Finalmente… Harry Potter

Although being in Cádiz for the weekend was amazing, it was also problematic in that it delayed my viewage of the new Harry Potter movie- Harry Potter y Las Reliquias de Muerte: Parte 2.

I’m obviously not going to be a huge jerk and discuss the whole thing. I will just say that it completely lived up to my expectations and was a perfect ending to the series my childhood.

I was nervous about not understanding the Spanish, but I actually got about 90% of it. It probably doesn’t hurt that I am coincidentally (not really) reading the book right now, en español.

Anyway the marvelous night kicked off with some pre-HP tasca hopping with my friend Annie.

Annie & I on a seperate occasion

I always say that I’m going to photograph food so yall can check out my noms and last night I actually remembered!

I don’t know that I’ve explained what tapas are. They are little mini-meals that are given with each drink ordered. In Granada they are free! And 90% of the time delicious. In other parts of Spain you have to pay for them.

First we hit up an outdoor café in Plaza de Gracia.

This was a cross between mac & cheese and broccoli cheddar soup minus the broccoli.

Next was a place near the cine called Sabor & Arte. I really loved this wine and this tapa and will be sure to go back.

Tasted just like fried calamari, but was definately some sort of fish as I could see the scales. Side of yummy coleslaw.

Note pictured: my palomitas (popcorn) at the movie theater.

There you have it-my night out on the town, haha.

Nos vemos.

 

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Cádiz

Hola bloggees I am super triste to be back from my weekend trip to Cádiz, one of the oldest cities in Europe. Somewhat of five-sided peninsula it was well suited for commerce. And being attacked.

We left on Friday night and arrived a little before 11pm. We headed out on a conquest for some drinks and initially noticed that there aren’t quite as many nighttime options as Granada. Perhaps because it is not a university city like ours or maybe we just weren’t in a happening area. Alas, we encountered a little outdoor café and I got me some sangria.

Saturday morning we headed to la Yeguada Cartuja, a horse farm where they breed cartujan (in English we just say “Andalusian”) horses. They currently have over 350. If you’ve ever talked to me for more than 5 minutes, you probably know that horses scare the life out of me. Needless to say, it really was not my favorite excursion. Nonetheless, we toured the farm where we got to see how they raise the horses and it was pretty interesting. They are only open to the public on Saturdays and only because they receive money for the government so they have to give back. After the tour, we got to watch a show, which mostly consisted of horses running around in circles.

Note how close I am to the rail. Not okay.

When we got back to Cádiz we headed to one of its numerous beaches (bitches, if you have a Spanish accent ;-)): Santa María del Mar. It wasn’t anything special relative to American beaches, but I always like the beach so I was a happy girl.

Can you spot me in the water?

Cádiz is actually home to Europe’s top-ranked beach: Playa La Victoria. We drove past it and it reminded me of Virginia Beach with its busy boardwalk.

I ate dinner at a restaurant called La Meson de Cartuja, which seemed appropriate. I ordered carne de torro, bull meat. It did not remotely compared to the bull tail I had in El Escorial, but was yummy nonetheless. It tasted like a pot roast.

Sunday morning we went on a walking tour where I got to see some of the sights and learn about the history of the city. Most of it was actually review from my History of Spain class.

Monument of the Spanish Constitution (approved in 1812)

Much of the coast is fortified. (See earlier paragraph regarding frequency of attack)

Famous composer

Cathedral

The climate in Cádiz is much more perfect for walking around than in Granada. There is also a breeze off the Atlantic so you never get too hot.

Not sure my hair liked the everpresent breeze so much

Next stop was the Torre Tariz, Cadiz’s largest tour. It is known for its cámera oscura; Google tells me in English we call this “dark lens.” The only one in the U.S. is in San Francisco. It uses a tube with lenses and mirrors to project outside images on to a screen. In this way we watched another “tour” of the city. Like most cool things, no photos allowed.

View from the top of the torre

After the tour we grabbed some lunch and wondered the streets for a little bit. Like Granada, mostly everything is closed on Sundays, although I did score a cool ring from the vendors in front of the cathedral. Before I knew it, we were heading back to Granada.

Check out more pics from my trip here.

 

 

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Corpus in Granada

Hola chicos. It’s finally time for some ketchup =) Today’s topic is the festival of Corpus Christi. As I understand it is celebrated in all of Spain, but Granada is known for going all out. It takes place 60 days after Easter.

For two weeks leading up to it they have bull fights every night. I wasn’t sure that it was something I really wanted to see, but since it’s such a tradition in Spain I went for it.

It was one of the most horrifying things I have ever seen. I had thought it would be more of a fair match but the bulls never actually go after the torreros. And so I watched the gruesome death of six bulls.

and he's down

The festival technically starts on a Thursday, which meant I had 2.5 days off of school. I didn’t stick around for the entire holiday; I left for Portugal early Friday morning (more on that later). However I did get to witness some desfiles (parades).

