A Travellerspoint blog

Granada

The land of free tapas.

Granada was a great trip! We went with a group called ESN (Erasmus Student Network). Erasmus is a work that Europeans use that basically means exchange. People will say, "I'm on erasmus" or "I'm an erasmus student". This was another bus trip, and a high uncomfortable one. Along the way there were acres and acres of trees that seemed to be planted in perfect rows yet there would be no houses or farm looking areas around. But, indeed, I found out that they were olive trees! Kind of a fun discovery. There were a lot of people I knew that went on this trip. And, since there were 2 buses, traveling was a bit slower, which was frustrating. But, we got there. And after we got settled in our hostel (which was a very nice one), we went right to lunch at this restaurant called La Bella y La Bestia. In English it is, The Beauty and the Beast!! It became my new favorite place for 2 reasons. 1) I love the beauty and beast. 2) free and large portions of tapas!!! When you buy your drink (which range from about 1.50-4 euro), you get a plate of tapas to come with it. This sometimes happens in Madrid, but you aren't given nearly the portion size. It was great. You could order 2-3 drinks, eat the tapas and be full!

After lunch we walked around the city. We passed by some very nice looking churches/cathedrals. In one area there were gypsies. They would try to sell you stems of rosemary (I think). They would shove them at you. But, apparently if you take one, even just to look, the gypsies won't take it back from you. You are then forced to pay. So, we just ignored them. This was the same with other people trying to sell stuff. Even at lunch, when we were eating outside, men would come up to the table, reach around you and set down things. For example, once was a lighter, the other was a notecard thing that had something religious on it. They want you to pick it up and buy it. So, you just sit there eating with the nick-nac sitting next to you until the guy realizes that you aren't going to buy it and comes to collect it back. It's awkward, and kind of annoying.

Anyway, Granada. Many of the streets were all so tiny and cute. The city had a very strong Arabic influence. Many of the shops sold things that reminded me of places like Morocco and India (even though I have never been to either and both countries aren't even close to each other!)...but you catch my drift! I liked it. IMG_2672.jpg
Another thing I noticed was that the city seemed more family oriented. Well, I just saw a lot of kids, so that is how I am drawing my conclusion. And also, the dogs in the streets. I saw so many dogs that looked to be well fed and healthy, but were walking around town without owners next to them. But the cutest part was that they always seemed to look like they were on a mission. Always trotting, never walking. Clay, Camille's boyfriend is studying in Granada and he said that he has seen dogs that will stop at the crosswalk, waiting for the light to turn, and then when it's clear, they'll continue to walk when all the humans start to cross. How adorable!

We passed a statue of Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus. The statue is showing the queen offering agreement to Columbus granting the rights for his voyage across the Atlantic to the New World! Interesante.

The next day, we toured around a little in the morning and then went to La Alhambra in the afternoon. It was gorgeous! And huge! There were magnificent views, beautiful gardens, fountains, and Islamic architecture. It was constructed in teh mid 14th century by Moorish rulers. The palaces were built for the last Muslim "Emirs" in Spain and its court, the Nasrid dynasty. We spent many hours walking around and taking pictures. For dinner we went to, of course, our new favorite place, La Bella y La Bestia!
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That night, Anda and I hit the town on our own. We walked to our first destination which consisted of very narrow, steep, and dark roads. But we survived! We went up to this place where you could lookout over the Alhambra with all of the lights shining on it. It was a spectacular view! Then, we went to this club where part of it was built into the side of the mountain/hill or something. Inside, the walls were almost looked like they had just been carved out. It was all just stone and very round. However there was one room where the 2 walls were completely glass, and gave you a great view of the Alhambra. It was a fun place. Afterward, in the wee hours of the morning, we walked probably 40 minutes just to get churros with chocolate at a place that was supposedly famous. We were just about the only people in there and the churros weren't that fancy. And because we weren't that full we also ended up ordering a pizza that came with anchovies (unknowingly). It was nasty. Oh well, it will still a good time!

