Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Week 2 of Spain

January 24,

This weekend has been a fun weekend. Friday night there wasn’t too much going on we all went out for tapas and found a pretty cool bar with really good tapas. We didn’t do too much because Saturday some people had to get up early to go to Alhambra! Alhambra was absolutely amazing… It was SO big!.... I hate history but I want to take a history class just so I can learn about this place. What I understood is that this Kingdom is 800 years old.. It was the last Muslim kingdom to stand in Spain. The Christians decided to take it over in a 6 month siege in 1492 (the same year that the Christian kings sent Christopher Colombus to America haha they must have had a good year that year!) The Muslims were forced to convert or flee the country. It was said to hold 6,000 people… The placed was a town in itself.. it was just ridiculous! (haha big history lesson for ya) The pictures that I took of this place do not do it justice.. every thing was obviously hand carved… and there was some sort of hand-carved decoration on every single wall and the ceilings.. It was crazy!

We planned a trip to Switzerland today… It took us like 5 hours to figure everything out (as in just the flights) haha We are kind of winging the whole train situation… We’re flying into Milan, Italy (north Italy) from Madrid. From there we are hoping we can just buy train tickets because when we ordered them online It was going to cost like $30 to ship them and we need them by this week soo were just hopin for the best. The train ride to Interlaken, Switzerland is about 2 ½ hours. There is a twist however…. Were going to morocco from Thursday until Tuesday the 2nd at night. We are supposed to get back at 8:30 pm to Granada, and we are hoping there is no delay because at midnight that night we have to catch a bus to Madrid for a 5 ½ hour bus ride. If we miss this bus ride we will miss our 1 o clock flight. Haha we are all kind of crossing our fingers that our morocco trip doesn’t get delayed at all because we definitely packed a tight schedule of events! The plan is to stay in Interlaken for 3 nights and go skiing, sledding etc. on one of the biggest mountains in the Alps I believe. I am pretty excited to ski in the Alps! We are staying at a hostel called “The Lazy Falken”.. It is going to be a good time! On the way back we will take a train back to Milan, Italy and fly to Madrid on the 6th. We will then have a night to spend in Madrid, so we will be able to check it out for a day, and I’m looking forward to that! We are planning to get back on the 7th and then classes start on the 9th. I heard Switzerland is pretty expensive so I plan on this being my most expensive trip haha but we will see about that I guess. Flights are ridiculously cheap… We are flying to Italy for like 40 Euro and from Italy to Madrid for about 20 Euro… Which is very cheap for flying I would say. We are flyin through RyanAir… Kind of sketchy but its cheap haha

Tonight we are all going to an Irish pub to watch the Vikings play. The game starts at midnight here… could be a late night but we have to watch the game of course!

January 27th

It has been kind of cold and rainy the last couple of days, but I can’t really complain because Iowa is much worse.. (haha suckers) Yesterday I went out for some drinks with my housemates from Minnesota, and they have kind of become friends with a waiter in one of the restaurant who skis. The guy asked if I skied and I told him yes. haha he gave me his number and his email and I guess is he going to take me skiing the week after we get back from skiing in the Alps which will be pretty cool! I’m already pretty pumped for that even though it’s a ways away!

I ended up signing up for a social service project today, so I went to the hospital with about four other people and we are going to volunteer there for a semester! I am pretty sure it will be similar to the volunteer work I did in Des Moines with kids, but I really didn’t understand everything that the lady said to me. I am just hoping I didn’t accidentally say that I want to wipe butts or give showers or something like that because she asked me a lot of questions and I said yes to them whether I knew what she was saying or not haha could be trouble for me in the end! I have to wait till the ninth when classes start before they can definitely tell me what I will be doing and the times and everything. I’m ready for classes to start because orientation is 4-7 pm every night and there’s no time for a ciesta!! Morocco and Switzerland this weekend, and Milan, Italy ( the fashion capital of the world… umm yay? Haha) I will write again after that trip!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Week 1 of Spain

