Friday, March 30, 2012

Mom and Dad are almost here!!

We had dinner at Paco and Susana's last night and it was so much fun.  He made us Gnocchi because we begged for italian food instead of more Spanish food, and he made us all sorts of appetizers and strawberries and cream "Paco style" for desert.  It was so good.  They're a lot more fun when Peque has toys and things to keep her occupied and Filo and Pepe aren't around, its a much quieter atmosphere.  We hung out for a while and talked about movies and music and whatnot until we discovered Paco had never seen Inception.  Turns out he had it downloaded but had never watched it so we demanded that he watch it.  He thought we meant right then and there so we watched half of Inception before we left to go back home.

My parents are flying in today, right now actually they are on a plane from Madrid to Granada so they're technically already in Spain.  I'm so excited that I woke up early today and got ready so fast that I have nothing to do right now but wait for time to pass (which is why I'm updating my blog haha).  SO don't be alarmed if  you don't hear from me for a little over a week because I'm going to be off enjoying the wonderful company of my lovely parents!!! SO EXCITED FOR THEM TO GET HERE.  I even went out this morning and bought dad a cake because I missed his birthday ;) but shhhh its a surprise!  Oh and this week is also Semana Santa, holy week, so the whole country is on holiday for this week and there are a ton of processions going on in Granada and all over Spain, so that should be interesting.  It celebrates or commemorates the crucifiction and resurrection of Christ. Fun fun fun!
I'm sure I'll have a whole lot of updating to do when I get back, but until then... Hasta luego!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hell Week.

So we didn't pick the best weekend to go away to relax... Nerja was perfect though and I wouldn't change it.  But this week is insane.  I have two midterm exams, two midterm papers (a research paper, and a play analysis), three smaller papers, a creative poem, and miscellaneous homework that they still give us :P  On top of all that, this Thursday there is a general strike, so basically the entire country is closed for a day... rather inconvenient.  Luckily Mom and Dad are flying in on Friday or we'd really be having problems right now. It's all nonsense, but the good news is that I'm halfway through the week!! more bad news though, I'm sick as a dog, again.  Its a little worse this time, but hopefully it won't last as long. My goal is to be better by Friday so that I'll be 100% to pick up my parents at the airport :D We promised Paco and Susana that we would go to their house for dinner on Thursday because we don't really have classes, but we were kind of forced into ti.  Hopefully the child behaves, but if all else fails at least we'll have gotten a good meal out of it, we made him promise to make us an Italian dinner hahah Gnochi! We have next week off because its semana santa or Holy Week, so the whole country is on vacation, well pretty much all of Europe really.  This week we also have a lot of students staying here, 3 British girls in the room next to us and 4 French teachers upstairs, but the British girls are rather entertaining, very young and they talk A LOT.  Can't wait until this week is over!!


Sorry I've been a bit slow with posting, I know some of you have been complaining (cough cough christopher) I've been insanely busy but I guess I'll update you a little bit :)

Thursday 3/22:
Immediately after class Casey and I ran home, ate lunch really fast and begged Pepe to drive us to the bus station.  We made it just in time and took the bus to Nerja which is right on the southern coast of Spain.  We rented an apartment for the weekend for just the two of us because we needed a break from real Spain life, aka the food, siesta, and the little devil that visits us everyday.  Nerja is known for two things, the balcony of Europe and caves.  So we walked to the balcony of Europe which was 5 minutes from our little apartment and then we went straight to the grocery store to buy all of the american things we could find. We bought: whole wheat pasta, cereal, peanut butter, celery, humus, chips and salsa, strawberries, bananas, yogurt, and wheat bread.  We forgot to buy anything to put on our pasta but we had celery with peanut butter and chips and salsa and whole wheat pasta for dinner while we watched harry potter and had popcorn and mike and ikes :D it was heaven.

Friday 3/23:
We had cereal and peanut butter banana toast for breakfast, soooo good and then headed to the beach.  It was already really sunny out even though it was still early in the day and we literally laid on the beach until 3pm. The beach we were on wasn't really sand, it was little tiny rocks which was perfect because it didn't stick to you but they were small enough that it was still really comfortable.  And it was right next to the Balcony of Europe too.  If you were standing on the balcony (which is basically like a little lookout point that you can see the coastline from) and looked to your left, we were laying on that beach right there.  We had packed ourselves lunch (pb and jelly sandwiches never tasted so good) and our friends came to visit us for the day.  We even packed paddle ball and played in the waves for a little while, not too far though because the waves were enormous and there were rocks everywhere. We went back to the apartment and had dinner at a normal US time, like 6:30 instead of our usual time 3 hours later :P  Again we watched harry potter (almost done the series!) and this time we bought pasta sauce for dinner and bought little cups of tiramisu  for desert.

