Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Vino Galore- The Napa Valley of España

Last weekend my whole program, all 45 of us, went on our first of two weekend excursions. We traveled by bus to Rioja which is the Napa Valley of Spain and continued on to Burgos for the remainder of the weekend. Rioja was amazing! We went to a winery and i was hoping to get to stomp on some grapes or go out into the vineyard, but the tour we had was still nice! We walked through cellars with bottles of wine more then 120 yrs old! There are layers upon layers of mold on the bottles and dust everywhere, but it was still incredible to see such preservation. The guide told us the wine looses its quality after 3o yrs or so. The oldest wines are still sold, but it is more as a keepsake, not for drinking! Anyways, we learned all about the fermentation process and the different sizes of barrells, how they are stored, etc! We even got to try a tinto reserve. I dont remember what year it was, i think the early 2000's. I was going to buy some wine, but I figured you all would forgive me, because i know that no one in the family is BIG BIG on collecting wine, and bringing it back is not the easiest thing. A lot of people bought wine, but i figured it would save me some stress and more lbs in my suit case to pack other things!

I saw three monasteries this weekend! I dont know why i just wrote an exclamation mark at the end of the first sentence, because they werent THAT exciting. ha. Anyways, i was expecting in my head that i would see some monks walking around, and i had this vision of china and the monks, obviously that vision did not come true. We didnt see any monks because they dont come out in public and the monasteries were more like museums. We didnt really see where they lived and all that. We saw courtyards, and other religious areas. It was interesting, but some was repetitive, and at one of the monasteries the woman spoke way too fast in spanish! I did enjoy two of them, but i definately feel that i do not need to see anymore monasteries anytime soon. They are all relatively the same. Im starting to feel the same about cathedrals, however, some of them had unique additions, like the one in Sevilla wit the tower and 34 levels. Its nice to appreciate the cathedrals, but a lot of the little rooms inside the actual church show the same sceneces of jesus, mary, and his life/crucification. I definately enjoy the ceilings, and the equisit detail. It shocks me that they were able to accomplish such artistic beauty so long ago with out all the technology that we have today. Everything was done by hand!

At the cathedral in Burgos there was an additional Cid exhibit! I cant remember if i have written about El Cid. He is like King Arthur only way more famous in for spanish children, they learn about him from a very young age! He is a warrior and a knight. He was banished my the King because the king was pretty much jealous of him! The people love El Cid but the King told the people that if they helped El Cid in anyway by giving him food or a place to stay they might as well be dead because they would be excommunicated! Everyone was too ashamed to tell El Cid why they couldnt open the door of the city for him, only a little child had the guts to say something. The king had found to horrible men to marry his daughters. El Cid was angry about this so he challenged the two potential husbands to a tournament with his friend. Of course El Cid and his friend won and with this they wont their honor and respect back from the King!
Now that you know the story, the cathedral was having a temporary exhibit with his tomb and a few paintings.

In Burgos we had time to explore the city. I thought it was going to be a lot smaller then it was! We shopped around for gifts and I even had pizza this weekend! There is this place called Telepizza and its quite similar to PizzaHut or Dominos, but when you miss American food, it really doesnt matter! The first time i had pizza, almost a month ago I thought i was getting canadian bacon on my pizza, but instead i got pieces of hot dog! Thus, it was nice to have hawaiin pizza and have it taste like greasy america!

This is kinda backtracking but i forgot to mention that we went out for Halloween! its not celebrated here but we went out anyways, because there are enough exchange students at the university that we didnt really care about people staring! I bought a little mouse mask and dressed up in a black shirt and tights. It was a lot of fun. I didnt stay out late because we had to leave for our excursion at 9am and i didnt want to be hung over on the bus, like half of my group was...I think im going to miss thanksgiving even more! I love the food and family time. Ohwell! ill get through it. I have been here 6 weeks and i only have 6 more!!

take care everyone! Im off to Barcelona this weekend! I CANT WAIT! We have so much planned!!!!!!

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