Friday, February 10, 2012

Longest Week of my Life

Just letting the people know...this is extremely long. Brace yourself.
Andalucia is a region of Spain south of Madrid that includes Cordoba, Granada, Sevilla, many other cities and covers most of the southern coast of Spain. We were alotted an average sum of money to cover the cost of lunches and dinners on this week long trip. Being genius' Chloe and I decided to purchase bread, peanut butter, honey and snacks for the trip. This would be for all the lunches on the trip and the rest of the money we would use on dinners on the trip. Best idea we ever thought of. The week happened as followed...

Tuesday: First day of our week long travel started out with a long drive to Granada Spain. We stopped in the middle of our 5 1/2 hour drive at these windmills called the windmills of Mancha. The story is told in the book of Don Quijote that him and his sidekick were traveling on their horse and donkey when they came to across these windmills. Don Quijote then proceeds to believe that they are giants and charges after them to destroy them and fails while the whole time his sidekick is telling him they are just windmills. Its this huge dramatically told story that is famous because it is in this book. Its quite odd to see how this one book effects the country of Spain as a whole. Cities have their statues everywhere, and are famous icons knows by every Spainard. The plaza we are live nearest to is even named after the author of this famous book. "Plaza de Servantes". Nuts I tell ya. Maybe I should read the book in order to understand this absurd love of Don Quijote.
We drove a little bit further from this town with the windmills to another small town so we could eat lunch and have a bathroom break.We made it to Granada around 5 or 6 and then checked into the hotel. After that we went off to get our own dinner and explore. A group of us girls (Lindsey, Jenna S, Jenna M, Hilary, Chloe and I) decided to eat at a place called Castellos which was an Italian restaurant. I got a carbonera pizza which was incredibly good. There was a small fiasco about trying to steal a Coke bottle. The waiter kept stealing them unexpectedly to throw them away for us but Lindsey wanted to keep hers. She collects them or something. I was much too sneaky for that waiter. Snagged that coke bottle but also ripped my napkin in the process which was somewhat discouraging. It was a pretty sweet napkin I was planning on keeping. You win some and you lose some I guess. I stole someone elses napkin I always win. After that splendid dinner we all went to this dessert store and some of us shared a slice of chocolate cake. I hate cake so I dont know how good it was. Later that night we went back to our hotel and Chloe and I went to Jenna and Lindsey's room to watch Moulin Rouge. This spectacular coat I am sporting below was a gift given to me by Mercedes who is Anna Maria's BFF who lives above us. This coat has saved my life and I wear it almost everyday. The best part about this coat is not how warm it keeps me (close second though), but is how it allows me to look like an everyday European on the streets. I seriously blend into the crowd in that coat. Sometimes people cant find me because they overlook me as another European on the street. Mercedes has given me the gift of invisibility. Check me out. I love this coat with all my heart.
Wednesday: On this day we went to the Alhambra in Granada which was about a 10 minute drive from our hotel. This place is this huge palace made by moorish rulers in the 14th century. I would have no problem living there. No complaints at all. It is so incredibly beautiful in this palace! Not gonna lie, this picture below is my favorite from that whole palace. I am not much of a photographer but it is so easy to come out with really good pictures when the things you are taking pictures of are beautiful already as they are.

Every wall in this place is so intricately carved and extremely detailed!! Not a single wall is left plain which make it look so pretty. I dont think they understood the concept of "less in more". I dont really believe that anyway either. The more the better!! I really would like all the walls in my future home to look like this. It would probably take my whole life to carve it but it might be worth it.

Near the end of our tour we were able to climb to the top of one if the towers. The view was awesome and I could see the entire town from that one tower. I really cant describe how beautiful it was in words and I dont know how many times I will say that I feel like an idiot for saying everything is "so pretty" or "amazing" or "incredible". These places are so beautiful and I will forever be frustrated in explaining how wonderful these places really are.
After spending almost the whole day in this palace we got back on the bus and drove for about 2 1/2 hours to Cordoba. Once we were there we checked into the hotel and were then set loose for dinner. A group of us girls crossed the bridge back into town from the hotel and chose to eat at a pizza place called Tellepizza. It was pretty cheap and we were really hungry. We slowly made our way back to the hotel to chill out and then we went to Ali and Maryn's room to watch Baby Mama. At this point I feel like the more places we visit the more un-populated they are, which I like very much. Cordoba wasnt too busy or crowded and was so pretty. It smelled like the beach...most likely because it is pretty close to the beach, weird.

Thursday: We woke up in Cordoba where we started our tour for the day. Our guide first took us around town and down streets. One of the streets is called "vida". So much life was seen on that street. Another street was "Calle de Flores" and it was my favorite. Just a bunch of flowers all over the place which was lovely.

After seeing the city we went straight to the Mesquite of Cordoba. Sweetest thing I ever saw. This is actually my favorite Andalucia. The red arches inside make it so unique. Cathedrals like this remind me of why I love Europe in general. They keep all the old building that show so much history. I am still not exactly a huge fan of history. No way am I to the point of considering teaching history, but I appreciate it. I appreciate history and appreciate people who love it. Especially when I am seeing it in person right in front of me.

We then drove the bus to the town of Medina where we got to see Azahara. This town only lasted about 75 years before it was destroyed so what we saw were the ruins of this city. After touring the ruins we went in a building to watch a movie where it showed the ruins and an animation of what the city probably looked like. They did before and afters of some of the sections which was so cool to see.