Saturday 3/24:
A little cloudy all day but it never rained because I carried my umbrella with me everywhere ;) that's right, I know how to trick the skies.  So we laid around in bed for a while until we decided it was time for a haircut.  We had both been avoiding it because we were afraid they wouldn't understand but a lot of people in Nerja spoke English so we decided to take our chances.  They didn't speak English but they were very nice and understood what we wanted, just a trim nothing special, but after two and a half months, a trim feels pretty good.  We went back for lunch and caught a bus a little afterwards to the caves 10 minutes up the road.  It was incredible on the inside, first you walk through this little path that doesn't look so impressive and its very crowded so I was ready to be disappointed when it opens up into this giant underground room.  There were even seats for the concerts that they sometimes hold there (doesn't seem too safe to me, I wouldn't want to attend a concert where there are stalactites hanging above my head...but whatever suits your fancy I guess).  There was a little path to follow and the room opened up even bigger until we made it to the massive column in the center.  The worlds biggest stalagmite, its even the in the Guiness Book of world records!
We had perfect timing and caught the bus back as soon as we were finished there and headed back for another amazingly american early dinner :D  and of course the last harry potter movie was to follow heheh finally complete the series!

Sunday 3/25
The morning started out pretty cloudy so we decided to stay in bed awhile since we never get the chance to sleep undisturbed at home.  We ended up watching the only English channel on television, pretty much all weekend when we were in the apartment and it was called "Tiny Pop" basically a British children's channel.  Sounds lame but it was quite entertaining really :) We went out a little later and the sun started to come out too and we climbed over all the rocks and closed pathways that had been eaten away by erosion and plants to get from beach to beach at low tide.  It was fun little adventure and the water and the beaches were beautiful.  We walked a different way back and stumbled upon a hoard of cats (of course) but its strange, because in Spain you either never see any cats, or you see 30 of them grouped together in random places.  Nerja is one of those places that has cats everywhere grouped together. One of them followed me around for half an hour and I played with him until we had to leave.  They let us leave our things at the apartment until we had to leave at 5pm which was very convenient so we grabbed a late lunch at an Italian restaurant, because thats another one of those things we miss.  It was so good and we even got gelato after because there were so many italian ice cream places around the balcony.  We even made it back to Granada just in time for dinner and to finish up our homework!  A much needed relaxing weekend :)
rock climbing :)

cats at the balcony of Europe!

grocery shopping!

our beach from the balcony

worlds biggest stalagmite

Nerja Beaches-rock climbing!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Las Fallas!

Mother Nature

Moulin Rouge

Eiffel Tower

Shark Tunnel


La Crema

Las Fallas!! Valencia

Saturday 3/17:
7am-3pm bus ride to Gandia, a town right outside of Valencia where we were staying. We were told that it was a hotel right on the beach 30 minutes outside of Valencia, sounds perfect right?  It wasn't. Our two star hotel was 2 miles from the beach or in other words more than a 30 minute bus ride, and over an hour and a half from where we needed to be in Valencia. Also upon arrival we were handed a program of the events of Las Fallas and I immediately pointed out to our coordinator that the cremá (the burning) was midnight on Monday night, not Sunday night. slightly problematic. So we went to the beach for a couple of hours while it was still warm and walked around in our bathing suits until it was time for us to head into Valencia.  The change of plans was to see if we could keep the bus for an extra day and just return right after la cremá Tuesday morning because we didn't have a hotel to sleep in.  HOWEVER, 6 or 7 of us (including myself) had midterms on Tuesday at 8:30am.  So he told us he would talk to our professors and take all the heat for it (which he never did.) and we would miss our midterms (25% of my grade).  Putting all that aside because there was nothing I could do about it at that point, we finally arrived on the outside of Valencia at 8pm.  Lost, without a clue where this giant festival was because our bus dropped us off 45 minutes outside of where we needed to be... we finally stumbled our way into the festivities.  Our group dispersed (thank goodness) and Casey and I walked around to take it all in and find a place to eat because we were starving.  It was so incredibly crowded that the entire weekend we had to hold hands to keep from getting separated (we call it the elephant, when we link to each other in crowds--people respect the elephant.)  We finally found a buffet place that had just opened so there was a table for us to sit at and the food was amazing, we were so lucky to find this place because everyone else ended up going to burger king :P 
OH taking a step back here, for those who do not know what Las Fallas are (pronounced fayas), its a celebration in the name of St. Joseph who was a carpenter and so to symbolize the burning of scrap wood, people make these giant artworks (cartoons, satirical, political, Hollywood, etc) 50 to 70ft tall and on the last day at midnight they burn them all (over 700 including the little ones).  Its kind of like there spring celebration too, starting over because in the Mediterranean fire represents purification. There are a ton of fireworks and firecrackers too and people just walk around throwing them everywhere. It's very very very loud (and slightly dangerous...)
So, after dinner we watched some really cool break dancing performances and other street performers and walked around to explore the different Fallas.  The streets were filled with people and merchants stands, selling food, churros, Fallas bandannas, firecrackers, everything.  It was a little terrifying walking around and having children lighting firecrackers and throwing them at each other.  For example, within a few minutes of our being there, someone put a firecracker inside a glass bottle and it exploded just 50ft from us, really safe.  But we made our way through and the Fallas were amazing.  They were so huge and each one of them had different meanings (that we couldn't understand because it was in Valenciano, not even Spanish) and so many details that it was impossible to see it all.  As we were walking around we stumbled upon streets with rows and rows of lights and in the center was a big Eiffel tower all lit up.  The amount of people was unbelievable and as soon as we walked right under the tower, a light show started.  They were blasting music and turning the lights on and off in coordination with the music.  Somehow the crowd increased, as if that were possible, but we enjoyed a lovely light show of the Eiffel tower.  Around 12:30am we received a phone call saying that the train was leaving in ten minutes, so we ran so fast through the crowds and asked for directions to the station, made it just in time, loaded onto the platform and found out that the train was full.  Just our luck.  So we had to wait at the platform for an hour for the next train, made some Spanish friends to keep us busy and finally took a train back to Gandia where we had to walk back to our hotel.  We made it to our room at 3am, but the festivities continued in Gandia as well so there was far too much noise for any real sleep.

