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Archives for August 2013

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Top 5 Spanish Coast Destinations

Spain remains the beach destination of choice for summer holidays. Offering an ideal blend of seaside charm and exotic flavour, it’s hard to go wrong yet, if you’re looking for a bit of guidance, here are five of the best Spanish coast destinations to consider: 

Spain - Benidorm by Night, photo John O'Nolan

Benidorm by Night, photo John O’Nolan, Flickr

Benidorm

Benidorm knows how to do tourism right. Though the destination specialises in catering to British tourists, with seaside resorts offering Brits their favourite amenities from back home, Benidorm isn’t void of local charm. Head to the old town if you’re in search of an authentic Spanish experience, the poniente beach area is usually much quieter and if you’re looking for real seclusion away from the crowds head to La Cala, a world away from the hustle and bustle of benidorms main strip. 2014 Benidorm holidays are the perfect retreat this summer.

Barcelona

Barcelona isn’t just one of Spain’s best destinations, but one of the most beloved cities in all of Europe. Whilst chic, cosmopolitan and rich in culture, the Catalan capital still retains the laid back charm of a seaside city. From relaxing on the sandy shores of the Mediterranean to dining on fresh seafood (cooked Catalan-style), Barcelona will exceed your expectations in every aspect of your visit.

Ibiza

One of the world’s most renowned party hotspots, Ibiza has perfected and defined the Mediterranean club scene. Its clubs, such as Pacha, Space, Amnesia and Privilege, are famous across the globe for their sheer size and always attract big-name celebrity DJs. Beyond San Antonio Bay, the rest of the island’s beautiful beaches and viewpoints offer some much-appreciated tranquility.

Spain - Costa del Sol, Kevin Poh

Costa del Sol, Kevin Poh

Malaga

This seaside metropolis may reside on the Costa Del Sol, yet it’s vastly different than the nearby resort towns that the famous coastline is best known for. In many ways, Malaga has far more depth, with plenty of historical and cultural attractions making it a class above its neighbours. Must-see attractions include the Gothic Malaga Cathedral, the Museum of Glass and Crystal, and the La Concepción botanical gardens.

Majorca

A stunning natural gem of the Mediterranean, the island of Majorca offers far more than generic tourist fare. After spending plenty of time on its golden sands, take a break from the beach and explore the Serra de Tramuntana mountains. Hiking and cycling trails offer brilliant views of the winding coastline and lead you to one charming village after the next.

It’s easy to see why, for many throughout Europe, particularly British families Spain comes number one when planning your summer holiday, with a wealth of choice, beautiful weather, and friendly locals it’s the ideal destinations for families and groups alike.

 

 

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The Tambourine in Jamaican Culture

The tambourine or timbrel is an important musical instrument in Revival churches in Jamaica. It is also featured in mento, Kumina and Pocomania music.

According to Wikipedia, the tambourine originated in Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia, the Middle East and India.

Tambourine in Jamaican Music

Tambourine

The Tainos, Jamaica’s original people, called it the maguey, and used it in celebrations for their ancestors.

There are several references to the tambourine in Jamaican popular culture. In the Anancy story, Tiger Sheep-Skin Suit, Brer (Brother) Tiger plays the tambourine.  Anancy (or Anansi), a spider and a trickster who outsmarts everyone, came to Jamaica from Ghana’s Ashanti people.

Another reference comes in 1837, when Isaac Belisario (1794-1849), a Jamaican artist of Jewish descent, published several paintings on street life, which included costumed dancers and singers who sang to the music of fife, triangle and tambourine.

The tambourine comes in different shapes. The most popular resembles a small drum with several metal disks placed at intervals in the side. To use it, the player shakes the instrument with one hand then strikes it with the other.

Prince Harry Playing the Tambourine in Jamaica

Last year, when Prince Harry was on his official visit to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, he played the tambourine with British vocalist Gary Barlow who was also on the island recording music for an album commemorating the Jubilee.

Frankfurt’s Quick-trip Treasures

Considering the wealth of attractions on offer, it’s surprisingly easy to grab a taste of Frankfurt in just a few short days. Atmospheric Old World architecture contrasts with a futuristic city skyline, and there are more museums than you could see in months. Lively DJ bars sit atop city-centre car parks in summer, and you might enjoy a taste of the same famous local apple wine that won over Emperor Charlemagne himself.

Frankfurt Houses by Konstantin Koll

Frankfurt Houses, photo by Konstantin Koll, from Flickr

Even if you’ve simply grabbed some cheap flights to Frankfurt and only have a weekend, go ahead and put the German hub on your itinerary. Here’s a quick look at some key attractions that are worth whizzing round on your visit.

