A Travellerspoint blog

Barcelona

El Ultimo Viaje!

sunny -50 °C

My last trip for this Europe tour was to Barcelona. The capital of Cataluna, this city is huge, touristy, and very prideful of its Catalan roots and individuality, so much so that they have thier own language (it sounds like Portugues, gramatically Spanish, phonetically French).

After my last dinner with my family in Spain and a exchanging gifts (which made Carmen cry, and the kids ecstatic, i love giving gifts!) I headed out to enjoy my last night in Cordoba at the popular local bar, Bar Fija, but we all call it Bamjez cause the scribbly writing on the outside looks like that is what its called. Everyone in the program made it out and it was just a big end of the program celebration for everyone. It was nice to spend the last night with everyone, and even the people who get on my nerves, or who im not as close to were good company. The night wrapped up and i was home by 4am, just in time for a little shut-eye before catchin my morning train to Madrid. What a sight i was.....I had a ridiculous amount of luggage and getting it on and off a train was almost funny, except that I had to lug it around. Not for long though, i dropped it in the lockers in the Madrid airport and headed off for my last hurrah in Barcelona.

When i got there, i was expecting to meet Ashly, my roommate from freshman year who is in Germany for the year, but in a big mess of snow and flight delays she didnt get in until the next day and ending up staying one day later than planned. Cody and Chris also joined us on sunday on thier way out and we took advantage of what Barcelona had to offer.

The first day i wandered the streets of the Barri Gotic (Gothic neighborhood) with the Cathedral, and small christmas market. It was here i learned who Carga Tio was. Carga Tio is a log with a face on one end, legs proping him up in the front and a santa hat, then draped over his back is a blanket. His name, literally "Pooing Uncle" is sort of self expanatory. The tradition (only in Cataluna) is that the kids put food in front of Carga Tio in the days leading up to Christmas, and the log is supposed to grow. Then, when he is big enough, the kids take to hitting him with a stick until he poops out the gifts... a little graphic i know, strange, i know, but interesting. From there, made my way toward the port and harbor and beach and the locals hangout of Barceloneta. It was a gorgeous day, a little chilly but the Mediterranean looked amazing. From there it was time for food and rest. Later that day, Brian, the friend of a friend Ashely and i were staying with was having a little birthday celebration where I ran into 2 other students studying here from my freshman dorm...small world! The night ended many hours later and then it was off for more sightseeing.

Ashley and I met Chris and Cody Sunday morning and made our way towards Park Guell (pronounced Guey). This park was designed by modernist architect Antoni Gaudi and is one the many Barcelonan examples of his ceramic mosaic, curves and arches and other untraditional work. To give you an idea, the place has a gate to enter and on either side are two small houses designed by Gaudi that look like gingerbread houses. The park is amazing and if you hike to the top you can see all of Barcelona, the small windy streets of the Barri Gotic, and the perfectly right-angled blocks in the more modern sector. Then it was back down to other Gaudi wonders. The Sagrada Familia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Familia, is the unfinished cathedral of Gaudi. All the plans are drawn but he died before its completion and work is ongoing. When it is finished it will be the tallest cathedral in the world with around 15 spires. Currently it is the only cathedral in the world under construction. It has a zillion things going on on the outside. Statues, scenes, mosaic, colors, nature, stories, you name it, its there. We didnt go inside and opted in stead to head down to La Pedrera, Gaudi's house and Casa Batllo, another gorgeous and differend building of Gaudi's. The architecture is different than anything i have ever seen and just fun to look at!

Next we walked down to Las Ramblas where we spent most of the rest of our time in Barcelona. This area, between Plaza Cataluna and the port is the eating, shopping, people watching, Starbucks-ing center of the city and we managed to entertain ourselves for the rest of the day and the following. We hit up an amazing Basque tapas, the best in Spain, and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of Spain. Although Barcelona is a bit quicker paced than the rest of Spain we managed to take it easy and not spend any less than a couple hours somewhere everytime we sat down (whether that be coffee, dinner, or this great little medieval tavern/bar type place called L'Oveja Negra or Black Sheep).

