Sunday, March 29, 2009

I really wish Spain had a clearance rack...

This weekend in Toledo:

Friday morning I got up bright and early to start my Casco adventure. I wondered around for a couple of hours falling in love with the beaty of this place all over again until I found myself in San Juan de los Reyes. It was amazingly breathtaking. I spent the afternoon writing an essay and working on some grammar homework.

Saturday I was scheduled to go to Consuegra, but communication problems led me back to the Fund to do more work. Another essay and a huge packet of grammar work.

The afternoon is where the title of this blog comes in. The mall. My friend Jayna and I decided to spend the afternoon shopping before meeting Julia for a drink and a movie (that's right, there are at least three bars in the mall). So, we visited Zara, Bershka, some store with an A, 5 shoe stores, and more. I ended up purchasing a green cardigan (because Julia has issues with my clothing, and I am so sick of wearing the same black and brown cardigans every day), a purple tank top, and a boring pair of black flats from Mary Paz (the Spanish payless, only better). It was a pricey afternoon because Spain does not have clearance racks. They have sales season, which ended in February, back when I was to worried my budget wouldnt make it through the semester to spend unnecissarily. Now I know my budget won't make it to the end of the semester, so I am just enjoying the ride. plus, you wear the same three sweaters everyday for three months and tell me you dont want to rip them to shreds. And, my brown shoes are starting to fall apart. So, all spending was necessary.

Um, we went and saw Marley and Me. This movie is so good. I cried like a little girl whose doll was thrown in the mud by the cruel neighbor boy. Got home around 1, went to bed.

Sunday, back at the Fund. The agenda today: read a book, edit my poli paper, research for my history project due Thursady, and Skype with the family I havent talked to in about three weeks.

It has been so nice being here this weekend. A month of straight travel was crazy. Now I can just enjoy the ride to the end of the semester. This week will be nuts with my history project (10 pages and 25 minutes about the transition of the role of women pre-, during, and post-Franco compared to the US), but then I am just one 5 page paper, a 8 page essay, and 5 finals from the end of the semester.

Also, let's talk about the fact that I am going to be in ITALY in 5 DAYS! OMG, I can't believe it!!! I am so excited, both to see the amazingness of Rome and Vatican City, but also to lay on the beaches of Sicily and hang out with Melissa's sicilian family. That will be a completely new cultural experience that I am more than pumped for.

Oh, and I lost my bus pass last night, so I can either buy a new one, or just walk everywhere for the next month. I'm thinking that might be the answer.

K, Bye. Oh, and BESOS,


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Te gusta la musica?

Last night my sister spent about an hour going through all of her American music with me. Too much fun! It made me miss home though. Her new favorites hold old memories for me.

You guys, I am getting sick of Spain. I see the same 50 people every day in class. I am over that. School has lost its thrill. It is now just a mountain of papers and presentations that I have two weeks to finish up. Family life is dull. I can't afford to travel, nor do I have any desire to do so anymore. My best friends here? I see them every day. I love them, but I need a change. Who would have thought that this would get old?

This weekend I am staying in Toledo planning to explore more of the Casco, something I havent been able to do for close to a month. So maybe that will breathe new life into everything.

Oh, also, I am so BORED! People are content working or going to school and then just sitting around until it is time to go out and drink. True, this may be the life of many in America, but not mine. I need more to do during the day. I need to plan and organize. I would like to go to a meeting or two, maybe work. I would like to be challenged in ways that do not involve my inability to communicate. Problem solving would be fun. I don't get me. I can't seem to be content wherever I am.

Yeah, I would like to get back to SNC school. Now that the daily routine has set in, I need to "stir the scum on the pond" as Kristy would say.

Any suggestions?


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One last Spanish Adventure

As the weeks are winding down my schedule looks like this:

March 23-26: School
March 27-29: Weekend in Toledo, to include: trip to Consuega, the mall, and a movie
March 30-April 2: School
April 3-5: Rome
April 5-8: Sicily
April 8-9: Rome
April 9-12: Easter in Toledo
April 13-16: One last week of classes
April 17: Trip to Segovia
April 18-19: Studying for finals and a trip to Madrid to shop
April 20-23: FINALS!
April 24: Celebrate
April 25: Graduation
April 26-27: Last days in TOLEDO
April 28: Homeward bound

This is crazy.

