City’s Edge

So there is not much going on each Sunday because all stores are closed.  People generally can be found at a bar or cafe, taking a walk wit their family or going to church.  I needed to get out of the house today so I just started walking with no destination in mind.  After about a half hour I I literally reached the edge of Salamanca.  It is interesting because Salamanca is a small city, but it is totally a city with high buildings.  Turns out we are surrounded by some beautiful scenery. 

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Lunes de Aguas

This past Monday was a holiday in Salamanca.  It is celebrated every year on the Monday after semana santa.  Originally it was the day that the prostitutes were allowed back in the city after being banned to the other side of the river during lent.  Nowadays it is pretty much just an excuse for everyone to go down by the river and have a picnic.

I went down to the river at about 4 PM with some friends, a bocadillo and the makings for calimocho (cheap red wine and coca cola).  It cracked me up the the place was literally packed, and people just stayed out there all day.  It was all good until we had to go to the bathroom and wait in a very long line.  On one of my visits another girl that I don’t know actually came into the stall with me while I was mid squat.  But I think we were both a few calimochos deep by that point so it didn’t really bother me haha. The best part of it all was that we got to  postpone the return to class by one more day, something I never oppose.

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Burgos

My friend Erin from ISA was planned a day trip to Burgos on Saturday and invited me along.  We left bright and early for a two hour train ride to the city.  We went without much of a plan, which is really the way I like to travel.  However, getting to the train station that is far outside of the city at 9 AM on a holiday weekend means there is not a whole lot going on in the transportation department.  So we decided to wait for a taxi or a bus and take whichever got there first.  After a half hour we got the first taxi we had seen.  The driver asked “where to?” and we said the center.  He didn’t seem to understand exactly where so we just said we ant to start at a cafe so somewhere in the center.  So he took us to a great little place and we got our beloved cafe con leches and a muffin.

Then we headed over to the Cathedral which is apparently known as the best gothic cathedral in Spain.  I was really incredible, and so different from many of the cathedrals that I have seen.  Erin and I spent most of our morning walking around the HUGE building.  Erin had written a paper on the cathedral for her art history class so she was my personal tour guide.

After the cathedral we went to the tourism office to see what we should do next.  Unfortunately the busses going to the other 2 big tourist locations don’t run on Saturdays so we had to pick somehting a little ore central.  We saw there was a castle so we obviously decided to go there.  We walked up an enormous hill only to discover that by castle they meant a stone wall surrounding and dirt courtyard.  It wasn’t exactly breath taking but we did get a great view of the city.

For lunch we met up with Erin’s friend Natalia who took us to a great place that sells everything for one Euro.  We each had a caña and mini bocadillos.  Burgos is famous for their morcilla, which is blood sausage, so we had to try it.  I had eaten it before but it was definitely better in Burgos, Erin was a little hesitant to try it but she did and was pleasantly surprised.

The train ride back made Erin and I feel a little sick.  I think it was just the mixture of coffee, beer, morcilla, walking around all day and the train’s motions.  But all in all it was a lovely little day trip and now I can mark one more Spanish city off the list.  As always here are a few pictures:

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Processions

It is Semana Santa here in Spain aka Spring Break.  As Spain is a very Catholic country with a very religious history and traditions, this week before Easter is filled with processions and ceremonies.  I checked out my first full one EARLY this morning with Fran and Carmen.  We met at 4 AM to get a spot and watched the procession that started at 5 and we stayed until 7.  Now this might come as a surprise to some of you, but this was not my first time being out on the streets of Salamanca at these hours.  However,  that is usually because I haven’t gone to bed yet, not because I have just woken up, so it was definitely a new experience.

The procession was very beautiful.  The Church lit up against the dark night sky  made for an incredible backdrop.  It was nice going with Fran and Carmen because they explained what all the colors and costumes signified.  I think I was most shocked by the fact that several people did the whole thing barefoot, I was wearing boots and 2 pairs of socks and still could not feel my feet by the end.

At 7 AM we had pretty much seen it all and decided to leave.   Fran then spoke the word of my religion and invited me to churros with chocolate, which is definitely a spanish custom I have grown VERY fond of haha.  Here are a few pictures of my procession experience, my camera is horrible at taking pictures in the dark, so they aren’t the best quality.

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Un poco de todo

So I didn’t travel or do anything too out of the ordinary this weekend so I thought I’d just give a general update.  It all started Thursday night when I went out with Lisa and had way too much fun.  It you have seen the pictures she posted on facebook than you have seen enough! apparently I scared the boy I was dancing with in one of the discotecas because I was dancing too aggressively… story of my life ahaha.

Friday was rather uneventful, but Saturday I was much more productive.  I started the day by going to the university’s art building to meet my friend Carlos.  This is the place where he and a lo of my friends spend the majority of their time so it was nice to finally see it.  I also got to see some of the pieces they are working on and have completed.

Then on my way home I was extremely excited because it was a beautiful day! It was not that cold, I actually had to take off my scarf because it was too warm!  In the plaza it got even better because there were tons of people out and sitting on the ground and the benches.  It reminded me of those first weeks in the summer.  Unfortunately, it actually snowed just a few hours later at around midnight.  But today is Monday and it is another beautiful day, so hopefully it stays that way.

