Thursday, May 5, 2011

Paris with Katie, Tamara, and Alyssa
Friday 4/29
It was pouring rain in Granada as we packed our bags and headed out to catch the bus to the airport. For the first time we were flying out of the Granada airport so we only had to take the bus for 45 minutes from the city center to the Granada airport. However, on our way to the bus station we got COMPLETELY soaked. It was not a good way to start out our trip. We made the bus just in time and arrived to the airport with plenty of time before our flight. The Granada airport is tinyyy but we settled in on the floor and played cards. We are expert travelers now. Our flight ended up being delayed for about an hour due to the rain so we continued playing cards until we took off. We arrived in Paris at around 7pm at the ORLY airport. We took the bus to the metro and then took the metro for 15 stops to our hotel in Monmarte (spelling? I’m a Spanish major okay?!) The hotel had given us the wrong directions so we were wandering for awhile and our street wasn’t on our map but we finally found it. It was quaint and our room didn’t have much more than a bed but we were only paying 25E a night so we couldn’t complain. We put down our stuff and went out to find dinner. It was about 10pm at this point. We found this chic place with red velvet sofas and we settled in. Our waiter spoke a little English so that was good. We all ordered French onion soup and savored it while we warmed up and began to relax. Katie and I also ordered tortellini to split and it wasn’t until Alyssa and Tamara were done with their entrees that he informed us that they were out of tortellini and did we want salmon instead? It was kind of strange but Katie and I split another appetizer instead. I ordered tortellini with mushrooms…no I do not want salmon. Duh. We went back to our hotel and fell asleep.

Saturday 4/30
We woke up early and hopped on the metro to the Lourve. Now in the past 2 weeks we have been to the Uffizi, Accademia, Vatican museum, Prado, and now the Lourve. We were a bit “arted out” as we like to say. We learned later on our boat tour that the Lourve is the 3rd largest art museum in the world. However, we simply looked at the most famous works (Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo) and some of the Egyptian work and left. There is such a thing as too much art. From there we wandered through the Touilleres (again spelling…sorry) and ate our apples and peanut butter by the fountain as we watched the ducks. Then we went to Plaza de la Concorde and ate crepes while we watched the crazy tourist groups and enjoyed our first view of the Eiffel Tower. Then we decided to brave another art museum and went to the Monet Water Lillies Museum (the name in French escapes me) I had gone here with Alex and have never forgotten how it made me feel. It just feels so peaceful and simply beautiful. I saw in the big oval rooms for awhile just absorbing the water lilies. I love this museum!! After that we went over to Notre Dame. There were a lot of people but not unbearable. We went inside and took pictures of the Rose windows. Being in the Notre Dame reminds me a bit of Kari because when I was there last time with Alex, Kari was sick and we lit a candle for her strength. This time, I lit a candle in her memory. It was emotional. It is such an incredible place. After the Notre Dame we went over to Saint Chappelle and Le Concierege. Saint Chappelle is famous for its incredible stained glass windows and we spent time just looking at the beautiful artwork and colors. Le Concierege is where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before she was beheaded. We saw her cell and everything! It was a bit freaky but cool to see. Then we took the metro over to Tocodero (spell?) to look at the best view of the Eiffel Tower. It was so beautiful! We were pretty exhausted by this point so we took the metro back and grabbed paninis and sat in the park behind the Notre Dame just enjoying the sunset and the Paris atmosphere. At about 9pm we went over to the Seine and got on a night time boat tour of the city. It was so beautiful to see everything lit up! Alex had taken me on this tour and I had remembered how much I loved it so I thought the girls would like it too! We had, had quite the day and were poooopped. So we took the metro back to our hotel and passed out.

Sunday 5/1
We woke up early and took the metro over to the Eiffel Tower. Alyssa, Tamara, and Katie went up but I sat in the grass with my book enjoying the weather and the view. It was such a beautiful day. After they came down we went and got sandwiches and sat in the park behind the tower just enjoying the sun. That was when we looked over and saw this girl Julia who is in my sorority back at Bucknell and lived on Katie’s freshman hall! It was crazy to run into someone from Bucknell in Paris! After that we walked over to the Arco de Trioumphe and then walked down the Champs Ellyess (ahh spelling!). It was really crowded but we stopped at my favorite paris coffee shop chain PAUL and grabbed macarons and watched street performers. We went home to rest up and then went out to find a place to eat. All the restaurants around us were really tiny and expensive. It was kind of discouraging and we couldn’t find a place. Finally we stumbled upon this American restaurant and we all looked at each other and knew exactly what we were all thinking. BURGER! It was really funny but we were so happy to just sit down and have a big burger and fries. We were exhausted so headed home after dinner. We were to have an intense day ahead of us…