The next morning we work up and did some last minute touring. I bought an awesome fanny pack and a baby alpaca sweater that supposedly came from Peru...at least that's what I'm going with! Then, to complete our Granada experience, Anda and I embarked on "the Beauty and the Beast tapas challenge"! We bet Camille's boyfriend, Clay, that we could eat 3+ tapas because he said that he had never done nor seen anyone eat more than 3. We ate 4. Mission complete.

Posted by kellyrburns 08:40 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Bar-steal-ona

Watch your bags!

Barcelona. Oh boy. Mixed feelings. The entire trip was AMAZING all up until the last hour and half when I left with a sour taste in my mouth.

To begin. Earplugs. I bought them after Switzerland and they are by far the best 1.50 euro investment I have probably ever made. They definitely came in handy during our 8 hour overnight bus ride to Barcelona. We arrived around 8am and went to our hostel where we got a private room! The group was me, Camille, Anda, Tori, Soojin, and Chi.

After dropping our stuff off we went to the most beautiful markets I've seen. It was huge! We bought freshly squeezed cactus, papaya, and lime-pineapple juices. We then walked more along La Rambla (a main street in Barcelona) and then went into the Picasso Museum. It was very neat. We then just spent the day touring around the city. We saw some pretty parks, some archways, and some really cool building designs of Gaudi. For lunch we had Pintxos. This is a form of tapas, so everything is pretty much a piece of bread with some sort of topping on it. Each of the pintxos has a toothpick in it, you go up to the bar and choose which ones you want and then you pay for however many toothpicks you have. After lunch we walked around a bit and then went back to the hostel to rest before heading back out for dinner. Anda, Camille and I went to a delicious restaurant near the beach where we all shared dishes and wine.

After that we met up with the other girls to go to the Ice Bar!!! It was really fun!..and different! We were given metallic silver jackets and gloves to wear. Everything was ice: the bar, the walls, there were ice sculptures, even the cups! All of the drinks are designed specifically to complement the cold weather...or so said the menu! Mine was good though. But, I watched one one guy (who must have been holding his drink to long) try to salvage his drink as it started pouring out the bottom because a hole had melted in the bottom of his cup. We were only in there fore about 45 minutes because it was way to cold to endure it for much longer. It was an experience though. After that we strolled the beach a little and just went back to our hostel to get a good rest and early morning start for more touring!
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Saturday. We woke up and immediately headed over to La Sagrada Familia, the infamous Gaudi cathedral. It is still a work in progress, said to be completed in 30 years from now (or 2026?....we have conflicting facts!). Construction on it began in 1882. Nevertheless it was incredible. It was interesting to see the different phases of Gaudi's designs. On part of the cathedral, it is evident that he uses a more gothic approach. Everything is darker, and the outsides of the structure almost look like they're melting. But then you do to the other side and it is a little whiter, and more modern looking. The stained glass is outstanding. The colors are unbelievable. I was telling the girls, no wonder it is taking them so long to build it...1) it's huge, but 2) I doubt there is one area that requires one systematic, flat surface of building. There is so much detail in the cathedral. Not one surface is similar. A lot of times in America, I feel like you can hand a man a pile of bricks and say, build me a building...because the majority of things we have in the U.S. are very basic and modern. But around here, and for La Sagrada Familia, every little detail needs to be measured and built carefully.
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We spent a good amount of time in the Cathedral but after leaving we headed over to the Parque Guell. That was really cool. And, I got to see the ceramic iguana thing that always makes me think of Sra. Maestas! In the park, there were a lot of interesting people playing instruments and singing. I definitely noticed that Barcelona had a lot more of a hippie vibe than Madrid. It was more laid-back...if that's possible in Spain. After a long and exhausting day, Camille, Anda and I split from the other girls to go try and find Anda a ticket for the Sensation concert! Apparently this is called "scalping a ticket"?! Anyway, we journeyed to the other side of the city where we got some great airial views of the city and watched the sunset. And, Anda got a ticket, score! It was a little sketchy but definitely worth it. We went home, took a rest, and got all prepared in our completely white outfits, pumped for Sensation.

