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Along The King’s Highway: Mission San Diego de Alcalá

Those who were born and raised in California may remember learning about the state’s many historic missions in grade school, often starting with the one located closest to their hometown or city. Learning about the missions, as well as the novels of John Steinbeck and the great natural wonders the state has to offer, are only a few of the many educational pursuits that contribute to the formation of one’s identity as a Californian.

For those who may not have spent their formative years as a resident of California, the state’s historic Spanish missions may come as a pleasant surprise. Not only do these locations offer a living snapshot of California’s storied past, but they are beautiful places to visit and a perfect excuse to take a day trip with friends or family.

An old travelers map of California's El Camino Real.

An old travelers map of California’s El Camino Real.

This Cityseeker feature series titled “Along the King’s Highway” will focus on each of the California missions and provide background on their history and their relationship to the cities and towns in which they were established. Beginning with California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, this series will cover each of the 21 Spanish missions established along the state’s historic El Camino Real in the order in which they were founded. In addition to being educational, we hope that the information you learn about California’s historic missions will prompt you to get out this weekend and take a tour of the one closest to you.

For nearly 350 years the Mission San Diego de Alcalá has stood as the earliest reminder of California’s Spanish colonial history. Founded in the summer of 1769, the mission was the first to be built by Father Junipero Serra and his fellow Franciscan missionaries. The founding of the mission marked the successful beginning of an expedition led by Gaspar de Portolà, known as the Portolà Expedition, with the primary goal of securing Spain’s claim to the Pacific Coast territory by establishing a strong military and religious foothold in regions throughout.

Portrait of San Diego de Alcalá by Francisco de Zurbarán (1651-1653)

Portrait of San Diego de Alcalá by Francisco de Zurbarán (1651-1653)

The Mission San Diego was named after Saint Didacus of Alcalá (known in Spanish as San Diego de Alcalá) who was a 15th Century Franciscan Monk known for his work as a missionary in the Canary Islands, then a newly-conquered territory of Spain. He was later canonized in 1588 by Pope Sextus V. Due to being the city’s namesake, Saint Didacus was fittingly selected by the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego as its patron saint.

Photo of the mission façade by Allan Ferguson (Flickr/CC 2.0)

Photo of the mission façade by Allan Ferguson (Flickr/CC 2.0)

The mission is perhaps one of the simpler looking missions in California. The building’s main facade is comprised of whitewashed adobe (a type of organic brick and plaster made from mud) and is situated next to a four story bell tower (campanario in Spanish) that was used to announce meal times, special occasions, and daily mission services. The tower houses five bells and all five are rung only once a year on the Sunday closest to July 16, the date of the mission’s founding.

Photo of inside Mission San Diego by Rachel Titiriga (Flickr/CC 2.0)

Photo of inside Mission San Diego by Rachel Titiriga (Flickr/CC 2.0)

The mission church interior looks very much the same as it did several centuries ago despite being rebuilt five times over the course of its history. The interior is mostly sparse with the exception of an ornate altar situated at the front of the church. The length of the church is a hallmark of most Spanish mission churches, and so are the high windows, which were placed in such a way so as to protect those inside from attacks on the mission.

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi in the mission garden. Photo by
Rob Bertholf (Flickr/CC 2.0)

Outside the mission church is a lush courtyard garden that residents could use for peaceful contemplation. The garden features a variety of plants, memorials, as well as statues of important figures to the Franciscan Order, such as Saint Francis of Assisi, who founded the order in the 13th Century. The statue of St. Francis also acts as a wishing well for making the dreams of visitors to the mission come true.

Photo of the Junipero Serra Museum by Gary J. Wood (Flickr/CC 2.0)

Photo of the Junipero Serra Museum by Gary J. Wood (Flickr/CC 2.0)

Once you wrap up your visit to the mission, it’s highly recommended that you take a short 15 minute drive west on the Mission Valley Freeway to the Junipero Serra Museum at the top of San Diego’s Presidio Hill. Where the museum now stands used to be the original site of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá. In addition to being able to view artifacts unearthed from the original mission and presidio, visitors can enjoy gorgeous views of the City of San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.