Wednesday January 20, 2010 12:30 pm

I have been in Spain for four days now, and I am excited because I feel like my Senora’s Spanish is slowing down! This is great because I can actually understand what she is saying haha (most of it at least) but the Minnesota guys are great and explain it to me slower than she does if I don’t get it the first time. And if all else fails we wait until after dinner, and they tell me in English haha Yesterday I had a pretty busy day. Brett and I went to a couple places to find a phone, and we also were laughed at a few times but it happens! We finally found one for pretty cheap. The numbers here are kind of weird. Instead of having four digits at the end there are only three here. We started classes yesterday, I tested into the Lengua y cultura, and I am happy about that because I won’t have classes on Friday. I will be able to travel on the weekends now so that will be good! I think we are going to plan a trip to Switzerland and some other country (haven’t decided which one) because I don’t think that we have classes or anything from Feb 2 until Feb 9.

Last night we went out around 11. I was walking out the door and my senora yelled “espera espera” (wait wait) and I said what?? She got mad at me because it was about 50 degrees and all I had on was a T-shirt haha so she made me put on a coat AND change into better shoes! Apparently she is much more fashionable than me! (not surprising) The bars were a lot of fun. We went to a bar at about 11 pm called chupitas (shots). The price was really cheap. It was 1 euro for a shot, and they had a list of 115 shots on there walls. It was pretty cool. Then of course we thought it would be a good idea to go to a karaoke bar. It was pretty funny, but some lady had to show us up haha she had an amazing voice soooo we left. We ended up heading to a discoteca pretty late. It was hilarious when we got there because the music was so loud and everything but then we opened the door and we were the ONLY ones there in a huge building. Apparently its weird to go out on a Tuesday night in the middle of the week haha who knew? Oh yes and classes so far are easy because we are still in orientation. We start classes on the ninth of February.

Friday Jan 21.

A few nights ago I was using the internet at a café and kind of got kicked out. The owner or manager got mad at me for being in there for 2 hours using the internet that isn’t even theirs! Haha So it is more difficult for me to get online now because I haven’t found another good place to go to, but I will find one eventually. We started planning our trip to Switzerland yesterday. It is actually pretty difficult to find flights that go out when we need them to and everything but it is pretty cheap. For instance a flight from Madrid to Switzerland one-way is about 40 euros… 60 bucks. Not too bad at all if ya ask me. I believe the hostels are only like 20 euro to stay in also soo it is pretty inexpensive to travel. My host mother’s food is still really good but she is starting to stray away from American food haha.. Yesterday our meal was mushrooms and rice with fish soup. Im not a huge fan of the ol mushrooms but it wasn’t that bad I guess! Today we had picantes … green peppers and then also potato soup which was all right also… it will just take me a while to get used to the whole vegetable and fish scene haha. The other day we had tortillas de camarones.. Shrimp tortillas and one of the guys from Minnesota (Pat) had an allergic reaction to it, and his hands swelled up really bad and are still red from it. Looks like we wont be having shrimp for a while, and I am okay with that!

Yesterday we went to the Albaicin. All I can say is WOW…. The albaicin is like the old neighborhood of Granada before the rest of Granada was conquered. Look at the pictures I put up because I think that some of them don’t even look real… but they all are. The albaicin is on one mountain and the Alhambra is in the other with the Sierra Nevadas in the background…. Both of the two main mountain (albaicin and the mountain with Alhambra) look over the city of Granada as you will see. There is a huge river that flows between the two mountains that used to have gold in it from the Sierra Nevadas hence its name Rio de Darro… River of gold. There was a drinking fountain up in the albaicin that comes straight from the Sierra Nevadas and that was pretty cool! That’s basically all I have for now. Tonight we’re going out again.. Oh yes I forgot to mention one night I got back at 3 am and my senora got mad at me. BUT not for coming home too late but for coming home too EARLY haha she told me that if I expect to be immersed in the culture I need to start staying at the discoteca until at least 6 am. She is crazy! Haha she told me that she used to stay out until 9 am and then slept all day and did it again… I have decided all she wants me to do is eat a ton, sleep, and to have a good time. She is really cool! Welp that’s all I’ve got for now. I will have pictures up of the albaicin today probably and we go to the Alhambra tomorrow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

First Blog about Spain!