Sensation. Oh my God, it was INSANE!! I cannot describe how amazing it was. Also, half of the excitement was probably just because I had never seen anything that huge before. I had never been to a really big concert. It was definitely the highlight of the trip. It lasted all night and we didn't get back to our hostel until around 7am. It is something I will never forget!
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Sunday. Since we had accomplished most of our touring, we decided to have a more relaxing last day. We went to the Miró Museum, another artist. It was alright but his style was a little strange for me. Too modern. After that we had lunch right along the ocean and then went and laid on the beach for a while. There were a bunch of women walking around offering massages on the beach...which I think is kind of gross. And it got to be annoying after awhile because they would keep asking. After the beach we went back to the hostel, packed our bags, left, and had dinner outside at a burger joint. Then, we left to go watch these "musical fountains" that also had a water/light show, kind of like in Las Vegas. This is where the trip turned sour. First of all, there was NO such show by the fountain. I put my bag right beside Anda and Tori and Camille and I walked 30 feet away to take pictures next to some big pillars. When we went back to the other girls 10 minutes later, my bag was gone. I was pissed/angry/sad/didn't know what to do. It sucked. So, after walking around frantically hoping magically that someone would have it, we went to the police station to fill out a police report. But, I barely had time to fill my name out on the paper because we had to leave to catch our bus back to Madrid. It was terrible. I HATE people who steal. I will always be mad about that. Ugh, but whatever, nothing I can do to change it.

So, Barcelona. I'll always be bitter but I just have to think of the first 2 days and Sensation when it was absolutely great!

Posted by kellyrburns 08:18 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Plaza de Toros

Bullfight in Madrid!

I almost forgot! I went to a bullfight 3 weeks ago. It was definitely an experience but I don't think I will be going again. So, I was unaware of the fact that they KILL the bulls!!! And it's not just one...we watched 7 bulls get slaughtered! It was sooo sad. I just thought that the matador people wave their little red flags around, basically teasing the bulls, and then the whole excitement of it all was how the matadors could avoid being stabbed by the bull's horns and trampled over! No! That was only a minor part of the event. It was torture! They do the whole flag/sheet waving thing but then out of nowhere another man runs into the arena and stabs the bull with two knife-type things. This was repeated three times (a total of 6 stabs) until the bull started to get warn down. Then, the matador would take his sword and stab the bull through the top of his head to kill it. About half the time, the bull would instantly die. That was "good" for the matadors. That meant more points. But other times, the bull wouldn't die right away and the matador would have to repeat the head stabbing. It was awful. Then a horse-drawn carriage would lasso the bull's horns and drag it out of the ring leaving a bloody trail. Never again.

Oh, but I did learn an interesting fact (and a few more that I forget)...you can tell the age of a bull based on the length of his tail. At about 3 years old the tail will just start to touch the ground. Just a fun fact. IMG_1451.jpg

Posted by kellyrburns 08:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Switzerland!!!

Trip to Geneva and Zermatt. INCREDIBLE!

Switzerland. WOW! Everyone needs to go. It was amazinggg!!! But, I’m sure I’m going to say that for most, if not all of my trips! Two friends and I went together. I went with Anda, a French-Canadian girl from Montreal, and Camille, my friend from NC State who I just met on our exchange. They were perfect travel buddies!

So we arrived in Geneva on Thursday night. Friday morning we woke up early. First stop, Starbucks! Drink choice: hot chocolate…Swiss chocolate of course! We wasted no time. We spent the morning touring a beautiful garden, walked passed the Reformation wall, and then toured the “old town Geneva”. That was beautiful. The buildings were so cute and there are water fountains everywhere…such a nice change from Madrid where no water is free. Oh, and since Anda can speak French, she was our translator the whole day. Geneva is right on the boarder of France so everything was in French. People spoke English too but it was definitely convenient that we had Anda! So anyway, we were in the old town part. So cute. We wanted to stop in all the tiny little shops, they were so quaint and nice looking….but everything is SOOO expensive! By the way the currency they use are Swiss Francs. But anyway, during our walk through the old part of the city we came across these tents that were selling stuff…scarves, hats, jewelry…a tourist trap…and we were caught. There were these little finger puppet things that were really cute. We spent forever looking at them, there were so many different looking ones. We all ended up buying different looking birds. Mine is a blue parrot looking thing. Her name is Genvieve….basically the French girl name for Geneva. Very fitting.

