Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I’m back, but not for long…

So much has happened since the last blog. I went to Ireland!! The best country in the world, besides America of course. Andrea, Havens, Ashlee and myself all set out on our Irish adventure on March 14 and we spent some significant time there. The first night there we landed in the Dublin airport and could not become accustomed to people speaking English (with an amazing accent) We kept saying greetings, leavings, and questions in Spanish. After riding on the top of a double decker bus we arrived to our hostel with few problems—however I almost died while crossing the street. Why you may ask, besides the fact that it’s me and completely something I would do… they drive on the wrong side of the road!! (I can say that because the majority of the world drives on the right (right position, not right correct) side of the road. It was amusing, and on the streets at cross walks they have arrows and huge words saying LOOK RIGHT or LOOK LEFT… I learned quick. Our hostel was great. A small bed and breakfast hostel with breakfast included. They asked us coffee or tea, haha I’m not sure if that’s even questionable in the states anymore—but we opted for tea. The Pillar is managed by some guys from Serbia and they were so hospitable and good managers. The first two nights the four of us stayed in a room all together, it was crowded but very manageable for only 2 nights. We explored the city a little and then went to bed that night.

On Sunday we walked to the Guinness Storehouse—quite a hike but the pint you receive at the top makes it worth it. Let me interject here, I don’t like Guinness, I try for Kevin and Michael at the family reunions, and to be a cool little sister—but I hate it. It’s hairy, stout, thick, bitter, has bad freshman memories attached to it, and I don’t like it. HOWEVER in Ireland ah, amazing… the best pint of Guinness I’ve ever drank in my life, oh I liked it! It’s like a beer milkshake, haha yummy. The museum was fun because it showed the evolution of Guinness, it’s history, it’s maker—Author Guinness, the progression of advertisements throughout the years and other milestones for the beer since its beginning. As I said, when you get to the top of the storehouse you get your very own pint of Guinness. The top level bar is about 7 floors up and you can look out over the city of Dublin. Afterwards we went to a restaurant and relaxed and ate GOOD food.

On Monday we wanted to get out of the city—so we jumped on the only remaining tourist bus and went to Malahide castle. It was so weird for me to see furniture from the 20th century, to be in a castle that was in working condition and a home until this past February. The castle grounds were beautiful, the grass is so green. I appreciated this because I’ve been living in a concrete city for 2 months and took notice immediately. Oh, our bus tour was led by an Irishman between 60 and 70. I don’t really know how old he was, grandpa age for sure, and he was so great!! Accent and all, very scattered but could not have asked for a better tour guide. After the castle we went to the beach I can’t remember the name—the Velvet coast maybe—a coast of Dublin and the body of water is the Irish bay. Beautiful views again, and the entire time we were there the weather was great. No rain, can you believe that? No rain in Ireland, and it was relatively warm also. I have fallen in love with that place. I want to return, when it’s not tourism central and I want to go to different cities, or rather different places that aren’t really a metropolis area.
Next we went to see Trinity college, and the buildings are Victorian style (I think) and everything is still in working condition. There wasn’t much to do without a guided tour but walking around was perfect for me. After Trinity we went to Phoenix Park, which is the biggest park in Europe—again I noticed the beautiful green grass and took it all in while I could. We stumbled upon a pick up game of rugby, so of course the four of us parked on a bench and enjoyed the show for a while.

Tuesday, was the St. Patrick’s Day parade!! Oh so much fun. The parade is a big deal as far as school bands are concerned, and it had many competitors from all over the world (including a lot from America). Later that night Andrea went out to Temple Street. Temple St. is the college strip I think, we had a BLAST, we danced, met Irishmen, and took lots of pictures. I discovered a cider ale, Cashmel’s (I think) that is sooo tasty—there’s another beer to look for at a specialty stores beer conisures (someone please tell me how to spell that!)

Wednesday we left the land of English and nice people and flew back to Spain… and we almost missed our plane! Haha, typical—but we didn’t. I rested for a few hours and then the next day headed to Valencia for Las Fallas.

Thursday- LAS FALLAS, oh what a crazy event in Valencia. The people spend all year making paper mache (spelling?) figures that are HUGE. Then at about 12:30 they have a fireworks show—and then they light them all on fire and burn them to the ground, that part of the evening is called "La Crema." It was crazy to be around, and I’m not sure that I want to do it again, but it was still fun.
THEN that morning at 2 am, Laura, Jamie, and I went hopped on a bus and went to Barcelona. My time in Barcelona was very short, but I got to see the Gaudi's architecture in a park and the Sagrada Familia. Gaudi was a very innovative architect
for his time. Also, my friend Justin (from Dra. Judith's class at MTSU) tapped me on the shoulder. He is studying in Pamplona and we both happened to be in Barcelona, at la Sagrada Familia at the same time!! The best surprise this whole trip.

I finally returned back to Murcia at 3:30 am Sunday morning. The next day I went to the English speaking church in Torrevieja—it’s actually a retirement community for people from Britain. Haha, it was still nice to have a service, and sing songs in English.

I think that covers all of the adventures thus far. More to come later!!
And the majority of pictures are on facebook, but not shutterfly yet, sorry non facebook users...

