Immerse Yourself in Spanish Language and Culture to Enhance Your Trip and Life Experiences

Spanish Language and Culture

 

As I fast approach my twentieth year living in Spanish territory I can safely say that I would not have got where I am today without immersing myself in the Spanish language and Culture. Within Spain alone you can observe diverse cultures and traditions as well as various dialects and subsets of the Spanish Language such as Basque and Catalan; but with a firm command of Spanish under your belt, you can experience a whole host of South American countries too.

 

After Mandarin Chinese and English, Spanish is the third most widely spoken language and more importantly it will help you communicate all over the globe. Whereas you may choose to book a package holiday to the Spanish Costas and eat only in British eateries, I can confirm that what you really need to do is explore the “Real Spain” or indeed countries where Spanish is spoken. Many expats make the mistake to immerse themselves solely within a small community, and it is sad to say that many will spend decades on the Costas without ever having a proper conversation with a Spaniard.

 

So, deckchairs and cut price beer aside, just why should you visit Spain?

 

Spain in itself boasts a huge and varied number of cultures and experiences, and with temperate climbs throughout the whole year in the southern part of the country you can really get to grips with their fiestas and generally upbeat way of life. Whether you want to try “papas locas” in Tenerife, or discover the home of Salvador Dali in Figueres, immersing yourself in the Spanish language and culture will make your whole trip not just more fun but more meaningful too.

 

Having lived on the Spanish mainland for nearly two decades and recently “immigrating” south to Tenerife, I can safely say that the only way to really enjoy living in Spain is to live as a Spaniard. If you come to Spain with any other mindset, the fact that buses are rarely on time or there are frequent power cuts will soon begin to grate on your patience. From “fast” moving cities of Girona in Catalunya to the laid back Andalusians, Spanish life is more laid back, whichever way you look at it. Three hour lunch breaks with copious amounts of wine are not just a rumour, they are true, and your repairman will indeed turn up “manaña” (if you are lucky). To clarify, if I had to list ten reasons to immerse myself in the Spanish Language and Culture, I would say (in no particular order):

  • To make myself understood
  • To earn the respect of the locals
  • To appreciate festival, fiestas, and celebrations
  • To get to know the locals and converse with them about their life
  • To feel confident in traveling off the beaten track where Spanish will be the only language spoken
  • To explore the culture and understand the history of the country and its people
  • To be able to cope with everyday situations from asking for directions to paying a fine or buying a bus ticket
  • To feel at home whilst abroad or in your “new” home
  • To be able to relax safe in the knowledge that the food and wine I am being served really are the typical dishes of the region
  • To enhance my overall experience of such a wonderfully diverse country

 

Being understood and being able to hold a small conversation in Spanish will make your trip less stressful and overall more enjoyable. Locals will appreciate your effort and ensure that you feel welcome in their community. This level of Spanish can be achieved by attending a night class or by practising simple conversation with a willing partner or friend. With a basic grasp of the language and a handy phrase book in close reach, it is time to step into a world of the unknown and one that is miles away from package resorts and cabaret entertainment.

 

Immerse yourself in the culture for an all round experience

 

Before booking a trip to Spain, check out the local history of the area as well as just the weather. The northern parts of Spain can indeed be cool in winter, most especially inland; so go prepared and organize your trip accordingly. By researching before your trip, you can familiarize yourself not only with public holidays but also with local fiestas and festivals. Be prepared for some noisy events and lack of sleep; but all in the name of a good cause. Spanish take full advantage of their rain free months, some of my favorite festivals to date being:

 

  • The running of the bulls in Pamplona
  • The tomato throwing festival in August in Valencia
  • San Andres in Northern Tenerife ( this festival includes children waiving off evil spirits with tin cans on strings, hand made cart races or the running of drums down steep hills, and the roasting of chestnuts on open fires)
  • Carnival ( the time of carnival will depend on the individual area you visit, Tenerife carnival being said by many to be second only to Rio De Janeiro )
  • The Reyes ( the three kings will parade the streets on the 5th of January, throwing sweets for the children to collect)Festa dels Gegants ( Catalunya)

 

To appreciate fiestas, you need to dip into the culture of Spain. Otherwise you may not even notice that there is a national holiday, until you try to go to the bank and find it closed. Beware, that Spaniards will often take a whole long weekend off for a local fiesta, this being known as a “Puente” and singers and dancers will perform live in the streets until the early hours, young children and old people alike, mingling in harmony and just having fun.

