Monday, March 28, 2011

Thing 1 and Thing 2

Yes, that's right, the twins invaded Murcia this past week for spring break! While all their friends were partying it up in Mexico or relaxing at home they flew trans-atlanticly to see their long-lost sister (or at least to Aaron who is a very bad communicator).  I don't think I flogged them too hard...
They got here on Monday and despite being very tired we walked around the city and got some lunch.  We went to Dad's new favorite restaurant, Lizarran, and then just around the corner in the Plaza de la Catedral to get some crepes and coffee.  
We walked around a lot of the city, but I'm not convinced that they remembered a lot of it.  On Tuesday I went to class and they hung out.  I actually had an in-class essay so I spent most of the morning studying.  Later that night we went out to dinner (after JAG and NCIS, which play here every night in English).  Wednesday Becky came to class with me, and although it is actually a very boring class it was the day before the party for the facultad de letras (humanities department) so groups of students randomly started popping in to perform scenes from plays.  Prof, not so happy.  We were then going to go to my next class, which I thought had been moved up, but because it hadn't I was going to take Becky home and then go to class later.  The only problem with that was...Aaron had the keys because he said he was going to go for a run and then didn't answer the door because he was sleeping, so by the time we got inside, my 2nd class had already started. Becky and Aaron came to flamenco with me later that night and then we went out for tapas at the restaurant right next door.  On Thursday I didn't have school (the party) so we went to the open-air market and got some churros for breakfast.  
Then we just walked up and down the rows and got rained upon.  As we were on our way back we stumbled across the Chinese food store that I have been looking for for a few weeks and so I bought some stuff for dinner and we had edamame and chicken fried rice.  Friday was a nicer day so the twins went to Cartagena and I studied...all day...I have a HUGE test in a couple weeks.  After they came back we went out for Mexican food and then to the bar right next door for some of the best mojitos in the city, I owed Becky since she finished the 30 hour dance marathon at Northwestern).  I then took them to Badulake, which Aaron hated, but I insisted they experience.  After Badulake we went to get the best kebaps in the city (not on kebaBs which are on a stick, but kebaPs which is kind of like a gyro).  
On Saturday we just walked around a little more, and went to Dad's other favorite restaurant, Valor, for churros con chocolate.  Later than night we went to my Spanish family's house for dinner. Javi cooked a delicious paella (although not actually dinner food it was a special treat for the twins) and we brought cheesecake, which was made using the contents out of a box.  Then they left yesterday morning (on time, despite the time change, which only just happened in Europe).  My Spanish family was actually going to Valencia yesterday and they insisted on taking the twins to the airport since it was on the way, which is much to nice of them.  And now it's back to studying.  It was really nice to see the twins, but I'm not going to lie, it's nice to have my own bed back...5 people in this apartment is a little snug.

¡Hasta la semana que viene!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Burn, baby, burn!

Again, I know its Tuesday...Alyssa I'm sure you were having a small panic attack, but really, all is well.  It's just that yesterday the twins invaded Murcia!!!! But before I go there, let me tell you about last week.
The week, in it's entirety, was spend recuperating from Cadiz and that wonderful craziness.  Fortunately, because I apparently have some serious issues, I got to repeat most of it again the next weekend.  Ok, well it wasn't the same thing, at all, but I repeated the going to a different city to party for a cultural event.  This time it was Las Fallas in Valencia, which thankfully is only a 3 hour bus ride away instead of 6.  We left Murcia at 9 am on Saturday and had a lovely bus ride there. We got into Valencia at about 1:30 and promptly lost our program director in the crowd, and then Paige and I promptly lost all of our other friends.  We were trying to get to the Plaza de Ayuntamiento for the fireworks show at 2 but the streets were too crowded so we ended up, squeezed like sardines, on a side-street listening to the fireworks.  It sounded like a great show... After the show we finally made it into the plaza and stood still to gather our thoughts and find our friends.  Paige met the rest of our friends from Murcia and hung out with them for the day and I met up with my friend Albert, from Pitzer, who was also in Valencia for the Fallas.  I walked around with him and we saw a bunch of the statutes. 
This one was my favorite...the American Falla
This is the biggest one, in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento
We also got gelato, it is apparently the Guiness World Record holder for number of times voted best Gelato (19).
Albert actually like it so much he went back and got a second bowl
In addition, behind the cathedral there as a rather large representation of the Virgin (not sure if we're talking Mary or of the city) and her whole dress was made of flowers.  It was like the religious version of the Rose Parade.

