25 December 2008

Bon Nadal

25 December 2008

¡BON NADAL! Oh boy am I pooped. Let’s start from the beginning!

Saturday morning I had to wake up at 3:30 am after only sleeping for about an hour to take a shower and head to the metro station. I left the apartment at about 4:40 armed with my backpack and an apple! It was so funny to see people still wandering around drunk while others were on their way to work. This one guy had brought one of the Bicing bikes down into the Liceu stop (typical Liceu), started yelling about it proudly, and was seeking applause. It was hilarious! As the train was pulling away, he reached over and started ringing the bike bell like crazy! Ahahaa, oh Spain! So I got to the Renfe station and there was 7 minutes til the train to the aeropuerto, so I waited to see if the girls would get there. No go. So I missed the first train since I assumed they would be there soon and that we would still be fine taking the next one. I called them about 8 times. No answer. That’s when I started worrying. Assuming they had not woken up, I called Holly who also didn’t answer. So I started weighing my options—wait and possibly not be able to board due to late check-in, or just go by myself (possibly on the whole trip). So I got on the Renfe and just as I got on I got a phone call from Allie’s phone. I didn’t even say “hi,” it was more of a, “HURRYANDGETONTHETRAIN—I JUST GOT ON! PLATFORM 9, PLATFORM 9!!!!!!!11” And all I got was a, “huh? I didn’t really catch any of that.” It was Holly. Hhaha! I guess they didn’t wake up to their alarms nor the phone calls (late/rough night), so I told them to just take a taxi. No problems from there on. It was weird to be at my gate when it was still pitch black. I felt like such a real person—going somewhere super early in the morning, haha! The sun rose as we were taking off and it was gorgeous! Jess wasn’t feeling too hot and we all wondered whether she would throw up all of the sudden. Poor girl. We got in fine and got some food at the Amsterdam airport which was so freaking cool! It was so modern and artsy! It was all decorated for Christmas and there was even a Christmas DJ in the middle. We got some twisty fries and a drink at the BK Lounge and hung out for a bit til Jess felt a little better. We had some serious troubles figuring out the ticket machines, but succeeded after about 15 minutes. Off we go! Amsterdam is ADORABLE!! I seriously love it! Having no map and no idea how to pronounce anything, we wandered south? We apparently passed some prosti’s while walking (since we were near the Red Light District), but I didn’t notice since I was on the phone. It took us so long to find our hostel. Since Amsterdam nor Brussels have metros (or they’re really small), you pretty much had to walk everywhere or use the tram. So we took the tram but still had some difficulties. Once we found it, Jess and Allie decided to take a nap and I met up with Amy and Kel who were staying with Amy’s cousin’s boyfriend (since her cousin was in the US at the time). They showed me around, which was a HUGE help! We went to the Van Gogh museum which was super cool. Afterwards, we all met up again and went over to Mark’s apartment which looks right out over a canal. It was such an awesome apartment. I guess it pays off to be an ER doctor and a…I don’t know what Amy’s cousin does. So we had a beer and then he said he had made a reservation for dinner for him, us, and some of his friends nearby. And by nearby, he definitely meant the restaurant 5 feet away next door. Haha! I had some stir fry which was soooo delicious! Mark got us wine and he ended up paying for us. I felt so bad since there were 8 of us total. We said we felt bad, but his friend says he does it all the time and not to worry. Still felt bad. Afterwards we went to a café and ate some muffins with gummy dolphins on top. Yummy! Then they took us to the RLD. Let me just say, I’m so happy they took us and that we didn’t just go 4 girls all alone. That place was sooo weird I just cant get over it! It just doesn’t seem right. Some of them looked my age or younger!! I was totally shocked. Definitely scarier than I had anticipated! So glad we weren’t alone! We wandered around for a bit before ending up at a club/bar to look for a tall, blonde Dutchman for Amy, haha! Since it was Jessie’s birthday that day, Mark kept (jokingly) asking if we should get her a stripper, haha! What a funny guy! They bought us drinks, which I again felt bad about. We went back to Mark’s for a beer while talking about American v. Dutch traditions, myths, food, etc. Mark is too nice. He definitely went out of his way to help us experience the city. What a crazy, drug experimenting doctor, haha! When we finally got home, our heads hit the pillow and we were OUT!

