Friday, June 28, 2013

Google Trekker .A new way to enjoy the beauty of The Alhambra !

Google Trekker was recently brought into Spain to start taking pictures in the Alhambra (Granada) . The trekker is a backpack (mochila) of about 15 kg which has a camera system of 15 lenses controlled by an Android device capturing 360 degree panoramic photos , a hard drive (disco duro)  for local storage (almacenamiento, and two batteries that provide enough power for a full day's walk .It’s specially used for reaching inaccessible places or those ones which are protected. As the operator walks, photos are taken every 2.5 seconds (approx.) The captured images are stored in the hard drive, processed by Google, and finally uploaded (subidas) to the Web.

Pictures will be published in coming months !

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The summer solstice and the Supermoon

The summer solstice can occur any (cualquier) day between 20th and 26th June. This year the summer solstice is on 21st June .
The solstice marks the peak of summer and takes place when the sun is at its highest point (el punto más alto) in the sky. After the solstice , the days get shorter until the winter solstice on December 21 when they start to get longer again

This year 2013, the solstice began in the east coast of the US at 1.04 am, but it will begin on Thursday night in places west of the Central Time Zone.

The summer solstice has been celebrated since ancient times and people still flock to prehistoric monuments like Stongehenge in Wiltshire to view (ver) the sunrise (el amanecer)

St. John’s Eve (or Bonfire (hoguera) Night) is on the evening of 23rd June and St. John’s Day, which is a holiday in many places such as (como) Spain or Quebec, is on the 24th. Midsummer festivals can be held(celebrados) at any time from mid-June to mid-July, which is also the peak tourist season (temporada alta de turismo) in many places.     This year, Saint John's Eve coincided with an extraordinary phenomenon: The Supermoon. A remarkable supermoon appeared on the night of the 23rd of June. A supermoon – also known as a “perigee” moon – occurs when the moon is full and its orbit is closer than normal to the Earth. Because it is closer to us, the moon appears up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than normal. The supermoon of the 23rd of June was the biggest supermoon this year and presented a spectacular sight if you watched at the skies, and your view wasn't obscured by clouds.
What makes this supermoon even more powerful than usual is it falls on St. John’s Eve.

St. John’s Eve is a sacred time for voodoos and hoodoos (magia negra), particularly in New Orleans. St John’s Eve falls on the night of June 23rd, the evening before St. John the Baptist’s Day. The legendary voodoo queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveaux (1794-1881), used to hold wild and raucous (estridentes) voodoo ceremonies on the night of June 23rd on Bayou St. John.

To finish this post, we would like to show you a video with an explanation of this marvellous phenomenon:

Friday, June 21, 2013

More animal expressions ! Birds and Insects .

"the early bird catches the worm"
Bruce Prince is an Australian opera singer who has decided to retire, and he has just given his swansong performance at Covent Garden, London. He has had a very tiring, but enjoyable UK tour. The tabloids (periódico sensacionalista) have reported that he has been a busy little bee, with 25 concerts in 31 days.

At 10 o’clock in the evening he left his favourite opera house for the last time and took a taxi back to The Hilton. As the crow flies the hotel is about three kilometres from his house. He decided to celebrate with one of his best friends, the famous Spanish opera singer Sol Lunes. As they are both night owls, they stayed up till 4 o’clock in the morning talking about some of the highlights (lo más destacado) in their singing careers.

In the morning, they went to Waterstone’s bookshop in Tottenham Court Road to sign their autobiographies. Outside the shop, they saw to their amazement that there was an extremely long queue(cola ). “My God! They must have been up with the lark” said Sol. “Well, only the early bird catches the worm. I don’t think everybody is going to get a copy” replied Bruce. 