Monday 5/2
We woke up around 10 and packed up our bags. Katie and I have itouch ipods that can access wifi so we went down to the lobby to check our e-mail before we headed out. That was when we got an e-mail from the US embassy in Madrid advising us not to travel and to stay close to our residences in Granada. We were so confused so I decided to check CNN. That was when we saw the news. Osama bin Laden was dead. I was speechless. Katie and I just sat there in the lobby in shock. We had no idea what was going on in our country and could only barely access the internet. We had just received an email not to travel and to stay at home but we were in Paris…and were unsure of what to do. We gathered our things and took a walk to the Sacre Cour where we lit a candle for the victims of 9/11 and all of those that have been victimized by the terror of Osama and Al Queda. It was a very emotional day and we ended up spending most of it talking about 9/11 and our lives since then. We hadn’t heard anything from Delgado or any new news so we began our journey to the airport. We were suddenly very aware of how little Americans there were in Paris and how obviously we stood out. We spoke very little and tried to keep a low profile although it still seemed as if everyone was staring at us. As soon as we got off the bus at the airport we saw lots of army men with HUGE guns. They immediately approached us and offered to help us find our terminal. They escorted us to our terminal where another officer guided us through security. Obviously it was solely for the purpose to make us feel safe but I could not help but feel more vulnerable. Security was insane and very strict. Usually the airport security throughout Europe has been very lenient and nonchalant. However, today it was the opposite. We settled in at our gate and tried to avoid the glares and whispers from the French around us. There was the news on that kept flashing (what turned out to be false) photos of a dead Osama Bin Laden. I finally got in touch with my family before we boarded our plane from Paris to Granada. Obviously, we arrived safely in Granada and took the bus back home. Lolita was ecstatic. She was like HAVE YOU HEARD HAVE YOU HEARD HES DEAD HES DEAD. Katie and I were kind of numb and still pretty freaked out and tried to brush her off. Then she turned on the news. IT was Obama’s speech translated to Spanish with a slide show of the most graphic photos from 9/11 that I have ever seen. The news here is much more graphic than in the United States. I just started crying. Lolita didn’t understand why I was upset. “El era un hombre malo y ahora esta muerto…por que estas llorando…por que estas llorando…no entiendo” HE was a bad man and now he is dead…why are you crying…why are you crying…I don’t understand. I just could not explain to her the emotions that the 9/11 photos brought up. I wanted nothing more than to be back home in the US. It was a weird way to end our trip to Paris…


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring Break in Italy (Venice, Florence, and Rome with Tamara and Katie)

Wednesday 4/13
We left for the airport at 9pm. We had to take a bus to Malaga to get to the airport. On the bus Katie was sitting next to this really nice woman who offered to drive us from the bus station to the airport. It was really nice of her and we love making friends! We got to the airport around 11:30 and our flight wasn’t until 6am roughhh. There were no buses in between 9pm and 7am so we had to spend the night in the airport. Luckily for us we found a lounge with couches so it wasn’t TOOO bad kind of loud and bright but not that uncomfortable.

Thursday 4/14
Our flight left bright and early Thursday morning and we landed in Venice around 9am. By the time we got to our hotel it was around 11. We got very lost on our way to our hotel and were using our Italian dictionary to try and get directions. Finally we found it! We booked all of our hotels for the week through They were about 25E a night each. For this price for spring break in Italy we were expecting to be staying in some pretty sketchy places. Our hotel in Venice, however, was a REAL hotel. It was really nice! The three of us had our own room and own bathroom. We quickly changed out of our airport clothes and went to explore the city. We knew that if we stayed too long in our hotel that we would fall asleep. Our hotel was a little bit outside of the city center so we took a bus to the city. From there we took a boat (I think its called the VAP) to Piazza de S. Marco. The boat ride was so nice and it was a great first impression of the city. I loved Piazza de S. Marco. Being a Spain girl Plazas are my favorite thing. We went inside the cathedral/basilica and listened to the street musicians soaking in the Italian air! Our map was basically useless since none of the streets are marked so we followed the arrows from Piazza S. Marco to Rialto. We wandered the streets and found lots and lots of glass shops! We went into so many of them because we were just blown away by how beautiful they were. In a lot of the stores the owner was sitting at a desk painting and making glass. It was so cool! In Rialto we saw the famous bridge (the name is escaping me right now) and had gelato. I had cantaloupe! So yummy. After wandering and wandering for hours we were starving and happened upon this pizzeria that wasn’t quite open yet. We were peering in the windows and probably looked pathetic. We were hungry and this place looked good and was in our price range. The owner came out and opened up for us. He didn’t speak any English so he sent Alberto to wait on us. There are few words to describe Alberto (view pictures). He claimed to speak English and Spanish but he didn’t really speak either. He LOVED us and kept coming over multiple times to chat. He loved music and told us that rock, metal, country, and jazz were his favorite genres and didn’t understand why we thought that was funny. He gave us free wine, free gelato, and a free shot! It was a hilarious evening. We went back to our hotel around 9pm and passed out. We were so tired from travelling and exploring!

