30 April 2009

Sláinte!


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22 April 2009


So tonight I went to the Barca v. Sevilla game with Allie, Kate, and Ashley! They’re so fun! We all hung out at Rosa’s before, made pizzas, and drank champagne! We also took another bottle with us for the 7 minute walk over to the stadium, haha! We definitely should have brought the third, but how would we have known?! Our seats were way up there, but it was awesome! Despite the fact that we killed Sevilla 4-0, it was still more intense than the last one I went to, which I love. It’s still crazy to be inside of that stadium—there are just so many people there!!

30 April 2009


The 23rd of April is Catalunya’s Día de Sant Jordi (their version of Valentine’s Day). On this holiday, there are street vendors selling roses and books on every corner. Traditionally, guys give girls roses, and girls give guys books! What a sexist tradition! Anyways, since our classes were cancelled, we decided to make it a beach day! I’m so glad we decided not to walk there because it was absolutely ridiculous. I have never seen so many people on the streets of Barcelona. Based on the crowd by Placa Catalunya, it would have taken us hours to get to the beach. Unfortunately, Amy and I (but more Amy) had to deal with the creepy old man. He sat next to me at the bus stop, taking up way more room than he should have so he could be close to me. I think he got the hint when I kept moving over that I didn’t want him near me and he got up. But then Amy was an open target and he did the same thing to her. Yugh! Then we get on the bus and Amy is sitting behind us. Mid-trip, I hear Amy talking to someone and I realize that even though the entire back row of seats was open, someone had decided to sit right next to her. When we got off Amy told us that it was the same old man from the stop and he had been caressing her leg the entire time! And then he had the nerve to ask if it was bothering her?! What the hell do you think?! Geeze, what a freaking creep! The beach was good though! I was stupid and only put sun screen where I was already burned, so I got really burned. So now I’m all striped and blotchy. Oh well! Such is life! We grabbed some shawarma on the way home and watched an episode of Freaks and Geeks before packing and getting ready to fly! Our hostel was super nice and we had a 4-person room all to ourselves! Unfortunately, my allergies were in a rage and I couldn’t fall asleep til 7am.


