Month: June 2014

‘In-10-Cities’ of Spain, a Recap and a Video Salute

When we arrive in a new country we look forward to all the places and things we will see and experience.  We pack as much into a day as possible and no matter how hard we try our time in these countries goes by in the blink of an eye and its time to say goodbye.

It is when I sit down to create my recap videos that I stop to look at the thousands of photos I have taken.  It is during these times that I am always reminded of a fun outing that we took, a great food that we tasted, and some of the nice people that we met.  It is not easy to select the photos that speak to us the most about our time in a country or a city but I’m incredibly pleased with the results of this video.  For every city we visited I selected eight photos I think captured the essence of that city highlighting the treasures it had to offer.

In order of appearance the cities we visited over the last six months were;

Alicante

Barcelona

Benidorm

Cartagena

Cordoba

Granada

Madrid

Pilar de la Horadada

Seville

Torrevieja

I was incredibly pleased with the music selection I was able to find to accompany this video.  The song, Rumba Alemana, performed by El Perez, tells a story about Spain as well as any dialogue could; it is filled with a vibrancy, hope and fun; all of the attributes we found from the country, and its people.

We have already begun the process of saying goodbye to those who made our time here in Spain easier and more memorable.  From our local neighborhood grocer Marlene; to our favorite internet café owner Jesus; to our apartment owner Coral and to new friends Ruth and Mick who made our tours of Pilar de la Horadada, Seville and Cordoba so much more fun, we will miss you all.

   Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

 

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The Holy Ground of Cordoba

In every city there is one attraction that is deemed a ‘must-see’.  For the city of Cordoba, Spain most people cannot draw a breath without listing the Cathedral of Cordoba, or the Mosque of Cordoba among the ‘must sees’.  They are the same building you see; this undisputed holy ground also has two histories.

The present day name of this building is the Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady.  It is indeed a functioning Roman Catholic Church and a Cathedral since 1236.  The Cathedral of Cordoba is unlike any other church we have seen thus far on our little ABC (Another Blessed Cathedral) tour.  It is half Catholic altar and half Mosque.  It is filled with Mosque like arches and with paintings of Catholic Saints.  It is walked through in hushed tones and in silent prayer because one does not know which way to go first but surely in this place, unlike anyplace else on this earth, no matter what you call him, God is listening.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

From the beginning of modern time this land has held a church.  First a Roman Catholic Church from 1 AD to 600 AD, which is when the church was lost in a military campaign by the Visigoth Kings and taken by the Muslims.  The city of Cordoba was then ruled by and a fair and incredibly wealthy Caliph and he saw no problem with both religions using the building for prayer.  He did however begin the construction of a Mosque on and around the Church.

Construction of the Mosque began in 784.  Construction ended in 987. As is always the way construction was begun by one ruler and various changes, improvements, new adornments and new ideas were tacked on by other rulers of the area over time.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

It must be said that a respect for both religions is undeniably visible inside this holy place.  Even during the construction of the Mosque the Roman columns from the Catholic Church were incorporated into the construction. Most striking on entry is the 856 columns and double arches of the Mosque construction.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

In 1236 the city of Cordoba was once seized as a spoil of war and this time it was King Ferdinand III of Castile who turned the building back into a house of worship for the Catholics.  He did not however tear down or destroy the Mosque.  He further added to its design and turned the minaret into a bell tower which still stands today.  At the top of the bell tower he placed a statue of the archangel St. Raphael, patron saint of Cordoba.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The incredibly stunning Renaissance nave was purposefully built-in the center of the structure beginning in 1523 and it incorporated the caliphs gothic, renaissance and baroque creations into its design.   This was not the end of the construction however and chapels and other adornments were continuously added up until the 18th Century.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Built around the outer walls are 45 chapels to various saints.  Each chapel is unique in design and adornment.  The chapels were built by believers as their final resting place.  Each is dedicated to a patron saint.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

 

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The Mosque of Cordoba; the Cathedral of Cordoba is today a World Heritage site.  The cost to enter is 6 euro’s.  There is no time limit for your visit.  Our visit lasted three hours.  The flyer we were handed on entry says welcome to the Cathedral of Cordoba.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

This is a house of worship with a long and turbulent history.  It began as consecrated holy ground and a roman catholic church.  After the city of Cordoba was seized in war the building was added to and used as a mosque; it remained a mosque for almost 500 years until such time as the city of Cordoba was once again conquered and became a spoil of war.  Leaving the mosque intact but adding a royal chapel it was converted back into a catholic church this time adding 45 chapels and a nave created in its center.  Layer upon layer of history has been added to this building but in all cases the original building was never torn down and destroyed.  Every conqueror of the city of Cordoba has simply added to the structure.

