Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Ten Finger Count Down...

So its offical.
 I´m almost home. I can offically count down the days until I leave Spain on my fingers (hence the title) and I´m actually getting pretty upset. I mean I´m ready to go home but wow, its been quite a ride.
Again, I´m sorry this has taken me so long to update, and this will probably be my last post because i´m going to talk about quite a lot and idk if I´m going to have a computer in madrid.

This is a pic of Bilbao

So first things first, two weeks ago (wow its been a while since I´ve updated haha) all 20 of us Americans wen to Bilbao.  Its the Capital of País Vasco, which hopefully rings a bell to a few of yall because of the ETA.  They are a terrorist group in País Vasco trying to push for independence in the region.  País Vasco has there own language and its not connected to any langauge in the world.  So they have a lot of pride in that area.  Anyway, when we were there we went to a modern art musuem The Guggenheim and that was really cool even though I´m not really into modern art.  There was a floor of "suspence" and "darkness" and it was really cool because it really did make your hair stand up looking at these wierd works of art of like faces being cut out of magazines and stuff. I´ve posted a few pictures above and I have a few more below but there wasnt really much to see because you cant take pictures inside the musuem but the outside looks cool!

This is the Musuem, as you can see it looks kinda "modern arty"

Dont ask my why because I dont get it but these steps are supposed to be really artsy and cool because of the way they are designed...

Dog made out of flowers.  Enough said.

The next week I got to go to ROME and it was amazing.  Let me tell you.  I left on a Wed. but unfortunatly before I went i got really sick and was running an 104 fever.  I didnt eat for 3 days and I honestly think I lost about 10 lbs.  I dont have many pictures of myself because I legit look gaunt. But here are a few of the pictures of the city
This is close to where I stayed, with a friends family, the Mays, who honestly are some of the best people I know.  I hadn´t seen Mr. or Mrs. May in three years because they live in Rome but they honestly made me feel extremely welcome and Mrs. May out did herself with all the food she cooked.  We also got to go to Rachels (Lauren Mays little sister) school Christmas bazaar thing.  I bought dad some legit EVOO aka Extra Virgin Olive Oil which I hope he enjoys.

Trevi Fountain.  Throwing two coins behind your back is good luck here... or something like that.

From the top of the Spanish Steps.

Mrs May called this the "wedding Cake building" because she thought it looked like a wedding cake.  Its actually the government building that houses the dept of historical treasures aka monuments and stuff.

Me on top of the cake building, about to get yelled at because,if you can see behind me, the reath for the tomb of the unknown soldier which happens to be at the top.

So thats my trips.  Kate who is another person who went on the trip to rome with me has pictures of the Mays house which I wish I could post from fbook but I dont know how, and she also has pictures of Lauren Mays sister who 1. looks exactly like her and 2. went and showed me and Kate around at night to get a feel of the nightlife.

Three small rants while I still have your attention...
1.  I got to stay with the Mays in Rome and because Mr. May works for the Government he gets military privilage aka they gets to shop at the military store which has all American food.  Lets just say I spent my mornings and nights noshing on chewy bars, real cereal (lucky charms to be exact) and milk, and eating any other American food I could get my hands on.  That, tied with that fact that I could watch American TV and there house smelling like there house from the States it was an amazing feeling of being home.  It was so wierd stepping outside and being in Rome when, I was inside, it felt like Charlotte.

2. Its rained in Santander for 14 days straight now, and i´m not talking a little rain I´m talking POURING.  My friend Chris was joking that when he was walking home the other day from school he kept thinking something was differnt but couldnt put his finger on what it was.  Finally he realized it was that the pavement was dry and it had been so long since he had seen dry pavement it looked wierd!  Not only is it raining but its COLD.  Today its 5 degrees C or about 40 degrees F.  Thats without wind chill.  But for some strange reason it was thundering and lightening today also? complete with LOTS of hail.  I tryed to take a picture but it doesnt do it justice.
3.I´m sorry the pictures suck, its freezing cold outside and I have to stand holding my I-touch facing some appartment to get WiFi, and in the freezing cold its not my thing.  For some reason most of my pictures wont upload. so thats all I have for you, as of now. I hope you have enjoyed my little adventure.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Salamanca ohh What a City

As promised here is part dos of my adventures recently.  Two Fridays ago (Oct. 29-Nov 1) all twenty of us Americans got to go to Salamanca for the long weekend.  I mean, life is already good because we dont have classes on Friday, but in Spain I feel like there is some sort of holiday every other weekend.  This trip was no exception and because Nov. 1st is "El Dia de Todos los Santos" aka all saints day we got three legit days in Salamanca and a day spent pretty much traveling.  So without farther adu (sp?) let me tell you about my amazing trip.