So then, we made our way to the lake. The whole morning was pretty cloudy, well, foggy, but still nice. We went to lunch and ate “filets de perche”, a typical fish found in Lake Geneva…along with white wine (from Switzerland), a pasta with gorgonzola (yumm), and a margarita pizza. It was delish. When we came out of the restaurant, the fog was gone and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was like that the rest of the weekend. In the distance, we could see Mont Blanc, the highest mountain peak in France (Geneva is right on the boarder of France). I bought my first real, authentic Swiss chocolate…AMAZING! And that night I had my first fondue! It was a wonderful discovery! While we were waiting to go to dinner we watched what seemed like hundreds of bikers biking along the road along the lake. It took probably 15 minutes from beginning to end…which was a long time. I found out that it is a thing that the locals do on the last Friday of every month. They make a meeting place and just ride throughout the city. I thought it was interesting!
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The next morning we woke up super early and rented a car at the airport to drive to Zermatt. The first hour or so was foggy because we were driving along the lake but after that it was clear skies ahead and gorgeous views. There were so many vineyards everywhere and there were towns and houses built just right on the hills. It was very interesting yet soo pretty. We ended up stopping at McDonalds for a snack. Because, what is a roadtrip without Mickey-D’s!? Btw, they sell McFlurries with Magnum Ice Cream..amazing. Also, there were so many cows. It didn’t occur to me then but I had the epiphany later…..CHEESE!...that is probably why there were so many! Interesante!

There are no cars in Zermatt. So, we had to park our car in a parking deck and take about a 30 minute train into the town. There are only a few cable cars and horse carriages to get people around if they want. But, the town is small so it’s really easy to walk. Anyway, first reaction to Zermatt: WOW! The mountains were so high and majestic-like and the Matterhorn mountain, breathtaking! I was proud of myself actually. I said I wanted to see it and it actually happened. I literally had chills. Oh, and a cool fact about Zermatt, the whole town spoke German, and that is what all the signs were written it. I didn’t realize that the language would change like that within a country, especially one that small, so I thought it was kind of neat!

We got to the town mid-afternoon and by the time we checked into the hotel we didn’t have time to hike so we walked around the town. It was so quaint and adorable. There was an “old” part of the town as well but sooo much better than Geneva! (we three became biased towards Zermatt! We LOVED it). There were these old rickety shack building things that had signs telling us what they were used for. Most were from around the 16th century and used for housing pigs or cattle, etc. That night we went to another place for fondue and also got raclette (a melted cheese that is served with potatoes, pickles, onions, etc). Ew, omg. So, I almost forgot. There was this really old, crazy man that kept coming up to us in the restaurant. He didn’t really talk (maybe he didn’t know English?) but he would come up, grab my fork from my hand, pick up a piece of bread with his hands (who knows where they have been!), and would proceed to squish the bread onto my fork, twirl it in the cheese and give it back to me. He was weird, but kind of nice at the same time. It was just interesting. But the food..it was sooo good. I swear, I’ve never eaten so much cheese and bread in my life. So many calories!!..and so expensive (sorry dad!)..but so worth it.

We went to bed early and woke up to watch the sunrise! It was very pretty but we never actually saw the rise of the sun. It was more like a lightening of the sky! The mountains were so tall that it would have taken hours for the sun to actually peak out over them. Also, it was hilarious..so, we were sitting on the bridge, watching the sunrise and we decided that we wanted a picture with the Matterhorn behind us. Side note: there were hoards of Asians in Zermatt, it was kind of strange and we were confused. Nonetheless, there were like 15 Asians watching the sunrise as well. So when we asked for one of them to take our picture, the lady (who spoke no English) was so excited about how good it turned out that she started showing it to all of her group. Next thing we knew, no less than 4 or 5 other Asians started taking pictures of us. It was funny, and cute.

