Showing posts with label Femuka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Femuka. Show all posts

Friday 3 August 2012

Music flowing through the streets of La Granja

Every year La Granja de San Ildefonso is one of FEMUKA street jazz festival venues.

Upon arrival to La Granja all the musicians lined up and played a tune or two while marching towards the center of the town. The first part of the concert took place in the shade of a small park. A group of locals was joined by a random group of tourists and everyone listened with smiles on their faces.

Almost every other street was also filled with music when bands marched past. Even a stop at a random resulted in a spontaneous jam session.
It was a great feeling to just tag along and enjoy the almost non-stop musical experience.

With or without music, this tiny old Spanish town, situated just 75 kilometers from Madrid is well worth a visit.

It is famous for a royal palace (Palacio Real de La Granja) built during the reign of Philip V and was used as a summer residence of the Kings of Spain for quite a while. It is quite obvious the palace itself and its vast gardens (covering more then 6 square kilometers!) were heavily influenced by Versailles.

The royal palace houses an interesting museum with luxuriously decorated rooms.
A part of the museum is dedicated to the Tapestry Museum. Highlights of the Tapestry Museum include the Flemish Apocalypse series, The Triumphs of Petrarch and the Honours and Virtues series, based on cartoons by Goya.
These cover a huge section of walls and the details are absolutely amazing. I was lucky enough to enjoy the company of a person heavily involved in putting together of brochures about those tapestries. Unfortunately in our very limited time there, we could only scratch the surface of the story behind those stunning pieces of art. Also photography is not allowed within the museum, so to get an idea of how those tapestries look like, you will have to look elsewhere.

If you are reading this - thanks again Brian for being a great host and guide. I hope there will be another chance for a proper tour of the palace together with its beautiful gardens. The whole place definitely deserves it.

If such palaces are not your thing, there are also other reasons for visiting this cute little walled town. Every year many known musicians choose to stop at this place for a concert.
In the past artists like Björk, Michael Bolton, Kar Češ Brass Band and José Carreras have already performed at La Granja de San Ildefonso. If you are planning a visit to the area it is always worth checking if there is something going on at the moment.

It is hard to describe how special this little Spanish town really is. Maybe Brian mentioned above said it best: "I came here from Ireland with my wife to teach English for a year. Now, twenty-and-some years later, we can't imagine living anywhere else."


Wednesday 1 August 2012

Wordless Wednesday: FEMUKA concert crowd


Monday 30 July 2012

A taste of Segovia

Recently I visited the city of Segovia in Spain. Unfortunately this time sightseeing was not my number one priority. If you have read some of my previous posts, you already know I was there as a photographer for one of the bands playing at FEMUKA street jazz festival.
Even with most of my time dedicated to music, I still succeeded in taking quite a few pretty decent photos of this beautiful city.

Segovia is famous for the magnificent Roman Aqueduct which is also on the UNESCO World Heritage list, the magnificent 16th-century Gothic cathedral and a stunning castle - the Alcázar.

Unfortunately I didn't succeed in snatching of a really good photo of the famous over two thousand year's old Roman aqueduct - the light was never just right. Also the Alcazar of Segovia - the royal palace located on top of a hill between the rivers Eresma and Clamores stayed effectively hidden from my sight. I also couldn't find my way inside the cathedral.

Despite of all this I was still satisfied with the outcome. A few good photos and lots of great music was more than enough for me... at least for this time. I think the city with its surroundings definitely deserve at least another visit - next time probably with a little less focus on music.

Photos published in this post are just some of the better ones of that day. After going through many photos taken in Segovia I had to conclude it is another one of those places where you can hardly get away with a bad photo.


Friday 27 July 2012

Kar Češ Brass Band performing in Segovia, Spain

Performing in a fascinating Spanish city of Segovia was part of FEMUKA 2012 street jazz festival program. It was a great concert - the crowd really loved it.

This is a short video of Kar ČeŠ Brass Band from Slovenia, playing Round one - a piece originally performed by Youngblood Brass Band.


Monday 23 July 2012

Storks of El Espinar

One of the first things I noticed upon arrival to the town of El Espinar in the Spanish region of Castilla y León were storks nesting on most of rooftops. Most of those nests were occupied by one or two quite large but I suppose still young storks.
If you were not following my recent activity I should probably explain I visited FEMUKA street jazz festival that took place in the area around this Spanish town. To see all posts related to the festival, please click on the FEMUKA label in the right column.

We also have storks nesting in some parts of Slovenia but usually there are just a few nests in each village. In El Espinar I had a feeling I just visited a very popular stork holiday destination in the peak season.