We all got to the bus at 9 30 and we were off.  As most people know, Spain and most of Europe, is all about mass transport and although we get to rent out our own bus, the trip is still pretty long.  It took us about 5 hrs to get to Salamanca but luckly due to crazy Spanish laws we were forced to have a 30 minute smoke break for the bus driver half way through.  I actually really enjoyed the trip because I love just hanging out and talking to everyone on the bus.  Its funny because for the first hour we are all extremely loud and then all of a sudden everyone shuts up and it gets super quite because everyone falls asleep due to being up partying the night before.

So the first thing you should know about Salamanca is its home to the third oldest university in Europe and because of that history of learning to this day a lot of Spanish scholars live in Salamanca and a lot of people from around the world want to come and study there.  When I was there I cannot tell you how many people from all over the world I met- Some guys from rome, a group of hot portugese girls, some wierd german, a group of Americans from Ohio, an Australian... the list goes on.  Above are two pictures of the city from standing on top of the " New Cathedral" which, funny enough" is hundreds of years older than the United States.

I just thought the 2nd one was funny, it was an accident, I wasnt ready.

The first day, when we got there, we pretty muched chilled.  We unpacked, got settled in, and had the rest of the day free to explore the city by ourselves.  As in Barcelona I really enjoy walking around a new city and not going to the huge tourist sites but seeing what a person that lived in Salamanca would see.
That night, we did exactly what we always do, went out and partied hard.  I´m not going to go into details about this part of the trip ( I am an academic after all, and do not approve of "partying") but lets just say everyone had one the best times during this weekend.  I mean the clubs are full of college students from all over the world and everyone speaks English so you can finally communicate!  The next day we toured the new cathedral, which I have posted pictures of above and some some of the city.  The main center is called La calle de los Torros- The street of the bulls because it was where, originally, the stadium for bull fighting was.  When that closed all the roads led to that area so they decided to turn it into a plaza at the center of the city.  I didnt get any pictures of it during the day, but at night it was amazing...
Sunday, Halloween, is a huge day in Salamanca.  If anyone has studied history you will probably remember hearing about THE Lisbon Earthquake in the 17th century that destroyed most of the city.  (Candide the work by Voultaire talks about it also- I mean this was a big deal) Anyway, Salamanca is close to Portugal and the effects of this huge earthquake were felt there as well.  To recognize this, and to pay tribute to everyone that died a man climes the clock tower of the New Cathedral every year on the 31th of October. Bands and people come out from all over Spain and Portugal to sing and dance and watch him do this.  Us Americans kinda stumbled on this and got prime spots to watch him do it.

It started with a small crowd, and If you can look closely, the hombre with the hat on is the man that climes the tower, he´s taller than everyone because hes on a horse.
This is the crowd just before he starts to clime.  I´m telling you it was madness.  Dr. Chandler´s wife was at the back of the crowd and she said it legit stretched for half a mile down a wide street with people trying to come watch.  Not only that it was FREEZING the whole trip.  I´m talking about low 40´s with wind.  These Spanish people dont mess around!
This is a crappy picture, I know. BUT if you look really closely what happens is the hombre climes up the tower and goes through a whole in the clock.  I tried to get him sticking his head out but all I got was the door to the clock being opened.  Just imagine.
After we had frozen solid, and watched the dude clime the tower, we decided to go see the University.  Its crazy how old that place is and people still use the same rooms.  Its like saying " yah this is Christopher Columbus´ real ship but sure you can take it out for a ride" I mean what the heck?!
Different parts of the university...

This statue is important.  This is a Spanish priest (I´m sorry I forgot his name, google it if you care that much) that got in trouble with the Catholic church because he translated some of the Bible from Latin to Spanish.  He was thrown in jail for like 12 years.  He was also Dean/headmaster of the University once he came back I believe.

This is the room the Priest was taken from, in the middle of a lecture, by the Inquesition before being thrown into jail.  The joke goes, after 12 years of being in Jail, the man returned to this very same room and says "As I was just saying..." and continued with the same speech as before, not caring what trouble he could get into.  I´m sorry the picture is bad but the lighting is terrible, but check out those benches.  Its like a tree thats just had the bark taken off, and think about how historic it is, AND PEOPLE STILL USE THIS ROOM!? whats wrong with these people.
The next few pictures are of the inside of the University.  At the time the school was just starting it doubled as a religious center so not to step of the extremely powerful toes of the church, who could have easily shut it down. Again today people study in these rooms. BLOWS MY MIND. It looks like a museum...

