Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Spain’s King Felipe in Mexico on first state visit to Latin America (Video)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Unvaccinated child dies of diphtheria / Citizenship granted to Sephardic Jews. Descendants of expelled Muslims get nothing

Spain related Newsvine posts:

The Flag and National Anthem of Spain = Bandera e Himno Nacional de España

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Madrid's new Mayor; Diptheria reappears in Spain after a generation

Here are my latest Spain related posts on Newsvine:

Shouts of 'Yes, We Can' as Manuela Carmena sworn in as Mayor of Madrid, Spain

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Manuela Carmena Castrillo, the candidate of the leftist coalition Ahora Madrid (Now Madrid), is the new Mayor of the capital of Spain.

Spain's 1st diphtheria case in 30+ years: child, whose parents oppose vaccines, in serious condition

A six-year-old child diagnosed with diphtheria remained …

The Great Granny Battle: Countess vs Ex-Communist for Mayor of Madrid

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In one corner, a countess and veteran politician who is a devout admirer of the late Margaret Thatcher. In the other, a retired judge and former communist party member who describes herself as a “hugging grandma”. Charismatic and tough as nails, the two ideological …

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Photos: Saint Isidore Festival 15-17 May 2015 / Fotos: Fiesta de San Isidro 15-17 de Mayo 2015

Saint Isidore lived here

Nice folks in traditional costume posed for me
More traditional costumes
A little parade...
...with some big people...
...and big heads

Gypsy lady playing an organ-grinder and giving out prayer cards
Food glorious food!
The anti-recession sandwich stand
Homemade stuff
Traditional roscones
Different flavored roscones have different names: Saint Clara, Smart, Stupid, Lemon, etc.
A Father in search of a flock

Goin' to the chapel
My Saint Isidore prayer card, which the gypsy lady gave me

Vallecas - a neighborhood in Madrid

A few photos I took near the metro / cercanias station:

Lovely, ain't it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Esperanza Aguirre: Trabajar. Hacer. Crecer. Aparcar.

Esperanza Aguirre is a candidate for mayor of Madrid. She had a little run-in with the law last year after she parked her car in a bus lane on one of Madrid's busiest streets, so she could use a cash machine. As thinkSPAIN reported recently:
MADRID'S former regional president Esperanza Aguirre will not be tried for a criminal offence for her having allegedly fled the police after being caught parking in a bus lane.
She could have been facing up to two years in prison for 'serious disobedience', although she would not have to serve this as it was a first offence.
Instead, she will face civil trial, which would at worst end in a fine.
Esperanza had left her car in a bus lane on the Gran Vía with her four-way hazard lights on when she rushed to a cashpoint when she was caught.
Police claimed she got in her car and drove off when they were in the middle of issuing her fine, without permission, and knocked over a police motorbike. ...
Esperanza, who is candidate for mayoress* of Madrid and is still PP chair for the region, may still face a fine for driving off without permission.
So, perhaps the slogan her party has chosen for the campaign (Trabajar. Hacer. Crecer. / Work. Make. Grow.) could use a fourth verb in her case:

Aparcar. / Park.  

Photo: By PP Madrid (Comité de Dirección Regional) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

*  Mayoress?!?! 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

No Communion, No Money, No Catholic; Innit in Spanish; Anti-Drunk-Walking

My latest Spain related things on Newsvine:

Article PhotoI'm simply Christian now: Divorced Catholic leaves Church after being refused communion, but asked for money

Last Sunday was an important day for Angela Conesa: her son had his First Communion. However, Angela was not able to take communion herself that day. Why? Because, as local Church officials reminded her in a letter a few days before the event, divorced Catholics who remarry civi …

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Handy Spanish phrases for British tourists (Video)

To help prepare British holidaymakers travelling to Spain this summer, former professional soccer player and now Hollywood actor, Vinnie Jones, delivers a performance like never before as he launches his own Spanish lessons. Check it out for all those essential Spanish phrases li …

Spain wants to ban drunk walking and set speed-limit for joggers

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Catalonia's Leader, Artur Mas, Says Spain's New Podemos Party an Obstacle to Independence Movement

From an interview appearing in the Wall Street Journal today:

"As he prepared to embark on a trip to the U.S. where he will promote his independence campaign, Catalan regional President Artur Mas talked in an interview with The Wall Street Journal about the challenge of drumming up international support for his region’s uphill bid...
"The independence debate comes at a time when Spain’s long-stable two-party political system is under siege due to unemployment of 24% and a series of corruption scandals.
"Mr. Mas expressed concern about the rise of Podemos, the youth-led, leftist party that has surged in national polls with its slashing attacks on Spain’s conservative government. The party, with its more radical antiausterity discourse, aims to reframe the political debate in a way that could be unfavorable for the independence movement, he said.
" 'For Catalonia, the underlying problem isn’t the left-right axis, but rather the relationship between Catalonia and the Spanish state,' he said. 'Put another way, whether either the left or right governs, we need more power for Catalonia, more resources for Catalonia, more decision-making capacity, and more protection for our language and culture.'
"The emergence of Podemos 'blurs things a little, or even undermines the basic challenge. In that sense, the appearance of Podemos is a great favor to the interests of the Spanish state.'
"Mr. Mas said Podemos was a distraction from the main issues facing Catalonia and that was 'highly negative' for the independence movement. Some analysts suggest that Podemos could capture protest votes from crisis-weary Catalans which might have previously gone to pro-independence parties.
"In recent years, the pro-secession movement has gained followers in the northern region with its complaint that Madrid drains Catalonia of taxes without respecting its culture. But since 2.3 million people participated in a symbolic vote on independence last November, the separatist movement has run into a rough patch.
"There were open disputes between Mr. Mas and another separatist leader before they agreed to schedule a parliamentary election this September that is designed to serve as a referendum on independence.
"Meanwhile, polls taken in Catalonia since December have shown opponents to independence outnumbering supporters—albeit narrowly—for the first time since 2012."