Monday January18, 2010 12:07 a.m.

Well, I made it to Spain! The flights here were soo long, but I had a lot of fun with Ben and Paige. The first airport I was at all of my bags were searched because I left my computer in one bag and some mouthwash in the other. Some lady told me to “get with the program” when she saw my stuff being searched in Omaha. Haha… We had a seven hour layover in New Jersey which actually went by pretty quickly. When we looked out our terminal we saw the empire state building which was pretty sweet. Then we headed to good ‘ol Spain on a huge plane for a good 6 hours. I was planning on sleeping, but never really did. I managed to dominate Paige in checkers a few thousand times on her ipod though! After the flight we were beginning to get very tired because we had been up since 4 am the day before and it was now about 2 am American time when we arrived in Barcelona and 7 am in Barcelona. Our flight in Barcelona was delayed for a couple hours because they had to fix it… KINDA sketchy but it was cool.. Finally we arrived in Granada after not sleeping for a good twenty-four hours, we were tired but had so much adrenaline that we didn’t sleep. The mountains here were amazing surrounding the town and the view from the plane looking down on the city nestled in the mountains was beautiful. We took a bus from the airport to the hotel (even though we had no idea what we were doing or where to go!) We ended up finding it just fine and actually walked around the city for a while. When we got back we kind of laid around but never slept. At this point I was dead tired but of course we had to go to the bars and get tapas (free food with a bought drink). So naturally at around 8 we went to the first bar. It was a nice bar, but I think that it was for older people because we were definitely the youngest by a good 10 or 20 years. We made our way to other bars also and even got to watch the Cardinals play the Saints at an “Irish Pub”. Well we went to about 4 bars and were ready to go back to the hotel because we hadn’t slept in two days. On the way back to the hotel, the girls decided they wanted to go into a discoteca. We got there at 1 and we were early! There was basically nobody there. (Most people in Spain go to the bars from 9-2 and then to the discotecas from 2-6 am) The next hour it filled up sooo quickly. It was probably the coolest place I have been to for a night!. It was so much fun! Well 3 or 4 o clock rolled around, and we were all pretty tired! We started walking back to the hotel but not before we got something to eat! Haha After that we headed back and went straight to bed. I was so tired. Eleven o clock rolled around way too quickly the next day, and it was hard to get up. We showered and all and went to go meet Veronica our program director. We found out where we lived and who we live with. I didn’t actually get paired with anyone, and I didn’t think it was a big deal though. An hour later our families picked us up. I was put into a home with a lady named Ana who lives alone, but hosts kids all the time from many different places. The meeting was kind of awkward because in Spain they kiss each other on each cheek haha kind of random! We got to our apartment where I found I was the only person living with her, so I was pretty nervous considering she doesn’t know any English at all. I tried speaking as much as I could and probably failed miserably, but it all worked out. I did run out of verbs to use though haha. I got a meal right away when I got to the apartment. She is a great cook! I think I had some sort of fish soup with pan and hamburgesas y ensalada. She cooked soo much food for me. After that I finally got more sleep! A good 4 hour nap haha. After I woke up today from the nap she brought me to show me where my classes would be tomorrow at noon. (I’m not really sure if I will find it or not tomorrow but oh well!) When we got back I went and found an internet bar and kind of did my own thing. I was feeling overwhelmed with being by myself and everything. I skyped the family and things like that. When I returned, my Senora introduced me to two guys that are also staying with her. (I had no idea they were going to be staying there also). We were speaking Spanish back and forth at first because I didn’t know they spoke English. Finally I asked where they were from, and they said Minnesota. Of course immediately I began speaking English with them and we were shushed by our Senora haha. It was great to find two guys (who are both pretty fluent at Spanish) living in the same apartment. We had dinner and it was much easier than lunch because I had so many questions for them. (In Spanish of course) We went to another internet café and then came back and now here I am ready to call it a night! The guys told me that our senora shuts the heat off at night and it gets super cold haha welp that’s all I have. Hasta luego!

P.S. the sunsets here are gorgeous over las montanas que se llaman las Sierra Nevadas!