February 21, 2017

Carnaval de Nice 

Though the largest carnival celebrations may be in Rio or Venice, Nice organizes a family-friendly schedule of celebratory events commemorating the festival.  Ready to explore a significant section of Nice’s history and current claim to fame, I prepared for participation in the fête.

The origins of carnival celebrations are not clear beyond their pagan roots, as there are many explanations for the glutinous gatherings.  A popular possibility, however, is that Christians adopted the parties to precede Lent.  The days of carnival allow for freedom and liberation, peaking in Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  No matter the original reason, carnival is now a time for people to come together and find the fun in society, and more importantly, themselves.

 

Le Roi de l’Énergie

The theme of this year’s celebrations was the King of Energy, and my first event was the Carnival Parade.  Though there are multiple showings of this procession throughout the festival week, I attended a weeknight production with the other students in my program.

Our cheap tickets sent us to a space to stand, closer to the action, while bleacher reservations were available at a higher price.  It may have been the day of the week we chose to attend, but the seated spectators were stoic and dull despite the animated attempts of the carnival dancers to engage the crowd.  I appreciated standing and dancing along the parade route, even though, by the end, I was partied out.

Civically proud, as the French are, many carnival floats portrayed political messages.  Among the displays of the Green Queen’s clean energy and the renewable energy of love, Donald Trump made his way down the street as the world’s new oil captain in a “wind of change,” and the French presidential candidates continued along the route on their ceaseless, election cycle wheel.

 

Bataille des Fleurs

My second carnival activity was the Flower Parade.  In addition to the entertainment that the flower-filled floats would provide, their deconstruction, in which flower bouquets would be thrown to the crowd, was another incentive for attending. Unfortunately, the floats were underwhelming, only adorned with flowers and not composed of them, as I had expected.  And, though it may just have been by chance, but I didn’t get any flowers!  You had to be 6 years old, 60 years old, or have a 6-foot-tall friend to catch a bouquet.

The Carnival Parade is worth the time, with reasonable expectations.  I do not know how past festivals have been celebrated, but because of continuing terrorist attacks in France, Carnival has recently been adjusted to accommodate safety concerns.  The Flower Parade, however, disappointed.  Nonetheless, Carnival hosts many other events over its 10-day duration, so there are plenty of other celebrations to explore.

 

Destination Locations

 

Paix, Amour, Nice,

A.J.H.

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February 13, 2016

Mimi’s Creperia

Though France is the home of the pancake-like sweet filled with even sweeter delights, my roommate and I were craving something different than the usual Spanish pastry.  A trip to Mimi’s Creperia fulfilled our dessert desires.  The creperia offered many sweet and savory options, but we had our sights set on the dessert crêpes.  Though I am sure what we ate was only a representation of the delicacies served in France, an average crêpe is still a delicious treat.  Stuffed with Nutella and white chocolate, topped with vanilla ice cream, I was proud to have finished my massive meal.

DSC_0016

A work of art.

Mimi’s Creperia is closed this month for renovations, but we plan return when the doors reopen in the spring.

 

The Year of the Fire Monkey

New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Madrid… there seems to be a Chinatown in every metropolitan city!  With the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Fire Money, underway, event festivities drew in audiences from all over the city.  A celebration seemingly more popular than Valentine’s Day, with which some Chinese New Year proceedings shared a weekend this year, the Year of the Fire monkey meant positivity for many because of the symbolic prestige the animal holds in Chinese culture.  The New Year parade, which wound through the streets of Madrid’s Chinatown, radiated bright colors of the traditional costumes to contrast the overcast sky, while crowds of onlookers grasped monkey masks in honor of this year’s animal sign.  Similar to last weekend’s Carnaval parade, I did not expect the strength of cultural pride exuded by the people to be present in Madrid.  The Chinese people, as well as others in the Chinese community, put on a beautiful show of dress, dance, and song.  Even more powerful was the age range of the participants, with performers seemingly anywhere from 5 to 85 years old.  This dedication to the expression of their culture made watching the parade more inclusive, impressive and entertaining.

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Destination Locations

  • Mimi’s Creperia
    • Calle Postas, 17, 28012 Madrid
  • Chinatown, Madrid
    • Usera metro stop

 

Paz, Amor, Madrid

A.J.H.