Friday, March 13, 2009

I'm going to Ireland tomorrow for St. Patrick's Day!!!! That's exciting. 1) I'll be in a country where the speak ENGLISH, and 2) It's Ireland!!! AAA I can't wait. FYI I've posted more pictures on shutterfly for your viewing entertainment :) They are of Cartagena and Carnival.

Last Saturday I went to Caravaca, (it's a pueblo in Murcia). This city's big attraction is in it's Catedral there is cross with a piece of wood from the cross of Jesus. Now, I was expecting a big hung of wood, or like a wooden cross with an old piece of wood in it, BUT I should of known better. The cross is in a room of the Catedral, and it's not wooden it's gold and silver and very ornate and in that cross is the piece of wood, but you can't see it and just have to believe them. So, as far as I'm concerned I saw it :)

This week Andrea's brother and his friend, Lara, came to visit. They were both great and I got to tag along a little bit and it was nice to see other Americans and have a small piece family around, even it wasn't mine haha, on SATURDAY Andrea took them to Rincoun which is our little restaurant/tapas bar that we go to on the weekends just to unwind and relax and have yummy tapas!

I think they enjoyed themselves then on SUNDAY Jaime took all of us to Cabo de Palos. Which is on the coast, and just south of La Manga... so we drove to La Manga del Mar Menor (the sleeve of the smaller sea) and it was beautiful...I think this is my favorite coastal area thus far. At La Manga you can see the Mediterranean sea and Mar Menor the coast cuts in between the two bodies of water and ah, it's gorgeous.

This school week was a little tiring because we had a couple of presentations and a History (Spanish History of course) exam all on Wednesday. But hey, if I was in the states it would be nothing because I would be accustomed to the work load. But my learning consists mostly of trying to decipher what someone is saying to me, how to speak back to them without sounding like a caveman, and traveling :) Oh well it's over now and I'm sooo glad- everyone is still friends and there were no deaths in the process of this stressful week!

THURSDAY night Andrea and I hosted a little going away fajitas dinner for her brother and Lara. Travis (her bro) was the chef and it was sooo good. It's amazing what a little packet of fajita mix can do. Almost all of the girls from my program came and our new friend Mark. I met Mark yesterday at McDonald's with my friend Ashlee-- and he noticed our mannerisms and English to be quite American. BUT what sold him was I was wearing my Chacos (outdoorsy sandals)! Ashlee and I asked him and his Spaniard girlfriend Bea to sit with us. We sat there and talked and ate for about 2 or 2 1/2 hours. He does a lot of hiking, and knows all of the good spots here in Murcia, so I think he's going to take me and anyone else that wants to go one sunny weekend. He came to fajita night and I think he thouroughly enjoyed the American companionship... he's from MN and has been here for 6 months. That's the majority of the highlights this week.

FYI- I'm leaving for Ireland for 5 days, coming home then going to Valencia for Las Fallas (big celebration, maybe comparable to the 4th of July, and then I'm going to Barcelona. So I'll be MIA starting tomorrow. I'm uploading all the pictures to shutterfly and facebook I can before I leave but the internet is being temperamental..

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Oh yeah, I just got a package from my bible study-- THANK YOU!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Toledo y Salamanca!

Last weekend I went to Toledo and Salamanca. It was fantastic, like every other city I have visited in Spain. Toledo is the most beautiful city I've seen thus far in Spain. It sits on a hill over looking a river. FYI- Toledo was the capital city of the Visigodas which means it's an ancient capital to an ancient people. In Toledo I went to a Catedral. This Cathedral has an area of biblical paintings-- and in it there are ORIGINAL paintings of El Greco, and Rafael. I was with my friend Jamie and when the tour guide said "son originales" (they are originals) we got chills! It was amazing. Oh yes, important fact this trip was a part of my ISEP study abroad program which means somewhere in the oodles of money I paid for it. However, we went with ERASUMUS, and ERASUMUS is a huge study abroad program for students here in Europe. I love my American girls, but it was nice to mix things up a bit-- even though 10 out of 12 of us stayed in the same room at the hostel! Haha, I've decided, good or bad, and counterproductive or not I love my American social network and comfort zone. We are like a family and it's so great. Moving on, after only a few short hours in Toledo we drove on to Salamanca. COOL CITY, it has a university that dates back to 1218, not only is this historic college still in use, but it's another beautiful building here in Spain. It's in western Spain and very close to Portugal. After going to 2 very tourist cities I have decided that I thouroughly enjoy Murcia's size. Sometimes it feels too small, but I would rather know where everything is, than be lost after 2 months here.

Two months--WOW my time is flying! I feel like the new has worn off, and real life has set it. For example I gave a group presentation today and have other homework I should be doing. I'm not complaining, and these aren't bad things but it no longer feels like a vacation. My internet has been pretty temperamental so I'll get pictures up asap.

I think that is the highlights for this week-- remember you can email me with questions (or MAIL me anything!) haha

Hasta luego

Oh yeah, that's me and Janelle (best New Yorker I've ever met!) in front of the city on a hill-- Toledo