Sunday we started out by going to the Anne Frank House/Museum, which was beyond cool! We got to walk up part of the knee-breaker stairs, go through the bookcase, sneaky-snake door, and see where they all hid out. They had original things still in there, including her diary! They still don’t know to this day who turned them in. How horrible. It was probably somebody who was with them just trying to save their own ass. So scary =(. We walked around town, did some little shopping, went back to The Dolphins, and then went to the Boom Chicago show, which was alright. We decided that they couldn’t do any ridic fabulous jokes since the dutchies wouldn’t understand them. Oh well—still funny stuff!

Monday morning we got up early to catch the train to Brussels! Once again, we had a horrible time trying to find our hostel. This time we wandered COMPLETELY into the ghettos and were a bit unnerved. We got out of there quickly and went back to where we started. I went up to a taxi an asked how much it would be to take us to our hotel/hostel, and the guy said, “oh, its only about a 10 minutes walk right down this street!” Fabulous! How nice of him not to just rip us off—I would have! After lounging a bit in our lovely hotel, we went out to get some dinner and hang out at the Grand Place. I got some hot wine at the little Christmas market and Allie and Jessie got some hot chocolate! I didn’t really realize how hot my wine was and reacted in quite insanely. Allie and I laughed about it for a while since she witnessed it, ahahahha! They were having a lights show in the Grand Place (which I attached part of). It was so pretty! Their big nativity scene had live sheep as well. They were so fluffy and cute! While waiting for our hotel’s shuttle back to the hotel, we got a “Smartees McFlurry.” The word “Smartees” didn’t even register to me since they looked like Spree. I was very iffy about our choice to get this particular McFlurry since what appeared to be Spree seemed like a weird choice of candy. When we got it, Allie asked “what is a Smartee? Like, what’s it made out of?” Jessie and I both described Spree since that’s what they looked like in the picture, but Allie interrupted to ask, “but what’s INSIDE!?” Turns out they were M&M’s! Oh, you crazy Belgians with your “Smartees” which look like Spree in your ads, but are truly M&M’s! Then some drunk guy wandered up and put his arms around Allie and Jessie and was pulling them forward towards me so we could all 4 do some awkward hug? But I grabbed my purse and backed away. He kept moving. And then I almost walked into oncoming traffic to get away from him. The other 2 followed me into the street and he wandered away. What’s with the drunks in Europe…so odd.

Tuesday we got up and went down to get our complimentary breakfast. Usually we get cornflakes and a roll or something as free breakfast at hostels, but this was a legit breakfast! There were eggs, bacon, toast, yogurt, cereal, juice, fruit, etc. Sooo insane! That started our day nicely! We hopped on one of the Brussels tour busses, where we ran into a recently graduated U of I sorority girl (who I totally recognized), ahha! Turns out she was on her way to Israel to see her sister! Seriously, what are the chances of that?! Oh life! We got to see the Atomium, walk through the Japanese Gardens while singing and dancing to Christmas music, and then played in the Jubelpark! We took some great action shots there, hha! After the tour, we got Belgian waffles & hot chocolate (for our Belgian dips), souvenirs, and street fries before searching for the Manneken Pis. We got a chocolate version of him on the way, which was a nice clue that we were getting close! We found him and he was rather smaller than I had expected. Nonetheless, he was dressed in a Santa costume, and we took some pictures to make it look like he was peeing into our mouths since we’re classy like that, haha! It was soon time to start heading back so we could catch the shuttle to the train station, which would take us to the airport. Successfully home and tuckered out! We only thought it appropriate to watch 2 episodes of Arrested Development when we got back since we had been quoting it all weekend. Perfect!