Back up at 10am, we got our 2 pieces of free toast for breakfast and headed out to find our free walking tour. We were in Ali’s group, and he told us that if we could guess where he was from, we would get a musical surprise at break. Facts received: he’s lived in Dublin for 4 years. Us 3 assumed he was from America because his accent was very subtle. Our hypothesis was supported when he said “feet” but broken when he said “kilometers.” Hmph. We started out by Dublin Castle, which doesn’t look like a castle at all. There is only 1 part of it that looks like a traditional castle. Out back was the coach house, which was where Queen Elizabeth used to keep her horses when she visited. Apparently they strategically built the wall so that it blocked out the slums. It worked and she never saw them! The grassy area in front of it is now used as a helipad, haha! Next was Christ Church Cathedral, which is the oldest building in Dublin! The crypts below it, which outdate the church itself, house a stuffed dead rat and a mouse which were found in the organ after many long years of being stuck in there, haha! I thought that was pretty bizarre. Apparently the rat ran in there, got stuck, and the cat who was chasing it ran in after it and also got stuck, haha! Before entering the Temple Bar, an area of bars and drunk people, we saw the hotel that U2 owns and a guitar under a road sign which is dedicated to Rory Gallagher. They had to put it up really high because the drunk people leaving Temple Bar would always steal it, haha! We took a break in Temple Bar and Ali told us he was German and Irish. I thought it would be something cooler. Oh well, we still got our musical surprise. He was quite a good tin flute player! There was a layout of what an old Viking house used to look like and Ali chose this one guy to go stand in it because he “looked like a Viking.” Then he asked if any of us girls were Scandinavian. Nobody, at least not legit from Scandanavia. He said I looked Scandinavian (correct), so I acquired a Viking husband and moved in with him, haha! Heading out of Temple Bar, we crossed over the Ha'penny Bridge which usually has roses woven through it around Valentine’s Day! They used to tax people a ha’penny to cross it back in the day. If they reinstated the charge now, they would make millions every day! As we walked down the Liffey’s boardwalk, Ali told us all the stupid things Dublin likes to do with its money. According to him, Dublin is like the city that’s won the lottery multiple times but blown it on something ridiculous. One of them was a millennium clock at the bottom of the Liffey. On the O’Connell Bridge, there was a place where you could pay money and press a button. The clock would light up at the bottom of the river, and a picture would be taken of it for you. Problem was, the river is incredibly dirty so it just looked like a creepy glowing river, or the clock didn’t work due to water getting into it. Silly. Once the clock was removed, there was a hole in the bridge where the money taker used to be, and someone put in a plaque dedicated to Friar Pat Noise who supposedly “died under suspicious circumstances when his carriage plunged into the Liffey.” No such person existed. The government was outraged, but left it when people started putting candles and flowers next to it. They also built a bit spire which they call the Stiffey by the Liffey or the Stiletto in the Ghetto, hahaha! Next on the tour was Trinity College which was so pretty! And here I was thinking the UB was cool! Since Ireland went back and forth between Catholic and Protest, it was written in the school’s constitution that it was legal to shoot Catholics on Wednesday with a crossbow from the upper left window. There is also a big monument in the middle of their quad, and it is said that if an undergraduate walks under it before a test, they will fail and many other bad things would happen. Also, if a student showed up to a test on horseback with their sword, the school is legally obligated to serve them a meal and a pint of Guinness at their test. Apparently one kid did it a few years ago and he got the meal and everything! Later, he was called in and suspended/expelled because they said in one of the requirements was that you were dressed nice, and his shoes were dirty. Bahahahaha!!! So silly! We walked around to the library where the original manuscript of Book of Kells resides, and ended out tour by the park. It had been raining on and off all day, but it was really strange rain. It was more of an awkward mist and I wasn’t sure whether I should be using my umbrella or not, haha! Since we were starving, we went to the first restaurant we could find, which was Fridays. American, I know right! Can you blame us for getting excited about America!? It was really crappy though because it was SUPER overpriced! At least we got free refills which we totally took advantage of. Off we go to the Guinness Storehouse!! So cool! Such an interactive tour! We got to stick our hands in a big kid play pit of barley, taste test some Guinness, watch old ads, and then go up to the Gravity Bar for a free pint of Guinness! Dad was right—it is so much better at the Storehouse! It was so cool to be in a city I know Dad has been to. I kept wondering if he had seen all this stuff and wishing the parents could be there with me! We were there until it closed and then headed back to the main part of the city for some souvenir shopping. I got a claddagh ring, some post cards, and some stickers for the guitar! We found a place for dinner and it turns out our cute little waiter was from Malaga! Why do we always meet cool Spanish people not in Barcelona?! Lame! So we chatting with him in Spanish—he was so adorable calling us “mi amor” or “guapa,” haha! We searched for a pub with live music that night, but all the cool ones were 21 or 23 and older (Amy is only 20) or there were no younger people in there! How lame! So we went home and decided we would go out in Belfast!


Saturday we got up early to get breakfast and head over to the Old Jameson Distillery! Another great tour! They had models of all of the equipment and pictures of what it used to look like. In one of the models, there is a stuffed cat that actually lived in the storehouse 70 years ago to chase all the mice! Creepy, yet funny! Some people got to volunteer to whiskey taste at the end, but I didn’t. I had originally planned on volunteering so I could get the certificate at the end, but there were older people there who clearly knew whiskey better than I did, so I let them go. Oh well! We still got a complimentary whiskey + mixer at the end. Let me just tell you, that was some delicious whiskey! Afterwards, we hit up a pub, got some lunch, and headed for the train! We got into Belfast and found our hostel incredibly easily. We certainly had an interesting roommate. Praying to Mecca! Getting calls at 4:00 am and answering them in the room! Always in the room when we went to bed and always still sleeping when we left! Sheesh! I guess it’s a good thing you only go back to the hostel to sleep or shower! Anyways, when we got in, we took showers and then we wandered down over by Queens University, which was really pretty!! We walked around town for a bit before deciding on the perfect pub! We settled down at a table (which was hard to find), started playing cards, and then were approached by the most ridiculous group of Irish boys. Definitely did NOT go to Queens University. One silly drunk one wanted to play Asshole with us (which is the card game we were playing). He was convinced he was going to win, but he turned out to be the asshole every single time. Dropping cards, not organizing them, etc.—this kid was a mess! Then Nigel came over. What a bizarre kid. Gary and Joe came along with them. Ooooh boy. I could not understand a single word Gary was saying. Like, for real. I had to ask “what!?” about 15 times before I would get one word right. One time he was asking if we were best friends and I thought he was talking about France. Then he started babbling about how he wants to visit America and I had NO idea what he was saying. I told him to rephrase or say it slower, but he would just yell it louder. You are no help, man! He then proceeded to tell me that he would pay for me to come to Ireland from America. Umm, if you think I would want to come see you, you are terribly mistaken. Do you not understand that by watching the rugby game and talking to Amy I’m trying to tell you that I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU?! Good lord, kid! For the soul purpose of not being a bitch, I tried to make conversation by asking if he’s been to Berlin and Prague. No? Great. There goes that! But no! He wants to know when I’m going ! “I’ll be there,” he says. Umm, no. You will not. Umm, let’s see—he also liked the way I said “soccer”…?? They kept trying to convince us to go to a party with them that night or go out with them tomorrow. We all tried to wiggle out of it, but they insisted on getting one of our numbers. So I gave mine since I would never answer his call anyways a) due to the fact that it’s Gary and b) because I cant understand him anyways. To make sure I wasn’t lying, he called my phone to make sure it worked. Wow. I don’t know whether to feel bad for him or creeped out. I’ll go for a combo pack. So we left and went to bed!


