Cinque Terre

I am staying in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy! it is incredibly beautiful. i can only only use wifi at this bar, so i have to buy a drink. Their Sangria is really good. it’s helping me relax, cause i have been pretty stressed out always thinking of what i need to do next. 26 hours on trains yesterday  to get here doesn’t help. Today i went on a lovely mountain hike from Corniglia to Manorolo, it was intense! i have been nursing a bad headache ever since, but i have bee downing water like nobody’s business, so it’s not dehydration. I was pretty sad today at different points, i spemt all day wishing my family were here! It’s lonely traveling alone here. I can’t believe it took Chris McCandless a year to discover what i realize after a day surrounded by strangers: happiness only real  when shared. Don’t get me wrong, i had a wonderful day today, but it’s harder to enjoywhen you are alone. in Barcelona it was fine because the hostel people wanted to do things together, but this place is a romantic getaway, so it’s all a bunch of couples that want to do their own thing… and two guys that smoke a lot of weed. They were excited that i was from Colorado. After the hike i had an hour and a half till the next train so i went to the beach(i jad brought my one piece necause i had heard this plave has good cliff jumping) and it sure did!! I bought goggles and

Barcelona!!!

Just had a great day in Barcelona!! Saw the Sagrada Familia and the park Guell! Off to Cinque Terre tomorrow morning at 7am!!

Sagrada Familia Basilica

Park Guell

Homestay

I am staying with a family in Granada that lives on a flat on the third floor with a terrace that goes around the outside of the house. It is a wonderful place and I can see the mountains and the river from the terrace. It is SO HOT in Spain!!! I am kind of getting used to sweating all the time… even though it’s actually quite dry in Granada.

View from the Terrace of our home!

View from the Terrace of our home! Can you see the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background?

My roommate, Katie, and I are so lucky to be with the family we are with, they are amazing. Margarita is the mom, and she is so sweet, she is always taking really good care of us and cooks us amazing meals for lunch everyday (Lunch is the big meal of the day, breakfast and dinner are more like appetizers/small dishes). She has a ton of energy, and shakes her head with animation when she tells stories, she is always making us laugh with her stories. She works for a study abroad program in Granada and is always busy. She is very light-hearted and is so full of life. Antonio, the husband, is a systems engineer, and he is also very nice. We always sit at the kitchen table for at least an hour and talk with the parents at mealtime. Their 7 year daughter is also named Margarita- it is a Spanish tradition to name children after their parents, and traditionally only names of Saints are used. Little Margarita is lots of fun, she gets really bossy and sassy but then is so cute and sweet other times… She has really bad asthma, so the family has a beach house an hour south where they go on the weekends. They said they will take us there when we have a free weekend. 🙂

Mi Familia Espanola! <3

Mi Familia Espanola! ❤

Something interesting: They think that English sound better in songs, so in all the stores, cafes, restaurants, buses, taxis, etc. they play English songs rather than Spanish songs. Makes me feel more at home, and I kind of wish that I could be more exposed to popular Spanish music. There are also a lot of American TV shows on the TV that are voice-overed in Spanish like “Como conoci a vuestra madre” = “How I met your mother.” Then there are tons of dramas and things that look like a big waste of time haha. It sounds like it is pretty typical for Spanish people to eat next to the TV, like it’s always the fifth person at the table, so I am glad our family doesn’t watch TV while we eat.

Paella!

Paella!

Word of the day: Bocadillo = Sandwich

Sevilla

This weekend we are in Sevilla, which is about 3 hours west of Granada. It is a much bigger city and has beautiful old buildings and a big river running through the city. It is incedibly beautiful. We had tapas for dinner last night at a restaurant with outdoor sitting on the river. Tapas are like appetizers and are usually about 3€. Last night we went to our first Discoteca! They are really popular dance clubs that everyone goes to. It was funny because we discovered that people here don´t show up to the Discotecas until 2am, so we were sitting around being early Americans for a few hours waiting to see what would happen. I have never been to a club in the US, but the Discoteca was less like a club than I would have imagined and it was just a fun place to dance freely, it was great. We stayed out till 4am, so we are all very tired today…

Morocco

Last weekend I went on a four day trip to Morocco! Known as Marruecos to the Spaniards and Moroccans, it was a place rich with culture and new experiences! We spent the first day traveling, took a taxi from Granada to Malaga at 3am, then a bus to Algeciras, the Spanish port to the Strait of Gibraltar. We took the ferry (which was like a cruise ship!) across the Gibraltar Strait to Tangier, Morocco. I have officially set foot on Africa!! 😀

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We were on the bus all day and watched Casablanca, which takes place in Morocco, so that was an interesting introduction to the culture. We arrived at a beautiful hotel and relaxed in the hotel pool for the evening before dinner. The meals we had always started with a bunch of vegetables, then there was a main dish of meat (usually chicken), and then fruit for dessert. Lots of watermelon and other melons because that’s what is in season.

The hotel we stayed at in Fez, we were all soo grateful for a nice pool after being on a bus since 3am...

The hotel we stayed at in Fez, we were all soo grateful for a nice pool after being on a bus since 3am…

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Lunch

Lunch

The next day we spent at the famous Medina of Fez. It was incredible! Little streets with thatch roofs covering the walkways between the shops, lots of vendors with their little shops. The streets were very dirty and donkeys walked through them carrying goods.