Museums Galore

Among Frankfurt’s cultural offerings, its museums are a highlight. The Museumsufer district houses over a dozen of the cities 20+ museums, with themes ranging from fine art to famous son Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, from German Film to Jewish history.

Once a year the museums go nuts with Museumsuferfest, which offers unlimited access to all museums during the festival weekend; and its adventurous counterpart Lange Nacht der Museen (Long Night of Museums) in April, when most museums are open – and loads of people are partying in them – until early morning the next day.

Frankfurt - Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Metro Centric

Museum fur Moderne Kunst

Wandering the City

You could explore Römerberg, Frankfurt’s old center, with its Alte Opera House and the picturesque fountains and cafes of the square. Or the Eiserner Steg (Iron bridge) with its great views of the skyline and river, before heading to Sachsenhausen for a beer in the district’s historic pub.

Then there’s the lesser-visited Bockenheim, Bornheim, and Nordend neighborhoods, where you can stroll amongst  the Modernist architecture and city parks, not to mention all the Gothic cathedrals and flea markets you’ll encounter.

The surrounding rural area hosts many treasures as well, from Stadtwald forest and Feldberg mountain to the opportunity for a scenic cruise on the River Rhine.  Frankfurt will not leave you wanting for sights to see. 

Finally, if you like exploring by bicycle and you’re visiting between April and December, look out for the red and white Call a Bike/Deutsche Bahn stations, where bikes are available to rent 24/7; Frankfurt is a very bike-friendly city and this makes for a convenient way to travel from sight to sight!

 

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photo by: axelandra

Foodie Tuesday: Saltfish, from Poor Man’s Food to National Dish

Saltfish is so popular in Jamaica, it’s one of the two main ingredients in ackee and saltfish, our national dish. We eat it fried, roasted, baked, or in stews and at any meal of the day.

Saltfish

uncooked fish

Salt or codfish came to Jamaica by way of Canada – Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, to be exact. Back then, planters were looking for food to feed the large population of enslaved Africans who worked on their plantations. It was for the same goal that they imported breadfruit from the South Pacific. Saltfish, as codfish is called locally, was traded for rum and molasses and shipped back to the island.

when saltfish could shingle house…

The first time I heard the expression, when saltfish could shingle house, I couldn’t understand what my mother was walking about. Why would anyone use saltfish to shingle their house? Years before saltfish was so inexpensive and commonplace, people thought jokingly that it could be use for everything, including as shingles for their houses.

Saltfish, flaked

Flaked fish

Not so now as saltfish runs from $5 – 7 a pound. It is more expensive than meat and some other types of fish. To make it attractive, supermarkets sell it in pieces weighing about a half of a pound. You can buy even smaller amount in grocery shops.

Today, approximately 80% of the saltfish, usually hake or pollack, imported into Jamaica comes from Norway. Saltfish maintains its popularity, in part, because of its long shelf life. It also doesn’t require refrigeration. However, it is no longer inexpensive or looked down on as food for poor or lower class people. A staple of our diet, saltfish is on the menu of households in all strata of Jamaican society, and appears in a variety of dishes including ackee and saltfish, or cooked up with tomatoes, calalloo, cabbage, okra, butter beans, or found in fritters.

Chopped ingredients for Saltfish

Chopped tomato, scallion, onion, thyme

Saltfish & tomatoes

Tomatoes

 

How to Make Saltfish and Tomatoes

Ingredients

1/2 pound saltfish
1 large tomato, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks of scallion, chopped
1 sprig thyme
Black pepper, to taste
2-3 strips of Scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
Oil for frying

Directions

Soak saltfish in water overnight or bring to boil. Drain and add more fresh water and boil again to remove salt.
Chop onions, scallion and tomato; cut 2-3 strips from Scotch bonnet pepper and set aside.
Drain and add cold water.
Using your fingers or a fork, flake the fish and remove any bones.
In a medium skillet, add oil and allow to get hot. Saute chopped onions and scallions until transparent. Add pepper, then add tomatoes. Stir frequently until tomato flavors the oil.
Stir in the flaked fish. If there isn’t enough oil in the pan, add a little water.
Add black pepper and stir until the ingredients are fully mixed.
Lower the flame and let cook for 5 minutes.
Garnish with scallion or green peppers (sweet) and serve.
This can be paired with rice or ground provisions and can be eaten at any meal.

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