Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Roman Holiday!

Yes I am well aware that it is Tuesday, however, in my defense, yesterday was the first night of Passover and I hosted my first Passover Seder all by myself.  That translates into shopping and cooking all day which I couldn't do over the weekend because I was in Rome with my Cousin Kent and his girlfriend Judy!  
I left for Rome on Friday morning and I got there at about 8:30 pm (there was a layover and delayed flight involved).  I met up with my friend Danny at the metro stop near his house.  Danny studied in Murcia last semester, which is how I met him, and is from Manchester.  I stayed at his apartment for the weekend, although I didn't actually get to spend very much time with him.  
Saturday morning Danny and I walked over to the Testaccio Market, we got lost on the way, where we were meeting Kent and Judy! We walked around the market, got our picture taken by a journalist who wanted to show that tourists do come to that market, and had a little breakfast.
Judy, Kent, and Me
After that Danny went to class, he had class on a Saturday, not very fun, and we went to another market....Victor Emmanuelle.  Highlights include: some very odd veggies and crabs trying to escape.

From there we went to a pizza restaurant near the Vatican City called Pizzarium.  It was delicious!  
Mine had mozzarella and basil, Judy's had bologna, and Kent had one with cheese and potatoes that was AMAZING! From there we went to the Vatican where we met our tour guide, Katie.  We were in the museum for 2 and 1/2 hours, 2 hours longer than last time I was there... She told us some really interesting history and anecdotes about the paintings as well as answering all of our questions about, literally, anything.  
We went from there to the Palatine hill and the Roman Forums.  Katie told us all about the different emperors who had lived on the hills, their building styles, the innovations they made to architecture, etc. 

This is what remains of the dining room of the house on the Palantine hill.  This was the first dining room EVER to be a semi-circle with a domed roof.  This palace was also the first to having heating in the actual rooms as opposed to just the bath houses.  There are spaces between the walls and floors that lets the hot air out into the room which then rises, as heat tends to, effectively heating the palace.
These are the Roman Forums center of all things Roman; political, social, etc.  When they first began excavating, in the 16th century, the arch was covered with dirt all the way to the top of the tallest space.
 Judy, Kent, and Me overlooking the Collosseum
Unfortunately for us, the Collosseum stopped letting people in at 2 that day because they were practicing for the Station of the Cross which happens on Good Friday.  Instead we went to the Pantheon, which was also closed, for mass, so we settled by having a gelato snack.

I was the only one who partook in this snack, they missed out.  I got rose gelato with a hazlenut semifreddo mousse on top.  It was delicious!  We then went back to Kent and Judy's hotel to rest for a minute and clean up for dinner.  Their hotel with near the Piazza Navaro so we walked around there for awhile before heading in and found a cute bar for aperitivos and drinks.  I did get my bellini, finally!!  We then went back to their hotel for about five minutes or so and then we started out towards the restaurant.  Katie, along with being a tour guide, is also a food blogger and so we went to one of the restaurants she had recommended on her blog.  I had a delicious meal of mixed grilled veggies for an appetizer and risotto con fior di zucci (risotto with zucchini blossoms).
We then followed Katie's instructions to an absolutely AMAZING gelato place, waaay better than the one I had for a snack, and the location was more fun, you had to work to find it.

Kent and Judy got the same kind of gelato...it was kind of a mixture of a bunch of flavors...chocolate, coffee, nuts, coconut.  It was really good though.  I, being my father's daughter, got the two oddest flavors that they had.  I got thyme, lemon and raspberry and fennel and almond.  They were both delicious (the fennel one was better), they were not, however, delicious together.  Kent and Judy then walked me to the metro stop at the Piazza del Spagna (the Spanish steps) and I took the metro back to Danny's apartment.  The next morning I woke up at 3:15 am for the longest travel day of my life...I still haven't recovered.  

Yesterday, I spent all day shopping and cooking for Passover.  Not only was it the first time that I have hosted my own Passover dinner, I feel so grown up, but I was doing it in a Catholic country.  This was a process that involved 3 butchers (1 for ground meat, 1 for brisket, and 1 for the lamb shank bone), 2 grocery stores (the normal one and the expensive one for the horseradish sauce and other random ingredients) and 1 fruteria.  I made matzo ball soup, sweet and spicy meatballs, brisket, charoset, and a flourless chocolate cake.  Sinem, my roommate from Turkey, made babaganousch, mixed veggies, and a salad.  All together there were eight of us; myself, Sinem, Annalisa, Camila, Paige, Tammy, Brennan, and Cecy.  We did not eat all of the food, but we got pretty close.  We definitely consumed a good amount of wine...despite my warning that four glasses of wine does not actually need to mean four glasses of wine, that's what ended up happening...we demolished 4 bottles.  Cecy found the afikomen so her reward was the largest slice of cake.  All in all it was a great seder and very multi-cultural as it was accompanied by the sounds of the first Semana Santa parade!