Sunday 3/18:
Because of our changes of plans from Sunday to Monday night at midnight, we had a lot of extra time.  Casey and I spent the whole day in Gandia because it would be way to much to go into Valencia for 3 nights in a row.  We spent the morning at the beach in the sun, relaxing and napping a little because it was much quieter here, even though there were firecrackers every now and again.  We had lunch together as a group at a restaurant near the beach.  It was a 7 course meal: bread, different types of ham, salad with fruits in it, calamari, baked brie with blueberry jam, paella, and flan for desert.  Needless to say, it was wonderful.  We went to a couple of the shops to look for some things to do on the beach because we would be at another beach the next weekend, and decided to buy some paddles.  Everyone on the beach played paddle ball so it seemed like a good idea :)  We spent the afternoon playing paddle ball and pictionary in the sand, very relaxing.  That night we went into the center of Gandia to find that there were a lot of Fallas there too.  Some of them were just as impressive as the ones in Valencia and we walked around all night because it wasn't nearly as crowded and our hotel was just a half hour walk away.  

Monday 3/19:
We left our hotel in the morning and packed all our stuff onto the bus that we would be sleeping on later that night.  It drove us into Valencia and we said goodbye to our things that we would not be seeing again until 2 o'clock in the morning. We were dropped off at a science museum/aquarium called la Ciutat de las Ciencas (en Valenciano) and spent 4 hours in the oceanografico (aquarium section) which was absolutely amazing.  It was made up of 8 or 9 buildings that were built with very modern architecture in cool shapes and designs.  There were all sorts of different themes to each building too.  Like there were the wetlands, which was a caged circle that had all sorts of wetland fish, and birds flying around on the inside, a tropical zone building, Mediterranean, Antartic, shark zone, etc etc. They had the longest underwater tunnel in all of Europe, which was very impressive but by far my favorite part was the shark tunnel.  There were these two big rooms that were surrounded by water and connected by a tunnel filled with fish, sharks, and stingrays.  It was the coolest place I have ever stood.  They had so many different types of sharks, rays and fish and they would just swim right over you.  We liked it so much that we ended up just sitting down for almost an hour because we had so much time just to enjoy the tunnel.  We also went to a dolphin show before we moved on to the science part of the museum.  We were exhausted by the time we went to the science museum and it wasn't nearly as impressive as the aquarium but there were some cool hands on experiments as in every science museum that we amused ourselves with for a couple hours.  Finally we finished up at the ciutat de las ciencias and head into the center of Valencia.  It was about 8pm and we wondered around some more to look at all the Fallas but we ended up stumbling upon the burning of one of the little ones rather early.  We didn't know what to expect but they lined the whole thing with firecrackers and a fuse and lit it on fire.  It was quite exciting and it went up in flames really fast.  Because its a celebration we figured people would be cheering and clapping but it turned out that a couple of the younger kids that I'm assuming had constructed this one, were sobbing. It was actually kind of sad, because if you think about it these things are magnificent pieces of art that they just burn a week later.  The winner of all of the Fallas however, does not get burned, it gets sent to a museum somewhere but we never saw it anyways.  For dinner we decided to try some of the stand foods because its like being at a fair, you need to get the full experience.  So we bought some fried pumpkins donuts, and this really awesome baked potato where they had all sorts of toppings that they just put into it.  It was sooooo good, and pretty healthy too surprisingly.  They started fencing the streets off pretty early so we tried to get back to the main square where we were told we had to be for the big fireworks show and one of the burnings.  It was really difficult to make our way back but we finally did through all the crowds and blockades and picked out a little spot to stand for the big show.  we had to wait two hours but we made some more friends with this older couple and a bunch of students from Madrid that were so nice and looked out for us the whole time we were there. It was absolutely freezing outside too, but at midnight they lit two of the Fallas on either side of us and the flames were huge!!! We could feel the heat from where we were standing on the other end of the street.  Before every lighting they set of fireworks to let people know that it was about to happen.  For the big one there was a giant fireworks show where they basically set off fireworks and gunpowder for 6 minutes straight.  It was insane. Finally they set of the very last Falla in the main square in front of their town hall.  The flames were so giant that it lit the palm trees around it on fire.  The firemen were there the whole time keeping the flames kind of under control but it was insane how high the fire went.   We were covered in ashes but luckily we had bandannas over our faces so that we wouldn't inhale too much of it (because ironically enough they aren't made out of wood, they're made out of styrofoam!!) It was incredible, there are no words to describe it.  After it was all over we went to our meeting place, but my feet hurt so bad and we were so cold that it took us a while to walk there and when we finally made it there, it started pouring.  I guess that was a good thing because it put out any of the remaining fires but it was so strange because it was immediately after everything had finished.  On our way home too we stopped at a rest stop at 5:30am because we couldn't keep driving because it had started snowing.  We drove through the snow storm, but it really just seemed like an apocalypse. Fire, rain, snow.  Incredible. 

