Wednesday, July 28, 2010

La Alberca and the famous Pig

Well it ws before Paris but i haven't blogged on it yet. Last Wednsday

IU took us on a trip to La Alberca, a little village not too far from

here. We really enjoyed it.
One IU fed us, it was steak and fries cover in steak greese , so normal

for spain, but realy good. There was this awesome veggitable soup

before the main course tho I wish I had eaten more. '
We went on a tour through the little village it was really pretty.

Flowers outside all the windows and really old buildings. Houses with

inquisition symbols above the door to show the family had converted to

Christianity, in houses people live in now.

La Alberca has this tradtion with this pig, called the pig od San

Antone. Its kinda wierd but cool. Every June they let this pig run

loose in the streets and enjoy his pigness. Everyone in the town feeds

it. In January they traditionally give it to the poorest family in the

town, tho now they auction it off for charity. Apparently its very

rare for tourists to see it, but we did. Got a picture with him it was

pretty exciting! He was pretty smelly, and grose but he was still


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Since I'm in Spain I fugured I had to visit Madrid while I'm here. I'm really glad I got to see more than just the airport. I went this Sunday to take advantae of the huge sunday flea market thing they have and the museum discounts. I think if it had been the first city I'd seen in Europe I would have been really amazed, but I've already seen so many beautiful cities here I think I've developed some desensitization. It was cool tho I liked it. We started out a la Rasca, the huge flea market they have every sunday. When we got of the train we saw like three stands and thought that wa it for a second,ha ha. It Was HUGE! it never ended, it went on and on and on. Even when we were done and trying to get out there was just more and more. You had to go through and ask, one thing would bw 30 euros in one place and 5 in another. I got some pretty good deals tho. It was neat just to see.
We went to the Museum of Reina Sofia, which is all modern art. My travel companions enjoyed some of it a lot less than I did. There were some very famous Piccassoes which everyone got excited about. You could actually take pictures there I was surprised. It was pretty neat, saw some really wierd stuff that looked a lot like a homeless camp, but it was cool. Its free on sundays.

Next we went to the Prado. Whic is an enormous collection of old master paintings. It was amazing. Not free on sundays, but somehow they didn't charge me. I had to change registers beacuse thee printer wasn't working and I think one thought the other charged me and vice versa. Win! Lots of Goya, El Greco Van Dychs, other famous artist whose names escape me. It was prett awesome but it kicked my butt. I was so tired afterwards.

We walked over to the Plaza Mayor, which was really cool, but you can't really comapre any plaza to Salamanca's. We saw the Puerta del sol, and the staues and the Palicio Real, Which closes early so we didn't get to go in, but at that point I was too tired anyway.

All week i'd been battleing a cold that turned into a sinus infection. Plus I was out in the sun way more than I should have been all weekend. I was Feeling pretty bad on the way home, it kinda got worse monday morning in class, my teacher sent me home. I went to the docter with Daniella, our progeam director, just to help me explain medical terms. He gave me what I think is the Spanish equiviant of a Z pack. I do feel a little better tonight after resting. Hopefully it works. I need to be better for Paris this weekend.


Went to Toledo today on the daytrip with the Cursos Internacionales. I liked the way it was handled way more than the other two trips. We had two tour guides both of whom talked loud enough for everyone to hear, no one got lost and I made it home in time for cena. While I can't say I liked it as much as Lisbon, Toledo was great. It was really pretty. The city of Tres culturas, has of course a Cathedral, and a preserved Synagog and Mosque. The mosque was really not worth looking for, wans't on the itenerary, we found it, it was pretty small and unimpressive. Especially after looking at La Alambra last weekend. But the Synagog was pretty cool, it actually looked a lot more like a mosque than a synagog, it was built by arabic archatects and it showed. Now its more of an art gallery, there were some neat paintings tho. We went to the Monistary of San Juan de los Reyes, which was pretty eat, only place where we could take pictures on the inside. It was pretty neat looking, worth going. It was built as kinda a PR campaign for Fernando and Isabel Nailed to the outside are all these chains, they're from Christian slaves freed in the conquest of Granada.

We went inside the Iglesia de Santo Tome, which is a small church/ tomb, its neat to look at. But the main event of it is the Giant "El entierro del Senor de Orgaz, by El Greco. Its truley a wonder to behold in person. I've heard of people seeing famous works of art and finding them dissapointingly small. It is not the case with this one, it was HUGE, i'm pretty sure it's bigger than my dorm room last year. You could really see the detail that went into it. I was pretty pumped about it.

