Las Hogueras- Lets set the world on fire!

Las Hogueras 2012

I´ve been blessed this week with the chance to visit some of my family here in Alicante. Not only have I got to spend some much-needed quality time with my loved ones before I start into working on a three-month long intensive course but I´ve also been lucky enough to be here, in one of my favourite cities in Spain, to celebrate the arrival of summer with the Bonfires of San Juan.

 Alicante is one part of Spain which will always have a special place in my heart. I´ve been coming to Alicante for the best part of thirteen years now and have always felt that it´s my home away from home and now, seeing as I have family here, it is my home! And honestly I couldn´t have picked a better time to come home than now!

The Bonfire on the Explanada

Every year Alicante celebrates the arrival of the summer with the Bonfires of San Juan. The Bonfires of San Juan is a truly spectacular event in which the people from Alicante and it´s surrounding areas take to the streets of Alicante in there droves in order to ring in the summer in the only way they know how – with a party. Las Hogueras are a celebration of music, colour, art, fireworks and extravagance in which, in my experience anyway, only Spanish people can pull off with such class! 

You have to hand it to Spanish people they really know what life is about! They enjoy life to the full and appreciate even the little things in life, such as the subtle move from spring to summer, and pay tribute to them in the most joyous of fashions.

a closer view of some of the figures which were part of the bonfire on the Explanada

The Bonfires of San Juan were traditionally celebrated in the countryside with a festive dinner and bonfires which people danced around in order to celebrate the start of summer. Now however, due to the influence of Las Fallas in Valencia, they are so much more than mere bonfires! Now Alicante celebrates this event in style with incredibly expensive and artistic figures replacing the once ugly-looking traditional wooden bonfires. You can easily spend hours walking from one figure to the next in awe of the artistic talent that has gone into each one and laughing at the wit and good humor that seems to surround each one! I don´t know about you but I know if I was involved in creating such masterpieces I´d cry at the thought of my work going up in flames! But in true Spanish style it´s all in the name of fun!

Las Hogueras

Other things that you can expect to find here, apart from the enormous figures, are barracas or large tents which are located beside each figure. In these tents you can expect to find hundreds of Spaniards dressed in traditional clothes dancing, singing, drinking and eating the night away! Typical food you will find are figs and pastries filled with tuna, onions and pine nuts! Yummy! 

Typical food that you´ll find in the barracas

As I mentioned in the barracas you will find hundreds of Spaniards dressed up in traditional costume, why you may ask? Well the answer is simple! Throughout the festival there are several parades such as the international folkloric dance parade in which hundreds of proud spanish people show off their extravagant costumes and walk for miles in the greatest of spirits showing the world how it should be done!

Traditional Costumes

Fireworks are another important part of this celebration. Not only are there firework displays every day, from the 20 to the 24 June, at two o clock but also they are key to the high point of the festival: the burning of the Bonfires. Before the bonfires all set alight, at midnight, you can witness the beautiful palm tree fireworks along the Explanada. While the bonfires blaze away the atmosphere is electric. Filled with merriment, singing and dancing while the fire-fighters try their hardest to get the right balance between putting out the fires and also showering the crowds with water which is traditionally known as the banyá. Such fun!

The firefighters at their best last year
After the banyás last year!

Obviously, seeing as this part of the festival is not until tomorrow, I won´t get to witness the burning of the bonfires this year, which is such a pity! I have been apart of it in previous years and I have to say you get so caught up in the atmosphere and the merriment that it makes you feel like a child again! I would really recommend it to anyone of any age! You´re never to old to be a child and, if you ask me, we all need a little bit of child-like fun in our lives every once in a while, it´s what life is all about!

I hope you´ve enjoyed reading about Las Hogueras. Sadly, as usual, my words do not do the festival the justice it deserves; thankfully I have some photos that I took on my phone to show just how amazing this event is! So sit back and enjoy!

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I hope you´re having a great weekend wherever you are and as always thank you for reading!

Giana xoxo

La feria: A splendid way to end any month!

From the moment I arrived in Córdoba, in July of last year, all I heard about was La Fería or The Fair.  People kept telling me: “You haven´t experienced Córdoba until you´ve been to the Fair”; so obviously, after hearing this over and over again, I had huge expectations and, I´m glad to say, I wasn´t one bit disappointed! 

The entrance to the The May fair 2012.

Too me, La Feria celebrates everything Córdoba has to be proud of: music, tradition, fashion, folklore and gastronomy. La Feria takes place in a huge arena located beside the river Guadalquivir. For one week every year this arena transforms into what one can only described as olden day Spain.

Olden-day Spain

La Feria is filled with hundreds of casetas, or huts in which you can soak up the traditional fun-loving party atmosphere. In each caseta you can dance and sing along to the typical Andalucian music and also try some of the gastronomy that is typical to the fair. Indulge in the typical dishes Córdoba has to offer, dishes such as ham, fried eggs, omelette, stuffed potatoes and churros. While you´re at it, why not try the wine that this region is known for – Montilla – Moriles, or even a traditional Córdoban cocktail; Reboijto.

