Why I Love the Diada de Sant Jordi

Feliç Diada de Sant Jordi! Happy Saint George’s Day! Feliz Día de San Jorge!

You may be wondering, first of all, what the hell is the Diada de Sant Jordi and secondly, why on earth should I love it too. Well, I’ll get to that in a hot second, so hold your horses. First of all, let me explain exactly who Sant Jordi is and pretend that writing this post counts as revising for my looming Catalan exams that I’ve been neglecting up until now.

Sant Jordi? Who on earth is that?

You may know him by many other guises, including Saint George, San Jorge or even Saint George the Dragonkiller if you’re in the Czech Republic. Basically, he’s most famously known as the dragon slaying patron saint of England, and lesser recognised as the Patron Saint of other nations and nationalities, such as Catalonia, Georgia and Lebanon amongst many others. (Read a full list here, if you’re interested!) He’s also widely celebrated and worshipped in places like Brazil and Russia.

Historically speaking, it’s asserted that Sant Jordi was actually a Greek-in-origin Roman soldier born to Christian parents, who allegedly lived in Palestine during (roughly) the 3rd century AD.

why i love the diada de sant jordi
St. George is on the left apparently, looking surprisingly white for a Palestinian man | Pixabay

What’s the Diada de Sant Jordi?

The Diada de Sant Jordi is celebrated on the April 23rd each year and, in its Catalan iteration, involves the exchange of books and roses. In fact, in Catalonia, book sales go through the roof leading up to the Diada de Sant Jordi. This is, obviously, slightly different to the English way of celebrating Saint George’s Day which usually involves that vaguely racist uncle of yours sharing an EDL post on Facebook. (Although, in a welcome change spurred by the current political climate, The Independent took to reminding us that St. George was an immigrant this morning).

why i love the diada de sant jordi

Why I Love the Diada de Sant Jordi

As an English Brit and a dedicated Catalan student, you might be coming to conclusions about why I like the Diada de Sant Jordi. However, I (embarrassingly) only put two and two together about Sant Jordi and Saint George being the same person a few weeks ago when my Catalan teacher pointed it out. I’m an idiot. Plus, it’s the Catalan version that piques my interest, not the English Saint George’s Day, with its ability to draw out the keyboard racists and far-right movements. I’d rather celebrate the day that promotes literature, thank you very much.

🌹Diada de Sant Jordi🌹 #SantJordi2017 #DiadaSantJordi #DiadaDeSantJordi

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That brings me on to the real reason I love the Diada de Sant Jordi (and the reason why you should too!) Books. Free books. While it was typical for men to gift roses to women and them to gift books in return, nowadays women too receive books and book exchanges are actually super common practice on the day that’s also known as either the Dia del Llibre or Dia de La Rosa. Who doesn’t love free books?!

As a bonus point, another reason why I love the Diada de Sant Jordi is that I get an excuse to gift my boyfriend (who’s called Jorge) a book and try and coerce him into reading once a year. And he draws me roses in return.

why i love the diada de sant jordi why i love the diada de sant jordi why i love the diada de sant jordi

Anyway, go forth fellow culture fiends, and celebrate the alleged day of Shakespeare’s birth by getting your mitts on some free books. Just don’t accidentally share an EDL post.

why i love the diada de sant jordi

A Literary Tour of Roma and Condesa, Mexico City

For any book lover, exploring the literary heritage of Mexico City is an absolute must. While it doesn’t have the literary reputation of, say, New York or Paris, it really should, given that it’s produced some of the best Mexican authors, including controversial writers like Valeria Luiselli, Octavio Paz and Jorge Ibargüengoitia, as well as nurtured the talents of many more – Elena Poniatowska, Jack Kerouac and Roberto Bolaño, to name but a few. As the capital of Mexico, it’s littered with beautiful bookstores, impressive libraries and lots of quirky, underrated and under-visited literary interest sights. And, because I’m a ruthless list maker and renowned philanthropist, I’m going to give you the most detailed rundown you’ve ever read into the literary world of Mexico City, starting with a literary tour of Roma and Condesa (plus a bit of the Zona Rosa, because I’m just that generous). Essential reading for book lover’s in Mexico City, this is your comprehensive walking tour round the literary highlights of these popular Mexico City neighbourhoods.