On Christmas Eve we went out to get cookie making supplies, started making the dough and realized we didn’t have powdered sugar to make frosting! So we went back out and made an event out of it! I got a picture with Jack Skelington (dressed as Sandy Claws of course). He was fun. He’s totally my boyfriend. We got the stuff but got distracted by wonderful music on the way up. There was an awesome Spanish band playing music up by Hard Rock and we ended up buying their CD’s from Mr. Miyagi as a Christmas present to ourselves, haha! Cookies were a success!

Christmas morning Allie and I got up at 10:45 to make blueberry muffins and start making the stuffing! Cleaning out the chicken was kind of fun. I didn’t realize how wiggly they are! We made them dance and then pretended they were a newborn from the Lion King while singing the Circle of Life. We’re awesome. Jessie came out to help us after that. We stuffed him up, Jessie sewed him, we oiled him up with our hands, threw on some seasoning, and threw him in! In the mean time, I took a shower, we had our little Christmas (complete with presents, Sunny D, cookies, M&M’s, Christmas music, and some cake thing Allie made)!! It was nice. Right after, we had to start working on the mashed potatoes which were harder to do than I expected. But considering I thought the whole meal would be one large failure on my part, I was quite proud of the final product! It was sooo yummy! The stuffing was my favorite! Allie managed to make some gravy, so we had that too! It was such a delicious dinner! I don’t know how all women don’t hate Thanksgiving and Christmas! You cook all these huge meals that take hours to make and people eat them in less than 20 minutes. I mean, its very rewarding, but still. Clean up blows too, but we did it in small increments throughout so that helped. Allie and Jessie opened some presents with their fam while I cleaned up in the kitchen, then I opened with the fam via Skype. So strange! I don’t think it ever actually dawned on me last year that I wouldn’t be there this year for Christmas. It was so strange not to be home, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Sure, its different, but it was filled with exciting “firsts” for me this year! It’s just too bad I missed the white Christmas, ahha! I’d rather have Barcelona than a white Christmas though, haha! A Christmas Story tonight with Allie and Jessie tonight, yay!!!



MORE PICTURES
Muntaner
Barcelona
Amsterdam
Brussels

video

16 December 2008

No Te Creo

15 December 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!

So let’s see…I cant remember anything specific before leaving for Madrid to report on, so we’ll just pretend there was nothing!

I had to skip class (shame on me?) on Thursday in order to get to the bus to the airport on time. The bus ride went fast and Carolyn and I talked about home and how we are confused about our minor homesickness even though we absolutely love being in Barca. It’s so strange. Once we got to the airport, we had about an hour before our plane was supposed to board, so we got some lunch and hung out. However, our plane was late getting in, so it ended up being more like a 2 hour wait, at least 45 minutes of which we were standing in line. Oh well. We got in with no problems and headed off to find the metro station that’s in the airport. There were these Romanian? guys in front of us who kept turning around and looking at us. Umm, really? If you’re going to talk about us, at least be more secretive!! Goodness! 180 degree turns are quite obvious if you ask me! We got to our hostel, dropped off our stuff and went wandering. We ended up in the Plaza de Santa Ana where we found a Lorca statue and of course took some pictures with our poet laureate! Since we hadn’t eaten in about 7 hours, fuimos de cañas…aka we got some beer and tapas! And you know what? I love Madrid for the simplest reason—they all speak real Spanish and like speaking it with non-natives!!! No joke, when the waiter found out we spoke Spanish, he was all, “how cool,” and then kept coming back to our table unnecessarily just so he could say silly things to us in Spanish and see our reaction. Since Kelly and Amy still wouldn’t be in for a few hours, we headed back to the hostel to relax. I took a nice nap and Carolyn didn’t? I’m not sure what she did. But when we got there, we went back to the plaza where we ran into some drunk Spaniards. The guy came up to us and was like “are you going out?!?!!?!?” We said we were going out to dinner and he said, “noooooo.” Then he proceeded to ask what music we like and since no one responded for some reason, I said rock music to which he responded, “no te creo!!!” He then asked me to name one band and I gave him about 7 before he stopped me on Pink Floyd when he started singing and acting like a bird? I don’t know. He was quite an individual. He asked if we were English, we said no. Then he asked if Kelly was Italian and talked to Amy in English. When we told him she spoke Spanish, he said, “its okay, he speaks English! He’s in a band!” Okay, I don’t really care about you and your sketchy friend, but thanks for the biographical info! Before finally leaving us, he gave us all jolly kisses on the cheek. Oh Spain, I never know what to expect from you! We went and got dinner with Kelly and Ames and then headed back home for a night of non sleep!

