Por fin un blog! (Finally a blog)
Well let me start off by saying my spring break was great, April 4-18! Nicole and I traveled around Southern Spain for Semana Santa. We then went to France to see the beaches of Normandy and Switzerland. We did a lot! So this blog will have highlights and cities and maybe some silly stories.... I’ll warn you, set aside some time for this one…. sorry :/
Córdoba: Nicole and I embarked on our travels on Saturday morning and headed to Córdoba bright and early. Córdoba hosts a mezquita or mosque which is unique because it has a Cathedral in the middle of the Moorish architecture. Nicole and I visited the mezquita the morning we left and also stumbled upon a Semana Santa procession during Palm Sunday. We had a lovely Spanish breakfast, toast and coffee. Folks, try toast with tomato (chopped up) and olive oil... it's wonderful. Oh yeah, we took a horse ride through the city our first and only night there and I just like the way Córdoba feels. It has more Arab influence than Murcia and it seems like more character... maybe it's just because it was a different city...
A small definition for Semana Santa: It is Holy Week here in Spain and is a HUGE deal. Spain is a Catholic country, but I'm told the Spaniards go to the church for baptisms, weddings and funerals. Anyway, I learned that the processions in Southern Spain are different from the ones in northern Spain... and Sevilla is the best place to be during these festivities. Sevilla has the biggest, longest, processions. The nazarenos carry the pasos (like floats) completely out of view under the pasos.
Sevilla: Ohhhhh Sevilla. After a peaceful bus ride from Córdoba Nicole and I arrived into Semana Santa CRAZINESS in Sevilla! We get off the bus with our backpacks, her duffel bag, and my big suit case (dumb decision on my part) and hit the road again. After following our directions from hostelworld.com we're making great progress through the city--- then BOOM people EVERYWHERE, in the newest, nicest Easter clothes I've ever seen, and let me interject here, we have never felt more under dressed in our lives.. no exaggeration. Apparently we missed the memo that stated it's absolutely impossible to maneuver through the streets once the processions start and mind you the women were doing it in heels! Anyways we decide to RENT lockers at the 2nd bus station in Sevilla. The 2nd bus station is significant because this city is HUGE compared to our little Murcia... Anyways we ditch the bags, take our backpacks and night clothes and make our way to the hostel. And don't worry every corner we turn has a procession waiting on us! Haha, it's all very funny now that I think about it, but we were tired, a little confused, and ready to check in and park it for a little while. We finally made it to our hostel, which actually has security on the street in front of it because the 1000 dollar reserved seats were on that street. After hopelessly explaining that we had to cross and get to our hostel the guard responded with a "but of course" attitude and was very understanding.
OK my thoughts on Semana Santa... it was amazing. I had a presentation about Semana Santa last semester and knew its origin and history, but to live and experience was amazing. By the way, it originated from people displaying Biblical scenes for the poor who couldn't read (that’s a tiny definition). There is a huge amount of money that goes into it, and I don't know how I feel about that.. because I crazy thoughts about money BUT, no need for a soapbox . I don't know all the politics of it; I just know this was on the list of things to do,,, DREAM MET :) About 2 ½ days into our trip and after seeing quite a few processions Nicole and I wanted to do something a little off the beaten path. Sooo we did! We rented little hidropedal (paddle boats) and went down the Guadalquivir Rio. That was a fun night. We also went to the Sevillan Cathedral which is the biggest gothic Cathedral in the world! I could say much more, but I have to move on to Madrid and out of country travel
Madrid: By this point Nicole and I were a little exhausted and it was such a blessing to be able to stay with a missionary family that Nicole knows in Spain. Yes she has all the connections over here. This family opened their home and we were able to eat solid, good food, and get adequate rest. We saw a procession in Madrid which is not nearly as significant or impressive as the ones in Sevilla. We went to an art museum and saw La Guernica by Pablo Picasso. That was nice ice! An original by Picasso… check! My wonderful friend Jaime that has made an appearance in many blogs was also in Madrid while we were there. So he took us out for tapas and showed us some more of the city. Staying in a home and being with a true friend made Madrid worth it for me.
FRANCE- Let me start off by saying our trip to France started nice and smooth from the plane.. and then took a turn for the worst when we had to stand for 2 hours (after not a lot of sleep and a long morning) on a train in a small corridor in-between carts and next to the bathroom. We step off the train in Bayeux and are in the middle of nowhere. My initial thought is, everyone is from this town, there’s probably a parking lot, and we’re probably going camping tonight. Alas, a hotel sign and information! The nicest, somewhat odd, French man (who spoke great English) helped us and within 30 minutes we were in our hostel. Where they spoke LIMITED English. “You pay now please,” was what Nicole and I got out of it… but it was a great private room with breakfast included. Anyways in Bayeux we rented bikes and biked 7 km down the road to another small city… where I got a flat tire! Oh adventures in Europe! Obviously I survived, and we then went on a tour to see the beaches of Normandy where I specifically saw:
American and British military cemetery, Museum on the battle of Normandy, Arromanches, German bunkers, Omaha Beach, and Point du Hoc. I can’t articulate how it made me feel. I am Proud to be an American, in a way I’ve never known before. I can talk face to face with anyone who’s interested in more detail because there’s not enough time for my feelings on everything. But I loved it, the country side I saw of northern France was gorgeous! The trip was definitely worth it, and I suppose one day I’ll do Paris—but I’m completely satisfied with the little town of Bayeux…
Next and lastly was Switzerland. I have been to Colorado, and a piece of my heart is in the mountains out west. But another small piece is in the Alps. It holds the most breathtaking, clear, clean, and quaint views with some of the nicest people I’ve encountered while abroad. We took a relaxing “scenic” train from Geneva to Interlaken, where our train went in and around the Alps. After arriving to Interlaken we ventured out to an even smaller town and saw glacier made water falls that have been there… well I guess since the beginning of time, but I’m not really sure. We relaxed in a small English/Swiss café. One of the nights our hostel (restaurant/bar downstairs, beds upstairs) had a live band that played--------- BLUES!! Ah it was like a little piece of America right there in Interlaken Switzerland! I am so impressed at the ease these people use with alllll kinds of different languages. It was almost bittersweet to leave Switzerland, 1) I was coming back to school 2) I truly fell in love with that little town and 3) because I knew and know that my time left in Spain is short and will fly by.
*I would recommend things off the beaten path any day over seeing a museum in a city!
*I can be resourceful when I have to be.
*Always keep your passport on your person
*Quit planning and holding the itinerary so tight and just travel and enjoy!
This trip went very smoothly, with only a few minimal bumps along the way so thank you for allll of your prayers.