‘The Manolo Experience’

Sweet seller

Picture taken by Alison Fearn

Manolo is a very common Spanish name that can also be used as a noun. The term ‘Manolos or Manolas’ started being used back in the early 19th century referring to low class Madrid citizens who distinguish themselves by their elaborate outfits and sense of style in dress and manners, as well as by their cheeky behaviour. The style stood in strong contrast to the French styles affected by many of the Spanish elite under the influence of the Enlightenment.

Also known as Majos and Majas, it was a recurrent subject for many artists. Spanish painter, Francisco de Goya, depicted both, standing out his ‘La Maja Vestida’ and ‘La Maja desnuda’. This second version of the model completely nude is renowned for the straightforward and unashamed gaze of the model towards the viewer.

Nowadays, the term is mainly used for those Spaniards who perpetuate a saucy attitude but not necessarily well dressed neither elegant in their manners.


Picture taken by Alison Fearn

This time around, Manolo, wasn’t a 19th century character, but a man that we bumped into on our way to San Sebastian Castle while on a one-to-one tuition photography course. He was taking a nap in the mayhem of beach supplies. Chairs, ‘gargaillos’ (gaditanian word for rubber shoes use for fishing), portable fridges, toys and so on, framed him and the contrast with the calmness he showed caught my eye. I stopped to take a picture and the shutter woke him up. To my surprise, instead of being annoyed he was kind and mellow. I explained him what we were doing and he immediately offered us a slice of the Tortilla (Spanish Omelette) he had prepared at 7 o’ clock am and a glass of ‘tinto de verano’ (the national summer drink- not Sangria).




Under the sun umbrella, Alison Fearn and I enjoyed what, from now on, I’ll call ’The Manolo Experience’. It is not uncommon to find such nice people on a common basis. Here in Cadiz, people are sweet and kind to foreigners. They are willing to enjoy and have a laugh. Due to their witty and loose attitude, every time you turn a corner, expect the unexpected. Incredible experiences may happen. Taking the time and following the mood makes the difference between visiting a city or experiencing the culture and the people of that city. When Manolos family arrived from their dip in the sea, laughter surrounded us as he joked about us being part of an international TV crew doing a reportage on him.



Thank you Manolo!!

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… and the night life is easy…


Tightrope walker practices at La Caleta beach

Holidays, relaxation, stress free days to enjoy beautiful beaches, like La Caleta (the one in the picture) and up to other 27 blue flag beaches in the region (more info on this link Blue flag beaches in Andalucia). Planning the long days ahead of us to seize the Cadiz summer takes little effort. It’s easy and always fun!


A group of friends enjoy the sun set with beer and toasted sunflower seeds.

It is time for hanging out with friends and the company of the loved ones. Staying till the sun sets at the beach and then taking a shower and heading out and about on the streets. Going for some ‘tapas’ at any of the lively squares like ‘Plaza del Tío de la Tiza’.


Plaza del Tío de la Tiza, bursts in activity at dinner time.


Last years Jazz Music Festival.

Later you might want to listen to some life music in one of the many venues arranged for the summer (Summer concerts programme), and to top it all, I suggest you have a long drink at one of my favourite bars, ‘La Colonial’.


‘La Colonial’ bar at The Alameda also has a wonderful open air terrace to enjoy cocktails till late at night.

More info on the 2015 Jazz Music Festival starting July 20 (click here- Jazz Festival web site).


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Spaniards weird time schedules

When first arriving in Spain, foreigners are surprised not only by the goodness of the Mediterranean diet, but also by our strange time schedules.

A set table is ready for lunch in between some trees in the middle of the countryside

One reason for this is that Francisco Franco – Spain’s dictator during World War II – decided to remain on Central European Time as a friendly gesture to his comrade Hitler, never turning the clock back to Greenwhich Mean Time, where Spain belongs geographically alongside Britain and Portugal. His decision put us 60 minutes off our longitude, and ever since, we’ve suffered from ‘jet lag’.

Especially during the summer, when time is changed an hour ahead, setting our ‘midday’ not at 12 o’clock but at 2pm!

Cultural traditions such as families gathering around the table for lunch all together, and a climate that makes it almost impossible to walk on the streets at European midday without the risk of melting, do the rest.


Is that the reason we’re always late? Who knows? Though I do believe we’re getting better at punctuality. Relaxation and improvisation are in the Spanish DNA. Whether they are qualities of our character or not depends on the context, but usually when you go out on the streets, you shouldn’t expect to know what time you’ll be back.