Friday 4/15
We had heard about the surrounding islands and that they were worth the trip. We bought a day pass and took a boat from the city to Murano which is famous for glass. We saw a glass blowing demonstration and went in lots of galleries. It was so beautiful. From there we took a boat to Burano which is known for its lace and colorful houses. Then we went to Torcello which is full of lots of green! The air smelled so sweet and we enjoyed strolling along. I had ravioli in a creamy mushroom sauce and we went to bed early.

Saturday 4/16
We got up early and got on the train to Florence. We got off the train station and followed our directions from the train station to the hotel. It wasn’t until we were lost that we realized that we had arrived to a different train station than in our directions so we had to go back to the train station and get on another train to the OTHEr train station and THEn walk all the way to our hotel. At this point I was veryyy grumpy. We arrived at our hotel and the lady was a puta and had over booked their hostel and MOVED us. I was so annoyed. Then she gave us the WRONG directions. So we got even MORE lost. When we finally found it we were running late for our tickets to the Accadmia to see the David. Our new hotel turned out to actually be someone’s home. There was this little old lady and her daughter that lived there and it smelled like cheese heaven all the time. We quickly got out of there so we wouldn’t drool on our clean sheets. We found the Accadmia and were happy that we got to completely skip the line with our online tickets. The Accademia itself was mehhh veryyy religious. But the david. OH MY GOODNESS. It was so beautiful and much bigger than I had ever imagined. I could have stared at it for hours. There was this really tiny security guard who was running around and making sure that no one was taking pictures of it and we watched her for a good 10 minutes because she was so funny and could say “no cameras, no photos” in about 100 different languages. After that we walked to the Duomo and there was some strange parade going on with lots of people dressed up. We watched that for awhile and then went into the Duomo. The outside is definitely more impressive than the inside but I lit a candle and we left to wander the leather markets.
The leather markets in Florence were incredible!! We wandered up and down for hours it was really cool. Finally we decided to go home for a bit to shower rand get ready for dinner. There were some other Bucknell kids in Florence so we met up with them at this pizza restaurant near the duomo. I basically had macaroni and cheese but it had all these crazy different types of cheese on it and it was SO good. I’m drooling just remembering it ☺ After dinner we went to this famous gelato restaurant and I got peanut butter flavor. OH MY GOONDESS. They don’t have peanut butter really in Europe so I was already feeling deprived but PEANUT BUTTER GELATO. Its just too good to be true!! We were exhausted from our first day in Florence so we went home to sleep.

Sunday 4/17
We had early Uffizi tickets so we woke up and found our way over there. It was SO crowded and once again we were glad that we thought ahead and booked tickets online. We wandered around the museum for a couple of hours but quickly got hungry. We met up with Sam and Taylor who were also in Florence and went back to the leather markets because we had gotten this recommendation about this restaurant named Zsa Zsas near there. I had ravioli with a creamy truffle sauce and it was the most amazing meal of my life. I literally licked my plate. I could not even believe how good it tasted. Thikning about it now….i miss it. I want it again! After lunch we went back to the leather markets because Sam and taylor wanted to buy jackets. I had lost my 2 favorite silver bracelets in Morocco and had been on the look out for new ones. Lucky for me I found some and haggled my way down and got them for a really good deal! I rock. Sam and Taylor were taking a long time so Tamara, Katie, and I went to the Piazza Vecchio and the Ponte Vecchio. It was so beautiful over there and the weather was so nice. We found a park and lay in the sun for a bit just relaxing and chatting about our trip. Then the pigeons started attacking us because we had snacks so we had to leave. We went home to shower and change and met up with Sam and Taylor again. They both were wearing very spiffy new leather jackets and looked fab. Sam’s brother had been to Florence and told her about this restaurant with a well priced tasting menu. We went there and got to try 5 different types of pastas. One was risotto with gorgonzola, penn ala vodka, spinach penne, ziti in red sauce, and bow ties in a vegetable red sauce. It was incredible. I have never tasted red sauce like this in my entire life. yUM YUM YUM. After dinner we went back to the peanut butter gelato place and got more! We sat in the back for almost 2 hours just chatting and enjoying our ice cream. It was so nice. Then we had to head home because we had an early train to Rome the next day!