Did each conqueror of Cordoba mean to keep constructing around the building before it?  Why did no ruler destroy or demolish completely the structure they found standing?   The Cathedral of Cordoba is striking because it is unlike any other Cathedral in the world today.  No other building that I am aware of has incorporated so much of two religions into its standing structure.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

 

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Calling this building the Cathedral of Cordoba, or the Mosque of Cordoba, does it an injustice.  It is not either one, but both.  It is the epitome of what all religions preach; love thy neighbor as you would love thyself.

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

Cristóbal Colón Day

As a little girl growing up in the United States I would always look at the academic calendar and see when the holidays were in the school year.  School started in September and our first holiday was October 12th.  It was called Columbus Day.

Years later I would be taught that Columbus was Christopher and he was credited with discovering the New World, namely the America’s.  I was taught he was born in Italy so he was really an Italian Explorer but he was given his commission by the Spanish Government and he told them he was going to find the route to the East Indies (they didn’t have GPS in those days).

Columbus would stay on the periphery of my education and I would know as scant little about him as my teachers deemed it worthy for me to know, which as you can tell wasn’t much.

Today I sit in Torrevieja, Spain and statues to Columbus can be found in many cities in Spain.  It was from here in the city of Granada that Columbus received his commission from the Spanish throne under Queen Isabella in the 15th Century.   It was the discovery of this New World that helped to make Spain a world power. Spain was to dominate the world so inclusively that half of the known countries of the day would speak Spanish as their primary language and from North America to the tip of South America every country even to this day speaks Spanish, most as their primary language.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Statue in Granada, Spain depicting Columbus’ meeting with Queen Isabella in 1492, where he received his Royal Commission to sail to the East Indies, © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

There is more however to the story of Columbus and as sometime happens when history is re-examined a more controversial figure of Christopher Columbus has emerged, if that was indeed his name.

The only thing historians agree on was that Columbus died on May 20, 1506 at the age of 54 in the city of Valladolid in Spain.  Where he was born, who he really was and where he is buried have historians from around the world vying to unravel the mystery of Columbus.

Columbus was born sometime between October 31, 1450 and October 30, 1451.  He was perhaps born in Genoa, Italy but might also have been born in Catalonia, Portugal, or another city in Spain.

Columbus was a self educated man learning Latin, Portuguese, and Castilian, with a love of reading about astronomy, geography, and history.  Unfortunately, as he was self-taught, this also lent itself to Columbus making up his own version of facts and it was his interpretation of the Bible verse from the Second Book of Estrus which he used to explain to Queen Isabella that the route to Asia lay to the west. Columbus firmly believed that the size of the world was much smaller than it really was.  He believed that the Eurasian landmass was far larger than it was and that the Asian continent was reachable from the east coast of China.  He was wrong on every count.

Based on his interpretations of maps of the day Columbus told the Spanish Crown that the distance to Japan was only 3,000 Italian miles (2,300 statute miles).  The correct figure was closer to 19,600km (12,200 mi).   Scholars from the 3rd Century had known the true distance and European navigators from Columbus’ own time agreed that there was no ship from the 15th Century which could have carried enough food and fresh water for such a long journey.  So desperate however were the Catholic Monarchs (Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand) to gain an edge over other Europeans countries that they believed Columbus’ claim that traveling west was the fastest way to reach the East Indies.

Even after landing in the Americas (in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492) Columbus stubbornly refused to accept that he had not in fact landed on any part of the Asian Continent.

During his voyages Columbus erroneously interpreted evidence that the Earth was not perfectly spherical, but rather bulged out like a pear around the new-found continent based on star rotation.

Columbus completed four voyages to the New World for the Spanish Throne.  During one of his voyages the ship the Santa Maria ran aground and had to be abandoned.  It was used for cannon practice and to show the locals the power and strength of the new conquerors.  Never trained in the art of chivalry Columbus was more of a barbarian and he treated the locals of the Americas like a tyrant.

Columbus faces west as he meets with Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Columbus faces west as he meets with Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

In 2006, located in the state archive of Valladolid Spain, was unveiled a 48 page document gathered during Columbus’ time as govern of Hispaniola.  It details the torture and mutilation of colonials during Columbus’ time in office.  It has also been recorded that when Columbus first landed in Hispaniola 60,000 people were living on the island and between 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines.