A Literary Tour of Roma and Condesa, Mexico City

Now, I’m not going to beat around the bush, researching this piece took me far longer than I ever expected, given that I’m 1) prone to getting lost even with a regimented route planned out on my iPhone notes, and 2) there is so much to see. Literally, I did not anticipate the amount of stop off points I would have to hit in the two-hour window I had between my Catalan class and having to go to work in the afternoon. But, I’ve worked myself to the bone to plan the perfect route through the literary highlights of Roma-Condesa (and a bit of Juárez) so you don’t have to.

It’s worth mentioning that none of these mentions are sponsored in any way. I really rate all of the places, establishments, bookstores and literary points of interest mentioned on this guide and hope you enjoy them too!

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10+ Must Read Books About Mexican Culture

Not long ago, I read a brilliant article about books that will help you understand the Caribbean and thought to myself, I am definitely stealing that idea because nothing is sacred and no one is original. So that’s how this piece on the must-read books about Mexican culture, the first in a projected five-part series of Mexico book related posts, came about.

Even so, despite the fact that I read widely in both English and Spanish, I was at first a bit stumped at what to include in this rundown of the best Mexican literature from both natives and foreigners, in both English and Spanish – until I put metaphorical pen to metaphorical paper that is. That’s when the titles (some of which I’ve read and some of which I haven’t, this is basically a personal Must-Read list for me too) came flooding out. And let me tell you, it was tricky to narrow it down to so few in the end, especially given that Mexican literature is as rich and diverse as that of any other country, and factoring in the number of texts that have been written by non-Mexicans like Roberto Bolaño about the place as well.

From the big names like Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes, neither of whom I’ve got around to reading yet (I’m sorry, OK?!), to not-that-well-known-outside-of-Mexico writers like Yuri Herrera or Guadalupe Nettel, this is my personal guide to all the essential texts about Mexico, including essays, short stories, novels and even anthropological papers.

The Must-Read Books About Mexican Culture

Before we get going, it’s worth pointing out that I am not paid for any of these titles, and if you click through to buy them I don’t receive any money – I honestly just think they’re really, really worthwhile texts. 

The Mexico City Reader by Various

Honestly, if you’re looking to learn about Mexican culture, there’s no better way than by reading Mexican literature and there’s really no better place to start than with rel=”nofollow”The Mexico City Reader. One of the best books on Mexican culture, this is a veritable bible of collected text – my roommate literally treasures her copy so much that she refused to let me take it on the metro in case someone stole my bag, Mexico City Reader and all.

Although I haven’t personally read it (it’s sat on my desk right now, tempting me away from productivity), it’s a must-read starting point for anyone interested in the culture, history and people of the capital. According to those who have read it, otherwise known as better people than I, the story that will hit you hardest is ‘The Earthquake’ by Elena Poniatowska.

books about mexican culture
© University of Wisconsin Press / Mexico City | © Kasper Christensen/Flickr

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How To Successfully Plan A Group Holiday

So you’ve decided you’re going to take a group holiday with your nearest and dearest (and maybe that one periphery friend who only like one member of the group knows but somehow ended up getting an invite anyway) and you’re wondering just how to plan your travel. Well, first of all, good luck. Second of all, you’ve come to the right place if you’re wondering how to plan a group trip.

Last year, to celebrate the end of our final year exams, me and some pals took a massively successful group holiday to Porto, Portugal and so I feel entirely qualified to share my group holiday planning wisdom with you all. Read on and prepare to be enlightened by my tips on how to successfully plan a group holiday.