Monday 4/18
The train to Rome was a lot faster than the train to Florence but it was much nicer. We got to Rome at about 10am and checked into our hostel. We had been really lucky so far with our hotels but this one was a little sketchy. We had our own room and our own bathroom (which was very nice) but it smelled weird and there were lots of bugs and strange wires hanging down from the ceiling. We unpacked and grabbed a map and headed out to the coliseum. IT WAS HUGE AND REALLY FREAKING OLD. I don’t know what I was expecting but I didn’t think we would be able to go in….for some reason I thought it was only the outside left and there was nothing on the inside…I don’t know but regardless I was blown away. I took lots of pictures! We splurged on an audio guide and took turns listening to it. I learned a lot! From there we walked across the street to the Forum which is the other part of ancient Rome. At this point we had spent almost 2 hours walking around the coliseum and we were hot, dirty, and tired. We definitely liked the Forum but we were pushing it energy wise…and it was a lot of really old stuff. So we decided to leave and went to the Trevvi Fountain. I loved it! It was a lot bigger than I had imagined and was so beautiful. It was really crowded but we got our pictures in and made a wish! We sat admiring it for awhile until we got too hungry and found a restaurant. I had heard that the food in Rome wasn’t as good as Florence but this restaurant was very disappointing and made us a little grumpy. We sat next to this man who was drinking so much alcohol and making all these weird noises as he ate. We left there and wandered home. We had early morning Vatican tickets and did not want to be tired for ANOTHEr big day.

Tuesday 4/19
The Vatican was an interesting experience. Again, we were glad to have bought our tickets online because the line was SO long and completely in the sun. Inside the Vatican it was also really really crowded. We went first through the museum and although it was interesting and pretty we were also a bit “arted out”. The frescos on the ceilings were beautiful but I really just wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. Everyone was pushing and grumpy and it was very hot. When we finally got to the Sistine Chapel it was SO crowded that we could barely move, we weren’t allowed to take pictures (although I snuck 1 or 2), and the guards kept yelling at us to be quiet. It was a bit of an anxiety attack but I’m glad I saw it. After that we grabbed Panini sandwiches and sat in the shade while we recovered from the crowd. Afterwards we went to St. Peter’s Square and Basilica. I was blown away. It was so incredible on the inside. The marble and the grandeur of it all was just breathtaking. It truly was incredible. Katie had read online about how on Wednesday the Pope holds the Papal Audience and that tickets are free if you ask the Swiss Guards. She found the very silly dressed swiss guards and got us tickets to see the Pope the next day. She was VERY excited. Nicole Jensen (Lindsey’s older sister) had studied in Rome and saw on my facebook that that is where I was. She sent me a message with some restaurants and ice cream recommendations. After showering and cleaning off the Rome dirt from our shoes we walked all the way to the “cool” part of Rome for dinner. There I had the best pizza of my life. It was simple, cheese, mushrooms, and sausage but it was just so good. I can’t even explain it. We were happy to have had good food and wine. We talked about how wonderful our trip was and how grateful we were for our good fortune.

Wednesday 4/20
At around 7am we woke up, packed our bags, stored them in the hotel, and made the trek back to the Vatican. We got seats way up close and fell asleep on each other until he came on around 10am. He is so small and very old! He rode around the crowd in his little pope mobile which is actually a very customized hummer. He and the Cardinals spoke for almost 2 hours in 7 different languages. The crowd was INSANE. We were so lucky to be up front and away from it all. After he was done we trekked back to our hotel, picked up our bags, and found the airport bus. It was time to leave Italy ☹ We were flying from Italy to Madrid and midway through our flight the pilot came on and announced that the Madrid airport was closed due to bad weather and that we would have to go to Valencia instead. Katie and I were freaking out! Valencia?! That is so far from Granada and Madrid! We were not happy. Then about 10 minutes later the pilot came back on and said that we were going to land in Madrid after all. IT was the roughest landing of my life. It was pouring and the plane was swaying and we could see the thunder and lightning in the distance. It was a little bit scary. The Madrid airport is huge and due to all the delays in the air we were cutting it close. The metro closed in 30 minutes and we were very far from our hotel! So we were running through the airport and caught the metro JUST in time but our metro stop was closed. It was POURING rain and we didn’t have a map. We navigated our way (somehow) to our hotel and were soaked, hungry, and cold. We hauled our stuff to the third floor where our hostel was and the man told us that he was moving us to the fourth floor (which was a hotel) because they were over booked. We were not excited because the last time we were moved it was kind of awkward. They move us upstairs and we’re in this BEAUTIFUL suite with our own bathroom and big comfortable beds. After being soaked and lost for 2 hours we each took long steamy showers and watched tennis on our BIG TV until we fell asleep. It was heavenly.

Thursday 4/21
We woke up and headed to the Prado. We had gone with our group in February but we weren’t there that long and it was so chaotic with our whole group that we really wanted to go back. I’m currently taking a Spanish art history class so I’ve been studying these paintings lots and it was incredible to see them all in person. We spent a long time just looking at everything. We went from there to Plaza Mayor and ate churros and watched the street performers. Our next plan was to watch the semana santa parades through Madrid but they were canceled due to rain ☹ We wandered back to our hotel and played cards until our bus at 1am to conclude our Italian/Spanish adventure!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Italy pictures

Still working on my blog entry but in the meantime here are my pictures!




Monday, April 11, 2011


First of all I want to say thank you for the overflow of emails that I’ve received since the accident. It has been quite the process, dealing with the police, lawyer, and Professor Delgado. My Spanish is definitely improving. I am starting to be able to sleep better and my nightmares aren’t as bad anymore. No one should have to see death like that and hopefully I will never see anything as violent in my whole life.