The next day we went into the hostel travel office and asked which tour we should do if we’re only here for a day. He said definitely the Giants Causeway tour! I’m glad he said that, since that’s the one I wanted to do! We grabbed some traditional Irish breakfast in the hostel before catching our bus. It took over an hour to get there and my allergies were driving me crazy! I was glad when we got there! It was so cool! Jagged cliffs, green rolling hills, sheep, waves! We had fun walking around and taking silly pictures. It was so windy there! After about 2 hours, we had made a loop and were back by the gift shops! The ride home was hilarious mainly due to the fact that we were sitting on the back of the bus again! Back of the bus + winding roads + bumpy countryside roads = rollercoaster ride!! We were dying of laughter back there. We realized we had the best seats in the house when we saw that others could properly read a book in theirs, bahaha! Loved it! We all fell asleep once we got onto the main roads. I cant believe I slept sitting up! I guess the lack of sleep had really caught up. If I weren’t afraid of choking on my gum, I probably would have slept even better, haha! We got off the bus by City Hall which is right next to their big ferris wheel. It’s basically the same thing as the London Eye. We were going to go on it but it was closed either because it was Sunday or it was too windy. So we walked around town to get some souvenirs and then ran into a mini parade. It was just a small marching band, but we kept running into them everywhere we went! Town sure is small! The cymbals player made me laugh, making big circles with his arms after clapping them together. Oh, the theatrics of it all! We decided to go check out the murals but realized they were in the ghettos. So we saw one street of them before heading back to the main road! We came all the way back to the hostel, Carolyn took a shower, and then we headed back to yesterday’s pub. We got there early enough this time to have dinner at a proper table. There was a really nice couple sitting next to us who made meal suggestions and talked to us about Barcelona and stuff. They were so cute! We all got bangers and mash, partly because it sounded good, and partly because of Arrested Development.


Tobias Fünke as Mrs. Featherbottom: "O-kay, who'd like a banger in the mouth?"…confusion… "Right, I forgot, here in the States, you call it a sausage in the mouth."

Michael: "We just call it a sausage."


So yeah, we had to do it. It was DELICIUOS! Mashed potatoes, sausages, broccoli, gravy, all in a bready bowl! Our waiter was super cool too! I think he’s seen more of the States than I have, haha! There was a comment card we could write on an Amy wrote that “Paul is cute to boot” on it, haha! We weren’t sure if he saw it or not. We got a bunch of pints and hung out playing cards for the night. We turned in “early” because we had to leave for the airport at 4:15 am. Side note: cabs in Ireland are fancy! The rest is pretty uneventful. Allergies were an absolute nightmare on the plane and then horrible all the rest of the way home. I stayed home from class because I had a brief period of being able to breathe through my nose which I used to sleep. So glad I didn’t go because Tania didn’t even show! She just left them a horrible movie to watch—which they didn’t.