What is means is that this past weekend's trip was my last big Spanish adventure.

This is sad. It's true I have now seen five major regions of Spain, six if you include the one I live it. It is also true that I feel nearly done with Spain. Now I am just about ready to start seeing the rest of Europe. At the same time I feel perfectly content to just hang out in Toledo for the rest of the time. Travel is exhausting and I need a break. But I also want to see more. There are so many great places in Spain. I want to visit all the cities again, with a few new ones. Someday, the funding might allow this, but not for a couple of years....sad.

But anywho....Basque Country, March 20-22:

This little trip involved Julia and me spending 9 hours in a sketchy bus station, during which time we did not sleep, had our passports checked, watched a man get taken away by what we thought we spanish police, and almost considered just coming back to Toledo before we even left Madrid.

We got the the bus station Thursday night for our 6am bus....but we didnt sleep after the whole police event. Then we found out out bus was coming at 730, not 600, so that was fun. We went to San Sebastian and Bilbao. Friday in San Sebastian was great. It's a really beautiful little city, not much to see but that's okay. I am a little sick of cascos and cathedrals. The beach of San Sebastian was just enough. Friday we shopped. I bought a new shirt, necklace and gorgeous pink scarf (from ZARA!!). Saturday we spent on the beach. I am nicely tanned to prove it. That afternoon we hoped a bus to Bilbao. A total disappointment.

Our Bilbao hostel was a tren ride outside the city, in the middle of nowhere land. We left only to go to a convenince store for bread and water for dinner (because that was all they had and we feared for our lives). Sunday morning we visited the Guggenheim, which almost made up for the boredom Bilbao inflicted on me. The modern art was unlike anything I have seen thus far. All the collection were the works of Asian artists, including a huge exhibit of the gunpowder work of the guy who designed the fireworks display for the Olympics this past summer. The other exhibit was a strange anime thing. I didn't really get it. Pop art flowers and a statue titled "lonely cowboy" (think about it)....not quite what I was expecting to see...but all in all, worth the 7.50 we paid. So, after that we hoped back on the bus and came home.

Not a super exciting weekend, we were bad tourists. Only one museum, no visit to either Casco, and I didnt even take many pictures....

I feel like that means too things: 1) travel is becoming common and the novelty no longer exists, which leads to 2) Spain is kind of like home. Think about it, traveling the US is a vacation not an "i have to see everything in 2 days" event. This weekend was a vacation and nothing more. I liked it.

I would recommend that, if you choose to visit Pais Vasco, make Bilbao a day trip, bring sunscreen for the beach, bush up on you Euskara (or something like that- it's their language which in no way resembles Castillano), and just relax. This is Spain. No pasa nada. Enjoy the journey!

Un beso from one last weekend adventure!

What's Next?

I've been thinking alot about this question lately. What's next? I've done everything I grew up wanting to do: learned to drive, got into an amazing college, and now have traveled. True, I haven't seen everything, but I have seen quite a lot and will see a little bit more before I leave, but what next?

Before I came, life was busy. I was 100% dedicated to school, work, and most importantly, Alpha Xi Delta. Being president took a lot of time and work (though some of that time was spent on Facebook). It also gave me a way to be fully involved in something and really feel like I was making an impact. Now what? I will not be president. I am not sure what my role will be in the chapter. True, I will still be involved, but I feel like I need to reevaluate what the sorority mean to me, where I am in it, and what I will do during the last year of college.

Right now I feel like my only major collegiate accomplishment has been Alpha Xi Delta, which is great, but I think I need more. I need to do more for myself. Sorority leadship and life has most definitely had an impact on the person I am. I am now a better leader, a better communicator (most of the time), have a better image of myself, and more open to new ideas, and know what it means to really be a part of something....but....

I don't know....what's next? I need a job, a hobby, interests off campus.

Yeah, so that's what I have been thinking about sitting in Spain watching the TV show Greek online. I miss my Greek life and all that it gives me. My friend Julia made a great observation. She said, "Angela, I think the reasn you are so homesick all the time and are ready to go home is because you have more invested there than the rest of us." This is so true. Others have friends at college, I have a family.