When Columbus died in 1506 he was buried in Valladoid, Spain.  His body remained interred there until 1542 when it was transferred to the Dominican Republic.  In 1795, when France took over the island of Hispaniola, Columbus’ remains were moved to Havana, Cuba. After Cuba became independent in 1898, the remains were believed to have been moved back to Spain.  However, the people of the Dominican Republic now claim that they did not return the body of Columbus as previously stated, or they might have returned only a portion of his body.   In June 2003 DNA samples of the remains in the Cathedral of Seville were examined and proof was received that the remains were Columbus’; or was it. Initial observations suggested that the bones did not appear to belong to somebody with the physique or age at death associated with Columbus.  The amount of DNA also could only ascertain that the person buried shared the same mother as one of Columbus’ brothers.  Hardly conclusive evidence that Columbus is buried in Seville.  The Dominicans will not allow the remains in their crypt to have DNA testing done.

The tombstone inside the Cathedral of Seville where some believe the remains of Christopher Columbus have been buried.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The tombstone inside the Cathedral of Seville where some believe the remains of Christopher Columbus have been buried. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Contrary to popular accounts there are no known photos or painting of Columbus.  The most famous one was completed in 1509 and therefore was not painted during Columbus’ lifetime.  This lack of a portrait leads to the air of mystery and uncertainty as to who exactly was Christopher Columbus.

The beautiful Gardens of the Alcazar of Cordoba is where the Spanish Inquisition began and where Columbus met with the Queen and King before he departed for the East Indies.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The beautiful Gardens of the Alcazar of Cordoba is where the Spanish Inquisition began and where Columbus met with the Queen and King before he departed for the East Indies. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

In addition to the atrocities attributed to Columbus one needs to include the following.  Without Columbus opening trade between Europe and the Americas foods such as potatoes, tomatoes and corn would not have helped European countries to increase their populations.  Without him wheat from Europe and the Old World would not have became a main food source for people in the Americas and coffee from Africa and sugar cane from Asia might not have became major cash crops for Latin American countries.

On May 14, 2014 word came that the lost Columbus hip, the Santa Maria, had been found in the waters off the coast of Haiti.  The Santa Maria was the largest of the three ships used by Columbus during his first voyage.  Will finding it again after all these years and exploring its secrets rewrite history once again?

After his death Columbus’ son Ferdinand claimed that his father was actually of Italian aristocracy. He described Columbus as a descendant of a Count Columbo.  This fake history is now widely believed to be how Columbus ingratiated himself to the good graces of the aristocracy, was this an elaborate hoax to mask a humble merchant background, or something else…?

The formal tomb of Columbus in the Cathedral of Seville.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The formal tomb of Columbus in the Cathedral of Seville. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

So, was Columbus the greatest con man in history?  Did he really know anything about navigation, was he really Italian or from Spain; was he of noble birth or merely merchant class; is he buried in Spain or has his body been cast to the four corners of the new world?  I do not know the answers to these questions.  I do know that based on my current research, and with the information that has come to light about Columbus and how he treated the indigenous of the New World I’m glad I hail from the United States of America, and not the United States of Columbus.

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

 

The Alcazar of Cordoba and the Not So Bad Spanish Inquisition

The word alcazar means fortress.  The Alcazar of Cordoba, also known as the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs) was constructed in 1328. It is located in the historic center of Cordoba, Spain on the Guadalquivir River.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Two of the towers still seen today are part of the original main façade.  They are the Tower of the Lions and the Tower of Homage.  The inquisition Tower was added in the 15th century by the catholic monarch’s, Isabella and Ferdinand.  The Palomas tower is a 20th century reconstruction.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

It was from the Inquisition Tower that Isabella and Ferdinand, the Catholic Monarch’s, began the Spanish Inquisition; met with Christopher Columbus to talk about his voyage west, and where they plotted military strategies for wars they would embark on during their reign.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Today the tower houses the hall of mosaics.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

 

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The roman baths seen from the Tower were used for centuries but turned into torture chambers during the Inquisition.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

When I went to elementary school I was taught the Inquisition was a horrific time in human history filled with torture and other sordid events that made my skin crawl.  It was while doing my research on the Inquisition for this blog story that I came across documentation and current academic research that says the Inquisition might not be as bad as was first reported.

