Friday, December 16, 2011

Hasta Luego

I'm all packed up, room is empty minus a stack of books I'm leaving here for the next USAC student.  I had to throw a few things away to make room, and will probably have to throw a couple more things away.  Many of the USAC students are a plane back to their homes, scattered around the states.  There are a few that I am really going to miss, who really made this trip the best it could have guys know who you are.  The last trip to London and Amsterdam was a good way to end things, for now.  It's not the end, there are so many more adventures to be had.  I'm not good at goodbyes, because I always try to end them with "I'll see you in..." or just some type of temporary closure, even if I know I'm not going to see them ever again.  It just feels so fake to say it, but I don't know how to say goodbye forever, which is why I always take the alternative route and make "arrangements" to meet again. 

Although I am here for another three weeks, the fact that everyone I have been around for the past 3 1/2 months is leaving, makes it hard.  There are a few still here, and I'll spend my time with them of course.  It will be a new experience being here without the compfort of the USACers, but that's reality.  It'll be a good experience and show me how it will be when I return to Spain.  It won't be the same, there won't be the group of us, no Rey Juan Carlos, no USAC staff, etc. but that's something I've realized and am expecting these next three weeks as well as when I return to Spain. 

The next three weeks are going to be awesome, I'll have about a week just in Madrid to take everything in for one last time.  Eat at certain restaurants, visit museums, Retiro, maybe a day trip or to out of the city, and just walk around this city I've come to call my home.  I have friends coming into town as well, super excited!  New Years here will be amazing, and sad because by that time I'll only have a few days left.  I'm off now, out of this apartment where I've been living for quite some time.  Very surreal feeling...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Updates, London, and Amsterdam

Wow, it has been a long time since I have written a post here.  I think it's a combination of me being too busy, and my computer being to slow to the point where I don't want anything to do with it.  But I've never had luck with computers so lo que sea (lo que sea=whatever).  Me and two friends of mine, Q and Kerry, finished our USAC yearbook last week before our break and are excited for everyone to receive them these last few days of school.  Two days of school, then finals on Wed. and Thur. then done!  I'm excited to be done with school but sad that it is all over, kind of, not really over, because those I want to stay close to with I will stay close with, and if it means a bit of traveling then hey all the better.  I feel rushed with finals and packing and figuring out where to store my things and where to stay and what not, but it is nice to know that I will have about a week here in Madrid after my travels to just relax, enjoy my last bit of time here, and do everything I didn't get to do, or twice. 

I'm excited to fly into the Bay Area and see my home, such a great feeling.  I'm excited to see my family waiting for me at the airport.  I'm excited to be surrounded by familiarity.  I'm sad to leave my home of Madrid.  I'm sad to have to "return" home to California, because it almost feels like I'm going backwards, instead of forward. Instead of continuing my travels further, moving somewhere, etc.  But I have time, and I need to realize that!  I'm moving forward with all the experiences I've gathered here and will carry with me onward through this crazy thing called life.  Still a bunch of things to finish up back in the states anway, like college haha...

Anyway, this past month has been a breeze, spending time in Madrid mostly.  This past week though, we had several days off from school so many of us took it as an opportunity to travel.  I ended up venturing off to London for 3 nights and straight to Amsterdam afterwards for another 3 nights.  I enjoyed the people I was with, the sightseeing, the food, the laughs, not so much the weather, but it could have been worse. 

Not really what I had expected, not my favorite city I've been to, but definitely had it's hightlights. 

The London Eye from a distance
London is known for their fish and chips...these were delicious!
 Got to see some great art at the Tate Modern Museum, free!
 Outside of the Tate, guy in top right hand corner is playing a saxaphone and this scene reminded me of Bleeding Gums Murphy from the Simpsons, had to capture it.
London Tower on the left and the London Bridge on the right, so beautiful at night!
 When to pay a visit to Harry Potter since I was in town
Double Decker, the chocolate bar. How appropriate.
Never thought I'd be walking Abbey Road, especially in elementary school when I first was introduced to the Beatles, but here we are, just walking along the road...after many attempts throught traffic.


this city really exceeded my expectations, it was beautiful, with great people, architecture, food, good vibes, and overall a great city to be in, great way to end this trip. 

 Olivia and I on our free tour, it was freezing, but worth it.  And we got free cheese.

 We all rented bikes, it was a lot of fun especially going through the park, almost died a few times, but don't worry Mom we were okay.

The city was gorgeous at night
 Bikes EVERYWHERE, literally, so many people riding bikes, looking all jolly and happy.
 Outside of the Van Gogh Museum, the moon made it seem even more like la-la-land.
Ray made me take a picture here, glad she did it turned out nice!

Y las dulces (and the sweets)...

I really enjoyed my time in Amsterdam, even my hostmom said that most people really enjoy Amsterdam.  It has basically everything you could want.  London was a good time as well, just not really a place for me I suppose, good for a visit.  Time well spent overall.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

El Otoño

Autumn is here, the leaves are turning gorgeous shades of red, orange, and yellow, it's getting colder, and the rain has started to come...I love it!  I wonder if the trees are as pretty in Arcata and Berkeley as they are here, I'm sure they are.  Everywhere is beautiful this time of year, hopefully it will snow this winter.  I am getting excited to go snowboarding when I get back to the states!  Maybe a trip to Vancouver?  We'll see. 