That night I went out to dinner for my roommate Hadley’s birthday.  We went to this mexican food restaurant which is really good.  It was fun celebrating with her.  After dinner we went to the infamous Paniagua for a little bit to keep the celebration going.  After a few hours there I went to another bar called “Ciao” which is just around the corner from Paniagua.  I went there to meet my friends Carlos and Maria and Maria’s boyfriend Alberto.  That is definitely my favorite place to go because they place the best music and I love dancing so it is a perfect match.  We had a lot of luck that night because we met a famous spanish actress! I have no idea who she is but someone told me she was famous so I obviously asked for a picture haha.  I know she is famous though because my host mom told me she recognized her, and that she is very talented.

As always, here are a few pictures:

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Alemania

So I think it is safe to say that Germany now has a special place in my heart.  I loved that country after spending the Christmas holidays there this year, and this past weekend I had the opportunity to visit again.  My friends Carlos, Maria and Rocillo have a friend, Silvia, studying abroad in Heidelberg, a small city about the size of Salamamanca.  They all wanted to visit her and invited me, so I jumped at the chance and returned to the land of beer, sausages and really cold weather.  It was 5 incredible days in Germany and a great chance to spend time with the great friends I have made here in Spain.

Traveling from one small city to another is no easy feat, so the 3 hour bus to madrid, 2 hour flight to Frankfurt and the other 2 hour bus to heidelberg ended up taking all day.  By the time we finally got to Heidelberg at about 10:30 PM on Wednesday I was pretty exhausted, and unfortunately I stayed that way pretty much the whole trip.  But, that didn’t stop me from having a great time, although my friends now are convinced I have a problem as I can literally fall asleep in any location.

Silvia was our tour guide of Heidelberg on Thursday and Friday and she did a great job.  We had relatively pretty days to do our sightseeing, but it was still freezing cold.  On Saturday we woke up early to catch a 5 AM train to Munich for the day.  It was snowing, which made the 30 minute walk to the train station beautiful, but made us walk a little but faster so that we could get there faster.  We spent the day seeing sights in Munich and went to two museums.  The first was the Museum of Contemporary Art, it had a lot of Andy Warhol pieces so that was very of cool.  Then after lunch we went to the Glytothek which was also very interesting, although after being up since 4 AM I kind of started to drag at the end of that one.  We ended up not taking a train back to Heidelberg until 6 AM Sunday morning because that was the only one that we could catch.  I still can’t believe we stayed awake that whole time, especially while it was snowing and freezing cold.  But somehow we powered through, although about the last 3 hours we spent in a bar I am pretty sure each one of us “let our eyes rest” a little bit.  The next day Carlos said he remembered the night before like it was a dream, we all told him that was probably because he spent it sleeping haha.

It was also kind of amusing to see Spaniards out of their element.  I have only traveled with Americans so far so it is usually the same types of things that we notice, plus I think we are so used to being out of our element that somethings don’t even phase us anymore.  It was interesting to observe spaniards take in something new.  Some observations I remember them making were: that people were so quiet at a bar in the airport at 7Pm Wednesday afternoon, the kebabs we had for dinner on Friday were extremely big, “what is this salad” refering to saurkraut.  And my favorite was when Maria said “so cool!” when Silvia told her that the bars always have toilet paper in the bathrooms.

So Germany is definitely 2 for 2.  I have had two great trips with amazing sights, food and memories. I am always aware of how lucky I am to be able to do all things I am doing here in Spain, but weirdly enough both times I have gone to Germany have really intensified and increased that feeling.

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LONDON Town

One of my oldest and dearest friends Kristy is studying abroad in London this semester, so I took the opportunity to see her while seeing London.  I got in late Thursday night and was immediately thrilled to be there.  I loved hearing the british accents and seeing all the british trademark things like phone boots and the double-decker busses.

Kristy has now been in London for almost two months so she definitely knows her way around, and having those qualities makes tourism so much better!  So with Kristy’s London expertise and my London enthusiasm we woke up early Friday morning and headed out to see all the sights.  We went to so many exciting spots and lucked out with a very beautiful day.  I loved going to the borough market because it was a great chance to get some quality people watching in and we got to sample several cheeses, jams and a plethora of other things.  There was a “spanish foods” section which was kind of funny because I hardly recognized any of the dishes.

On Saturday we went to Kensington Palace and Hyde park which was again accompanied by a beautiful day.  Kensington Palace had an exhibition of Princess Diana’s dresses which was really awesome.  In Hyde Park we saw the Peter Pan statue which, after a day and a half of nonstop walking, and then a long search for the darn thing, was a little underwhelming. But we have our pic with the statue so who couldn’t complain.  That night we went out to a club and definitely played the night with the idea of “whatever happens happens” which is my favorite attitude to adopt. After a few hours of dancing to strange, but nevertheless danceable, music we headed out with two cambidge graduates who took us to have “the best kebabs in London”. They definitely were very yummy!  The only bad part was that they said my british accent impersonation was “total rubbish”.  I guess British won’t be going on my accent resume after all.

We then took the night buss back to Kristy’s place and everyone else went to sleep.  I on the other hand decided to stay awake for the two hours before I had to leave to catch the bus to the airport.    The trip back was not my greatest as it ended with a 6 hour wait for a bus from Madrid to Salamanca.  It is a long story that I won’t get into but it wasn’t all bad because that ended with me having a café con leche with two spanish couples also headed back to Salamanca.  Even though Sunday was a terrible day to be sleep deprived and bus deprived, I had an AMAZING weekend.  I loved London and I definitely have to go back for more time.  It was also wonderful seeing Kristy and catching up with her, it was the longest time we haven’t seen each other since we were like 12 so we really had a lovely time.  Plus, she was also so nice in letting me stay (for free) in her flat and playing hard core tour guide.  Unfortunately I’ve been having problems with uploading pictures on Facebook so here are a few pics until I get the rest up:

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