I love my family.

Hmmmm.....yeah, I don't know. Being far away from everything with ample time to procrastinate and avoid writing numerous papers in a foreign language gives you time to think. These are my most recent thoughts.

If anyone has any ideas as to what I can do with my future, let me know.

Well, un beso!

Also, I have less than 40 days before I'm back in the States...weird.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Things I Miss in America:

My family and friends
The Office
My bed
my car
Working (weird I know)
mac and cheese
the library
the radio (my family doesnt have one)
my cats
smiling at people as you pass them
being able to hold an intelligent conversation (not possible with the vocab of a 3 year old)
my stuff, all of it
dryers (like putting your clothes in the dryer, i miss that)

Things I love about Spain:

My family and friends
the river
the mountains
all the parks
the sense of accomplishment I feel after watching TV or attending class
public transportation
the old men, they are so cute
the old ladies, out for the night in their fur coats
how popular the mcdonalds in zocodover is
the way the cars park
how narrow the streets are
all the chinese stores
the sun
cafe con leche
no pasa nada
the number of shoe stores

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sangria, It's my favorite

March 13- 15, 2009

Technically, my trip to Barcelona started on Thursday, you know, when I was trying to sleep on the floor of the airport. Our flight to Barcelona was at 8:30 Friday morning, and because of timing for travel from Toledo to Madrid and then the hour it takes to get through the metro to the airport, we had to sleep there to catch our flight. BAD IDEA!


If avoidable, do not sleep in the airport. I will be doing it at least three more times before I come home, but I will not enjoy it.

So Friday morning comes, we have each gotten about an hour of sleep, and we jump on our plane. Barcelona, here we come. Oh wait, you’re flying Ryan Air, that means sketchy sirports in the middle of nowhere. We flew into Girona and then paid 10 euro to get to Barcelona, but that’s ok, that gave me an hour of sleep time!

We finally made it to our hostel around 11. We checked in, with the help of the nervous, English-speaking, receptionist. Not going to lie, this hostel looked like it could give you a disease, but the sheets were clean and there wasn’t too much mold in the shower, so it was all good. We dropped off our stuff and headed out in search of lunch. This ended up being groceries from Corte Ingles. We made our bocadillas en Plaza Cataluna, one of the main plazas in Barcelona, just off of Las Ramblas, a famous paseo.

After lunch we decided to check out Las Ramblas and see where it would lead us. We passed venders of pets: birds, hamsters, rabbits, fish, and roosters. Then came the flowers. Lastly, art. Among them were all kinds of people who pretend to be statues. They are so cool (sarcasm right there). We also came across a huge market. We explored, trying to avoid the fish, but finding plenty of whole baby pigs (it is Spain, they do like pork). The produce was the most amazing. It was all fresh and so colorful. The decision was made to return for breakfast. We bought ice cream, chocolate blanco y negro and fresa. SO GOOD! We continued down Las Ramblas until we reached the port, marked with the monumento a colon. Apparently (according to Ricky), Barcelona was where Ferdinand and Isabel welcomed Columbus home. Interesting given last weeks trip to Granada where he was given permission to leave…

Here began Julia’s hunt for hotties. SUCCESS! Barcelona not only has hot Spanish men, but hot international men. Not kidding. I have never heard more languages spoken in one place in my entire life. The fact that 40% of them were smoking hot was just a bonus.

Hmm, so then we walked along the harbor and found a mall, the aquarium, a bridge, an Imax, and more. What else did we do that day?....Oh, I remember

We then tried to find the Olympic stadium. This involved taking the metro up Monjuic, but it was worth it. I can’t remember what year the Olympics were here, sometime in the 90’s.

End day one, dinner at a café and everyone in bed by 10 (hi, we didn’t sleep the night before….so we’re not lame)

DAY 2: Gaudi, Beach, fountains, and theft

We started our day early at the market. We got breakfast. I had fresh fruit juice, strawberries, raspberries, coconut, and a croissant. All for less than 6 euro, and all so good. We ate at McDonald’s patio on Las Ramblas.

