Dia 9

 

Today was our first day of classes and orientation to the university! It is not the medical university it is a two-story building that is an international university of Cadiz. We have a culture class, an art history class, and a two-hour grammar class, so we are in class everyday from 9:30-2. The first two classes shouldn’t be too bad but the grammar class is actually going to have a lot of work, written assignments, presentations, and journals, but the professors are very cool.

As for the rest of the day, Senora Isabel is fixing us lunch and then we might siesta before going to the supermarket or beach. Later today we are meeting up with the group for a tour around the city, and then a group dinner at la Catedral.

La playa era muy divertido y la mayoría de nuestro grupo se reunieron en la playa. El camino a través de la ciudad era bueno también y ayuda a orientar nuestros con las plazas y las direcciones de la ciudad. La cena era tapas en la plaza Catedral y el escenario era muy bonita. Ahora, Mackenzie y yo necesitamos esperar para el niño, Adan, a ducharse antes de nosotros, pero estamos muy cansadas…..IMG_3352_2 IMG_3353_2 IMG_3355_2 IMG_3356_2 IMG_3359

 

Cadiz Dia 8

 

Today was mostly spent driving to Cadiz, but we stopped in Merida for two or three hours to see the excavations, crypt, and theatre of the Roman ruins in Spain. It was over 2,000 years old (18 B.C.) and was excavated in 1986, and is one of the largest and most well-preserved Roman ruins there are. It was over 100 degrees though today so it was almost unbearable to walk around for way to long, but the museum inside was very large and had three stories worth of mosaics and excavated statues.

Arriving in Cadiz. Our host moms met us in the main square, with big smiles! Mackenzie and I’s mom is in her 60s, and lives with her daughter and two nephews, one is two and one seems to be in high school, and likes listening to Drake haha. We were warmly welcomed by Senora Isabel. There’s also another exchange student here who’s been living with them for 5 months but is leaving tomorrow for Alaska, she is very sweet and speaks Spanish so so well that Mackenzie and I are slightly embarrassed. Anyways, we are hoping to learn a lot from living here for the next few weeks but there’s so much to adjust to. We first got here and it was so hot our host mom sent us almost immediately to explore the beach (after meeting about 10 of their closest family or something…who we cannot tell apart very easily yet…4 people live here with us and it seems they all share one bedroom and bathroom?) The beach was PACKED and we were there from 7:30-9. There are really no waves, the water’s pretty chilly but felt great in the heat, and there are lots of kids playing soccer along the beach (they love their futbol here). It was amusing that almost all of the young girls were topless just like the boys on the beach. We ate dinner around 10, Senora Isabel is a good cook! Her apartment is very pretty and has yellow walls and flowers on the sheets. Laundry is done once a week by our host mom, and she insists on doing it herself.

Mackenzie and I look forward to orientation tomorrow morning and navigating the streets (but we will be walked to class tomorrow by our host mom J ). Classes are from 9:30-2 everyday! More to come…Miss you guys!

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Madrid Dia 6 y 7

The first night in Madrid was very restful, and I woke up early the next morning and went for a run in one of the large parks about 10 minutes from the hotel. The city is not too used to runners but Dr. Sample pointed me to the nice place he normally goes to run. The hotel served a great breakfast, you can almost always count on there being fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, pastries, and meat and cheese. The group headed to el Museo del Prado, a very famous art museum that features art such as the original Las Meninas. The art in this museum was much larger than I had anticipated and it’s really cool to be able to see the art on such a large scale instead of just featured as tiny pictures in our textbooks. We also toured the Modern art museum en el Centro del Arte and got to see a lot of Ashley’s favorite, Picasso! The grandiose La Guernica is featured here and it is captivating, only using grayscale as the color scheme, which is very different from all of the other paintings we had been seeing.

After these art museums, we had the chance to walk around and shop a little bit, the streets were very crowded this afternoon because it was Promenade, where everyone dresses up all fancy and walks around, kind of to show off in a way! We joined a larger group for dinner at an American Mel’s Diner (figures…) and enjoyed one of our last American meals for a while, with the best milkshakes we’ve ever had (with flavors like Nutella, Toblerone, Sweetarts, etc.) Might’ve topped cookout Kayla….

