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Still Discovering Spain...

Here for over 25 years and I still discover new things every day...

Vikings in Spain
Thursday, January 26, 2023


The Viking Romaría de Catoira is one of the most unique and well-known celebrations in Galicia. Its fame even transcends the borders of Spain.

The tradition of this secular festival dates back to 1960 when an event was held for the first time to commemorate the landings in the lands of the Ulla. The members of the Ateneo do Ullán —an artistic and literary forum made up of intellectuals from the area— were the precursors of a celebration that began as a gathering of friends with common cultural concerns. Starting in 1965, the workers of a local company took their place, and for almost 25 years they assumed the organization and sponsorship of a Romaría that, with the passage of time, was consolidating and acquiring more and more fame. In 1989, given the size that the Romaría was acquiring and the growing investment necessary to respond to the expectations it aroused, it was the local government that took over the organization of the event. This new period was marked by the introduction of novelties that enriched the festival and by its projection at the regional, national and international level. A good example of this is the brotherhood established with Frederikssund, the town with the longest Viking tradition in Denmark.



The Viking ships used in the landing - the longship "West Towers" and the "Frederikssund" - are the result of contacts established with the Nordic countries. The first was built in 1993 after a group of skilled artisans from Catoir travelled to Denmark to study Viking riverboat construction methods and decided to make a copy of the Skuldelev 5, found in the Roskilde fjord (Denmark). The longship « Frederikssund » is an adaptation of the Gokstad, a Viking ship found in Norway, and which also combines decorative designs inspired by the beautiful Oseberg ship. In 2019 a new ship is built in order to respond to the growing demand of the people who every year want to participate in the assault on the fortress while giving the event the greatest spectacularity. The latter vessel is called the Ardglass-Catoira, in homage to the Ardglass Vikings Association of Northern Ireland, with which Catoira has close ties.




Another of the changes that the Viking Romaría underwent over time was the extension of its duration. A fleeting Sunday in August fell short for an event of such magnitude. Thus, the Romaría program, when the City Council took over, was enriched with the Viking Romaría Theater Week and other activities that try to promote at the same time the cultural and literary spirit of its founders. These efforts were rewarded in 1988, when it was declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest, and later, in 2002, when it was awarded the distinction of Festival of International Tourist Interest.

The Viking Romaría is held in the Torres de Oeste, located on the banks of the Ulla River. The Vikings in the 9th and 10th centuries arrived in Galicia with the intention of plundering our lands, they met with resistance from the troops of the Castellum Honesti, who prevented the Norman armies and Saracen pirates from going up the river during that time, until the point of being considered this fortress the "Key and Seal of Galicia". More than a thousand years passed, and the roles changed. Now the Catoirenses and thousands of people from all corners gather around the Towers to welcome the barbarians. Violence, terror and hatred were transformed into a fun coexistence party in which the fearsome Nordic warriors peacefully invade the castle, and, this time, the thirst is not for blood but for red wine from Ulla. Folk music and gastronomy are fundamental elements in this Romaría. In a market set in medieval times, visitors are offered the most varied products: mussels and octopus, of course, are essential tapas.


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Animal Christmas in Spain - San Anton
Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Just when you thought the party was over another one comes along! The 17th of January marks the Saint's Day for San Anton - San Antonio - St. Anthony. As children, if we lost something, then Saint Anthony would have been called upon to give a helping hand. But here in Spain, according to the Catholic church, San Antonio is the patron saint of animals, and his day is used as the perfect opportunity to bless all creatures great and small throughout the land. What a great excuse for another party! It’s Animal Christmas! Now it’s the four-legged kids’ turn to be the centre of attention!



The celebration involves blessing both the creatures and their owners and ensures another year of good health and protection. The animals will walk straight into the church and sometimes dress up for the occasion, so if you want to see a dog in a suit – this is the opportunity! San Antonio is celebrated all over Spain on January 17th – and is known as Fiesta de San Antón in Valencia, although on the 16th in Valencia, a bonfire is set to burn stubble and waste from the fields. It is organised by the Brotherhood of San Antonio Abad and began to be commemorated as we know it today in the middle of the last century.  

San Antonio is the patron saint of farm animals and although domestic animals are also a part of the celebration (dogs, cats, turtles, snakes, birds...) they stand in the first section of the parade and receive a “medalleta” - a small medal - of San Antonio. Valencia's Sagunto Street is where the point of celebration takes place and where you can watch the Parade and three parish priests give out their blessings from a main stage to all participants.  