This past weekend, and actually the weekend before I spent a lot of time walking...meeting up with different friends, and usually happening to go to the same general areas, but I enjoyed it.  My good friend from the program Nina just left for home early this past Saturday, so I tried to spend a majority of my time with her.  She'll be back next month though so i'm not TOO sad.  We all went out for churros con chocolate and then the ladies went out for a night on the town, it was one of her last nights in Madrid so we had to make it special!
I spent a good amount of time in Retiro during a couple sunny days.  There is so much that park has to offer...
like old men playing the saxaphone and little girls dancing along to the jazz...
and then are tons of puppet shows out and about with kids and their parents surrouning them!

We saw a cool group of guys playing jazzy music and doing...well i'm not sure what...but they attracted a pretty big crowd!
 And then there are those that simply come to read their newspaper with their cute dog...
Miguel had found a place right next to retiro that rents out bikes and roller blades, we chose roller blades and  did a lot better than we had thought we would!  Although it reeeeally hurt my feet, I'd do it again just so I could be a professional like this guy and play frisbee while roller blading...

 I'm glad I live 2 blocks next to Retiro, one of the best parks in the world in my opinion.

I also went to El Palacio Real, although I couldn't go see the antique watch exhibit (Dad) I got to see other pretty impresive paintings, incredibly decorated rooms, but my favorite were the royal gardens right behind the palace. 

I also ate some good food...

It's nice to have the whole month of November in Madrid, since I will be doing a lot of traveling in December.  I feel rushed as it is to try and do as much in Madrid and Spain in general I don't know how I'd feel if I was going away every other weekend.  Although I do want to travel and see everything Europe has to offer!  I know there will many more trips in the near future to Europe and the world in general. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When in Rome!

So I have about a million things to say about my adventure to Rome, Venice, and Milan, I will try to narrow it down into a few paragraphs and photos.  I was gone for a total of 10 days, 4 nights in Rome, 4 nights in Venice,and 1 night in Milan (although I should have done 2 nights).  The flight was only 2 hours which was nice.  I will begin with Rome.  First thing that comes to mind, the Colleseum!
Words cannot express how breath-taken I was looking at this historical monument in real life, my brothers would have loved it just because of the movie Gladiator.  Right before we had gotten to Rome, the Colleseum had been closed for 3 days due to flooding from all the rain-about 6 meters!  Because of this we weren't able to go on the ground floor where the fighters and animals were stored, but we were able to see pretty well from the floor above.  We took a tour here and to the Roman Forum which was nice to hear interesting facts along the way.  The main tour we took was through the Vatican Museums (only some because there are a dozen), the Sisteen Chapen (where I saw the Last Judgement and the Creation of Adam but no photographs were allowed), and the Basilica (largest in the world I believe). 

We were right near the center of the city, and so we ended up walking by the Trevi Fountain a couple times a day and night as well as the Pantheon.  We met a cool Canadian girl named Liz too!

We walked along the river in the middle of the city as well, where we saw lots of pretty things. 

After wondering around the streets of Rome we came upon the "Fentons" of Rome.  I ate gelato everyday while in Italy, but this was one of the better places!

Okay now that is enough of Rome, despite the hundreds of photographs I have I will have to move on to the next city we ventured off to, Venice.  We took a 6 hour train form Rome to Venice, we stayed near the train stations which made traveling easy.  Although we were on the mainland and not the actual Venice island, it was only about a 10 minute bus ride.  Venice was much more touristy, where as Rome had much more historical context to it and didn't revolve so much around mask shops and pastry shops...but who am I to complain right?

We went up to the top of a tower in Saint Marco's Square where you could see all of Venice.

The sunsets in Venice were gorgeous.  Especially our first night there.

Probably the highlight of Venice was going on an excursion via boat to three other smaller islands surrounding Venice.  Milano we got to see a glass blowing demonstration, the guy made a horse in less than a minute!  It was a short demonstration, I would have liked to see more instead of being lead into the gift shops...Burano we saw an even shorter example of lace-making.  But it was fun to explore because Burano is known for it's vibrant and colorful houses.  The last island Tercello (I think) we walked to some old ruins and church.  It was right around sunset so I was able to get some good shots there.  The ride back was nice, met some old Australian ladies.  With each Australian I  meet they make me want to travel to their country more and more!

And there was Milan where we stayed for only a night, but I was able to take a bunch of pictures of the Duomo.  An old gothic cathedral that was mind-blowing, so much detail and beauty!

Overall a fantastic trip, lots of time to think thanks to all the travel time.  But I'm one who likes long train rides, especially if I have my I-Pod and journal and/or a good book.  Life is too fast sometimes so it's nice to be able to just sit and watch the world go by.  Can't wait for my other adventures through Europe, many more stories to tell.  This post took me so long to make by the way, because my computer is so slow and the pictures take forever to load!  I would have put more up (Mom) but I can only look at that little loading sign for so long.