This morning Chris and Cody left and are on their way home home! Im off to Madrid for my last night in Spain, Ashley's going back to Germany and things are pretty much wrapped up for me. Not sure exactly what my feeling are yet about leaving, still working those out but i have some good ole alone time tonight in Madrid to figure those out.

Posted by tuffchix 23:27 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Sevilla

Day Trip for one!

sunny 23 °C

I couldnt leave Andalucia without seeing its biggest and most colorful city, Sevilla. Plus, it was nice to have a travel day to myself. My pace, my sights, my pictures, that whole selfish do what i want while i can thing. Whatever, ill call it a mental health day! So up and off to Sevilla this morning. Got in at 11am and walked past the huge line at the 2nd largest cathedral in Europe and decided i would hit that place up later. I passed by a Starbucks (!!!!) and had to stop before winding my way through the Barrio Santa Cruz and the Judería of Sevilla, through the crowded shopping streets (bummer, i know...hehe!) and on down to the Río Guadalquivir. Córdoba and Sevilla share the same river but in Sevilla its gorgeous and here we refer to it as the cesspool, swamp, marsh, or something of the sort. So, i crossed the bridge and took a stroll on the ribera (riverbank) and took it all in. It was gorgeous and sunny and the reflection on the water and off the buildings was just so "postcard"-esk. I crossed back over to the other side and headed to the ....ooppps sorry gotta run! more later, oh yeah and ill finish berlin too!

ok, i swear ill finish it now!

So i crossed back over the river and went to the Bull Ring. This ring, along with the one in Ronda are the sights of the first bull fighting schools, and have seen some famous Correderos (bull fighters) like Manolette, killed in the ring. You had to take a tour to see the inside so i bought my ticket and we entered the stadium through one of the (not prinicple) doors of the ring and into the stands. There are 4 doors into the actual ring, one for the nobility the only green section in the otherwise yellow ring, one for the bulls, one for the horses, and one to the infirmary where they take the wounded fighters. We didnt actually get to step in the ring but you get a good idea of what it would look like full. There is the sun section (cheap) and the shade section or "sombra" where the more wealthy people could afford to sit. We walked down below the seats into the museum where you could see the head of the bull of the mother of the bull that killed Manolette (talk about superstitions). We saw other garb of the past fighters and some vintage posters of past fights before glancing at the infirmary and its operating table, and the horse stalls. The tour was pretty short, but it was cool to see all the parts of the ring.

Then it was back through the cute neighborhoods and colorful streets, Sevilla is so colorful, and back to the Cathedral. This thing is huge. Second largest in Europe, and you can tell. Its Gothic which means that they tried to build the ceilings as high as they could in stone and arches with the rosette stained glass windows. It took more than a century to construct and has tons of Chapels, a treasury, multiple altars and choir bay, a ginormous organ and tons of people. The most amazing thing is that its huge, there is cool stuff inside but its pretty boring to write about so you can read my travel book when i get back to get all the info. Then if was up the Giralda, the minaret left from when that was the sight of the mosque during Muslim rule of Spain. You can climb up the 35 levels of ramps and get a great view of the city. They build ramps so that the bell ringers could ride thier horses up to ring the bells for prayer (as is the use of the Minaret). Ok, so after a hefty portion of time there, i headed back out into the gorgeous sun and towards the Plaza de España. Unlike most other plazas this one is a semi-circle, with a huge fountain in the middle and ceramic tile fountains around the perimeter with different themes of and about Spain on each on. There wasnt much going on in the Plaza but to imagine it full of people during the Feria (Sevilla's main event that takes place in Spring).

