Friday, June 27, 2008

home sweet home

Not really ready to go home quite yet. We have a "class party" tonight down by the beach, which will be fun, but many people have already left to go home. We camped out to watch the soccer game last night at a bar across the street from La Mestalla, which is the soccer stadium in Valencia. We ended up with GREAT seats and everybody got to sit together. I can't believe Spain won 3-0. I was interviewed on Spanish TV and predicted they would win 1-0. I'm so glad I'm going to be here on Sunday for the final game -- it should be verrrrrrrry exciting!!!

We are giving out superlatives. I'm intrigued to find out what mine is. A few that I have heard are "most likely to wear her sorority tshirt" and "most likely to outdrink everyone, even the boys." My mom would be so proud.

This has been an experience of a lifetime. It has made me realize how independent & intelligent I am. I am a fully capable human being, and in the world that I live it is very easy to forget that. The USA is full of conveniences; everything is made easier. Europe just isn't like that, not to the extent of the US. I can't wait to get home and walk everywhere. Maybe Greg & I will actually use the bikes that are sitting on his balcony. I've just gotten so used to public transportation and walking everywhere, it will be a weird adjustment. Mom's on the phone now.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I feel that this picture sums up our trip to Barcelona pretty well: hot, tired, sweaty, and all in all miserable. Just kidding! (kind of...) We left Thursday morning really early and after a fairly late night, the last thing I wanted to do was get on a train. I get motion sick, I had to sit by strangers, etc. Anyway, I digress. So, we arrived in Barcelona and were forced to walk 12 blocks carrying our bags. This would have been no big deal, except as soon as we get to our hostel, the tour guide pointed out the metro stop that was 1/2 a block away. Why we couldn't have gotten off there is still a mystery to me. We were left to our own devices to find lunch. Me, Rich, Christy, Jamie, Sarah Grace, and Katerina ended up sitting down at a tapas bar with a great outdoor "patio." It was shaded and breezy, and that's all that mattered to us!

After lunch, we met up with our tour guide Alan, and his two assistants, Kyoko and Gerrol. We divided up into three groups and took a tour of the old part of the city. We saw ancient Roman ruins and lots of old churches. Gerrol, my tour guide, was the best, because he was always showing us great little nooks and crannies that had lots of shade and places to sit down and rest. He knew us well. None of our tour guides were native to Barcelona, which was very interesting to me.

After our tour, Dr. Bowman treated us all to pinchos, which are basically tapas on a piece of bread. So delicious, but a little disappointing because we have the exact same restaurant here in Valencia, and I had eaten there earlier in the week. Oh well! After dinner we all went to take showers and rest for a little while. There was a soccer game on that night and we all wanted to go watch. We ended up watching the soccer game at a great pub and had a blast -- got back to the hostel at about 1am, just in time for a good night's sleep!

Friday was a long day - we met at 10am for the start of our tour. We went to La Familia Sagrada and spent some time there. Then we looked at many of Gaudi's works that are displayed all over the city. The above picture was taken while we were waiting for lunch. We were starving and hot and clearly fairly miserable. Lunch, however, was fabulous! Alan took us to a small restaurant that was so accomodating, and they had delicious hamburgers!!! I sure do miss having meat cooked medium rare, though.

We spent the rest of the afternoon touring the Olympic Park and the Forum area. After that, we were able to go back to the hostel and catch a little rest. We ventured out for dinner at the Irish pub and chose to stay to watch the game there. What an exciting game! I can't believe Turkey won in penalty kicks!! After the pub, the night kind of turned into a mess. I think it is getting to that point in the trip where 
everybody is just kind of getting on everyone else's nerves, especially when we are sleeping 12 girls to a single room in a hostel... you catch my drift. Anyway, we all ended up splitting up and I think that all of the individual groups had a nice rest of the evening.