After the domestic pets, the mounted town's police in full uniform pay homage to the saint, followed by mounted national police corps after which carriages carrying the "panet, garrofeta and l'estampeta" amulets follow. Finally, more horses, riders and other animals close the parade.

So if you happened to be in Valencia this week, you might have noticed a lot going on!

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The Nativity and its special guest...
Friday, December 23, 2022


No doubt we are all familiar with the obligatory baby Jesus in the manger scene rolled out every Christmas, but the early 18th-century inhabitants of Catalonia, Italy, and certain areas of Southern France started a different tradition that lives on to this day.

Unlike the English-speaking version of the Nativity scene, Catalonians at Christmas time actually build a large model of the city of Bethlehem. The Caganer, whose origins have been lost in time, is a particular and highly popular feature of these modern interpretations.

Often tucked away into a small corner of the nativity scene, one can find a lone figure caught in the act of defecation. There are more than a handful of guesses as to how and why this tradition started ranging from the figure representing the equality of all people (everyone poops!) or that it symbolises the idea that God will manifest himself when he is ready, without regard whether humans are ready for him. Still, others believe it is a tradition grown from comic relief.

Nonetheless, it is said that not exhibiting him brings misfortune since his faeces fertilize the ground and also bring luck and happiness for the year ahead.

Traditionally, the Caganer wears a barretina (typical Catalan hat like a beret) and holds a pipe in his mouth, but over the years this tiny fellow has evolved to the extent that nowadays we find models of celebrities, politicians, actors, musicians and football players, as well as Caganers dedicated to towns, to distant traditions, to jobs, and to animals. 

Whatever your thoughts, if you find yourself travelling in the region around Christmas time it’s highly encouraged to take a second look at the scaled down Bethlehem and see if you can find their little “Caganer.”



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Recovering a lost tradition - Fluvial Transport
Monday, December 12, 2022


The Government of Aragon declared in 2013 the fluvial transport of wood in Aragon as an Asset of Intangible Cultural Interest (BIC), and just recently it was an international body, Unesco, which has awarded this activity the highest recognition in this area: Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

A decision that the Government of Aragon has celebrated. In making this decision, Unesco has taken into account that the tradition of fluvial transport of wood refers to the knowledge and skills related to the construction of Navatas, transport of logs and knowledge of nature. In addition, it has considered the social function of the fluvial transport of this raw material, which resides in cooperation and social cohesion, helping to reinforce the sense of community and enhance the importance of teamwork. Likewise, this custom is based, as Unesco has recognised, on the relationship between people and nature, highlighting the importance of wood and its sustainable development.

At the local level, UNESCO maintains that the declaration of the candidacy will mean a greater knowledge of these techniques and the reaffirmation that intangible cultural heritage is closely linked to the sustainable use of natural resources.



Aragón already included this practice in its BIC catalogue 9 years ago. The reasons were due to motives related to tradition. The culture of wood, historically generated and transmitted from generation to generation, is an intangible heritage referring to activities, trades, utensils, tools and, especially, their own way of living, which involved populations dedicated to exploitation, transport and manufacturing from wood.

The need to supply this raw material, essential for the construction of real estate and the construction of royal fleets in the shipyards, made it necessary to develop a transport system from the source to the centres of commerce and manufacturing which the waterways greatly facilitated.

The logs cut in the mountains were thrown down the rivers until they floated into the main one, there they were tied together and formed what is called a Navata or Nabata - a raft.

In Aragon, the Pyrenean rivers have been the channels through which the Navateras routes or rafts ran, where the logs were lowered, taking advantage of the thaw in spring and forming the Navatas when they reached the Ebro river. In the community there have been three such routes: the route of the Aragón river from Ansó (Veral river) and Hecho (Aragón Subordán river); the route of the Gállego river, forming the Navatas in Murillo and Santolaria; and the Cinca river route from Laspuña or Escalona, to enter the Ebro to Tortosa.


The last Navatas arrived in Tortosa in 1949. Decades later, in 1983 the Sobrarbe Navateros Association took the initiative to recover the activity and organized a celebration where a Navata was built that descended between Laspuña and Aínsa, in Sobrarbe. More initiatives soon joined Hecho and La Galliguera. Since then, these descents have continued to be celebrated annually, initiating a tradition of great popular acceptance.


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The San Leandro Convent - 400 years making just one sweet.
Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The nuns at Convento de San Leandro in Seville have sold just one item for more than four centuries: Yemas de San Leandro. So you can bet they have perfected the art. These rich, creamy nuggets are a simple yet delicate mixture of sugar, lemon juice, and egg yolks. Establishments across Spain make traditional 'yemas', which are particularly popular at this time of year, but to acquire San Leandro’s famous supply of Yemas, you’ll have to visit the convent, a Seville institution since the 13th century. 