It was time for another Starbucks break, considering i dont have one in Córdoba and have thus been starved of this ridiculous addiction before wandering around a little more. It was almost 4 and about time to catch the train back to reality so i made my way back through the bustling streets of Sevilla and onto the rickety train to Córdoba (really, it was a rocky ride). Made it back safe though and luckily still had some sun to enjoy here in Córdoba. Sevilla is gorgeous. It has all the small town charm of Córdoba but more color, Starbucks, more lively and a gorgeous river! For all those wanting to study in Andalucía or even just visit, Sevilla should be top of your list!

Posted by tuffchix 08:26 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Berlin FINISHED!

A tale of a beautiful city all glitzed and glammed for the holidays.

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First of all, this is coming in installments. As i can write piece by piece, i am saving myself the overwhelming task of writing it all at once from a not-so-recolleting memory. First off, as was the case in Interlaken, i am back to a German keyboard so from this point on, I am too lazy to change the 'y' and the 'z' which are switched and so zou can substitute for easier reading, as for the rest of mz mistakes, i have no excuse other than i hate rereading things i tzped so zou get all the fun errors. Ok, here goes....

...Thursdaz December 1st (zeah for december!! wow, those words looks ridiculous spelled with a 'z'), I got outta Córdoba in a hurrz, no reallz. Schools out at 2, train leaves at 3, have to walk home (20 min) do that whole "hez im leaving see zou in a few dazs thing while grabbing mz packed lunch" and jet to the train station (20 min). Lets just saz we were cutting it close. Nonetheless, made the train to Madrid no prob, and hopped on the 1st of the 3 Metro lines if would take to get to the airport to catch mz flight to Berlin, Germanz.

The trip started out horriblz for Codz (him and Chris were heading to Munich this weekend) who got his wallet, luckilz without his passport but with 300 Euros (just less than $400) stolen out of his front pocket on the subwaz. People suck sometimes! There reallz isnt much zou can do after getting robbed on a subwaz except suck up the (big) loss and trz to move on. So, on we moved and an hour later i waved bze to the bozs and headed to mz gate for Berlin!!

First sign of a good trip: Christmas music plazing on the plane when I boarded. Aside from being excited to see Laura and meet her familz, i was even more excited to go to a countrz that reallz gets into the spirit of Christmas and does the whole decorating until we are blue in the face and so tired of the smell of pine, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and mulled wine that i wanna scream thing. I love Christmas and i am missing all the hzpe, well, i was until i came here. Anzwaz, the flight was standard, Iberia airlines was onlz a few minutes late (thats the closest zou can get to on-time with them) and was greeted bz Laura, Daniela (her mom) and Raimond (her dad) when i got off the plane. It was such a nice welcome and although i hadnt met her parents before, verz homez and comforting.

From there it was back to Laura's house, built up and down instead of side to side, as is the custom in Germanz and much of Europe. Her room smells like mine did when she was stazing in it, which to mz surprise was comforting. Its not too often that zou get familiar smells and since zour sense of smell is the onlz of the 5 senses linked directlz to memorz, this one brought me home. Ok, sappz sappz i know, but being here is reallz wonderful and while I am going to miss Europe and I know ill wanna go back as soon as life gets going again back in CA, i could use a good dose of all of zou right now.

Ok, one nights sleep, served up in a comfz bed and real pillow (with a chocolate on top). Then Fridaz morning off to school. No, reallz, i went to school with Laura for her 1st class (biologz) and since thez had just had a huge exam, nothing was going on, except the cleaning of the mice cages. Note to self: Kids will not have mice, because mom will not be cleaning another mouse cage in her life. After that Laura had to finish the daz at school and i got to take off. Daniela picked me up and we headed off for mz first dose of sightseeing.