Last but not least.  I wanna talk about Halloween night.  One of the funnest nights of my life, hands down.  Before the trip began a few people talked about dressing up in costumes but I wasnt going to do it.  By the time we had finished touring the University everyone was talking about there costume so Chris (a friend of mine) and me started freaking about because we didnt have anything! we ran around like chickens with our heads cut off until we were able to piece together a cheap, lame costume of a brojo (witch is broja in spanish but since we are dudes brojo-try to keep up).  What we didnt know, and failed to recognize the night before was that in Spain, what you do is dress up for when it turns to midnight the NIGHT BEFORE so they actually celebrate Halloween the night of the 30th or the early morning hours of the 31st.  So pretty much 20 lame Americans with crazy costumes come rolling into all these bars and dance clubs looking like complete idiots. I loved it. It was so funny. Here is my costume...
Yes complete with broom, AND a cape that says " Enter if you dare" which is obvously extremely scary.
I wish I had more pictures with everyone elses costumes BUT I dont so check facebook.
On the ride home we were all pretty beat from the night before.  We all sleeped and talked about our adventures.  But something really cool happend and I´m going to call no-homo on this.  I literally saw the biggest rainbow of my life.  AND not only that I saw where it ended.  I kid you not there should have been a pot of gold because it was literally the end of the rainbow.  I thought that wasnt possible but it happened. And I have pictures to prove it...
It was crazy wierd and everyone was freaking out but I thought it was cool.

Side note..........
I told my friends I write a blog and they forced me to talk about my Bocadillo obsession. When I was in Barcelona I literally ate four Bocadillos a day.  For those of you who do not know what a Bocadillo is, let me enlighten you.  Its just a sandwhich on bread that doesnt look like American square bread BUT its delish.  I eat them all the time.  Just last night after I went to the clubs I had 2 from this place called Zampas. Bacon and queso. SO GOOD.  I like Jamon Iberico and queso. But what I really love is what I get every day at school when we have a break between classes.  I ordered it the first day and by now all I say when I go to the cafeteria is Bocadillo Caliente and they make it for me.  All my friends get it now also.  Lomo (pork) Queso (cheese) Pimientos (Red peppers) and Bacon. I eat one every day at school before lunch and I die a little inside when I think about how I´m not going to be able to eat any more once I go back to the states.  So thats all I wanted to say.  That and I actually took pictures of my Bocadillo last Thur.
Ok so I may have gotten a little carried away, but hey, people do crazy things when they are in love... Right?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Travel Update Part uno... Lorado y Castro Urdiales

So as you can tell from the title this is going to be a 2 part update (ohh yeah get excited) because a lot has happened that I have not filled everyone in on.  Last weekend- for Halloween all 20 of us Americans got to go to Salamanca and I for sure want to give you guys all the details about that.  BUT before I do that, I want to talk to you about another trip I went on, the week before, with three of my good friends.

BUT even before I can do that... I would like to go on a small rant. So you dont get bored, I´ll put a few pictures up in between
 here I go:

                                           Dont get me wrong. I. Love. Spain.
This has literally been the best 60 plus days of my life. I have learned so much about life outside of America and about people in general.  I´ve eatin weird food (blood sausage), tried wierd drinks (absenth) and been more crazy than I would ever have dreamed to be in the States.  But in doing all these things I learned a ton and I honestly feel like EVERYONE should study abroad once in there lives.  There is no way to describe to everyonewhat  you experience or feel through talking or pictures you have to live it.  And thats why I feel like me and the 19 other Americans get along so well- we are all going through the highs and lows together and we have definately bonded because of it. The things you learn are not necessarily academic but rather you ask yourself about ur thoughts and ur views. Why do I do what I do? Are the things I deem right and wrong, that way because of society or is everyone confined by that same sort of things?¿ But there are some things that I really miss from back home and here they are...

1. Friends and Family- I spend way to much time on Fbook talking to my friends back home because I miss them and want them to be here and live the life I am living.  Obvously if there WERE here things would be completely different and the experience wouldnt be the same but I still can wish right? As for family do I really need to say more? Love them all and it for sure makes my day when I get to talk to one of them for a legit amount of time weither on the phone with mom and dad or on facebook chat with one of the sisters when we actually have time to talk and not just say hey because one of us is rushed.

2. American Food and Feeling Full- If I eat one more piece of bread I might burn my casa down to the ground.  I kid you not I eat a LOAF of bread everyday. Dont get me wrong this is the best bread I´ve ever had and when I get back to the states I´m going to miss it but this high carb diet here is killing me.  I´m constantly hungry because I dont get enough protein and I cant remember the last time I ate a green veggie. (thats no joke) Everything my madre makes me is fried!!! Want I want is home cooked healthy food.  Something thats filling so an hour later I´m not thinking about the next meal.  This is also a problem going to the gym where I have no energy and in the morning where I freaking eat cookies and milk for breakfast!.  I´m not Santa so lets cut the crap.  I want eggs, I want King Ranch Chicken, I want green beans, and some mexican food wouldnt hurt.  Side note my first meal is going to be Chick ful a which I realize runs contrary to this whole healthy not fried food speech but hey I´m not in a stable mindset right now.