For those of you who are thinking, what are these Fallas you speak of? I will now tell you, or wikipedia will...
The Falles (in valencian) or Fallas (in Spanish) are a Valencian traditional celebration in praise of Saint Joseph in Valencia, Spain. The term Falles refers to both the celebration and the monuments created during the celebration. A number of towns in the Valencian Community have similar celebrations inspired in the original one from the city of Valencia.
Each neighbourhood of the city has an organized group of people, the Casal faller, that works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners, usually featuring the famous speciality paella. Each casal fallerproduces a construction known as a falla which is eventually burnt.
 Yay, Wikipedia! Further down in the article they tell us that falle means 'torch' in Valencian, thus the burning.  Each neighborhood actually makes two of them, a big one which satirizes something and a small one which is for the kids.  They parade them around the city throughout the week and then they are placed (pretty much on every street corner) on a stand made of cardboard and papier mâche with fireworks underneath.  There is a little girl all dressed up in the traditional Valencian dress and she lights a string of fireworks that lead under the falla and then the whole things goes up in flame.  We were lucky enough to be standing in the front line as a small one went off (at 10 pm, the big ones at midnight, and the one in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento at 1 am) This is the process:


Basically every pyro's dream.  After that we camped out in the front row of the big Falla by the Cathedral....of course this was the only one that didn't go off at midnight, so we didn't get to see it.  At 12:45 we decided to go to the club where we all got VIP entrance, from the program, since we were all too cold to wait for the big one to go.  I kind of wish we had though since I heard it was amazing. But anyhow, the club was also really.  It was HUGE! It held 2000 people.
It was indeed a Super Club

Paige, Kelsie, Annalisa, (1/2 of) Camila, Me, and Hilary
We then got on the bus to go back home at 3:15 am, making only barely after the program director left us to fend for ourselves since his girlfriend was being whiny and annoying and refused to take a taxi on her own.  Anyhow, all's well that ends well.  We got home at about 6:30 and I crashed into my bed and promptly fell asleep around 6:45 until much later that day.  And now, Becky and Aaron are sleeping off their jet-lag and I have to go write and in-class essay on Valle-Inclán (only the most difficult to understand Spanish author EVER!!)  Anywho, I shall divulge all of Becky and Aaron's secrets next week ; )

¡Hasta la semana que viene!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Oh what a night(s)!

So this weekend I went to Cadiz with the Instituto Hispánico Murciano (IHM) for Carnaval and it was a shit-show to say the least.  Basically we got in the bus at 3 pm on Friday and we had our first drink on the bus at about 8 pm.  And from there it just got even more interesting.  The next day we got up for breakfast and we all got dressed up in our costumes and went into the city.  Carnaval is basically Mardi Gras, except the Spanish version.  The problem with this is actually that Ash Wednesday was last we were celebrating just to celebrate.  We got to the city centre at about 3 pm and went out to lunch.  We had a few hours to walk around the city and see things.  We didn't really get to see as much of the city as I would have liked.  We were supposed to meet up with international students from Almería, Seville, and Valencia.  We never did meet them, but instead we went into the city centre and started partying.  I dressed up as a flamenco dancer, mostly because I already had the skirt and such things.  I met up with a friend of mine from Scripps who was studying in Seville.  We hung out for a little bit and then I spent the rest of the night with some girlfriends from Murcia and a group of guys, Caleb (my roommate from last semester) and some of his other teacher friends.  
Me, Caleb, and Becky
Me and Maggie
The street
We finally came back to the hotel at about 4 am and we all just crashed.  We woke up for breakfast and then all went back to the rooms thinking that we would be able to hang out there until we needed to leave at 3...of course in all reality we had to check out by noon and no one told us so we all got a nice little wake-up call at 12:30 telling us to leave.  We hung out until 2, we walked along the beach but it was kind of a gross one and it was a cloudy and rainy day so we mostly just sat in the lobby.  What followed was a 9-hour bus ride from hell.  All of us were hung over and I get car sick anyway.  Luckily, one of my friends had thought to bring some dramamine so a disaster was effectively avoided.  
Getting up for class, at 8 am, this morning was beyond horrible.  I don't think this is something I will do again, but it was a lot of fun once in my life!

