Sunday, September 7, 2008

My AMAZING Trip to the North of Spain!

OK so I just got back from my trip to the northern part of Spain and I have to say it was quite amazing! We did SOO many things in just one week! It was very long and very tiring, but so worth it! I honestly don't even remember all the places we went, but I do remember carrying my stupid "Cuaderno" around everywhere I went. The Cuaderno is the huge, fatty notebook we have to have for the entire 3 months that we're in Spain... It's full of questions about Spanish history and about the places we're visiting. I have to admit, it does help me to understand and learn about the places I am visiting, but it has become a sore subject for all of the students here because we sometimes just want to enjoy the trip without carrything that stupid thing around. Anyway, I'll share stories as I go with the pictures... Be warned: There are TONS of pictures from this week!

First stop: random little town of Coca with a HUGE castle! It was pretty sweet! We may have just enjoyed it because we got to get off the bus and we were all super excited that we were out of class for a week, but it was still very pretty.

This is me inside the castle at Coca... I found an underground tunnel-type thing that just kept going further and futher down. It was really dark and creepy and at the end I found... Old pots and pans. Kinda disappointing.

Continuing my obsession with doors... Here's one from the castle.

Alarie, Dana and I at the casle of Coca!
2nd stop: Leon
OK can anyone say TOURIST!?! Oh my gosh I am pathetic! Backpack: check. Sunglasses: check. Notebook: check. Water bottle: check times HUGE. Watch: check. Camera: Check times two! Hey what can I say?! I want to make the most of my experience here! But I DID buy my shirt and my sandals in Europe, so that counts for something, right?

This is Dana and I in front of the Cathedral in Leon. It's a gothic style cathedral which can be seen by the pointed arches and intricate stone-work here in this picture. See? I swear I'm learning stuff while I'm here!

Here's the cathedral late at night... They light up the whole thing! It was absolutely gorgeous! I have seen so many amazing things here in this country! It's incredible really what's out there in the world that we don't get to experience living in the States.

Here's a statue of a lion in Leon. Leon means lion en espanol (imagine that!) We decided to be reb

A bunch of us went back to the Cathedral at night because we heard that they light it up from the inside and since there are TONS of HUGE stained-glass windows (this particular cathedral has the 2nd most stained-glass windows of any building in the world) it was supposed to be really pretty. I was in the hotel already when I heard about it working on my cuaderno with Kimber. We didn't want to leave because we were so tired, but we did anyway and I must say it was very disappointing. But it was fun to be with all the students. We are all so close and are having such a good time together. I'm so glad that I came!

This is in Covadonga. I LOVED Covadonga! It was raining the whole time we were there and we all got SOAKED! It made me feel like I was back in the northwest in the fall. Some lady is buried here and I guess a lot of Cathotlic people come here to see her. Funny that I took a picture and I already can't remember her name... She must not have been that important :)

Nest stop: Ribadesella. By FAR the BEST place of the week! I LOVED it! I saw pictures of it in the wintertime and it's all covered in snow. If I didn't have to live in Provo and snow was a rare things for me, I would like to visit in the winter... it looks like it's very beautiful at that time of year. It was raining while we were there which I loved!

This was our hotel in Ribadesella. Isn't it so cool?!? The inside was GORGEOUS! I think all the students would agree that this was the best hotel of the week. I wish we could have stayed there for more than just one night! We were RIGHT on the beach! It was so beautiful!

This is Minta and I on the deck outside our hotel room in Ribadesella. I LOVED this town!!! The weather reminded me so much of the Oregon Coast and the town was so cute and quaint and I totally want to retire there... Take note of the Eric. :) Oh and by the way, I love Minta! She is one of my very favorite people on the trip. She is amazing!

We stayed in some of the most random, small towns. This town was called Santillana del Mar. Again, just another tiny, quaint, cute town where we stood out like sore thumbs as tourists. This hotel was awesome too! Except when I woke up early in the morning to talk to Eric, there were NO lights on in the whole place. I learned this week that Spaniards are very conscious about saving energy. The hall lights are never on unless you turn them on and you're supposed to turn them off when you're done. That's definitely not like the states!

This was our cute little room in Santillana del Mar. I liked this hotel too! All the colors were so bright!!

OK so on one of the days (I can't keep them all straight anymore) we stopped for an hour in this random place called Santander. I know I sound like a broken record here, but I LOVED IT! It was just this really cool beach town. Only it was more like a beach city. And some of the cafes were right on the beach and it totally reminded me of that one set of "girl legos" that Nikki and I used to play with where we built a cafe on the beach. Anyway, it was really, really windy! Apparently there were record high winds there that day. We definitely saw some small boats sinking out in the water. It was way choppy out there!

While we were in Santander, Minta, Kimber and I went on a hunt to find the lighthouse that we could see from the beach. We never actually made it there and we had to run all the way back to get on the bus in time, but I found this HUGE wall of grafiti! There is a lot of grafiti here in Spain but I'm so fascinated by it because it's so bright and colorful. West side what!?

Just another really pretty shot of Santander. I could definitely spend a few days of my life here! Pretty much every place I went to this week I though, "Oh how I would LOVE to come back here with Eric!"