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We went to a rug shop and got a sales pitch rug-show. The vendors were ingenious salesmen, it was very interesting to watch their techniques! They gave us some mint tea called Moroccan Whiskey.

Moroccan Whiskey: Mint tea (because they aren't supposed to drink alcohol)

Moroccan Whiskey: Mint tea (because they aren’t supposed to drink alcohol)

The rug house.

The rug house.

I bought a small bag of Moroccan spices from a spice and oil shop for my mom and a tapestry purse from the tapestry store, where we got to watch them make their scarves and cloths.

Oil and Spice shop where I got a little bag of a spice mix.

Oil and Spice shop where I got a little bag of a spice mix.

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Ceramics shop

Ceramics shop

 

2013-06-07 09.34.49 2013-06-07 10.19.47We also went to a ceramics manufacturer and a leather shop, where we got to see how they make the leather right there! They give you mint to hold to your nose and take you out on an overlook to see all the pots where they cure the leather. They said that the workers regularly pee in the pits because the ammonia helps the leather cure better!

The tannery in Fez: Smelled awful. The workers regularly pee in the pots to help cure the leather.

The tannery in Fez: Smelled awful. The workers regularly pee in the pots to help cure the leather.

The next day we went to Meknes and had dinner at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Medina of Meknes. They served us the famous ‘Moroccan Whiskey’ again.

Meknes Medina below

Meknes Medina below

Moroccon Whiskey

Moroccon Whiskey

Pan! There is always a bunch of bread here and in Spain.

Pan! There is always a bunch of bread here and in Spain.

We toured the ancient Roman Ruins called Volubilis, which were my favorite! There were incredible… It was the most beautiful place, with so many wild flowers. I could imagine all the walls of the 200 acre city springing up and people walking about with donkeys doing their daily business. It actually reminded me a lot of home, I think the smell of the flowers reminded me of a smell of weeds back home. The temperature and hilly area also reminded me of Colorado. I wished that my family could be there to see it with me!!

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Volubilis: Mosaics that tell a story

Volubilis: Mosaics that tell a story

Volubilis: Roman spa: you sit in the curves in a water bath.

Volubilis: Roman spa: you sit in the curves in a water bath.

This is the room where they suppose the Roman brothel was...

This is the room where they suppose the Roman brothel was…

Volubilis: the three other CSU students that went on the Morocco excursion.

Volubilis: the three other CSU students that went on the Morocco excursion.

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Me sitting in an ancient Roman Spa! ;)

Me sitting in an ancient Roman Spa! 😉

 

 

2013-06-08 06.08.45 2013-06-08 06.06.44We also went to this place with lots of gigantic adobe rooms and an outdoor yard filled with arched columns where they filmed parts of the movie 300. It used to be a place where they would keep thousands upon thousands of horses.

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We went to a bath house, called Hammam, where people go about twice a week to bathe themselves. The women and men have different Hammams. It was a neat experience. Us girls were a bit shy in the beginning, holding our towels at our chest since we were only allowed to wear underwear. After we had been in the Hammam about 5 minutes, I felt comfortable. I thought it was interesting how the Muslim women cover all their bodies in public all the time, but then how comfortable they were being naked! It was just a tile floored room with knee-level faucets that you used to fill a bucket with water. We each got a little hand bucket to scoop the water from the bucket and pour on our bodies. They gave us this slimy green clay-like oil to rub on, and then we all got scrubbed down by some women. There were about 5 women whose job it is to scrub people down. You lay on the floor and the spin you around on the tile and scrub every inch of your body, removing your underwear. Surprisingly it wasn’t as strange as I thought it would be. I heard that the boys had a rougher experience though. The men got their backs cracked by being bent and pulled in strange uncomfortable positions…

One thing I thought was strange and really neat was how fresh everything is- including the meat. How the cows are literally slaughtered right in front of you in the Medina and they set the head out on display and then cut up the rest of it and hand it to customers.

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This is a wedding bench, and as I was walking to the bathroom, the guys where were building it convinced me to take a picture with them on it... Don't worry I was with other people, no marriages were going to occur ;)

This is a wedding bench, and as I was walking to the bathroom, the guys where were building it convinced me to take a picture with them on it… Don’t worry I was with other people, no marriages were going to occur 😉

 

2013-06-07 04.31.49We weren’t allowed in any Mosques, but we got to take a peak inside some of them, along with some of the religious colleges, and they were so beautiful… Moroccan architecture is incredibly beautiful with the mosaics, the colors, the fountains, arches and columns… Being there makes you feel like there is something profound and mysteriously majestic in the air.

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Marruecos was a wonderful experience, I am so glad I had the opportunity to go!

Note

Note: My camera broke, so the photos above and all those that will be posted are from my phone camera…

Left Toledo today and reached my Homestay in Granada! My family is beautiful, Margarita is the mom, and she is great! She is very outgoing and very kind to us. She took us out on a tour of the city and bought us special italian ice cream that is a Granada specialty, made us a wonderful dinner with watermelon and said she is going to buy us plants to grow little vegetables while we are here.

It has been very busy, and wifi has been on and off at the hotels, so Hopefully tomorrow I will have time to upload more about the trip so far. Tomorrow night I leave for a long journey to Morocco though, so we will see how the internet goes there!

SPAIN: Madrid in Pictures

Calle en Madrid

Calle en Madrid

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Parque

Parque

Eduardo and I at the city park.

Eduardo and I at the city park.IMG_8068IMG_8069

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