Ferdinand

There were also people dressed up with giant heads so they looked like live bobble heads. Why didn’t I manage to get a picture? Because they carry balls and constantly hit you on the head. And it hurts. I didn’t learn what the significance was.

The best part of Corpus Christi though is the feria. At first it seems like a typical carnival, with rides similar to what we have in the US, and equally as much of a rip-off. But they also have tons of tents that have bars and discotecas inside. This would never fly in the US.

I also took in a flamenco show that week. This is actually something I could do at any time but we just happened to do it then. As a person who cannot move rhythmically to save my life, I was impressed. We actually got to watch it in a cave in Sacromonte which was really cool.

I took a few videos but my internet is too slow so you’ll have to appreciate the dance through still pictures.

ladels on the ceiling

Check out more pictures here.

Hasta luego.

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Correr e Intercambios

OK I know I have a lot of blogging to catch up on but today I would like to talk about a regular day. Actually it didn’t start off so regular.. I did something  had promised myself I would do often… but until then had not actually done.

Here’s a hint.

I went running! In Spanish, that would be correr. Why didn’t I do it sooner? Well it’s upwards of 100 degrees everyday. Lo siento, but that just doesn’t seem safe. I kept planning on going in the evening but even at 9:00 it’s still in the 90s.

But yesterday I sucked it up and got out of bed at 6:30am.. it was still a little dark out. I went down to the Río Genil which is the only place I have actually witnessed Spaniards running.

Obviously didn't take my camera running. Photo courtesy of Google.

Running in Spain is reserved for a select minority.In 45 minutes I counted 10 other joggers/runners.

How can I talk about running without providing a grimy sweaty post-run snapshot?

This girl loves her some endorphins.

After showering and some alimentation it was off to 9am class. I started a new series of classes this week and I go from 9am-2:30pm, with a break from 12:30-1:30. This is much better than my split schedule in June, albeit a long time to sit and have to focus. My classes this round seem much more difficult and I’ve had much more tarea (I know you already know this word from Spanish 1, right?) But the classes are also much more interesante:
Spanish Literature
Islamic Culture in Spain (really cool!)
History of Spain    and
Spanish Civilization and Culture
So basically I am learning all there is to know about  the beautiful country I am.

After some lunch and a  rather long siesta, I hit the droguería (didnt pack enough deoderant.. I know you were wondering)and browsed through a couple other random stores. After dinner we had intercambios. This is something I regretably had only done once before.

Basically how it works is us Americans go to, in this case a little outdoor bar, and meet up with a bunch of Spaniards. The idea is that we practice Spanish and they practice Engligh. Then if we “click” we exchange contact info to do it again.

I had much more fun this time around, although I was constantly made fun of. When I first said I was from “Boston”  they didn’t understand me. They then proceeded to teach me how to prounounce my city. They also died of laughter when I told them the sound a rooster makes is “cock-a-doodle-doo.” Well in Spain they say, “kikirikí,” because obviously their roosters speak Spanish not English. Here’s a list of found of how to speak Spanish like other animals.
Well after this event hosted by my program, some of them invited us out to a bar where one of their friends had just finished his “carrera” (major), which I think means he graduated, and was celebrating. One other girl from my program came with us and it was  really nice to hang out with spaniards, practice the language and learn about their lives.

They also introduced me to a new drink I had never tried, called calimocho arándano. It is a mixture of wine (typically not very good wine), coke, and blueberry juice. ¡Que deliciosa!

I think this is the Basque spelling?

This is actually the first encounter I’ve had here with anything blueberry. In fact I haven’t seen any berries, except strawberries (fresas).

So there you have it a typical day in Granada … más o menos.

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malas y buenas noticias

I have been very paciente waiting for my new computer for the last three weeks. Yesterday I got this aviso (notice) in the mail:

Basically it told me to go to Madrid to pick up my computer. It is currently at the aduana (customs). Mind you Madrid is a good 5 hours from Granada and I was very distraught so one of the API directors called the number on the Aviso. Apparently to get my computer I would have to pay two taxes- one of them being 18% of the value- in my case nearly $200! I’m only here for another 4 weeks in which time it may, or may not, make it Granada. I ended up deciding to ship it back to the US (for free) because I didn’t think it was worth the risk.

I was really upset about the whole situation. Without a computer I haven’t been able to blog or skype with my familia. I came back and just for the heck of it decided to try my old computer. And guess what chicos…

FUNCIONA!

(it works!)

Hopefully it will continue to work. I have a lot of things to blog about over the last few weeks including the Corpus Christi week in Granada and my trip to Portugal. I also would like to talk about some of the daily things in Granada.

 

 

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I don’t have a witty title for SEVILLA

Hola long-lost friends and family! I spent my weekend in Sevilla, another region of Andalucia.