After breakfast we hopped on the Metro to get to La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s famous church. It wasn’t until we got off the metro that I realized I had left my money belt with my passport, credit card, and other documents in the hostel. So, Julia came with me on the 25 minute metro ride back to the hostel. An hour later we finally made it into the Sagrada Familia.

YOU NEED TO VISIT THIS CHURCH! There is more symbolism in the exterior of this building that anything I have ever seen or read. It is phenomenal.

We continued our Gaudi tour at Parc Guell, the park he began as a start to his gated community, which was never completed, but the park was awesome.

Then we went to see Casa Mila and Casa Batllo. Um, I sort of love Gaudi. His dream-like designs are unbelievable. How is it possible for one man to think up these designs and then actually bring them into reality?

After this, I was finally allowed to go to the beach. We made it, as the sun was setting, on the opposite side of the city. But, it was still beautiful. We froze our toes as we dipped them into the Mediterranean and collected sea glass and polished rocks. We walked along the boardwalk on our way back to the Metro so we could try to see the famous magic fountains in Plaza Espana.

This is when Melissa’s camera and Julia’s memory card got stolen. Ok, so Julia’s camera dies, and Melissa’s memory card was full, so we put them together. The metro was packed. It was like, hug the stranger next to you as you are slammed into the wall at each stop. Sadly, when we got outside, Julia realized that the camera was no longer in her pocket.

Well, we had also missed the last fountain show, so we got some sangria and sat on the steps in front of some government building to recover. This turned into a really great reflective conversation about what we were all feeling about being here and how we thought our families would react to us being home again. It’s strange to think about, but talking about it with others really put it into perspective. I have experienced so much here in such a short time that none of you will ever understand. I might want to explain my time here to you, but it will be impossible, and you will get bored, or it just won’t mean as much to you as it does to me. How could it? To you all, Barcelona is just a big city in Spain. To me, it is a city I fell in love with in two days. To you, Toledo might be a pile of rubble with a lot of cool old museums and some windmills of Don Quijote, but to me, it is my second home. I will be leaving a part of my heart here when I leave.

These are the things we talked about until Melissa was worried she was going to get drunk because we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so we went home to find dinner. Pizza at some sketch chain restaurant. Bed by midnight.

DAY 3:

Julia and I skipped getting up at 7 to go to mass and instead went to Starbucks! We enjoyed our overpriced coffee and super rich muffin before heading to the bus station. We took the bus to the airport, the plane to the bus station, the metro to another bus station, and the bus home. We made it back to Toledo by 5.

Another good weekend!

Oh, I forgot to mention that they don’t speak Spanish in Barcelona, they speak Catalan. I speak Catillano. It is nearly impossible to read Catalan. Thankfully, every sign is in at least Catalan and Castillano. Some are in French, Italian, and English too. You gotta love an international city!

Well, that’s it. You are all caught up on my Spanish travels. Thursday I will be leaving for Basque country to visit the beaches of San Sebastian, Guernica (the first civilian site bombed in the Spanish Civil War, thanks to Hilter), and Bilbao (home of the Guggenheim, and pretty much nothing else).

This will pretty much end my Spanish adventures. We have two more day trips with the Fund and my week in Italy, but then that’s it. My jet setting days are drawing to a close, and I like it. I need a break from this crazy life. But, I will be missing it soon enough, so I will be enjoying every minute as it comes until they stop coming.

Love you all!
Un beso y un abrazo fuerte!

Moors No More

Um, I was in Granada March 6th through the 8th. It was amazing. I went with just one other person, my good friend Melissa. It was the smallest group we have traveled with. Usually there are at least four of us, so this was a big adventure.

We took the AVE into Madrid on Friday morning, which was amazing. 20 Minutes and we were there, no need to spend an hour on a bus full of creepers heading into the city to work. We hoped on the Metro, took it the wrong way, hoped off, switched directions and made it to the stop for the bus station, but we took the wrong exit and ended up outside, so we asked a police officer and finally made it to the bus station. Getting from the AVE station to the bus station took an hour….it’s only one stop on the Metro….