3. Being Cold All The Time-  I´m cold all the time. Enough said.  My house has heat but my madre doesnt use it.  I woke up the other night and looked at the temp after I had went to the bathroom... 14 degrees.  Thats 57.2 degrees IN DOORS PEOPLE.  I´m walkin to the bathroom in just boxers and I´m pretty sure my toes go black and blue.  The other day I came home from the gym and looked at myself in the mirror and STEAM WAS COMING OFF MY BODY.  No really, steam was coming off my body. You didnt miss read that.  Its really really really cold inside my house.  You know that amazing feeling you get when you go outside and your freezing your ace off and you go back inside and its great because you get all warm? Well here that doesnt happen.  I´m cold outside and I run inside to only slightly less cold and no wind.  Its just not doing it for me to be honest. Heres the pic of the steam off my body.  I was so amazed I took a picture. Idk if you can see the steam BUT its there... (check out my head you can see it)

4.  Warm Showers-  Anyone that knows me knows I take a lot of showers.  I legit enjoy them.  Its relaxing.  Its good after I workout and I´m beat and when I wake up and I´m trying to start my day.  Well here my shower blows.  I end up standing in water half way up my shins.  AND my madre has already told me the water bill (heating) was way to high soooo now I take even colder showers- which I think is amazing because I´ve been trying to be very nice about it and take one shower a day and really quickly but when your cold in yourhouse I kinda wanna warm up in the shower so maybe I have been going a little too long... SUE ME.
5. Basketball/Sports/The YMCA- I miss watching basketball and college football and the NFL. I look at espn daily to read about how badly my teams have lost these past weeks and it hurts.  But not nearly as much as not being there for them! I want to watch the Miami Heat lose. I wanna watch the Bcats win a game.  I wanna sit back and smile as John Fox coaches himself out of a job.  BUT i´m here watching soccer....fml

Ok well now that I got all that off my chest I feel better.  Thanks for sitting through that.  Now back to my life.  The pictures I have posted between my paragraphs have all been of Lorado.  One weekend when a lot of the Americas were traveling all over Europe me, Jason, Laura, and Morgan decided to take a day trip to Lorado and Castro Urdiales two small cities that other than being beautiful dont really have much to talk about.  Lorado is old  and like the picture above feels really European with its narrow stone streets but what I liked more was the landscape of it being on the water.  Good pictures.

We left Santander and it only took about an hour by bus to get to Lorado and than from Lorado to Castro Urdiales about another 30 minutes.  Our bus left at 9 30 and we got back at 10 30 so it was literally a whole day affair.  I really enjoyed it though because it was super chill.  I really dont have that much to say, I mean the places were beautiful but had no real historical significance or anything.  So just enjoy looking at the pictures I took.
Ok so after we had seen all the sites. (Btw how do you say that in the past tense site saw? site seed?)
we went and got lunch before we left for Castro Urdiales.  One of the great things about Spain is they have these plates of the day and you get a lot of food for a pretty good price.  In Lorado I got water, wine, bread, a first course of Lasania, a main course (chicken and fries) and desert for 10 euro a deal that really cannot be beat.  But the really important part of this story is the lasania.  I kid you not it was the best lasania I have had in my life and I´ve had some dank lasania.  This stuff was MONEY.  I mean I´m not big on taking pictures but I took a picture of this food.  It was that good! btw yes that is queso covering the whole thing.  I would take the hour bus ride and pay the 8 euro for the trip just to eat that again.  Heck I would pay the 10 euro that I did for whole meal for just this dish.  It was that good.

The rest of these pictures are from Castro Urdiales. Nothing too exciting about this place other than it was on the water and was really pretty.  The day was perfect for picture taking so by my standards I took a lot.  My friends took atleast twice as many as I did.  I´m not going to type anymore so just take a look and enjoy the pictures. PS I´m going to update tomorrow (or later today depending on how bored I am) about Salamanca.

Ok I lied.  Castro Urdiales is famous for its original lighthouse.  The city was founded by the Romans and they put up a lighthouse which was either THE first or one of the first in Spain.

While I was there all I could think about was A. wow this place is really really pretty and B. I cannot believe people actually live here... In all this old historic culture and with these really nice houses with boats right on the water.  It was incredible.

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