for dipping. When consuming churros for breakfast it is also often dipped in coffee.

Once the churro batter has been made, a piece of machinery called a churrera (translated literally to churros making machine) is used to extrude the batter into churro shapes and goes directly into a deep fryer. When they are golden brown they are ready to be eaten!

The thinner, star shaped churros can be found throughout the majority of Spain, on the other hand, the thicker variety is primarily found in the southern regions of Spain. This kind is fried in teh shape of a continous spiral and cut into portions afterwards- truly a sight to see!

The best churros will be served at a 'Churreria'- a cafe serving only churros and will most likely only be open in the morning until around noon time. However, if you are a confident cook you can check out how it'd one here!

We really hope that you all get a chance to try this traditional Spanish dish when you visit Spain!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Five things not to miss in Andalucia

Andalucia is great destination for a holiday or study break. There are many different attractions in the region: here is a list of our top five.

1) Seville Holy Week

Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is celebrated throughout Spain, and is the country’s most important religious festival. Nowhere is it more important than in the cities of Andalucia, with Seville’s celebrations being the most extravagant and popular. 

Processions organised by the city’s Catholic brotherhoods parade through the streets every night, carrying sculptures and wearing clothes that tell the story of the resurrection.

They are watched mostly in respectful silence. If you want to visit Seville for Holy Week, why not combine it with a language course at Clic Seville? Visit the Spanish courses department page for more information. Learning the Spanish language will really help you understand the festival.

2)   Jerez Horse Fair

Jerez is known for the incredible equestrian performances that take place at the Andalucian School of Equestrian Art. The Horse Fair, held every May, dates back around 500 years, when it was simply a place to buy and sell horses. Today it includes music, flamenco and partying until dawn. 

3)   Granada International Music and Dance Festival

Also known as the Granada Music Festival, this event has its roots in the court performances put on by local dancers and musicians at the Alhambra in the late nineteenth century. It has grown to become an incredible celebration of Spanish classical music and dance.

Performances are held at venues throughout the city in June and July. Many of them are open air, with the city as an atmospheric backdrop. Many others are held in the city’s many beautiful historic buildings, including the Alhambra. The festival attracts about 30,000 people each year.

4)   Cordoba May Crosses Festival

This is a religious festival celebrated in many towns and cities throughout the Spanish-speaking world. It has particular importance in Andalucia, and especially in Cordoba. The festival celebrates Saint Helen.

After converting to Christianity, Helen went on a search for the true cross, and found three crosses. She realised that the true cross would be able to perform miracles, and set about testing them, healing the sick in the process. She is celebrated at the festival with crosses made of spring flowers, flower- covered floats in procession, and music and dance events.

5)   Malaga Fair

The Malaga fair is held every August to celebrate the re-capturing of the city by Catholic kings in 1497, from its Moorish rulers. The first festival was held as a street procession, and grew to include bull-fighting, fireworks and more. 

Today’s festival is celebrated day and night, and today, with music and dancing, drinking and tapas in the streets and parks of the city. It combines tradition with modern Spain, attracting tourists and locals from across the Costa del Sol.

Useful links Calendar
A calendar of events in Andalucia. 

Travel and events in Spain. 

Official site of the Granada festival.