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Seville - The Golden Age of Spain

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Seville - The Golden Age of Spain

Throughout the world there are various types of capitals cities.  They can be financial capitals, centres of government, sports capitals, cultural capitals and many more.  They can be all in one but in many cases the biggest or most important cities in each country are not the most culturally representative of the countries they are at the centre of.  In The United States the biggest city is New York City and the "capital," in the traditional sense, is Washington DC.  But to many people the city that most represents the "American Culture" is Chicago.  In The UK many people will say that culturally, London is not England, and the same is said about the relationship between Paris and France.  This is very common and though these centres of economics, culture, and power share many of the national characteristics, they also have their own identity and are a culture unto them selves.  This is true in Spain as well.  Despite being one of the more divers countries on the planet and having many equally important cultures within its boarders, there is an international idea of what Spanish culture is.  To me no city represents this idea more than the iconic city of Seville.  Madrid, being the capital of government and economics, seems to be the melting pot where it all comes together and has many of its own styles as well.  Barcelona is a very different thing altogether.  Incredibly beautiful and as culturally rich as any city in the world, Barcelona is representative of Catalan culture which differs somewhat from the rest of Spain.  Even areas like Galicia can look and feel more like the British Isles than sunny Spain.  They all makeup the wonderful mosaic that is Spanish culture but the international idea of what much of Spanish culture is, is really Andalusian.  Andalusian culture is one of the more recognised around the world and the region's capital, in every sense of the word, is Seville. The kingdom of Spain has gladly taken on much of the traditions of Andalusia in it's styles of dance, art, food, and many more.  Many cultural elements of Andalusia are celebrated throughout the country as symbols of national pride.  Where some areas of Spain have a strong sense of independence, Andalusians are very proud to be Spanish. 

Seville has a history spanning 3000 years.  First settle by the Tartessians, the indigenous pre-Roman people of Iberia, it has seen Roman, Visigoth, Moorish and finally Christian periods of development.  With such a lengthy history of being an important city, it wasn't until the 1500s that the city reached its height of prosperity.  As Spain began to rise to dominance and the conquest of the Americas began, only one city was granted the rights to receive all of the wealth that was beginning to poor in.  That city was Seville and as the empire grew so did the city.  At its height, Seville was thought to have been the wealthiest and most powerful city on Earth as Spain ruled over much of Europe and almost all of the western hemisphere.  Today the city is a maze of narrow streets, lined with colourful Andalusian architecture and sprinkled with Roman artefacts around every corner.  Seville's historic centre boasts a complex of buildings, including The Cathedral, the Alcázar and the Archivo de Indias that are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city centre it's self is one of the largest historic centres in the world.  It's a cultural fiesta that fully envelopes you and takes you to another time.  The sites and sounds of a rich and fascinating culture take you on a journey, bring legendary tales like Carmen and Don Juan to life.  You can literally walk the same streets as larger than life figures such as Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, Ferdinand Magellan, Hernán Cortés and many more.  There seems to be no end to the romantic and fascinating experiences that Seville offers and even the most experienced traveler will get swept away in it's ambience. 


The best place to stay in Seville is the Barrio de Santa Cruz in the historic centre.  This neighbourhood is the old jewish quarter, or Juderia, and is steps away from most of the main sites like the Cathedral, the Alcázar, and the Casa de Pilatos.  Just a bit further out of the centre is the iconic Plaza de España.  Tucked away on a small quite street next to the church of Santa María La Blanca is a beautiful and cozy little B&B called Casa de Laura.  This little sanctuary in the middle of the city is clean, quiet, comfortable and offers all the necessary amenities both inside and out.   The traditional design of the building with rooftop terrace views offers the ultimate accessibility and is the perfect spot for all travellers to stay in comfort on their conquest of Sevilla!  The owner is extremely nice and ready to help guests make the most of their stay so if you are going on an Andalusian adventure, I recommend you contact Casa de Laura! 

