Where did the last two hours of my life go??

Crap! It happened again…I got sucked into the black hole of knitting goodness

And there went two hours of perfectly good sleep/study time!

Advertisements

The Barcelona Marathon (which is also The Longest Entry Ever)

First, I will write about how wonderful Barcelona was. It really really was quite wonderful. Why was it wonderful? Because a certain wonderful man just happened to show up there! On Friday, February 22 I got up at 5am after sleeping horribly for an hour. I was too excited to sleep properly. Conchi drove my friend Ashley and I to the airport where we caught the 7am flight to Barcelona. After waiting around in the airport for our friends who took the 9am flight, we ventured out into the unknown. The VERY first thing we did was go to the statue of Christopher Columbus (la plaza de colón). I am only mentioning this now because it comes up later and it should be known that I SAW THE PLAZA DE COLÓN! We walked around las ramblas for a bit and eventually veered off the main drag to find some lunch. After a lovely and delicious lunch (which included APPLE TORTE, which was more of a smushed croissant with delicious apples and caramel sauce on it) I left the group and went to pick someone up at the airport.

Picking Sparkey up was the best part of my trip to Spain so far. I miss that man quite a bit when I’m away from him for too long. Anyways, we took the bus into town and then commenced The Finding of a Place to Sleep, which wasn’t as nearly as painful as it sounds. We only walked around for about an hour and a half and finally some guy at an overpriced hotel told us of a nice hostel (not hostel, hostel…a hostel is a place where they make you sleep in dorms with 10 other people, a hostel is a place where you get your own room and have to share a bathroom) close by that would cost about the same as any hostel. We walked there, took about 10 minutes trying to figure out where this place was (floor 1 is actually 2 flights of stairs up) and managed to book the last room in the place for the night. OH HAPPY DAY! I can’t tell you how relieved I was that we had a place to sleep. I had visions of us sleeping on the street with pidgins guarding us for the night. It was horrible. Our little room was just fine though, a bit sparse (think dorm room, minus anything your dorm room might’ve actually had except for a bed and a closet), but we had a nice little porch just outside our window with a view of a cute courtyard. Were I the thinking type, I would’ve taken a picture when we first arrived, but alas, my brain was so clogged with the excitement of seeing Sparkey that I did not.

We settle down and then head out to explore the city for a bit before meeting up with friends for dinner. We went to a sweet market and ate some delicious strawberries (they were RED inside! Not white!), and wandered around for a bit. It was nice; we’re both very easy going and many times we’d look down a street and see something interesting, give each other this look and then just start walking. We found a nice church or three, some interesting stores (we wound up in the antiques section of Barcelona??), and then met up with friends for dinner and went home and crashed.

The next day was more or less the Barcelona Marathon, which included seeing most of what there is to see in the city in one day. We started with Parc Güell:

Parc Guell 1Parc Guell 2

It should be noted that this place really IS like Wonderland, except for the lack of talking cats and playing cards. Actually, come to think of it, we did see a cat in the bushes…

Anyway, one of my favorite things in Barcelona was the “floor” as I accidentally called it (about five billion times). It was just so pretty and when I saw it at the Parc, I just had to take a picture!

floor

Isn’t that the most beautiful, welcoming, interesting floor you’ve ever seen in your life? I think so too.

After the Parc, Sparkey suggested that we head down to Sagrada Familia, the sea, and the plaza de colón. It was then that we had a 10 minute debate on whether or not I had already seen this place. I tried to INSIST that I had, that my own eyes don’t lie to me, and that he was WRONG. I even showed him pictures of it ON MY CAMERA. Don’t ever try to argue with this man when he’s jet lagged. He tried his hardest to convince me that I hadn’t seen it until finally I decided to strike the pose of the statue at the top of the monument, in the middle of Parc Güell, in front of hundreds of people, in the same area as Tyra Banks shot some of her stupid TV show. This produced a fit of giggles that lasted quite a long time and Sparkey finally admitting that yes, maybe I had in fact already seen the plaza de colón.

After the plaza debacle, we headed down to La Sagrada Familia and took some awful pictures, didn’t go inside, and generally were relatively disappointed with the building (at least I was). It would’ve cost us 7 euros each to get in, and then another two to take the elevator up to the top of the spires. The stairs were “closed for security” so they were forcing us to pay to take a stupid elevator for which we would’ve had to pay 2 euros and wait an hour and a half. This didn’t really seem like a great idea as we were hungry, so we skipped it. I did, however, take some not so great pictures of the outside, just to prove I was there!

Sagrada Familia 1Sagrada Familia 2

The rest of the day was a hazy shade of full, tired, and pretty. We ate at an all you can eat sushi buffet where I ate nearly DOUBLE what Sparkey ate. This is quite a feat, actually as he is a good bit larger than I am and eats a lot. I told him I was hungry! After our stuffing, we waddled ourselves down to the sea so I could say that my feet have touched the Mediterranean and then went to see the Arc del Triumf. I am pretty sure that this is just a small scale replica of the one in France, but I’m not sure as I’ve never been there.