Oh, the Metro at 8am, FUN! You know how you see images of people sardined into the subway in Tokyo or something; well this is what I experienced. Missy and I got split up between a couple of cars just before the door closed. Then, I got off at the first stop, Mendez Alvaro, or so I thought. It wasn’t, so I through myself back into the car, but then saw that Melissa had gotten off too, so I jumped out just before the doors closed again. Then we did the switching of sides and finally made it to the right stop.

So, the bus station is completely different during the day. The last time we had been there was when we left for Sevilla on a midnight bus (when we met Joel and Branden), but in the morning, it is quite nice. So, we got on our bus, this time I sat next to a nice girl from Japan who was going to see a friend studying in Granada. She slept the better part of the trip, so we did not talk beyond, ‘hi.’

The trip to Granada is about 5 hours, but we stopped in this little town half way through for a half hour break for lunch. We had really great, really cheap, bocadillas de tortilla. I love tortillas.

We got to Granada, I can’t even remember when, and followed Rick Steves direction as to which bus to take to the city center. We got off at the wrong stop and ended up walking to our hostel, which turned out to be right off of Plaza Nueva. Perfect location. We checked in, threw our stuff down, and headed out to make our 5:30 appointment to view the Alhambra.

Ok, so how the Alhambra works, you need to reserve a ticket, because they sell out fast. You have half an hour from the time on your ticket to enter into Palacios Nazaries. Our ticket time was 5:30. Around 6:05 we made it to the entrance. Yay! Oh, and it was raining. All was good though. We toured through the palace, then went into Charles’s V Palace and the Alcazar. I am not even going to try to explain how breathtakingly unbelievable it was to be there. This was something that I have read about, been lectured on, and talked about at least once every semester since I started taking Spanish. It is kind of a big deal. This was the last Moorish stronghold in all of Spain, ending the Reconquista by the Christian army in 1492, finally solidifying Christian power in Spain.

Inside Palacios Nazaries is the room where Columbus was granted permission to travel West to reach the East. That is soo cool. I stood where Ferdinand and Isabella stood giving Cristobol Colon to OK to find the Americas. OMG!

OMG! I just cant get over it. Even thinking back on it, yeah, it’s only been two weeks, but still. I can’t believe that I was there. How is this even possible? To have something as important in the history of really the entire world still exist, and that I was in it, that is just too cool. JODER!

You guys don’t even understand.

Anyway, that night we decided to go out for dinner. This is when I met my arab boyfriend whose name I can’t remember. We were looking for a teteria, a tea house. We passed by something that resembled one, so I went to check out the menu. This is when my new friend in a turban approached me, asked my my name, told me he new lots of American girls who liked his tea and hooka, and insisted that “amiga, Angelita, you’ll love it.” This is when I was uncomfortable and Melissa was seriously considering grabbing me and running. (She told me this later.) I was just making sure I wasn’t getting robbed and that he wasn’t planning on touching anything other than my hand. CREEP!!! We avoiding that street for the rest of our stay.

For dinner we actually ended up following some British men to a really nice restaurant. It was only about 9, so we were the only ones in the restaurant. It was delicious. We spoke in Spanish the entire time, which was cool, and then I ate fried milk. That’s right FRIED Milk. It was a strange flan/custard combo that was surprisingly tasty.

This ends day one, by midnight we were all tucked in bed and trying to sleep.

Day 2: SHOPPING!!!

We were going to go to Nerja to hit the beach, but the clouds in the sky convinced us to shop instead, oh darn. It was great. We found tons of great things, that we didn’t buy. I did find a really great store that I can’t mention due to the name and who I bought it for. All will be revealed in time. We grabbed strawberries and bread for lunch and ate them on the steps of the cathedral, under the now scorching sky. It was perfect, except for those damn gypsies.

I would like to thank Rick Steves for mentioning them in his Granada chapter and not Sevilla. Those ladies with the rosemary….yup, they were all over, but now I have a sixth sense, so we avoided them, using unsuspecting tourists as blockades against their advances.

Later in the day we went to St. Nicholas viewpoint to watch the sun set over the Alhambra. Here we met up with some of the Notre Dame kids and just watched the Alhambra in all its glory for at least three hours. This is when I had my epiphany about home and started to cry and freaked Melissa out…oops.
We then headed to our flamenco show, which wasn’t for two hours. When we found the restaurant, we went to a different bar for a café before dinner. There was some big game on, so it was crowded with rowdy Spanish men. Nothing interesting here.