Photo of Carmel-by-the-Sea by J Klinger (Flickr/CC 2.0)

Photo of Carmel-by-the-Sea by J Klinger (Flickr/CC 2.0)

In our next installment in this feature series we’ll take a long trip north on El Camino Real to visit the second mission established by Father Serra in Carmel-by-the-Sea. If you’re a fan of Carmel and its environs, this next part of the series shouldn’t be missed!

How to Speak Like a True Marseillais

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Photo by Caroline Marongiu-Ingargiola

Ah, Marseille! It only takes one visit to fall in love with the sound of cicadas, the smell of the sea, and its famous sing-song accent. The second largest city in France after Paris, Marseille is a culturally rich and diverse city. Located on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, the Marseillais people come from Italy, Spain and North Africa, making Marseille a true melting pot. It isn’t just a city, it’s the city to visit in France.

I already hear the protests, “Why? It isn’t Paris?Malheureux, va! [ma.lœ.ʁø] (Little devil)! If you want to meet warm and friendly people and not have any trouble, please don’t mention Paris while you are in Marseille. It’s like saying LA is the best city and has the best baseball team to someone from San Francisco. The rivalry between Paris and Marseille is most notable, maybe, because Marseille has all the best of France. We have beautiful beaches, more than 300 sunny days each year, the Calanques [kalɑ̃k], the best food—prepared with olive oil, no butter, please—and a rich history. In Paris, let me think, they have… the rain and Paris Plage. What is Paris Plage? It’s a joke! During the summer, the city throws sand on the quays of the Seine and people lay on the banks of the river and pretend they are at the beach. In Marseille, even though we like saying we are a city full of gangsters, the people are quite friendly–not like in Paris, where the people are as cold as the weather.

The real rivalry is between the cities’ soccer teams, L’Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint Germain. In Marseille, we have the best fans in the world, while in Paris, they try. In Marseille, soccer is a religion, in Paris it’s just money. But even with all the money, there is one thing that they can’t steal: our pride to be Marseillais.

Courtesy of Thibault Houspic

Calanque d’En-Vau, courtesy of Thibault Houspic

The city’s culture is rich and unique, and is reflected in the way people speak. Marseille is a city of exaggeration. For example, when someone is late, we say “I’ve been waiting for, like one hour,” or even “Gosh, I’ve been waiting for 100 years.” We say that even if we‘ve only been waiting about 20 minutes. The city also has its own vocabulary, of course there is the Provençal dialect from the South, but we also have some very Marseille-specific expressions. Here are some examples:

T’es en bois” (You’re in wood) means that you are really bad for something.

Vé moi ce boucan!”[bu.kɑ̃] or “Chapacan” [tʃa.pa.kɑ],  has  three different meanings:

  1. The person isn’t good-looking.
  2. He/she likes making messes.
  3. Making noises.

Un cabanon” is a small space without comfort. The word is used to describe a small, rustic shack on the beach.

Un cafoutche” is a small storage room for things you don’t use but don’t want to get rid of.

Une cagole” [ka.ɡɔl] is the stereotypical girl from Marseille. Typically she has a heavy accent, is not very clever, uses too much make-up, wears a jogging suit or a short skirt, and is always chewing gum. Cagole is usually used for girls who aren’t natural beauties. A cagole ia girl with exaggerated qualities, similar to the famous Jersey girl in America. For a man, we say, KéKé [ke.ke]

Je vais caner”, literally means “I am gonna die”. Of course, now you understand that people from Marseille like to exaggerate. You use this expression when something is boring, long and tiring. So don’t call an ambulance if someone tells you that.

Y a dégun” [de.ɡœ]̃ means that there is nobody, that a place is empty or filled with just few people. The opposite is cafi.

Arrête de m’emboucaner”, has three three meanings:

  1. Take somebody for an idiot.
  2. Have a heated argument.
  3. Smell bad, to stink.

Fada” means that a person is crazy.

Marronner” [ma.ʁɔ.ne] is to act in bad faith, to sulk.

Se faire pointer” is to refuse someone entry to a party or a place. Essentially, to turn someone away.