So, we went back, packed our bags, went to breakfast, and headed up the gondola and tram to start our hike down from the Matterhorn! When we got to the top, it sounds lame but, it literally took my breath away! It was so open, the air was so clear and crisp. I missed the fresh, mountain air. Everything about our trip was just so wholesome and refreshing haha. So the hike. Words or pictures can not describe the real thing. It took us 9 hours to get to the bottom and we walked the whole thing. At one point we realized that we had taken the wrong path so we had to back-track uphill for one hour. It sucked. But, we had the most amazing lunch. We found a small hilltop and had ourselves a picnic complete with white wine, assorted cheeses, chocolate, baguettes, crackers, and nutella. Everything was perfect. But, of course, we took longer on the hike than we wanted. Our goal was to drive back to Geneva in the daylight….it was 5:30pm and the buildings of Zermatt still looked like ants, we were still so far away. We probably went a total of 4 hours without seeing a single human soul in the second half of our journey! It was a little scary but we made it down alive by 7:30, went to the hostel, got our stuff, and literally ran through the town to catch the 8pm train to go get our car. ANDDDD…most exciting part!...so, for the entire weekend, all I wanted to see was either a Bernese Mountain dog, a St. Bernard, or a Swiss Mountain Dog, etc. I hadn’t seen a single one but THEN!...while we were literally running to catch the train, with 4 minutes until 8, there it was, a Bernese Mountain Dog!!!! I took a picture with it of course! My trip was finally complete! I had the full Swiss experience.
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Ugh, the trip was soooo amazing. And Anda and Camille were the perfect travel partners!! It was awesome. Definitely something ill remember forever!! YAY Switzerland!

Posted by kellyrburns 15:48 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Filling in the Days

Random Madrid Stuff and celebrating my big 2-1

Hmmm, so school.....what is that again?! Seriously, I feel like I never go. I joked to someone how "school is just something I do in my free time these days" but you know what, I realized it is actually kind of true :/ But I mean, I'm taking 4 classes, that already makes it easy, and 2 are only 1 day a week. And, both of those classes that are once a week have each been canceled a few times already. I only really have 1 page papers due every week for two of my classes and the rest is just going to class and reading the slideshow presentations, etc. So, not to bad....I say this now but it will probably bite me later! So school is good. It is just kind of hard to integrate with the Spaniards. My school reminds me of a big high school. It is just one big building and the classes are small. But all the Spanish friends already have their group of friends and it's hard to merge in. Oh well, I'm sure it will happen eventually. There is still kind of a language barrier! I mean, who wants to be friends with a foreigner who can only have a half-intelligent conversation!...I don't blame them! Plus, I've met so many other awesome people, and everyone is soo nice.

Oh, also, just throwing it out there...totally met a guy named José Cuervo...at least, I'm pretty sure that is his real name! I went to my friend Victor's birthday party and got to talk with all of his Spanish friends the whole night. It was really fun, and they were a nice, fun bunch.

Something that is both good and bad about Spain....the people are soo easygoing/slow. Everything happens slower. People just take their sweet time. And when I would go to the office at the residence I lived in to talk to the main lady, we would be in a middle of a conversation, the phone would ring, and she'd get up and go answer it and talk for 5 minutes. It's like, "hello, I have things to do here. Let's get a move-on!". Same thing happened at my school with my advisor while I was trying to sign up for classes. OH! so I went to get an "Erasmus Student Network" card and sign up for a trip to Granada. The line was soooo long and there were only two guys working the line. We waited in line for 2 hours. I finally get to the desk to start my process, i see the guys computer screen and he is chatting to friends on Facebook. There were about 30 people in line behind me!! It was ridiculous! But on the flip side, this way of life comes in handy. You can show up late to class, forget something, not have a certain ID or some "required" paper with you and it's always "no pasa nada!"...don't worry about it. You can basically get away with whatever.