After, we continued on our journey to Sevilla and checked into the hotel there. Some of us girld tried to find some food or even the plaza but somewhat got lost. We met some girls on the street who were also on a study abroad from some random state in America. They knew the town so they helped us find a place to eat and where all the food was. We chose this place that had about any type of food you could imagine. I got a burger which was alright. That was about all we did for the day and we went back to the hotel and went to bed.

Friday: Started out with another tour and he showed us around all of Sevilla. It wasnt too long of a tour with was great because it is a lot more fun to go off on our own and explore.We got to see the ginormous plaza where one of the scenes from star wars was shot. We also got to see another palace
The left is of only one of the many beautiful gardens found in the palace.

On the right is the plaza. In the scene of star wars they walk over these stairs and you can see these railing. Pretty awesome if I was in love with star wars.
The next location on the tour was the Cathedral of Sevilla. We all got to go to top of tower which somewhat destroyed my legs. I said the view on top of the tower in the Alhambra was beautiful, well this view was twenty times more wonderful. You could see eeeevvverrrything. SO breathtaking and I could really spend a whole day up there. My favorite part of the whole Cathedral was seeing the remaining bones of Christopher Columbus. I think it is absolutely insane that they still have them and that they even think that he was an important enough man to keep the bones of. I know America loves him, but I didnt know that Spain did. The grave of Christopher Columbus' son was also in the Cathedral of Sevilla.
After going to the top of the cathedral we were set free. We decided to get paninis and sandwiches for lunch so we went back to the street where we had dinner the night before and ate in a shop with really good sandwiches. While Lindsey Chloe and I were eating the rest of our food Jenna decided to go outside in the sun. When we got out there we found her chatting it up with an old fella in the street. His name was Carlos and he was just chillin with his wife, daughter and twin grandchildren. We had a jolly time talking to that man. He may or may not have been getting his flirt on. I swear he was 80 years old or something and it was hilarious because his wife was only a few steps away holding some babies. He was real touchy touchy with us but we excused it because he was old. He said we were really pretty. haha so when we were saying goodbye Lindsey went to hug him and I was waiting to hug him after her. So he kissed her on both cheeks becausee that is how it is done here and then he went straight in for a kiss on the lips after that. I decided not to give him a hug anymore. At least Lindsey could say that she has kissed a spainard. I was weak. I couldnt do it, sorry. We walked to a park we passed by on the tour because we saw all these kids on a zip line in the park that looked pretty fun. Turns out it is much more fun then you could imagine a zip line could ever be. We were actually on that think for a while because it brought hours of entertainment. There are these bikes all over the place where you pay and ride it around wherever you want and then drop it off anywhere you want. If I lived in Sevilla then this would be a great investment because you had to purchase either a month pass or a week pass or something in order to use the bikes. Luckily some of the girls came by the park and let us ride their bikes for a while. Last summer I rode my bike around with my mom everyday so I am only in love with riding bikes so it was very fun for me... Not for the two girls who dont know how to ride a bike. I dont understand how that could even happen. Deprived childhood I am assuming.After the lovely day in the park we went back to the plaza. There, some of the girls rode a boat around the plaza in the river. Then we all took a nap in the sun in the middle of the plaza. I absolutely love naps soooo that may have been my favorite part of the day. Once the sun was no longer keeping us warm we went to eat dinner at this pasta place we passed before. I got this tortellini dish that was green pasta with white sauce. Pretty good. I then decided to get some icecream which was the best decision of my life. They dont really have brownies here in Spain, but I must have been on a really touristy street because the store had a chocolate brownie icecream. Maybe it was because I love brownies and I hadnt had any in a while, or maybe it was because it was just really dang good. I dont know, it was just the best icecream I ever had in my life. The highlight of the whole day was when we went to a flamenco dance performance that night. It was out of control. I loved every minute of it and was enthralled the entire performance. They dance with such intensity and it was beautiful!! I thought they were very talented too, but I havent seen very many flamenco performances to compare them to. I hate to sound super cheesy but it seriously was an experience of a lifetime I will never forget. I grew up dancing and love watching it so much, and this was just incredible to be able to see. Overall an incredible day. Below is the small stage where we got to see them perform.

Saturday: First thing in the morning we toured some of the oldest and longest existing aqueducts left standing. These aqueducts were used in ancient times to transport water. If they wanted to build a city where there was no close water source they would build these from the water source to the new city site. They are built at a slight incline and stretch for miles with the water going on top. These two below are ones from different cities our tour guide took us to.
The last stop of our trip was a town called Marida where we got to tour the Roman theatre and ampitheatre. The first pictured is the ampitheatre. All except two of the columns are the original columns of the ampitheatre which is quite rare. I was slightly dissappointed that they were building/covering over all the original stuff. Some of the building over was to protect it like the seats. But in some places it was completely rebuilt to what people thought it might have looked like. I wish they would have left it alone and left it up to our imagination to decide what it mat have looked like back then. Other than that I thought it was pretty cool. My favorite part of this was the columns because they were the most original. This is the theatre right next to the ampitheatre where they watched fights and shows. All the people would gather to watch people fight animals or even animals fight animals. It just makes one wonder how much blood has been spilt there that I walked on. This is the lair where they kept the lions and where they would be released out into the arena to kill: human or animal.
And theeeeen we got back to Acala. Back to real life which is still somewhat of a dream.

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