 

Spain and its history are something you can only truly discover when you immerse yourself in the Spanish language and culture to enhance your trip. Unless your ideal holiday is one lying by the pool, brush up on some essential phrases, research the local traditions of the area you will visit, and prepare yourself for a trip that will not just be a holiday but will be one of the life experiences that you will always remember.

 

Post Written by Angela

Costa Rican Food All Traveling Foodies Need To Experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costa Rican food

Costa Rica is well known for its picturesque coast lines and breathtaking outdoor adventures,  but what most people don’t know is that it is also known in culinary circles for its sea food and a wide range of fresh green vegetables, herbs and spices that are unique to the region.  Colonial rulers from Spain and tourists from Italy have left a major influence on Costa Rican food as well.

When you travel to Costa Rica, you can plan on experiencing some of the tastiest cuisine in central America. Costa Rican beach resorts and other restaurants in the region serve traditional Costa Rican Food rich in variety and taste. Some of the popular foods that you can expect to find are:

1. Black Beans and Rice

2.  Empanadas (a Kind of pastry)

3.  Tamales

4.  Casado (Means Marriage)

  • Black Beans and Rice

This is often considered the national dish of Costa Rica. It is also referred to as “Galla Pinto”. This dish is often served with cilantro, salt, pepper, Sweet Chilies and Lizano Sauce.

  •  Empanadas

This is actually a kind of pastry that comes with a variety of stuffing including any one of Beans, Cheese, Potatoes and meat. Sometimes, a combination of two or three of the above mentioned stuffing choices are included in the pastry. Super delicious…

  •  Tamales

Tamales are another popular food found in Costa Rican kitchens. During the Christmas season, these are very a very popular item to give to friends and loved ones.  For visiting tourists, Tamales can be tasted in a number of family run restaurants in Costa Rica. Tamales are basically made out of corn meal, similar to the one made in Mexico and other Central American countries. Garlic, lard and other seasonings are added to corn meal to make it spicier and tastier. The corn meal forms just part of the cuisine. It acts as an outer shell in to which stuffing made out of beef, beans, vegetables and cilantro is added. After the stuffing has been placed in the corn meal shell, tamales are covered up in a banana leaf, tied and then steamed until the outer shell hardens and the stuffing gets completely cooked. The hardened and cooked tamales are then served with hot tomato salsa.

  •  Casado

This is another popular Costa Rican food which is actually a combination of a number of dishes served in small quantities in a single plate. There are three types of Casados in the form of fish, chicken and beef.  You can choose any one as the main course and place the order.  The main food item would be accompanied by beans, rice, vegetables, Cabbage salad, Fried Yucca, Pasta, fresh cheese and some more side dishes.

 

When you visit Costa Rica, make sure to try out the local cuisine to get the most out of your trip.  You won’t be sorry and you’ll gain insight to an amazing culture while you’re at it!

Things To Do in Peru For The Adventurous Globetrotter

things to do in Peru

Every place on Earth is unique and fascinating, but Peru is one of those countries that manages to stand above the crowd. It has lots of natural and cultural treasures that have attracted people for several years, and still attracts them today. Currently, some Peruvian highlights are their cultural heritage, historical traditions and natural attractions that draw people in from every corner of the world. Below are some things to do in Peru and places to visit while you are there:

Inca Trail

Follow the tracks of the prehistoric Incan settlers and you will find yourself at the center of lush forests with amazing mountain scenery. The four-day, forty five kilometer walk will  lead you to the Sun Gate. This is the gateway to the Machu Picchu ruins. Remember to book early since the Peruvian government allows only five hundred individuals on the trail per day.