Tuesday night was eventful! It started out great! We went to the Irish pub for the big Chelsea-Barca game, had beer, redeemed free things, and did tequila shots! So fun! There were so many insane fútbol hooligans in there it was like being in some crazy sports movie, haha! It was a tie game and everyone cleared out fast. The girls in Allie’s program wanted to go to this place where drinks are at least 7 euros each…because the fruit is fresh? Whatevs! Me, Allie, and Kate are cheap and decided to hit up the “sexybeer” guys on the Rambla. We bartered and got 12 beers for about 7 euros, haha! We took them down and drank some on the lions at the bottom of the Cristobal Colón statue and then headed on down the port. There was a conveniently placed boat with its drawbridge partially down, so we decided to commandeer it. I hung from the bridge to pull it down and Allie boosted Kate up on to it. A couple Spaniards walked past during this, all of who found it incredibly funny. Kate found the right rope and lowered the drawbridge for us so we could all board the ship! A genius success!! We put it all back together about 5 minutes later when we got off and then continued on our way. We got down to the beach and sat by the water when these 2 boys showed up. Ummm, what? This was the beginning of the end, because about 10-15 minutes later they were running away with Kate’s purse. Allie and I chased after them, but I got wacked in the face, allie lost a shoe, and then she got wacked in the stomach and they got away! Those little bitches, they were such cowards. ROB THE DRUNK GIRL! Why didn’t I think of that?! There were a bunch of Spaniards just standing around. I asked if they saw 2 guys running with a purse, and they were like “yeah…they went that way.” So Allie and I set off again. Got back to the beach, asked more people. They all felt bad for us. I told two british guys to kick them in the balls if they see them because I was contemplating doing just that right before they robbed us! However, not wanting to start something that hadn’t been started, I decided against it. Then we realized we had no idea of finding Kate since she didn’t have a phone now. So we ran back and yelled for her until we finally found her. 2 police men came out of a building so we talked to them for a bit. They said there was nothing that could be done since it happened too long ago, but to go to the police station and report it. Thanks a lot guys. No, they were nice, it’s just annoying that 15 minutes is “too long ago.” So we all went home. Poor Kate. She said all she really had in there was 15 euros and a debit card, so that’s good. Still, it’s no fun being robbed, especially like that!

So yeah…eventful times in Barca! I’m so glad I get to stay in town this weekend. I need to do lots of school work and catch up on daily chores that I’ve had to put off!! X-Men comes out tomorrow, YAY!!


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Dublin

Belfast




20 April 2009

Wait...are there really kangaroos in Austria?

20 April 2009


The day we left for Vienna was quite an interesting day in Barca. First of all, on our way to class, it started hailing like crazy! I was so glad I had my umbrella with me! Even so, I was still hit a few times by the chunks of ice moving at rocket speed through the sky. It was insane! All of the Spaniards were taking pictures on their phones and staying out of the hail’s way! We talked to Pilar and Aaron about the “granizo” and she said that it is incredibly rare in Barcelona but that it would be perfectly sunny again in about a half hour. She was right! Pilar was very excited to hear that we were going to Vienna and told us that “it’s very warm in Europe right now.” Umm, don’t we live in Europe right now? Apparently not! According to most Europeans, Europe starts north of the Pyrenees Mountains…aka, Spain is part of northern Africa! How very different. I got a package from Alissa and Lora for my birthday which was so exciting! They are too nice!! I cant wait to see them when I get back! So anyways, we flew to Vienna later that night and had some troubles finding which train would take us to the city center since nothing was really in English—just German! There was a lot of waiting and retracing of train routes involved. We finally got to our hostel which was actually quite clean! We were all starving at that point and decided to go look for some food. It was really weird though because most places were closed and it was only like midnight! There were some bars that looked more like strip clubs (mainly due to the neon lights in the windows) and one place with cops out in front and a guy that sounded like he was trying to explain himself. Yeah, no. We walked into one bar, but everyone just stared at us when we entered, so we left right away, haha! I think they were mainly locals who go there to share their “I hate my life” stories. Pass on that one too! We ended up finding a little pizza, kebap, schnitzel shack and got some pizza! We had a powwow on the concrete patio area about 20 feet away and ate our pizza! There was a mischievous mouse lurking around, so I threw some tuna at him to keep him from joining our little circle. Then just as we were about to leave, the guy from the shack came over and gave us 2 huge chocolate bars!! Why? Just because! Cool guy. Once back in the hostel I wasn’t able to fall asleep til about 7am due to allergies and the fact that I was sleeping right next to a window and it was really bright. Lame.