Saturday morning we got up and went to Camp Nou, which is also known as the Barca soccer stadium. It's HUGEEEEEEEEEEE!!! It's like a compound with several stadiums for soccer, basketball, and rugby, plus a practice field that is the size of a high school football stadium, plus tons of outdoors stuff for people to do during the games I guess? I don't know.
Anyway, thats what that picture is from - because Barcelona is "mas que un clube" or more than a club... whatever that means :)

We made it back to Valencia late Saturday night, and I came home and absolutely crashed. I got to sit by a non-stranger on the train ride home, which was nice, but I was so glad to be back in my bed that has a mattress thicker than 2" and actual sheets and not have to share community showers. Call me spoiled, but...

This week is finals week. We had a picnic for class today and tomorrow we have our last class of the trip. I can't believe it's almost time to go home. What an amazing experience this has been; definitely something I won't forget. I have made great friends and I have really learned a lot about myself since I've been here. However, I am so excited to come home to air conditioning, driving my car, normal grocery stores and restaurants, and so much more. I miss home!
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

so fresh and so clean

I'm really sad. I am slowly but surely running out of articles of clothing that haven't been washed in Spain. Some people might think this is a good thing, because yes I have been here for 4 weeks, but really, to me it's not. There are no dryers, so my clothes that were cleaned in Spain are hard and not soft and fluffy like they would be if I dried them in the dryer. I have 2 tshirts, a skirt, and a pair of underwear left from the plane ride here that I am saving for a special day when I am especially ready to go home. That day is going to be awesome because I will have dryer-dried clothes on and no one else will. I bet everyone will be jealous. I would be if I were them.

Monday, June 16, 2008

This weekend was, as you can see, a TON of fun! We had a long weekend (2nd longest of the trip) so a bunch of people went out of town. Those of us who stayed ended up getting together a couple different nights and having a fabulous time! On Thursday night we went over to Gil for a delicious dinner and then went out for "a few" drinks. We went to Tony Roma's (but only because there was nothing!! else open ... at midnight ... on a Thursday... anyway) and had a few drinks, then went to this Irish pub which was really fun. It definitely reminded me of the old Fado's, for sure. Then we kind of hopped around but had a really fun time. I ended up out until 6am and closed down no less than 2 bars. All in all a fun night! Friday we were supposed to go to the beach but Erika got up late and I got up late and we just said forget it, we'll go another day. Friday night we went out to dinner near La Plaza de la Virgen, which is a 5 minute walk from our house. Delish.

Saturday night Spain & Greece both had soccer games, so I headed over to a bar near the soccer stadium to watch the game with some people. Spain won, and we headed back to the Irish pub to watch the Greece game. Greece lost, and after it was over I was STARVING so four of us went to find whatever food we could and left Rich & Kellan to fend for themselves at the pub. I ate quite possibly the best alfredo I have ever had. YUM. Then we went back to the pub and hung out with a British stag party (bachelor party...). That's what the picture at the top is from. They were dressed in the most ridiculous '70s outfits I have ever seen. Anyway, we went back to most of the same places we went on Thursday night, only this time there were even MORE girls with us, so we got to go everywhere for free and my bartender friend Carla hooked us up with shots, drinks, etc. All in all, I think everyone had a GREAT night! Sunday I spent most of the day in my bed doing some reading and catching up on schoolwork. My blog group met to discuss our group blog. Hopefully I can work on some of that tonight, we don't have class tomorrow or Wednesday so I am going to try to be really productive!

The girls at Coco Loco with our free bar panties... so ridiculous!
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

the Bats

Tuesday we got to visit the inside and take a special tour of the Valencia C.F., which stands for Clube de Futbol. I'm not really a huge soccer person (I think that stems from my awful experiences as goalie in 1st grade) but it was cool to get the behind-the-scenes tour. There are 2 soccer teams in Valencia, and this one is the club of the "wealthy," whatever that means. The other team is a little further outside the city. This stadium right now holds 50,000 people, but they are in the process of building a new one that will hold 75,000. It doesn't seem like that much of an increase to me in the grand scheme of things, but no one asked my opinion before deciding to build the new stadium. Oh well! It is like right in the middle of the city, and once they tear the stadium down they plan on building apartment buildings with a big mall in the middle. Sounds kind of like what they are doing to Buckhead to me. It's like a little piece of home right here in Valencia!