Un pastaga” — You have to know this one because it means Pastis, the famous anis flavored liquor from Marseille. You can also say, un 51, un Ricard, un petit jaune… We typically drink Pastis with ice and water.

Minot” refers to a child, or someone young.

Mettre un taqué” means to slap someone.

Etre esquiché” is to be squished. Specifically when a place is very crowded, and you are in a tight space.

Ton t.shirt est réné” means that your t-shirt is ugly and old. This word is used to describe something or someone who is out of style, or simply bad.

Etre tarpin beau / belle” [taʁ.pɛ̃] to define someone or something very beautiful, or with a good taste. Tarpin means very, a lot.

Vas te jeter!” This means to “go throw yourself.” However, if someone tells you that, please don’t think that we you want to commit suicide. It’s an expression used to force somebody to leave. This is similar to “get lost.”

J’ai quillé le ballon” means something is stuck somewhere and it’s inaccessible. For example, losing a ball because it is stuck in a tree and it is too high to reach.

Se bastonner” [bɑs.tɔ.ne] means to fight!

Oh fan de chichoune!” This is used to express the deepest surprise, or annoyance.

Il faut aller chercher Molinari” Litterally this means “we need go find Molinari.” This expression is used to describe having an insoluble problem and that you need help. There are several stories about the identity of Molinari. One of them, date of 1826, where Mister de Rocheplatte have to come in Marseille to help the Egyptian frigate. The person who will help him to get in the sea will be the very skillful Mister Molinari.

Oh mazette!”  [ma.zɛt] is an exclamation used to express admiration.

Peuchère” [pø.ʃɛʁ] two meanings

  1. That a person is unlucky or unfortunate.
  2. To show pity.

Une rengaine” [ʁɑ̃ɡɛn] is something that we repeat a lot, like an old story.

Faire Fanny”, is an expression to use when someone loses a game. We can also use, “Embrasser Fanny, Etre Fanny, or Se prendre une Fanny.” “Kiss Fanny” means kiss the bottom of a woman named Fanny. Usually using during the game la pétanque [petɑ̃k], which is similar game to bocce ball.

“Kissing Fanny” postcard from 1896

Escagasser”[ɛs.ka.ɡa.se] has two meanings:

  1. To annoy somebody
  2. To damage something

Mains de Pati” (broken hands)  is an expression that is usually used when someone spills his glass or breaks it. This means that a person is awkward and clumsy. This is similar to the expression “butterfingers”.

La Bonne Mère” (The Good Mother) is a familiar and affectionate name for the basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde.

The list will be longer if I kept writing, but I let you discover other expressions on your own. Last piece of advice: In Marseille we don’t use punctuation at the end of the sentence, but just some poetic words such as, “Putain, con, merde…” you’ll get the hang of it.

Yes, my dear travelers, Marseille is a city full of surprises, which will either seduce you or drive you crazy.

Oh! I almost forgot, please don’t put an “s” at the end of Marseille, this city is unique. We don’t need a plural when there is only one Marseille.

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Off the Beaten Track: Bali’s Canggu

Blessed with magical scenery and flanked by miles of pristine grey beaches, Canggu is the perfect getaway from Bali’s party spots. Forming a stretch of rural villages along the south coast, the area is comprised of subdistricts Canggu and Tibubeneng. Set amidst bright green rice paddies and traditional kampongs (villages), this region offers a serene and intimate alternative to its popular neighbor Seminyak; a town that has undergone rapid transformations to become the island’s most upscale retreat. In search of challenging surf breaks and peaceful living, surfers and expatriates flocked to Canggu. Ever since, local restaurants, innovative shops, and rustic villas have sprouted and given the area its 21st century identity. Today, Canggu’s laid-back scene is one of the island’s best kept secrets. Rather than splurging on Bali’s renowned spa treatments, cruise the region’s roads and meet its people in order to feed your body, mind, and soul with a dose of new life.