So on Friday morning I woke up and went to go put my contacts on, but as it turns out, my face wash had leaked, gotten into my contact case, created a bubble bath in the right contact tray, and dried out my contact. In a desperate attempt to resuscitate my beloved right contact, I put water on it and it ripped in half. I screamed a lot and freaked out in my mind. So I wandered around the hostel with one contact in, thinking that the last time this happened I was at the Flogging Molly concert and unable to see properly. Poo. Then to make things in Spain more interesting, we got an e-mail from UIUC study abroad saying that the Basque extremist group ETA (who bombed the trains in Madrid a few years back), might launch a retaliatory attack due to the arrests in France and Spain on Monday of six of its members, including its suspected leader ….great. Oh well though. Its not like I’m going to just sit around in the hostel!! Thank God that Carolyn has practically the same prescription and was smart enough to bring her glasses. Armed with Carolyn’s glasses, I was ready to conquer the Escorial!! We took a metro to the Renfe station and then took about an hour long train to El Escorial! Let me just say…Basilio was right!! That place IS impresionante! It’s Philip XII’s symbol of power since it was made so huge. It represented masculinity, war, and death. There are the tombs of the past kings in one area (which we didn’t get to go into, but looked amazing), and then tombs of other members of the royal family. In its lifetime, El Escorial has functioned as a monastery for nuns, a holding area for soldiers, a cemetery for the Spanish kings starting in 1500 to the present king who will be buried there, a private university, and a huge library. They built an artificial lake by it because the king could only eat fish for some reason? There’s a statue of Saint Lawrence on the front and lots of gridirons on the outside of the building because that’s now Saint Lawrence died (he was burned / “grilled” to death). It has the 3rd biggest dome in the world and was very expensive to construct. We were so tired when we got home that all we wanted to do was sleep, but since we are warriors, we raged on. After going back to the hostel for a bit, we wandered over to Plaza Mayor where they were having a HUGE Christmas market! They had these enormous light up snowflakes suspended over the plaza and lights hanging off the balconies. There were bands playing Christmas music and people singing together. It was so cool! So we walked through all the stands and looked at all the stores in the plaza. It was awesome! For dinner we ended up getting churros and chocolate. Very interesting since I’ve never had it before. We’re so healthy!!

After another night of non sleep we got up early so we could squeeze the rest of Madrid into one day! First we headed over to the Plaza del Sol, where we got to see the famous statue of a bear climbing the madroño tree, which is the symbol of Madrid! After taking some pictures and getting offered a free tour (3 hours long, yeah right!), we went to check out the Palacio Real. It was big. It was kind of hard to get the complete experience since there were blue metal fences up in front of it from a concert that must have been there the night before. Either way, we found ways to amuse ourselves by taking silly pictures by the row of kings and such. We are so American. In attempt to appear more sophisticated, we hit up the museums of Madrid! First up was the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art which contains a large art collection including masterpieces by Monet, Goya, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, Bacon and Lichtenstein! It was so weird to see famous paintings in the flesh. So weird. We were all secretly starving by that point and decided to get some lunch! On the way, we spotted a building that had figures of the characters of Las Meninas on the balconies. How creative! Then we went to the Prado which was even MORE mind-blowing. It was so incredibly amazing to see all the famous paintings of Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, and Caravaggio since we learned all about them in Basilio’s class. We all screamed when we saw Las Meninas, which the lady said is a norm reaction for people when they see it for the first time. Gaah! I still cant believe I saw the real ones! THE REAL ONES!! Good God! They’re all so much cooler in real life. Gotta love historia del arte! Speaking of, Basilio said today that childbirth is horrifying and that he would prefer it if women laid eggs and that kids just broke out of them all happy. Such a silly old man! He said some other shockers today and then just chuckled like a little kid afterwards. He is quite the character, that one is! But yeah, before going to the last museum on our list, we went to the Retiro, which is Spain’s equivalent of Central Park. Even though it was raining at that point, it was still cool! It turns out that the Reina Sofía National Museum and Art Center was free when we went, yay! And guess what was inside?? GUERNICA!! So huge!! It was so cool! Picasso was so bomb! They also had a lot of stuff by Dalí and Miró and had a room dedicated to the Generation of 27, which is a whole other story….dont get me going on them! We ended up having another unhealthyy dinner at Starbucks where I had a hot chocolate and a piece of cheesecake, hah! Oh gosh.