When you enter the foyer, you’ll notice a revolving tray embedded in a wooden door. Reference the price list, then place the appropriate amount of money on the tray and rotate it behind the wall. A few moments later, a box of wrapped yemas should appear in its place. You’ll have to trust the San Leandro’s residents, but this shouldn’t be too difficult. You’re dealing with nuns, after all.






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Do you spell that with a B or a V?
Thursday, November 17, 2022

All too often I’m asked this question even by native speakers! Although you can tell by looking at nearly any Spanish word how it is pronounced, the reverse isn't always true. Because of the silent h and the existence of letter pairs that can sound alike, creating homophones, it is often possible to match more than one spelling with a particular sound.

This is especially true in the case of the b and v, which, except in a few types of nonstandard speech, share the same sounds.

But it only really becomes an issue when you start writing in Spanish. If you never write in Spanish you need not worry too much. However, as I mentioned before, even native speakers frequently mix up the letters in their writing, and there are a few words (such as ceviche or cebiche, a type of seafood dish) that can be spelt with either letter. 

It really couldn’t be any simpler… After all, there are only 41 rules and 90 or so exceptions to the rules when it comes to using B and V, so once you’ve mastered them it’s pretty straightforward!

Whoever said Spanish was simple?!

Most Spanish and English cognates are derived from Latin, and generally, the use of b or v remains unchanged. Examples include botella (bottle), batalla (battle), avisar (to warn, related to "advise"), vocabulario (vocabulary), vibrar (vibrate), versátil (versatile) and vicio (vice). (Throughout this lesson, the definitions given aren't the only ones possible.) Exceptions: Among the words that don't follow this rule are verbs related to probar (to try, related to "probe"); words related to gobernar (to govern); some verbs ending in -bir such as recibir (to receive), concebir (to conceive) and percibir (to perceive); alcoba (bedroom, related to "alcove"); and haber (to have).

Words with prefixes: Although several much-used prefixes use a b, the only really common prefix using a v is vice- (meaning "instead of"), as in vicepresidente (vice president) or vicecónsul (vice counsel). Prefixes using b include ab- (indicating negation or separation), bi- (two), sub- (under), bene- (good) and bio- (life). Examples of such words are bilingüe (bilingual), subordinar (to subordinate), abstinencia (abstinence), bendito (blessed) and biología (biology).

Suffixes: Common suffixes with a b include -bilidad and -ble, both of which suggest having a quality of some sort. Examples include culpabilidad (guilt), amabilidad (kindness), terrible (horrific) and amable (friendly). There are also -fobia, indicating a fear, such as claustrofobia (fear of closed spaces) and entomofobia (fear of insects). The most common suffix with a v is -ivo, which indicates having a certain quality, such as in activo (active) and pasivo (passive).

With m and n: B can follow m and v can follow n, but the opposite is extremely rare. The sound of -mb- and -nv- are identical. Examples include envasador (packer), embajador (ambassador), enviar (to send), cambio (change), también (also), ambiente (environment), inversor (investor) and envidiar (to envy).

Preceding r and l: The b can come before either of these consonants, although v cannot. Examples include posible (possible), hablar (to speak), broma (joke), abrazo (embrace), abril (April) and obligar (to require).

In verb conjugations: Conjugations of the imperfect tense use a b, as in comprábamos (we were buying) and hablabas (you were speaking). Three verbs — andar (to walk), estar (to be) and tener — use a v in the preterite tense. Examples: anduve (I walked), estuviste (you were) and tuvieron (they had).

If all this wasn’t enough and you would like to know all the rules that apply to B and V… they are.

Good Luck!


Words written with B

Rule Nº.1
Words containing: bla- ble- bli- blo- blu-.
Examples: Tiembla, tembló, habla, cable, tabla, Biblioteca, bloque, blusa, bledo, Biblia.
Exceptions: Vladimir. 

Rule Nº. 2
Words containing:  bra- bre- bri- bro- bru- .
Examples: Brasa, breve, cobra, cubre, brote, bruto, colibrí, abrupto, abrumador. 

Rule Nº. 3
Before a Consonant, you use b and not v. 
Examples: Libre, abdomen, obligatorio, lombriz, obvio, Brigadier, ombligo, cabra, tabla absoluto, 

Rule Nº. 4
After  ‘m’ we always use b and not v
Examples: Tiembla, tembló, Colombia, cambio, hombre, hombro, timbre, émbolo, embalse, zambullirse. 

