Monday, February 7, 2011

Here we go! My tour de España!
We left Granada at around 8am and began the 7 hour bus ride to Segovia. I slept most of the way which was nice but it was loonngg. It was so beautiful and as we got farther and farther north there was more and more snow. Our senora backed us tortilla Espanola bocadillas which are like omelette sandwiches. I didn’t think I would like it but it was soooo good! When we finally got to Segovia it was freeeezing! None of us were prepared for that. We dropped our stuff off in the hotel and went to the Castle of Reyes Catolicos aka Ferdinand e Isabel. This castle was where Walt Disney got his inspiration for the castle in Disney World! We climbed all the way to the top tower (152 steps) and from there we could see all of Segovia! Afterwards we took a tour of the castle which had museums of the armor and weapons that were used during this time. It was so beautiful. We then walked to the part of Segovia that is most famous, the aqueducts. They were so big and overwhelming I could hardly believe it! It is hard to imagine how something that big and complex could have been constructed so long ago with no heavy machinery and technology! Then we went back to the hotel for dinner where we had a beautiful meal. Because there are so many of us we often don’t get to choose the menu which is fine but our starting course was this seafood soup. I swear the squid was still alive. I just sipped the broth and let my friend eat the swimming creatures. For the main course we had this kind of beef stew that was soooo yummy and dessert we had tiramisu. We tried to find a bar or something to go to after dinner but Segovia is a very quiet town so I ended up just going back to the hotel and video chatting with mom. All the hotels we stayed at had internet so I was veryyy happy!

Early morning wake up and breakfast. The breakfast in Spain is very strange. You eat pastries and meat and cheese. I like it but it is weird. After breakfast we packed up on the bus and drove to Avila. Like most of the small older in Spain, Avila is surrounded by a muralla (city wall). It was huge! Then we went into the cathedral which is the oldest one in spain. It was beautiful but sooo cold! We didn’t stay long because we could see our breath inside the church. We then boarded the bus and headed to Salamanca! Salamanca is my second favorite city in Spain (Toledo is my favorite..more details later).It had the city feel but it was still a small town and wasn’t overwhelming and scary. We dropped our things off in the hotel and had lunch in the hotel. We had ratatouille as our first course, chicken and French fries (French fries are VERY popular in Spain) as our entrée, and ice cream for dessert! After lunch we toured Salamanca. We went first to the cathedral. The cathedral in Salamanca is the largest in Spain. It was first built in the 1100s and then was later added onto in the 1300s. The old and new cathedrals are both attached. We first went into the new cathedral. I don’t know what it was about it but I was at a loss for words. I ended up wandering around alone because I just wanted to absorb it. I lit a candle for Kari and had a moment of silence while I took it all in. Afterwards we went into the old cathedral and climbed up the tower so we could view all of Salamanca. It was incredible. Then we climbed even further and went back into the new cathedral and walked around on the balcony so we could see the cathedral fully and from a great perspective. I was basically in tears at this point because I was so overwhelmed. It was just so grand and simple and beautiful.
After the cathedral we went to the University of Salamanca which is the oldest University in Spain. I wasn’t a huge fan of this part of the tour but regardless it was cool. We walked around the old classrooms that are now “retired” because the teaches were so extraordinary (like its ports when a famous athlete stops playing and the team retires their number). The desks and seats were so old and the wood was beautiful. Outside the university there is this wall of stone carvings with a hidden frog. If you can find the frog its good luck! Luckily, we all found the frog! We then went to the Plaza Mayor which was incredibly beautiful and there were so many street performers and people just enjoying the day, it was so nice. For dinner we went to this Italian restrauant/sports bar. It was the first time we could order our own food and it was nice haha. I had ravioli and we drank beer as we watched Madrid beat Seville in fútbol! IT was so exciting! Afterwards we went to this karaoke bar where we met up with the rest of the group. It was so much fun! The next day we boarded up the bus and headed off to Madrid!