My Norwegian wife still suffers from the ambiguity whenever I refer to midday… Her question is usually, Spanish or European midday?

Spanish midday happens after lunch. It doesn’t matter if it’s three o’clock in the afternoon.

If a meal hasn’t been served yet it is not the middle of the day. I know this might be confusing, but once you get used to it, it makes a lot of sense. Especially when you appreciate the siesta,  yet another cultural pearl of Spanish tradition. The day is literally divided in two. Shops close at 15:00 hrs and open again at around 18:00. THEN you can say it is afternoon. Spanish – mediodía-, the equivalent of the word ‘afternoon’ is hardly ever used and if you’re supposed to meet someone ‘in the afternoon’ expect it to be at around 6 o’clock in the evening. We refer to this period of the day as por la tarde – with a much broader significance since it does not refer to a particular hour.


While in many, if not all, European countries, there is only one main meal per day, Spaniards typically enjoy two hot meals spread out during the day. Lunch at around 14:30 and dinner at 21:00. In between, we normally enjoy ‘snacks,’ a habit with deep roots in Spanish culture, with its aperitivos (before lunch) that normally involve some kind of alcohol, the globally known TAPAS, and merienda (before dinner), which normally consists of coffee with some kind of sweets.

In the following posts, I’ll address the particularities of the Gaditanian cuisine, and other must-know facts about the area, so that you can fully enjoy!

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The decisive moment



At Luzia it happens in the spring-summer season. We’ve captured unrepeatable moments and our eyes are always aware of what surrounds us. As Cartier-Bresson said: “Photography is, for me, a spontaneous impulse coming from an ever attentive eye which captures the moment and its eternity.”


For us it’s an advantage to be able to return again and again to these places where our visitors and students open their eyes with ‘photography-goggles’. Always alert and ready to shoot. We come back to learn and experience the different lighting at different times of year and various times of the day. Coming back to find out about the personalities that inhabit these places, and what they are up to. Coming back to capture those moments where the magic is concentrated.



In this sense our time is cyclic, and filled with precious moments, which could appear as being ‘always the same’ in eternal repetition. But there is always something that makes it unique – the distinctive vision of each and one of our students, and their personal ‘take’ on each scene and locaction. We’ll continue revisiting these wonderful places with the excitement of those who start from scratch. With the innocent eyes of the camera explorer, capturing its essence once again. Maybe there simply isn’t one decisive moment, but many…


A continuous rebirth, just like life itself.


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What kind of Snapper are you?


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Things to do and SEE on the beach…


Yesterday afternoon I was fed up of trying to understand how google ads worked.

After sitting for hours in front of the computer, watching tutorials, setting up campaigns, figuring out  the keywords that would give us world wide domination in few minutes (am I gullible or what?). After squeezing my brain to the limit as wether to bid on cost per clicks, per conversion and how much… I suddenly remembered that I am not a digital native and far from becoming one by divine grace or re-encarnation. I had to stop, otherwise the computer and every single digital or electronic device at a suitable range would suffer the consequences of my frustration.

So I grabbed the camera and headed  to the beach…  almost picked the analog Rolleiflex in fear repulsion of 21st century gadgets!

This is what I came with. For those who are still struggling out there I hope this helps!




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Cadiz Beaches


Laargas y de fina arena, calas con cuevas, urbanas y cosmopolitas o completamente vírgenes rodeadas de pinares… Así hasta 45 distintas playas repartidas por la Costa de la Luz, todas con un denominador común; el océano Atlántico que baña su dorada arena. Aguas claras y cristalinas gracias a las corrientes del estrecho en su camino hacia el atlántico excelentes para el baño como atestigua la Agencia Europea del Medioambiente (http://goo.gl/hlfIq), aunque, como siempre, hay que ser precavido y vigilar estas corrientes, que en algunos casos pueden ser muy fuertes. En este otro enlace podéis jugar a decubrirlas en el mapa interactivo (http://eyeonearth.org/map/WaterWatch/).

Desde Tarifa a Sanlúcar, ya en dominio gaditano las hay para todos los gustos. Aquellos deportistas amantes del viento se encaminarán a Punta Paloma, sede internacional del wind o kite surf, para buenas olas a Mangueta junto al faro de Trafalgar; otros, mas tranquilos y con familia a Bolonia o El Palmar… Los más aguerridos, previo al baño en sus aguas se lo darán en sus gentes si prefieren las cosmopolitas como Cortadura o La Caleta. Esta última particularmente bella, flanqueada por dos fortificaciones como son el Castillo de San Sebastian (siglo XVI) y el Castillo de Santa Catalina (s.XVIII) y muy ajetreada en verano, pues es la única playa del casco histórico de Cádiz y muy frecuentada sobre todo por los habitantes del barrio de La Viña. Quizá no encuentre un resquicio donde estirar su toalla, pero si se detiene un rato a observar encontrará cientos de oportunidades para sorprenderse y disfrutar con las ocurrencias y peculiaridades de estas personas.