Rule Nº 5
The Pretérito Imperfecto (Imperfect tense) of verbs ending in - ar and ir. 
Examples: Cantabas, bailabas, estudiábamos, ordenaban, hablabais, miraban, caminabas, apuntaba, iba, ibas, íbamos, ibais, iban. 

Rule Nº 6
With the prefixes bi- bis- biz- that mean two o twice. 
Examples: Bimotor (two engines), bimestre (two months), bisectriz (two same parts), bisabuelo (twice father), bisnieto (twice son), bizcocho (Bread with no yeast that is baked twice), bizco (somebody who sees double). 

Rule Nº 7
Words that start or end with bio and means ‘life’
Examples: Biología, biografía, Bioquímica, biorritmo, microbio, anaerobio. 

Rule Nº 8
Words that start with bene, bien, bono and imply  “well - good”. 
Examples: Benefactor, benevolente, bienaventurado, bondadosa, bonita, bienestar. 

Rule Nº 9
Words that start with bibli- and mean or are related to the word “book”. 
Examples: Bibliografía, Biblioteca, Biblia, bibliófilo, Bibliotecario. 

Rule Nº 10
Words that start with the prefix sub- (and mean or imply low, under, inferior, secondary, reduced). 
Examples: Suboficial, Subteniente, Subsecretario, subconjunto, subasta, subrayar, subordinado, submarino, subjetivo. 

Rule Nº 11
Words that begin with  alb-. 
Examples: Alba, albañil, albaricoque, álbum, albur, albatros, albedrío, alberca, albergue, albino, albóndiga, alborada. 
Exceptions: Álvarez, Álvaro, álveo, alveolo, alverja, alveario. 

Rule Nº 12
Words that begin with bu-. 
Examples: Buque, burro, bufanda, bueno, búho, búfalo, buey, buitre, buche, bufé. 
Exceptions: Vudú, vuelco, vuelo, vuelta, vuestro, vulcanizar, vulcanología, vulgar, vulgo, vulnerable. 

Rule Nº 13
Words that begin with cub-. 
Examples: Cubo, cúbico, cuba, cubilete, cubierto, cubículo, cubrir. 

Rule Nº 14
Words that begin with hab- y heb-. 
Examples: Haber, habitación, hebra, hebreo, Habana, habano, hábil, hebilla. 
Exceptions: Hevea 

Rule Nº 15
Words that begin with  lab- rab- sab- tab-. 
Examples: Labor, laboratorio, labio, laberinto, labrado. Rabia, rabino, rábano, rabadilla, rabo. Sábado, sábana, sabana, saber, sabotaje. Tabla, taburete, tabaco, tabaquismo, tabú. 
Exceptions: Lavar, lava (volcano), lavanda, ravioles, savia. 

Rule Nº 16
Words that begin with ob-. 
Examples: Objeto, obispo, obrero, obeso, obelisco, oblicuo, obtuso, obturador, obedecer, obcecado, obligatorio, óbolo, observatorio. 
Exceptions: Oveja, Oviedo, Ovidio, overol, ovillo. 

Rule Nº 17
Words that begin with trib- rib- y turb-. 
Examples: Tribu, tribuna, tributo, turbio, turbina, ribera (orilla), ribete. 
Exceptions: Trivial y sus derivados, rival y sus derivados, rivera (arroyo). 

Rule Nº 18
Words that begin with urb- and mean or imply ‘city - town’. 
Examples: Urbe, urbanidad, urbano, urbanización, urbanista, urbanizable. 

Rule Nº. 19
Verbs that finish in -ber. 
Examples: Beber, caber, deber, haber, saber, sorber, absorber. 
Exceptions: Absolver, atrever, conmover, disolver, envolver, mover, precaver, prever, remover, resolver, revolver, ver, volver. 

Rule Nº 20
Words that finish in -bilidad. 
Examples: Amabilidad, aplicabilidad, contabilidad, habilidad, solubilidad, inviolabilidad, imposibilidad, probabilidad. 
Exceptions: Movilidad, civilidad. 

Regla Nº 21
Verbs that finish in -bir y -buir, and all their conjugations. 
Examples: Recibir, distribuir, contribuir, concebir, imbuir, atribuir, retribuir, escribir, describir, suscribir, subir, exhibir, prohibir, sucumbir. 
Exceptions: Hervir, servir, vivir, convivir, revivir. 

Rule Nº 22
Words that finish in -bunda, -bundo. 
Examples: Tremebundo, nauseabundo, moribundo, abunda, vagabundo, furibundo. 