With road stalls selling gasoline in vodka bottles for a penny, renting a scooter is the ideal way to explore the island. Close to Seminyak’s accommodations and laden with cafes, Jalan Batubelig is the perfect jalan (street) to start your tour. Begin your day by filling your belly with fresh bakes and barista coffee at Watercress Cafe. Their all-day breakfast menu combines Australian dishes with Asian infusions. As you follow the winding road into Jalan Pantai Berawa, rice fields gradually replace walled residences. Hidden away under palm trees along one of Canggu’s hairpin roads, a Balinese vendor prepares deliciously marinated chicken satays on his homemade charcoal grill. If you’d like your skewered meat extra spicy nod yes when he mumbles something inaudible. Get a glimpse of the scenic canals, rice terraces, and straw-hat-wearing farmers plowing their fields when you follow the signs to Echo Beach. One of the former surfers’ dens has been converted into bustling Echo Beach House with live music on Friday and Saturday night. Their beer-battered fish and chips and ice-cold Bintang beer will surely make your trip worthwhile.

Bali-street-life1

Photo by Flickr user: Bali Blog CC2.0

Although Canggu doesn’t seem like the most strategic area to set up shop, several entrepreneurs have taken the impulsive leap of faith. A handful of local shops are located in a side alley of Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong, one of Canggu’s main corridors. Outfitting the area’s beachy clientele, Ginger Snap Men’s Fashion offers limited edition men’s clothing that is made in Bali. Down the road Flow and Yonder Canggu Surf Co towers above the surrounding paddies. Check the daily surf reports pinned to the shop’s ground floor wall, before ascending the stairs to their surfboard showroom. The shop is reputable for its one-of-a-kind boards and top notch gear; unsurprisingly this is where Bali’s surf pros stock up. Nearby Deux Ex Machina is one of the island’s quaintest shops. Indeed, where else can you find clothes, books, art, and motorcycles under one roof? If you’re growing tired riding around on your tame scooter, consider adding some brute power to your trip by renting a motorcycle or push bike.

Not to be confused with a garage repair shop, Pasta Garage is one of many warungs (family-owned businesses) that the area is rich with. Located out of sight in a bumpy alley, this family-friendly restaurant is set in the idyllic garden of the owners’ house. Lanterns shed just enough light on the little tables that are spread around the patio. Their diverse menu and ridiculously cheap prices make Pasta Garage a Canggu gem. Back on the main road of this particular area sits Dabumito, one of the few Mexican restaurants on the island. Although Mexican cuisine is emphasized, the Indonesian dishes should definitely not be overlooked. For those appreciating spicy food, ask the ibu (hostess) for lombok kecil, Indonesia’s spiciest chili pepper. For something more familiar, take-away or eat in at Pizza Club where the menu is based entirely on movie titles. With extra toppings abbreviated as E.T., their seafood pizza called Finding Nemo, and their lamb pizza named Silence of the Lambs, you’re in for a laugh. Consider sitting down at one of Pantai Batu Belig’s terrace-like patios for a marvelous sunset. Just a few steps away from the beach, this local restaurant will permanently win you over on Indonesian cooking. Since the kitchen is located a few blocks away, allow some extra wait time for the food to arrive by scooter. Away from the beach, Warung Sobat has become quite the hit with both locals and foreigners looking to satiate on Indonesian dishes for next to nothing. Their satay ayam comes served on a mini grill, making it delightfully tender.

With all that tasty, inexpensive food, it’s easy to overindulge in Canggu’s dining scene. For deep after-dinner conversations relax on one of the heaven-like canopy beds at the brand new Mozaic Beachclub Restaurant. The club’s anonymous location on one of the less visited stretches of beach keeps away loud and pretentious holiday crowds. Similarly, Vue Beach Club’s infinity pool area is decorated with comfortable seats. Dip your toes in pool or seawater while enjoying the DJ’s loungy beats. Decorated with hundreds of colorful antique shutters, Potato Head is one of Bali’s trendiest beach clubs. Surprisingly, you don’t require an unlimited credit card to spend the day feeling like a jetsetter. As you slip into the pool and have a drink at the island bar, taking in the see-and-be-seen atmosphere, you will start to comprehend how Bali earned its reputation as Asia’s new Miami.

Thanks to the upswing of locally-owned businesses, eco-friendly accommodations, and the preservation of nature, Canggu has become one of the most authentic, yet affordable, south Bali escapes. Perceived by many as a welcome alternative to Seminyak’s fancy sunglasses, expensive wines, and slick rides, the area has left developers coveting its grounds empty-handed.