After the soccer stadium, we ate lunch; delicious pizza, yum! We had class after that for 4 hours and then everybody went home to get ready for the flamenco show. Most of the girls that are here came over to our apartment (Santo Tomas) to have a few drinks and hang out before the flamenco show, since the place where it was is like a 5 minute walk from our house. The inside of Radio City (the club that had flamenco) was not really set up very well for a show, which made it hard to see, but I coul definitely hear the men singing and playing instruments, and I was able to watch on a TV from where I stood. After about an hour everyone started getting pretty restless, and you have to be very quiet inside the show, so I'm pretty sure that the majority of our group migrated to the bar area where you could talk and be noisy. We went to a couple bars right in our neighborhood to wind up the night. I think everybody had a great time and they are definitely convinced that our house is closest to fun stuff, which means people will come over more. We like friends =)

Yesterday we were supposed to have class, but it was cancelled. As nerdy as it sounds, I actually look forward to our classes one, because its the only time we hang out as a big group, and two, I'm learning a lot about Spanish culture and it's relatively interesting to me. Who'd a thought I would actually gain something educational out of coming to Valencia? Just kidding, Mom! Instead of having class, I laid in my bed or on the couch in my pajamas ALL DAY. We have been waiting, what, 4 weeks now? Yes, 4 weeks to have internet installed. The man FINALLY came yesterday. Jill & Erika (2 of my roommates) were just about to leave to go to the internet cafe around the corner when the buzzer buzzed. We answered and he said he was the "Telefonica man" as we call him, and we did a little happy dance. Okay, more like a big happy dance. It is SO SO SO nice to be able to sit in our apartment and check email, post pictures, and just kind of bumble around the internet instead of having to leave, pay, and be in public in order to talk to family & friends. Even though I only have 2 weeks left, I am PUMPED!!!

Several of my roommates are biology majors, and part of their curriculum is spending a few days a week in "the lab." Since we have a long weekend, a bunch of the girls are going to Frankfurt, Germany, and my roommates were supposed to go to the lab today. I'm so excited because they decided not to go and are instead going to come play with me at the beach! I thought for sure I was going to have to entertain myself today, which would have been fine, but I'm glad I will have some company. Katerina, another girl on the trip, sent me an email this morning asking what my plans were for the break, so hopefully I will have more friends to play with while everyone else is traveling Europe. After my stint in Italy, I'm quite content right here in Valencia :)

Next week we have a long day Monday because we are touring the Valencia goverment plaza and then we have like 5 hours of class, partly to make up for not having class yesterday I would assume. Then we don't have class Tuesday or Wednesday and Thursday we leave for Barcelona. My biology roommates have a field trip Tues-Thurs and then the rest of us are in Barcelona Thurs-Sat. Hopefully on Sunday we'll be able to get a group together to go on this caving adventure. It's sounding like people are interested, but I'll have to wait and see. I kind of need to get in touch with the people, but we have no phone so I'm not entirely sure how to do that.

Anyway, I'm going to make some breakfast and get ready for a glorious day at the beach.

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Monday, June 9, 2008


This is Peony. We love her A LOT in our apartment. However, our love was not so strong on Friday night, or should I say Saturday morning? As I previously posted, we had a GREAT time going out for Heather's birthday. Peony decided when she came home at 4am that she was hungry for noodles, so she put some noodles in a pan with a drop of water in order to cook them. Peony also decided she was a little sleepy, after all it was 4am. So, being the wise little Asian that she is, Peony decided it was best if she just went to sleep. However, what Peony forgot about in her infinite wisdom was.... HER NOODLES!!!!

Thank god Emily came home when she did, because the noodle pan and stove were in flames, which Emily thoughtfully put out with a towel, and then she placed the burnt pan outside the window in the kitchen so it wouldn't stink up the house.