The photos above are of Mas' last election campaign poster and of Artur Mas wannabe Charlton Heston. Or something like that.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How many public holidays does Spain have?

Today is a public holiday in Madrid. (Or as my British friends say, a 'bank' holiday.)

It's Father's Day and Saint Joseph's Day. (Or as my Spanish neighbors say, Día del Padre / Día de San Jose.)

This is a regional holiday, not a national one.

A family member back in Louisiana commented recently that Spain sure had a lot more holidays than the USA. It seemed that way to me, too, so I thought I'd tally them up and compare. Well, it turns out that this year there are 10 federal holidays in the USA, but only 8 national holidays in Spain.

Still, that doesn't quite tell the whole story.

First of all, here are the US federal holidays for 2015:

Thursday, January 1 New Year’s Day
Monday, January 19 Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, February 16 George Washington’s Birthday / Presidents' Day
Monday, May 25 Memorial Day
Saturday, July 4 Independence Day (Observed on Friday, July 3 this year)
Monday, September 7 Labor Day (Always on the first Monday in September)
Monday, October 12 Columbus Day
Wednesday, November 11 Veterans Day
Thursday, November 26 Thanksgiving Day (Always on the 4th Thursday of November)
Friday, December 25 Christmas Day

Now here is the list of national holidays in Spain for 2015:

Thursday, January 1 New Year’s Day
Tuesday, January 6 Kings Day / Epiphany
Friday, April 3 Good Friday
Friday, May1 Labor Day
Saturday, August 15 Assumption of Mother Mary
Monday, October 12 Spanish National Day
Tuesday, December 8 The Day of the Immaculate Conception
Friday, December 25 Christmas Day

Notice that because the USA's July 4th holiday falls on a Saturday this year, it will be observed on Friday July 3rd, but that in Spain there is no such compensation for the holiday that falls on Saturday August 15th. This is because Spain actually considers Saturday a work day. Thus, people like me who work Monday through Friday won't get that holiday off this year.

This year we in Spain are also missing a holiday that falls on a Sunday: Constitution Day, December 6th. When a holiday falls on a Sunday, the Spanish sometimes do what the Yanks do, and observe the holiday on the subsequent Monday. Although Spain is not doing that with this year's Constitution Day, some of the country's Regions have come to the rescue and christened the Monday a holiday. 

Therefore, it looks like the USA actually has more public holidays than Spain – especially when you consider that in the USA both Saturday and Sunday holidays are always compensated for.

Wait, though—there is another factor to consider. Each of Spain's 17 Regions have their own holidays. For example, there are four Regional holidays for the Community of Madrid this year:

Thursday March 19 - Saint Joseph's Day
Thursday April 2 - Holy Thursday
Saturday May 2 - Community of Madrid Day
Thursday June 4 - Corpus Christi Day

And the other Regions are just as  generous, with almost all having four other public holidays falling Monday through Friday. (Only the Canary Islands Region has fewer: three.) In fact, this year several of the Regions have elected to give their citizens back the Constitution Day some in Spain are missing by observing it on the Monday. (Scroll down below for a list of all the Regional holidays in Spain.)

Now back in the USSA, many states also observe their own holidays, but most have only one or two of these. Nevertheless, only two of the 50 states seem to have matched the Spanish regional norm of four: Indiana, which observes Good Friday, Primary Election Day, General Election Day and Lincoln's Birthday and North Carolina, with Good Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas.

So, if we consider the fact that added to the 8 (usually 9) national holidays there are four regional holidays almost everywhere in the country, it looks like overall Spain pulls ahead on the total number per year.

Then we can throw city and town holidays into the mix. In Spain most of these have multiple local holidays and even small towns and villages often have one or two. For example, in the City of Madrid there are 3 in 2015:

Friday, May 15 - Saint Isidro Day (Patron Saint of the City)
Wednesday, September 9 - Santa Maria de la Cabeza Day (Saint Isidro's wife)
Monday, November 9 - The Virgin of Almudena Day - (Patroness of the City)

Barcelona has two:

June 1 - Saint John's Night
September 24 - Día de la Merced

Valencia also has two:

January 22 - Saint Vincent The Martyr's Day
April 13 - Saint Vincent Ferrer's Day

And Seville has two, too:

Wednesday April 22- Wednesday of the Spring Fair (Replaces the usual May 30th Saint Fernando holiday, which falls on a Saturday this year)
Thursday June 4 - Corpus Christi Day

Now, I don't know of too many American cities that have two or three local public holidays.