En cualquiera de ellas disfrutarás de un paisaje distinto a cada hora pues las mareas conforman un sutil juego del escondite ofreciendo trozos de rocas o arena y cubriéndolos mas tarde, dotándo de vida al paisaje. Como si de un solo órgano se tratara… Sístole- diástole…

Sol en abundancia. De eso te vas a “jartar”. Y prepárate mental y físicamente por si te encontraras con el Levante. Viento del este muy fuerte y cálido (viene del Sahara) que no te dejará aposentarte tranquilamente en la orilla o el Poniente, su hermano del oeste. Más frío y húmedo pues viene del mar y menos agresivo- suele soplar con menos fuerza.

Según los premios Trip advisor 2013 a las mejores playas; en nuestra provincia contamos con el 4º puesto para la de Bolonia y en el 5º lugar, Zahara de los Atunes (http://www.tripadvisor.es/TravelersChoice-Beaches). Esperamos que las disfrutes por tu cuenta o con nosotros y las actividades que tenemos organizadas para ello.

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Sherry Wine Tasting at Bodega Pedro Romero


She was a really tasty Mother – distinctly dry on the tongue and with a sea-salty after-taste. I’m referring to the ‘Madre’ of the dry Manzanilla sherry, which we had the good fortune to taste on one of our Epicurus course days. The ‘Madre’ is not something you can buy, and it’s not meant to be consumed as such. Although the grapes used in Manzanilla are the same for the different sherry wineries, the Madre is the essence, and it is different for each winery. It’s what makes the Sherry so distinct from one brand to another.

Epicuro Selected13


One of the qualities that make Sherry so prized is that its maturing process takes place in warehouses oriented seawards, so that the westerly sea breeze fills the rooms, helping to keep the barrels cool. The same breeze feeds the yeast layer, the ‘Velo de Flor’ which also makes the magic and transforms grape juice into delicious wines. That subtle salty aftertaste is also a result of the sea air.

These ‘sherry temples’ have produced such fine wines since before the Romans. We had of course done a bit of homework for our course, aptly called ‘Epicurus‘ – named after the philosopher who believed in both pleasure and knowledge. To partake in a bit of both these things, we had selected a winery in Sanlúcar de Barrameda on a personal recommendation, partly because we were interested in the dry Manzanilla produced there, as well as the sweeter sherries, and we were curious about the process of these fine wines – in Jerez they simply call it ‘Fino’.

Our curiosity took us to the Pedro Romero winery in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, which along with Jerez (synonymous with Sherry) and El Puerto de Santa Maria constitutes the Sherry Triangle as the English like to call it. Pedro Romero is located at the mouth of the Spanish ‘Rio Grande’ or Guadalquivir, as the Arabs baptized it.

A sherry bottle pouring wine in two glasses.
montaje bodega02


Sonia, a distant descendant of the northern Spaniard and founder Don Pedro, welcomed us warmly upon arrival. With her charms and a little help of the wines that we were given to taste, our hearts were conquered. We particularly enjoyed the dry ‘Manzanilla’ and the sweeter ‘Oloroso’ – this particular rare sherry was deliciously fragrant, with an aroma and aftertaste of orange, and recieved an unanimous thumbs-up from the group.


For more info on Sherry follow this link to the Council Regulator Office of Jerez Wine

or this one to the Pedro Romero Bodega

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LUZIAs headquarters inauguration party

After a year of hard work, transforming a 100 year old lavadero into an atico, we were ALMOST ready. With great anticipation we prepared Casa Casa-nova for the fiesta that would inaugurate the atico as a home and also Luzia HQ. We scrubbed terraces, gardened, cooked and decorated, in bright sunshine with cooling Poniente, and a background soundtrack cornets playing the authentic marching tunes that inspired Miles’ ’Sketches of Spain’.

At the last minute the electrician connected the WORKING new telefonillo. And then you all arrived… All beautifully dressed and bearing goodies to add to the fiesta… slightly out of breath from the ascent up the stairs!