So this weekend my Bucknell group went to Sevilla! It was SO FREAKING HOT. It was about 101 degrees! We took the bus from Granada to Itálica which is this old roman village outside of Sevilla that is mostly ruins. It was really boring. It was just all these ruins and there were no signs or anything so we dind’t know what they were and I was hot and getting sunburnt. So I was a bit grumpy during this part. It was cool looking and I would have enjoyed it if it wasn’t so damn hot. From there we drove into the actual city of Sevilla which is so beautiful. We walked to our hotel which was so fancy! I loved it! I was in room 1. Literally, room 001. I thought that was cool. After resting and eating lunch we walked through the park to Plaza de Esapña. Definitely my favorite plaza so far in Spain. There is a kind of moat that runs through it and every city in Spain has its own little ceramic decoration. We took lots of pictures in front of the Granada one and wandered around. It was too hot to stay there for long because it was right in the sun so we went to this park that was really shady and cool. There were lots of birds and we really enjoyed all the green. I didn’t realize how “green” deprived I feel. Living in a city is great but I miss green grass, trees, flowers, etc. Sevilla has a lot of that so it was really really nice.
We went to this archeological museum that was really boring. So we mocked all of the statues. The guard actually hated us. It was HILARIOUS. Professor Delgado was mad at the beginning and then he joined in. it was really fun. We have such a good group, I’m lucky.
After the museum we wandered back through the center of the city where we found this nice Chinese restuarante. There aren’t any good Chinese restaurants in Granada so we all jumped on the chance for good Chinese food. It was delicious!
Most of the group went out at night but I was still feeling really tired and lethargic from a week of no sleep due to the accident. Dad and I video chatted because the internet in the hotel was really good. It was so nice to see his big happy round face ☺ definitely made me smile.
The next day we went to the castle which actually reminded me a lot of the Alhambra. There are a lot of ducks and they were vicious. We had a lot of fun with that. After the castle we went to the cathedral which is actually the largest cathedral in spain (Granada is the third largest). It was really pretty. My favorite part though was the fact that in this cathedral is the tomb of Christopher Columbus! NO WAY! YES WAY! I was blown away. For some reason I had never read/heard of this before so I was really surprised to see it.
Sevilla is absolutely beautiful and one of my favorite cities in Spain. It is the only other city I’ve been to in Spain that I could see myself living in (besides Granada of course)

I leave for Italy on Wednesday!! I’m going to Venice, Florence, and Rome! I am so excited! I am working on my itinerary which I will post here ☺

Miss you all! Can’t believe I’m coming down the homestretch of my abroad experience! Only about 6 more weeks!

Pictures of Sevilla:

Monday, April 4, 2011

so just after i posted that I was looking out the window of the cafe and this audi runs a red light and runs into a motorcycle. The guy on the motorocyle's face hits the side of the car and then he goes flying and his helmet flew off and he landed on the concrete and cracked his head open. The man in the car stopped immediately and ran out. The owner of the cafe and I ran outside to see if the guy was okay. He wasn't moving and blood and some other chunky stuff that i don't even want to think about waht it was was coming out of his head. The cafe owner called the police and i threw up on the side of the road. He told me to go inside and I watched as the police came and interviewed the driver and the ambulence came and took away the hurt man. They cleaned up the blood and chunks and the glass. The cafe waitress brought me bread adn water and tried to calm me down. The police came in and was interviewing the cafe owner when he told them that he didn't see waht happened because he was working but i did. The police interviewed me in spanish and then a police officer came who spoke english and he interviewed me again in english. Still shaking and my friend is going to come and walk me home.

so totally freaked
So its Monday evening and I’m sitting at the café looking at my pictures over and over again and disappointed that they could not better capture what I just experienced. Traveling to Morocco was eye opening and incredible. I learned a lot and really felt like I experienced the culture. Africa is definitely a different world…