We got up around 10 the next day and started out by walking through the museum quarters which was very cool! We ran into the imperial palace and walked through the gardens for a bit. After getting some food, we set out in search of Stephansdom, a mainly gothic church in the center of the city. We got to walk down the huge, open roads with all sorts of shops and pretty buildings along the way. Everything is so green and open in Vienna. The air is fresh and clean and it reminded me a lot of home home. We went in the church, which is probably my second favorite church in Europe. It was so pretty! Despite the fact that it had high vaulted ceilings, it still felt homey and warm. Outside of the church, there was a marching band playing Shakira, Daft Punk, and the “You’re Unbelievable” song, haha! I watched the spray paint artist for a while as I listened to the band. Those guys are so creative—I wish I could do stuff like that! I considered buying this one of a snowy mountain scene at night but I figured it would be really hard to transport and then someone snatched it up in about 3 minutes. We walked past Mozart’s house on our way to Stadtpark where we made some feathery friends. I love seeing ducks. We don’t have ducks in Barca, so I always get excited when I see them, haha! They got really close to us and looked us right in the eyes. They must have been hungry. The park was gorgeous! So many tulips and so much greenery!! We got a sausage from a street vender on the way out, but since I had eaten a bunch of gummy bears on our walk, I couldn’t finish it all. It was too bad because it was really good too—the sausage had cheese in it and then he squirted some ketchup into a croissant and stuck it in there. Talk about spoiling your lunch! We hopped on a tram and then walked the rest of the way to the meeting point for our little train tour. After finally finding the right place, the Austrian man in charge of it didn’t really speak any English and had to ask for the help of some bilinguals. The audio on the tour was in German and then in English, so the when the Austrians laughed at something on it, we laughed awkwardly just to fit in. When it came on in English, we caused a scene because we were laughing so hard. The audio was seriously ridiculous. It told us to fasten our seatbelts and then told us it hoped we had brought our life vests and parachutes as well. Umm, what?! Crazy Austrians! We got to listen to some sweet Austrian music while the guy wasn’t talking which was also hilarious. The tour was actually really fun! We drove though the Beethoven forest in order to get to the highest point in Vienna where we got to take some sweet pics. We drove through the vineyards and the little wine towns before the tour ended. We headed back up to the wine town afterwards so we could try some typical Viennese wine! The two guys who worked at the winery we went to were super nice and helped us pick a good one--Grüner Veltliner! I must say, for a dry one it was pretty delicious! We headed back down and got some dinner at this lounge/restaurant place which was nice. On the way out, we ran into a huge group of guys with signs and one in a dress with a guitar. It was his bachelor party and he told us that he was going to sing to us and we were going to throw money into his guitar case. It was SO FUNNY! I got some video of it at the end, so I’ll put that down at the bottom for shits and giggles, but mainly giggles. We eventually found an Australian bar to go to! All the others were too fancy or night clubs…lame! Cant a girl just get a beer?! Well, we were finally content. After a beer, we headed home where I accidentally showered in the boys shower, haha! Good thing they weren’t communal and it was like 2 in the morning!


