Monday, February 18, 2013

Barcelona: The Weekend of Winning

Hola amigos!

Sorry for being so behind on my posts, I know you are all dying to read about my adventures in Barcelona two weeks ago! (For those of you that are friends with my father, I know he has been playing up my travel blog so I greatly apologize for the delay!) Seeing as I will be heading to Prague this weekend, I thought I should get up-to-date before I fall behind again.

Our trip to Barcelona was nothing short of incredible! After hearing my host-brothers discuss their favorite team, Real Madrid, and the political implications of Cataluña, I wasn't sure what to expect; however, I was amazed! 

From the moment we got to Barcelona, my small group of friends and fellow BC students made a pact to take in all that Barca had to offer culturally before we gave in to the crazy nightlife we had heard so much about! 

Culturally this included ... 
  1. The Picasso Museum
  2. The Miro Museum
  3. La Sagrada Familia 
  4. Park Güell 
  5. And, of course, the beach! 
Here are a quick sampling of pictures of this stunning ciudad

We were told by our host-madre that we HAD to try the paella in Barca, and she was right, it was to die for!

This is the view from the top of the Miro Museo

Me and the perpetually under construction Sagrada Familia 

On our way to Park Güell, there was an incredible series of escalators that were just begging to be photographed!

Throughout Park Güell, there were engraved cactuses so we made sure that BC left its mark!

Just enjoying the Barcelona beaches


All in all, I think we did a fantastic job of squeezing the amazing city of Barcelona into a wonderful three day trip!

Hasta luego!

A Collection of Funny Moments, Take 2

As my study abroad journey reaches the month and a half point (I can hardly believe it), here is another recap of the hilarious, uncomfortable, and memorable moments that our broken spanish get us into ...

1. Urged by host mom for weeks to adventure down Calle Navas to go tapa-hopping (the Spanish version of a bar crawl), myself and 5 other willing BC friends sat down for a botella de vino blanco, some free calamari tapitas, y good conversation. While all three of those things happened, we were also visited by none other than ... ELVIS PRESLEY! Needless to say, it was a great night.

2. In that same night, we also learned a Spanish line dance! Though I could not recreate the steps if my life depended on it, a very nice Spaniard tried her hardest to instruct us! 

3. This weekend I experienced the Once-in-a-Lifetime lunacy that is CARNAVAL! While I cannot even begin to summarize the absurdity that occured (details for a later post!), trust me that it was an incredible night that I am not sure I could have experienced anywhere else but Spain. For just a little taste of what my 24 hrs of Carnaval included, here is a photo of my oh so flattering costume and a link to an incredible accurate depiction of what Cadiz was like this weekend. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Do As the Madrilleños Do

Hola Amigos!

This past weekend my program travelled together to Escorial, Madrid and Toledo ... Three beautiful places in only three days!

Escorial was more of a pit-stop on our journey to Madrid but was breathtaking none the less. We visited what used to be the Monastery de Escorial but today is instead used as a museum, and as a perfect example of Renaissance Architecture in Spain. (Not to mention, a site that my art history teacher recommended!)

Unfortunately, we weren't permitted to take photos inside the monastery, but here is the outside of the building.

After finishing up in Escorial, the thirty of us climbed back into the bus with our trusty driver Paco and geared up for a memorable weekend in Madrid.

Lucky for me, this BC-sponsored (and paid for!) roadtrip to Madrid coincided perfectly with one of my best friends, Christine, 21st birthday! I was so happy and so lucky to be able to meet up with her to celebrate, and she was a HUGE help in finding fun places to enjoy our brief stay in Madrid.

In addition experiencing the one and only Kapital, a unique 7 floor discoteca in Madrid, our coordinator Amalia ensured that we saw all Madrid had to offer, even if we only had one day to see it. This meant a lot of walking, a lot of site seeing, and a lot of culture to process -- we visited the Palacio Real, El Prado, and El Museo de la Reina Sofia. Once again, no pictures allowed in any of these places, but you'll have to take my world that they are amazing.

Try to ignore my scarf in this picture, but behind us is the Cathedral in Madrid. 

These are all the lovely ladies in the GRIIS program in front of the Palacio Real.

As far as Toledo, I think it may rival Rondo as being one of the most scenic places I've seen in Spain. Despite being thoroughly exhausted, the views were stunning and we got to visit one of the oldest remaining Synogogues in Spain. During the Inquistion, most places of worship of religions other than Christianity were destroyed as a statement of Christianity's power, however, this one lucky building remains and is a testament to a certain level of religious tolerance that survived in Spain despite efforts such as the Inquisition.

Lastly, in an attempt to break up the 5 hour drive back from Toledo to Granada, we stopped at Los Molinos, a famous site referenced in Cervantes' work Don Quixote. Aptly titled, this place was definitely windy but the perfect place for some beautiful pictures, although I had recently taken my extra strength Dramamine pill and I think the drowsiness was starting to set in.

Hasta luego!

PS. Familia, be on the lookout for your Madrid/Toledo postcards!! (Dawn and Grampy, too)