Sunday, October 26, 2008

Madrid Madness

So I have been the worst at updating my blog. Things have been going super well and I have been kept very busy through my course. I’ll start updating backwards from the last month because that might seem like a less daunting task.

One of the girls that I had studied abroad with in Costa Rica is teaching near Cadiz, Spain so we decided to meet in Madrid for the weekend. I arrived on Friday night and we didn’t waste much time. I had heard about these chocolaterias that sell hot chocolate so thick that you can rest your spoon on top so that was our first stop. Due to the consistency of the hot chocolates the restaurants serve an order of churros with them so you can dip the churro and absorb chocolately goodness. Since it was pretty late by the time we had finished we headed back to the hostel.

The next day we spent the morning at the Prado. It was so exciting to finally see paintings that I had studied like Las Meninas by Valezquez full size. From the Prado we went to Parque del Retiro. It is a beautiful tree lined park, filled with grassy areas and paths for pedestrians. There are also plenty of fountains and in the middle there is a manmade lake with a huge monument of Alfonso the XII behind it. Many people had rented boats and were wasting away the colorful fall day. Neile and I stopped for some ice cream and partook in the siesta or midday break with the rest of the Spaniards and tourists. After our ice cream we headed to the Palace Real or the Royal Palace. Here we were a bit confused and went through a side exhibit for about 5 min thinking that was the main attraction. Once we found the main entrance the palace was a bit more impressive. All the rooms had color schemes and themes. Our favorite part was the courtyard though because not only was it simple with a gorgeous view but the light posts had seats protruding off of them which was much appreciated after a long day of walking. Since we were so tired from walking around we decided to catch a quick movie. Conveniently enough High School Musical 3 was released this weekend and we are both moderate fans of said phenomenon… Yes, we saw HSM3 in Madrid, Spain but if it is any consolation it made the plot more exciting since we viewed the whole film in Spanish. Afterwards, we enjoyed a leisurely late dinner, watched the end of a dubbed Denzel film and passed out.

Today we didn’t have much time since we were both heading back to our respective cities early this afternoon. We did spend the morning at the Reina Sofia Art Museum though. This museum is home to the artists that represent movements of the 20th century. The greats include Picasso, Miro, Dali and the like. One of the most notable works in Reina Sofia is Picasso’s Guernica. The painting took up an entire wall in a separate room from all the other works. It was indescribable to see the brushwork up close and Picasso’s sketches leading up to the final work. After a quick lunch Neile and I headed our separate ways. Now I’m back in Barcelona ready to start my 3rd week of class. We have been student teaching a lot so like I said they have been keeping us busy. I’m really enjoying it though. My class is small but diverse. The eight of us represent four different countries: the US, Italy, Mexico, and the UK. I will write more about my weeks backpacking and my time here soon though! Hope everything is going well and you are enjoying the best season the Midwest has to offer! Love and miss you all!

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Romanian Princess

Hello all!

Well, things are actually going quite well here in Europe. The first day I was exhausted because of the time change and having to run around to exchange money, find my school and find a place to stay. Once I got to my hostel I decided to try to sleep but I just couldn't so I was just sitting there pretty lonely reading a book when a couple also staying in my room began to strike up a conversation with me. They turned out to be from Romania and they were staying in Barcelona for 12 days. Right now the Merce festival is going on in Spain. Concerts line the streets and they were about to head out to a ragee concert and asked if I wanted to join so of course I said yes. Just walking outside of our hostel the streets were full of people! A parade lead the way with music, giant dolls dressed in traditional Spanish clothing, and confetti. Everyone in the street literally became part of the parade it was so much fun. We finally found our concert and just danced in one of the plazas directly in front of La Sagrada Familia. It was a surreal backdrop. Ruxandra, the Romanian girl, had earlier explained to me that she was named after a old Romanian princess so when she sat down her boyfriend and I guarded her from the crowd and explained to everyone that she was a princess and we apologized for not completing her castle aka La Sagrada Familia. The streets stayed packed until 3 in the morning and during that time we danced and, of course, talked about the politics of Romania, the US and Spain.

Ruxandra convinced me to stay the next day and hang out with them. We woke up and went to a park designed by Antonio Gaudi called Park G├╝ell. The park was amazing! I will post pictures soon. But is covered in mosaics and has a Dr. Seuss type feel. It was really neat to be there with them because she is studying architecture and that is what Barcelona is famous for. Her passion for the buildings was contagious and it was like having my own personal tour guide or being with my dad. : ) It also is elevated above the city so we saw incredible views that encompassed the city and stretched to the Mediterranean. Afterwards, Ruxandra and I cooked dinner. (OK, let's be perfectly honest, I just opened the cans and watched). We ate and drank Sangria on our hostel balcony that over looked the city. It was again surreal. I will write more soon. I spent last night and most of today in Montpellier, France and I just got to Nice so I'm still safe and sound! I love and miss you all so much! And have fun watching the office, the debates and the cubbies!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Final Count Down

With this initial test of my blog I thought I would explain the significance of the overall title and lay out the logistics of my trip as I understand them.

"La Poderosa" or "The Mighty One" is a reference to the name given to an unreliable motorcyle used by Ernesto "Che" Guevara and his friend during their road trip across South America. While my trek may not be as noble or politically questionable as his I do hope to experience the places I visit in the same manner: with a quest to form relationships that produce a better understanding of different cultures and people. While technically my academic career may be on hiatus much still can be learned when the walls of these institutions are removed. I hope to share these experiences with you via technology and hope that we can actively stay involved in one another's lives despite many miles of physical separation.

Regarding the logistics: I am scheduled to leave the evening of September 22 (Happy birthday Lauren!) and land in London the following morning. From there I have a connecting flight to Barcelona. Subsequently, I plan to take a train through France to meet my Father in Rome and then visit some of our friends in Greece before returning to Barcelona for the first day of classes October 13. The course lasts until November 7 and the program I'm participating in is called LanguageCorps. More details to come as time progresses...