Saturday we were out by 10 since we wanted to go to the Naschmarkt with Flea Market before country hopping for the day! I got this really cute antique looking ring for 5 euros. I tried to bring the price down more since it’s missing a stone, but she was stubborn and rambling in German or something. We caught the train to Bratislava around one (Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia) and then spent most of the day there. I listened to Pink Floyd all the way there and saw a pheasant walking around on the train tracks, haha! For the record, Bratislava is nothing like how it is in the movie Eurotrip!! It’s actually very pretty there—a lot like Vienna! We took the bus to the center of the city and got dropped off by the Bratislava Castle. So we hiked up the hill to get to the castle which was really cool except for the fact that it was covered completely in scaffolding. I guess it’s a good thing that I have such a good imagination! We got a beautiful view of St. Martin's cathedral from the top and could see the river and the new bridge leading to the modern part of the city. It was such a great view! Once down the hill, we took the main road through the town in search of some food! We ended up at a restaurant by the main square where I tried some broccoli quiche…which was delicious! Stuffed, but still with an empty dessert stomach, we got some really cheap but delicious gelato and walked around something resembling the rambla. We went to the main square and took pictures with the statues and then headed out in search of the blue church! Such a cool looking church! And since mass was going on, we got to peek in and check out the inside! Gorgeous! Love that church! Since it was getting late, we headed back to the train station where I got yelled at twice in Slovakian. However, before that, we got woofed at by the crazy man. It was SO FUNNY! I cant even describe it. But the first time I got yelled at was totally uncalled for. I tried to open one of those Coke fridges to get a drink out and the guy yelled at me and said I had to ask inside the stand. So I asked for something that was in the fridge and he said he didn’t have it. Ummm, yes you do…its right there. He got pissy and I settled on a fanta which he basically threw at me. It was warm =/. Then not even 5 minutes later, I got yelled at again by the bathroom lady. The girls in front of me were getting yelled at when I went up so I decided to be very cautious. It was 0,40 to use the bathroom, so I walked up to the window, but she didn’t even look at me. So I put the coins in the slot in the door and then she went off. Holy shit, she was scary! She threw a special coin at me which allowed me to go in. I think that woman just hated life though. One woman just walked in with her friend who was also getting yelled at and the bathroom woman got out of her office-room threw the bathroom door open and started ripping her a new one. Holy crap. The bathroom saga gets better when the goth/emo girl came by. Her hair was down and her bangs all curtain-like, emo, and jagged. BUT! She had hair sprayed one layer of her hair to stand straight up making it look like she had one of those circular saws coming out of her head. Megan had to seriously walk away so the girl didn’t see her laughing. Yeah. She was on our train too. I snuck a picture of her hair sticking up around the chair, haha! There were 2 older, clearly inebriated, men staring down this poor girl who was traveling by herself. They kept telling her she was very pretty and would literally stare at her with gaping mouths. They reeked of smoke and alcohol and kept hitting each other. It was incredibly bizarre. I was keeping an eye on them in the reflection of my window to make sure they didn’t try anything with us or that other poor girl. I think they got kicked off the train though because when they left they talked to one of the train guys outside. Phew! We got some souvenirs once back in the main area and then headed back to the Australian bar. We decided to do a 3 liter beer tower and got a sampler platter of appetizers which were delicious! We had a lot of fun watching the Barca game and listening to incredibly random 90’s music! We met 2 people from Canada who were studying in Munich. They said they have a friend who is an engineer at U of I who is currently studying her friend in Barcelona…I wonder who it was!


On our last day, we were all checked out by 10 and headed back to the museum quarters again in hopes of finding the city hall building. There was a huge marathon going on that day in all of the main roads which was really cool to see! The weather, the breeze, the smell of spring, the sounds of the planes buzzing by, the music in the large public areas, people sitting in the park…it all reminded me of home! I’m seriously getting so excited! We saw the Parliament building and then found City Hall (Rathous) which was GORGEOUS! There was some sort of festival going on that involved beer, traditional garb, music, and singing. It was so cool!! It reminded me of Laurie and Tim’s Oktoberfest party, haha! After exploring all of the little wooden stands and what they had to offer, we went to Schloss Schönbrunn, which is basically the Versailles of Vienna. On the metro ride over, we witnessed a drug deal. I mean come one! Who did they think they were fooling?! Their attempts at being inconspicuous = major fail. The palace was so beautiful! We walked through the gardens in the back and everything. It would have been nice to spend more time there, but time was short and we had to head back to catch our train to the airport!


Dublin and Belfast this weekend—WOO!!


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Vienna
Bratislava


video

15 April 2009

Semana Santa--Holy Week





15 April 2009


Happy almost 8 month anniversary to me! Wow. 1.5 months left. SO MUCH TO DO!!!!!

Spring break part II in southern Spain was cool. We were down there during Semana Santa or Holy Week. After resting on the 7th, we were back at the airport at 5:45 am on the 8th. I’m seriously so sick of El Prat. I mean, it’s a great airport, but I’m there almost every 4 days!! Flying has lost its magic and it is now just a chore. Oh well. Gotta go through the bad to get to the good! We took the a bus to the airport this time instead of the renfe which was nice because we picked it up right by our piso and didn’t have transfer. Granted it took longer to get there, but that’s okay. Our flight attendants were on our bus too, haha! So once we got into Sevilla we had to take a bus into the city center where we wandered for a while since it was so pretty! We stopped at Starbucks where we had a drink (I had a frappucino or however you spell it). I still don’t really enjoy the taste of coffee, but I keep drinking it to see if the caffeine will ever affect me. So far, that’s a no! We saw the cathedral which was right across from Sbucks. After much walking around, we decided we better go to our hostel/hotel. We went to the bus station, but the lady at the ALSA window was a complete bitch. We eventually found a helpful bus driver and took a 45 minute bus ride out of the city to our 4 star hotel. AHAHA! How ridiculous. It was so gorgeous, our room had a loft, there was a pool, a hair cutting place on the main floor, and so much more. After throwing our stuff down, we got some lunch at the Mexican restaurant which was conveniently located across the street and headed back to the city! We went into about 9238 souvenir shops and then meandered by the cathedral. There were a bunch of horse drawn carriages over there and when one called us to take a ride, I asked how much it was and he said “for you, it’s free.” BAHAHA! So we laughed and walked away. I wonder what would have happened if I had really taken him up on his offer. The Semana Santa parades started in the afternoon. There were people of all ages involved. There were cute little babies all dressed up, teens, adults, and the strong Spaniards who had to lift the heavy floats and walk with them on the back of their necks. Some of them were standing by us and their necks were all bruised and cut open…poor guys. Not going to lie, it was quite cultish. There were tall hats that reminded me of the KKK, all sorts of religious paraphernalia, lots of candles, etc. Ridiculous. I felt so underdressed. All of the Spaniards were dressed all preppy and fancy and here I am in my flip flops, jeans, and zip up hoodie. Yeaaaaaah, sorry about that. Side note, apart from being a pretty city, I think Sevilla houses some of the most attractive Spaniards. Like, whoa. We were back to the hotel at about 12am where we slept in since we would be sleeping on the streets the next night!