The entire group then got dressed up in fancy dresses because we were going to experience the famous 7-story club in Madrid called El Kapitol. People who came were dressed to the dime and this club was said to hold 8,000 of these people. Each floor had a different theme, with the VIP area being the roped off roof-top lounge and bar on the top floor.

 

The next day we were all downstairs for breakfast by 9:15 and then began the tour of Madrid with our favorite guide, Ricardo, a history professor here in Madrid. The tour took us around to some of the statues, monuments, and grand buildings, but the heat was pretty intense and everyone was exhausted by the time 1:00 rolled around. A couple of us grabbed bocadillos (foot-long sandwiches on baguettes) and headed back to the hotel for a really nice siesta. Two hours later we are all re-energized and a group of the girls head out to shop a little more, and then join up with almost the entire group of students to go out and find a good spot for dinner. The places for dinner around here hardly ever open before 8, a normal dinner time in Cadiz is going to be approximately 10 pm…..uh oh! After dinner, about 9:30, I went for another run in the park, it stays light here until a little after 10 pm! My roomies and I started packing up our bags then, headed to Cadiz at 7 tomorrow morning!

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Zaragoza y Madrid Dia 5

Today was mostly spent driving in a large bus through the mountains of Spain to get to Zaragoza and Madrid.  Our pit stop in Zaragoza was to eat lunch and see the large Basilica Pilar, which was from the Renacimiento period and employed a very baroque style, with colorful paintings on the ceilings and very ornate walls and domes.  We finished out the trip with four hours to Madrid and once here we dined in a restaurante called Mingo and had tapas and chicken! It was very interesting to see how different the two cities are (barcelona and madrid), Madrid has a bigger-city feel and seems almost like a trip to New York in some ways.  Dinner was excellent and everything is done family-style, I’m pretty sure the restaurant only serves a few menu items and everyone goes there for the potato pancake type dish and for the tasty chicken breasts.IMG_3268 IMG_3270_2 IMG_3274 IMG_3276 IMG_3277

Barcelona Dia 2 y 3

IMG_3156 IMG_3160 IMG_3189 IMG_3194 IMG_3198 IMG_3200 IMG_3210 IMG_3223 IMG_3237 IMG_3249 IMG_3260 IMG_3265The next day we headed to the Picasso museum and saw everything from the paintings he began as a teenager to the paintings in his later years with cubism. My favorite of this museum were the series of paintings he titled Las Meninas (after a famous painting from the 1800’s). A temporary/visiting Dali exhibit was attached to the museum as well and we got to see the comparisons between the two artists.

After the museum, we revisited the cathedral Santa Maria del Mar, famous for the 1714 war of secession, with the loss of Catalans, the cease-fire took place at the church. Following the church, we walked around that area, Born street, and saw the excavations that lie beneath the city. The ruins of the Romans, the middle ages, and the new Barcelona are all layered on top of one another underground.

The Parque Guell was our next stop, after climbing the largest uphill I have ever seen (steps on steps on steps) we arrived in the beautiful and sandy park designed and inspired by Gaudi, with beautiful structures and buildings that sit high up in the mountains of Barcelona. The view from the top was incredible and we could see everywhere we had already visited in Barcelona from the top. We also picnicked in the park under the palm trees.

After the park we toured la Casa Pedrero, also designed by Gaudi. It’s placed right along one of the popular streets of Barcelona, la calle Garcia, where many high-end shops are located. The house is still used as apartments and office space but the architecture is beautiful and the roof access and top few floors are used for tours and exhibitions. The audio tour took us through the rooms sort of how Biltmore does, and we saw all of Gaudi’s beautiful designs, down to the smallest detail like his hand-made specialty door knobs that fit to a hand and the odd-looking wood carved chairs.

Undoubtedly the longest day so far, we finished it with the freedom of dinner wherever we wanted to go. A few of us went to La Plaza Real and watched a few street performers while we ate outside at Tobagan and ordered a dish very similar to Paella, but with different noodles, I believe mine was called Fideguay.