In other news, I was hired as a Lead Mentor for next fall at Pitzer and my next article was published on Pink Pangea

¡Hasta la semana que viene!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Down the rabbit's hole in Barcelona

O what a weekend... After spending the week in classes, per usual, while my parents were having adventures driving along the eastern coast of Spain, I met them in Barcelona.  
Thursday: Not a very exciting day, I got there at around 4:30 and it was pouring so we just stayed inside for a few hours. The hotel was in an amazing location though! Right in the center of the old city by the cathedral, not the Sagrada Familia, although it does look like it.  
This is the view from our balcony
We then wandered around the old city looking for this tapas place that Dad read about in the Fodors Guide.  It looked really good, but it was packed, and with foreigners, so we decided to go elsewhere.  We found this random little restaurant which was kind of a fusion of everything.  We then went to have an Irish coffee at a pub on the way back to the hotel, as it turns out we must always have a nightcap in the Surrey family.  Apparently, our Irish coffees had to be made the right, and traditionally Irish, way taking almost a half-hour.  By the way, Irish coffee comes from a bar in San Francisco.  To amuse ourselves... Dad is not a very good architect, however both Mom and I managed to make card towers out of the five coasters on the table.  
Friday: Friday we went on the Gaudi walking tour as listed in the Fodor Guide.  It was altogether a very odd day.  The tour began on a street just off of the Ramblas, which were also very cool.  We spent awhile walking up and down them before branching off onto the Passeig de García where we found the Casa Batllò (pronounced without the 't').  This was perhaps one of the oddest places I have ever been in my entire life.  Not only did the house look odd from the street, but the inside was so drug-induced it was like the architectural version of Lewis Carroll.  However, with the entrance fee we were given audioguides which explained, in great (and often times excessive) detail why Gaudi did what he did, and what practical purpose everything served.  The house was built with a nautical theme in mind so everything is meant to produce an undersea effect.
 The outside of the house
 The lamp in the living room
 When looking through the glass on the landings
After leaving the Casa Batllò, we continued on our walk.  We saw the Casa Milà, which is an apartment building with a chimney garden on top of it.  We didn't go in though since we had just experienced the pinnacle of oddness and couldn't handle anymore at that moment. 
We continued on our walk, on which we saw a few more houses in the style of Gaudi, but not by him and ended up at the Sagrada Familia.
The Sagrada Familia is actually unfinished, both inside and out, but it was still really spectacular.  We then had lunch somewhere, I can't remember where so it must not have been anything particularly special, and then we walked over to the....Museu de Xocolata (aka the Chocolate Musuem)!! First, Dad got us very lost, and after I saved the day by actually reading the map correctly we entered heaven.
 Basically it was a museum filled with sculptures made out of chocolate.  It was very cool.  At the end they had a little chocolate store, of course, and Dad and I each got two truffles, of course.  We then went to the Picasso museum, since the day hadn't been odd enough already.  Following that we went back to the hotel and had a bottle of wine before going out to dinner and having...a bottle of wine (there was probably one at lunch too bringing the average daily total of wine to 3 bottles a day...well done Surrey family, well done). The dinner was actually fantastic! We went to a really nice restaurant and had an amazing dinner.  I had lobster spaghetti and for dessert, todo caramel (caramel ice cream, caramel candy, caramel sauce, and caramel mousse) It was really good, and actually none of it was overly sweet.
Saturday: We woke up and went to the fresh food market off of the Ramblas for breakfast, and to buy a picnic lunch.  The market was absolutely amazing. It was filled with stalls with fresh fruit and cheese and veggies and bread and all sorts of deliciousness.  The picnic we bought consisted of; red wine (of course), manchego cheese, bread, olives, and a kilo of fresh strawberries.  We then went to the Park Guell, another Gaudi oddity.  We walked around the park and we saw his house, which was not nearly as absurd as it should have been considering what we had seen the day before.  
After devouring the entire picnic, including the whole kilo of strawberries, we walked back to the metro station.  We found Cheers, the bar, an had a drink where the bartender told us that no one ever goes to Espanyol games (the other soccer team in Barcelona), Dad had asked, and then gave us a free shot because we told him we were going to the FC Barcelona game later that night.  And then, because we didn't feel we had fulled our absurdity quota for the day, we went to a Salvador Dalí exhibit.
If you can't read the caption, it says, "Automobile Giving Birth to a Blind Horse Biting a Telephone."