First came Javier and Gloria, bang on time and sharply dressed, then lovely Simo, beaming face with a huge bunch of flowers, Asier and Juani in fine fettle, Luisa with her cool new haircut and party frock, Ismael with his glorious catching humour, Mer – more fun, Mario, with Maria José and Nico, enjoying the fruit of last year’s labours, Maripi, Paco, Roberto and Germán with great enthusiasm, followed by Inma and Julian, Arantxa and Ignacio, Andrea, Jaime, Marina and Julian, Arsenio, Alex – great to see you all! It took ourselves a moment to adjust into true party mode but once all our friends were in the house, the atmosphere warmed up the terraces like a micro-climate, and everyone mingled with great spirits.

It was one of those parties where people really enjoyed each other’s company. It was a real treat to see our space filled with familiar faces amongst the foliage, enjoying our homemade dishes, funky music, and not least, the projection of the black & white Metropolis movie on the tower next door, wrapping those evocative Fritz Lang scenes around the corner, and the small window of the tower fitting right into the movie as if it was meant to be there. And late… when the time came to turn the music down, the place was still full of people; everyone assembling around the table, telling jokes.

The outgoing photo call was perhaps a little less elegant than the incoming, but considerably more joyous and rowdy.

In the early morning hours… when everyone had left … we looked at each other and our surroundings, laughing and shaking our heads. We had both neglected to dress up, and Nacho had gotten so into the photo call that he had forgotten to put out the delicious tortillas and empanadas he had cooked…. But hey, what was left was the evidence of a fabulous party. It was a fun, spirited and friendly fiesta, completely free of posers and wallflowers, and here is a big thank you to our friends for coming, and making it such a smashing house-warming!


Check out the short video we managed to produce



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Cadiz Watchtowers

The watchtower next door is crumbling.
In a faded grandeur, decadent kind of way. Its silhouette remains fearless against the combat of years and climate. The extreme sun, winds and showers have slought off some of its magnificence, but still preserves the magical aura.

Watch Tower over San Antonio square

In 1717, when Cadiz became the official shipping port, holding the monopoly for overseas commerce, Spanish and foreign traders were already established, as Cádiz was already a trading point with North Africa. Columbus’s discovery developed it into the most important and advanced city in Europe, and even the whole world.

This small town has no edges, only a natural boundary with the sourrounding sea. Scattered around the old part of Cádiz, the 129 watchtowers that are still in existence are witness to the importance of the commerce in this city, in the XVIII century. They became a status symbol, and ever since, they have belonged to the skyline of Cadiz. On a wooden maquette of the town, dated 1777, we can count up to 160 towers.  All of them, except for Torre Tavira, belong to private owners and thus Tavira is the only one that can be visited on a daily basis…


House of the 4 watchtowers

With no other similar architectural features like these watchtowers in southern Andalucía, they have a clear North African influence. There are four different shapes: Terrace, Chair, Sentry box and Mixed, which is a chair with a sentry box. The most impressive example could be the so-called “four towers” house, an amazing ‘palace’ owned by Syrian merchant. He was so aware of the importance of his 4-tower building, that he reserved a piece of land in front of it so it could be seen better. Eugène Delacroix must have thanked him for that, as he drew a sketch of the facade. Decorated with interlacing arches with copper oxide ‘almagra’ that resembles the decor that the arabs used in their buildings.


Each tower and its family had its own flag, whereby they could comunicate directly with their ships, and even start trading remotely with other merchants before the goods reached port. Lots of exotic products were found in town, and the hustle and bustle of all social classes and various nationalities would give birth to the liberal mentality and open character of its citizens that we find today. This cosmopolitan attitude is still typical of the Cádiz inhabitants. Thinking ‘without frontiers’ must surely be the origin of the liberal movements that induced the first Spanish constitution to be signed in Cádiz in 1812.

Flags and kites (used as an entertainment back in those days) have given in to thousands of antennas. This aluminum forest of cables and steel structures could be metaphor for the decadence of modern communication, through TV and airwaves. Some might think that this veritable forest imposing itself on the evocative historical inheritance of the ‘torres miradores’ is a disgrace, but somehow we feel that the aerials are a sign of ongoing life and development within the histotical city, which is a living creature, not a museum piece. The spidery TV antennas of today create another layer of visual interest, and blend in so naturally, that it would be hard to imagine Cadiz without them.


Here is a link to Cecilio Chaves work. Very interesting artist focused on rooftops. http://goo.gl/bZ8IW

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Copyright © Luzia 2013