Sunday morning I got up at 5:07 to get ready to go home. I was nodding off the entire way, but since I cant sleep sitting up, it was more like cruel and unusual punishment. So to keep me occupied, I started to read our next book for cinema class which is about a prostitute named Patty Diphusa. Such a class act!

16 December 2008

CHRISTMAS DECORATED ROOM PICS ARE HERE!!


PHOTOS
Madrid
Decorated Apartment!!


video


08 December 2008

oh my edward!


8 December 2008

HAPPY IMMACULATE CONCEPTION DAY!!! Yeah, not sure if that’s what its really called, but I’m going to run with it! Let’s see, let’s see. I haven’t done too much since I was trying to catch up on books this weekend. I got through one 246 paged book and 380 of a 460-ish book. Yugh. Juan Marsé must hate me!

Thursday after class I went in search of the Obama Shitter. In Catalyna they have this character in the Nativity Scene of a little kid who’s taking a shit in some hidden area of the scene. Since it’s such a silly thing, they started making famous shitters. I found the little Obama stinker, but he was super expensive and I decided to just take a picture of him, haha! On the way to the Christmas market, I saw the really sad looking beggar who is always on Carrer Pelai smoking a cigarette with his buddy and SMILING! Go you amigo! Then while walking around the Gothic Area, this dude who was all upset looking came up to me and was like “do you speak eeenlish?!” So I said yeah and he went on this whole spiel how he was robbed and needed a phone to call his family. I knew he was lying and told him to ask the people in the stores to lend them their phone. He said they didn’t have phones. Lies. So I told him to check other ones. He said he had. More lies. Then he asked for 50 cents, like that would solve all of his problems. I said “No, sorry. I’ve got nothing,” to which he replied, “I KNEW YOU WERE A LIAR!!” Bahahahaha!! What a turd muncher! And here he was thinking he was all clever and stuff. I also decided to not get my cartilage pierced here since its like 40 euros here and only about 18 dollars back in the US. A while later we went to this place called Quinze Nits (15 nights) for dinner. It’s a place where gourmet chefs in training work, so it was really nice food for cheap! So good! We went to the shot bar afterwards, but I was bored and went home after a half hour or so.