My 21st birthday! It was a lot of fun. But, there definitely wasn't the same excitement that there would have been if I were in the States. It was nice though. Saturday night (my birthday was Sunday) we went out. At midnight, my friends all stopped to take pictures and officially wish me a happy birthday. We went to a bar that gave out tapas (food) with the drinks. It was pretty great. Then, we mosied over to a club and a few of the girls bought me birthday shots! They weren't bad for my first shots ever ;) So the night was fun! The next day, on Sunday night, we went to a Japanese buffet because I had been craving Asian food for a good 2 weeks. It was so good, and fun. I thought it would be the typical get up and serve yourself. But actually, little plates of different things went around on a carousel and you just grabbed what you wanted! It was great. We will definitely be going back. When we got back the girls had bought me birthday cupcakes. I was so full from dinner but of course, with my lack of self control, I ate them all that night.
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Hmm what else has happened? I went to the Museo del Prado again. I saw Velazquez's famous painting, "Las Meninas", and I literally got the chills. It was just so cool seeing it in real life! I had studied it in high school, it just didn't seem real that I was actually looking at the real thing. But, another painting that caught my eye was called "Birth of the Milky Way". The actually painting was kind of strange, and I guess so is the story kind of, but since I'm a sucker for stars, especially the milky way, I found this one interesting. Apparently, Jupiter had an affair with a mortal, and they concieved Hercules. Juno was Jupiter's wife. So, in order to ensure Hercules's immortality, Jupiter placed Hercules in the goddess's so that he could suckle her milk. But, Hercules bit her in his excitement or something and so she pulled him away and that is when the milk from her breast spewted out, from the heavens and into the sky. Interesting, I know.

Posted by kellyrburns 15:09 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Segovia

Wow. it is official. I suck at blogging. Today marks exactly one month since my last post. Ok. Segovia. I will try to remember the best I can. It was such a great trip but I know I'm going to leave out details :(

Soojin, Tori, Camille and I all took the train on Saturday to Segovia. It was such an old, picturesque little town rich with history. Our first stop was the Roman Aqueduct. It is more than 2000 years old and erected by the Roman Empire. However, "Segovian legend dictates that the devil was the real architect. It was pretty neat. It is basically a giant wall thing, made of arches.

Next we went into the Cathedral. Oh my gosh I have never seen a church so amazing. There were little rooms all along the outer walls. Each were elaborately decorated and each had a theme. The colors on the walls and the details of the architecture and figures were incredible. It is too hard to describe because everything was so unique. It was also so huge. Oh, and fresh flowers were all over the place. It was amazing. Anddd, I even lit a candle! Because, like my dear mother taught me, we light a candle every time we visit a new church! But yes, the Cathedral...gorgeous. I've never seen anything like it!

Afterward, we went to lunch. We ate outside in the middle of a plaza right next to the Cathedral. We had a tradional dish of "cochinillo asado". Basically it was baby pig, cooked so where the skin part was crunchy but the meat was so juicy and tender on the inside. I also had this soup that had egg, meat stuff, cheese, and veggies in it. It was different, and interesting, but good. Also, a thing that I have noticed out here is that french fries come with a lot of meals, including this one. They dont have as much salt and seem a bit more greasy and less flavorful, but still, they are everywhere. It is just strange to me because fries come with nice, fancy meals. But, in the States, we (or I do anyway), consider french fries to be an unhealthy, quick, kind of cheapo thing to have. And they normally don't come with a fancy meal like the ones I've had! Just an observation! With our lunch, we drank red wine. So classy :)

After lunch we ventured off to the Alcázar-Castillo (castle). It was my first castle!!! AND, did I meantion that it was Walt Disney's inspirations for Cinderella's castle?!? Yeah. Awesome fact, I know! The castle was really neat. We climbed to the tower and got a really nice view of Segovia. If only my prince would have been there waiting for me. I had no such luck. But it was still magical!

