This week was so excellent!
MONDAY: Pretty normal day, we went to school, Institute, and then FHE at the Browns house. We watched the last quarter of the Superbowl because Professor Brown had taped it. The majority of the people were pretty bored but we just talked and ate food [not exactly the normal Superbowl snacks, but we had some good stuff] until we went home to pack.
TUESDAY: We were supposed to meet the bus at 8 to start our adventure to southern Spain. Unfortunately, we had been waiting there about half an hour when Professor Brown discovered our travel agency hadn’t made us a bus reservation so we couldn’t get a bus until about 10. The Browns house is close to the train station, where we were supposed to meet the bus, so we all went over there and watched 2 hour-long episodes of The Office while we waited. It was almost the first TV I’ve watched since arriving here so it was weird. We finally got on the bus and started the trek. Our first stop was Consuegra to see the windmills that I’ve been longing for. Before we arrived I went up to the front of the bus and read the windmill chapter of Don Quixote over the microphone. When we got there it was SO windy it was completely ridiculous, but unfortunately all those windmills were stabilized so none of them were moving, but we took a million awesome pictures and then got back on the bus. We arrived in Granada many hours later, checked into our hotel, and went out to explore the city. It was raining on and off, and that town is super hilly, so we basically did nothing but wander the streets and look for cool views of the city, which we definitely found. We had Pizza Hut for dinner [sometimes you just want American food, believe me] and then just hung out in the hotel talking. On trips we have different roommates so we can get to know everyone, and Lara was my roommate in Granada. We stayed up until 3 AM talking, which was completely ridiculous, and I think we regretted it a little the next day, but it was fun.
WEDNESDAY: We started our day super early in the Alhambra, which is the really famous thing about Granada, a Moorish palace. Again, we didn’t have a reservation, so it was basically a miracle that we all got in only half an hour after we were supposed to. We had to go really early because apparently by late morning it’s just crawling with people and we wanted to enjoy it in relative peace, which we did. It was huge and actually really really cool. It was under construction, as basically everything is right now, to prepare for tourist season, so some of the things weren’t working or whatever, but it was still really awesome. By the time we were done there we had to leave to go to Cordoba so we didn’t get to see the church where Ferdinand and Isabel were actually buried, which was kind of a bummer, but we had to get to Cordoba to see the mosque, which is basically the only important thing about that city. The bus ride was a couple hours and when we were driving in we saw a little bit of blue sky, which we were all really happy about. Unfortunately, as we got off the bus and started to walk about four or five blocks to our hotel, it started sprinkling, then full on raining, then pouring, then there was a hurricane. It was hilarious/a little bit horrible. It was raining bigger drops than I’ve ever seen in my whole life and they were coming down HARD. And we were carrying our luggage down the street. Beautiful. Of course as soon as we got inside it stopped raining so hard and when we met five minutes later to walk to the mosque it wasn’t really raining at all. So. Funny. The mosque was cool I suppose, but somebody [Catholic obviously] built a huge cathedral in the middle of it and it kind of just looked like every other cathedral we’ve seen. There were cool arches though that were painted with red stripes that looked pretty cool. After the cathedral-mosque we were free to roam around until dinner. We found a statue of Maimonides [the spelling may be inaccurate] and rubbed his foot because we were supposed to, and then went to the Alcazar where Christopher Columbus begged Isabel to send him on his voyage. By the way, Alcazar means castle and they are all over. The gardens were pretty and I spent a fair amount of time wandering through them with Chelsea until we discovered a cool statue of Columbus with Ferdinand and Isabel. We got some hot chocolate and then I tried to study until dinner. The hour that I studied then was almost the only studying I did all week, which may have been a bad choice, but come on—I’m in Spain! My grades will be fine. We had a sub-par dinner, talked a bit more, and went to bed.