Below are the Spanish equivalents for  the expressions cited above:

Bird and Insect Expressions Spanish Translation Literal Translation
swansong canto del cisne (última actuación) swan = cisne
to be a busy little bee trabajar como una hormiguita busy = atareado
bee = abeja
as the crow flies en línea recta crow = cuervo
to fly = volar

to be a night owl ser un noctámbulo owl = búho
to be up with the lark levantarse con el canto del gallo lark = alondra
The early bird catches the worm A quien madruga Dios le ayuda early = madrugador
to catch = coger
worm = gusano
The Animal Test 
Now you have seen a few of the animals that appear in informal conversation, can you put  the appropriate animal phrases in the following sentences? Good luck and remember to put the verbs in the appropriate tense!

as the crow flies                donkey work                      to have a bigger fish to fry
to drink like fish                 a whale of a time                black sheep
not to give a monkey’s       stag party                           busy little bee

1. Jim has painted most of house while Tom just painted the doors. Poor Jim has done the __________________.
2. Judy is enjoying herself at the party. She is having __________________.
3. The shortest distance between the two houses is 5 miles. It’s 5 miles __________________.
4. Penelope is the only person in the family who gets into trouble. She’s the __________________ of the family.
5. Carla doesn’t care about school. She __________________.
6. A week before the wedding, Ben had a celebration with his male friends. Ben went on a __________________.
7. Susan has been working very hard .She is a __________________.
8 Alex likes two bottles of wine before lunch; he. __________________.
9. Sarah said she couldn’t waste her time arguing about silly things because she ______________ .

Solutions: 1. donkey work 2. whale of a time 3. as the crow flies
4. black sheep 5. doesn’t give a monkey’s 6. stag party
7. busy little bee 8. drinks like a fish 9.had bigger fish to fry

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer soups

The summer is nearly here and a great soup can be a complete meal  for a summer evening. Something refreshing that rehydrates and gives us an essential vitamin injection. I this post we´ll have a look at some classic cold soups, including gazpacho and vichyssoise.

Gazpacho: A Culinary History

Like a lot of exquisite dishes, gazpacho was originally the food of the poor. It was a dish that agricultural workers in southern Spain made for lunch when they were working in the fields.(campos) They soaked (ponían en remojo) stale bread (pan duro) in water and pounded (machacado) it with olive oil, garlic, salt and vinegar. Some historians say it was a dish that Roman soldiers prepared when they were travelling through (a través de) the province. It was certainly an important dish in Moorish Spain (la España árabe). The defining ingredient of modern gazpacho, the tomato, only arrived after the conquest of the Americas in the fifteenth century.

Gazpacho Variations

There are several variations of gazpacho that are served in different parts of Spain. In Extremadura they add pieces of ham to make gazpacho extremeño. Salmorejo cordobés, from Cordoba, is a thicker (más espesa) soup served with pieces of hard-boiled eggs (trozos de huevo duro) and ham (jamón). You can change the flavour of the classic gazpacho by modifying the quantity of each of the vegetables or changing the type of vinegar. You could also serve it with different accompaniments, for example pieces of salt cod.(bacalao salado )

Ajo Blanco

A cousin of gazpacho is this dish that is close to the original Moorish way of preparing soup. It is based on the almonds (almendras) that the Moors cultivated extensively after they colonized Hispania in the eighth century. To make ajo blanco, soak blanched almonds in milk and soak some bread in water. Blend (meclar) with olive oil, garlic and salt, and then add water and some vinegar. You can add some grapes or pieces of apple or melon before serving.


Another great summer soup is vichyssoise. This is an adaptation of a traditional French soup by chef Louis Diat at the Ritz in New York in 1917. He named it after the French town of Vichy, close to (cerca de) where he was born. You make the soup by frying (freir) leeks (puerro) and onions in butter,(mantequilla) then adding (añadir) potatoes and stock (caldo) and simmering (hervir a fuego lento) for half an hour. Blend and add cream (nata líquida) and salt and pepper.

To finish the post, here you have a very useful recipe of the traditional Andalusian Salmorejo to cool you down in these hot summer nights.


Friday, June 14, 2013

A dog's life in New York .

I am sure you have often heard the expression “ a  dog’s life” meaning  a very unhappy and unpleasant life . Well, this isn’t exactly true  for  dogs in  New York   where the phrase  takes on a whole new meaning. (la frase adquiere un nuevo significadoNew Yorkers adore their dogs and love making them happy.  They  spend on average  $1,350 a year on their dogs but some owners spend  a lot more  !