Rule Nº 23
Words derived from the  latin ‘árbiter’ (árbitro). 
Examples: Arbitraje, arbitrar, arbitral, arbitrario, arbitrio, arbitrariedad, arbitrariamente. 

Rule Nº 24
Words derived from the greek ‘ballein’ (arrojar) and  ballezein (bailar). 
Examples: Bala, balística, balompié, baloncesto, bola, parábola, bólido, bolo, boliche, ballesta, émbolo, símbolo, baile, bolero, balada, diablo, discóbolo. 

Rule Nº 25
Words derived from the latin  barba and barca. 
Examples: Barbado, barbería, barbero, barbudo, imberbe, barbilla. Barco, barquero, barquito, embarcación, embarque, barcaza. 

Rule Nº 26
Words derived from the greek barys (pesado, grave). 
Examples: Barómetro, barítono, barisfera, barométrico. 
Exceptions: varita. 

Rule Nº 27
Words derived from the latin bucca (boca), bellum (guerra) and caput (cabeza). 
Examples: Bocado, bocadillo, bocacalle, bocazas, boquete, boquilla, desembocadura, boquiabierto. Bélico, belicoso, beligerante, rebelión, rebelde. Cabezón, cabecera, cabecilla, cabecear, cabestro, encabezar. 

Rule Nº 28
Words from the latin labor (trabajo) and liber (libre). 
Examples: Laboral, laborable, laborar, laboratorio, laborioso, laboriosidad, labrar, labriego, labrador, elaborar, colaborador. Liberación, libertad, liberal, liberador, libertador, libero, libertino, libertinaje. 

Rule Nº 29
Words derived from the latin ruber (rojo) y tribuo (dar). 
Examples: Rubio, rubí, rubor, ruborizado, ruborizarse. Tributo, tributar, tributario, contribuir, contribuyente, contribución, atribuir.

Words written with V 

Rule Nº.1
After d  and n you use v and not b
Example: Adverbio, invierno, envidia, envase, adversario, investigación, envoltura, convulsión, convivir, invitar, invento, envejecido, advertencia, invicto. 

Rule Nº.2
After ‘ol ‘ you use v and not b
Ejemplos: Olvidar, inolvidable, resolver, polvo, polvoriento, solvente, disolver. 

Rule Nº.3
The past simple, imperfect and the future subjunctive of the verbs estar, tener, andar and their compounds. 
Examples: Tuve, estuve, tuviera, estuviera, anduve, anduvo, retuvo, contuvimos, obtuviese, tuviere, tuviese. 

Rule Nº.4
Words that begin with vice- (instead of) and villa- (house, villa). 
Ejemplos: Vicerrector, viceministro, vicealmirante, villancico, villano, villorrio. 
Excepciones: Bíceps, billar. 

Rule Nº.5
Words that begin with clav- y salv-. 
Examples: Clavo, clave, salvavidas, salvaje, salvedad, clavel, clavícula, clavija, conclave, enclave, salvo, salvados. 

Rule Nº.6
Words that begin with div-. 
Examples: Dividir, diversión, divino, diva, diván, divergencia, divagar, divisa, divulgar, divertido, diverso, divorcio. 
Exceptions: Dibujo, dibranquial. 

Rule Nº.7
Words that begin with  eva- eve- evo- evi-. 
Examples: evitar, evidencia, evidente, evadir, evasor, evaporar, evacuar, evocar, evangélico, eventualmente, evolución, evento. 
Exceptions: Ebanista, ébano. 

Words that begin with nav- nov- pav-. 
Examples: Nave, novia, noveno, navaja, novela, navidad, pavo, pavesa, pávido. 
Exceptions: Nabo, noble, pabellón, Nobel. 

Rule Nº.9
After the prefix pra- pre- pri- pro. 
Examples: previo, depravado, privado, proveer, previsto, providencia, provocar, privilegio, provecho, proverbio, provinciano. 
Exceptions: Prebenda, probable, probar, problema, probo. 

Rule Nº.10
Words that end in -ava -ave -avo -eva -eve -evo -iva -ivo. 
Examples: Octava, clave, grave, nueva, leve, suave, comunicativo, legislativa, llamativa, fugitivo, paliativo, medioevo, activo, pasivo, pavo, pensativa, permisivo, recursivo, bravo. 
Exceptions: Baba, haba, sílaba, traba, árabe, jarabe, cabo, lavabo, nabo, menoscabo, rabo, ceba, prueba, mancebo, placebo, recebo, sebo, criba, giba, arribo, estribo, recibo. 