We went to the cathedral, which is of course huge, and I would have enjoyed it by itself, but it is worth going even for those with cathedral fatigue simpley for the art collection. Several El Grecos, Van Dychs and a few Goyas. Along with lots of really shiney gold jewrley royal and or Catholic stuff.

The city itself is really pretty just to walk around it. Tho it was super hot, and none of the locals were out. All the more reason to eat two ice creams! It was really beautiful, up in the mountains by the entrance to the city you could see the whole thing, it was just magnificant.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hello Muddah, hello Fadda, here i am in Granada

I really loved Granada. More so than Sevilla, i felt like it was a little more welcoming and less hot. Well only a little less hott. We got to see some cool stuff there. We saw the tomb of Fernando and Isabel, not the one they're actually buried in. They built it than changed their mind and decided to be buried in Madrid. I felt a little less creepy taking pictures of the tomb, you could go underneath and look at the coffins and stuff, they were empty tho, less creepy. We Saw the cathedral. They're very anti pictures in Granada. I took some anyway, but everywhere we went the first day I pictures were banned. most places its just silence and no flash, but here i guess they don't want tourists running around taking pictures of their religious landmarks. It was all white on the inside,and everything was gold it was pretty. The front of the chapel of the tomb of ferndo and Isable was very pretty at firs glance then u realize how moribitd it is. I feel like spanish catholisism has the most blood and gore out of all the forms of catholic. Maybe its related to the inquiasition, or Matamoros or something. In Latin America you always see Guadalupe or a Risen Jesus. Here the front on one side has John the Babtis being beheaded, head stump blood and all and on the other side Saint John the Evangalist being boiled alive. In general the cursifiction was more gorey. Im catholic and everything but this was a little too graphic for me.
Outside there was this guy writing people's names in Arabic and selling it. Mina got one but i didn't know what I would do with it. So he wrote it on my arm for free. He was really nice, not in a creepy way, which i feel like is rare. People thought it was a tatoo for the rest of the day lol. Mom wouldn't like it, but its gone now don't worry.
In the night I saw a really awesome Flamanco show. Ticket included transportation there and back, the show a tour of the historic area where the flamanco bar was and sangria. I thought it wa a pretty good deal. It was really really intense! It was a lot more rythimic than the one we saw in Salamanca. You could really tell the arabic influence in the sound. I'm very glad I didn't sit in the front row because they got splattered with sweat when the dancers turned. It was just amazing.
Afterwards we got a little tour of the area where the bar was, a historic neiborhood in Granada. It was pretty neat. All the houses were white and had painted pottery and flowers. It was at the top of the mountain and they took us to a spot where we could see a wonderful view of la Alambra all lit up at night. It was amazing, pictures can't capture it.

The next day we went to la Alamabra, which almost needsa post in itself. La Alambra was the last place the Mores were in spain. It is HUGE!. It has a palace, gardens, fountains, ruins, towers. You could spend several days just doing that. IT WAS AMAZING. I can't even describe some of it. There were ruins of where the soilders lived near the walls around it so they could get up and fight at any time, which i guess they needed to do, tho i supposed it didn't really help. We went up into the towers. Magnificant view of the city and the rest of la Alambra. There were lots of Gardens. Flowing water everywhere, like on the floor, you see in the pictures. Our guide said water was very sacred to the mores because where they come from there isn't a lot. IT was beautiful. The palace was like made of rocks it was so cool. There were lots of other places too. The sealings were so decorated, lots of very detailed geometric shapes. Painted tiles. Its one of the most amazing thigns i've ever seen!


Went on the Excursion to Sevilla and Granada this weekend. Fortunately this time no time was spent stranded in a Portuguese mall. Sevilla was really cool, yet really hot. It was scorching like the first week of classes in Salamanca. Fortunately the Hotel had air conditioning and I got to see something i had not yet seen in Spain, a drinking fountain, it was exciting. We got to go up into the top of the Cathedral, which was really cool. We could see the bells, and an amazing view of the city. The cathedral itself was neat, i personally liked the Salamanca one better in general. The cool part of this one was outside, it was built on the ruin of a moorish mosque. It still had the water channels and fountains, and some moorish stone work which was cool.