Dog walkers

You see dog walkers all over New York. A successful  dog walker can earn $ 4,000  a month .They know the best walking routes in the neighbourhood and are extremely professional. .Some dogs even  go to the gym or take yoga classes !

Pet taxis

New York pet taxis are yellow -just like normal cabs (taxis)  ! The  taxis are minivans without back seats so that dogs can lie down. There is space for a person but dogs can travel alone too.

D pet Hotel

A luxury hotel  in Manhattan with fabulous services .The suites have a double bed and a flat-screen tv (tv de pantalla plana . There is also a  gym, equipped with personal trainers and two treadmills (cintas de correr)  for any canine looking to stay in shape.

It really is a dog's life !

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Travelling to Paris (3)

The Cathedrals

The Notre Dame Cathedral, right in the middle of Île de la Cité, is thought to be the finest example of French gothic architecture. Constructed between the tenth and twelfth centuries and modified many times since then, it is awe-inspiring,(alucinante) both inside and outside. While one of Europe’s major tourist attractions, it is still a functioning cathedral.

La Sainte-Chapelle, also in Île de la Cité, is a Gothic chapel originally built to be part of a royal palace that no longer exists. It is known for its exquisite stained glass.(vidriera) And of course there is the nineteenth century Basilique du Sacré Cœur, (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) a church on the top of La Butte Montmartre, the highest point in Paris and one of the city’s most visited historical monuments.

The City of Museums

The Louvre is one of the largest and most famous of the city’s museums, home to the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo statue. It is easily recognisable by the glass pyramid entrance that was built in the 1980s as part of a larger expansion project. It is huge (enorme) and you will need at least an entire day to see all of it. In less time, it is a question of deciding which sections you want to see and which ones can wait until the next visit.

The Musée d’Orsay, a former (antiguo) railway station on the Left Bank, houses some of the world’s best Impressionist paintings, including works by Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. The Rodin Museum has a very attractive and pleasant decor that blends in (se integra) well with the gardens, and of course the sleek (brillante) statues that form part of the art on display.(exhibición)

The Pompidou Centre will amaze you with its avant-garde architecture; paintings by Matisse, Kandinsky and Picasso are on display inside. Speaking of the great Spanish master, the Musée Picasso, located in an old mansion in the Marais district, houses the largest collection of Picassos to be found anywhere.

 Oh, to be dead in Paris...

Believe it or not, some of the most famous and respected Paris residents are not alive! The Père Lachaise Cemetery is the final resting place for many French literary, political and historical figures such as Balzac, Edith Piaf, La Fontaine as well as non-French celebrities such as writer Oscar Wilde and composer Frédéric Chopin. Other famous cemeteries include Cimetière de Montmartre, Cimetière du Montparnasse, Cimetière de Passy and the Catacombs of Paris.

 Days Out near Paris

Versailles, on the southwest edge (borde) of Paris, is the site of the Sun King Louis XIV’s magnificent palace. The palace furnishings (mobiliario) that existed before the French Revolution have been restored, so you can really see what it was like to live during those times, and the grounds (suelos) are beautifully laid out and well maintained. Also recommended is a trip to Giverny, to the inspirational house and gardens of the Impressionist painter Claude Monet. For families there is Disneyland Resort Paris, in the suburb of Marne-la-Vallée. While not especially Parisian, will certainly keep the kids happy and there is no other place like it in Europe.

Discover it for Yourself

Because of the large number of important landmarks and impressive grandeur that this city has to offer, you may have the impression that Paris is a cold, heartless (impersonal) museum. There is an easy way to remedy any such feelings. Pick one day to leave your guidebook in the hotel room and explore the city in a totally improvised manner. Doing so will help to give you a more well-rounded perspective on this magnificent creation of humanity called Paris.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Animal Expressions

Have you ever been on a stag night   or a hen night ? Have you drunk like a fish and had a whale of a time? You probably have, but maybe you don’t know what these expressions mean. As you will discover, the English language uses many animal expressions in informal situations, so it’s interesting to learn a few animal expressions in order to sound more natural in a conversation.  Do you accept the challenge? Don’t chicken out!
"Don't chicken out ! "


