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.