Montilla- Moriles

As you wander through the artificially created streets it´s easy to feel like you´ve been transported back in time with the lack of cars, tarmac and concrete buildings. It really feels like something out of the wild west. The men are dressed in traditional suits accessorised with elegant hats which are typical to Córdoba while the women are decked out in bright coloured gypsy or flamenca style dresses usually covered in patterns or polka dots accompanied by a beautiful flower in their hair.

Traditional gypsy style dresses
Beautiful gypsy style dress in one of the most popular colours: red!
Beautiful gypsy dress in red and white!
Out of the wild west!
Modern day meets feria!

Other typical things you can except to find are the horses and buggies which are so important to the culture here and also a fun fair. For me, Feria is a way of retaining the values and traditions that the people of Córdoba are so proud of while also modernising them in order to make the festival appeal to every generation! In order to truly enjoy this festival make sure you stay out until the early hours of the morning, that way you get the best of both worlds, the traditional and the contemporary!

The fastest ferris wheel I´ve ever seen!
A horse and Buggy
The entrance at night time from the ferris wheel!

As I feel that words fail to do La Feria justice I´m going to leave you with a slideshow which hopefully can give you some bit of insight into the music, tradition, folklore, fashion and gastronomy that is so integral to Córdoba.

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Thank you for reading, I hope you´ve enjoyed it, as they say “you haven´t eperienced Córdoba until you´ve been to the fair!”

Giana xoxo

Córdoba: You´re Full of Surprises!

After nearly two weeks of very unsettled weather, mainly consisting of black skies, thunderstorms and heavy rainfall, you can imagine my delight this morning when I awoke to find the sunshine dancing through the slits in my blind! My prayers have been answered, it´s summer at last! I scurried out of bed, showered and quickly selected a very colourful outfit in order to face the beautiful day!

I had just finished getting dressed when suddenly I heard the sound of a marching band which seemed to be coming from my street! How perfect I thought; first sunshine and now a celebration! Fantastic! I quickly dropped what I was doing and ran for my roof terrace to see what was going on! To my surprise there was a religious procession, yes another one, making it´s way down the street!

It was a similar idea to that of Semana Santa, as they were carrying an Anda, or Wooden platform, with what appeared to be a statue of the Virgin Mary, I was too late to see the front of the platform! However, this time, there where no Klu Klux Klan style marchers and the women were wearing wonderful white versions of the black veils they had donned at Easter. While I have no idea what religious event they were celebrating, really not feeling like the best Catholic in the world right now haha, but it was beautiful to watch them making their down the street to the beat of the drums in the first of the summer sun! What a way to both start the day and welcome the sun back to Córdoba!

I shall leave you now with some pictures of the procession, the view from my rooftop and my Spanish style colourful outfit, accessorised with a scarf of course! Hope enjoy them, and that you´re having a great Sunday! I´m off with one of my dear friends in the glorious sun now  to try and see as many patios as I can possibly fit in!


Thank you for reading, let me know how your sunday has been!

Giana xoxo

Passion fashion!

Fashion is most definitely an integral part of the culture in Spain. So much so that I have dedicated an entire section to it. It has to be said that Spain is home to some of the most stylish people I have ever encountered. They take such pride in their clean-cut elegant image and carry themselves with such dignity and composure that it´s hard not to admire them, sometimes even envy them!

Image is everything to Spanish people, not in a conceited egotistical manner, but in a self-respecting one. In Spanish culture, your appearance says a lot about you, people value a person who looks after and respects themselves.

Younger generations, being the trend setters that they are, are quite experimental with their clothes. They often opt for bold colours and prints that are well cut and flattering to their figures, whereas, older generations play it safe with sleek, well-coordinated outfits that accentuate their figures and their poise.

Click on image to go to original website

Accessories are the key to every Spaniards outfit, you will rarely see a unaccessorised Spaniard roaming the streets. Accessories are like a personal stamp on each outfit. The accessories range from scarfs, over-sized statement jewellery and detailed tights, to sunglasses, leather jackets and over-sized bags or clutches. It´s fascinating to see how people utilise these items to enhance their look and make them stand out from the crowd. With their flair for accessories they´re guaranteed not to blend into the crowd, or bump into someone with the same outfit as them!

While it´s true that Spain is home to some of the most acclaimed fashion designers, designers such as Manolo Blahnik, Cristobal Balenciaga and Paco Robanne, Spanish people care more about the quality of clothes than the designer. Brands such as Zara, Mango, Cortefiel, Adolfo Dominguez and Massimo Dutti provide quality at affordable prices and prove to be very popular with this fashion conscious culture.

I can honestly say that, as a fashion lover, I couldn´t have found a country that is more suited to me than Spain. Hopefully, throughout my journey here, I can learn the art of elegance and poise that comes so naturally to these artistic people. In this section I plan to document the Spanish trends from season to season and show how I´ve embraced them and hopefully put my own personal style stamp on them!

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Hope you´ve enjoyed this post!

What do you think? Would you wear Spanish style?

Giana xoxo

*While the images featured in the side-show are my own, I have taken the two photos of the women featured in the centre of the blog from google images and, therefore, cannot take credit for those two, I hope to replace them with my own images once I can!