In this day of enlightenment, and with so much new data and perspective being written I see now that the history I might have been given while in school was based on history written by Protestant historians with an anti-Catholic slant and the numbers of those tortured and burned at the stake were inflated to make their point.  Historians of Jewish descent then took to reviewing the Spanish Inquisition and therefore found events to be more of an anti-Jewish event then first reported, again slanting history to make their point.  Today’s historians seem to be addressing the statistics and the history of the whole Spanish Inquisition from a non-religious viewpoint and in doing so have softened the numbers tortured during the Spanish Inquisition which makes me wonder if they are employed by the tourism boards of Spain.  So I pose the question here; do we ever get history written without some agenda attached?

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The Spanish Inquisition began on November 1, 1478 and ended over 350 years later on July 15, 1834.

The Catholic Monarchs’, Isabella and Ferdinand, used the Inquisition as a way to wrest power from the Papacy.  They wanted a means to make all Protestants, Jews and other non-Catholics convert to Catholicism, or to leave Spain.  What it turned into however was a way to purge Spain of its upper class and to take from them their wealth and their lands.

To carry out their plan Ferdinand II of Aragon pressured Pope Sixtus IV to agree to an Inquisition controlled by the monarchy by threatening to withdraw military support when the Turks were a threat to Rome. On November 1, 1478, Pope Sixtus IV gave the monarchs exclusive authority to name the inquisitors in their kingdoms. On February 6, 1481 the first of the killings done under the auspices of the Inquisition began in Spain and six people were burned alive.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The Inquisition not only hunted for Protestants (of which there were very few in Spain at the time) but also Jews and Moriscos who were converts of Islam.

When the Inquisition arrived in a city the first step taken was called the Edict of Grace. Following Sunday mass, the Inquisitor would read the edict; it explained possible heresies and encouraged the congregation to come to the tribunals of the Inquisition to “relieve their consciences”.  It was during these relief sessions that many people would bear false witness against another person.  These denunciations were made for varying reasons some of which were based on jealousy or hatred; but seldom based on fact.

Once someone was denounced they were imprisoned; a tribunal was set forth to examine evidence for and against the accused and a decision was made.  Many of the imprisonments lasted two years or more.  Many people died while in prison awaiting their trials.  Detention also meant that all property and money was immediately confiscated by the Inquisitor; it was quite the scheme.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Months, or even years could pass without the accused being informed of their crime and no one ever knew who their accuser was.

If you made it to trail you had the chance of two trials; you could find reputable witnesses to defend you and to debunk that which you were accused of, or you could find witnesses to show that those who accused you were in actuality not trustworthy so therefore the case had no merit.

What the Inquisition is most noted for was the torture implemented to get the accused to confess their sins (in this instance not being a true convert to Catholicism).  Torture was always a means to obtain the confession of the accused, not a punishment itself. Torture was also applied without distinction of sex or age, including children and the aged.

I had been terrorized as a child that torture happened to everyone over a long period of time.  Today scholars teach that torture was used in only two percent of the cases, and in less than one percent of the cases was it used a second time, never more than that. The torture also only lasted up to 15 minutes.

The Inquisition was forbidden from permanently harming or drawing blood. The methods most used were garrucha, toca and the potro.The garrucha consisted of suspending the victim from the ceiling by the wrists, which are tied behind the back. The toca, consisted of introducing a cloth into the mouth of the victim, and forcing them to ingest water spilled from a jar so that they had the impression of drowning (think modern day water boarding). The potro, or the rack, was the instrument of torture used most frequently and the torture most used in Hollywood movies.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

It is not hard to fathom therefore that after such tortures people would freely ‘confess’ to the crime brought against them to make the torture stop.  Thus, all confessions acquired by means of torture were considered valid as they were supposedly made of the confessor’s own free will.

Sentencing was then carried out.  The generally accepted number of people burnt at the stake is below 5,000.  The total number of deaths attributed to the Inquisition which ran well over 350 years is believed to be between three and five thousand.  Not every person brought to trail was therefore found guilty and executed.

The last known execution attributed to The Inquisition was held on July 26, 1826.  It was a school teacher named Cayetano Ripoll.  His crime was teaching deist principles.

It was not until December 16, 1968 however that The Alhambra Decree which forced the expulsion of Jews from the region was abolished.  I guess someone forgot it was still on the city charter and it was left in place until 1968.

The gardens of the Alcazar are today marketed as a major tourist attraction.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Walking through the gardens one would never know the dark history surrounding the Alcazar.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

 

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The gardens are splendid with water features, sculptures of all the rulers who lived in the fortress over time and a still in tact system of gates that can be open and closed to water the gardens.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

 

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

It is hard to reconcile the beauty of the Alcazar with its horrific history.  As you walk through the beautiful gardens it is easy to forget what ugliness happened inside these fortress walls.  Perhaps time, a new perspective or a reexamination of events does have a way of softening history.  It does not however excuse it.  My fear would be that in excusing it, or softening its meaning, we get lulled into repeating it.