(So now that i have written about absolutelz nothing that I have done, im done for the first part. But if i can just paint the picture of what it looks like here right now, as in this verz moment at night its like they decked the halls here with all sorts of holly and whatnot and the whole place is lit up like Tim Taylor gone too far with the Christmas lights on one episode of 'Tool Time'! However, Im not complaining. The commercialized Christmas Spirit is a nice change from the sort subtle religious tradition of the peninsula that Santa, Jingle Bells and Candy canes forgot, although I have heard that Christmas in Spain can be a Not-so Silent Night. Who knows, its just nice to get out and see the roasting chestuts in the Christmas Markets and drink some Mulled Wine (actually that latter isnt really all that enjoyble). Ok, now zou understand so come back soon, i promise to have more for zou).

Ok so now that I am back at a regular keyboard you get all the right characters and letters where they are supposed to be. BUT...not all is fine and dandy because i had written another day and a half´s worth of goings on and somehow it was not saved...UUGGHHH!!! technology is soooo frustrating. Anyway, so i will do what i should have done the whole time which is write my opinion of the place, and insert the links to the historical information...then its optional to read it or not (ohhh, how thoughtful of me, and lazy). Well, thats what you get when computers mess with me, so here goes the rest of Berlin:
BASICALLY EVERYTHING IN BERLIN (aka everything i saw in short summaries and the pictures are better than the links in the actual blog, read something, then find the pictures here): http://www.berlin-tourist-information.de/english/sightseeing/e_si_sehenswuerdigkeiten.php

Friday morning Laura's mom and I headed off to Charlottenburg Schloss, the palace built by Fredrick I (the "soldier king" for his science and music loving wife Sofie Charlotte), http://www.aviewoncities.com/berlin/charlottenburg.htm or http://www.berlin-tourist-information.de/cgi-bin/sehenswertes.pl?id=13357&sprache=english for pictures and info and stuff. The most interesting things were the ceramic room with over some 2000 pieces of imported ceramic mostly from China and some from Japan. This stuff was a pure demonstration of wealth in the times of the Prussian Empire and the Prussian (German) kings were in no shortage. The sheer massivness of this Versaille-type palace, especially similar because of the "French gardens" that span as far as you can see out the back windows of the palace. This time of year all the fountains are off and drained and the flowers are replaced by different colored rocks to get the effect of the design without all the splendor. We didnt spend too much time outside anyway because it was freezing so we stayed inside and marveled at the tapestried walls, different color themed rooms, multiple harpsicords and general palace gaudiness that sparkles and shines and you cant touch!

After wishing i was Sofie Charlotte so that my war-obsessed husband could have built me a palace for all my musical and scientific interests and wants we snapped back to reality to head to Checkpoint Charlie. On the border of the American sector of divided Berlin and the east, this was one of the places that people crossing from east to west had to stop if they were crossing legally. The actual checkpoint is a small white toll booth hidden underneath the hoisted portrait of an American soldier on one side, and USSR on the other, but the real attraction there is the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie: http://www.mauermuseum.de/english/frame-index-mauer.html This museum is home to the history of the Berlin wall, and various escape routes that were attempted and some successful from those fleeing the Eastern communist oppression. The most famous it when 2, 4 person families made a hot air balloon out of 1250 sq. meters and stood in 2 sq. meters of basket for 28 minutes as they crossed the border.

Ok time out for a little history of Berlin and its wall. (http://www.aviewoncities.com/berlin/mauer.htm) The blockade of Germany into East: communist Russia and West Germany: Divided among the French, British and American, happened before the actual construction of the wall in 1961. But the wall was the concrete symbol (pun intended) of the division. People were not allowed to pass from one side to the other without special permission and that was extremely hard to get and had so many stipulations that is was not even a possibility for many. People tried everything to cross from one side to the other (almost always East to West) and it wasnt until 1989 and the fall of the USSR that the wall was officially torn down. Today there are still remnants of the wall as reminders, memorials and art (East Side Gallery). Today, Germany is united under one flag (Black, Red, Yellow horizontal stripes WITHOUT the black eagle) but there are still some differences between the east and west, one very controversial are the little crossing the street men: in East germany the are different from the rest of Europe which has been controversial but for now they remain. They have little hats on and walk funnier than the traditional green and red men!