We still love Peony, but she may be forbidden from cooking noodles ever again!!!
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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Heather's birthday

Friday was Heather's birthday; I'm pretty sure everyone else celebrated with her extensively! We started out with a day at the beach while the Biology kids took their midterm (explains why I'm INTA...) Me & Peony came home at like 6pm to 3 out of our 4 other roommates already pretty drunk. They were just relaxing after their hard test... we finally all got ready and arranged and left to eat dinner somehwere around 8pm. We met everyone at the Sueca apartment around 10:30 and continued the pre-party drinking festivities until around midnight. We then traipsed across Valencia (literally) for an hour before coming to a party street that was supposedly "right next to Sueca," which explained why we started the night there. We went into one bar but it was a little too club-ish for us, so we went across the street to my new favorite place that I have only been to once. The bartender was from South America, had lived in the States for 6 years, and then moved to Valencia after traveling around for a while. He passed out free drinks and shots and a GREAT time was had by all!

Needless to say, Saturday, which was supposed to be our beach day, sucked. Erika & I stumbled to the grocery store around 10am to get some eggs to scramble and some chips & salsa to eat, and then spent the better half of a beautiful day alternating between bed and the couches. At least I got through the first 5 episodes of the 1st season of The Tudors!

Today we tried to go to the beach, but it was just ugly out and we froze. I bought some presents for my sister, Rachel, and Sydney at a little row of shops that were near the boardwalk and we figured out the tram system... that was about the extent of our "beach" adventure. Tomorrow is another day!

Our apartment is getting cleaned tomorrow - THANK GOD!! We are not messy people by any means, and I think our apartment is probably really clean considering six girls live there, but I am pretty pumped to have our floors scrubbed and carpets vaccuumed, I'm not even going to lie. It was starting to stink, I think. We have to clean up some tonight so that they can actually do their jobs, but I have no problem with that.

Erika & I are going to go to the grocery store and buy delicious things. We are kind of out of anything except bread, sandwich meat, peanut butter, and noodles. We need things like yogurt, meat, ice cream, etc. It should be exciting, going to the big fancy grocery stores always is. Oh yeah, and I need deodorant because mine ran out. Can't live without that!

It is raining outside right now, or it was when I walked over to the laundromat, but hopeully it has stopped so we don't get soaked on our grocery adventure. It's freakin' cold here, too.

First picture: Heather, Peony, me, Emily, & Brandi out for Heather's birthday
Second picture: Peony & Cat (my two Asian roommates!!)

Time to go get food so we can have dinner tonight, mmm!!!
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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Valencia/Rome/Europe in general

Valencia has been a blast thus far. Although I have spent almost less time actually in Valencia than I have other places, I am still having fun! We spent 6 days in Portugal, then Erika & I trekked to Rome, Italy for 3 more fun-filled days. Needless to say, I was glad to be back in Valencia on Sunday night. We have seen Sagunto, Spain, which was interesting (read: nothing to see...), we went to Porto, Portugal, which everyone loved mainly because we went out to a great dinner and everybody got sloshed. We then spent 5 days in Lisbon, which was equally fun. I'm glad we all stayed in the same hotel (minus the grad students) because we all got to know each other on a "deeper" level AKA 10 boxes of wine later...

Erika & I had a fabulous time in Rome seeing everything you are supposed to see when you go to Rome. We got in late Thursday night, spent Friday exploring the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica, ate the best dinner of my life Friday night, explored the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and a few random piazzas on Saturday before another great dinner, and left Sunday for a tour of the Colosseum and Palatine before we headed back to Spain. We were EXHAUSTED!!

The internet problem in our apartment has still not been solved; hopefully Erika & Emily will be able to get there tomorrow with our teacher and get everything straightened out so we can actually have internet in our apartment. In the meantime we kind of just steal it from the local laundromat. The only problem is, we have to actually GO there in order to use the computer. Not the worst situation in the world, but not exactly ideal, either. If we can have it in our apartment, we'd like to. Tomorrow should resolve our questions.

Speaking of the internet, the laundromat is closing. Kebab for dinner, then reading my book before a long day at the beach tomorrow. Can't wait!

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