The man himself
We then went back to our hotel to get ready for the Barça v. Zaragoza futbol game!!! The stadium was absolutely packed (it took us a hour to get back on the metro because of the amount of people) and this was a not so important game.  Barça is playing Arsenal (the London team) tomorrow...that will be craaaaazy.  Anyhow, Barça won 1-0, should have been more but the ref was not so nice, and we got to see Messi, David Villa, and Iniesta play!
Sunday: Since the market was closed and we couldn't go there for breakfast, we had churros con chocolate at Valor (I got Dad addicted to it in Murcia) and then we walked over to the old synagogue and later the shoe museum.  The synagogue is actually thought to be one of the oldest in Europe since they found that parts of the interior wall date back to the 3rd century, Roman times.  We then went to the shoe museum around the corner which housed shoes from the 1700s and a pair of Ronaldhino's cleats as well as a ginormous pair of clown shoes.  We weren't allowed to take pictures though : (  Then we walked over the the gondola thingy to go to the Montjüc Park.  It was pretty much just gardens, and the wait to go on the gondola was almost a hour, and the line had gotten longer by the time we left.  The park did offer spectacular views of the city though. 
We then walked along the beach, which was really crowded although it is March, to get some lunch.  We had a really hard time finding a table since it was prime lunch time, really good weather, and a Sunday, but finally we managed to find one.  After eating a yummy seafood lunch we walked over to the Icebarcelona (an ice bar, the only one in the world on the beach).  The interior is made completely of ice, including the walls, chairs, and even glasses.  The room is kept at about -7 degrees celsius (19 farenheit) so they gave us winter coats and gloves upon entering.  Because we were a little hammered, following the standard bottle of wine at lunch and then the martini variations (they don't do regular martinis in Spain) in rapid succession, Dad decided it would be funny to take a picture holding the fish ball.  I wish I were kidding...
Because the Surreys are never done, we went back to Cheers and put Norm in his place.
Later that night we went out for another fantastic dinner at a restaurant called Citrus which had a view of the Casa Batllò.  We started with some amazing salads and asparagus and then I had duck breast, Mom had chicken, and Dad had fish.  For dessert I had a cold pureed red fruits soup with violet ice cream.  We then promptly went to sleep since we had to be awake at 6 am to go to the airport.  I am now sitting on my bed recuperating and my parents are somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.
Altogether a fantastic weekend in Barcelona and I got to see my parents!!!

¡Hasta la semana que viene!