Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Holgazanear (intransitive verb) to idle, to laze about/around, to loaf

I recently learned that you can use an infinitive in Spanish to answer a question. So if someone were to ask me what I’ve been doing this month of August I could reply with:

What the hell else am I supposed to do? It’s August in Spain and not just Spain but the endless beaches part of Spain, the part of Spain where other people in Spain go to goof off. Along this entire coast you can’t spit without hitting a topless beauty or a fat, naked, 60 year old German tourist. Of course I’m screwing off, there is nothing else to do. I’m no history expert but I’ll bet every battle the Spanish have ever lost took place in August when at least half of their army was taking a trip to the beach with their families and the other half was working in the family café trying to keep enough beer cold and sardines on the grill to serve the summer hordes.

One more thing that I really love about Valencia is that you can take the subway to the beautiful city beach. There aren't many cities in the world that you can say that about. I live on the line that serves the beach so I see a lot of people either going or coming. My favorite sight is the stuff that parents pack to entertain their little kids when they spend the day on the water. Pails, shovels, watering cans, sailboats, and, of course, balls are part of what the beach caravans have in tow on the Valencia metro. This is one aspect of Spanish life that is exactly the same as it is in America: kids all use the same paraphernalia when they go to the beach.

Valencianos mostly drive to the beaches south of town and for this ten minute expedition families bring more crap than a Spice Route camel caravan. Chairs, tables, umbrellas, blankets, volleyball nets, rackets, and all of the kid junk listed earlier. It’s hard to imagine all of this stuff fits into the little cars people drive—maybe they make two or three trips. Goofing off requires a lot of equipment if you are doing it right.

If you can find a restaurant that is actually open in August it will be filled to capacity, at least during the hours when Spanish people eat, which seem to get later and later as the summer moves along its trajectory. Lunch is still going strong at an hour when many American early bird specialists are already packing up their leftovers in doggie bags and heading home to bed. The crowds wash in and out of the beach cafes like the tides. If you were to take a water sample of those tides, the results would come back as coffee, Coca Cola, red wine, and beer. It probably takes at least one nuclear reactor just to power all of the espresso machines working furiously along the coast. I would rather suffer the consequences of a dozen reactor core meltdowns than risk having a few million Spanish people go without coffee for a single afternoon.

I’m pretty sure that they still print newspapers in August, and there is probably news on television, but maybe if we just ignore it the news will go away—it can at least wait until September. I’m too caught up in the trashy Spanish novel I’m reading to bother with the newspapers, except to read the Calvin and Hobbes comic in the local paper, Levante. Even soccer takes a break in August so there’s no reason to read the sports.

Thank God that in the middle of all of this hustle and bustle I have time to take a nap. These aren’t my usual little power naps of ten to fifteen minutes, these are howling one hour affairs so intense that I don’t know what day it is when I wake up (not that I really knew what day it was when I first laid down, but still). I wake up semi-paralyzed and semi-conscious and I check to make sure I didn’t lose anything to some international group of organ thieves—not that anyone who knew any better would want anything coming out of this burnt-out old carcass. I use the slobber on my chin to fix my bed-head hair and then head down to the café for a coffee.

The café is full again and I am beginning to wonder if all of these customers have been evicted. It's hard to imagine they have homes when they spend 10 hours a day at this joint. I’m sure they think the same about me and I don’t even bother changing clothes from day to day. I stick with flip-flops, surf trunks, and the soccer jersey du jour (today it’s the Portugal national team jersey). I speak Spanish like Tarzan so I may as well look the part. I haven't worn shoes in months and can you explain to me again the purpose of socks? I don’t know how much longer I can keep going at this frantic pace. Something has got to give and I hope it isn’t the seam in the ass of my surf trunks from all of the fried squid I’ve been putting away.

I have to be honest; I’m exhausted. It’s 8:30 a.m. and I’m ready to go back to bed for an hour, maybe two, three at the very most. I don’t know if I should be worried but my blood pressure is so low that the readings begin with decimal points. I’d call a doctor but they are all out of the office in August. For medical emergencies you are supposed to rent one of those sound trucks and try and page a doctor at the beach. I tried that but all the little kids mobbed me because they thought I was the ice cream man. It was pretty funny but things got ugly once the little bastards found out I didn't have any ice cream. I was able to take out a few of them but in the end I got stomped something fierce. Ice cream sounds good right now, even if it is 8:31 a.m. In August, 8:31 a.m. is like four in the afternoon.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Olive Oil Consumption and Spanish Production

