Culture Shock, Great things about Spain, Humour

Derbies in Spain are Insane – Part 2

The buzz of being at a live game hit me like a train and I was blown away by the atmosphere, but I still hadn’t seen the real essence of a Sevilla v Betis derby.

Nando bowled up to a security guard protecting a closed barricade. The noise of the fans suddenly doubled.

“Can’t you just let us in here,” he said.

“Sorry, it’s full,” said the security guard, folding his arms.

“Come on man, my Cuñao has come all the way over from London for this game.”

The security guard shook his head.

“Don’t worry Nando, I think our seats are over there anyway,” I said, pointing in the other direction as I glanced at the ticket again, completely unaware of what Nando was trying to wangle.

“Ah man, but this is my second home, how can you not let me in with the best football supporters in Spain?”

“Go on then,” said the security guard, letting us through.

That’s when I realised that we were never going to sit in our actual seats, nor was anyone by the looks of things. As we turned past the security guard I looked behind at the stand. I’d never seen such madness in all my life. It was absolutely insane. Red and white flags were waving everywhere. Young lads, mostly in their twenties, a few skinheads, a few topless, and were going mental, eager for war to begin. There were even quite a few ladies, shouting and singing, wearing their pink Sevilla shirts with pride. Continue reading “Derbies in Spain are Insane – Part 2”

Annoying things in Spain, Semana Santa

What I won’t miss about Semana Santa

Following on from last week’s blog about why I’ll miss Semana Santa, here are a few reasons why I’m actually glad not to be there this year.

Semana Santa - waiting around
Waiting around in la Madrugada. Photo by Machbel

Waiting around

I do love Semana Santa, but at times I get frustrated and annoyed that we have to wait so long for the processions. I don’t mind the walking about and finding new places to see certain processions, but it’s the standing around that does my head in. Especially if you get caught up in a place where people decide to use you as a mini gate way for a short cut, which often seems to happen as I’m a guiri. The waiting can be fun if you’re having a beer or something, or if you feel fresh as its early in the day, but when it’s late and you’ve been walking about all day and your calves are aching and you just want to go home and have a kip, then it can get tiring. There’s not much that’s going to change though. If anything the processions are going to get longer as the years go on, not shorter. Continue reading “What I won’t miss about Semana Santa”

Great things about Spain, Semana Santa

What I will, and won’t, miss about Semana Santa in Sevilla

There’s one aspect of Sevilla that has really had an impact on me over the years: Semana SantaHoly Week. The relationship I have with this festival is much like one with a new girlfriend: one minute I’m filled with joy, and the next I’m banging my head against the wall. This year, unfortunately, or fortunately, I won’t be around to enjoy the festival. It’s the first time I’ll miss it since I became a member of a brotherhood. Here are a few reasons why I’ll miss it.

The Atmosphere

Semana Santa1
Calm before the storm – Las Sillas Photo by emildom75

The brass bands following the processions around the city make a fantastic atmosphere. I love how they play to the steps of the Christ or Virgin and make them look as though they are moving along with the music. Highlights of the week are when processions have to fit through tight gaps in the narrow streets and the music inspires the costelleros (the guys carrying the weight) to keep marching, and normally spread goosebumps through the crowd of people watching. Over the years I’ve managed to pick up a few tunes and I have my favourites. I couldn’t tell you the names, but I know how to whistle the tune (which often annoys the hell out of my wife).

This year Semana Santa is a bit late, so the smell of azahar – orange blossom – has almost passed. But the sweet aroma always adds to the occasion. One year my Dad came over and as a present my father-in-law wrapped up some blossom in a box so my Dad could take it back for my Mum as a present. It lasted the whole journey and when my Mum opened the box she almost started crying because of the powerful scent.

The crowds add to the spectacle too. It’s about the only time of year when I do tolerate having lots of people about (most of the time, see the next blog). The passion of the Sevillanos is impressive. The way they gather outside churches, in squares, up trees and lamp posts, and pack up the ancient cobbled streets is always bewildering. Continue reading “What I will, and won’t, miss about Semana Santa in Sevilla”

Culture Shock, Great things about Spain, Humour

Derbies in Spain are Insane

The best moments in life are often spontaneous. Some of my most memorable nights out as a lad were when we had no a real plan and just went with the flow and ended up getting into all sort of mischief. My most exhilarating days travelling were when I met new people and jumped on their bandwagon.

Sevilla Stadium Photo by Metro Centric

A similar spontaneous event happened back in November 2012 when I went to my first Sevilla v Betis derby.

“Nando’s coming up early for his birthday today,” my wife said, referring to my cuñao – a much better word than brother-in-law. He lives down in Malaga and has a habit of changing his plans at the last minute.

“Really? But it’s Derby Day.”

“Yeah, I think he wants to go and watch them training this morning.” I looked at my watch, it was 10.30.

“What time?”

“At eleven.”

I was showered and ready within fifteen minutes, eager to get to the stadium and soak up some atmosphere before kick-off at 9 p.m. I’d only ever been inside Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan once before: to watch England get completely outplayed by Spain in a friendly where we lost 2 nil. Continue reading “Derbies in Spain are Insane”