Rule Nº.11
Words that end in - viro- vira- ívoro-ívora. 
Examples: Elvira, carnívoro, herbívora, omnívoro, triunviro, revira. 
Exceptions: Víbora. 

Rule Nº.12
Words derived from the latin  cavus (hueco). 
Examples: cavar, caverna, cueva, cavidad, concavidad, cavernícola, excavar, recoveco, excavación.


Like 1        Published at 11:48 PM   Comments (3)

Por or Para?
Friday, November 11, 2022

Should be straightforward....and it is if you can get your head around 22 rules! What is it with so many rules?  They are never-ending.

Anyway, I am sure that many of you do have a problem deciding which “for” is the correct one to use: Por or Para… and it can become very confusing as they have a variety of meanings. So I thought I would endeavour to explain it in as much detail as possible…. as I dived into it I found it more and more confusing, with more and more rules but I think I eventually cracked it….. so for those who are interested, this is how it goes:


Gracias por la información.

Thanks for the information.

Este regalo es para Juan.

This gift is for Juan.


To learn to use "por" and "para" correctly, you need to do two things:

1.         Learn the rules for how por and para are used.

2.         Memorise model sentences.


"Por" has many uses, and so it is the more problematic of the two.


Rule 1: to express gratitude or apology

Model: Gracias por la ayuda.

(Thanks for the help.)


Rule 2: for multiplication and division

Model: Dos por dos son cuatro.

(Two times two equals four.)


Rule 3: for velocity, frequency and proportion

Model: Voy al restaurante cinco veces por semana.

(I go to the restaurant five times per week.)


Rule 4: meaning "through," "along," "by" or "in the area of"

Model: Andamos por el parque.

(We walk through the park.)


Rule 5: when talking about an exchange, including sales

Model: Él me dio diez dólares por el libro.

(He gave me ten dollars for the book.)


Rule 6: to mean "on behalf of," or "in favour of,"

Model: No voté por nadie.

(I didn't vote for anyone.)


Rule 7: to express a length of time

Model: Yo estudié por dos horas.

(I studied for two hours.)


Rule 8: to express an undetermined, or general time, meaning "during"

Model: Se puede ver las estrellas por la noche.

(One can see the stars during the night.)


Rule 9: for means of communication or transportation

Model: Prefiero viajar por tren y hablar por teléfono.

(I prefer to travel by train and speak by phone.)


Rule 10: in cases of mistaken identity, or meaning "to be seen as"

Model: Me tienen por loco.

(They take me for crazy.)


Rule 11: to show the reason for an errand (with ir, venir, pasar, mandar, volver, and preguntar)

Model: Paso por ti a las ocho.

(I'll come by for you at eight o'clock.)


Rule 12: when followed by an infinitive, to express an action that remains to be completed, use por + infinitive

Model: La cena está por cocinar.

(Dinner has yet to be cooked.)


Rule 13: to express cause or reason

Model: El hombre murió por falta de agua.

(The man died for lack of water.)


Rule 14: "estar por" means to be in the mood, or inclined to do something

Model: Estoy por tomar café.

(I'm in the mood for drinking coffee.)


Rule 15: in passive constructions

Model: El libro fue escrito por Octavio Paz.

(The book was written by Octavio Paz.)



"Por" also appears in many idiomatic expressions:


por adelantado

(in advance)

por ahora

(for now)

por allí

(around there; that way)

por el amor de Dios

(for the love of God)

por aquí

(around here; this way)

por casualidad

(by chance)

por ciento


por cierto


por completo


por dentro


por desgracia


por ejemplo

(for example)

por eso


por favor


por fin


por lo general


por lo visto


por medio de

(by means of)

por lo menos

(at least)

por lo tanto


por mi parte

(as for me)

por ningún lado


por otra parte

(on the other hand)

palabra por palabra

(word for word)

por primera vez

(for the first time)

por separado


por supuesto

(of course)

por suerte


por todas partes


por todos lados

(on all sides)

por último



"Para" -- in contrast, has relatively fewer uses.


Rule 1: to indicate destination

Model: El hombre salió para Madrid.

(The man left for Madrid.)


Rule 2: to show the use or purpose of a thing

Model: El vaso es para agua.

(The glass is for water.)


Rule 3: to mean "in order to" or "for the purpose of"

Model: Para hacer una paella, primero dore las carnes.

(to make a paella, first sauté the meats.)


Rule 4: to indicate a recipient

Model: Este regalo es para ti.

(This gift is for you.)