We use a lot of olive oil here in Spain but the Greeks seem to be actually bathing in it by comparison. Spain is the world's largest producer of olive oil with Andalucía producing a full 80% of Spanish oil.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bikes and Trains

In Spain you can take your bike on the local trains, or cercanías as they are called. On the longer routes they aren’t allowed so you’ll have to stick to pedaling. I found a bit of gear in my mountain climbing equipment that works very well to secure my bike on these short trips which beats standing with it the entire time. A carabiner attaches to the hand rail. Taking a local train with your bike allows you to see a lot more of the area than if you use Valencia as a starting and stopping point. Bon voyage!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Feria de Julio

If you feel the need to check out a bullfight in Valencia there are a few this month. For prices look here.

-Miércoles 24. Toros de Las Ramblas para Finito de Córdoba, Manuel Díaz "El Cordobés" y Juan José Padilla.
-Jueves 25. Toros de Núñez del Cuvillo para El El Fandi, Sebastián Castella y Daniel Luque.
-Viernes 26. Toros de Garcigrande-Domingo Hernández para El Juli y José María Manzanares, mano a mano.
-Sábado 27. Toros de Juan Pedro Domecq y Victoriano del Río para Morante de la Puebla y Alejandro Talavante, mano a mano.
-Domingo 28. Festejo de rejones. Toros de Fermín Bohórquez para Andy Cartagena y Diego Ventura, mano a mano.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Two Summer Salads

We'll start off with a Caprese Salad and since this is an Italian dish we'll present you with an Italian video.
Next we have a classic dish from here in Valencia, Esgarraet with Tuna (it is normally made with dried cod).

Bon appétit! ¡Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Politeness and Manners in Spanish (for beginners)

Just a few thoughts on how to comport yourself in Spain. When you enter a shop or café you should always greet people with a “Buenos días” or “Buenas tardes” and when you leave please don’t forget to bid them “Hasta luego.” If the shop owner or barman is in the back I feel bad leaving without saying goodbye, like a rat slinking off a sinking ship and I will often wait for them to return before I leave. However, the Spanish aren’t as hung up on “pleases” and thank you’s” like Americans and Brits so use your own judgment on that.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

100th Tour de France, Stage 15: Givors - Montoux

"This stage is the longest of this 100th Tour. It is also one of the most prestigious because nobody wins by chance on the Ventoux, especially not on 14 July? There are two scenarios: either a group gets away from a long way out and maintains enough of an advantage for the escapees to fight it between themselves; or the leaders shut down the race as far as the foot of the climb, transforming the stage into one enormous hill-climb! Depending on the weather, a lot of damage could be done today. Imagine what it could be like if there's blazing heat all day? Whether you're in the yellow jersey or not, if you do badly on this climb you will lose a quarter of an hour!"

Happy Bastille Day!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kite Surfing in Valencia @ Taronja Spanish School

Ever heard of Kitesurfing? It´s an amazing, exciting sport, great for men and women of practically all ages; it's more about skill and technique than physical strength. As such if you want to learn, or improve in this sport, you have the opportunity to combine it with your Spanish course in Valencia with our fantastic Kitesurfing Course at Taronja Spanish School.

Address: Calle Convento Santa Clara, 10, 46002 Valencia, Spain
Phone:+34 963 25 85 45 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Wynton Marsalis in Valencia

The world's greatest living jazz legend, Wynton Marsalis, will play in Valencia tonight.
Ensemble Wynton Marsalis with JLCO – Valencia Jazz Festival
Date Monday, July 8th, 2013
Venue Palau de la Musica
Address Paseo de la Almeda, 30
Location Valencia, Spain
Venue Phone +34 963 375 020

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Assimil Spanish for Beginners

I highly recommend this language course for beginners in Spanish. Assimil Spanish

Spanish With Ease aims to take users from scratch to a solid base within six months through daily half-hour lessons. The audio is transcribed and translated in the book which also contains detailed grammar notes and exercises and amusing cartoons.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

How to Make Papas Aliñás

Another great summer dish and the best potato salad I have ever tried. It's quick and easy and very satisfying.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bike Paths in the City Center

As you can see from this map most of the city's bike paths seem to disappear once you enter the historic center. Negotiating this area of town on a bike can be a problem, especially since police seem to be actively pursuing cyclists for minor traffic violations. You are advised to stay off the sidewalks even at reasonable speeds and be careful of going the wrong way on one-way streets. If only the police would hold automobiles to this high standard of conduct Valencia would be a lot better for cyclists and pedestrians.

VIDEO: how does Globexs work?