26 March 2011


Today is a very special day! In about 12 hours, my Mom will be boarding an airplane headed for Europe! She's traveling with her best friend, Donna and Donna's daughter, Cory. They will first stop in London for a day and then come here to Granada for the first half of the week and after that I am going with them back to London for a few days. I have never been in England, but I am excited to see the city that enchants so many people and I'm excited to be able to show Mom a little bit of Spain. It's so great to be able to share a piece of the life I've been living (aside from pictures and stories) with someone important in my life. They are sure to be tired and it's only a short visit, but the good thing is that Spanish life isn't stressful and nothing moves very fast...except for the cars...so hopefully their time in Spain will be a little more relaxed.
I'll be sure to update on both their visit here and our time in London. And a crazy little fact is that I will be home in exactly two months today...oh my goodness the past two and half months have flown by! I'm sure the next two won't go by any slower; already I think I have every weekend planned with something to do until I go home, wow.

Hasta luego!

09 March 2011

Flash Forward

Lately, my eyes have been focused on the future a bit...I know it's bad, I need to constantly be living in the moment, but I'm looking forward to so many things this summer! Certainly there are things I'm dreading as well like finding a job and figuring out where to live, but then there are the great things like getting to actually spend time with my boyfriend and going to the Avett Brother's concert in July!
In thinking about the future, I also think about leaving Spain and going back to life in the States and that's obviously a bittersweet move. Last semester I wrote about all the things I missed about the States and home (here) and even though I haven't left Spain yet and don't know exactly what I'll miss, there are a few things that have been on my mind.

1.) I think the number one thing I will miss about being in Spain is living a bilingual lifestyle. It's really cool to go to class or be at my apartment and speak and hear Spanish, to go out on the streets and hear Spanish and at the same time have friends who speak English and who I can relate to well. I enjoy the constant challenge that every day presents with language and culture.

(Today is the first day of the rest of your life)

2.) A big part of being abroad in general that I will miss will be the abundance of history that surrounds me here everyday. I can take a stroll around the city and see buildings that were once occupied by kings and queens or historical religious figures and it is just fascinating to me that I can still be a part of that in a very small way.

Cathedral of Granada

3.) This may seem like a silly thing to miss, but I really love how easy it is to buy locally made and grown products here. "Big box" stores aren't common at all and it's really nice to go to a fruitería (or any other locally owned store) and know that the produce there is majorly grown in Spain, if not in the region of Andalucía.

Me with a fresh barra from a panadería in Bilbao. (Oct 2010)

4.) I will also miss the laid-back lifestyle here in Spain. Everyone takes their time and enjoys the simple things in life more often here than anyone in the States. It's kind of nice to go to a café and know that you actually can't get your coffee "to-go" because it's the custom to sit, enjoy your drink and relax; no one is in a rush to get to places and there's not much waiting in line behind ten people getting non-fat mocha cappuccino sundaes! Sometimes things are a little too simple and a little more efficiency would be nice, but it's some of those everyday things that really affect the quality of life here and make people less stressed.

The best café con leche! Vitoria.

When the time finally goes come for me to leave Spain and return to real life, I will be sure to update on what things I actually miss. For now, I need to focus my eyes on the present, so I don't miss a second of my experience!

Ciao ciao!

04 March 2011


Last Saturday, my friend Olivia and I went to Córdoba for the day (sorry for writing this a little after the fact) and had a wonderful time! It takes longer to get to Córdoba from Granada than I expected, on the bus it was just about three hours, but the road also doesn't go straight there. On the highway it's just over 120 miles to Córdoba, but as a crow flies it's about half of that.

The landscape there is not much different than here, obviously because it's not very far away, but I noticed that there were more palm trees than here in Granada...could just be a design feature.
We started our morning very early, 6:30am, in order to catch the 7:30am bus and when we arrived at 10:30am we were delighted to find that it was a beautiful, clear day without a cloud in sight. The only place that I knew to visit in Córdoba was the infamous Mezquita, so we headed there first. On the outside, the Mezquita doesn't apprear to be much, but once you are inside, it blows you away!
The mosque was built in the 700's and as follows with Islamic tradition, was not ornamented extravagantly, nor with pictures on the walls; the only decoration was red stripes in the archways. When you first walk in the Mezquita, it appears very much as the Muslims made it; rows upon rows of archways with dark wood ceilings and a feeling of vast, emptiness (despite the hundreds of people also touring the building).

As you walk through the temple, little things begin to change and you can start to see more and more light coming from windows in the ceiling and white ornamentation. Then all of a sudden you come upon one of the more ornate Cathedrals I have ever seen! A ceiling of white and gold with figures and faces popping out and an alter two stories high filled with images of Saints and Christ.
The Cathedral was built starting in the 1200's during the Reconquest of Spain by the Visigoths and since then many shrines have been added by different Kings and religious leaders.

Directly across from this, is the alter containing the Bishop's throne, which is decorated in beautiful, dark carved wood and golden organs. The wood carvings surround the entire Bishop's alter, depicting many scenes from the Bible in great detail, so much detail, I think I could have spent two hours just looking at those carvings alone.

The Mezquita is very interesting because at times it is purely Catholic and others strictly Muslim and then there are areas where the two world mix and you realize how different their design and architecture really is.

The Muslims kept everything very simple and organized, to me it feels like there is more of an emphasis on the pilgrimage and prayer, the reason for going to the temple. While the Catholics made everything over the top and, in my opinion, too detailed because with the amount of detail present in the Cathedral, there's no way it could all be appreciated; it's completely overwhelming! But overall, the Mezquita is one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen!

The next sight we visited was the Alcazár de los Reyes Christianos (Gardens of the Christian Kings), which is the place where Christopher Columbus first petitioned for money from the Kings to discover the Americas.

The Gardens at the Alcazár were extensive and gorgeous; plenty of room for royalty to stroll around in privacy. Right now all of the ponds are in the process of being rebuilt and reconstructed to have, in the future, what appeared to be an elaborate fountain and light show.

Finally, we went to the Synagogue of Córdoba, which turned out to be just a single room, but is of significance because during the Reconquest almost all of the Jewish Synagogues and monuments were destroyed except for three; one in Córdoba and two in Toledo.

In our wandering around that day, we discovered that Córdoba is presumably going to be the European Capital of Culture in 2016, which means that in that year they will hold cultural festivals and events to support tourism and an international status.

Overall Córdoba was an enchanting city, both Olivia and I really enjoyed the day we spent there! It was s beautiful sunny day with good culture and good company! :)