Thursday, July 22, 2010

There's no place like home

Well amigos, after a long day of traveling, I'm finally back in North Cackalacky!!! It's great to be home after a long time away. And what was my first meal you ask? A BBQ sandwich, fries, and a watermelon milkshake from Cookout of course! Nothin' but the good stuff. Feels good to be home.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One last hurrah

So I have one more day left in Spain and this past weekend was my last weekend in Europe for a while. So what did I do as my going away party you ask? Went to an ultimate frisbee tournament in Venice, Italy of course! No better way to celebrate right? Although getting to the tournament took a long time with getting a plane, then a bus, then a train, and then a boat it was really fun! The tournament took place on the island of Lido which is off the Venetian lagoon. It was a beautiful place but the humidity there was muuuuuuuuuch worse than in Madrid where there basically is none. On Saturday the humidity and heat there while playing was almost unbearable. We played really well on Saturday winning all of our games despite suffering in the heat on the beach. Fortunately we could take a dip in the water after every game. After the games on Saturday we had the tournament dinner outside overlooking the water and Venice. The tournament is called Redemption and take place during a festival in Venice. At night there are an hour of fireworks in the city. After eating some delicious Italian food we could sit by the water and watch the fireworks over the city. It was absolutely beautiful. On Sunday we played only 2 more games because we had to leave early to make it back for our flight in Madrid on time. My team, Los Quijotes, ended up coming in 4 in the tournament out of 24 teams which was really exciting! Although we had to go far for the tournament it was a great way to go out with a bang! I leave to come back home to NC tomorrow and I'm excited to be home for a while!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An American mademoiselle in Paris


Le Tour Eiffel

Although I have been posting a lot recently about Spain winning the world cup (yay!) I have also had time to do some traveling. Since my friend Lauren Edwards is living about an hour and a half outside of Paris and came to visit me in Madrid, I wanted to return the favor and visit her! Sooooo hard right? I arrived very early on Tuesday morning and took the metro to our hostel located near the Sacre Coeur in the Montremarte area. The area was really cute with lots of cafes and bakeries yum! Since Lauren was arriving a bit later on the train I walked around and got a sense of the neighborhood. I met Lauren at the hostel and it was really great to see her!! After grabbing a coffee and a pain au chocolat we hopped on the metro to go see the Eiffel tower. Even after years of seeing it in pictures and in the movies, it was really cool to see the tower in person. It's huge! I took tons of pictures of it from the trip both during the day and at night. Then we walked up from the tower to eat a lunch of crepes (double yummmmmm) and then across the river to see the Louvre and the Notre Dame. While walking around Paris I noticed how beautiful the architecture all over the city is as well as the gardens. We spent an hour just relaxing in the Tulieries gardens and they were absolutely beautiful! We walked to see the building of the Louvre which is impressive in itself and then walked on to see the Notre Dame. After visiting the Notre Dame and seeing the beautiful stained glass there we went to have a drink and people watch in the Latin Quarter. After resting at our hostel for a bit, we went to the Arc de Triomphe to climb it and see the sun set over Paris. It was fantastic! After seeing the Arc we went to the old Jewish quarter to eat some to die for falafel. I mean it was out of this world. After so much walking I fell right asleep and slept like a rock.

The next day we got up early to go see the Versailles palace. After taking the train with a lot of other tourists we arrived at the palace to see a ton of visitors. However, because Lauren and I are EU residents we got to bypass the ticket line and go into the palace...fo' free! Being an EU resident between ages 18 and 25 totally rocks, we were VIPs at most museums! Versailles Palace was probably one of my favorite places that I saw while in Paris. The sheer opulence is something you just can't see anymore. It was great to walk through the halls and imagine living there, like in a fantasy world. But even better were the gardens. After we saw the Palace we went to the town bakery to get sandwiches and pastries for a picnic. After having a lovely picnic in the gardens we took a stroll and saw Marie Antoinette's mini palace. As if having Versailles wasn't enough right? After seeing some more of the massive gardens, we took the train back to Paris proper and went to see the Louvre (not after stopping for a pastry first, of course). Seeing great art requires equally great nutrition. The Louvre is an impressive collection of artwork and sculptures, although for me quite overwhelming. We did the best we could to see lots of things in the time we had but you could spend months in the museum. After the Louvre we went to the FIFA village Paris had set up behind the Eiffel tower with a huge screen to watch Spain beat Germany to go to the finals! There were a lot of Spain fans so it was really fun to watch.