Ok, next was back home to meet Laura after school. We had dinner and relaxed and I just enjoyed the family time before heading to Sandra´s school for the "Anything Goes" performance. I kept thinking that if i just listened a little bit longer i would understand german, and when that didnt happen i just sat back and enjoyed the christmas-y feel of the whole production right down to the Christmas songs sung by the choir...how i love Germany!!! After that is was home and to bed because the next day would be crazy.

Saturday morning bright and early Laura and I made pancakes, eggs, toast and other yummy breakfast foods for the family before bundling up and heading out. First stop, the massive and gorgeous Brandenburger Tor (Gate, and the only one left from the time of the wall, even though it was in place long before): http://www.aviewoncities.com/berlin/brandenburgertor.htm (its much prettier than these pictures). Then it was off to freeze to death...sort of. The Reichstag in Germany is famous for many things. Its the building Hitler resided in until if burned and he used that as an excuse to declare war, it was bombed in the war and used without a roof for sometime, and now is a tourist attraction-extrordinaire with a large glass dome you can climb up and get a 360º view of all of Berlin from...GORGEOUS. From here you could see the the tallest tower in Berlin, Fernsehturm, East Germany´s way of demonstrating ther were technologically as advanced as the west although Swedish designers helped to build the 368m tall TV tower (http://images.google.com/images?q=Fernsehturm&hl=en). Also visible is the Tiergarten (Central Park of Berlin) and Siegussäule (http://www.aviewoncities.com/berlin/siegessaule.htm) , the 70m column topped with the goddess of victory. Originally in front of Brandenburger Tor to commemorate Prussia´s win over France and later egotistically moved to a more prominent position by Hitler as a demonstration of power. Had we not waited in line in the freezing weather (literally, although we were a little distracted by the street performers) i would have loved to spend more time there but we decided to head somewhere a little warmer after that. Pictures and History here: http://www.aviewoncities.com/berlin/reichstag.htm.

Ok, next we made our way past the massive and controvesial Holocaust Memorial which i thought very tactful, tasteful, original and impressionable (http://images.google.com/images?q=holocaust+memorial+berlin&hl=en). Then on to Potsdamer Platz. Originally a military mobilization ground, now its the sight of the Sony Center (http://www.aviewoncities.com/berlin/potsdamerplatz.htm), tons of clubs and bars and shopping, kinda like the Embaracdero center of San Fransisco. It was here that Laura and I hit up H&M number 2 of our excursion through all 8 H&M´s in the inner city of Berlin.

After that, it was really time to warm up and we hopped the U-Bahn or S-Bahn (i forget because they have so many good and fast trains everywhere) to Friedrichstrasse the 5th Avenue of Berlin with all its ritzy shops, and yes, some more H&M´s. The most important sight on this street is the Schokoladen Museum. Yep, thats right, a "museum" of chocolate. I think they can only call it that because they have scale models of Berlin sights in chocolate inside, otherwise its just an amazing chocolate shop that smells and tastes amazing.

After our little break in the wonderful candyland of schokoladen, we passed the Deutscher Dom and Franzöischer Dom, almost identical churches, the first German the latter French on opposite ends of the Gendarmenmarkt (currently sight of an amazing Kriskidermarkt =christmas market) and plaza in front of Berlin's Concert Hall: http://www.aviewoncities.com/berlin/gendarmenmarkt.htm. Wondering a little farther we passed Humboldt Universität (http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&hl=en&lr=&q=Humboldt+universitat), the alma mater of the Brothers Grimm, Karl Marx, and Einstein, past Bebelplatz, the sight of the book burning during the Nazi regime and to Alexanderplatz below the TV tower.