Tuesday 3/20:
We made it home by 10am, missed our midterm exams, and went straight to bed until 3 in the afternoon.
Some weekend. :D

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

fotos de Sevilla y Córdoba

Plaza de España- Sevilla

Palacio: Alcazar - Sevilla

La Giralda- Sevilla

Madinat Al-Zahra: ruins

ruinas y yo

Mezquita de Córdoba

Mezquita/Catedral de Córdoba

Mezquita/Catedral de Córdoba

el puente Romano- Córdoba

good day :)

Usually days that start with art history at 8:30 in the morning are not the greatest but today is just turning out to be wonderful, so I decided to take the time and dedicate a post about it! :)  I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but everyday when we walk to or from school we walk by a pet store.  Outside the pet store there are always 3 little Pomeranian's and some cats.  One of these cats, is hysterical.  Literally he makes me laugh every time I see him and it just makes my day.  We call him "angry cat" because he really is just very angry looking, hes a big calico cat that looks like it got electrocuted because hes just so fluffy and matted that you can barely see his face, which is all pushed in anyways. Hes so ugly its adorable though, he sits in front of the hello kitty store and stares into a mirror all day. Whenever we call it though it stops hating life and meows at us, so cute! Anyways so we saw him today and it made my whole day! Not only that but I got to pet one of the other cats that was out there (because angry cat is too gross to pet, sadly) but I was still so excited!! After class I did a lot of homework and it felt good to get it done, and right before I was going to class I received a letter!! :D best way to start of the day.  After my second class, we had lunch (which was actually my least favorite soup, yuck.) and after lunch we went up to our roof terrace where we sat out in the sun in our bathing suits because the weather was so nice, listening to music instead of doing our homework :)  We were up there for a while until we decided to go for a run and do our little workout routine. I felt really good afterwards too! Then I showered and we made ourselves lemon/grapefruit tea with honey :) mmmmm, now we're watching pasapalabra and waiting for dinner.  Perfect way to end the day!

Also!! big news! We told them how much we love wheat bread and now she said it doesn't matter to her and she'll start buying us wheat bread instead of white bread! SO EXCITED!!  other exciting things, Casey and I booked an apartment in a beach town called Nerja for the weekend after next.  Just the two of us so it should be perfect having our own place, we're really excited, planning all the food that we want to eat and relax on the beach :D pretty awesome.
Oh right, and this weekend we're going Valencia with our UNH group for Las Fallas, which for everyone who doesn't know, is an annual festival where they build these giant sculptures and paint them and parade them around all Sunday and then around 1 or 2 in the morning they set them all on fire! I've heard its incredible, can't wait!!! :)

Sevilla y Córdoba

Saturday 3/10: Sevilla

We started with an early morning leaving from Granada and taking a 3 and a half hour bus ride to Sevilla.  We arrived by 11am and went directly to Plaza de España.  The weather was beautiful and we toured around the city a little bit.  The plaza was amazing, it looked like something right out of a movie, which is ironic because it is... Apparently there's a couple of movies that have been filmed there, including star wars episode II? not really what I expected but that's fine :) Anyways so the plaza has a river that runs around the inside of it with little boats in it and 4 bridges that represent 4 of the 5 original kingdoms that made up Spain.  It also had a long castle-like balcony that went around half of the plaza which they not use for their municipal buildings.  From there we went to a palace called Alcazar and we wandered through its Islamic buildings and the gardens which were filled with people, fountains, and oranges that you couldn't eat. I'm not entirely clear on what this palace was to be honest with you, but it was still pretty impressive.  We had some free time for lunch where we wandered around and ate out in the sun, enjoying the 75 degree weather :)  After lunch we went to the cathedral, which looked very much like all of the other cathedrals that we've been to, so I won't tlak about that too much, however it has a very famous bell tower called the Giralda and we climbed to the top of that (35 ramps and 70 steps later) to look out onto all of Sevilla.  When we were done at the cathedral we walked to find our hotel and had some dinner quickly because we had to meet up to go to a play that night.  The play was actually pretty good, and I understood all of it so that helped a lot.  We had already read the play in one of my classes and watched the movie too because our professor realized we didn't get anything out of the last play we saw because it was so confusing.