The actual town/city of Segovia was so cute. Kind of like Toledo, the streets were all so tiny, cobblestone everywhere, and just very antique looking in general. It was a great day!

Posted by kellyrburns 14:46 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Getting into School Mode :/

Today I started my intensive language spanish course at Comillas. There are people from all over the world in my class! I'm excited to get to know them better! I'm actually looking forward to school starting though, and meeting more people.

Small world though....so during the break I was talking with one of the girls that is in my class. When I told her I lived on Gran Vía street, we discovered that we are basically flatmates, she just lives in the floor above me with the same residencia. She is from Montreal. But then, she introduced me to 2 other girls that are going to the same school as me and are both living in the same apartment as us. One girl, Charlotte, is half English and half Kenyan and currently lives in Kenya and normally goes to school in Edinburgh, Scotland. Both of them seem really cool! But then, the last girl I met, Sheena, is from Philidephia and goes to school at Georgetown University..and she is best friends with Greyson Buckingham! Weeeird! Oh, and I also forgot to mention that Maureen Cherrett is studying here in Madrid for the semester as well. Ah I swear, stuff like that always happens to me! Everyone always seems so connected in some way, it's all so random and coincidental!! So all of them seem pretty cool and my friendship unit continues to grow! YAY! Officially caught up! (even though I'll think of more to say from these past few days anyway).

Tootles!

Posted by kellyrburns 17:07 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Let's catch up, shall we?!..

AHHH! omg wow I seriously suck at this whole blog thing! So, on Wednesday morning Juliana and I moved my stuff from the hotel and into my new "habitación"...I like to call it "the box". It's teeny. But, it's manageable and it will do. I've started to meet more and more of my flatmates and so the whole place is growing on me more and more! But anyway, so after I did a quick set of of my apartment, Juliana and I took the train to Toledo where I stayed the next 2 days. It is BEAUTIFUL!! It's seems like something you'd see in a magazine! All of the buildings are soo old and the streets!...they are soo narrow, it's crazy!! When Juliana and I would be walking the street and hear a car we would yell, "Coche, coche!", and literally flatten ourselves against the building wall to not get hit. And the people don't slow down either. I don't now how they do it. But I loved the city. Cobblestone everywhere, stained glass, the detail on the buildings were incredible! It is sad, but after my day and a half of walking the city, my calves got really sore because it is so hilly. Here is where I had my first churro con chocolate! Delicioso!! Oh, and sleeping at night there for me...impossible! The cathedral bells go off EVERY hour, even throughout the night. And then I randomly noticed that every morning, this other bell would sound for seriously 2 minutes at a time about every 15 minutes. And basically all windows are constantly open so theres no way to baracade the noise. But whatever, it was part of the beauty and the experience! I bought this leather purse thing from this quaint little shop and I bought my first postcard to mark the beginning of my travels!

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On Friday morning I travelled back to Madrid all by myself and everything worked out perfectly. Everyone is so friendly and willing so help out!....so far ;) When I got back I met up with Tori and had my first legal cerveza at lunch. Mmmm! Later that day we met one of the girls that lives in my apartment. Her name is Soojin and she is from South Korea and super nice. There is also a girl from Italy and Spain that live with me that are really nice also. And it's been fun practicing my Spanish! On Friday night Tori's 2 friends from Guadalajara and we all hit up the "gayborhood"! It was tons of fun....and interesting! omg and there is this street in Spain...like, a poppin, pretty large street that have prostitutes lined all up and down it. Night and day. And, they are not trying to be sneaky about it..it's so obvious! It's well, different! So Friday night was my first night out on the town and it was great! It's so weird to me (and awesome!) that the nights don't really begin until 12-1 and then go until 5-6 in the morning! We went to a really big, nice looking club at about 12:30 (an hour and a half before american clubs typically close) and it was empty because the people said they don't get crowded until about 3:30am! It's strange to me to see people swarming the streets even at 11 on a weekday.