How To Successfully Plan a Group Holiday

Make a Facebook event

Facebook event? But you don’t even have dates or a destination yet. HAHA. Good luck getting highly complex and detailed information like that out of your fellow travellers without having one place on the internet in which to pin them down and hassle them about where and when they want to go.

Let’s be honest, every friendship group has that flaky member who goes off the grid at least once a week, but once you’ve successfully enticed an ‘attending’ out of them, they’re putty in your hands. After making sure everyone is invited and attending, make sure you give it a suitably puntastic title to maintain their attention (ours was called, once we had the destination down, PortuGALS).

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Why Mexico City is Better in the Spring

Ahh, springtime. The clocks have gone forward and cursed us all with one hour less of sleep, yet blessed us with longer days and balmier evenings…I honestly can’t say which I’d rather have.

While many consider this time of year to be the perfect season for lounging around in the burgeoning sunshine and enjoying the blossoming trees, others think it’s ideal season for travel (spring break, anyone?), as you miss the crowds looking for winter sun and skip the summer sun prices. This is of course complete bullshit if you want to go anywhere over the Easter holidays, when prices are hiked massively, but I digress.

Anyway, given that we’re now into April (how?!), the peak of Mexican springtime, I wanted to tell you exactly why this is the best time of the year to visit Mexico City, because honestly, the capital is just better in the spring!

Why Mexico City is Better in the Spring

The Weather is Better

If you’ve ever spent an extended period in Mexico, you know that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows all year round, especially in Mexico City. (I remember before I moved here, my sister eyed my suitcase suspiciously and asked why I was taking jumpers and jeans instead of shorts and sandals. This was before I reminded her that Mexico City doesn’t have the climate of a Cancún beach resort, despite what some tourist get-ups might lead you to believe.)

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Every Annoying Airline Passenger You’ll Meet On Your Next Flight

Ah, irritating travel companions. We’ve all experienced them and we’ve probably all been them, at least once or twice. Nobody’s perfect, after all. Even so, we can all admit that there’s nothing worse than the annoying habits of your fellow travellers on board aeroplanes, whether they’re armrest hoggers, secret snorers or total flouters of unspoken aeroplane etiquette. In fact, nothing has the power to make your heart sink further into the pit of your stomach than getting placed next to a bratty child, or, even worse, a bratty adult on a plane but at least being seated next to an annoying airline passenger usually leads to amusing anecdotes rather than travel horror stories.

Long story short, this is my pretty lengthy guide to the nightmare airline passengers that may or may not have you anger-typing a post for whichever passenger shaming Facebook group is en vogue at the time. There are so many things that annoy people (me) that I found it hard to narrow this down, but the question remains, which one will you own up to being?

Every Annoying Airline Passenger You’ll Meet On Your Next Flight

The Dawdler

The Dawdler’s evolution begins with a failure to check the seat reservation in the, oh, five hours they’ve been sat around with nothing to do whilst waiting to pile on to the tin can in the sky, which inevitably leads to them faffing around once on the plane. Then, The Dawdlers (they usually come in pairs) will painstakingly put every single belonging they brought with them into the overhead cabin, before one announces they need a book. The rummaging begins. This is all before they have an under-their-breath argument about who’s sitting next to the window and who gets lumbered with the middle seat of hell, and guess who’s stuck behind them for the duration?

LAX airport – J'X – JereauX Via: @wink

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How To Unblock a Toilet On Your Travels

I’ve developed infamy amongst my close friends for my ability to block a toilet, anywhere, anytime, and while I can laugh about it after the fact, there’s nothing quite like the panic of seeing that rising water getting ever closer to drenching your dreams. My mum even gifted me a ‘How To Shit Around The World’ book when I first left for Mexico.

As you can probably gather, I’ve had to unblock (or not) many a foreign toilet, from Cuba to Mexico City, and we’ve actually just started turning the water off in our flat when the biweekly occurrence of rising toilet water begins. So, without wanting to seem like all I do is talk about toilets, this is your expertly, first-hand researched guide to how to unblock a toilet on your travels.