Friday 4/4
We left at about 1:30 from Granada. Through my school we had seen a poster for this program to go to Morocco. We booked online but did not put any money down. The director knows that many students (and their parents) are wary about travelling to northern Africa right now. So we met the program director (Abdel) in Granada and got on the bus with about 30 or so other students from the CLM (our school in Granada). I was travelling with Erin Brown, Erin Rajtik, Allison Pollack, and Sam Schindelheim. Not my normal crew but really really great girls. I had a great time with them and we travelled together well. So we drove from Granada to Malaga where we picked up some other students and from there we drove to Algerias which is where the most southern port in Spain is. We took a ferry from Algerias to Ceuta which is a Spanish territory at the very tip of Africa. So when we got off the boat (it was about an hour) we were still technically in Spain. Our bus driver met us (the entire time we had a really nice air conditioned coach bus) and we drove from Ceuta to the border of Spain and Africa. I have never driven across a border before and it was an eye opening experience. There were police everywhere and there was this HUGE fence. Behind the fence were these big boulders and on the boulders were lots of Moroccon men who were smuggling things in from Spain. There was a man on one side of the fence and another man on the other. The man on the Moroccan side was using a fishing pole type thing to bring the bag of goods from Spain into Morocco. It was very interesting. They checked our passports and our luggage and then we finally were in Morocco. By the time we arrived it was dark but we could still see the difference between 1 mile back in Spain and where we were. Everything was in Arabic and every one was dressed in traditional Arabic robes. After the border we met our guide for Tetuan, Abdul, also known as Michael Douglas. He claims that his family believes that he looks like Michael Douglas and insisted on being called this. We of course obliged but it was rather strange as he did not appear similar to Michael Douglas AT ALL. So anyway, we were in Tetuan and the city appeared rather run down but not full of poverty. We drove along the coast until we arrived at our hotel. In my room was Allison and Sam and we each had our own bed which was nice. We went downstairs for dinner which was fish and potatoes. It was a pretty standard meal and we were exhausted. From there we went straight to bed because we had an early morning!

Saturday 4/2
Crack of dawn we woke up and had a nice buffet breakfast. The food was kind of weird but the tea was delicious! We boarded the bus and drove into the center of Tetuan which is the city where we were staying. It is a small city on the outskirts of farm country and in the main square there is a synagogue, a church, and a mosque. In Morocco the three religions live together in harmony (Christianity, Muslim, and Jewish). From there we changed our money from euros to dirham (11 dirham=1 euro) and we wandered our way into the medina. A Medina is the center of the city and is the oldest part. They are basically markets now but some people live there as well…it is basically its own little city within the city. Right away when you enter is the fish market….there are fish guts everywhere and fish heads…needless to say it didn’t smell so hot. I was not a fan of this part of the tour but it ended quickly as we approached the meat market. There were whole dead cows hanging up and lots and lots of chickens. The Moroccan people were fascinated by the horror on our faces as this is an every day occurrence for them. We also saw the spice market, cheese, olives, and so much more. The people in this part were mostly farmers and were so interesting to look at. After the market we went to this rug maker and got to see all the magnificent rugs that they hand make in Morocco. It was a little awkward though because he obviously wanted us to buy some and we weren’t exactly in the position to spend $6,000 on a rug and carry it home to the US but it was still a cool experience. After the rug co-op we went to a Moroccan restaurant for lunch and had beef shish kebabs and chicken and vegetable couscous. It was delicious! After lunch we boarded the bus and headed to Tanger. When we boarded the bus there was a group of about 6 or 7 Moroccan men who were standing by the bus. We then realized that we had, had an entourage of security guards the whole time that had been following us and watching out for us without us even knowing! Definitely made everything feel safer.
On our way to Tanger we stopped to ride camels…now camels are not a typical northern Morocco thing so the camel riding stop was only a tourism thing that took place in a parking lot. The camel owners weren’t so nice to the camels so I decided (since I had ridden a camel in the Canary Islands) that I would sit this one out and take pictures of everyone instead. Camels smell terrible and are not very nice.
After the camel stop we stopped at an overlook where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic. It was so beautiful! There was a little market there to buy things but we mostly looked at the water and enjoyed the view.
Tanger was much more industrial and more urban. There were less women that were completely covered and more people dressed in every day clothes. We went into the same type of Medina but it was less agricultural goods and more souvineers and clothing. This was my least favorite part of the trip. For some reason the people in Tanger thought I was fascinating looking and everyyyonnneee wanted to touch me and follow me around. The women were pointing and laughing at me and the men were asking to touch my hair and shouting broken English at me. My favorite was “hey fire head, you are a lot of womens”. That was when Michael Douglas assigned me my own guard. The rest of the time I was fine and we did a lot of shopping and A LOT of bargaining. It got dark quickly so after that we boarded up the bus and headed back to Tetuan for dinner. Dinner was chicken shish kebabs and it was very yummy. We took long showers (we smelled) and went to bed really early because we were exhausted.

Sunday 4/3
Again with the crack of dawn (not a fan) and we packed up our things and headed to Chef-Chaoen. This was definitely my favorite city of the three. The cities colors and blue and white and EVERYTHING is blue and white. Almost every door is bright blue. Michael Douglas did not follow us to Chef-Choen and I can not for the life of my pronounce our guide’s name but he was very nice. Everyone in Chef-Coen was sooo nice. They kept saying “Welcome to Morocco” “We are happy to see you” “Thank you for coming to my country”. They weren’t as pushy and touchy. And the city did NOT smell nearly as bad. It was nestled in the mountains and was so beautiful with streams everywhere. Lots of fairy places ☺ This is where we had our free time and where I did most of my shopping. We went to a rug/tapestry/blanket maker and watched him for awhile. His work was so beautiful that I had to buy one for POW! Its turquoise and white and is soft and wonderful. I can’t wait to bring it to the beach! Afterwards I bought a leather purse (10 euros) and lots of other beautiful things! I was sad that this was our last stop before heading back to Spain but it really was an incredible experience!