Friday I got up at 7:00 since we were going to Girona and the Dalí museum that day. Girona was pretty boring. There was a pretty river and some cool areas, but it wasn’t particularly gasp-worthy. The one thing that made me giggle was a sign that said something about “if you keep pissing on the stairs, I’ll kill you, you son of a bitch.” Since there were a lot of stairs, I didn’t know what they were referring to until we went up these spiral stairs that smelled like people had obviously pissed on them. So glad I put my hand on that railing! Sweeet! We had a little spare time before catching the bus so we walked around the Christmas market they had set up in town. We kept seeing these weird log decorations so we asked Pilar about them. Apparently they’re called “Tió de Nadal” or “Caga tió” and what they happens is, little kids feed the log little snacks every day leading up to Christmas Eve and on Christmas Eve night, they hit it with a stick, and it poops out presents! I don’t know, but it seems there is a minor obsession with poopin in Catalunya! Afterwards, we drove over to Figueras where we got some paella. They also gave us some muscatel, which is basically really sweet wine. But here’s the catch! You cant drink it out of a wine glass! They give you this jar with a spout on it and you have to pour it into your mouth without your mouth touching it—so fun! Then we went over to the Dalí theatre-museum. Ummmm, SO amazing! If anyone is in Barca and is remotely interested in Dalí, you MUST go there! So Dalí made the theatre-museum while he was still alive out of an old theatre that had been destroyed in the Spanish Civil War so the building itself is one of his works of art. And even though he had a plot ready for when he died next to his dear Gala, he decided later (after she died) to be buried in the museum either so he could be buried under the stars or something cute like that (the top of that room is a glass ball). If you look through the windows to the left, the glass ball is reflected so it looks like there are two of them when really there’s nothing over the outside cloister. We got to see a lot of his cool works, like the Abraham Lincoln/naked Gala one. From far away, it looks like a pixilated painting of Lincoln, but when you get close, it’s a painting of his naked wife—so insane! A lot of his paintings have cool optical illusions like that. One has what looks like a bunch of Venus de Milo’s on it, but if you look at it from farther away, it’s a man, a bull, and a Dalí as a child in the corner. We also, of course, saw the Venus with drawers coming out of her. There’s this one of a face, I think Goya’s face, but he had originally started out by putting an octopus on the canvas and letting it get its ink everywhere. After looking at the aftermath, he thought he saw a face in it and finished it off. In one of the rooms, Dalí constructed the Mae West/apartment painting. They had these stairs at the front of it with a bubble widow that showed you exactly how it all looks from a proper distance—so cool! If you look behind the red wall (her head) you get to see what’s going on in her mind…basically there was a bed and lots of shiny things, haha! There was one room that made it seem like you were inside of a treasure chest, and the inner cloister was pretty cool too. If you go from the theatre angle, it would be where the spectators would sit. But also, it could be like an aquarium. If you look up, there’s a little ship up in the air that looks like its being hoisted out of the water since there are water drops coming off of it. Also, the windows from the multiple floors of the museum face into the cloister. Each window has a golden person in it (or an Oscar statue) which makes it seem like you are the fish in the tank and that they are the ones watching you! Dalí also has a replica of his car that he had in the US in the middle of it. If you pressed a button, it rained on the inside of the car and the umbrella on the top of this ship closed up, which is kind of the reverse of what should happen. He also reconstructed people using all natural objects like bones and logs, and recreated the metro stop entrances from Paris. But yeah, I would totally go back there since it was such an amazing tour!! He truly was a genius, and a non-druggy I might add. Apparently he was his own drug.

After discussing Twilight throughout the day with some of the girls, about 7 of us ran off the bus to go catch the 8:30 showing of the movie. I was wearing my awesome Twilight shirt and everyone was obvi jealous, haha! Analysis. The first half was interesting. Not really how imagined Edward would act, but whatever. They missed some big things, shorted a lot of great parts, and rushed the start of their little romance. It was all of the sudden like “OMIGOD, I LUUUUV YOU!” Yes, I know you had to shorten the book, but you could have made the movie longer than 2 hours…silly. So yeah, first ½ was interesting. Some really horrible bits of acting mixed in there (i.e. “AS IF YOU COULD OUTRUN ME!” *constipated face*). Whatever. The second ½ was so awesome it thankfully made me forget the shortcomings/goofiness of the first ½ . Umm, the baseball scene was so rockin! I mean, how could it not considering there was a Muse song on in the background?! The prom part was also super cute, but that could have been due to the Iron and Wine song that was playing. I guess the music had a lot to do with those. But yeah. I saw it again on Saturday night since Amy and Kel wanted to see it. Hey, I’m not complaining! I’ll probably see it again next week, haha!

9 December 2008

25 pages to go in Últimas tardes con Teresa, wooooo! Also, Carrer Pelai beggar got a haircut. Lookin’ fab, homie!

PHOTOS
Thanksgiving
Around BCN
Girona & Figueres

I know I havent put up pictures of my room all decorated yet, but those will hopefully be with the next one. I'm feeling rather lazy. BUT! here is a special holiday treat for you all. If Ryan & Jordan see this, please dont kill me! I just thought it was cute =D

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