!חג שמח
¡Hasta dos semanas! (Next week I'll be traveling in the UK)

Monday, April 11, 2011

It sure feels like summer!

I had that monster exam on Thursday, which I think I did OK in...there were 5 questions.  The first 4 were part of the theory section so we weren't allowed to have any materials on our desk, this included my dictionary (little bit of a disadvantage I think...) and the last one was a practical question which was open book, open notes, etc.  I think everything was answered correctly, what I'm not sure about was whether or not I answered with enough background information.  Well, all I have to do is pass...
What better reward for not dying in the taking of a monster exam as a weekend at the beach, especially since it was about 90 degrees average this weekend.  Prior to that, I went out to dinner with Annalisa on Friday night.  First, there was a random parade to take the Jesus statue out of the church for the Semana Santa parades next week.
And yes, I did get desperate enough to get ribs at Tony Roma's for dinner...I feel that in a small way, I have failed as a Coloradan.
On Saturday I went sailing with my Spanish family in Santiago de la Ribera, on Mar Menor, and we had lunch on the boat.
Me with Javi
Me with Piti enjoying lunch and Coronas....clearly I have a very difficult life...
Then on Sunday...I went to their family house in Campoamor, on the Mediterranean.  With us, the family of five and myself, there was also Javi's parents, one of his brothers, his brother's two daughters, and one of the daughter's friends (11 in total).  We mostly enjoyed the house and pool, it was a little too cold to swim in the ocean.  We had an amazing lunch at the nautical club a few blocks from their house.  
We had a fantastic lunch with seafood and paella and for dessert coffee and a three chocolate cake.  Delicious!  Aside from now being quite tan (and maybe a little sunburnt), I also I am planning on going skiing with their cousin, Carmen, who said she would call me to go with her to the Sierra Nevadas when she goes over break and her dad, Pedro, has a house in the mountains and said he would take me up there to hang out next time he has work and I can hike and play with the dogs and such things.  A little bit of Colorado in Murcia!
In other news...I've been hired for a summer internship at Youth Direction in Aurora. It's a non-profit organization which helps at-risk teens find their passion and learn how to pursue it.  I will be helping to create a guidebook on their unique program and doing some event planning.  
Also, my next article on Pink Pangea has been published: http://dev.pinkpangea.com/quick-homesickness-fix-my-familys-visit-to-spain

¡Hasta la semana que viene!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The best study break is Mexican food and Wii

As sad as I was about the twins leaving me last week, I didn't have a whole lot of time to dwell on the matter.  For one thing I have a ginormous exam coming up for which I have no clue how to study, I haven't taken a literature exam since high school and I have never taken one where I have to memorize date and names of fables and authors of insignificant works.  Not so fun.  Secondly, my friend Nicole (who I stayed with in London in December) came to Murcia for a couple days!  I unfortunately had class, but we had a lot of fun anyhow.  We went out for some really good tapas dinner and I took her to Badulake (since it's really the only thing that there is to do in Murcia anyhow).  She left Thursday morning and I spent the rest of the day/weekend studying and creating notecards for this very scary exam.  The bright spot in all this studying grossness was on Friday when I went over to my Spanish family's house to cook dinner.  I taught them all how to make Mexican food.  We had guac, cheese sauce, pico de gallo, mexican rice, a taco bar with meat and chicken, black beans, and sopapillas for dessert.  It was a lot of food, but there were 8 of us eating (myself, the family of 5, Piti's grandmother, and Elena's friend) so the food pretty much disappeared.  
Elena's friend, Elena, Me, and Carla
Carla making the pico de gallo
After all that food we were then required, actually Piti and Javi decided that it was obligatory, to play Wii Justdance to work off all those calories.
And then the girls went off to bed while I went home to study some more.  Later that night, or should I say early the next morning, Alyssa and I took advantage of the new airline scheduling, the discount airlines put the new prices up the month before, to plan for when she comes to visit me in 36 days!!!! Then back to the grindstone.  Hopefully all this studying will pay off.  I still have three more countries and their story traditions to memorize before 4 pm on Thursday. Fingers crossed!

¡Hasta la semana que viene!