Monday, July 19, 2010

Two More Weeks!

Hola otra vez! Well, we’re sitting in the Barcelona bus station after missing our bus by 30 seconds (As we ran to the bus the bus driver pulled out and shrugged and pointed to his watch) and thought it’d be a good time to write a blog.

We’ve made it halfway through our trip and have seen a lot of beautiful places and realized a lot of things. Since our last blog we’ve been to Salamanca and Barcelona, which are both gorgeous. The University of Salamanca is Europe’s oldest university, constructed during the 1200s. When the first classes were given, students didn’t have paper to take notes so they merely listened to lectures and took an exam at the end of the semester. Since there were no desks or seats, the servants of the students came early to sit on the floor and warm it for them. Katie and I wandered around the “newer” campus a little bit and it felt like we were walking through Hogwarts. If only…

We spent this weekend in Barcelona and visited the Sagrada Familia and the Picasso Museum. The Sagrada Familia is a very modern Cathedral designed by Gaudi and is still under construction. The cathedral is designed to look like a forest, with pillars that look like trees and flowers lining the ceiling. The main language in Barcelona is Catalan rather than Spanish, but luckily most people spoke some English. Interestingly there were signs everywhere in English telling people to not urinate or deficate on the streets, as Barcelona has 300 public toilets…

We also spent yesterday at the beach!! The Mediterranean Sea is beautiful and the perfect temperature. However, I’ve never seen so many topless women in my life. Women of EVERY body type shamelessly stripped their tops. Just another part of the Spanish way of life that I don’t understand. At least there weren’t any naked men…

After spending two weeks in Spain, I’m trying to wrap my head around the culture. Spain is a beautiful place and has a fascinating history. However, right now I’m sitting in the bus station looking at a shirt that says: “Spanish Triathalon: Drinking, Eating, and (explicative suggesting VERY inappropriate behavior…)”…complete with pictures. In my short stay here it seems like people my age stay out all night drinking and going to clubs. There are cathedrals everywhere but most are just museums. Maybe just being here on Gay Pride day and watching our bus driver drive away and shrug has influenced my perspective a little bit, but after living in the Bible belt my whole life it’s hard to imagine living this way. However, they say Spain is still recovering from the harsh, conservative, 40 year dictatorship of Franco that just ended in 1975. The people seem to be rebelling and seriously embracing liberalism. Of course not all Spaniards fall into this category, and of course there are people like this everywhere, but it’s just very hard to miss here.
But I’m so thankful to be here, I’m still enjoying our last two weeks! It’s still difficult to understand the Spanish accent, but for the most part people are patient with us. We actually passed a group of Mexican tourists the other day and we could understand pretty much everything they said! It was very exciting. Another positive thing about Spain: ICE CREAM and bread. Both are amazing here! We’ve made friends with the waiter at one of the local cafés.

Well our bus to Madrid leaves in an hour and a half and my computer battery is dying, so that’s all for now. We’re going to find some ice cream. Miss everyone from home and hope all is going well! Ciao y hasta pronto

Monday, July 12, 2010


Que Viva España!!! I can't believe we had the opportunity to be in Spain when they won the World Cup! The city of Segovia set up a screen in the main plaza for everybody to watch, and it was PACKED. The game was rather boring until the end, but it was worth it to stay and see the celebrations after we won! We definitely smelled like a mixture of the three most important things of Spain: beer, smoke, and pot. The fiesta lasted the entire horns, singing, gunshots, fireworks, etc. prohibited us from sleeping, but it was so exciting! The Spanish people definitely know how to celebrate. Don't worry, we fled the streets ASAP to avoid the stampede.

This weekend we traveled south to Granada, the last Moorish city to be reconquered by the Christians in 1492. We visited the Alhambra, the most famous Muslim palace- which was BEAUTIFUL! I didn't realize how much the Arabs influenced the culture and history in Spain. We took the night bus to Granada in order to evade staying in a hostel an extra night, but the bus arrived 2 hours earlier than we predicted. Instead of arriving at 6:30 in the morning, we arrived at 4:30am with no hostel to check into until 11am. We decided to camp out in the bus station and met some really nice people! A Brazilian woman shared some of her stories with us and discussed how the Spanish culture is so different from the cultures of Latin America. We also met another girl from England who had studied here for 4 months. Yay for adventures...

Our Spanish Culture and Civilization class is very interesting, and it's nice to be able to travel and see the places that we talk about. From our classroom today we could hear a piano playing Spanish music in the background, which definitely help set the mood!

It has been said that traveling makes you more appreciative of the things you have at home. SO TRUE. Katie and I have already talked about what we're going to EAT when we return. The menu for each meal here is BREAD, BREAD, other carbs, BREAD, and ice cream. We just can't seem to stay full here! We never pass up a chance to eat McDonalds, even though we never eat it in the United States. Somehow we never end up with what we ordered, either. The first place we're going is Target, because it also contains a Starbucks...two birds with one stone.