But this one had the tomb of Christopher Columbus which was really neat to see. Other places claim to have columbus, but his son is for sure in this one which is evidence to me that this is the real one. Im not sure if its morbit to take a picture of a tomb, but I don't think columbus would really mind. Plus they had actual relics at this church (relics being body parts of saints). I'm Catholic but something about body parts kinda freaks me out. Well it made me feel less morbid about photographing Columbus' apparant tomb.
After the tour we went off on our own and found the plaza de Espana which was really cool. We found some gardens we liked. Afterwards we were so hot, so we sat at a place with air and got smoothies, good decision. in the morning we checked out one of the palaces, i don't remember the name i'll look it up and edit it later. It was really cool

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I wish i knew some portuguese

Went to Lisbon Portugal on an excursion this weekend. Lisbon is the most beautifu place i've ever seen in my life. All the buildings had these beautiful tiles on them. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1700,s and to rebuild they invited all these forign archatects to reconstruct buildings. The city is full the best of every countries archatecture. there were buildings that lookes french, italian, english, and of course portugese. The city kind of reminded me of San Francisco,it's close to the ocean and they have trollies. They even have a bridge that looks like the goldan gate bridge across the river. It was really amazing! They had a monument where the palace was next to the river. Some poeople actually got left behind there. Our tourguide who we refered to as Alehandro (we found out later is name was really daniel it was pretty dissapointing) was very illusive. When he left u had better be following him. After that point everyone knew to arrive early and kinda stalk him. He was a nice guy tho. When we stopped to eat we asked a random person where was a good place to eat. turns out he was a resturant owner, and he lead us to his place. Ordering was really complecated, his english wasn't good and we had no portugise other than ola and obrigado (thank you). They charge u for bread in Europe even if u don't ask for it. It was good, but it was a difficult expierience. Needless to say we ate in more toursity areas the rest of the time whith english or spanish speaking waitors. We went to hard rock cafe that night ja ja.
My absolute favorite part was the castle, Castillo de San Jorge, it was so beautiful and we climed up it. the view of the city was breathtaking. We could see the slits where they shot arrows from, it was really neat. We saw the Cathedral and 2 monistaries with cathedrals. They weee all amazing. The Monistario de los Jeronimos had royals and some famous Explores buried in it. We also went to the Monistario de Batalha, where they have the portugise tomb of the unknown solider which was neat, plus mre dead royals. It was so beautiful, the sealings were so high and hte carvings and stained glass were amazing!
We saw the Torre de Belem, which was this fort thing by the ocean, there were ladies selling scarves, they were pretty reasonable and pretty so i bought a blue one. It was neat.
We went to Cascais to go to the beach. It was a really nice area. We ate lunch at this place with an amazing view. Americans don't really think of portugal too much as a vacation destanation, but it's really nice. The weather is reminicant of California and it's hot by the beach. It's probably about the same as going to hawaii. I really liked it. We saw this huge gorge tidepool theing called la Boca del InFierno, the mouth of hell, someone signidficant fell into it and died, I think the tour was in fast Spainard Spanish and the sign was in portugise.
We saw the cathedral in the city, at the time it was the most amazing thing i'd ever seen, buried saints and royals and all. The next day we visited an even grander Cathedral and monistary. Monistario de los Jeronimos

The last day We went to this mideval village that was really nice. it was cold in the morning, the past week was super hot for us so we were really excited for the cold. We really liked the people in Obidos, the y were a lot calmer and less pushey than the shop owners in other places. In Lisbon when we were eating peopel would try to sell u sunglasses and all kinds of stuff constantly. It was neat tho, got to hear lots of free portuguise music.

Unfortunatly we had some bad luck on the road. The bus overheated and we were stranded for about an hour on the side of the road, then we were able to drive to a mall. I was stranded for 8 hours in this Portugise mall. DURING THE WORLD CUP FINAL THAT SPAIN WON! we at least got to watch the game. It was an experience. We're writing letters of complaint hopefully we can get a refund because it should not have taken that long to get a new bus. They didn't even call them for 4 hours while they were trying to fix the first one. We didn't get back to Salamanca untill 4:30 am. They dropped some people off pretty far from their house. people were saying "stop here stop here" and they didn't respond. When we passed my place i yelled "Puedes Altar" and they stopped so I didn't have to walk I was so glad. Aside from that and some pompous portuguise hotel worker who wouldn't cash my traveler's check (apparently my signature was different he sat there and yelled at me for like 15 minutes, the manager fixed it in like 2 seconds, i think it was some portugise machismo) I'm glad I went. If anything it's a great story, how many people get stranded in a portugise mall?