Rule 5: to express a deadline or specific time

Model: Necesito el vestido para el lunes.

(I need the dress by Monday.)


Rule 6: to express a contrast from what is expected

Model: Para un niño lee muy bien.

(For a child, he reads very well.)


Rule 7: "estar para" to express an action that will soon be completed

Model: El tren está para salir.

(The train is about to leave.)


It is quite important to learn to use these two prepositions correctly because if you inadvertently substitute one for the other, you might end up saying something altogether different from what you had intended. Study the two examples:


Juan compró el regalo para María.

Juan bought the gift for Maria.

(he bought it to give to her)


Juan compró el regalo por María.

Juan bought the gift for Maria.

(he bought it because she could not)


"Por" and "para" can also be used in questions. "¿Por qué?" means "Why?" (for what reason) while "¿Para qué?" means "Why?" (for what purpose).


¿Por qué estudias español?

For what reason do you study Spanish?


Possible answer:


Porque es un requisito.

Because it's required.


¿Para qué estudias español?

For what purpose do you study Spanish?


Possible answer:

Para ser profesor de español.

In order to become a Spanish teacher.


PHEW!!!!  Good Luck!

Like 5        Published at 7:17 PM   Comments (9)

One Hotel Room to Avoid this Halloween
Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Castle of Cardona is arguably the most important medieval fortress in Catalonia. It is situated on a hill overlooking the river valley of the Cardener and the town of Cardona.

Wilfred the ‘Hairy’ originally constructed this fortress in 886. It is in both the Romanesque and Gothic styles. During the 14th century, the dukes of Cardona came from the most important family of the Crown of Aragon, which was second only to the royal house. Because of this, they were called “kings without crowns,” as they had extensive territories in Catalonia, Aragon, and Valencia, and dynastic ties with Castile, Portugal, Sicily, and Naples, increasing the importance of the castle.

In 1714, even after a Bourbon siege destroyed a good part of the castle's walls, the garrison was one of the last to surrender to the Bourbon troops that supported Philip V. Today, the castle's main jewel is the Torre de la Minyona (from the 11th century) a tower that measures 15 metres in height and 10 metres in diameter. Additionally, there is the Romanesque Church of San Vicente de Cardona adjacent to the fort. 


This may however be very interesting but it is not the reason why I am writing about the Cardona Castle… Nowadays it is a luxury hotel run by Paradores, a public leisure company, and happens to be home to a haunted bedroom: Room 712. People say you either have to be very brave, or not believe in ghosts, to stay in Room 712 at the Parador de Cardona. As a matter of fact, guests are only allocated this room on request as, after hearing reports and claims made by countless guests, the hotel management decided to close it to the public, unless specially requested. With Halloween around the corner this might just be the perfect place to spend the night if you want a fright!

Strange noises, open tap, disturbing dreams and even apparitions; these are just a handful of the strange occurrences reported by those who have stayed in Room 712. 

Whether you believe in paranormal phenomena or not, visiting this Parador will blow you away; not because of the legend, but because of its location in a stunning castle atop a headland.

Just 100 kilometres from Barcelona, this is one of the most impressive hotels in the entire Paradores of Spain network; a castle that, given its location and good condition, transports guests back in time to the Middle Ages in the blink of an eye. This 9th century fortified complex also features the Minyona Tower and a church, both from the 11th century. This castle's impressive location, atop a promontory, offers wonderful views of the Cardener River and the Salino valley, home to one of the world's most important potassium salt mines. Although it is currently inactive, discovering more about it on a guided tour comes highly recommended.

Even the smallest details at this castle are subject to careful consideration, including furniture, carpets and decorations, to ensure that at first glance, guests feel like they have been transported back in time 12 centuries. Even the architecture of the building is the stuff of fairytales, with long and narrow passages, austere, vaulted rooms with pointed arches, wooden beams and Gothic elements. All of this is shrouded in a silent, solemn atmosphere that takes on a mysterious aura when you reach the seventh floor or the west wing: home to Room 712.

This room always remains closed, unless a guest is brave enough to specifically request it. In recent years, customers staying in this room claim to have felt strange presences. Most say that they simply had trouble sleeping or that they had a restless sleep; others, however, assert that it was impossible to sleep on account of furniture being moved in the room above, despite it always having been empty. Even cleaning staff at the Parador have decided to enter the room in pairs so that nobody is left alone at any time. In doing so, they try to avoid being by themselves with any of the strange phenomena reported in recent years, such as finding all the furniture together in the centre of the room, hearing voices, finding open taps and hearing strange noises when there was no guest inside. Some guests even claim to have seen ghostly figures.