Flamenco dinner was amazing. Sangria, pizza, Greek salad, and a show. The performers were great. The best part was seeing them dance a Sevillano, which I actually know, so it was neat to see it in person. I wish I could dance a little better, maybe I would have been the one to volunteer to dance with them. There was a bachelorette part going on those, 25 Andalucía women raised to dance flamenco. They danced with the performers, and then when they were done, they took over the stage and continued the show. So great. We ended up staying there until close to 2, at which time we got a cab back to our hostel. End day 2

Day 3: Church and Home

We got up and went to the Alhambra to write postcard. Can you imagine, just hanging out in the Alhambra? Well I did. It was amazing. We then went to mass at the Cathedral in Granada with our friend Elissa.

After mass we had about an hour to get back to the bus station to catch our bus home. The street was blocked off, so the bus wasn’t running that day. There was a manifestacion de la mujer, the working woman, all over Spain, so the bus route in Granada was messed up. We ended up catching another taxi so that we wouldn’t miss our bus.

We made it, got on, rode home, and went to sleep.

What a great, eye-opening, weekend!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

¡¡Bienvendios a la Primavera!!


Spring has finally arrived in Toledo. I know this for many reasons, one of which was the 26º weather yesterday and today, put I would like to make a list of a few more:

- I saw my first Spanish lawn mower on my walk to school this morning
- restaurants are putting the tables back outside
- it is now rare to see a spaniard with a scarf
- they were painting the lamp posts today
- tourists are wearing shorts
- things are finally green
- siestas in the park by my house
- americans are walking around in very little close trying to get a tan...
- I am reaching that panic point in the semester, only 4 weeks of class left and still so much to do...

I hope you all are enjoying the start of Spring too.

Tonight I´ll be leaving for the airport. We´re spending the night there before our flight to Barcelona tomorrow morning. What a great way to kick off SNC´s spring break. Sadly, I have a paper on the philosophy of Ortega y Gasset and a rewrite of a paper for political science to finish before then. Oh, and I am going to a teteria tonight!

I should mention, because by the time I get to telling you about last weekend I will ahve forgotten....I have this feeling that I am ready to come home. I am not homesick anymore. I mean, some american food would be good, and I would love TV in English, but in general, life here is just starting to get comfortable, and I think this is what makes me ready. I am not going to lie, my Spanish conversation skills still suck, but in general, I am getting better at this Spanish thing.

What I am realizing though, is that I like home. The people and the things that make home home are there. I miss my stuff, my family, inside jokes and knowing what is going on in the lives of the poeple I love. It is hard to keep track when I am so rapped up in my world here. Don´t get me wrong, I still love it here and am soaking in every minute, but in the last two weeks I have gone from "I never want to leave" to "when my time is up, I´ll be ready to come home." I like this.

I don´t feel like Spain has changed me all that much, it has maybe just made me more appriciative of the things and people I have in my life. It has however, helped me to see the ways I have changed in the last two years. I would never have been able to do this a year or two ago. It has proven to me that I have grown up, learned a little, and am a stronger and better person than when this whole college thing started.

I kind of feel like my study habits have completely disappeared, like COMPLETELY, but whatever, I´ll get over it. I am learning enough, homework is just a time filler...No Pasa Nada!! It´s the motto of my life here, and I hopefully won´t forget it when I get home to the crazy multitasking world of the great USofA. Also, I would like to have a conversation with an American history or politics prof about this whole Spanish Civil War business....but that´s for another day.

I am going to class. Have a safe spring break and weekend/week

Un beso, y muchos abrazos!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Glory of Galica

Wow, you’d think I have a life or something….nothing for over a week? Bet you all thought you were off the hook. Sorry, keep reading. You’re going to wish you hadn’t started, but who knows….maybe it will be interesting:

Where to start? I was in Galicia two weekends ago, February 27-March 1. It was my “you survived 5 Spanish midterms” present. Well worth the wait. Galicia is in the northwest part of Spain, in what many consider the Ireland of Spain. I think they are right.