From there it was another train to one of my favorite parts of Berlin: Kurfurstndamm, or Ku-Damm for short. More shopping and streets filled with Christmas lights and people and christmas cheer and yummy smelling food. The huge Harrod's/Neiman Marcus type stores were decked out in full with live music and ginormous Christmas trees inside. Even the cathedral, bombed in the war and left as-is (with newer structures functioning as the active church) was pretty and lit up in the night sky. The best part of Ku-damm, by far was its Kriskindelmarkt (i think that is how you spell it).

We wandered the market, warmed up with Glüwein (hot wine traditional in christmas time all over Germany) and some gingerbread cookies and looked at all the crafts while strolling past endless pastries, wurst and other delicious looking dinner items. We passed up all the yummy looking food at the market and headed back home where i got my fill of Klöss (potato dumpling) Schnitzel (fat noodles) and a delicious sauce, followed by amazing chocolate mousse and other assortment of cookies and yummy chocolate. Off to bed after a full day because there was still more to do.

Sunday is family day in Germany. Like Spain the shops close up and so we made our way to the "Story of Berlin" (http://www.story-of-berlin.de/flash.html) an amazing display of Berlin through the ages with all sorts of aesthetically pleasing exhibits and hands on type stuff. Very well put together and a great way to kind of wrap up and put everything i have learned in the weekend in chronological order. After that we hopped the train back to the Gendarmenmarkt for another Kriskindlmarkt where i finally got to have hot wurst and cabbage called Grünkohl, and some other delicious things. After checking out the vendors here, and relishing all the delicious smells of everything christmas we headed to the last tourist attraction of my visit: Berlin Mauer. It is a the sight of the entrance to an underground bunker for Hitler and his Gestapo during the war and is underneath part of the Old Wall. Its pretty gloomy and the freezing overcast weather definitely set the mood of doom, destruction and all other negativities of war. It was time to go and we all (Laura, her parents, and I) headed back home to just relax in the warm home. Tea time was accompanied by Stölle (sweetbread with candied fruits) and then some tv and relaxing before dinner and the sauna (which they have in thier basement, talk about a relaxing weekend)!

Berlin is a great city. There is so much to do, i still feel like i didnt get to see everything and i would love to go back in the summer when i can enjoy all the outdoor stuff and nightlife. The city itself is so rich in history and culture that there is something to get out of every sight you see. AND on top of it all, the christmas-y feel just made everything that much better because i needed a good dose of that. What a great trip to finish up my big travels abroad. Just Sevilla is left in Andalucia, and Barcelona at the end with Ashley!! Then home for the holidays!!!!

Posted by tuffchix 15:03 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Turkey Day!

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Yesterday was Turkey day in the most untraditional sense. My turkey day festivities usually consist of NOT going to school, church, lounging, cooking/smelling whatever is cooking, maybe a movie, and then of course FOOD with all my family! Well, the program here does a Thanksgiving dinner for all us homesick Americans and I have to say, they did a pretty good job when it comes to cooking up a Thanksgiving dinner here, called La Cena de Acción de Gracias. They were right on the money with the turkey and mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (minus the marshmallows), and a pretty amazing stuffing, but after that it just wasn’t the same. There was no green bean casserole with the yummy crispy onions on top, the cranberry sauce didn’t have actual cranberries in it, there wasn’t gravy, the rolls couldn’t hold a flame to the amazing ones Grandma makes, and the pumpkin pie was more like flan with cinnamon in it. Nevertheless, the dinner was really enjoyable. In Spanish fashion, Marissa and I arrived late, to our luck, missing the cheesy poems written and read by the program director (what is it about a PhD that makes people think that anything and everything they say in front of a group of students will be recorded as the next “I Have a Dream” speech????). After that embarrassing display we ate, and took photos. Lots of photos. In a sense this was our goodbye dinner because we don’t have an official one after the program. Everyone, students and professors were all dolled up in their going our gear and the whole room was filled with energy.