For pictures:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The long awaited blog entry on my family’s visit. I haven’t wanted to write it down yet because I have just been reflecting on it. I could not have asked for a better time. I feel truly blessed. I am so lucky that my family was able to come and visit me. I really feel that they were able to see Granada and appreciate it the way I do. So here we go…

Saturday 3/12
Unfortunately the day of Alex and Mom’s arrival was the same day as my Bucknell trip to Córdoba. Professor Delgado was nice enough to let me leave Córdoba early so I could greet my family. Córdoba is a great city but the whole time I was there I was FIDGETING with excitement because I could just not wait to see my mom and Alex. FINALLY it was 2pm and I practically ran to the bus station to take the 3 hour bus ride back to Granada. Needless to say it was the longest three hours of my life. I arrived at their hotel and could not have been happier to get into bed with my mom and just soak her in. I took them from there to my favorite place in all of Granada, El Mirador de San Nicolás. From here you can see all of Granada, La Alhambra, and La Sierra Nevada. I thought it was going to rain but we were lucky enough that it held off so we could see the beautiful view. From there we wandered down through the Albayzin, the famous Arab neighborhood, and looked in all the shops. We went to a tea shop and had chai tea and ate the most amazing crepes in my whole life. They had chocolate, nata, coconut, and banana. OH MY GOODNESS. It was AMAZING. Yum yum yum. I want them now. Okay…moving on. We had a nice dinner on Calle Navas (where they were staying) and we went to bed because we had a big day coming up! La Alhambra!

Sunday 3/13
Now, I had not been to La Alhambra yet (if you don’t know what LA Alhambra is…google it and then look at my pictures below) because Professor Delgado wanted us to wait until the weather was nice enough. We took the bus up which was a little bit of a scary experience but definitely better than walking. We first went into the summer palace which was beautiful and the gardens were nice…then we went into the real palace and the views just took your breath away. The Palace of Carlos V was stunning but what was really amazing was Los Palacios Nazaries. AY DIOS MIO. I was weeping. I have been studying La Alhambra my entire Spanish career but to see it in real life…oh my I was shaking. There are literally no words and there is nothing like it in the whole world. There were all these kitties running around although it was a little chilly it was truly a blessing.

Okay…the next part of the day. The evening with Lolita. To give you some perspective…we had been walking around La Alhambra for five hours, we had skipped lunch, and were freezing. We arrived at Lolitas for tea and she was very dressed up. Now, I understand how crazy she is but seeing it for the first time through someone else’s eyes was an out of body experience. I lost it. When Lolita was preparing the tea I was laughing so hard that I was crying. She has all these trinkets and I mean you’re going to have to ask my mom or Alex to describe it because I simply cannot. There are no words. Imagine Dolores Umbridge (from Harry Potter) combined with…I don’t even know. Okay anyway, so we all sit down at the table and Lolita brings out COFFEE. We hadn’t eaten anything and it was 7pm and she brings us coffee but serves herself tea. Then she brings out these cookies, flan, and HIGHLIGHTER pink ice cream. It was revolting. Then she turned on the flat screen. My mom just about lost it. We were sitting there force to drink caffeine, eat this awful fake dessert, while watching Shakira on the television. It was hilarious.

After 2 whole hours with Lolita we ran across the street and picked up a bottle of tequila. We found a restaurant and settled in…spending the next 2 hours laughing about Lolita and the catastrophe that had just occurred.

Monday 3/14
On Monday we went to Córdoba. There are no words to describe La Mezquita in Córdoba. It was definitely a spiritual experience. It is so beautiful, huge, so old, and with so much history. Okay…I know my mom is going to kill me for this but this is for YOU Sarah Taylor! So we were in the museum part of La Mezquita and we were looking at the old Bibles and things in the glass cases. My mom was mesmerized by something in the corner of the museum in a glass case…except she did not know that it was in a glass case…she stepped a little too close and walked straight into the glass and it did not break but it made a really loud noise. At that moment this little tiny Asian woman, who did not speak English or Spanish, pointed at my Mom and burst out laughing. I. Was. Crying. I had to leave the room. I was laughing so hard. It was the funniest moment of my entire life. She was so embarrassed (sorry Mom I know you’re going to kill me for posting this on the internet but you’ll get over it).

We went from La Mezquita to a beautiful lunch at this restaurant that I had seen when I was in Córdoba with my class. While at lunch Alex pulled out her Córdoba info and she had written down that very restaurant that we were eating at. Proof that angles follow us around ☺ After lunch it was POURING so we drank wine and played cards until our bus came.

We had a lovely dinner that night. I had the BEST pizza of my life. I’m not used to eating out because I always eat with Lolita but Granada has some great restaurants!