Legend has it that the source of these paranormal occurrences is attributable to a sad story dating back to the 11th century, when a young Christian woman, Adalés, fell in love with a Muslim and was condemned by her father to live her life locked away on the Minyona Tower, where she died of sorrow. Her sorry soul, they claim, still wanders the area and is responsible for the strange occurrences that many have witnessed in Room 712.

Whether or not the legend is true, and whether we dare stay in Room 712 or not, what cannot be missed is the opportunity to visit this impressive castle. Furthermore, staying here offers us the chance to visit the medieval village of Cardona, full of narrow alleys and corners bursting with charm.

Like 1        Published at 7:25 PM   Comments (0)

Do you live on a battlefield?
Thursday, October 20, 2022

Do you know the history of your town? And no, I am not referring to recent history that has occurred in recent decades. By history, I mean centuries ago, a time when important population movements took place, mainly due to armed conflicts that occurred everywhere. If you live in Europe, quite possibly hundreds of years ago, the place you are stepping on was part of the battlefield of some war. The conquering desire of Spain or France, among others, can be seen with an interactive map.

After an intense collection of data, it has been possible to position some of the war events, of which there is evidence, with different colour markers. It is an exercise that aims to understand what has brought us here, our customs, the way we relate to each other and, of course, our relationship with our neighbours. After all, violence, unfortunately, has always been part of most communities. An interactive map can help us better understand what happened in history.

Let's see, therefore, how the various civilizations have developed after conflicts, why these events caused important changes in many societies and, of course, to what extent there are spaces of land which still have never been part of a battlefield. Even so, it is possible that, in the latter case, there was no documentation that corroborated these facts.



The Map of the geography of violence allows filtering by localities and municipalities in order to understand if they have been the target of a battlefield or if, on the contrary, peace has always been mediated. It is about carrying out an exercise to understand how modern day society is what it is today based on what happened in the past. If you take a look at the first events that occurred, you come to the conclusion that the first serious conflicts took place in Europe.

This caused armies to continually improve their equipment, allowing them to formalise new lines of conquest. Could it be one of the causes of the expansion of the Spanish army in areas like America? The establishment of colonies by France or Great Britain also explains this type of proposal. Well, why is this interactive map worth it? Among its curiosities, the links to web pages of information to learn more about the events that occurred at a given time and place are surprising.

It is a very interesting way to understand how history has changed people around the world. In addition, it is worth noting how the vast majority of records are present in Europe, with the first wars appearing on other continents many years after these conflicts. It is a history exercise that, on the other hand, stopped being updated in 2016. For this reason, conflicts such as the one in Ukraine and Russia, corresponding to this 2022, do not appear in the interactive database yet.

Finally, it is important to take into account the range of colours present on the map. This refers to elapsed time. It is not the first time we see this kind of map. Did you know that there is one where you can find out who is the most famous person in a certain place? Not to mention the one that shows what the most characteristic stereotypes are of a specific area in a city.

Like 2        Published at 8:57 PM   Comments (1)

Spain's Wierdest Festivals - El Colacho
Friday, October 14, 2022

You would be forgiven for being curious about the title of this festival because even though Spain boasts some of the most unusual and bizarre festivals compared to the rest of the world, throwing tomatoes over each other as they do in Valencia or being chased down the street by a herd of bulls in Pamplona does not come close to the excitement aroused by the Baby Jumping Festival held each year in Castillo de Murcia.

The Baby jumping (El Colacho) is a traditional celebration dating back to 1620 that takes place annually to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi in the village of Castrillo de Murcia near Burgos. Newborns are sprinkled with confetti and flower petals before being laid out on mattresses where men dressed in a yellow and red suits run and hurdle over them. The practice is meant to cleanse the infants of original sin and protect them from future evils. Afterwards, the town is also said to be cleansed of original sin.

The Brotherhood of Santísimo Sacramento de Minerva organizes the week-long festivities which culminate  when the Colacho jumps over the babies on the mattresses placed on the procession route crossing the town. The origins of the tradition are unknown but it  ensures them safe passage through life and guards against illness and evil spirits. 

While there are no reports of injuries caused by the flying devils, the strange practice is frowned upon by the clergy of the Catholic Church with reformer Pope Francis going so far as to ask priests and the Spanish people to distance themselves from the ritual and to downplay the tradition’s connection with Catholicism. The Church still teaches that it is baptism by water, not a giant leap by an airborne devil, which cleanses the soul of original sin.

Like 2        Published at 8:55 PM   Comments (2)

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