So, my street I live on. It's awesome. I forget if I mentioned this in my last post (I think I did), but the broadway production of El Rey Leon will literally be right across the street from my apartment starting in October!!!!...that's the Lion King broadway musical!! I totally want to go!! eek! But on my street, there you can find anything and any type of person. It's pretty sweet. And El Corte Ingles (a store) is the bomb! Cheap stuff and it sells EVERYTHING! I've been there many times already.

Saturday Soojin and I spent the day touring Madrid together. That was the first time I went to the Plaza Mayor and it was really neat! Outdoor resturants basically surround the place. Soojin and I ate there that evening. The street acts are interesting though! Some can be kind of annoying but others are actually really good! I kind of want to put on a street act just for the fun of the experience one of these days! We went to the Parque del Retiro and it was so beautiful! I absolutely loved it. It gave me a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Now I realize it's kind of like Madrid has the best of both worlds...the excitement of the big city combined with easy access to such a beautful, peaceful, and impressively large park! I already have visions of me going there to tan, have a picnic, and kick back like the delicate, petite girl that I'm not in one of the boats on the lake while my main squeeze (whom has yet to be found haha) paddles for us! Yeah right, in my dreams!! So after the park we went to the Museo del Prado..a famous museum of art in Spain, well even the world! It was so interesting. Soojin and I took about 3 hours, looked at basically every single painting/sculture, read it's story/information, and we only got through one section! It's huge! But no worries because I have plenty of time to return! It was all just incredible! And all I could think about was senior year of high school spanish class with Sra. Maestas and learning about all of the famous artists and their works of art. I still can't believe I was actually there and the people actually painted them. Some of them were from like 20-60 A.D. or something. It was crazzyy!!
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Saturday night was a success! It was Tori, Soojin and me. We first went to this Irish Pub, had a few brewskis and continued our evening to many other clubs and bars. This is a random comment but I just love meeting all of the people from different countries. They all have their own thing going on and are from completely different walks of life yet everyone seems to be friendly and easygoing! I am loving it more and more every day!! Hasta luego!

Posted by kellyrburns 15:22 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Bienvenido a España!!

1st thoughts of the city!

Ok, so I finally got a chance to actually sit and write this thing and the dumb internet took forever to load so this might have be be another shorty. One entry in one week...fail. But, where to begin! It's been nearly a week since my last (first!) entry and there's been so much that's happened! The plane ride actually wasn't that bad. Juliana and I (the girl/new friend I travelled with) sat in between two very nice women. And, before we even took off, we made friends with a few girls whom we ended up sharing a taxi with to help split the cost to our hotel and their hostels. Juliana and I spent both Monday and Tuesday exploring Madrid. It is soo beautiful!!...definitely for a city! All of the buildings have so much detail. It's strange to me. All I can think about it how expensive it all would be to make these days...at least in the States. I also love how sporatic everyone is at driving. There will be random plazas that don't appear to have roads yet here comes a car screeching through and you watch the people scatter out of the way. You definitely have to look both ways before crossing the street! Another thing I noticed instantly...the lack of humidity and gorgeous weather! It's been so nice, and the hair is thankful. Actually, I'm planning on straightening my hair tonight, because I can!! Gaaa I have to go for now though. I need to go shower and prepare for the night's activities ;) ugh, i seriously need to catch up on this thing though. adios for now!
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Posted by kellyrburns 12:49 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Here we go!

Alright, so today officially marks the beginning of my journey abroad! Never in my life have I kept a journal/diary and since I don't consider myself very poetic, don't expect this thing to get too formal or imaginative with words. Mostly I'm just writing this so I can print it all up at the end and look back on it 30-40 years from now. eeeekk! I'm so excited!! But, I admit I am nervous as well. People ask me what I'm going to be doing for my 21st birthday...hell, I don't even know WHO I'm going to be spending my birthday with! There's just so many questions Ihave and uncertainty. I suppose that's just part of the adventure and excitement of it all. Well, adios America, see you in SPAINNN!!!

Posted by kellyrburns 09:15 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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