Then: Bilbao
In front of the GUGGENHEIM Museum! The best part of the museum is looking at the architecture of the actual building. All the art inside the building is weird and funky and I didn't like it at all. But it's cool to say that I've been there, right? I wish I would have spent more time outside looking at the building though.

This is me and Dana on the pedestrian bridge in Bilbao. I just want to say, I LOVE BILBAO! It's a really big, industrial city and I loved it! I kinda wish I was living here, or maybe IN Madrid. I like the big city feeling and all the hustle and bustle. I saw TONS of runners here along the river and I wanted to join them so badly! Too bad I didn't bring my running shoes on the week long trip...

Minta and Dana and I decided the bridge was an excellent place to attempt to take some jumping pictures. We took like 6 but they were all blurry. I just like this one because of how contorted my body looks. On one of our attemps Dana totally kicked me! It was pretty hilarious. Also take note of all the big buildings in the background... Love it!

This thing is called "Puppy" and it was designed by Jeff Koons. It's all made of flowers! It was pretty cool, plus the thing's name is Puppy. Hello! Of course I needed my picture with him!

The Guggenheim! I really was so excited about this part of the trip. It was a really good experience and I learned a LOT about surrealism... Most importantly is that I don't really care for it.

K I just thought this building in Bilbao was really cool. Check out all those colored windows! I wonder what that makes the rooms look like inside?

Dana told us to look like modern art... I think I totally fit the part: awkward and ugly haha

IDK actually...
Just another door... I'm pretty sure I found this one randomly on a wall in a museum. It's not even a real door and it doesn't open or lead to anything... It's just there.


This is me and Carmen at an archaeological dig site. It's called Altapuerca. It's the place where they've found the most bones in the world. It was pretty interesting actually. I didn't understand all of it obviously because the guide was speaking Spanish, but she taught us about where homo sapiens came from and the parts of skulls they've found and what all we can learn from that. It was really cool except for the fact that I had to use the servicios really bad through the whole thing... Reminded me of when I was Cinderella's mom in my Kindergarten play :/ NOT good!

This is a way sweet door we found in Burgos. We didn't do or see much in Burgos but yet again, it was a really cool city. There were a bunch of weddings going on while we were here too and lots of LOUD firecrackers that always made me jump.

There was pretty much only one shop open on a Saturday night in Burgos and it was kind of like a Spanish version of a crappy dollar store only everything didn't cost only a dollar. I found a purple cowboy hat... You better believe that would be a Kodak moment!

Me by the river in Burgos... It was so pretty and tranquil and nice to walk along the river at night with Dana. We had some great conversations... She's quickly becoming one of my very best friens and I am SO lucky to have such a good roommate!

"City skyline" if you will of Burgos. I loved this city too! All the cities in Spain that we have visited so far are GORGEOUS!

Just a pic of the river in Burgos.

OK so this was in Bilbao. We were in the museum in this plaza and all of a sudden we heard bagpipes outside so we ran out to catch the moment. It was actually really cool and they sounded great! Apparently bagpipes are an important part of Spanish history and this group was part of some sort of celebration that the city was having. There were a bunch of reporters taking pictures and tons of people in the plaza wathcing. I was very impressed!

Me and Dana in our cute little room in Burgos.

This was our room in Burgos... We stayed in some WAY awesome hotels on this trip! This was definitely the least nice, but it still wasn't bad. Our favorite part about being on vacation is that we get to take long, hot showers. When we're at home in Alcala, we have to turn the water in the shower off while we're shampooing our hair, or conditioning, or shaving, or lathering up. We're only allowed to turn the water on to rinse off and we had definitely been missing our normal shower routines.

This is on the path on the way home... I've always wanted to take a picture of it. Reminds me so much of home! :)

Some older pics...

This picture is actually from last week but I just never got around to posting it... We tried to go to a bull fight and we got free fans! YES! But then we decided not to go because we're actually going later for the program so it's already paid for and we won't have to pay $30 to sit in the blazing hot sun :)

This is me in front of the bull fighting arena here in Alcala. I'm excited to actually attend a fight!

All the chicas with our fans! We're actually missing a few here but it was still way fun!

Dana and I outside the chapel in Alcala! She's not really that much shorter than me. I'm just wearing heels. Oh yeah and funny story about this day... So our host family (except for our oldest sister Carolina) had been out of town for a few days so Dana and I got up early and trekked to the bus station to catch the bus to church. Then after church we hopped back on the bus to head home. The last time we took the bus we got off too late because we missed our stop so we had to walk an extra 5 mintues. Well this time we were nervous about missing our stop so we accidentally got off about 7 stops too early. It took us 20 minutes to walk home and by the time we got there, my feet were DYING! And as we walked up to the house, we passed Carolina who said, "Oh I tried to find you guys after church so I could give you a ride home in the car but I couldn't find you." Dana and I just looked at each other and started laughing... We didn't know she had a car!!

This was also last week... We were on our way home and we saw this TINY car... Dana is touching both ends of it. I was trying to set up the self-timer and this nice old man walked by and offered to take our picture.

My first time doing laundry in Spain!! I had to hand dry EVERYTHING! So every sock and every pair of underwear is hanging from a clothespin out on this rack in the backyard. It was actually kinda fun! My clothes are all stiff and they smell weird (I don't like the laundry soap we have) but I felt so adventurous! :)