The next morning, we checked out and took our bags to the Santa Justa train station so we wouldn’t have to carry them around with us for about 24 hours. Once back in the main part of the city, we headed over to Plaza de España which is SO beautiful! Apparently it was used for some of the more recent Star Wars movies? We took a bunch of photos before heading across the street to the big park! We rented a bicycle built for 4 and took it for a spin around the park. It kind of reminded me of the Flintstones car, haha! We got slushies along the way since it was so hot out! We watched some more of the Semana Santa processions before going to our flamenco show which was amazing! My videos from it are kind of wobbly since I was trying to make it look like I wasn’t taking a video, so I’ll put a youtube video at the bottom for anyone who doesn’t know what Flamenco is. SO COOL! Loved it so much! After the show, we went back to the cathedral to wait for more floats! It had really gotten cold at that point since it was about midnight and I was in a t-shirt and a scarf (and pants obviously). Dumb, I know. We went to SBucks again but this time I went for my traditional hot chocolate! Yay! We watched the floats go by til about 3:30 am with the rest of the Spaniards who must have changed into warmer clothes while we were at the Flamenco show. Damn them for being tricky! This time, the bands weren’t playing and everyone was in total silence. It was actually quite cool. It’s amazing how many people were there to see all the floats. Southern Spain definitely has more hardcore Catholics! We took a cab to the train station so Kelly could buy her ticket and so we could be warm and sleep in an enclosed area. Wrong. The station guards wouldn’t open the doors until 5:30 because they didn’t want anyone sleeping in there. There were so many people waiting, it was ridiculous! Some boys came up and asked where we were from and when we said the US, they just looked at each other and walked away. Umm, what?! No words? Really? Not even an “oh?” Wow. Anyways, they let us in at 5:30 and once on our 7:00am train, I slept most of the way on the table.


The ride into Granada was so pretty! I know there are mountains and stuff in Barca, but these were different! Aside from the farmland covered smaller mountains, there was the Sierra Nevada! So cool! Not so cool was how cold it was when we got off the train. Isn’t Granada supposed to have like 80 degree weather?! Damn! It sucked that I had mainly packed tank tops and flip flops for this trip =/. We found our hostel and then walked around by the Cathedral, went in some shops, and got a croissant at a local bakery. After walking around town, we attempted to do the real tapas experience. Fail. The service was terrible at the first place we went to. We ditched out and went to a cute café on the main road for lunch instead. After walking around on some of the back roads, we headed back in for a nap. Another failure since we ended up sleeping for about 5 hours. Oops! So we dragged ourselves out of our hotel for dinner. We ended up finding a chino restaurant a few blocks down on Gran Via and ate there. They were playing Pearl Harbor dubbed in Spanish on their TV and we were totally transfixed. After some fried noodles and veggies, we got some squishy candy and muffins for the morning and ran back to the hotel and turned the movie back on! I had totally forgotten about that movie. After the war started, I ditched out and went to bed. Traveling is exhausting!


