Trip to Spain – by Guest Writer

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My sister, Linley, went to Spain this week where she was one of the presenters at the 7th Annual ICERI Spain conference about research in technology and education. She wrote this during her free time on the speed train:

Post and photos by Linley

“You look like someone that is geared to climb Kilimanjaro”, my
colleague, Louise, remarked when she saw me with my backpack at the
airport. I was ready to explore and learn, in and outside the work
conference we are attending in Spain.

Boarding the plane you are compelled to stick to the seating plan
arranged for you, you find yourself neighboring a character that you
most likely would never meet let alone sit in such intimate proximity
to. Sitting upright and stationary with the occasional shameful graze
you and your neighbour commit against each other to reach the isle is
only something that can be endured for a limited period. My last flight
was most pleasant – I sat next to an Asian man, it was undeniable that
we would not understand a word the other said so we sat in silence, and
my requests were retaliated by a graceful nod. We jettisoned from plane
to plane (BFN-JHB-FRANKFURT-MADRID) to finally end up in a wet Madrid.
We took a bus to the train station, the bus/taxi drivers here are
reckless, hmm, first thought is: I feel at home. Here taxis have a lane
dedicated to them only, the streets are very narrow so most cars have
scratch marks on the sides and the streets are brick. At the train
station we met up with Joe, a lecturer from Anthropology on our UFS
campus, and we took a train together to Atocha (one of the main
connecting stations) and then got onto the renfe speed train to Seville,
where we would be staying for the conference. It travels at an average
speed of 250km per hour, but have seen it go up to 301km, so it took us
about 2 hours to cover the distance from Madrid to Seville. We took a
taxi from the station to our hotel, Joe was swearing at the driver in
Afrikaans because he thought he might be taking us a long way round just
to get more money on the meter.

Our river borders the hotel, so early the next morning Louise and I went
exploring without a map (and without my Kilimanjaro backpack). Our
spontaneity had us end up at the University of Andulusia (Andulusia is
the second largest autonomous community in Spain) it’s paths named after
physicists such as Marie Curie and Johannes Kepler with orange trees all
along our meandering track. Wonder if there would still be oranges on
the trees if this was RSA? A Spanish woman, local to the area, later
informed me that the oranges are extremely bitter and just one bite
would result in stomach ache. They use it to make the naranje (orange)
marmalade for which Seville is renowned for.

The conference presentations are interesting but, at times, tough to
follow as some delegates have strong accents. On the other hand we too
have accents. Louise has been labelled as sounding Australian, and both
of us for looking like Germans. The conference has 700 delegates from 75
different countries. I met someone from Thailand and enjoyed a dialogue
with a professor from Turkey. Our own presentation went well, until an
Indian man asked a question that we had to ask to repeat three times, it
didn’t help that a range of diverse people simultaneously tried to
resolve this lost in translation situation.

I am intrigued with the custom of Siesta, which traditionally is a nap
taken after lunch time. Most businesses and stores close between 14:00
and 17:00 to endorsed this. Brilliant! You spend the hottest time of the
day snoozing. It does mean that they only close shop at about 22:00 or
23:00 though. A professor from Hong Kong, who sat next to me during
lunch, was sharing his shock about being the only person in the
restaurant he went to 19:00 the evening before, only to find out about
the Siesta and that the Spanish only start eating dinner at 22:00! Not
wanting to make the same mistake, I partook in the Siesta so that I
would have energy to have a late night dinner the Spanish way. We from our hotel to the city centre and found a great authentic
restaurant. All the menus were in Spanish of course, I at least learned
that pollo meant chicken so could always opt for that safe option if
need be. On the Tuesday evening an Austrian lad joined us for a late
night (normal time for a spaniard) drink at one of Seville’s sidewalk
pubs. Our pre-existing knowledge pool of Austria was that it was home to
the filming set of the Sound of Music and Arnold Swartzenager, (I
thought it had rolling green hills – but he said that, that is Scotland
not Austria). We were quite surprised to hear that a lot of Austrians
have not seen the Sound of Music film.

Seville prides itself for its architecture legacy. We visited the España
Plaza, the second Starwars movie (the attack of the clones) shot a scene
there, and the Seville Cathedral. It is the largest gothic cathedral and
the third largest church in the world. We climbed to the top of the
Giralda tower and enjoyed a panoramic view of the city. The gastronomy
of Spain has not let me down, food continues to be flavoursome wherever
we dine. We searched for a restaurant that offered tapas (most do) and
it was delish. Tapas are various appetisers hot and cold to be eaten on
bread or to be enjoyed on its own.

We are flying home via Barcelona and not Madrid as to experience that
part of Spain as well. I’m currently on the speed train which will take
5 and a half hours from Seville to Barcelona. The country side is
picturesque (reminds me of Lady Slipper area in Eastern Cape with a lot
of farmland in between). Looking forward to visiting the Basilcia of La
Sagrada Familia to see Antoni Gaudi’s major work, which he dedicated 43
years of his life to. Google it- it is incredible! It will be our last
stop before preparing for the long journey back to SA.

About an hour away from Barcelona, time for the siesta…
Xxx

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2 Responses to Trip to Spain – by Guest Writer

  1. jane says:

    wow linley,dis baie interessant…..die siesta klink heerlik…wat n belewenis…

  2. Marion says:

    Sounds like loads and loads of fun, Linley. Janny also enjoyed the Spanish Siesta’s in South America – I think we should make a point of introducing the custom here in S.A.

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