Everyone was just happy to be with everyone else, in that kind of sappy forget-all-your-differences-and-just-enjoy-the-night kinda mood which made the whole experience even that much more enjoyable. Good company, good food, not so good wine made up for by good champagne, fun photos, and getting to go out with your teachers = GREAT NIGHT!

After the dinner, the hotel staff was ready to kick our lively crowd out, and, we all, including Antonio and Rafa (my history and International Relations professors) came out to the next stop, one of those whole in the wall bars you can only find once. Seeing your professors in a bar is strange enough, then realizing that your entire class essentially just put on skirts and ties and relocated to the bar….now that is interesting!

Sometime later we left the bar (into the literally freezing air, apparently some polar front has just moved into Spain) and headed towards another club. Cody, Marissa, and I, never quite made it and instead headed back to Cody´s to warm up our feet and eat, again! After that I braved the cold one more time, go get home where I plopped down on my bed around 4am and called it a night (or a morning??!!?).

It was definitely no traditional thanksgiving, but if I couldn’t be with my family yesterday then this was definitely a good way to spend it.

Posted by tuffchix 00:30 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Salamanca

Another gorgeous city

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I hate to say it, but I have found yet another city more beautiful than Córdoba. Maybe it is because its new, and exciting, and I was with Kiki. Or maybe becuase anywhere other than what you are used to is more exciting (at least for a little while), but Salamanca is absolutely wonderful. It has all the charm of an east coast university town, minus the snow. Its gorgeous river is lined with trees changing colors, and punctuated by roman bridges which become even more picturesque at night when they illuminate them. At night the city doesnt lose any of its daytime charm. The huge gothic cathedral is lit up and can be seen from almost anywhere in the town if, and is better than the postcards when you are looking up at it from the river bank.

The town itself is filled with churches, the first university in Europe, the Cathedral, plazas, statues, a Plaza Mayor more beautiful than its predecessor in Madrid, and countless ofher buildings that fit the architectural style the monuments giving the city a coherent but not uniform feel. There is even a Zara (womens clothing store) in the shopping district built into an old church. Its amazing!

So as i walked around with my mouth gaping open at the beauty of the city, Kiki and I took in some of the tourist sights, wandered the town, frequented a local Irish pub for some good ole rugby watchin´and beer, hit up one of the packed bars for the Madrid-Barça game, ate delicious food (pancakes!!!!!!!), shopped, and enjoyed the scenery.

After 5 hours on a bus, 30 hectic minutes in between modes of transportation and 2 ½ more hours on a train, I was in Salamanca! Kiki met me at the train station and we headed toward the center of town where all the life is! Instead if heading straight home, we made a pit stop at O´Harahs, the Irish pub in town, this was just the first of our visits to what I will now refer to as the O.H. As if it just being an Irish pub wasn’t good enough, they had my favorite weissbier on tap; Paulaner, and I took advantage of it! A few hours later, after meeting up with friends and having a merry old time, we headed over to another Salamancan favorite, a bar called Jacko´s. The night just got better from there and I learned that B-52´s are not just a band, but a rather tasty drink. Very near 4 am, we finally made it back to Kiki´s house. After hanging our clothes on the balcony (as anything you wear inside in Spain takes on that sweet stench of cigarette smoke), we climbed into bed to catch some ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz!