I got up at 5:00 am the next day and got ready only to find out that everyone else was still sleeping when we were supposed to leave. I don’t even know why I was surprised—that always happens! So I laid around until 6:30am when we left to go the Alhambra for real! I had talked to Allie the day before and she said they left at 6 and still had trouble getting tickets. Ludicrous! While in the line, we found Karen, a girl from our program who was traveling solo, and adopted her for the day. It was SO cold! I couldn’t even walk properly because my toes and legs were frozen! Luckily there was a cute dog that looked part German Shepherd there to distract me a bit. I got some hot chocolate as well, which helped for about 7 minutes. We ended up just missing the morning session tickets and got the 2:30pm ones. Since it was only about 8:00am, we headed back down the mountain. Seeing as I was so incredibly desperate for warmth, we stopped at Blanco where I got a 6 euros pair of flats and some cute socks. Thank god!! They’re really cute flats, but they would soon become the death of me. We went to a café, did a little shopping, headed back up to the Alhambra to get some lunch, and then finally were able to enter the Alhambra! The Alhambra is part fortress (the Alcazaba), part palace, part garden (the Generalife) and part government city (the Medina). It overlooks the city of Granada and is often considered on par with the 7 wonders of the world! The Alhambra was a palace, a citadel, fortress, and the home of the Nasrid sultans, high government officials, servants of the court and elite soldiers (from 13th- 14th century). We are actually talking about the Muslim occupation of Spain in art history class right now, so we were able to identify many of the defining architectural characteristics. It was seriously amazing. Everything was so detailed and beautiful. So many different types of flowers, lots of running water, and lots of bright mosaics! After a long afternoon of taking photos and walking all over the mountain, my feet were screaming. These flats were definitely not designed for hiking up and down uneven stone paths! We took the bus down, said goodbye to Karen, and then waited in the cold rain to see if the floats were still going to come down Gran Via. Didn’t look like it. We met up with Lindsay who is studying abroad in Granada. We went back to our hotel for a while and decided we would meet back up in 1.5 hours for a real tapas experience! Yay! We all fell asleep and had a hard time waking up again. I’m so glad we did though! This tapas place was so cool! They have this drink called Tinto Verano which is red wine with lemon Fanta in it—SO GOOD! So those were 2 euros and with every drink you order, you get free tapas. So we did two rounds, spent 4 euros each and were stuffed! We definitely slept well that night!


¡Feliz Pascua! For Easter we walked up by where Lindsay lived so we could meet up with her after she got out of mass! We got some lunch at a café and they gave both Kelly and I the wrong sandwich. Lame! Why would I want pork AND jamón serrano on a sandwich? Jamón serrano is disgusting…anyways we went to this big park that has something to do with Federico Garcia Lorca (woo), and laid on some grass since it was actually sunny out! After about 15 minutes of the glorious sun, we met up with Lindsay at a park by her house. Kelly and I played on the swing set and then went to join them on the bench. We met up with Kelley, another girl in our house who is studying in Granada, and they led the way up the Albaicín to the Mirador de San Nicolás. Whew! That was a hike! It was definitely rewarding though! We had a perfect postcard view of the Alhambra with the Sierra Nevada in the background! So beautiful! The actual Mirador was cool too. This is the area where all of the extreme hippies hang out and sell their hand crafted goods! There were lots of dogs and bare footed Spaniards playing music. There were a lot of labs, one black lab puppy, and one german puppy! I was in heaven! The walk down the mountain was quite possibly worse than the way up since my feet were practically paralyzed by this point. Carolyn (who had bought the same shoes) and I were walking like little old people! We were all hunched over and swinging our arms like crazy just to get some momentum. Everyone laughed at our expense, haha! We were all freezing and decided to stop for some churros and chocolate. Our waiter was a total douche bag. I only had a sprite since I didn’t want to deal with Captain Sassypants. We said goodbye to the Granada girls shortly after and ran some errands around town! Later that night, we went and got 3 rounds of drinks and tapas at the same place as the day before. The guy who worked there was so adorable. He spoke to us in English since he was trying to learn and we spoke to him in Spanish. What a dude! We got on our bus at 11:30 pm and arrived in Barcelona around 10:45 am. I survived! I thought it was going to be torture, but it actually wasn’t so bad, partly because it meant I didn’t have to use my feet. Being on the bus for that long made me realize that the flight home to America won’t be so bad! It’s been so nice to be back home in Barca, and it’s crazy to think that I’ll be in the air again in less than 24 hours! Vienna and Bratislava this time!



MORE FOTOS!
Sevilla
Granada

If you're not sure what Flamenco is, click HERE to watch this youtube (click about 1/4 of the way in)