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

 

 

 

 

A Parasol Too Large To Carry

The one constant that we have seen everywhere we have traveled is that every city has something unique to bring to the travel experience.  We never really know what we will find when we travel to some of the great cities in the world.  One of the stops on the map of the city of Seville, Spain is the Metropol Parasol.  Since it was not visible from the bus route we decided to walk the few blocks from the bus stop and see what all the fuss was about.

The Metropol Parasol is a wooden structure located in La Encarnación square, in the old quarter of Seville, Spain.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Construction began in 2005.  It stands 85 feet high and is 490 by 230 feet long.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Construction finished in 2011.  It is believed to be the largest all wooden structure in the world.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The building is affectionately known as Las Setas de la Encarnación (Incarnación’s mushrooms).  The design is said to be six parasols which form a giant mushroom.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Construction on the site actually began in early 1990 but during the excavation they found a ruin dating to the Roman and Andalusian eras and construction was immediately stopped.

The Metropol is organized into four levels.  The sublevel is the Antiquarium where the Roman and Moorish remains are on display in a museum.  The Central Market is located on level 1.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

They sell lots of fresh fish and meats…

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Olives and cheeses…

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

And loads of fresh fruits and vegetables.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The roof of Level 1 is the surface of the open-air public plaza, shaded by the wooden parasols above and designed for public events. Levels 2 and 3 house a restaurant, and two stages for entertainment.  They also offer one of the best views of the city centre.  Our new friends Ruth and Mick had a better idea and we decided to have a drink under the parasol instead.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

In fact we decided that sitting under the parasol was a perfect way for me to celebrate my 54th birthday.  And no, I didn’t eat the whole thing by myself.  🙂

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

 

Desfile de Pascua

(The Spanish Easter Parade)

One of the perks of living in a foreign country is getting to attend the many fairs and festivals that are held.  The other perk is getting to take lots of pictures of these events and being able to share them with others.

This is a portada, the main entrance for the Cordoba feria.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The portada (main portal) of the Cordoba Feria is 140 metres wide, with a 45m-tall main central tower, two smaller towers at either end, two main arches one on each side of the main tower, and a multitude of Mezquita-style red-and-white striped double arches.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The word Feria means a local festival or fair usually held in honor of a patron saint.   The Cordoba Feria is therefore also known as Feria de Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of the Health).

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

This feria takes place the last week of May every year.  It has been held since 1284.  Entrance is free.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

During the feria and every day from noon to roughly 8:00pm there is a sort of Easter Parade that takes place.  Called the Paseo de Caballos it is a parade of horses and carriages led by purebred horses with well dressed riders and sometimes fashionable ladies.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The men who ride wear traditional Cordoban hats which are flat with a wide brim.  They sit very tall and high in the saddle and cut a stately figure.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The ladies, of all ages dress in exquisite traditional dress of all colors, shapes and sizes.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The traditional dress is called traje de cordobesa which is composed of a skirt and jacket with their hair swept up into an elegant chignon covered by a net.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

I was told that the beautiful flowers worn in the hair of the fashionable ladies are only worn in two locations; one low and behind the right ear, or on the back part of the top of ones head.  Some ladies wear as many flowers as they can find.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

What would a fair be without a ferris wheel or a carnival?  This is no exception.  There were actually two ferris wheels, carnival booths and food stands that went on for miles.  This is quite an event.  The booths open from 4:00pm to 5:00am.  In Spanish this is called La Calle del Infierno (Hell’s Street).

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Bullfighting is a part of the feria festivities and the bullring in Cordoba is considered to be among the seven most important in all of Spain.  I don’t have any pictures of a bullfight because this little girl was too cute not to take a picture of.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Not to be outdone in wearing their fancy dresses these men strut their stuff in their fancy flamenco aprons!  In actuality they were headed from one casetas to another.  The casetas are food tents and here at the Cordoba feria there were over 100 of them.  They are tents which offer food, drink and dancing.  Lots of flamenco dancing takes place from noon to 5:00am. The entertainment was free; the beers were not.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

After seeing all these wonderful feria dresses and the many colors they came in we were compelled to buy this complete outfit for my youngest niece Natalia.  Natalia is taking dance lessons and we thought she would look smashing in this flamenco ensemble.  I hope she likes it.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

 

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

 

Real Over Imagined

The ROI (Return on Investment) Dilemma

Recently we took two semi-escorted excursions; one to Granada and the other to Seville / Cordoba.  We used the same tour company and as we always do we called their main office and spoke to the owner to see if they would like to sponsor our trip.  They listened politely and then told us that they had done this sponsorship thing in the past and received absolutely no ROI (Return on investment).