Conclusion: I think we can safely say that, yes, Spain does have more public / bank holidays than the United States.

Or to put it in sports terms: Spain 14, USA 10.

Happy holidays!


Here are the 2015 public holidays in Spain's Autonomous Regions.
February 28th: Andalusia Day
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
November 2nd: Monday after All Saints Day
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
April 23rd: Saint George’s Day
November 2nd: Monday after All Saints Day
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
September 8th: Asturian Regional Day
November 2nd: Monday after All Saints Day
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day
Balearic Islands
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
April 6th: Easter Monday
November 2nd: Monday after All Saints Day
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day
Basque Country
March 19th: Saint Joseph
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
April 6th: Easter Monday
July 25th: Saint James
Canary Islands (Only 3 holidays regional holidays in the Canaries!) 
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
May 30th: Canary Islands Day
November 2nd: Monday after All Saints Day
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
April 6th: Easter Monday
September 15th: Patron Saint of Cantabria (Virgen de la Bien Aparecida)
November 2nd: Monday after All Saints Day
Castilla-La Mancha
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
April 6th: Easter Monday
June 4th: Corpus Christi
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day
Castilla y León
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
April 23rd: Castile and León Day
November 2nd: Monday after All Saints Day
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day
April 6th: Easter Monday
June 24th: Saint John's Day
September 11th: The Diada, Catalonia Regional Day
December 26th: Saint Stephen's Day
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
September 25th: Festival of Abraham’s Sacrifice
November 2nd: Monday after All Saints Day
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
September 8th: Extremadura Regional Day
November 2nd: Monday after All Saints Day
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day
March 20th: Day after Saint Joseph's Day
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
July 25th: Saint James, Galician Regional Day
November 2nd: Monday after All Saints Day
La Rioja
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
April 6th: Easter Monday
June 9th: La Rioja Regional Day
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day
Comunidad de Madrid
March 19th: Saint Joseph's Day
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
May 2nd: Community of Madrid Day
June 4th: Corpus Christi Day
March 19th: Saint Joseph's Day
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
September 25th: Festival of Abraham’s Sacrifice
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day
March 19th: Saint Joseph's Day
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
June 9th: Murcia Regional Day
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day
March 19th: Saint Joseph's Day
April 2nd: Holy Thursday
April 6th: Easter Monday
July 25th: Saint James
March 19th: Saint Joseph's Day
April 6th: Easter Monday
October 9th: Valencian Regional Day
December 7th: Monday after Constitution Day

Friday, February 20, 2015

Trains in Spain: Precision Tardiness

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings I teach English in a little town not far outside Madrid. It's just three stations away from the Principe Pio commuter train station, which is near the city center. The trip takes less than 20 minutes and the business where the classes are held is about a five minute walk from my arrival station.

Because these classes start at 8:30am on Monday and 8am on Wednesdays and Fridays, I was very happy to learn there are weekday commuter trains originating at Principe Pio that are scheduled to depart every 30 minutes, at 3 minutes and 36 minutes after the hour. Perfect timing for me!

Well, I have been taking these trains for around six months now and have truly been impressed at their fidelity to the times they leave the station. The scheduled departure times appearing on the platform sign next to the waiting trains are always 7:33 and 8:03 and the times appearing on the clocks inside the trains when they head out are 7:36 and 8:06 – precisely 3 minutes late. I have checked and the platform clocks and train clocks seem perfectly synched, so it's not a matter of a discrepancy between clocks. The trains simply leave late – and rather precisely at that.

Now, nobody's perfect. Once or twice the trains have left at 7:34 and 8:07.

Still, I for one believe RENFE (Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles—National Network of Spanish Railways) can take pride in the fact that at least these particular trains of theirs pretty consistently miss the mark so exactly.

Update 27 February, 2015: OMG, for the first time since I've been taking these trains, this morning's left on time!

Update 13 March, 2015: Today I saw something different. I always sit in the first wagon and this morning at 7:33 the engineer ran into the car, dashed into the cab, immediately started the engine and took off -- pretty much on time: the on-board clock switched to 7:34 as we took off. Usually the engineers are already in the cab and even when they have not been, I have never seen any enter in a rush. 

Update 14 May, 2015; Yesterday the train left two minutes early! Although this is the first time I've seen this occur on this particular train, I have on occasion experienced early departures on other trains in various parts of Spain. And on one occasion I arrived on a platform a few minutes before the scheduled departure time only to find the train had already left.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Spain's Acadamy Awards; Cervantes' grave; King Cake = Rosca de Reyes; Mosque or Cathedral; Top 20 TV programs in one word

Spain-related Newsvine posts:

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Spain's top 20 TV broadcasts in 2014 can be summed up in one word: Soccer

It's not too often that a national network brags that an episode of one of its series hit the number 21 spot, but that is just what happened in Spain recently. Late last week Telecinco proudly announced that the May 6th episode of 'El Principe' was NOT the most watched TV broadcast of 2014 ...