So excited that my long-time Flamenco & Tapas Tour partners – the fabulous Museo del Baile Flamenco – have updated and upgraded their Momentos Flamencos show to include an extra dancer and singer. It adds not only more dancing, but more colour and passion. I mean, it was always wonderful, but now…? You really need to see this.
I was a bit “last minute” getting things organized to attend this year’s Copa Jerez. Actually, what happened was that both my friend Tomoko @fu_yan and I had made the same mistake while registering online, so it turned out that we weren’t registered at all! Thankfully the good people at the Consejo Regulador said we could get passes for the second day of the two-day event (the first day was fully booked), and would be able to attend the forums and showroom. I got to Jerez on the first day (to save having to take a 7am train on Tuesday) and I’m so glad I did.
What happened was this! Another Jerez friend Pilar @enosherry was working as a guide/translator with the Copa Jerez international competitors and was told she’d be leaving them at the Claustros de Santo Domingo for a sold-out concert & cata, and then would pick them up afterwards to take them to the dinner venue at the end of the first day’s activities. We arranged to meet up at La Moderna across from the Claustros while the concert was on, and Tomoko and I decided to go a bit earlier to have a snack. Then while we were waiting for Pilar she sent us a message saying that there were a few empty seats at the concert and we should come over.
The “concert & cata” format has been kicking around the sherry triangle for awhile, with different sherries paired with different flamenco styles, but this night it was extra special. Josep Roca was our host along with Diego del Morao on guitar. But not just any guitar – this one was the last guitar Paco de Lucía had commissioned, but sadly never got to play as he tragically died before it was completed. I have to say it was a very moving and beautiful (and delicious!) experience. Also perfectly coordinated with a small army of waiters bringing the next sherry to us just as the next musical piece began. Well done, Consejo!
I hadn’t planned on going to the feria in Córdoba this year. But when I saw Roma @artsylife posting pics from Málaga on her Instagram, and when she said she wouldn’t make it to Sevilla this visit, we decided to meet up for a day in Córdoba. So Peter and I caught an early train and, after meeting up with Roma for a nice lunch at La Regadera (warning: never try to eat at any ferias) we got a taxi to the fairground. And well, it was HOT. But we managed to find a couple of nice air-conditioned casetas to enjoy a cold beer and watch people dancing. Like in Jerez (and unlike Sevilla) the casetas in Córdoba are all open to the public. But unlike any other feria I’ve been too, many also have A/C. Bliss. Click through to see more pics…
The plan had been to pop over to Jerez for the day, take in the feria during the afternoon, and then return to Sevilla in the evening. Then my friend Tomoko @TomokoTours told me about the Tío Pepe Challenge finals happening that evening and I scored an invitation for me and Peter. In theory we could have still come home on the last train while buying the tickets online I thought I’d just check to see if there were any hotels available at a reasonable rate – and there was!
An hour later, with a hastily packed bag and after last-minute “leaving cats overnight prep”, we were in a taxi to the train station. First stop (after checking into our hotel) was meeting up with Tomoko for a pre-feria lunch. Experience has taught me that it’s best not to try and eat at any ferias, so we had a bite at Tabanco Las Bandarillas before catching a bus up to the fair grounds. I was all ready to spend a happy hour or so taking photos of all the beautiful horses but… there weren’t any. I mean, there were the commercial horse carriages that you can hire for a ride around the grounds, but I didn’t see any individual riders other than a small group of them as we were leaving. I first noticed this dearth of horses a couple of years ago, and was told it was due to the heat wave that was going on at the time, and that the horse owners didn’t want to risk the health of their magnificent beasts. But this time, and also last year, were practically horseless, without the excuse of a heat wave. Has anyone else noticed this?
One of these could come in handy for taking in all the nearby ferias in May. Unusually, Sevilla’s famous Feria de Abril mostly took place in May too this year as it traditionally begins two weeks after Easter Sunday. I tend to prefer the smaller ferias and will try to get to at least a couple of these ones. Maybe see you there?
- Jerez de la Frontera May 13 – 20
- Dos Hermanas May 18 – 21
- Córdoba May 20 – 27
- Sanlúcar de Barrameda May 23 – 28
- El Puerto de Santa María May 24 – 29
This year’s Feria de Abril portada commemorates the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Expo and, imho, really couldn’t be uglier. This year there are two notable firsts. The Alumbrao (turning on of the lights and official opening) has been moved ahead to Saturday midnight, instead of the traditional Monday, in order to pack another weekend into the festivities. And there will be a Tourist Tent (caseta) for visitors, which will hopefully help them feel more welcome. A third possible first remains to be seen… whether my friend Cinta will be able to turn me into a Sevilla feria lover. She thinks she can. Game on! 😉
Alternative title… When Sevilla Tapas Tour Guests Become Friends.
Last night I met up with Mehrunnisa & Omair from London, who had come my way via mutual Twitter and Instagram pals. They had actually arrived in Sevilla couple of days previously but, due to Semana Santa and other obligations, it was only possible to take them out on their penultimate night in town for a flamenco & tapas tour. But we made the most of it!
I knew things were off to a great start when conversation started flowing fast and furious even before we got to the flamenco venue. And by the time we got into the sherry and tapas after the show it was clear that we were kindred spirits. It was a great night out and the time passed far too quickly, but I will look forward to getting together with M & O again on my next London Getaway – I have been promised a Pakistani food tour (yay!).
Every year there is a competition for the official posters for Semana Santa and the Fiestas de Primavera. This year’s winner for the latter is Nuria Barrera. Called La Alma de Sevilla (Soul of Sevilla) it is a still life full of Sevillano symbolism.
Hanging in the wardrobe are three nazareno tunics from the Macarena, Los Negritos and Amargura brotherhoods, alongside two flamenco dresses by local designer Lina. On the wardrobe shelf above there is a wide-brimmed straw hat trimmed with a Triana green ribbon, plus silk shawls and gypsy accessories. Below we can see a drum from the Maestro Tejera band and some clothes worn by costaleros. Hanging on the left-hand door is a 2013 Easter poster (by the same author) of the Immaculate Conception of Murillo, a picture of El Cachorro and a sticker from the 1992 Expo’92. On the right door of the wardrobe there is a mirror with the Giralda being reflected through an open balcony.
Other details include a pot of red carnations and rosemary, corresponding nazareno footwear under each tunic, the traditional striped cushion used at the bullring, polka-dot flamenco shoes and an enea (wicker) chair with a capirote and hood from the Macarena hermandad. Classic Sevillano floor tiling completes the scene. Seriously, this is The Very Best Poster I have ever seen for the fiestas and I seriously want one.
Meanwhile, my good friend Ania Marchlik came across this bit of wonderfulness. Just around the corner from the San Juan de la Palma church, in calle Viriato, a lovely gentleman has recreated this poster in his patio and has left the doors open so people can admire his handiwork. I found the house yesterday and the man was standing in the doorway with Semana Santa music coming from inside the house, and he was inviting people to go in and have a look. Here you can see them together…