Sunday 3/11: Córdoba

Our alarm didn't go off because we accidentally set it to pm instead of am :P oops, so we woke up 20 minutes before the bus left and ran downstairs for a quick breakfast, which was still so wonderful because they had cereal and eggs! Oh how I miss real breakfast foods!  So then we hopped on the bus for another couple of hours and headed to Córdoba.  We stopped about half an hour outside of the city at some ruins that were an Arab-Muslim palace-city called Madinat Al-Zahara in Arabic or Medina Azahara in Spainsh.  It was really warm again so we had short sleeves or tank tops walking around through old ruins that looked like a giant jigsaw puzzle.  It was hard to look at everything that we were walking through because there were literally hundreds of caterpillars on the ground and of course, I just felt terrible stepping on any of them, so we tip toed our way through the caterpillar crowds down into the ruins. At the bottom there were old floors and arches that used to make up the inside of the ruins and a square with nothing left but the bases of the pillars and four palm trees spaced perfectly apart that used to be the mosque.  So we climbed our way out of the hoards of caterpillars and crumbling stones and hopped back on the bus until we made it to the center of Córdoba.  From there we walked into a small plaza that had a staircase lined with flower pots along the wall and a man playing traditional Spanish music, it was so peaceful and absolutely perfect.  It was one of those moments that pulled you out of reality and set you in a place where you could stay and be perfectly content for the rest of your life.  We stayed there until the synagogue across the alleyway had opened up and went inside a little room containing nothing but a menorah.   It used to be a safe haven for the Jewish people who were not even allowed to speak their own language in the streets.  We didn't stay long and walked to the center of the city to have lunch.  Casey and I split off from the group (per usual) and found a perfect tapas bar to eat at.  It was completely empty when we walked in (yet completely full when we walked out) and they gave us so much food for so cheap!  I really wanted to try "rabo de toro" which is a very traditional dish in Córdoba, and for those of you that don't speak Spanish (most of you)  that means bull tail, but I wasn't able to try it because they gave us so much food!  Oh well, I'm sure I'll get another chance or live without ever trying a bull's tail, could be worse ;)  After lunch we met up with our group again and took a tour of the cathedral/mosque of Córdoba.  It started off as a mosque but then the Christians arrived and built around and inside of it, luckily they didn't tear it down because it was so beautiful.  Today it only acts as a cathedral religiously, which is a shame, but the original architecture still remains, now mixed in with the roman and other christian architecture.  Of all the religious places I've visited (which is A LOT) this is without a doubt my favorite.  When you first walk in, all you see are rows and rows of aisles made up by white columns and double arches that are striped with brick and stone.  Then there is this one little threshold, more like a ramp that you walk up and are immediately thrown into the cathedral section of the building.  It goes from the dark striped colors to wide white marbled domes and sculptures on the ceilings with stain glass windows along the walls.  As you keep walking the two very different styles are mixed together, with the gold and green paints of the mosque against the white marble of the cathedral.  Absolutely amazing.  I've really never seen anything like it.  Anyways after that we left to get back to the bus and walked over this old Roman bridge.  Overall it was a very long trip and we were exhausted, pushing everything into the two days and of course traveling always makes me tired but it was so worth it, like always!  :D

Friday, March 9, 2012

Short Update

It's been a pretty normal week of classes, and yesterday we went to the Cathedral of Granada, which is funny because I've been here almost 2 months and still hadn't seen it. oops.  It was pretty large, and apparently unfinished but quite impressive nevertheless.  Being that it was a cathedral of course it was freezing in there, but we didn't stay very long, only an hour or so.  We visited the Capilla Real, where the Reyes Catolicos are buried (Fernando and Isabel) and their daughter and husband (Juana and Felipe), and then toured the rest of the cathedral.  It was mostly illuminated by natural light from the windows above and everything was white marble or painted white for the light to reflect.  Today, is one of the Friday's where we do have class, but only one class and I've already gone and finished with that, so now its the weekend!! yay!  Tomorrow we're traveling to Sevilla with our UNH group and then Sunday to Cordoba.  Should be fun, hopefully we don't do too much walking or cathedral seeing, you can only look at so many cathedrals before they start to blend together. :) Enjoy the weekend, hasta luego!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

¡Viva el Grana!

Sunday 3/4

We woke up and no one was here, which is kind of nice except that breakfast wasn't here either.  We found a note that said they had gone out to get churros and would be back soon.  The plan for the morning was to go to the beach with Filo and Pepe and the three of us (Julie, Casey and I) but we were off to a nice relaxing start.  So they finally made it back with churros and gave us our usually breakfast toast, which is funny because they kept joking about us getting into our "bikinis" (as they call them) but they fed us so much that no one in their right mind would want to get into a bathing suit after that :P  Never the less we got ready to go to the beach in our tank tops and jeans haha because I definitely didn't think to bring shorts in the beginning of March.  Turns out though the weather was nice enough that if we had really wanted to we could have been lounging around in our bathing suits!  It was at least 70 degrees at the beach, especially in the sun, so we rolled up our pants and waded in the ocean water and walked around with Filo and Pepe.  The little town was gorgeous, it was all mountainous and the little houses were built into the sides of the hills that surrounded the ocean coves. The water was surprisingly clear and not super cold either so we walked around barefoot for the majority of the day.  The beaches were rocky with strips of sand to walk in so that our feet didn't hurt. We stayed until a little after lunch, which we ate under a nice little palm tree until we had to head back into Granada for our soccer game.
The soccer stadium is 2 minutes down the road from our house and Julie let me borrow her Granada scarf since she had already been to a Granada game last week.  The place was packed, everyone wearing red and white to support our team.  We had pretty good seats that stayed in the sun while it was out (because the game started at 6) which kept us warm for a while until it went behind the bleachers on the other side.  It was Granada vs. Valencia and Filo said that this is the first year that Granada has been doing well in a long time, but still we lost 0 to 1 :(  It was so close though because in the last minute our team scored to tie it up but there was an interference and the goalie was injured so they goal didn't count.  Overtime was intense because it was such a close match but all of the fans were pretty disappointed, as was I but it was still a lot of fun waving around our scarves and jumping up and down every time we got close. Que lastima, ¡viva el Grana!

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Saturday 3/3

Paragliding!! We had to meet our paragliding company at a bus stop a little bit outside of Granada and we got there a little early so we hung out down by this little creek on the rocks. We sat there for a while and a bunch of peoples dogs came and sat with us and begged for our sandwiches. When our tour group finally arrived half of us took a van way way up the side of a mountain on this little tiny dirt road (it was even more scary than paragliding itself).  Then we stopped in the middle of this little road got out of the car and climbed up a long hill that overlooked the Sierras and all of Granada.  Some of them spoke English better than others but since we were all kind of nervous we asked that they try.  They gave us a little briefing of what to do and basically we had to run until the sail lifted us up off the ground and keep running until they told us to sit.  The wind resistance was crazy so it was really hard to start running but once we did it only took a few seconds til we were off the ground.  The sights were great and my guide was really nice, he kept asking me how I was feeling hahah and then he would have me lean left or right to turn or spin around.  It was very tranquil up there and it didn't even seem that windy.  The only part that made me a little sick was out of no where he started doing swoops, like he would go up and let us drop. The first one scared me because I didn't know it was coming and then he was like "I do it, I do it" but after a couple more times my stomach was not so happy and I tried to tell him to stop but he didn't understand until we had done it at least 4 more times.  So after that I was pretty nauseous but luckily we were close to our landing point.  To land he basically kicked me in the back so that I had to stand up and he told me to just run.  It was pretty easy overall :) Because we were the first in our group to go we ended up waiting around a lot and watching the rest of our friends in the air above us while we ate pizza in a nearby bar.  Flight successful.  :D

Friday, March 2, 2012

El Parque de Las Ciencias

Friday 3/2
Casey and I were still really exhausted from all of our traveling so for most of today we relaxed and slept in because it was raining outside anyways.  Exciting news though, for lunch today we had meatballs!! made from COW! Its crazy I know, unfathomable that the meat we're eating is not ham, so as you can tell we were very happy about that.  We didn't have pasta though, so it was kind of like meatballs with salad and french fries, no complaints though :)  After lunch we decided that since this is probably one of the only weekends we'll be in Granada that we should take advantage of it.  Down the street from us El Parque de Las Ciencias which is a really nice science museum/park.  It had all sorts of interactive learning things about the earth, human body, population and all of that jazz that science museums usually have. They also had a little planetarium that we bought tickets for and it was kind of interesting because it was in Spanish and they talked all about the constellations so I relearned a lot of what I already knew and learned the names for everything in Spanish :) The museum itself was made up of a couple different buildings, a "forest of senses" outside, and an observatory tower. They had a butterfly observatory, which was kind of small but it was really cool cause it was like a little rain forest inside :)  OH and they had the most amazing dinosaur exhibit I've ever seen.  It was all about T Rex's and whether or not they were really predators or just scavengers and they made you vote at the end about what you thought. The exhibit consisted of the general information, a lot of original fossils, big ones too, and giant model dinosaurs THAT MOVED!!  It was really scary at first because you walk into this half lit room and suddenly you notice that they're all roaring and moving around!  There was one T-Rex that was depicted eating the a Triceratops, and everything looked soooo real! It freaked us out a little bit, but only because it was very realistic looking.

After the park we headed back for dinner, which was basically grilled cheese sandwiches and some spinach tortilla.  But this week there has been a younger French girl staying with us from Paris and her and her friend made us crepes for desert!! They were delicious and tonight we're going to have popcorn with our movie too!!! :D (Thanks Jordan!)

Also keep your fingers crossed that the weather is nice tomorrow too because we're supposed to go paragliding!! ;)

London Pictures

Hyde Park- "loads" of birds!

London Eye, Thames River, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament

Royal Guard

Tower Bridge on the Thames

Yes. Yes, that did really happen.

Olympics 2012 in construction

St. Paul's Cathedral

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Big Ben




hmm where to start? I guess I'll go in order, this might take a while just so you know ;)

Thursday 2/23:
Casey and I: Class at 8:30am. Go home and pack. Class until 2:30pm. Eat lunch in 10 minutes (impressive-Spain lethargic). Leave for the bus station. Take a bus to Madrid for 5 hours. Arrive at our hotel 10pm. Sleep 4 hours..

Friday 2/24:

I tried my best to sleep on the plane even though it was only a 2 and a half hour flight and then we arrived in Standstead airport around 9am and we had to take an hour bus ride into London because apparently our airport was 40 miles outside the city.  We were far too excited to sleep and spent the whole ride looking out the window at the English fog and listening to all the different accents around us. London is a very diverse place, that's the beauty of it... you never feel like a tourist because 85% of the people there are too :)  When we made it to London the first thing we did was eat breakfast and the obvious choice was SUBWAY!  It had been so long since we'd had any kind of meat other than ham and any bread other than white so we enjoyed a delicious meatball sub on wheat bread. sooo good. So we bought our oyster cards (week long tickets to ride the metro--aka the tube) and made our way to our hostel.  The tube was so easy to use and they had these tiny little maps that were easy to carry around, it felt like home the first day we arrived.  Our hostel was great, very large and perfect for people our age traveling around.  It was maybe 200ft from Hyde Park entrance so of course we spent some time walking around the Park and in Kensington Gardens which is attached to the park.  Hyde Park is basically the Central Park of London (except better because its in England :D).  There's big open fields of grass, ponds, fountains, bike ways, walk ways, statues and all sorts of fun things.  Everyone was walking around with their dogs (not on leashes) and they were all so well behaved, playing around with all the other dogs.   Then we came to a pond called Round Pound (for obvious reasons) and it was COVERED in birds. All sorts of birds that I was told came from the time when royalty imported exotic birds, which is why there were so many different types. They also have these really cool bike stations where you can put in a credit card, pay a pound and rent a bike to ride around but we tried and tried to take them out to no avail.  We even had help from several friendly strangers but no one seemed to know how it worked.  We took the tube to the Westminster stop where we would be meeting our Harry Potter tour (yes, that really happened) and since we were early we walked around a little and grabbed a snack.  As you exit the metro station the stairs bring you up and there's this large pole and then as we stepped around it straight in front is Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.  It was amazing, as if you were living under a rock you're whole life and you look out a window to see the sun for the first time. Incredible.  So we went to a local shop, bought some scones which were SO GOOD and sat in a park in the middle of Westminster.  At 2pm we met the lady holding a wand in Westminster station and she walked us through London to all of the places the were used in the filming of the HP movies.  She was hysterical and had really dry humor, acting like everything was very real and talked about all of the "muggles" and how wizards influenced the real events in history.  When that ended she pointed us in the direction of Kings Cross Station were we found platform 9 & 3/4 around a dark corner with a little cart halfway through the wall so you could pose with it :)  Next door to Kings Cross was another station called St. Pancras Station and it was a really pretty red building so we decided to go explore it and found a cute little Italian restaurant inside.  We had dinner there and it was so good to have Italian food.  Next we went back to our hostel to wait for Casey's friend Ben from UNH who is currently studying in France for the semester (he is hopefully coming to Barcelona with us in a few weeks too!)  Once he arrived around 9pm we walked around the city with everything lit up and ended up sitting outside a bar talking and relaxing.  When it got cold we went inside, but it turns out things in England close early, it wasn't even midnight yet and they were shutting down, which is just as well because I almost died when a mouse crawled down the wall behind Casey's head.  We sat with our feet up after that until it was time to leave.

Saturday 2/25:

We woke up early to go see the "changing of the guards" at Buckingham Palace (where the Queen lives).  They say to be there early because it fills up really fast, and we were early but then we saw this really cool fountain and got a little distracted.  We walked to the original entrance into Buckingham Palace and St. James park where the horse guards stand and obviously took a picture with one of the guards there doing his rounds.  We felt really bad but we figured they get this all the time so we apologized for the picture, took it, thanked him and he did nothing but stand there looking angry.  Oh well I guess that's his job. When we made it back to Buckingham Palace the place was packed, the gate was crowded 20 people deep in all directions and the statue in front of the palace was covered with people trying to see over the gate.  We squeezed in close to the gate but there was a pillar that made it fairly difficult to see.  At 11:15am the bands came in playing all sorts of weird music... pieces of the US national anthem, jazzy upbeat music, the entire pirates of the caribbean theme song? Yeah it was not what we were expecting but still really cool. All the guards did there part, walking around looking serious with fuzzy hats or red jumpsuits, holding flags or marching around. It ended at noon and we headed over to Trafalgar Square 10 minutes away.  Trafalgar square is the center point of London and has the National Gallery and a big tall monument in the center with 4 giant lions around it.  You can climb the monument and the lions (which is the appeal) but its SO much harder than it looks.  There were no steps to climb up and the base of the monument was up to my shoulders.  Thank goodness for Ben because he climbed up and pulled me and Casey up afterwards.  The lions were another task though, they were these giant smooth statues, begging to be climbed but they were so slippery and if you fell, it was straight to the ground 10 feet down.  Needless to say we didn't want to die so we climbed around the front and Ben pulled us up to sit in front of the Lion :D  Next we went to Borough Market for lunch.  Its a big outdoor farmers market with fresh fruit, vegetables, meat vendors, everything you could imagine nice and fresh.  So we had our typical English fish and chips and bought blueberries for desert because they don't have those in Spain.  From there we walked to the Tower of London (her Majesty's royal palace and fortress) right on the river Thames (pronounced tems).  We went on a short tour with one of the Beef-eaters-- those guys with the red and black uniforms and the cool hats, its they're job to serve the Tower of London. He was really funny and the tour was nice and short so we had time to walk around.  He told us a little about the history and it was all very brutal, be-headings and torture chambers on the grounds, lovely.  This is also where the crown jewels are kept, which are INCREDIBLE. They don't look real, they're so grandiose and they sparkle like nothing you've ever seen. When they finally kicked us out at closing time (4:30pm) we walked around to some of the bridges on the Thames, like the Tower Bridge, the Golden Jubilee suspension bridge, the Millennium Bridge which was finished late in June of 2000 and the first people to cross it were the "save the children" charity group, who ran off it when they discovered it wobbled.  It reopened in 2004 with a nickname "the wobbly bridge" which HP reinforced when in the movie the death eaters destroy it and it wobbles all over the place :P  For dinner we went to Soho, which is like London's little red-light district just to look around and had Mexican food.  To get there we walked through Piccadilly Circus which is kind of like the Time's Square of London, but honestly it looked just like Madrid and I'm not really a city girl so we didn't stay long.  After dinner we stopped for crepes which were delicious, strawberry and cream, mmmmm and then to another pub near our hostel to hang out and experience pub life :)

Sunday 2/26:

We left for Tower Bridge in the morning and toured the inside workings of it.  For those of you who don't know, London Bridge is a really lame normal looking bridge that has been replaced 14 times, and the large one with the two towers and the blue suspensions that London is known for is actually Tower Bridge.  So we got to walk around the exhibits in the towers and across the top to take pictures and then down into the engine room to see how it worked because it opens up for the passing ships.  Next we took the tube to the Olympic Park.  We got a little lost and ended up walking on a highway for 15 minutes before we turned around and went back to the tube for a different station. In case you hadn't heard The Summer Olympics are being held in London.  Its all still under construction but it was really cool to see how everything is going to be set up and now when we watch it on tv we can be like Hey! I stood there! Then we went to Camden Market for lunch which is CRAZY.  It has so many sections and its this giant indoor and outdoor strip of shops and food stands.  I've never been in a place more packed in my entire life. They had everything from fur coats, wooden carvings, souvenirs, paintings, clothes... EVERYTHING.  We grabbed some Moroccan food and sat in a park nearby for some peaceful eating and the food was actually very good and authentic.  We took the tube back to the center of the city and hopped on a boat taxi on the Thames for the water view experience of everything and had it take us to the London Eye (giant ferris wheel that looks over London).  There we bought our tickets for the London Eye and they take you into a room for short a 4d film of the experience, which was pretty neat.  Then we wasted some time watching street performers until the sun started setting.  We had the perfect timing for our ride in the Eye, the sun was going down as we were going up and when we made it to the top everything was lit up perfectly.  It was gorgeous and the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben was the most impressive view.  The ride was about half an hour, which is great but we could have easily stayed there all night.  We hopped from a couple of the pubs until we made it pack to the same one next to our hostel and had dinner there.  We all ordered a different kind of "pie" which came with mashed potatoes and peas and carrots, a really good hearty meal.  I missed that sort of food, so needless to say we were all very happy.  We stayed there for a while and did a crossword puzzle and socialized with some of the locals. Back at our hostel we had the whole 9 person room to ourselves! It was pretty great because the past couple of nights there was a girl who snored sooo loudly.

Monday 2/27:

We had a whole planned list of things we were going to do until Casey lost it... so a new plan arose and we we decided to go to Oxford.  The trip took the whole day, which we were not expecting but I wouldn't have changed it, it was such a quaint little town and it made me think of what England should really look like.  I don't know about you but when I pictured Oxford I pictured a vast openness of green hills and then a big old building and campus, well its not like that.  On the way there we passed all sorts of green hilly places (which was wonderful, I really miss seeing green things-- the simple things like grass!)  and then we rode into this little town and had no idea what was Oxford University and what was Oxford the town.  It turns out they're one and the same.  The town and the University are blended together so that when you walk down the street you could end up walking into a college that looks like a castle or a little store right next door.  We went into the Divinity School which was Oxfords first classroom/lecture hall.  They told us that they used to take the final exams there: One person standing on a podium for 3 hours, in front of everyone, and they would ask you questions about everything you learned from your 3 year education in Latin, and your teacher would even argue with you if you were right so you had to be certain!  This little building was also the set of the hospital wing in Harry Potter and also the ballroom dance scene in the goblet of fire.  For lunch we found a little pub called three goats heads (finding a good pub was all about the name).  Here we ordered the original English foods: bangers and mash, toad in a hole, and fish and chips, everything was more than I could have hoped for :D  We walked around a little more and when to all of the different colleges within Oxford University and it was just so much fun!  By the time we made it back into London it was dinner time so we went to a pub called Bag O'Nails (great name) and ordered some appetizers to share and a treacle sponge cake for desert (really good but I have no idea what it was).  Here we hung out for hours with a bunch of South African guys that lived nearby.  One of them was part of the building committee for the Olympics and it was quite interesting to hear about the struggle to get it all done on time. Back at the hostel we had the room to ourselves again which was perfect because we stayed up late hanging out.

Tuesday 2/28:

We woke up early to get the most out of our last day in London and headed over to St. Paul's Cathedral.  Sadly, we couldn't walk up into the dome because it was closed for a day of prayer? We're not really sure why but either way we couldn't climb up into it, but walking around it was good enough too.  The statues and the paintings were so intricate and beautiful.  I lit candles for people, and left little prayer cards that would be laid out for the services. A lot of famous people were married and had there funerals here, for example Winston Churchill and lots of kings that I can't recall right this moment.  After spending some time there Ben had to leave to catch his flight and Casey and I headed over to Westminster Abbey. It may look small in comparison to Houses of Parliament and Big Ben because they're right there but don't be fooled it is enormous on the inside.  There's so much to see and we got a free audio guide with our admission which was very helpful.  A lot of royalty is buried here because that's kind of what it was built for.  There were all sorts of chapels for each of the Kings/Queens or other important people which were adorned with intricate statues and carvings.  Very beautiful.  We had a little bit of time left after this and we went outside to take pictures with Big Ben.  Its funny to see everyone trying to pose with it, and all of the cops that were hanging around were laughing at us or with us I hope.  From here we had to go catch our bus to the airport and caught our plane to Madrid.  It was very sad to leave, we kind of dreaded going back were people didn't speak English in the most lavish way or at all...  Mostly I miss how nice everyone in England was, always trying to help out and joking around with us.

Wednesday 2/29:
Left our hotel at 6am.  Took a bus to Granada from Madrid. 5 hours later arrived at the bus station on the other side of Granada. Made it home for lunch. Class til 6:30. Sleep.

Hope you enjoyed my little novel!! hahah :D