Tuesday 3/15
I had class on Tuesday morning and then Alex and Mom picked me up from school. We went and had schwarma for lunch. Oh how to describe schwarma. It is kind of like a gyro? With shredded meat and lots of vegetables and this yummy white sauce. I think its Arab but I’m not entirely sure. We were SO full that we went home and laid down until I had class at 5. From there we met up with Katie and went for tapas near Plaza del Toros. Granada is famous for its Tapas. It is the only city in Spain where the tapas are included with drinks. We went to this restaurant where we heard the tapas were the biggest and most authentic. It was crowded with worker men tired and sun burnt from the day and we stuck out like 4 blonde American women in a Spanish bar (oh wait…) and ordered tinto de verano which came with a huge bowl of olives and 4 tapas. We got a bocadilla de jamón y queso, tortilla Española, avocado with tuna, and patatas bravas. YUMM Then we got ice cream! YUMM So lucky!

Wednesday 3/16
I know im missing details but its been a few days…on Wednesday I had lots of class but Mom and Alex walked around the caves in Sacromonte. We had a relaxing afternoon grabbed a nice lunch and went to the park. In the park we happened upon 2 of my friends Taylor and Sam. We had some Cava in the park and enjoyed the sunny day.
For dinner we went to a Flamenco show!! This was my first ever Flamenco show! It was a little touristy but it was an incredible experience. Authentic Flamenco is nothing like I’ve ever seen before.

Thursday 3/17
Unfortunately I had to say good bye to Alex. She had a short visit but I feel incredibly lucky that she made it possible to come. I feel so blessed to have her in my life. I just want to breathe her air and soak up her Alex-ness. She is my biggest role model and I just cannot even explain how much she has influenced my life. I know I’ve told her this a million times but I wanted to put it on the internet ☺
So my Mom picked me up from school and we waited for Dad and Pete to arrive! I was so happy to see them! We had an authentic Spanish lunch of bocadillas and salad. I could not believe my eyes that my two favorite guys were in MY city! The four of us in SPAIN?! It was almost too much to bear. I went off to class and my mom took them to San Mirador de Nicolás. For dinner Professor Delgado was hosting the group at his home so I brought Peter and we had tapas with the rest of my class while my parents had a nice dinner. It was St. Patty’s Day so from there I took little Petey to his first bar. I bought him a TEENY TINY beer but he felt SO cool. Thennn, Bucknell had made it to the NCAA March Madness so the Bucknell group got together at the office at midnight to watch the game! It was so fun (even though we lost) booo. But we were able to get to bed early enough so we could wake up and go to La Alhambra!

Friday 3/18
La Alhambra. This time I had been there before so I knew what to expect. It was so nice to be able to take my dad and brother there. Dad loves history so he especially appreciated La Alhambra…especially when he found out that he was standing in the very room where Christopher Columbus had asked Queen Isabelle for the funding to find the Americas. We had a lovely day at La Alhambra and a relaxing evening. (again sorry about the lack of details but my memory is failing me)

Saturday 3/19
We went to Nerja which is a little touristy beach town on La Costa del Sol. It was so beautiful and relaxing. From the Mirador we could see Africa! The ocean was turquoise and the sand felt good on our feet. We spent the day playing around on the beach and then headed back to Granada. I was happy to take everyone on a bus trip because the country side outside of Granada is so beautiful with all the olive farms.

Sunday 3/20
Sunday was the day of FUTBOL!!! We were fortunate enough to get tickets to a Granada soccer game. A friend of mine from the Bucknell program who is from Macedonia joined us and he is a huge soccer fan and he and pete clicked. It was a BEAUTIFUL day 75 degrees easily! And we had GREAT seats! It was SO fun! The fans were so enthusiastic and it was a great experience. Granada tied 1-1 but it was still so fun! Stephan joined us for lunch and he has had an incredibly interesting life so it was awesome to hear his story.

Monday 3/21
Pete came to class with me! His Spanish is so impressive so I thought, why not? He came to my speaking class and it was so fun! I’m so glad he came. We got schwarma for lunch (YUM) and then napped! We were so full from lunch that we skipped out on dinner and went shopping until it was time for Flamenco! Bucknell had an organized excursion to see a Flamenco show. It was stunning. Lasjflasjflajkf I’m sorry I am so lack of details. The trip was too special to write down.

Tuesday 3/22
I had a midterm in the morning and class in the afternoon so I was occupied with things (I do go to school here you know…) the family went to the cathedral and enjoyed the city. For dinner we went out for tapas and enjoyed wine and each other’s company.

I would not be where I am without the support and love of my family. My mom…I know I don’t tell her enough…but she is an inspiration. I love her with my whole heart. She keeps me going and helps me grow. My dad makes me smile. He does so much for me and loves me so much. He makes me feel so special. And then there is Peter James…he is the comic relief. He makes everyone laugh and is SO smart. I am so excited to see where he goes in his life.

That’s all for now…here are the links for photos