In 2013, Roger Black moved from his small flat in East London to an apartment in Barcelona. There, Roger has spent his time organising stag nights for the British market. The participants who go on these nights generally behave themselves ( se comportan)  and like to wolf whistle at the girls in the city’s discotheques. The only occasion when there was any serious problem occurred with a group from Manchester. They went into the pub like a bull in a china shop, to watch the football match between Manchester United and Manchester City, and left broken beer bottles on the floor. 
Roger’s next-door neighbour is a former tennis player, Maria Shavorska. At school, she was known as the black sheep of the family as she was continuously getting into trouble with the police. She did not give a monkey’s about school. . Some seven years later, she  became famous in the tennis world following a shock win at The All England Wimbledon Championships. She was the underdog, but she played the game of her life by winning against the world’s number one tennis player. It was a game of cat and mouse before Maria finally won the match . She also won the mixed doubles final a day later with Leander Smith. In comparison, it was an easy match for her, as her partner did most of the donkey work in a comfortable 6-2, 6-1 victory. 
"Donkey work "
Below are the Spanish equivalents for the expressions cited above:

to go on a stag night  ir a una despedida de soltero ,  stag = ciervo)

to go on a hen night  (ir a una despedida de soltera , hen = gallina )
to drink like a fish (beber demasiado alcohol)
to have a whale of a time ( pasarlo bomba , whale = ballena)
to chicken out (rajarse) 
to wolf whistle  (silbar a las chicas ,wolf = lobo ,to whistle = silbar )

like a bull in a china shop (como un elefante en una cacharrería  ,a china shop = tienda porcelanas, bull= toro)
the black sheep of the family( la oveja negra de la familia  ) 
not to give a monkey’s about something ( no importarle un rábano,  monkey = mono )
the underdog  (el que tiene menos posibilidades)
a game of cat and mouse ( el juego del gato y el ratón)
donkey work (el trabajo más duro, donkey = burro)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Travelling to Paris (2)

History of Paris

 The first known settlers (colonizadores) to the Paris area were Celtic boatmen (barqueros) who probably arrived around 250 BC and found Île de la Cité to be a perfect base for trading (comerciar) and fishing. The Romans conquered the area around 50 BC and called the city Lutetia, but in the third century AD Germanic invaders conquered the region and used the island as a military outpost (puesto fronterizo) without any significant development.

Following Viking invasions in the 800s, a series of counts (condes) began to establish a royal dynasty, and by the twelfth century Paris had become the capital of France. After the 1200s, the island had established itself as the centre of government and religion, while the Left Bank was the educational centre and the Right Bank grew to become the centre of commerce and trade.

During the Hundred Year’s War, Paris fell under Burgundian occupation and Joan of Arc was unable to retake the city in 1429. The city was re-conquered in 1437, but the kings of that period abandoned the city to live in the Loire Valley. King Henry IV drove Catholic forces out of Paris and re-established the royal court in the city in 1594, although in 1682 King Louis XIV moved the court to the palace at Versailles outside Paris.

Paris played a key role in the French Revolution, the most notable event being the Storming of the Bastille in 1789 and the ousting (desplazamiento) of the monarchy in 1792. A century later, the Universal Expositions in the late 1800s helped to position Paris as a world capital. Paris avoided occupation during World War I, and in the 1920s it became a magnet  that attracted literary and artistic figures from around the world, including Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and James Joyce.

The depression of the 1930s hit Paris hard, as it did other places. During the Second World War Paris fell under German occupation, which lasted four long years until its liberation in 1944, and was fortunate to avoid massive destruction. In the post-war boom period, the Paris suburbs underwent (experimentaron) massive growth and La Défense business district was set up.(establecido)

In the late 1960s and 1970s, a decline in industrial activity saw some of the inner suburbs languish, (languidecieron) with very high levels of unemployment and social problems, leading to occasional social unrest and riots (revueltas) in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The more recent 2005 riots, involving angry and frustrated youths,(jóvenes) showed the rest of the world that Paris, which prides (enorgullece) itself on its cosmopolitan and open-minded (de mentalidad abierta) attitudes about many things, still has a long way to go on issues of race and ethnicity.