Off the Beaten Track: Madrid’s Malasaña

Formerly a sleepy district in the center of Madrid, Malasaña has become a refuge for the city’s outcasts in recent years. Mostly dissidents of mainstream city life, these newcomers have revived and transformed the area into one of Madrid’s most thriving neighborhoods. With forward-thinking businesses sprouting on nearly every street corner, dusty and decayed structures have made room for artisan butcheries and trendy shops. Nowadays, you’ll find local culture peacefully coexist with erotic boutiques, grow shops, and heavy metal clubs. Despite these radical changes in locals’ everyday lives, the area has remained its authentic Madrilenian panache.

Upon exiting Tribunal metro station, the earthy colors of Malasaña’s buildings take you back to Moorish times. Make your way through clothespined alleyways towards Plaza del 2 de Mayo, Malasaña’s central hub for summer festivals and weekend flea markets. Make a pit stop at Buenas y Dulces for one of their ever-so-fruity tarts before nestling yourself on one of the park’s benches; the ideal spot for serious people watching. Zigzag your way down to charming Calle del Espíritu Santo from which streets meander into the dense neighborhood. Camouflaged amongst typical Spanish facades, Lolina Vintage Café is a hidden gem. Take a breather in their eighties inspired interior and enjoy a glass of icy Tinto de Verano.

Photo by Flickr user: Javier CC2.0

Make up for skipping your siesta by adopting the Spanish tradition of late-afternoon tapas. With a hundred different mini-sandwiches on the menu and special prices on Wednesday and Sunday, Cervecería 100 Montaditos is a welcome alternative from ordinary sandwich shacks. Here’s how it works: skim the menu, order by number, and wait for your name to be called. For what are believed to be the best tapas in the area, head to Albur. With its fair prices, this restaurant provides a popular hang-out for both classy and casual crowds.

If you still find yourself with an itch in your pocket, browse through one of many specialty shops. Located just off Plaza del 2 de Mayo, Numbers Sneakers is the place to stock up a Malasaña essential: a pair of colorful hipster-approved kicks. While you’re at it, check out the custom cap-wearing mural on the wall behind the cash register. Magpie Vintage is the go-to place for both men and women looking to find unique pieces and explore new styles. End your shopping spree in Mercado de Fuencarral; a mall that houses a selection of the wackiest shops. Collections range from Jamaican memorabilia to tuxedo-styled bibs. Malasaña is also home to some of the oldest businesses in town: still-operating farmacia Juanse, founded in 1898, is the oldest of its kind in Madrid.

Sauntering the neighborhood with heavy shopping bags will work up an appetite, but remember that dinner is seldom served before 9 pm. When craving quality burgers, it’s hard to beat industrially-designed Naif Madrid Burguer & Bar, serving fully-loaded homemade burgers on toasty buns. For less than 8 euros, take-out eatery Ay Mi Madre! offers daily menus of Spanish classics; the menu may be small, but the food is quite satisfying. Alternatively sit down at atmospheric A 2 Velas and let a candlelit Iberian dinner herald true Malasaña dining and ambiance.

The people are loud and the waiters are rude; yet, Sidrería El Tigre provides a true Spanish experience. Elbow your way to the bar, order a round of beers and you’ll be rewarded with piles of complimentary tapas. Head over to Diplodocus for some serious pre-partying; bring some friends to share one of the massive 2-liter cocktails. Madrid nightlife is only getting started around midnight. Follow the twenty-something crowd to underground parties or queue up in front of scruffy-looking nightclubs. As soon as your eyes adjust to the brightly lit decorations, you’ll understand why Tupperware is among the coolest alternative rock bars in the city. Derived from what is not considered to be the most elegant of words, Maderfaker caters to a funkier crowd.

For the time being, Malasaña remains a retreat where weirdos feel perfectly normal again and people living the most banal of lives feel wonderfully weird again viagra moins cher. Set in a rustic Spanish setting, Malasaña and its residents will welcome you with open arms whether you’re a rebellious teenager, mutinous office worker, or suffering from a midlife-crisis.