Sevilla, Spain: where the sun rises & sets with a smile everyday


Flew as quickly as possible to spend New Years in South of Spain because of the freezing Christmas in Germany. Not complaining – I had a wonderful stay with my amazing cousin & his wife – fantastic host and even better family. Strange considering I never met them before (thankfully he found me at the train station!)

But I was ready for sun and to feel my toes again.

I took a 6 day trip to Spain – 3 days in Sevilla & 3 days in Granada.

Both cities are part of the Andalusia region – very beautiful.

The best parts of Seville are the oranges, cathedrals and TAPAS.

So here’s a highlight because I’m sure you’re anxious to see the best parts – photos.

1. Oranges everywhere. And they are beautiful oranges with glossy, round and dimply exterior surrounded by lush green leaves, which all seem to promise a juicy and delicious fruit.

WRONG

These oranges are more sour than a lemon. No kidding. My friend D and I peeled one to try. With a confident bite, he munched into the orange as I warily observed. He had the funniest look on his face!! I tried one too. And it is the worst tasting thing ever!

Makes the city look beautiful and subtly perfumes the place though.

2. Cathedrals

Seville has one of the largest number of cathedrals in the world (appropriate since it’s a very Catholic city).

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Seville has the longest nave in Spain, is the biggest Gothic church in the world, and the third-largest church in the world!

The beautiful exterior has exquisite detail with stony walls beautifully decorated. And the inside is designed with very high vaults and stained glass to let the maximum amount of light in. Very beautiful intimidating gates guard the entrance ensuring tourists enter with very low and reverent voices.

3. The food. W.O.W. (and I’m not talking about World of Warcraft).

I’m a huge foodie. And you know this. I call this my travel blog, but everybody knows it’s 70% dedicated to food. And so I have high standard and expectations when it comes to chowing down. As the truism goes, you are what you eat. So it is with great admiration that I say, for the record, Seville was one of the best food experiences I have had in my life.

The beautiful, delicious, splendid, surprising, tasty, finger-licking, mouth-numbing, (insert any positive adjective) food was more than I bargained for.

I ate seafood (squid, octopus, tuna, halibut, cod, sardines…), spinach & chickpeas, meat (beef, chicken, pork), some though very little vegetables, gazpacho, cheese…and jamón!! 

Too many good and delicious things to name. Thinking about it makes my mouth water.

Anyway, just to keep you drooling…I’m going to dedicate an entire post on food later. So look out for that. I promise beautiful pictures!

Last few highlights that didn’t make it in the top 3…

Plaza de España – Spanish Square

The mix of Moorish and Catholic influence where East (Islam) meets West (Christian) influences.

The bright bright colours! Coming from Paris it made a huge difference, I wasn’t seeing grey and black everyday. There was yellow, blue, orange, red, green…

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TEDxUSC 2011: mind-blowing stimulation with my smartest friends


Here are the highlights of the TEDxUSC experience of 2011.

Quick background, TED is a website with great videos by speakers who have “ideas worth spreading” – the slogan of TED, which itself stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. They invite speakers to talk about the most innovative and cutting-edge work they are doing.

While this seems like free advertisement, which you know I don’t like much, the benefit of telling you is that you may be inspired and empowered by watching some of these videos. So I highly recommend them (the good ones anyway).

TEDx are independent events run by other organizations by using the TED brand. So USC sponsored its own TED event with speakers, hence TEDxUSC.

Without further delay….

The whole experience today was quite fun. The event last year was better though. The speakers were much better.

But this year had an empowering message that is particular apt for our current socio-political and economic climate. Especially with the revolutions in the Middle East and natural disasters happening, the talks were a call to social citizenship and collective action.

Before I become too political let me wrap up what I liked:

  • The theme “actions speak louder” converged with music from around the world
  • Photographer Rick Nahmias: Food Forward presentation about “fruitanthropists” harvesting 1.4 million servings of fresh food from LA backyards to give to the hungry.
  • Talk by Andrew Hessel about synthetic biology and the ability not just to sequence (read) DNA but to write it. Could be used to cure cancer…could also be used for biological warfare – if we got the technology.
  • Talk by Alan Horsager about helping blind people see by inserting a virus with light sensitive cells into blind patients’ eye to replace the bipolar cells. Seems promising on lab rats.
  • The DJ Sleeper put on a nice performance with a cool video.
  • Final performance by circus artists called Troupe Vertigo.
    Highlight – when one of the performance folded herself in half, while doing a hand stand (that is, she supported herself on her hands and her feet were at her head in an extreme back bend) then served 2 of her fellow circus artists glasses of wine. Plus the amazing acrobatics with the blue ribbon cloth was awesome
  • Worth watching the movie created by some students (I won’t ruin it by telling you what it’s about): “Apple of my Eye” by Anna Elizabeth James & Michael Koerbel.
  • “How to start a movement” by Derek Sivers (regular TED talk 2010)