Sunday, March 27, 2011

Disfraz Fiesta and Teaching

At the Rector Peset, the Spanish students plan several parties that everyone can buy tickets for. The most recent was a costume (disfraz) party in the basement of the dorm. Buying the ticket was last minute, but I ended up going as a beach bum. The party was so much fun - the Spanish kids always do a great job with planning them. The 'Divinas' of Rector (similar to the Plastics of Mean Girls, but they're not very mean) all dressed up as sailors. Some of the others dressed up as the Jolly Green Giant, a spice girl, and one was a knight. I was surprised that their costumes were similar to ones in the U.S. It was such a great night! :)

The same weekend, I went to a small community center by the beach with my friend Sean to teach English. It was one of the neatest interactions I've had with people in Spain because the people there were in my same position of trying to learn a new language. I was able to help them, and at the same time, practice my Spanish a little bit. We worked on pronunciation since it was only their second week, and everyone seemed to enjoy it!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

When in Rome...

A trip to Italy has always been at the top of my bucket list, and last weekend, I finally got to check it off. I was so happy we managed to fit several of the major attractions into just a few days. We were on the go for a good part of it, but definitely took time to relax, drink wine, and do as the Italians do!

We stayed in a cute Italian hostel called Etsy Bed and Breakfast, which came equipped with an Italian mother I've always wanted! She was so sweet to us, but we had a hard time communicating since she spoke neither Enlgish nor Spanish.

This was our first meal in Rome! It was the first of many bottles of red wine and plates of pasta. I ordered fetuccini alla carbonara (red sauce with peas).

One of the first things we decided to do was visit the Colosseum. Being there was surreal since I had seen it so many times in pictures, but never right in front of me. So much history happened within the monument that it was difficult to soak everything in.

Inside the Colosseum

This was originally covered by the ground on which the gladiators fought. Each of the small chambers held a gladiator before he was brought out to fight.

We were able to visit the Roman Forum on our first day too. The ruins are considered to be the heart of ancient Rome. Again, it was an overwhelmingly great amount of history to soak in at one time.

I ate gelato SO many times during the weekend. I think my favorite was probably one called chocolate with biscuits. The fruity flavors were delicious also, but I couldn't help but try all the chocolate flavored gelato.

We visited the Trevi fountain twice during our stay. It's my (hands down) favorite place in Rome. The water that flowed through it was gorgeous, and I don't know how to describe the statues really. They seemed life-like--I guess you just have to see it yourself!

The Trevi by night

Throw one coin in: You will return to Rome.
Throw two coins in: You will fall in love in Rome.
Throw three coins in: Start hearing wedding bells.

After sipping wine in the plaza and eating gelato (of course), we went inside the Patheon!

Inside the Pantheon: the Romans invented the dome! Inside, it once was a shrine for the Roman Gods, but has since been used for Catholic purposes.

This is Katie and I in Piazza Navona with one of the several fountains. This was actually one of Elizabeth Gilbert's (Eat Pray Love) favorite spots in Rome when she visited, so I was really excited to be there.

My roommate Jessica and I on the way to the Sistine Chapel

Unfortunately, we weren't able to take pictures inside of the Sistine Chapel, but it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. The detailing Michelangelo used for his art on the celing was incredible. The paintings seemed 3D, so the room seemed completely overwhelming and colorful. The pictures do not come close to doing it justice.

My friend Sean took this picture of me in the Vatican Museums. A guard yelled at him for laying on the ground, but we got an awesome picture out of it. :)

We visited St. Peter's (the biggest cathedral in the world) in Vatican City before leaving. Outside of the cathedral, the POPE came out of his window and spoke to the group of people waiting for him about God's love and promises. He also blessed us! Even though I'm not Catholic, it was incredible to see him in person and be a part of such a neat event.

I had a wonderful time with great friends, and if my wish at the Trevi Fountain comes true, I'll be returning. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Valencia by Bike

Last weekend, a group of ten of us decided to rent 'Do You Bike' bikes for the whole day to see more of Valencia. None of us had ridden a bike in years, so we were really sore after biking for about 6 hours, but it was so worth it. The weather was beautiful--sunny and breezy, which made for a great day. I actually forgot how much I loved riding bikes! Someone even mentioned that it felt like we were a part of Eat Pray Love strolling on our bikes on the other side of the world. This day was a highlight of my time in Valencia so far.

We passed by the rio and La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. The rio is probably one of my favorite parts
of the city--it's filled with foutains, palm and orange trees, and people just hanging out.
This was our bike line-up when we stopped at a little shop to get bread, chorizo, and cheese for our beach picnic.

After eating, we layed on these rocks and listened to our i-pods for a little while. It was so relaxing taking a nap right next to the water!

After lots of picture taking at the beach, this is our official Backstreet Boys album cover--Enough said.