We we also take 45 minute showers without turning the water off each time you shampoo or lather with soap. I will talk on the phone as long as I want. And sleep with AIR CONDITIONING and dry our clothes with actual dryers!

I think we're going to cook brownies for our host family today...pray that it turns out well! Tomorrow we're going to Salamanca and then to Barcelona for a long weekend. We miss everyone at home...besos fuertes and ciao!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Finalmente Back in Segovia

Hola a todos! Katie and I are at our favorite restaurant again and using their WiFi. This week has been really interesting. We traveled to Madrid for the weekend, which is about an hour away by bus, and we've decided that Segovia is much more suited to our tastes! Of course, the Spain vs. Paraguay game was Saturday so the Spaniards were already super excited, but on top of that it was Gay Pride Day in Madrid. Needless to say, the city was packed and lively would not begin to explain the atmosphere. While we tried to go shopping, we were flashed, mooned, and shoved. We've decided Madrid is the most liberal city we've ever visited. Nevertheless, it was definitely entertaining. You have to stay on your toes because even the police won't hesitate to run you over (trust us). Luckily Spain won so there a lot of happy drunks, which is better than angry drunks.

The hostal we stayed at was nice, our own bathroom and everything! Sunday morning we went to the Museo del Prado, a huge art museum that featured Goya, Velazquez, and other famous artists. Unfortunately, we didn't see any Dali or Picasso, but we might go back to Madrid for a day trip. The best thing about Madrid was probably the Burger King that we ate at for lunch. We enjoyed our 8 euro (10 dollar) chicken strips while listening to "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" (in English) playing in the background. However, it was a lot better than the paella and fish that we had for a meal. It came complete with shrimp, crawdads, clams, and other critters with all parts attached. While our food stared at us, we stared at the cockroach climbing up the wall. Katie fell in love in Madrid (don't tell Leo) with an artista. He's about 80 years old, but he's just so talented! She bought two paintings from him and posed with him for a photo.

To avoid a couple hours of crazy nightlife we went to the theatre to see Eclipse! Of course it was in Spanish, but it wasn't too hard to understand. I think we'll go see it in English when we get back, though.

So far, it's been somewhat of a culture shock. Communicating isn't a problem, but the lifestyle is so different from ours. Lunch is at 3:00pm, which means supper at 10pm (if we're lucky). For the most part, people don't smile at you much and hardly ever apologize. For entertainment, people mostly go to bars late at night (not really our thing). Another form of entertainment for Spaniards would be watching us try to open the mailbox and unlock all of the doors. Shopping is a little too good, though, even in a small town like Segovia. You can tell the church is not as prominent as it once was in Spain. After living in the Bible belt for 20 years, this can be a shocker.

We just booked our hostal for Granada this weekend. We're going to see the Alhambra and walk through the streets of Albayzin. Tomorrow we're going Toledo for a day trip with the group. We'll post another blog after our (hopeful) return.

We miss everybody significantly, but we're learning a lot! Thanks for reading and hasta luego!

Besos y ciao

Friday, July 2, 2010

El Primer Dia

Katie and Caitlin here! We made it! Had a rough first day due to a major lack of sleep...awake for over 30 hours, but we slept a lot last night! We're sitting in the plaza mayor at a restaurant that we're thinking doesn't like us because we're swiping their Wifi, so can't say much now but we just wanted to upload some photos! We visited the aquaduct today, and of course checked out the local shopping. It's beautiful here and we love it! Well, it's almost 9pm here, which means we still have over an hour till dinner, but we're heading back to our casa. The second picture in the photo is our host mom's house. We live on the "third floor," but it's actually the fourth, which is a LOT of steps. Thanks for reading and we'll post more tomorrow!

Besos y ciao! Keep us in your prayers :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Leaving Tomorrow

Ay caramba, I can't believe it's already time to leave! I guess time flies when you're putting off packing and all that fun stuff. Well, tomorrow morning I'll be flying from Louisville to Atlanta, and then from Atlanta to Madrid. From Madrid my group will be catching a bus to Segovia, where we'll be living with our host families for a month.

I'll be taking a Spanish Culture and Civilization class while I'm there, and we'll be traveling through Spain on the weekends! I hope I can get the hang of this blog thing so I can post pictures and keep my friends and family updated on what's going on. I'm so lucky to have their support. I've truly been blessed with this opportunity to travel, and I know I'm being lifted up in many many prayers. Please keep my mom in those prayers too :)

Ok early morning tomorrow so I'm off for now! Hasta luego y nos vemos pronto!

P.s. Spain just won another World Cup game, so hopefully the morale will be high :)