Friday morning we lounged a bit and ate breakfast while looking out the balcony window onto the gorgeous Río Tormes. The trees lining either side, the leaves changing colors, the reflection of the bridge in the smooth water…need I say more? We headed out to play tourist (one of my favorite games) and made our first stop at the Universidad de Salamanca. The first university in Spain, this building was opened in 1218 and still holds some of the original books, and classroom benches. We entered through the famous façade where you can spend hours trying to find the frog (carved into the top of a stone skull on one of the pillars of the decorated entrance) that will bring you good luck, called “La Ranita de Suerte” (the little frog of luck). When you enter, you find the carved stone stairwell and elaborate ceilings that adorn the building and are just one more thing of beauty. Even more impressive was stop number 2 on our tour. The Cathedral. Its gorgeous. As you walk through it, you are led through passages and up stairs as you make your way up to the upper levels where you can walk around the outside for a great view of the city and wander in and out of the various rooms, gazing at the alter, finding cracks still visible from the 10.0 Lisboa earthquake of 1755. Walking through it you can almost imagine the priests from the 18th century making their way through the passageways (the choir music playing softly on surround sound definitely doesn’t take away from the mood either). After snapping back to reality we headed down the steep stairs and out onto the streets.

Wandering through the streets lines with the tourist stores we made our way to the plaza to grab some lunch before the afternoon of shopping . The Plaza Mayor in Salamanca is always crowded with students, couples, families, kids, dogs, and cute little old couples in matching outfits sitting together. After chilling ourselves to the bone we headed back toward home. On the way we ran into Clancey (kiki´s roommate) and her and I headed out for a run near the river. As it started to get dark, the lights in the city came on and from the riverbank where we were running we could see the gorgeously lit Cathedral and Roman bridge. It was definitely an image vying for a spot as the calendar page for November. Seriously, the city is gorgeous, the epitome of fall and absolutely beautiful.

Saturday was another relaxing day. Slept late, headed out for PANCAKES!!!, which we had found the day before at a restaurant in the Plaza. Soooo yummy! But, like many other “American” foods here, it wasnt quite satisfying (as they were the sixe of a a san dollar and you only get 2) and headed to the cutest little bakery just off the plaza for some Hornazo, the typical empanada of Salamanca. Imagine a hot pocket, pizza flavored, with 3 kinds of meat (and by three kinds of meat i mean 3 different parts of the ham). It was delicious! After that, we needed to walk off our meal(s) so headed back to the shopping strip. You think i would be sick of shopping but when your legs are 8 inches too short for pants (literally, im not kidding) or your shoulders are wider than 6 inches, finding clothes that fit is pure luck, which means that after not succeeding many a times to find cute stuff, we try try try try and try again.

To break up the shopping monotany (yes shopping gets old after a while, EVEN for me!) we headed over to the local peluquería (hair dresser) for a little ‘do’. Nothing crazy or anything, dont worry, the mullet will have to wait for another time, but i now have a few tasteful streaks of Córdoba orange (removable as soon as I am tired of them because i didnt actually dye my hair, they’re extensions!). So, now, feeling a little rejuvenated by our semi-rebellious behavior (why its rebellious i dont know, its not like anyone was telling us we couldnt do that, or anything else here), we headed over to our favorite little irish pub for some RUGBY!!!!!!!!

New Zealand vs. England kept us entertained, and every other rugby fanatic in Salamanca for the next few hours. As if rugby wasnt enough sport for one day, it wasnt too long after the rugby game that we were headed over to the any bar that had space for one of the biggest sporting events in all of Spain. The Real Madrid vs. Barcelona soccer match. These teams here are like the Dodgers and Giants to baseball fanatics, if you like one, you CANNOT like the other. Except here everyone is a fanatic! Its nuts, every bar was packed and we ended up standing up for the entire game (that Real was absolutely outplayed in....booo hooo!). Kiki and I had a great time yelling at the screen and laughing at the great acting scheme that goes on in professional soccer games (no one is ever really hurt but you wouldnt be able to tell by the amazing martial arts rolls and the grabbing of whatever part of your body you are faking injury with this time).

Sunday morning we got our lazy butts outta bed for a run to the local rostro, or market. Much like the one in Córdoba, the tables are piled high with socks and other cheap items. We were only able to spend a little time here before heading back so i could catch my train.

It was so nice to see Kiki again, and I just am that much more excited to have her as a roommate, and now i have one more city on my list of must-sees in Spain too!

Posted by tuffchix 00:27 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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