THURSDAY: The bus ride to Sevilla was a bit of a hike and we arrived with just enough time to see the cathedral before lunch. It’s the biggest in Spain and third biggest in the world and it was pretty impressive. We saw Columbus’s tomb, which was SO cool. There were just lots of pretty things and then we climbed up a basically endless ramp to the top of a tower to look down on the city. That was totally worth it, plus ramp = way better than stairs. We wandered through El Barrio de Santa Cruz, which is where the Browns lived when he taught in Sevilla years ago, and just saw cool stuff. We went in search of lunch and on the way discovered Calle Sierpes—the shopping district. We spent most of the afternoon shopping and just seeing all the beautiful things Sevilla had to offer, and it had stopped raining by that point so that was really nice. After a bit of resting we went out for tapas and got totally overcharged [European restaurants love to sneak little things into the bill to make it way more expensive than you’re planning on], then went to a bar to see some flamenco. We had been advised that Sevilla is the place to see flamenco, and we were going to do it. We had to wait a while [Sevillans, and Spaniards in general] love to stay out SO late so the flamenco didn’t start until after 11, but it was really cool. I was super exhausted and we only stayed for a little bit, but then I ended up talking in my room with Kiley and Jessie until 3 am AGAIN. SUCH a bad choice. Jessie got locked out of her room because Courtney had gone to bed early and left the door open but somebody probably thought that was a mistake and closed it shortly before Jessie attempted to go to her room so she slept on our couch, which obviously prolonged the amount of time spent talking.
FRIDAY: I woke up pretty sick, probably as a result of staying up SO late multiple nights. We went to the Alcazar in Sevilla and it was pretty and the weather was sunny, which were two bonuses. This was probably the best day of this trip so far because I saw two of my FAVORITE things. After the Alcazar we went to the bull ring, which also had a museum, and got a guided tour. It was SO COOL. Bullfighting is such an obsession of mine and it was so cool to see where bullfights actually take place and see all the outfits in the museum and just learn a lot about it. I was absolutely fascinated. After that Lauren, Ali and I went to a seafood restaurant that Ali found in her book and really wanted to try. It was relatively expensive but I found some pretty cheap things and we thought we were thwarting them by not eating the bread on the table. Wrong, they charged us for it anyway. So lame. After lunch we took a fairly long walk through Sevilla to locate the Plaza de España because we had heard it was amazing. It was! The building[s?] surrounding it were really really beautiful and it was sunny and the river ran through the middle and there was a man playing Spanish guitar and singing and a woman next to him clapping flamenco-style. We hung out there for a while and it was really enjoyable. After that Ali, Emmaleigh and I went to the bookstore of the University of Sevilla and I found some really cheap books in Spanish that are way cool. Some people in our group saw a real flamenco show the night before and they couldn’t stop raving about it so basically the rest of the group decided to go Friday night. We bought tickets to that, rested in the hotel, and then went to see it. IT WAS AMAZING [my other favorite thing about Sevilla]! Spanish guitar is beautiful, the dancers were so talented and fast, and just everything about it was so impressive, plus we all fell in love with the stupidhot guy. It was SO cool and now I want to institute Flamenco Friday, a.k.a. I never want to go a Friday in my life again without seeing flamenco. SO awesome. After that Ali and I got some gelato and I really wanted to go to bed early because I still felt sick, but a bunch of people came into my room and we ended up talking again, but not until 3 luckily.
SATURDAY: We ate the hotel breakfast, packed up, and got on the bus. Shortly after leaving Sevilla we stopped in Italica to see some Roman ruins left over from the Roman Empire. They were cool but I was sick and a little bored. We didn’t stay for long and then began our six-hour ride back to Alcalá. That was tough. I tried to sleep but was having trouble breathing because my nose was stuffed and then my throat was dry and I was drinking water but we didn’t stop for a long time so I had to use the bathroom… you know, the usual sick stuff. At long last we got home around 6 and I was really looking forward to lying in my bed and reading and going to bed early but Emmaleigh had a friend who is studying in Barcelona this semester but was in Madrid for the weekend so she dragged me into the city to see him. We went to our favorite chocolate/churro place and just talked for a while, comparing our experiences in Spain. It was fine but I was SO tired and just not really up to going out. The train ride back was miserable, as was the walk home. We ate dinner, though I didn’t really want to eat anything, and then Irene made me drink delicious hot milk with honey in it because she said it would make me feel better. It didn’t really, but it was good. We went to bed before midnight.
SUNDAY: I could not pull myself out of bed to get ready and leave for church at 9:30, so I slept until eleven and eventually got up. I made it to church for sacrament meeting and it was a little hard to sit through it but fine. We came home, had lunch, and just hung out in our room after that.
Basically, Andalucia was awesome, I completely love Spain, and I’m starting to get used to things like the mealtimes, but not the nightlife. And I still love all of you guys!