Machu Picchu

A lot has been said and written about this mystic place. However, seeing it is so much different than just reading about it. The Machu Picchu ruins, together with its several architectural wonders, structural uniqueness and mysteries make the trip definitely worth it.

Trekking

Experience the warmth of the Peruvian cultures, the adventurous sites and the country’s tranquil environment by making your way to numerous trekking sites within the country. Hike the Andes Range and enjoy what this country has to offer. Peru’s marvelous scenerie will certainly compensate for the exhaustion.

Biking

This is an exhilarating way to discover the Peruvian outdoors. Numerous businesses offer biking expeditions around Peru on all landscapes and during any time of the year. Be it the busy backstreets, the driest deserts, or the most tropical forest, tour around Peru on this fun transportation.

Lake Titicaca

Located in the Andes Mountains at about 12580 feet above the sea level and covering a 3305square meters area, this is the highest lake maneuverable to large vessels. Delight in its bluish color that overshadows the red-brown hues of the Peruvian plans. Try and find your way to Puno and appreciate the very rich culture of the Puno residents.

Piranha Fishing

If you want to an adrenaline rush while traveling along the Amazon, toss your traditional reels and rod and get the best stick you can possibly find for this unique type of fishing excursion. Fishing for piranhas will surely get any individual’s adrenal glands pumping.

As you can see, there are many fun and memory making things to do in Peru that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.  Get out there and experience it!

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Top Ten Machu Picchu Facts to Know Before You Visit

Machu Picchu Facts
Located in northwest of Peru, Machu Picchu is an important historic site that stretches about 5 miles and has over 3,000 stone steps all linking to different levels. The site is thought to have been the royal estate for the Inca Empire which was destroyed by Spanish invaders during the 16th century.

 

Ten Interesting Machu Picchu facts you should know:

1. Approaching Machu Picchu

The most common way to approach Machu is through the 3-day Inca Trail trek that reaches an incredible height of 4,214 meters.

2. Film location

Enhiran (one of the most expensive Bollywood films ever made) was partly shot at Machu Picchu. Released in 2010, the film is among the few films to be allowed to film in the site. Other includes:

  •  The Secret of the Incas(1954)
  •  The Motorcycle Diaries(2004)

3. Annual race

Each year, there’s a 26 mile-race held along the incredible Inca Trail (the race is more of a marathon given the distance covered). The current record is 3 hours and 26 minutes.

4. Men at work

Most of the stones used to build the destroyed city weighed over 50 pounds and were pushed by men up the mountain side.

5. Unique architecture

Houses, palaces and other structures were built using a technique known as “ashlar”. It involved cutting stones to fit together without using mortar.

6. Construction

Machu Picchu is believed to have been built around the mid-15th century.

7. Rules of entrance

At the ruins, there are strict rules of entrance. One of the rules is that you cannot enter while dressed in traditional outfits of another country.

8. Discovery

The person credited for unveiling Machu Picchu to the outside world is Hiram Bingham who was said to be on an expedition to find the Vilcabamba site when he noticed the ruins in 1911.

9. A wonder

The ruins are one of the new 7 wonders of the world and are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.10. Lost city
Machu Picchu is also known as the “lost city” since it had been completely swallowed by the jungle(vegetation) when Hiram Bingham III , a Yale explorer, “rediscovered” it in 1911.
Now that we’ve discussed some interesting Machu Picchu facts, you can start planning your trip of a lifetime!

 

Introduction

Hello!  This is a blog for travelers who want to learn a little bit more about their new surrounding than what they find inside their hotel lobby.  We’ll try and give you all of the tips and facts we can dig up regarding traveling  in countries other than the US so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb when you get off the plane!

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