This is not the first time we have heard this from business owners but it’s the first time I’m addressing this issue.  I’m hoping this blog entry does two things; 1. Explains to bloggers who give business owners more hype than ROI, that you are making it harder for those of us who actually give ROI to make a living, and 2. It’s time to educate business owners on what exactly is real ROI.

Based on a recommendation from another resident here in Torrevieja we used David’s Coachtrips S.I. for both trips.  There is no question that the two woman who led these trips (Jane to Granada and Sue to Seville / Cordoba) had received Tour Guide training.  They were both clear in their instruction to the passengers as to time schedules, hotel information, drop off / pick up points and even meal time information.  They gave touristy information as we motored along of all the sites and even about the cities we were traveling too.  They spaced out their little talks and kept it to a minimum.

The bus driver was excellent and took very good care of the bus and drove safely.  I had no qualms about napping while he drove.

The hotel in Granada was centrally located which made the fact that this tour didn’t offer us any other excursions or coach services convenient because we could walk to everything from our hotel. The only reason to take this trip was that the bus drove us to the front entrance of the hotel.  I am still trying to decide if it was worth the price for two ($246).

The trip to Seville / Cordoba was a disappointment since the hotel was located 30 minutes from Cordoba and 90 minutes from Seville.  The hotel was located on the outskirts of the little town of La Carlota.  We were trapped at the hotel with no place to walk to; no other restaurants to eat at; no stores to browse in; nothing to do but sit in the bar and drink.  This was not a good location for any tour.

The trip to Seville / Cordoba was hailed as a special event because the spring Feria was being held.  More like a reality TV show where things put forward as reality are not so, the feria, instead of being a big deal was more of a dud.  We were dropped off at 2:00pm and found most of the carnival booths closed.  We found overpriced restaurants open and nothing to do but eat lunch.  We were told that a parade was going to take place but the only thing that happened was an Easter Parade sort of walk where ladies in pretty dresses and men on horseback walked or rode down the center road. This part of the trip was a complete waste of time and energy.   What made it especially horrific was that we had been hurried through the city of Cordoba so that we could get to the feria early.  In reality we could have skipped the feria completely and spent more time in Cordoba.

The trip to Granada was tainted on the ride home when our tour manager decided to play a movie. Now this is not unusual and many guides around the world will play a movie to help the passengers pass the time on the ride home.  However, she showed Million Dollar Baby, a foul-mouthed, nasty and vulgar movie that I had never sat through, would never have sat through and wouldn’t even recommend.  I wasn’t alone in my assessment and soon I was sitting in a bus full of outraged seniors who felt violated and insulted as the movie progressed.  Why on earth would a company show a movie like this to a group of people who couldn’t turn the sound off?  This was incredibly bad judgment on someone’s part but as always happens it became a he said / she said argument with the tour manager blaming their office for forcing them to show the movie.

There are two sides to the ROI dilemma.  On the one hand when a blogger is given a freebie they should be disclosing that fact to their readers in the first paragraph so that readers know from where their review comes.  Not being compensated means one is free to tell the truth about a company and the level of service they receive.  This is a double-edged sword for a business owner.

Mike and I refuse to write reviews that are false.  We give right of first refusal to every business owner as to what gets put forward and what doesn’t.  For David’s Coachtrips most of what we would have written for their ROI would have been positive.  Not having to deliver ROI means I can write about the negatives as well as the positives.

Real ROI also doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with a bloggers follow numbers.  If that is the only thing you as a business owner are being offered you are not being offered ROI.  Many followers or readers of blogs are arm-chair travelers and they will never spend money in your company.  Real ROI increases your bottom line.  Real ROI means we write about you on other highly visible websites or newspapers not just our blogs.  Real ROI means we share with you best practices in how to increase your business and how to advertise. We also take a look at your website and tell you what you are doing right, and what you are doing wrong.  Real ROI is therefore about helping grow your business; not about inflating our follow numbers.

As in all things there is a Real ROI and an Imagined ROI.  I know which one I offer.  As a business owner which one would you rather have?

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince