Monday, December 20, 2010

Just a weekend

Sorry guys, but as the title of this post suggests, this week was just a week with a weekend tagged on the end.  Nothing super exciting.  We did a have purple (we were all supposed to wear purple...not sure why) Christmas party where a friend of mine, who is on good terms with the club owner got us discounted drinks and a table for the whole night.  It was to say goodbye to the people who were only going to be here for a semester.  Anyhow, other than that it's just school for me.  
My American Girls!!

 Those of us who wore something purple

I suppose should warn all you avid readers out there (Alyssa...since I know you will read this about 7 times) I will not be posting anything until after New Years.  Instead of showering you with my witty banter next Monday I will be in Paris (aka I am supposed to be in Paris, but since I am exploring the world of French rail services I may or may not actually be there).  Thus, Merry Christmas (to those of you who celebrate) and Happy New Years to all!!

¡Hasta dos semanas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

P.S. Happy (C)han(n)uk(k)a(h)!!

Yes I did just cover all 16 different transliterations of that word.

So I had a little Channukah party for some of my friends here in Murcia, everyone was British and American, but only a couple of them actually knew what Channukah was about so that was fun.  I told the story and we lit the candles.  I wanted to play dreidle, but I couldn't find one here, nor in London or Madrid, so it was candles, latkes, and stories for us.  It was a lot of fun though.  Then I actually had a class on Thursday, for the first time in a week and a half.  It was my cuentos class, which is fine, but it's kind of a boring class since she tends to just read stories to us which I don't have to pay attention to since my test is an easy version.  Then I just hung out on Friday and Saturday.  Saturday night two of my British friends had a Christmas party at their apartment which I attended.  I was supposed to dress up Christmasy but I don't actually have any red or green clothes so I just went with black.  The picture is of Paige, me, Annalisa, and Hilary.  We had a lot of fun.  Then I just hung out on Sunday again.  Not going to lie though, waking up this morning for class was horrible.  I almost didn't go... So now that I'm back in school for a week (Christmas vacations start next week) I guess I'm going to focus on that for awhile.  Other than that nothing too exciting happened this week.  

¡Hasta la semana que viene!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In true Spanish style I had a 6 day weekend to travel!

This weekend I was in London and Madrid, and travelled quite successfully regardless of blizzards in London and air traffic controller strikes in Madrid.  
I went to London to visit a good friend of mine (Nicole) who I haven't actually seen in person in a long time, funny how that works out when you're studying abroad.  We did gymnastics together at Gymnastics Plus, once upon a time.  
Friday: I arrived in London before her classes were finished for the day so I met up with some friends who had also been on the program in Poland with me, Jeannette and Jessica.  They took me to the Christmas markets along the Southbank of the Thames and we just hung out for a couple hours.  Then I met up with Nicole and we walked around Leicester Square and Picadilly Circus and had amazing Thai food for dinner (yay for spicy food, finally!)  It turns out that Nicole is at Le Cordon Bleu in London for baking and desserts and just happened to have a bunch of yummies that she had made in class in her apartment so we snacked on those A LOT.  There was chocolate fudge with pistachios, French maccroons in 2 flavors, cookies of various types, some sort of sweet granola bar thing, and some sort of muffin thing.  Basically it was lots of deliciousness.    
Saturday: We woke up and wandered over to the IMAX theatre to see....Harry Potter 7.1.  Yea that's right, I saw Harry Potter in London on IMAX.  Definitely beats Becky seeing it at midnight...Then we spent the day wandering around Harrod's.  Had lunch in a diner on the 4th floor and just looked at stuff.  Then we went to King's Cross station and went to Hogwarts (unfortunately the trip didn't turn out quite e as planned because apparently platform 9 3/4 is actually between platforms 8 & 9 not 9 & 10 as one would assume).  We went to the winter wonderland at Hyde Park and walked around looking at everything.  We had mulled cider and nutella crepes while watching people on the rides and ice skating.  We then had pizza at Nicole's apartment.
Sunday: We met up with one of Nicole's friends from Switzerland, named Celine, and we went to Brick Lane (which is simultaneously the Indian and Jewish section of London) where we went vintage shopping, ate Indian food for lunch and bagels for dessert (neither of which you can get in Spain).  Then Nicole and I went on the London Eye followed by a really nice dinner at Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant in Covent Gardens.

Monday: I got on a plane to Madrid.  I met up with my friend Gloria, who had also been on the trip to Poland.  We just kind of walked around.  Went to a Chinese restaurant Gloria wanted to try, and then I met up with my friend Amanda, who is studying at the University of Salamanca but was also in Madrid for the weekend, from the ballroom team in Claremont.  She, along her friends, and I went ice-skating and then we hung out for a while.  I headed back to the hostel early and went to sleep.
Tuesday: Gloria and I hopped on a bus to Segovia.  It was raining when we got there and although it stopped within about 15 minutes it was still pretty cold.  We saw the Roman Aqueducts, the Alcázar (which is rumored to have inspired the Disney castle), and the Jewish quarter.  When we got back to Madrid we went to the Plaza de España and a lookout hear there and saw the whole city.  Then we both headed back to our abodes for a little rest.  We met up later, along with one of her friends, to go ice-skating (again).  I then got Starbucks, I missed it (sad but true) and then I headed back because  I had to get up super early to get on the first train to the airport to get back here.
Now I am at home and preparing for a Channukah party because its the 8th night and most of my friends haven't the slightest clue what Channukah is!

¡Hasta la semana que viene!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Gobble, Gobble...Is that what turkey's say in Spain?

Happy Thanksgiving!
Yes, I know that I am not in the USA, however I did remember that it was Thanksgiving and I did celebrate with all my American friends (plus a bunch of Italians, 2 Poles, 1 guy from England, 1 French girl, and 1 Murcian).  It was a lot of fun.  We did it potluck style and somehow one of my friends did manage to find a turkey.  My contribution was a caramel apple pie.  The recipe is actually really easy! Combine 1/2 a cup brown sugar, 1/2 a cup white sugar, 6 tbsp unsalted butter, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup of water, and a pinch of salt in a pot until boiling.  Then you turn it off at let cool for a few minutes.  Then you pour it over the pie, making sure the lattice is completely covered.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until the pie is done.  I kept the skins on the apples too, making it even easier!  Besides apple pie and turkey we also had other kinds of pie, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, veggies, stuffing, and the English guy brought Yorkshire pudding.  It was a great night!
Unfortunately the weekend festivities ended there because it rained all day Friday and Saturday and I had no desire to get all dressed up just to be wet and cold.  So I stayed in and watched movies.

On Sunday it was finally a really pretty day so Cristina, Caleb and I met up with some of their friends (1 from Italy and 2 from Spain) to go to the Santuario de la Fuensanta (where they keep the patron saint of the city when she's not down here in September for la Feria).   We wandered around the Santuario and then we went hiking, also known as trail blazing because there weren't actually any hiking trails.  It was a lot of fun and it was nice to be outside the city and playing in the sun (especially since its been raining all day today too...not cool.  I distinctly remember being told that it doesn't rain very much in Murica)

Caleb, me, Pablo, Giulia (in back) and Rsoa and Cristina (in front)

I promise this was a cameo....
And that was basically my weekend.  Also, you could see the cathedral from the Santuario and so because my camera can do this...
And in case you can't get enough of my witty blog banter I was published on a travel blog for women so feel free to read that too! Spanish Men Shout Machismo 

¡Hasta la semana que viene! (but not until Wednesday because I will be traveling next you don't get to know where to, that would ruin next week's blog entry)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sailing, sailing over the bounding main!

First of all, I had no idea that those were the actual words to that song...I'm not sure what I thought the words were, but it wasn't that.  Secondly, thanks for all the internet hugs this past week! It really meant a lot to me and I'm internet hugging you all back!
So this week was better than last in terms of emotions, school-work however...yucky.  I have an exam later tonight in literature.  Who takes a literature exam?! I know I haven't taken one since sophomore year of high school and those were kind of a joke (sorry if any of my high school teachers read this...).  This presented quite an issue in terms of studying, which I'm still not sure I did right, but with 2 hours until the exam  I guess I probably shouldn't think about that.  I also have a voluntary paper due before Christmas break (which I'm doing so that I have more to grade than just my final exam in June).  So I've been a hermit this week, reading and studying and writing...basically just being a lit major. The one thing that I did do, which is also super exciting is I got adopted! Not literally...sorry Daddy you do still have to pay my tuition, but adopted nonetheless.  I answered an email from the father of the family, Javier, who works at the school and wanted an American student to come help his girls (Elena 9, Piti 8, Carla 6) with their English (they go to a bilingual elementary school).  I went over there on Friday (the 19th) and hung out with the girls, and stayed for dinner.  Their Mom, Piti, is a fantastic cook and said she would teach me how to make Spanish food and I'm going to teach her how to make American food.  Her dad is also from Andalucia so she knows how to dance Sevillano (which is like Flamenco but softer) and she said she would teach me that too!  Then they invited me to go sailing with them on Saturday.  We went to their house in Santiago de la Ribera and had the most amazing churros ever! Then we went sailing.
Me with the girls and their dad...apparently I suck at driving a boat

Me with the was quite cold and windy actually

Me with the girls and their Mom.
We had a lot of fun.  After sailing we went for a walk up the beach and then we went out for lunch.  We ate, in true Spanish fashion, a HUGE lunch.  We had fried calamari, bocarrones (which are a small white-fish that were pretty good...although that might be because they were fried), octopus, paella, cheesecake, tinto de verano, coffee, and a digestive shot.  Throughout the whole day we alternated speaking English and Spanish so everyone got to practice.  It was soo much fun! I can't wait to spend more time with them.

¡Hasta la semana que viene!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mom left this week, so sorry in advance...

This week has definitely been my hardest one so far, emotionally I mean.  Throughout the week I had a lot of fun showing my mom the city and my daily life.  She even came to class with me!  Wednesday night we went out with my roommates for drinks (at this really cool bar called El Bosque, they make the best mojitos) and dinner.    
On Thursday I took her to the open-air market (it's not a farmer's market I've's just a regular market, but outside.  I was corrected by a friend of mine).  Then I cooked dinner, unfortunately I also started feeling quite ill while I was cooking so I didn't actually get to enjoy any of it.  Basically it was a really relaxing week of getting to show my mom the city and the fun places to eat and what I do with my life.  Mom left early Friday morning, we said goodbye Thursday night.  I spent all day in bed being sick and sad.  Saturday I didn't do a whole lot outside of catching up on the homework I was supposed to do on Friday and then I went to an "American-style party" hosted at a friend's house.
The theme was "Back to the Jungle" or something along those lines.  We went out dancing and I got home at 6:45 am on Sunday.  Woke up at 2:45, did more homework and then went back to sleep.
Fairly uneventful weekend.  The fun really started this morning though.  I woke up not feeling well again, and I hurt my heel somehow or other so that sucked, but I went to class anyhow because I missed all my Monday classes last week.  I had to go to the Secretaría (Registrar) because on SUMA (the online university portal thing) I don't have access to one of my classes.  It is a first year course so there are 2 groups, according to my last name I am in the 2nd group, but I was told that didn't matter for international students, so my class is actually in the 1st group.  On SUMA I had access to the right materials up until this weekend.  So I went in to ask them to change it and they were less than helpful and basically told me that there was absolutely nothing I could do.  I then went over to the international affairs office to fix it and immediately burst into tears as I was telling the secretary what happened.  Not a pretty sight, and not a good morning.  It's probably just because this time most years I'm getting ready to go home for Thanksgiving, but this year I don't get to go home until July.  It's not a particularly heart-warming thought.  I know I shouldn't be complaining, I'm living in Europe for crying out loud! But still...You gotta go home every now and then.  Definitely had that moment of severe homesickness when Mom was leaving of "why can't I go too?"  Anyhow, I'm sorry to make you all read about my depressing morning, but that's really all I got for this week.

¡Hasta la semana que viene!  Hopefully it will be a happier one

Monday, November 8, 2010

When the family comes to town...

See I promised I would be on time this week!  This was a week of waking up early and traveling around the country that I've actually been living i for 2 months.  I actually went to class on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and then Thursday I went to Granada for the day.  Not something I would normally recommend, but well worth it in this case...I got to see one of my best friend Laura (who I haven't actually seen in person since we were on the same trip to Panama 4 years ago) and meet her fiance Matt (who is studying at the University of Granada)  I took the bus from Murcia to Granda at 8 in the morning, arrived at the Gran Via (there were actually two buses involved in this.  One to Granada and another from the bus station to the Gran Via) at about 12.  We then wandered around the city, did a little shopping, ate some lunch, and did some more shopping.  After that we spent quite a bit of time in the Casablanca tea house (which if you know me at all made me very excited) just chatting and catching up.  Then I left to catch my bus back to Murcia at 6 I ended up spending as much time in Granada as on the bus, but it was definitely worth it!  
Friday I woke up early again, this time to go to the immigration office to pick up my residency card (a.k.a I am officially a resident of Spain until September of next year!).  Then my mom came to visit!!! There was a moment of panic when it was 2 hours after her plane was to arrive and she still hadn't called.  It turns out that her phone doesn't work in Spain, something about there are 4 international bandwiths and her phone doesn't have the one that works here, so she was driving lost through the city.  Finally I called the hotel to find out that she had already checked in, so I just walked over there. 
On Saturday we went to Amería (a town on the way to Granada) for the day.  We saw the fort and wandered around the city, fairly lost since the tourist office wasn't open.  We then made our way back to Murcia and had a nice dinner at the hotel.  Sunday, was our day of adventure though....
We began the day with a drive to Lorca, which was actually rather uneventful.  Then we had to figure out how to get into the city, since there are about 4 exits into the city.  Once we did end up in the right place we found the tourist office, where they gave us a HUGE map (so big Mom didn't need her glasses to read it) and we made our way up to the castle fort.  By "made our way up" I mean we hiked on a small road near a cliff.  Once we arrived at the fort we watched a movie narrated by an animated baby falcon named Ben Sakar (meaning Son of Falcon) who told us about the history of the fort.  We then went in a time machine.  It wasn't quite what I had expected.  I always assumed they would be much faster, alá Dolorian, and much more interesting.  This was not.  However, since we are the only people I know who have been in a time machine I can't complain too much.  After being transported to the 13th century we started walking around the fort with our audio guides (included in the price).  We reached the top of the tower and met a new friend.
After hanging out with Pedro we finished our tour of Lorca and went to the beach at Águilas for a picnic (without wine...very odd occurence for our family).  We then went on a back country road from Águilas to Cartagena where Mom proved that just how good she was with a stick-shift by getting a speeding ticket.  We finally made it back to Murcia where we had an early dinner because the next morning (today) we went to Alicante to see my grandparents who are taking a cruise around Spain and happened to dock in Alicante (about 45 minutes north of Murcia) today.  
We spent the day walking around the old city and had lunch.  My grandparents also met the King of Beach (Ivan, from England) who was building a really intense Mayan temple out of sand and asked me out (and I'm absolutely going out with image of my Spanish boyfriend was indeed a 30something beach bum with dreadlocks from England (if you did not pick up on the sarcasm you suck at life)).  Then my grandparents went back to the boat and we came back to Murcia, and I actually went to class (or at least one of them). 

That's it for this week.
¡Hasta la semana que viene! 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Krakow and Osweiçsm

Once again I have been remiss and am late in posting what happened this week.  I apologize.  The majority of that is due to the fact that I still do not have working internet, however in addition I was not quite sure how to tackle this post.  This past week I participated in the first Study Abroad Program (by this I mean American students studying abroad in Europe) through the Auschwitz Jewish Center.  Let me begin by saying that this was simultaneously the best and worst thing that I have ever done.  It was an amazing experience I will never forget, and I got to see the city of Krakow which I probably would not have done otherwise and Krakow is an beautiful city.  On the other hand it was very difficult to see and study the camps and the history behind while simultaneously seeing and living in the towns that harbored them.  It definitely solidified the concept that this could have happened in any town had the conditions been right, it is not something specific to central Europe.  Before I begin going into the details of the trip I will tell you that I will not be posting any pictures of the camps nor of the ghettos and the museums; however, if you would like to see them just let me know and I will email them to you.
Thursday: After a very long day of travel, partly because I had to fly across the entirety of the continent and partly because my flight was delayed due to the fact that I flew over France (yes I said over...because of the strike there are only 84 air control towers working in the whole country so all the flights have to be staggered exactly right), I arrived in Krakow.  Luckily in the airport I ran into 3 other girls from the program as well so the four of us shared a taxi to the hotel.  Since we were late, because of the whole France thing, everyone else had already left for dinner so we met up with one of the directors who waited for us and then we joined the rest of our group.  The group was comprised of 13 students, Jews and a few non-Jews, who were interested in the Holocaust for a variety of reasons.  We had a very nice welcome dinner with typical Polish food (cream of mushroom soup and pierogies (Polish dumplings) with coffee and cake for dessert) and then we headed back to the hotel.
Friday: We journeyed around the city, particularly the old Jewish quarter and ghetto.  Before the war there were about 600,000 Jews living in Krakow (the largest population in Poland after Warsaw), today there are 160.  The picture is of one of the old synagogues.  It is the only synagogue in the whole city that is still in use today (thus the cars outside).  The Jewish cemetary is also there with a beautifully artistic memorial to the lives lost in the Holocaust.  The Nazis used the gravestones of Jews as building materials and so when the community re-established itself after the war they used the pieces they could find and built a wall commemorating the lives lost.  We also went to the ghetto.  In the ghetto there were a bunch of metal chairs in the main square, which we initially thought was just convenient.  As it turns out they are a part of a piece of modern art installed there in the mid-90s.  Apparently the artist was inspired by a story told by the one non-Jew allowed to remain in the ghetto, a pharmacist, who said that when the Nazis came to liquidate it they had to burn all the furniture in a warehouse, but they wanted to keep the building.  So what they did was throw all the furniture into the square.  The piece of art is meant to commemorate this man, remember this story, and symbolize the emptiness left behind when the Jews were forced to leave Krakow.  After this we went to Oskar Schindler's factory, Schindler's list, where there is a museum today.  It was perhaps the most well-done museum I have ever been to.  I suppose museum is even the wrong word to describe it, it was an experience.  There were audio recordings, the lights changed depending upon the room, the walls were covered.  It was also set up so that you walked through each room to get to the next, you didn't walk in and out of rooms.  This meant that you couldn't miss a room if it made you feel uncomfortable.  After this, on a happier note, we met with a woman who received the honor "Righteous Among the Nations" (the highest civilian honor a person can receive from the State of Israel) because she, along with her older sister and mother, harbored a Jewish girl throughout the entirety of the war.

These are the two sides of the medal
After that we had a nice dinner and then a group of us went to a pub for awhile to sample Polish beer (not bad by the way) and discuss the day we had.
Saturday: We boarded the vans for the town of Osweiçsm (Auschwitz in German).  We began by going to Auschwitz I.  Auschwitz is actually a really large complex of camps with three main camps and 40 sub-camps.  It was originally for non-Jewish prisoners of war and Polish Partisans.  It was also just a men's camp except for a short time in 1943 and the last few months before liberation.  It is also the camp that has been turned into the museum.  For this reason it was not what I was expecting.  There were a lot of people there, large tour groups, and lines to see exhibits. It felt almost a little bit like Disneyland.  Of course there were moments that took my breath away and made me so upset, but for the majority of the visit I just felt very empty.  Later that day we toured the town (60% of the population of the town before the war was Jewish, now there are no Jews in the town), saw the Auschwitz Jewish Center, and spoke with a non-Jewish survivor of Auschwitz (which I have never done before) who now lives in the town.
Sunday: We went to see Birkenau (Auschwitz II), which is the one that you tend to see pictures of (with the exception of the Arbeit Macht Frei sign which is at Auschwitz I).  It has been conserved exactly as the Nazis left it, meaning that it is not a museum in the slightest.  Driving up to the camp was something out of a nightmare; it was cold, foggy, early in the morning (so we were practically the only people there) and there were no signs saying that it was coming.  It was almost as if we happened upon it.  It would be impossible for me to describe for you how I felt being in the camp.  The best way to say it is that it was a combination of disgust, horror, fear, anger, depression, disbelief, and awe.  The sheer size of the camp is also extraordinarily impressive, it is 500 square acres in size.  Following this visit we had a discussion to wrap everything up and then most of the group went home.  Myself, along with 3 other girls stayed the night in Krakow.  Considering the emotions that were running rampant I think that staying the extra night was really helpful in bringing me back to real life.  I don't think I would have fared very well if I had to go straight home after that experience.

So that was my weekend.  I'm sorry for the overly depressing post, and I promise that next week's will be infinitely happier. 
Hasta la semana que viene.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finally, a weekend in Murcia

First, let me apologize for being so tardy...I have had a lot of reading to do/I finally had an actual assignment (I think I may be a student....) and our internet stopped working.  I'm guessing it's because my roommate accidentally unplugged the cable box and the internet is from the same company.  The ethernet chord still works, but there is only one of them so we have to take turns.  
Now that that's over with, I can tell you about my life.  So after traveling all over the place I finally spent a whole weekend in Murcia.  A shocker, I know.  The weekend actually began Wednesday night because, in true Spanish fashion, they put they welcome back party, essentially homecoming but without the football game (although I think there was a futbol game), in the middle of the day (probably so that we would have another day off of school).  Therefore, we had no school on Thursday.  The part was called the Fica Picnic.  Basically it was a fenced off parking lot with music, a giant blow-up slide and climbing wall, and a lot of drunk people.
Following that, I went out with some friends, some of which were actually Spanish.  It wasn't that exciting though since everyone had gone out and partied during the day.  On Friday I went to the mall with two girlfriends, we had just gotten our stipends (finally!) and wanted to celebrate.  Naturally I bought some stuff : ) Friday night I did homework and then Saturday I partied full Spanish style.  
First we went to the Espinardo campus (my first time, and probably only until I have to close my bank account in July) and looked and the stars, or what we could see of them anyway, and then we went to two bars.  The first we went to because a friend of my friend is the DJ and the second we just went to.  I went with my roommate, Cristina and a bunch of other friends.  Cristina and I got home at 5:30 am.  Good Times : )

¡Hasta la semana que viene!  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ciao Bella!

So as may of you know, this weekend I was in...MILAN! First of all I would like to ask, who am I? Going to Milan for the weekend?  Now that I have gotten that out of the way I will tell you what I actually did there.  
Friday: I went to Milan with four girlfriends.  Our flight got in at around 2:20.  From there we loaded onto a bus to drive from the airport to city centre.  As we flew on Ryanair the airport was no where near the city centre, so the bus trip took about an hour. (Note in the photograph below how our bus driver is talking on his cell phone and not holding the steering wheel with his other hand.)
Following the adventure on the bus we had an adventure trying to find the hostel.  We decided to walk, how big could Milan possibly be, right?, and somehow I was the one with the map in my hand.  Now anyone who has ever travelled with me anywhere (I mean anywhere, like to the post office) knows that I am really bad with directions.  So of course a walk that should have taken us a half hour took us about three times that.  In Milan all the streets angle towards the Duomo therefore they are not straight city blocks.  Not only did I have us walking on the wrong streets, but many times in the wrong direction completely!  Eventually, however, we did make it to the hostel, and we saw a lot of the city on the way.  Once at the hostel we unpacked and then met a guy traveling around Europe on his own for 6 months, named Lasse (born in Germany but his family moved to Brazil).  He had gone to a really good restaurant the night before and so he took us there for dinner.  I had gnocchi with a basil and gorgonzola sauce and the most amazing tiramisu for dessert!
Saturday: Was our touristing day.  We started off at a cute little cafe (with an even cuter barista) near the hostel.  Then we went to the Duomo.  It is the 2nd largest cathedral in Italy after St. Peter's in Rome, and it has been under construction for about 400 years (they just finished the doors in 1965).  Three of us then climbed up to the top, because I knew that my parents would kill me if I didn't.  Unfortunately it was really foggy, since it would rain buckets later in the day, so there weren't that spectacular of views.  After that we tried to go see Da Vinci's "Last Supper" but you have to reserve it like 2 weeks in advance.  Later that day we met up with some friends of ours who live in Milan, Valentina and Giorgio (Valentina is the girlfriend of one the Erin's (the girl on the left in the picture) roommates.  They took us to Luini's for panzerotti which are basically mini-calzones of heaven.  Above right is the line to buy one.  I had a lunch one with tomatoe and mozarella and a dessert one with nutella and strawberries (nutella was pretty much on everything).  Perhaps the best thing I ate in Milan.  We then went to do a very touristy thing...spin on the bull's balls in the main shopping district.  Now I know you probably all re-read that sentence like five times to make sure I actually said what you think I said, but I assure you it's true.  The mosaic is missing the bit where the balls are supposed to be, so if you dig your heel in and spin around twice it's good luck.  Then...we went shopping!  I bought tan boots, a sweater, a Marc Jacob's bag (on super-sale), and marzapane. 
Sunday: We once again started off at our favorite little cafe, unfortunately different barista this time although I would bet that this barista was the other one's brother.  Then we just kind of wandered in an out of shops.  We made our way towards the Castle Sforza, but as it was Sunday none of the museums were open so it was really just a garden with old walls around it.  We then started walking toward the bus station to go back to the airport.  We stopped for lunch at this restaurant called Arte Nuevo, porbably thus named because of the artwork for sale on the walls.  I picked out a really good bottle of chardonnay (parents, you taught me well).  Then we headed back to the 
airport and got on a plane back to Spain.
It was all-in-all a great weekend!  And it was so nice to see the colors changing on the trees and have to wear a sweater...It actually felt like fall!  I missed that.  Well, now it's back to real life, although I am still living in Europe so how "real" can it get?
¡Hasta la semana que viene!

Random photos from Milan:
 Upper Row (l-r): Me, Giorgio, Valentina, Lauren...Lower Row (l-r): Brianna, Erin, HilaryErin, Brianna, Me, Hilary, Lauren having lunch on Sunday
You can see the Duomo in the background.  This is one of the major pedestrian walkways (i.e.. there is a lot of shopping here)
The Duomo
I just thought that this looked cool...

Monday, October 11, 2010


So as I said last week, this week began my travels outside of Murcia.  Of course I'd been to the beach and Cartagena, but that is still in the region of Murcia, so I'm not sure how much it counts.  This past weekend, myself and 97 of my closest friends (it was a trip for the international students) went to Granada.  For those of you who don't know Spanish geography, Granada is in the region of Andalucia which is the south of Spain.  It is what you think of when you imagine  Spanish culture...the guitars, the food, the Arab influences.  
Day 1, Friday: We arrived in Granada, after a 3 and a 1/2 hour bus ride, around 11:30 in the morning.  We then had free time to wander around.  A couple of friends and myself went to the Cathedral.
It was a really grand cathedral, as they tend to be.  Pretty much everything was covered with gold leaf.  There were paintings everywhere and the stained glass windows were gorgeous.  We also went to the Arab market and wandered around and bought waaaay too much stuff.
That's my friend Erin in the picture.
I bought holiday presents, the nature of which I will not divulge because that's no fun, tea, shoes (in true Sarah Surrey style), a charm for my charm bracelet, 2 paintings for my room, and a very ornate hookah (for decoration of course...).  We then finished off the night by going all together, the whole group of international students, to a bar near the city centre.
Day 2, Saturday: The day began with breakfast in the hotel and then my friend Erin (different Erin than in the previous picture) and I were planning on going to the Arab baths, but as it turns out you have to reserve it in advance so instead we wandered around some more.  Went up to the Mirador San Nicolas to see the view of the Alhambra/the city. Then we went to the Sacromonte where all the houses and stores are built right into the mountain.
After that we met up we ate amazing Kebabs (which are not actually kebabs but rather schwarma in a pita) and then went on the tour of the Alhambra.  It started raining right about the time we got to the top of the hill (the Alhambra is situated on top of a hill because that way the king could see the people who were trying to attack his kingdom) and poured the entire time we were there.  But it was fun!
 The famous fountain in the garden...I know it's a well-known picture, but it just looks so cool!
Me in the rain at Carlos V palace...he had it built for his honey moon and then forgot about it, I mean I forget about my palaces all the time, so its completely understandable

I feel that this one is rather self-explanatory. I just thought it was a cool picture,

This is the front the 3rd, and most recent, palace.  There are 3 palaces.
Following our soaking adventure in the Alhambra we went back to the hostel to warm up.  The activity for the evening was to go to a club in Sacromonte that had a view of the Alhambra all lit up, but seeing as I'm getting over a cold and I was already freezing from sojourn I decided not to go.  A group of friends and myself went out to a nice tapas restaurant and ate a lot of really delicious food.
Day 3, Sunday:  We had to be out of the hostel by 10 (10:30 Spanish time) so after leaving all of our stuff on the bus a group of us went back up to the Mirador and then shopping.
On the way back down from the Mirador, since it was so cold (literally 30 seconds after this picture was taken the wind picked up and it was freezing) we stopped into an Arab tea room.  I had tea Al-Andalus which is green tea with vanilla, cinnamon, and cardamon; it was amazing!  After shopping we had lunch at an Italian restaurant (partly because the food looked good and partly because they had space for 8 people inside).  Then we wandered a little more and met up with the group at 5:30.  After taking a huge group picture we got on the bus and arrived in Murcia around 10:15.  Just in time for dinner!

Other than that, school/life is going well.  I didn't have class today because there is a holiday (National Day of Spain, or something like that) tomorrow.  And yes, I did say that right.  In true Spanish style, no one wanted to work for one day in between the weekend and the holiday so they made it a 5 day weekend.  Pretty awesome! I also got a new roommate in addition to Cristina.  His name is Caleb and he's from New York.  He is here teaching English for the EU.  Also very nice.  

That's about it for this week.
Ciao bellas (I'm preparing myself for Milan this coming weekend).


Monday, October 4, 2010

La empieza de mis lecturas

I didn't do a whole lot of interest this week.  So I guess you all get to hear about my classes some more...yay!  I'm enjoying all of them a lot.  I still haven't matriculated, but I do have readings to do, I asked classmates.  I am currently reading La Celestina by Fernando de Rojas, La Malquerida by Jacinto Benavente, and Historia de una escalera by Antonio Buero Vallejo.  All three are plays (thus the "theatre" part of my blog name ☺)  La Celestina is actually called La tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, basically it's a 21 act play which details courtly love gone awry.  The end result is much like Hamlet, everyone is dead.  La Malquerida is the story of a girl who causes misfortune to every man who tries to love her.  The reason is (SPOILER ALERT!) that she loves her step-father and he kills them.  Finally, Historia de una escalera, is a play in 3 acts in which the first two acts are 10 years apart and the last two are 20 years apart.  It tells the story of people living in an apartment and all the action takes place on the stairs of the building.  It takes place before and after the Spanish Civil War (1919, 1929, and 1949).  Soooo basically I am not reading anything with a happy ending.  However, they are all amazingly well written and they definitely have their funny moments (particularly La Celestina, partly because it is a "tragic-comedy" and partly because in 21 acts something funny has to go down).  

This week I also went salsa dancing.  It was really fun, but a whole different animal from what I'm used to at home.  The style of salsa was a little bit different (it was a lot more cucaracha steps (side-to-side) than the basic front/back).  The DJ also mixed in some Merengue and Bachata.  The other major difference is that we didn't get there until 2 in the morning.  And regardless of the immense amount of soreness and hearing loss (2 days later) wearing my latin heels again was definitely worth it!

Finally, I obtained a roommate this week!! Her name is Cristina.  She is from an island called Madera off the coast of Portugal and is studying farmacia (to be a pharmacist).  She is really nice, as is her cousin who is staying with us until tomorrow.  He cooked a typical meal from Madera last night; meat, rice, a sauce, and salad.  Therefore, I will be grilling some chicken with a honey-mustard marinade and making mac & cheese.  I figure that's a pretty American meal.  

The biggest news of this week?  I had my first churros con chocolate.  It was heaven.  
Well that's about it for this week, but next I'm beginning my travels so it should be exciting!
¡Hasta la semana proxima!