We woke up Thursday for my last day in the city before returning to Madrid. We walked a little more around our neighborhood and stopped again at the Sacre Coeur to take pictures and get coffee. Then we metroed to Musee d'Orsay, the museum famous for its collection of impressionist paintings. The museum building was once an only train station so it was really beautiful and had a lot of natural lighting. I really liked the Musee d'Orsay because I love impressionist works but I also really liked the way the museum was set up. It had a large collection but was manageable. After finishing with the museum we got a picnic lunch of bread, cheese, and fruit and ate it in Montrematre. Since there was not much time before my flight we walked to see the Moulin Rouge (not as cool as the movie). Then we sat at a cafe having a glass of wine as we people-watched in true Parisian fashion. Tres bien!

Lauren and I at Versailles Palace

In front of the Louvre pyramid

The Sacre Coeur

Monday, July 12, 2010

CAMPEONES DEL MUNDO!!!!!


Celebrating on one of the biggest streets in Madrid, Gran Via.

Last night Spain won the FIFA World Cup 2010!!! It was an unforgettable experience watching the game and cheering on "La Furia Roja" then celebrating like crazy in the streets of Madrid. I am so proud to be an adopted Spaniard today! QUE VIVA ESPANA!!!

After our dip in the fountain of Plaza de Espana!

Tory, Bethany and I before the game.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A por ellos oeeeeeee

So if you have been following the FIFA World cup, you would know that SPAIN IS IN THE FINALS!!!!!!!! They play against the Netherlands today and everyone here is SO excited. Paul the famous oracle octupus from Germany has predicted that Spain will get the win! Things will be absolutely insane if Spain does win, I'm so excited I'll be here. VAMOSSSSSSSSSS ESPANA!!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Here's to you, America

Happy 4th of July everyone!!! Although it is just another day in Spain, I celebrated my country's independence by going to an American restaurant with free refills! (this is a rarity in Spain) Although it was nice to celebrate with my roommates it definitely gave the holiday a new meaning. Check out this article below and God bless the USA!

http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2010/07/02/100-great-things-about-america-part-1/

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yo soy de la Roja


Unless you are living under a rock, you should know that the World Cup of Football is in full swing right now. Although my favorite team, the USA, was knocked out by a team that will not be named. My 2nd favorite team, Spain, is doing well and made it on to quarterfinals!! Things have been crazy here and on game days everyone is decked out in their red in support of the Spanish team. It has been really fun to watch and although I'm not the biggest football fan, I am slowly becoming a convert. We play Paraguay on Saturday night so until then...VIVA LA ROJA!!

Mis Papis en España


At the rose garden in Retiro Park.

As I posted earlier, my parents came to visit me in Spain for about 2 weeks which was fantastic. They visited Madrid, Sevilla, Cordoba, and Granada. It was awesome to show them around the places I have been in Spain and my life here. They arrived on Monday, tired but excited to finally be in Spain! After getting on the Metro to go into the center of the city to find their apartment. The apartment was in a really cute area and very close to my apartment which was great! They spent about 4 days in Madrid and did lots of things. While I was working during the mornings, they usually went to see on of the big museums like El Prado or the Reina Sofia. But since school ended at 1 pm, I usually was able to spend the afternoons with them. We went a walking tour of the city, visited the Royal Palace, Retiro Park and ate lots of delicious food! After getting to see the big sights in Madrid we took the train to Sevilla for the second week. I could only stay for the weekend and then my parents continued on to tour around Andalucia.

We arrived in Sevilla round mid-day on Saturday. It was warm but not too hot and we took a taxi to our apartment in Barrio Santa Cruz. The apartment was fabulous, right in the center of the city and our window overlooked the Alcazar gardens. What more could a girl ask for? We spent the first day walking around the city and Santa Cruz. My parents really liked the architecture and agreed that this is what Americans imagine when they think of Spain. It's really hard not to love Sevilla, it's so pretty! We went to my favorite tapas place Cafe Levies and then to La Carbonaria, a famous flamenco bar. After seeing a little bit of flamenco we decided to go see a show at a tablao. We also toured around the Real Alcazar, using our trusty Rick Steves guidebook hahaha. We had beautiful weather all weekend which was a plus. On Monday we bought some souvenirs and went to look at the ceramics. I went home to Madrid but my parents kept on traveling, going to visit Cordoba for a day and then Granada for 2 days. They really liked the mezquita in Cordoba and the Alhambra in Granada. The architecture is really different from central Spain in that it has a lot of Arabic influence. After a week in Andalucia, Mom and Dad came back for one last weekend in Madrid. We got some more delicous tapas, went to the Rastro flea market and ate churros con chocolate. After 2 great weeks, it was sad to say goodbye but I'm really glad to have had them here!!!

In front of El Oso y el Madrono (the symbol of Madrid)