We flew to Santiago de Compostala on Friday morning, after taking the 5:15 am indirect bus from Toledo to Madrid. Sketchy! Oh, I also almost threw up in the bus do to my motion sickness, thanks to all the damn round-a-bouts Europeans feel are necessary…

So we got to the bus stop and then hoped on the Metro for about 45 minutes. Good times. We made it to the airport with about two hours before our flight. We got all checked in with Ryan Air and made it through security, I got searched. That was an experience. (I think it was the buckles on my shoes though-they never found the Toledo sword I was smuggling).

Hmm, so we got on the plane and picked out seats and took off. I must say, Spain is even more beautiful from the sky. Because our flight was just under an hour, we didn’t have to get up too high and you could see the ground for the entire thing. I saw mountains and rivers and finally the green fields of Galicia. It honesty reminded me of flying into Amsterdam in January, just really fresh and beautiful. We landed and got to make our rock star exit from the plane. We finally caught the bus and made it into the city. After a conversation with a police man, we found our hotel, which was amazing.

We went to the market and got some bocadilla supplies for our picnic in the hotel. I love avocado/tomato/snap pea/pepper sandwiches. So lunch was over and we split up to go explore Santiago (there were eight of us all together, which tends to draw a crowd, so we decided to stick with Spanish and travel in smaller numbers).

I fell in love fast with Santiago. It’s so cute, so European. The streets were practically empty when we were out, probably due to siesta time. We found some cool and random things, including a lace store, we actually watched the women making it and another exercise park. Finally we made it to the cathedral, the ultimate destination for pilgrims.

See the story goes that, back in the day, St. James made a little journey through Spain and ended up in Galicia. When he was killed, some of the other apostles stole his body and buried it in the hills of Galicia, so the Romans couldn’t feed him to the lions. Well, years later, some monk followed a group of stars to the place where St. James was buried, dug him up, and built a chapel in his honor. Thus began the Camino de Santiago. Slowly the cathedral was built around the chapel and the tomb of St. James got a cleaning and has a special place under the high alter. Today pilgrims and non-believers alike hike, bike or drive the 1.200 kilometers from France to Santiago. AS you travel, you stop at churches and monasteries to get a stamp in your pilgrim’s passport, and finally when you get to Santiago, you get a certificate. You don’t have to do the whole 1200, but to get the certificate you must WALK the last 100 kilometers, or you can take your bike or HORSE the last 200. I did not see any horses, but my host sister and I decided that that is how we will make our Camino. But really, I plan to make the full 1.200 kilometer journey sometime soon. It was so powerful to attend the pilgrims’ mass not even being a pilgrim; I can only imagine what it’s like after 30+ days of travel. I can’t wait to see more of northern Spain on foot.

Hmm, well yeah, Saturday we went to the pilgrim’s mass and to this great market, then it was off to A Coruna, about an hour north of Santiago. Here we spent 3 or 4 hours walking the maritime paseo along the Atlantic. It was really breathtaking. I have never seen anything like it.

We hoped back on the train and got home in time to head to dinner. We found a great cheap student friendly restaurant in our handy Rick Steves and decided to give it a try. I ended up with a heaping bowl of lentejas (quite honestly one of my favorite foods in Spain) and some random fish, followed by some fried dough with sugar on it, all for just 8.50. A deal. We went looking for some flaming drink, but I guess it’s a summer thing, and well, despite the 65 degree whether, it’s still winter here.

That ended Saturday. Sunday we slept and then headed to the airport to catch or 10:00 flight home.

Not a bad weekend. I should probably also comment how much I love my friends. They made this weekend the best ever. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. It was great to be able to have a real vacation, no agenda, just seeing Spain, with such wonderful people. My roomies were hilarious and everyone else are simply the best. So a little shout out to all y’all- YAY US!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

One Day I Just Might Walk to the Edge of the World

This is what I have decided after my trip to Galicia this past weekend.

Our primary destination was Santiago de Compostala. I didn't know much about this place other than it had an airport and it was a pilgrimage sight. Now I know that I will be visiting it again someday, this time on foot.

Ok, my brain is tired again after another amazing weekend. More to come.....