Monday, April 30, 2012

I can´t believe that tomorrow is the first day of May and that in 11 days I will be on a plane to the United States. It makes me start thinking about how senior year is fast approaching and then real life and then I don´t even know what. I can´t start thinking about this, I´m only 20. Except that 20 seems so old!!!
Oh well, for now I just need to enjoy the last couple days left in Madrid. Yesterday I came back from a weekend in Porto, Portugal, which was really fun and relaxing. It was the perfect last travel experience before heading home. I went with a group of girls to celebrate one of their 21st birthdays (which of course doesn´t matter much here in Europe) but we just tried to hang out, eat good food and celebrate. And that we did. Just to preface what I´m about to say, I´m going to ask myself a question: who am I? Because, this weekend I very willingly offered to get information for a bus tour. Yes. I love bus tours now. They are so perfect because you can have fun on them in any kind of weather! Rainy and you go downstairs, beautiful and sunny and you go upstairs (and they are so good for taking pictures). Plus you get to see so much more than you would just walking around aimlessly. So we found a great deal on a bus tour, which was 19 euros and included a two day bus pass, boat ride up the river Douro and tour of the Calem Porto wine cellars PLUS a tasting. Also I´m obessed with all of the buildings in Porto. Everywhere you go are the most beautiful tiled walls and even on the churches they have little scenes and it just adds so much color and life to the city. I could look at them all day long. Then when we were boarding the plane to come back, Alyssa said something that made me so excited: this is the last time we´re traveling back to Madrid. CAN´T BELIEVE THAT THE NEXT PLANE I TAKE WILL BE HEADED BACK HOME!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A lot has happened in the past couple weeks! After getting back from Paris my mom and dad came to visit! It was so great to see them because it's been over three months since the last time I have but I didn't realize just how acclimated I've become to Madrid (knowing the metro, understanding basic spanish, etc) that I started getting frustrated with the fact that I had to become a tour guide. I think I'd rather hang out with them at home than a foreign country but regardless I am SO happy they came. It makes me miss home so much but knowing that I will only have to wait three weeks to see them lessens the depression.
Anyways, this weekend the school planned a trip to Andalucia, which is where I'm writing from now! (right now we're in Granada) In the beginning of the semester we took an 11 day pre-seminar called Mare Nostrum in which we went to Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona and Valencia. This is a shortened version/reunion trip in which we've been to Cordoba, Sevilla and our last stop, Granada. This weekend has made me realize how amazing planned trips are. We have a bus driver (Nico), planned dinners, nice hotels, get to see amazing views and guided tours. It really takes the stress out of traveling.

In Cordoba we saw the mosque (mesquita), got yummy tortilla y queso bocadillos and ice cream cones.
inside the mosque
Sevilla was so beautiful. A huge river runs through it and there are a ton of restaurants and bars and shops are lined up all the way down. So much to look at. We went to the center of town and saw the cathedral. Then of course after round two of bocadillos for lunch we had to get ice cream. Maite, our group leader, just laughed. Yeah, this coming from the typical skinny spanish woman who can barely finish a croissant and coffee for breakfast and was so stuffed from a single scoop she couldn't drink all her beer. Theme of the weekend is eating. We established it early on and we're gonna stick to it. You only Andalucia once.
view from above
Granada has been by far the most beautiful. Its all windy roads and gorgeous views. The hotel in literally at the top of a mountain so you can see the whole city. It's amazing. We learned about how oil is made here (Granada is one of the top producers of olive oil), from when and how they pick the olives to how they used to make it and even got to have a tasting. No complaining from me.

tiled wall in la alhambra
We also went to the Alhambra and the view was once again amazing. The tiles and orange trees and fountains and carvings and views. It's hard to take it all in. Lots of photos. Lots of staring.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bonjour de Paris!!! I'm currently writing from Alyssa's cousins computer (hope he doesn't mind all the way from Boston). We've been here for 8 days and sadly only have 2 left but we have been making all the time we have here count. Of course we got as touristy as possible (Arc de Triumphe, Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, Louvre, Versailles, Musee d'Orsay, walking down the Champs-Elysees) but having spent so much time here, we've really gotten to walk around and take our time learning the city. And all I can say is that I love it. Unlike Madrid, it is so green here. The streets are filled with trees and even though it's a city there are flowers and grass and just pure nature. Sometimes I forget how much beauty a simple garden has when I'm in Madrid. It's so dry there. But Paris is so alive with greeeen. It was the first thing Alyssa and I noticed.
We've been staying with Alyssa's aunt and uncle (as you recall I mentioned her cousin) and they have been SO generous. Almost every dinner they have invited us to and the large majority of them being out. And not just to the local hum dum cheap take really nice restaurants. Honestly I love you Carm, but France has been treating our bellies right! First night we had Italian, followed by Indian, then Chinese, Lebanese and Thai. Needless to say it's been a delicious trip. Oh how could I forget the crepes. We got them once for lunch and once just on the street and they were sooo yummy. Alyssa said it perfectly, "if I lived here I would get fat off the crepes". Too true.

louvre museum
eiffel tower
pizza and crepes for lunch
notre dame cathedral