Monday, March 18, 2019

Carnaval 2019

I wrote about Carnaval before so refresh your memory here -- but it is very similar to Mardi Gras or other carnival celebrations throughout the world, the party/celebration leading up to Lent... Although here in Spain, the party continues after Lent which I don't quite understand but oh well!

Just like last year, we went to the large street party in Cadiz and had a blast.  Everyone dresses up in group costumes (costumes are a must and part of the fun)!  This street party is not kid friendly...

Our small town does a parade that all the schools participate in -- each local school makes a float and dresses up.  This year our school dressed up as Super Monsters (from the Netflix show) for the parade, parents included.  They had patterns for all the costumes and seamstresses on hand who could sew them for you, there was even a few practices for the dance you had to learn!  We opted out of the big town parade....

But most schools have a parade (or pasacalle -- no floats) during the school for the kids the Friday before the big town parade.  Each school has a theme for the carnaval unit and this year Serafina's school had the theme of -- the universe or el universo.  For the six or so weeks leading up to carnaval, the WHOLE school learned about the universe.  Parents and kids did projects, activites and more to teach their classes about the universe.  Serafina and I did a poster on NASA complete with a model shuttle/rocket!  The parents also decorated the classroom to coordinate with the theme!*  It was such a fun unit.  Then on the day of the pasacalle ALL the students and ALL the teachers dressed up according to the theme.  Serafina went as the solar system, with a costume made by me.
The day of the parade was so much fun (especially because our kiddo has a slight obsession with parades).  The parents were not allowed to participate -- only to watch.  The younger kids were paired with older kids to walk and it was adorable.  The kids and their classes paraded through the streets making a big circle around the school, complete with a police escort and everything.  This was a real parade!  And just like every other carnaval parade or event, so much confetti and paper streamers were thrown... so much!

the streets were covered with confetti
This was a day that I just thanked my lucky stars that we live in Spain and we get to experience cultural things like this.  Serafina was SO happy and SO excited and will be talking about her pasacalle forever :)

And thankfully our carnaval season was not over -- we went to a neighboring town for their amazing parade.  Chipiona does not have a feria like most towns in southern Spain do so they go ALL OUT for carnaval.  I am talking insanely intricate and elaborate and detailed costumes, floats, dances, performances -- it was so cool!

The parade typically starts in the afternoon but people start grabbing their spot along the route early in the day (or even the night before)!  We went a little early and got lucky with some front row seats on the sidewalk.  Just like a typical American parade -- this one lasts hours so bring your chairs, coolers full of food and anything else you might want/need for an afternoon of parade viewing!  But in true Spanish way of doing things -- there is lots of drinking and no toilets so be prepared!

Another wonderful carnaval season and such a fun time to be in Spain!

*So parent involvement in schools is the norm and also expected here in Spain.  This really deserves a post on its own -- but very simply put, if the teacher needs any supplies or anything, the parents provide it and the parents decorate the classroom for each new unit/theme.  It is pretty awesome.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Day Trip {Jerez}

Jerez (pronounced her-eth) is the closest big city to us at about 20-30 minutes by car depending on where you are going.  I can't believe it has taken me three years to write a post about Jerez because we go often, but mostly for shopping -- grabbing something at the bigger department stores or IKEA.  Or my personal favorite is when I sneak away for an afternoon at the Hammam (or Arab baths) -- highly recommend if you have some time and are without kids!

While we go to Jerez often, this was the first time we really explored the city (we have gone for feria in the past).  We went with some of our very close friends as sadly one of the families is moving soon so we figured it was about time to enjoy what the the amazing city of Jerez has to offer!

We started off at the Alcázar -- which is a type of Moorish castle/fortress (many cities around southern Spain and Portugal have them) and most date back to the 11th century.  This alcázar is much smaller than the ones in Cordoba or Sevilla but still worth a trip, especially since it is a great size for kids to run around.  Not the most stroller friendly (lots of rocks and cobble stones) and not always safe (no railings) but still fun!

Next up we did a sherry tour at Tio Pepe -- one of the more famous sherry bodegas in Spain.  We are lucky enough to live in the "sherry triangle" so we have some amazing sherries at our front door.  If you hate sherry, then you have to try true Spanish sherry as there is only one place in the world that can make true sherry -- and that is right where we live!  A sherry tour is just like a wine or beer tour -- you learn how the sherry is made and then you get to taste it!  This tour was LONG so I would recommend no kids, although you do get to a ride a train so that was fun, but seriously it was over two hours (the longest tour we have done).  And yes, most bodegas (sherry places) offer English tours!  Bodegas Tradicion is another good bodega but on the much more expensive side (both the sherries and the tour).

If you do have kids, there are a few kid friendly activities if needed -- the zoo is very small but decent for younger kids; La Cuidad de los Niños is a big park/playground/activity center all for kids (I'd say elementary aged kids would like this best, we went when Sera was about three and she was a little young -- also it is all outdoors); CostaJump is a trampoline place -- make sure to go during comida (lunch time) to avoid big crowds; and finally Luz Shopping has a decent playground and some good/quick restaurants.

Jerez is a great little big city that is worth a visit if you are ever in southern Spain!

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