Lastly, the group all came together to try out a club right on the beaches of Barcelona. The beaches were crowded because this was the night of a huge fireworks festival as well, and it was such a fun experience (even American music haha).

 

The following day we rode the train for an hour to the cable car that took us up to Montserrat. This had to have been my favorite day so far. We rode the cable car up 1,350 feet to view the beautiful Montastery, where young boys can still attend a school and choir. We rode the Ferniuclar to the top of Montserrat from there and then hiked an hour down the mountain, stopping at little shrines and crosses along the way, enjoying undeniably the most breath-taking view I have ever seen in my life, no exaggeration. Many venders were along the streets back down in the main area offering samples of cheese and honey made directly below the mountain by local famers. After spending the whole day in Montserrat, the whole group ate at la Plaza Real in the restaurant Crema ______? And I tried duck for the first time and was very pleased!

Next stop…Zaragoza y Madrid!

Barcelona Dia 1 y 2

After having been awake since 5:00 am on Saturday, I finally arrived in Barcelona at 7:00 am the previous day (with a 6 hour time difference!).  Navigating a few of Barcelona’s busy streets from then until noon was my first task…along with finding the hotel.  After stopping in and inquiring at four different hotels, seemingly named the same and all having Ramblas in their name, I located my hotel from where my autobus had dropped me off.  Las Ramblas is the street my hotel was located on, one of the most popular streets in Barcelona, where it seems no one ever stops moving.  I settled down with my travel guide and a Jamon and cheese sandwich in a breakfast place a few doors down while I waited for noon to roll around and trying not to fall asleep at the table.

By noon, almost everyone had arrived in Barcelona and the group of us met with the 3 professors in the lobby of the hotel.  Hotels are very different here and are squished in tiny little doorways on busy streets, so they are very narrow.  Our group headed out for a walk around Barcelona to see some of the scenery, as well as entering la Catedral de Barcelona.  The dress code was very strict, shoulders must be covered and knee-length pants.  We heard live music on the steps of the church while we watched locals join in dancing the Sardana together, making a circle and holding hands.  I enjoyed learning about the locals’ lifestyle and how the city is urbanized and the residents live above the shops and restaurants on main roads as well.  We walked down to the marina and were able to see the huge fish that swam in the clear blue water and all of the pine trees lined up against the boardwalk.  Also, I am very impressed by the bike lanes and how commonly used they are.  After a short siesta the group met up and headed to dinner at la Taverna Basca Irati, where we ate Tapas (appetizers/finger-food) of many varieties with wine.  Following dinner we ate Gelato (they are practically everywhere in Barcelona) and then everyone went a street or two off Las Ramblas to enjoy Sangria at the bar with the locals.

Today we had breakfast at the hotel, they eat lots of bread and pastries over here, and then we headed to a plaza to begin our Fat Bike Tour around Barcelona.  It was a four hour leisurely bike ride seeing sites around Barcelona such as the beach, the Arc de triomphe, a park, and La Sagrada Familia.  The beach was man-made and created only for the Olympics.  They brought in tons and tons of sand from the Sahara dessert, and do annually, and they also brought over palm trees from Hawaii because they do not naturally occur here.  La Sagrada Familia is a church that Gaudi designed to take 200 years to build.  It is still under construction and is predicted to be finished by 2026.  It was beautiful and intricate and displays scenes from the Nativity and also from the death of Christ on it’s outer walls.  Gaudi’s crypt is also on the lower floor of the church.  We had lunch outside in the middle walk of Las Ramblas and had Paella.  Later today we took the subway back to La Sagrada Familia and toured.  Most took the subway back to the hotel afterwards, except one spanish professor, two students, and I, who walked the 40 minutes back to the hotel in order to see the modern and newer side of the city, and Gracia street which had high-end shops and more of the locals.  It was nice to see a side of town that was less touristy.  Dinner was served back at the hotel and lasted from 8 pm to 10 pm, no less. People here very much enjoy sitting at the table and not rushing their meals, as well as eating really late at night.  But the whole scene is starting to become very comfortable as we get adjusted to how everything runs here.  Now we are turning in, because a full day is in for us tomorrow, including picnics, churches, and maybe a little shopping!

 

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