We arrived in Madrid and dropped off our stuff at the hotel. We then went to el museo del jamón for lunch. There were pigs hanging from the ceiling. It was a little much to see before lunch. I had jamón iberica y melon and tortilla Espanola for lunch while everything else had paella. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the paella. There was lots and lots of food! It was soo yummy! Afterwards we had a little bit of free time so we wandered around Madrid. We stumbled upon the Post Office….when I say post office I don’t mean like your average post office. This looked like a castle! It was incredible. We just stood on the side of the street while we stared at it and marveled at its beauty. For some reason I hadn’t heard great things about Madrid and wasn’t expecting it to blow me away like it did. I loved the city. It kind of reminded me of NYC except it has beautiful plazas, palaces, cathedrals, and its in Europe (duh). We then met up with the rest of the group and went to see the palace. After having been to Versailles I had some pretty big expectations. It certainly was no Versailles but it gave it a run for its money. We toured the inside and looked at the view of Madrid. We then went to Plaza Mayor (different than in Salamanca obviously) which was beautiful (sorry I need to find a thesaurus). We were all still full from our lunch of the museum of ham so we went out for tapas and wine for dinner. We then met up with the rest of our group at a night club and danced the night away!

Day 2 in Madrid. We had an early breakfast and then went to the Prado! We did not have enough time in the museum but it was beautiful. I have been studying Spanish for nine years and I can easily say that every year we have spent a little time studying Spanish art so this was the first tiem I had been to an art museum where I knew a lot about the artists and their works of art. We saw the painting Las Meninas by Velazquez which is easily my favorite Spanish painting. It was huge and I never imagined it to be that big. We saw lots of other paintings that I had remembered from my text books and it was wonderful to have that experience. After the prado we went to lunch and then to the Reina Sofia which is another art museum. This museum housed Picasso and Salvador Dalí. It was absolutely incredible! After the museums we rested, showered, and went for dinner. After dinner I met up with Lindsey (neighbor and best friend since I was 4) who is currently living in Madrid. It was so nice to see her! We went to this bar and met up with other people from our high school that were in Spain. It was really nice to see everyone. Lindsey took me to the most famous nightclub in Spain which is 7 stories! We danced the night away!

We packed up our things and headed to Toledo. Not a single picture or word can do justice to the beauty of Toledo. The cathedral was out of this world in its detail and art. There was an art museum within the cathedral entirely devoted to Greco. I could not believe my eyes. We then went to a Synagogue and then went to see the most famous painting by Greco. All of these things were wonderful but what took my breath away was the view from the city. I got goose bumps while looking out at the landscape. I actually cannot even describe it. You could see for miles into the hills of Spain. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
We then packed ourselves up onto the bus and headed back to Granada!

I cannot believe all I have seen this week. My body is completely worn out. On Friday I began to feel a little sick again and then on Saturday I was absolutely sick. I came home and my senora instantly knew I was sick again. She made me tea and put me to bed very early. I slept until 4pm the next day and knew I was in trouble. There was food waiting outside my door so I had a little snack. I knew that I didn’t just have a normal cold so I called Delgado and he told me he could take me to the doctor tomorrow so I went back to sleep until 7pm. I awoke to my senora on the phone outside my door. She came in and took my temperature and freaked out and ran to the phone. I didn’t really know what was going on. She brought the phone to me and it was Ana (our program director who does not speak English). I talked to Ana on the phone and tried to explain to her that I wasn’t that sick. Next thing I knew Lolita had me all bundled up on the way to the hospital. I called Katie who was at the café online and she met me there. Lolita did not come with me and I was really mad at her. Yes, I had a fever and was obviously sick but I did not need to go to the hospital. Sometimes the language barrier is too much to handle. Ana took care of the difficult part and then I waited in the waiting room with Katie and Ana of the Spanish ER. The doctor was very nice but didn’t speak English (obviously) so it was very nice of Ana to come with me. He gave me a prescription and I went to the 24 hour pharmacy. I picked up my medicine and went home. It was a huge ordeal and if anyone ever comes with me I would recommend not going to the Spanish emergency room because all the magazines are in Spanish. I started the antibiotics and am already feeling a little better. I start classes tomorrow and I told Lolita that I was going no matter what (she was not pleased with this and is trying to convince me not to go to class). She force fed me yogurt.
I have a full week of classes ahead of me and then I’m off to Barcelona with Katie and Tamara on Thursday night for the weekend. Hopefully the antibiotics make me better fast!

I will post the link for the pictures as soon as I can. I actually didn’t have a working camera on the trip (I don’t have a camera charger) so they are all taken by Katie and her camera.

Hope you all aren’t completely snowed in!

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