Casa de Laura

T: +34 699052731

E: apartamentoarcheros@gmail.com

Abnb: Casa de Laura

 


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Italia

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Italia

Everybody who knows me knows I love Italy.  Well why not?  Everybody loves Italy and for good reason.  This country is world renowned for being the place to be for romantic getaways, history adventures, art lovers, fashionistas, adrenalin junkies and so many more.  We all have our thing and for me Italy has it in a big way!  Italy apparently has more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country.  The iconic structures and great works of art in this country are almost on every street corner.  There are random little churches in obscure little towns in Italy that in most other countries would be national treasures.  Italy is so full of jaw dropping sights, one might get a slight case of shell-shock.  It is almost like a bonbon, the flavour is so potent and at first its amazing but it can overwhelm you quickly.  Luckily Italy has such a variety of flavours that your palette won't get over saturated very quickly.  You can go from gorgeous medieval hill-top towns to stunning beaches and then into high alpine mountains before finishing up with some Roman or Greek ruins all while enjoy the latest fashion trends.  It is no wonder I seem to keep going back.  The country that made me decide to get into photography keeps me coming back for more time and time again. 


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A Dream Come True With A Bittersweet Twist

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A Dream Come True With A Bittersweet Twist

Photo by Angela Sterling

Photo by Angela Sterling

Today is a dream come true with a bittersweet twist. Today I will fulfil a dream that has its roots in a time when my interest in ballet consisted only of a select few classical ballets. Before I saw the ballet “In The Middle Somewhat Elevated” I had little desire to dance anything other than a handful of classics. It was "In The Middle,” as we refer to it, that changed forever my perspective on ballet and dance as a whole. In 1999 I joined The Pacific Northwest Ballet looking to reinvigorate my love of dance after a disappointing start to my career in New York City. I learned that we would be dancing this already legendary ballet that season and it was just what I needed. The ballet would change me agin, not because of the choreography, but because I met a man who changed the way I felt about how to work. That man was there to stage the ballet and his name was Glen Tuggle. We were all very tuned into to what he was saying and what he wanted not only because we all really wanted to dance the ballet but because he had a way of working that light up the room and encouraged us all to push further and go harder simply because we were having fun. We loved what we were doing and he encouraged us to laugh and enjoy working our selves to death. “In The Middle” is a very difficult ballet. You have to be in shape or you will collapse in the middle of the stage and pass out! We were killing our selves and as soar as we were at the end of the day we couldn’t wait to get back into the studio and do it again. Glen wanted us to have fun and he gave us the confidence to do it well but also to do it our way. After this experience I began to open my eyes and from that point on I was known as dancer who never said no to trying something unusual. I danced ballets suspended from ropes. I danced ballets in the dark. I even did a pas de deux with a car! I went on to work with Glen several more times and we always had a great time woking our selves to the bone along side his witty but crass sense of humour. After joining The Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam Glen came to stage “Middle” and again the room was on fire with dancers pouring their hearts out and loving every second of it. It was in Amsterdam where my career seemed to come to an end as I was leaving the Dutch National Ballet with an ankle surgery and an uncertain future. I thought I wanted to continue dancing but at almost 40 I didn’t know how or if I could “climb the mountain again” and get back into shape. I called Glen and as always he had a way of lifting my spirits. I thought to my self at that time, thinking that it wasn’t possible, but if I could do any ballet just one more time what would it be? It didn’t take more more than a second to think, “Middle!” I was teaching in Mexico a year later when I had a conversation with my old colleague from Seattle, Patricia Barker, who is now directing The Royal New Zealand Ballet, and she asked me if I would be interested in coming to Wellington to dance “Middle.” I almost exploded with joy before I almost had a panic attack. I first thought YES, and then suddenly wondered if I could still do it! I never back down from a challenge so I began to climb the mountain and before I knew it I was on a plane to New Zealand. Getting my self back into form for such a difficult ballet hasn’t been easy but since arriving here I have been surrounded by a group of dancers and staff that could not be more welcoming. These dancers are exceptional and set a very high standard. They also have open minds and a will to excel and they embrace outsiders as if they are one of their own. It has been a real honour to be here and to work with such a wonderful group of artists who are also wonderful people. The stager, Thierry Guiderdoni, has brought that same wonderful energy to the studio that Glen brought and the dancers have responded to his critiques and encouragement with a sense of purpose and joy. Ive really enjoyed this experience working with Thierry, Patricia, my good friend Nadia Yanowsky and the dancers and staff of RNZB and I cannot begin to thank everybody enough for this dream come true. Sadly this dream is bittersweet as just a few days ago I learned that my dear friend Glen has passed away. I had just sent him an email telling him that I am dancing “Middle” again and how much I missed him. I miss you Glen but I know you are in a better place. I will always remember the joy and love of dance that you helped me find on so many occasions. I will be dedicating these performances of “In The Middle Somewhat Elevated” to your memory.  This one is for you buddy!

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