¡Los MurciĆ©lagos!--Valencian Soccer

Two weeks ago, we went to the Champions League game--Valencia vs. Schalke (Germany) at the Valencian stadium, Mestalla. The game was intense. We scored a goal during the first half, and they scored one during the second half ending it with a tie. The people around us were kind of skeptical at first since we were all speaking English, but after my friend Agata spouted off reasons in Spainsh of why futbol in Spain is better than in the United States, they loved us. One interesting thing I noticed that is a lot different from what we do back home is that here, they whistle instead of booing. Normally, we consider whistling to be a good thing, but when the Valencians were upset, it sounded like vultures squawking in the stadium.
This is the Bocadillo Man. This man loved the fact that we were he kept offering us some of his bocadillo (sandwich).

The madness after the game

Saturday, February 19, 2011


The group trip to Barcelona last weekend was definitely a success. I visited the port and touched the Mediterranean for the first time! We stayed there for a while because the sail boats leaving and the birds flying around made it a really relaxing place to be. I was also able to see the Sagrada Familia and the Picasso museum. The day was filled with beautiful art and arquitecture.
The city has a lot to offer and is beautiful during the day, but is a bit scary by night. Men in the street would either grab our arms, or make cat noises to our faces. It was worth it to pass the creepy men to get to the hotel though because it was probably the nicest one I've ever stayed in. The shower was half the size of my room and had water that came out of the ceiling instead of the wall!

SAGRADA FAMILIA - This Roman Catholic church designed by Gaudi in the late 1800's is actually still under construction. The project was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, but will finally be completed in 2026, a century after the death of Gaudi.

This was my favorite part of Sagrada Familia. It's kind of hard to see, but Jesus is hanging on the cross under the yellow shade.

Gaudi designed the windows in a way to allow the room to be filled with colors and sunlight.

I really could not believe how detailed the ceilings were.

So happy to be in Barcelona :)

This is in front of the Christopher Columbus statue we climbed. At the top, we could see all of the city and the sea - such a pretty site.

Just a little piece of heaven.

Lexi and I went in search of a perfect lunch..and boy did we find one. My sandwich had chorizo, cheese, fresh tomato chunks, and garlic. For dessert, we had sugar covered anise seed balls (yum).

We walked through the market, and the whole place smelled of fresh fruits and vegetables. There was so much to choose from, and people filled every aisle waiting for some food.

We definitely purchased some of these.

The front of the market in Barcelona

Lexi and I enjoyed these delicous pastries while we people watched next to the sea :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Granada & La Alhambra

After visiting Alicante, we drove to Granada and stayed in a neat hostel that was very chill and hippie-like (like the rest of Granada). No police escort on the way, but the people who worked there were from Australia, France, Spain, and England! To me, that fact was just as exciting.This was when I got really excited about traveling more and meeting people from all over the world.

Needless to say, we had many adventures in the city of Granada. We climbed and explored practically all of La Alhambra - it was beautiful. A lot of the arquitecture in the palaces were heavily influenced by the Arabics, so the geometry and detail in each building was interesting to see. One of the highlights for me there was visiting the room where Christopher Columbus talked to the king and queen of Spain about possibly finding a new pathway to India! Knowing that we were actually in that room was thanks to my friend David's guide book. We would never know how cool anything was that we were doing if it wasn't for that great book. haha After some more exploring, we went tapas hopping. The way it works is that you buy one drink and then you get either a buffet or a few tapas for free. Comparing the food to some of the places we went to, the food was surprising delicous. We actually had some of the best food in Spain at an Indian restuarant - yes, we pack in the diversity.

inside La Alhambra

They spared no details - every part of every wall was intricately made.

The gardens inside La Alhambra

My good friend Agata and I in front of La Alhambra

This is the view of La Alhambra from our hostel terrace.

The coffins of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain

Monday, February 14, 2011

Police Escort

From the 3rd through the 6th, 6 friends and I rented a VW "mini-van" and set out for 4 different southern Spain cities: Altea, Alicante, Murcia, and Granada. We were definitely crammed into the small car, but the trip was filled with singing, sleeping, and snuggling. David, our driver, did an excellent job too!

In Alicante, we climbed up a mountain to explore the Santa Barbara Castle. The view on top was absolutely incredible and breath-taking. We could see the Mediterranean and the mountains at the same time. I don't even know how to describe it because the view was just completely overwhelming. The weather was perfect - sunny with a breeze, so we decided to take a siesta on top of the castle. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear. That day has been my favorite so far.

These pictures don't do it justice

Mountains and the Mediterranean
Map of the castle

The hostel we stayed in was really neat. We had a terrace with an incredible view of the castle. The coolest part of the hostel is actually how we got there. We were lost and couldn't find it, so after asking several people for directions, we told a group of police officers "estamos perdidos" meaning that we're lost. They ended up giving us a police escort to our hostel!