Flush again

It seems obvious but you should always go for the double flush when you’re in crisis point. While it is often ineffective, there are times where you’ll find it just needed that little extra nudge to get on its way and out of your life (and nightmares) forever.

Hint: Don’t try the double flush if the water is already dangerously close to over spilling the bowl. But…we’ve all done it. Once.

how to unblock a toilet on travels while travelling
The double flush should always be your first port of call | Pixabay

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Travellers’ Toilet Nightmares: The Shittiest Stories You’ll Ever Read

Everyone’s been there. Even you, the one that won’t admit it. I mean, come on, have you really travelled if you haven’t got at least one shitty horror story or two up your sleeve? And honestly, there is nothing greater for bonding with future friends while travelling – or just living your life – than when someone plucks up the courage to spill their guts about that time they literally spilled their guts, trust me. You’ll reach a level of intimacy quicker than you ever thought possible, and one that I arguably still haven’t reached with my boyfriend.

Over the time I’ve travelled around and lived in Mexico (a great country to be based if you want to hear the best of this type of tale) I’ve been privy to so many travellers’ toilet nightmares that I can’t even count; from those who had to wipe their shitty arse with their own hand as they were on a remote beach, to people who’ve literally missed planes because they were in the bathroom. I’ve listened to stories of blocking the toilets of village elders and pooing behind trees (OK, that last one was me), but each and every one just brought me closer to the person telling me it.

toilet nightmares

In this post, I’ve rounded up the best of the worst (or should that be worst of the worst?) bathroom blunders, pooing predicaments and diarrhoea disasters for your reading pleasure, from both fellow travel bloggers, travellers and myself. In fact, quite a few of the entries are my own pride and joy anecdotes. Anyway, I recommend saving this post until you need some light, and hilarious, bathroom reading to keep you occupied one day. Or, you know, you could just read it now? While you’re here… Continue reading “Travellers’ Toilet Nightmares: The Shittiest Stories You’ll Ever Read”

10 More Things No One Tells You About Living in Mexico

The last instalment of the things no one tells you about living in Mexico was such a HUGE SUCCESS (you can read it here, if you’re interested) that I decided to write a follow-up. There’s nothing more daunting than not knowing what lies in store for you before you move to a foreign country, and if you’re planning on moving to Mexico without having ever visited before (like I did) then these cultural differences can hit you like a freight train. But enough preamble from me, I know what you’re really here for – the 10 more things no one tells you about living in Mexico!

10 More Things No One Tells You About Living in Mexico

  1. Cheeseless quesadillas are a culinary lowpoint of Mexico City

Alongside hating on people from las provincias, and having one of the most widely mocked accents in the country, there is one other oddity that only those in Mexico City do well – cheeseless quesadillas. OK, so this one is quite specific to the capital, but it’s something you need to know if you’re planning on moving to Mexico or even travelling to Mexico City in the near future. The official line is that in Nahuatl, quesadilla (well, the word it comes from at least) just means folded tortilla and the similarities to the Spanish for cheese (queso) are merely coincidental. I’m not buying it, personally. Anyway, always order your quesadilla with cheese in Mexico City unless you want the taste of regret and disappointment to stay with you all day long.

things no one tells you about living in mexico

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Wondering Where To Go in Polanco? Look No Further Than Parque Lincoln

I’ll be honest, Colonia Polanco isn’t one of my favourite places in Mexico City, but I can see why this upscale neighbourhood, which boasts some of the most exclusive dining and drinking options in the capital, could hold appeal for many visitors. Filled to the brim with galleries like Museo Soumaya, restaurants like El Japonez Polanco and plenty of fancy shopping destinations like Avenida Presidente Masaryk and Antara Fashion Hall, if you’re looking for where to go in Polanco then you’re not short on well-trodden options.

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