Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Photo Update!!

Here are some photos of Sevilla, Burgos, and If you look at the ending of the night life album there are pictures of Halloween!



Night Life:

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!!!!!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sevilla plus an extended adventure in southern spain!

Sorry this is a week or more late. I have been traveling every weekend! leaving on thursday and not getting back til sunday or monday so i have been very busy!

Anyways I traveled to Sevilla, 12 hrs on the bus! The weather was amazing and i saw all the sites i wanted to see. My hostel was completely different then the first one i stayed in. It was so nice! There were six of us, all girls, and the rooms were either 6 or 8 people, but since we booked them together we had a room all to ourselves with our own bathroom too! very nice! i think i have a few pictures i will try to link to my blog so u can see! there was a little bar in the hostel, and they had planned activities everynight. One night we went to a free flamenco show that a coordinator in the hostel led us to, along with two tapas bars (which have appetizers that are accustom to spain). The show was fun to see, but i definately think it would have been more spectacular and REAL flamenco if we had gone to a show that cost 50 euro. I just wanted to see what it was like, so free was fine for me!

In sevilla there is the 4largest cathedral in all of Europe. There is this huge tower that is 34 levels up. We went to the top and it had the most amazing view of Sevilla! The cathedral is one of the tallest, or maybe the tallest ive seen thus far. The taller they are, the more holy, because it is closer to god (higher in the sky). The altar in this cathedral is the biggest in all of europe. I expected it to be bigger, but it was still grand!

In the cathedral there was an amazing display of gold, which was the treasure room, with acient jewlery and artifacts as well!

Close by, just across the street there is Alcazar which is the palace of where one of the kings used to live. I dont recall which one, i think it was Alfonso and i dont know which roman numeral. i can try to look through my phamplets! so much info that i learn every day it is hard to keep track. Anyways, the palace is known for its amazing garden. Literally the size of a zoo. You feel like you are stepping into an oasis in hawaii in some parts with the tropical trees, flowers, fountains, etc! We walked all around for almost 2 hrs taking picture and enjoying the sites!

In addition, we toured around Sevilla which has a population of almost 1million! I met up with my friend studying in Sevilla but he was exhausted from an exursion he had been on with his program. He hung out with us a little bit one night and wrote down some places for us to go. All the touring made me tired very easily so we drank some wine in our hostel and planned to go out, but that didnt really happen.

One of the front desk workers at our hostel we made friends with. He was flamming and hilariously gay, 24 and from Belgum. He wanted to take us to his gay bar that he said straight people go to as well. He said it was a blast but in Sevilla it cost money to get into a lot of bars and discotecas so we didnt really want to spend money on a gay discoteca if we didnt know if it was going to be that much fun. We followed him to his apartment so he could change clothes and it was already two in the morning. i was definately dragging but i went along anyways. We laughed at the fact that if he was straight we would never go to his apartment, but he was so rediculously gay and funny that 5 girls could definatley beat this guy up! After being in his apartment, where he lived with another girl, we followed him to the bar. This guy had no sense of time! He told us it was only 5 minutes away and it took almost 20. When we got to the club there was a huge line and i really didnt want to spend money since i knew i was super tired and wasnt going to drink much or want to stay long enough to make the 8euros worth it. We ended up hailing 2 cabs and going home. Stan (our gay friend) went off and had the night of his life im sure!

The next evening we shopped around and went to a beautiful park that my friend who is studying here showed us. We did our homework and enjoyed the warm weather that has now vanished from Oviedo!

Our bus was scheduled to leave for 9pm so we had an early dinner and left the hostel at 730 to take a public bus to get to the bus station. Apparently that bus number didnt come on sundays so finally one of the girls went to the hostel to call us two cabs. They couldnt get ahold of the cab company so we walked to the taxi area in front of the mall but no taxis were coming. It was getting closer and closer to when our bus was suppose to leave and two of the girls were about to cry. I was keeping it together because i know that i know more spanish then some of the other girls who dont have as much experience or confidence. Although i am by no means perfect. I asked a man standing behind us for the taxi number and then we called and asked for 2 taxis immediately. One came and i let 4 girls go ahead and stayed to wait for the other taxi with one other girl, who is from Tawain. She knows english, not perfectly though, and barely any spanish, so that was a small worry!

Anyways, a few minutes later a cab came! My friend had told me the name of the bus station was Justas. So i told him el estacion de autobus, Justas. Unfortunately thats the name of the train station so i contradicted myself and he took us to the train station. We only had 15 minutes before our bus left when we got into the cab so we were already pressed for time and hoping that our friends in the other cab could get the bus driver to wait. When we arrived at the train station i didnt know we were at the wrong place because when we arrived at the bus station a few days before i was completely out of it and very tired. We went into the train station thinking it was bus station, and i went out to the platform. I had one of those surreal moments where I step out to the platform and saw trains racing by, not buses and the word renfe which is the type of trains in Spain. My mouth went dry and i panicked! Amy, my tawainese friend, was racing around as i was racing around trying to figure out what the heck to do. Finally i looked up and the time said 859pm. There was no way we could make it to the bus station. Thats when the tears came, I tried to keep it together but i was so overwhelmed.

Finally we caught a cab to the bus station after we realized taking a train would not be worth it at this point because we would have to wait til morning to even leave Sevilla. The women said we couldnt use our bus tickets and we had to buy completely new tickets. If we wanted the same route we took to sevilla we had to wait from 930pm to 6am so i tried to figure out a different way. We ended up purchasing tickets from Sevilla to Madrid on one type of bus and then Madrid to Oviedo. We would leave Sevilla t 1230am instead of 9pm like planned and then get into Oviedo at 130pm instead of 9am like planned. Not THAT bad, but it was 50euro i was not planning on spending! Definately an adventure. I missed one class, but my teacher didnt care, and it was only the class that is teaching us about cultural differences between spain and US. Its only once a week and its in english. Luckily i had a calling card for emergencies, so i called my mom in oregon and she was able to email my program director to tell her what was going on so my host mom and amy´s host mom didnt worry. We had a cell phone, but we didnt have any more minutes on the phone and the places to put minutes on were closed for the night. All we could do was recieve calls, but then our phones battery went low. We tried to plug it in but Amy´s charger was faulty. Lucky that i had my calling card and there were pain phones, however, it did take me almost 20minutes to figure out how they worked exactly!

All in all it was a good experience, and i told my friend nikki she bettet attach me to a leash next weekend when we go to barcelona on the train. Ive decided i dont want to travel in larger groups and this trip made me realize who i enjoy traveling with the most. I like flexible, good friends, that will speak up and take intiative like myself. Amy and i bonded so much in those 14 hours or so. She said she had lots of travel experience and i had Spanish so we needed to just stick together. She was very comforting!

So thats my recent adventure! take care!