Andalucia

We left at 8:45 in the morning and arrived at about 12:30. We didn’t even have a chance to check in before we were off to the Cathedral. This is the biggest Cathedral in Spain and although St. Peter’s in Rome has the longest length in the world, Santa María in Sevilla has the most area! (Guinness World Record, approved). It was built from 1403-1507. The goal was “Hagamos una iglesia tan hermosa y tan grandiosa que los que la vieren labrada nos tengan por locos” – “Let a church so beautiful and so great that those who see it built will think we were mad.”

It is home to the body of Christopher Columbus. Can I tell you how much they LOVE him here? I learn about him everyday.

His illegitimate son’s body is also here.

After checking into the hotel, I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering with some friends. We visited the Plaza de España.

It was created in 1929 for the Spanish- American Exhibition. It is a half circle decorated with alcoves representing the different provinces of Spain.

There is a river through it where you can ride a gondola, and a big fountain in the middle.

OK the water looked a little gross.

We also went to the Torre del Oro… which was closed. It is Spanish for “Gold Tower”  and was originally a military watchtower constructed in the 13th century. It was also a prison in the middle ages.

After finding some dinner, we headed back to a park we had walked through earlier that day. They were celebrating a beer fest and their were tables with crafts from different areas. Afterward, we found this cool outdoor lounge/bar place and had a drink… in bed.

They need these in the U.S.

Sunday morning we visited Los Reales Alcázares which is more or less Sevilla’s version of the Alhambra. By that I mean it was an Arab palace. Since it’s construction, different monarchs have added elements and when the royal family comes to Sevilla, they still stay here.

Afterward I headed to the Plaza de Toros (bullfighting ring) with some friends. We got to take a tour and learn about bullfighting history which I really enjoyed. They had a museum but my camera died so I can not show you some of it’s artifacts.

After lunch we got back on our bus and headed to El Torcal, in between Málaga and Sevilla, for some senderismo. The mountain range is full of limestone formations. I was very excited to see a lot of of mountain goats. Since my camera was still dead, here is a picture from Google..

limestone

Overall I really enjoyed Sevilla but it was nice to come back to Granada. Sevilla is much bigger but I felt like it lacked the overall charm of Granada. I didn’t think it was possible for it to be even hotter… 42 degrees on Sunday! (107.6 fahrenheit!). I’m sure if I stayed longer and got to really know the city I’d change my mind, but it was nice to visit and I’m glad to be back.

I put ALL my pictures from Sevilla on googlepics so check them out here

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No way, (San) José

So I know I am well overdue for a blog post. What gives? Welp my laptop died. In Spain. This is the kind of thing that only happens to me. I have a new one on the way but it will porbably be a few weeks. You don’t realize how frustrating it is to not have a computer… until you don’t.

Anyhow spent the weekend in San José, Cabo de Gata- a beach town in Almería, about a 3 hour drive from Granada. It’s on the east coast of Andalucía.

It has a much more small town feel than Granada. A lot of people commented that it reminded them of Greece.

For me, it actually reminded me of home. If I am with my family, there’s a 90% chance we are at the beach.

Anywho to get to la Playa de los Genoveses we actually had to hike through a dessert/jungle. I was not wearing the proper footwear.

But the effort was well worth it. The beach was beautiful.

I had actually read that most Americans wouldn’t be impressed by Spain’s beaches. I felt it was pretty comprable. It wasn’t very hot so I didn’t go past my knees in the water but it did seem warmer than the ocean in New England.

Many women were roaming around topless which I hadn’t thought to expect. Some of our own chicas decided to experiment with such fashion, but I chose to keep my whole suit on (your welcome, Dad).

Once we left the playa I learned that I had got my butt kicked by the sun. Literally worst sunburn of my life. It’s now Wednesday and I’m still very uncomfortable sitting, sleeping and mostly walking. The only thing that feels good is laying on my tummy. I wanted someone to take my picture but decided actual documentation would be too mortifying.

On our way back we visited El castillo de La Calahorra. It dates back to the 16th century and was built in only 3 years. It always fascinates me to see things that are old than our country. The marquis to whom it belong actually brought over Italians to construct it.

Couldn’t take pictures inside but it was very cool and impressive for the time period. Our tour guide told us part of Harry Potter was filmed there and we all flipped out, but then he revoked it. Although I understand a bunch of films have been filmed there.

Some other happenings…

Jen came to visit me last week from France. I showed her all around Granada (well.. the parts I know anyway). She got to see the Alhambra and experience tapas, paella and other yummy Spanish food. Sometimes I can get a little overwhelmed about nothing being familiar or comfortable, so it’s nice to see an old friend. She made a friend of her own.

I’ve been in class now for a week and a half and honestly it’s a huge drag. I need to go twice per day so in between I do homework, errands, eat lunch and siesta. By the time I’m through it’s dinner time and then most nights I meet up with friends for something. The classes here seem much easier and I hardly have much homework, which is nice but I wish I had more free time during the days.

I’m sure there’s a million weird things I could comment on, but nothing comes to mind. Please let me know if you have questions or are interested in anything so I have something to talk about.

Hasta luego.

For more pictures of my trip to San José click here

For more pictures from Jen’s visit click here

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