These large birds obviously like this region a lot. I saw them also in other nearby villages but nowhere were so many of them. I needed some time to get used to being awaken by a strange clapping sound they make with their beaks. They did this non-stop but surprisingly I did not find it annoying.
Even if by some strange coincidence next year there is no human crowd gathered for the festival, there will always be a patient crowd clapping (with questionable rhythmic capabilities) from the rooftops to the enthusiastic jazz musicians.

You can actually see their nests on the roof of the church on the above photo. I can't imagine who wouldn't like that kind of audience.

I guess the region is a perfect place for a birdwatcher. If you are lucky enough, you can even spot a stork taking a slow stroll on the pavement.

The only thing you have to keep in mind in order to see them is to visit during their nesting season - every autumn they depart on a long journey south.

Obviously I took quite a few photos of them. I hope you like the ones I actually decided to post.


Sunday 15 July 2012

FEMUKA Festival in Black&White

I shot quite a few great photos during the FEMUKA street jazz festival in El Espinar, Spain. To take a look at all of the posts from the event look for the "Femuka" label in the right column.

I was playing around a bit with photo post-processing the other day and got some nice results. I decided to publish these in black&white. I hope you like them.


Wednesday 11 July 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Street jazz enthusiasts


Monday 9 July 2012

El Espinar - Alive with street jazz

Once a year streets of the Spanish little town of El Espinar get alive with street jazz rhythms. This year I was lucky enough to be there during the FEMUKA festival (Festival Internacional de Musica en la Calle).

I already posted a couple of photos of the festival in my previous post and will probably do it also in the next couple of posts. There were lots of great photo opportunities in the three days of festival. Many spontaneous jam sessions were also great for shooting some video. This is also something you can look forward to.

Apart from festival activities there was not much more to do in the little town but with really kind locals we met there is definitely a special charm to it. There are a couple of really charming squares and also an imposing old church is also well worth a look. For bird enthusiasts there are countless opportunities to take photos of many storks nesting on rooftops.

Even a nice hostel we stayed in was called Hostal La Cigüeña. In English this would translate to Stork Hostel. It does not offer any luxury but has very neat rooms with large and modern bathrooms. I definitely recommend it.

The town can also offer a perfect base for exploring surrounding cities and villages. Some of them are really stunning. In addition to this there are many natural parks nearby also worth visiting (a local I spoke with in a nearby village even claimed to have seen a wild wolf for a couple of times).
Sadly we didn't have time to enjoy what nature has to offer in that region but were lucky enough to be invited on a one day special tour through some really charming old villages. We really loved it!

I also plan to publish photos of those villages for you to get a few fresh ideas for a vacation in the Spanish region of Castilla y León.


Thursday 5 July 2012

FEMUKA festival 2012

A couple of days ago I returned from an unexpected trip to Spain. Those of you who also follow Travel Photo Blogging on Facebook might have seen some photos already. If you are not already amongst those few lucky ones you should like our FB page this very moment. This is the way to really stay up to date with our adventures.

Another way to see where are we at the moment is to follow our Instagram feed (look for travel_pb). Instagram is a really cool mobile application for both Android and iOS - I have posted about it here. Try it out and you won't regret it - it is free!

Let me get back to that recent Spanish trip of mine. As luck would have it, a chance to accompany my brother's band (Kar ČeŠ Brass Band) to a street jazz festival near the Spanish town of Segovia came out of nowhere.

This was one of those rare opportunities when you get a chance to combine things you love and don't even have to pay for it. In this case it was a combination of two favorite hobbies of mine - travel and photography. Good music and almost non-stop party were just cherries on top of a very good cake.
I did not think much before I took this chance and I was not sorry for a single moment. It was quite tiring but in the end well worth the effort.

We were stationed in the town of El Espinar which lies 70 kilometres NW of Madrid. Every year a local band called El Puntillo Canalla puts an enormous amount of effort in organizing FEMUKA street jazz festival (Festival de Música en la Calle). This year they did a great job for the 6th time in a row.
Chuso, Julia, Miguel and the rest of the band - thanks again for inviting us and taking such good care of us!

This year there were five bands performing in the streets of El Espinar, La Granja de San Ildefonso and Segovia for three days. Three of them were from different parts of Spain (Pamplona, Sevilla and El Espinar), one from Portugal and one from Slovenia.

All of the participating musicians were really good and played with one another in mixed jam sessions like they knew each other for ages.

The festival offered many opportunities for great photos and I think I shot at least a few good ones. Well I will let you be the judge of that.

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