Arc del Triumf

Aren’t we cute?

To end the day we went for a walk in the park and then got some snacks for the bus ride home. We were NOT hungry at all for dinner, as lunch pretty much left me in a food coma for three straight days. You can’t see it here, but there is actually a small sushi baby forming in my belly.

At around 10 we headed to the bus station in a fit of exhaustion and sat around for an hour waiting for the 7 hour bus ride back to Bilbao. Luckily, this went pretty smoothly and I slept on Sparkey for most of it (because I am a professional sleeper. Really, I think I could win a sleeping contest if that contest were “fall asleep as quickly as possible in the most uncomfortable positions and most awkward of places” because I do that ALL the time. I fall asleep so quickly that Sparkey is convinced I’m some sort of freak of nature. This probably explains why I don’t understand how it takes him HOURS to fall asleep and only on the EXACT TYPE OF BED THAT HE LIKES).

Finally, here is my new favorite picture of us ever. As his mom said we look “very relaxed, very much ourselves”

sparkey and such

p.s. sorry for such a long entry…

Guernica y San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

So this past Friday (REALLY)our group took a trip to Guernica (Gernika, Gurnica, and others) and then to the church at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. I think this might’ve been one of my favorite trips thus far. It could’ve been because of this:

San Juan beach

It’s also possible that it had something to do with this:

San Juan Island

Possibly this:

Tide Pool

Or maybe it was because we were here:San Juan whole island

This is the island we hiked (down and then back up a mountain) to. It was beautiful. At the top there was a church with a bell that everyone rang (10 times to get a wish). It was quite a hike, but SO worth it, let me tell you. I had a wonderful time there! It was nice to be able to get away from the whole group and do my own thing for a bit too.

Before that, though we went to Guernika. For those of you that don’t know, the city of Guernika was destroyed in 1936 by a combined Spanish and German effort. There was no clear objective in the bombing, as the arms factory, one main bridge to the city, and town hall/Basque government centers were all left nearly fully intact. For years the Franco regime told Spain that the town had burned itself down. Now there is a peace museum in the center of town with ideas on what is needed to create peace, why it’s important, and things like that. It also chronicles the Basque conflict and ETA’s history, which I found quite interesting. I think the only thing I really didn’t like about the museum is that they tried to make it seem like this bombing, in terms of scale and magnitude, was the biggest in history (they didn’t mean up to this point, they meant in all of history up until now).

Anyways, Guernica was (and still is) one of the main places in all of Pais Vasco for the government. The king is sworn in here under this tree, the Tree of Guernica: new tree

This is the new one. Whenever the tree is dying, they plant one of it’s seeds and start a new one. Across the way, housed in a little gazebo,was the old one.

All in all, quite a fun trip. It was a bit hard on my feet, knees, legs, butt, and stomach with all the walking (jeepers I’m out of shape!), but SO worth it.

Finally, I leave you with this….red fish

I finished a gold one earlier, but I can’t for the life of me get it to photograph well 😦 C’est la vie…they’re pretty cute little fish and all my friends here are asking for them.

Alright, time to get back to studying for two tests tomorrow. And then, this weekend…BARCELONA WITH SPARKEY*!!!!!!!! My parents (and sister and uncle) come Monday. I’m pretty psyched. YAY FAMILY!

*Sparkey is my boyfriend of almost a year, he’s pretty cute and maybe I’ll post a picture of us being cute or silly together, because that’s what we do. But only if he lets me.

Madrid/Segovia thoughts

So I’ve been putting off posting about Madrid and Segovia for some time now. The reason is that I really didn’t enjoy Madrid at all, and I feel guilty about it. It’s supposed to be some great international city and whatnot, but I really wasn’t feelin’ it, to be honest. I didn’t like how big it was. I didn’t like how touristy it was. I just didn’t enjoy it at all. Segovia was great- pretty, quaint, interesting. Madrid just didn’t do it for me. So, I’ve decided that instead of writing about everything, I’d do a really quick summary in photos…

Palacio Real

yarn storeeeeeee

yarn store

aquaeductos

cathedral.jpg

Yep…next post will be about Guernica and such…

http://picasaweb.google.com/redblink14

those are my pictures of spain!

Good/Bad

Good: We had a four day weekend! I get every Friday off and today (Monday) was the holiday of the patron saint of the university. I went to Plentzia, which was very pretty

plentzia-pretty.jpg

There were also lots of boats

plentzia-boats.jpg

 

Bad: Conchi was gone from Friday night to Monday morning, so I was really lonely.

 

Good: I got to cook! I love cooking and, once I started, I realized how much I missed it. It was nothing fancy, just some soup, but it was nice to be able to do it.

 

Bad: I came home this afternoon for lunch to see two pheasants hanging over bowls, blood draining. Conchi is a hunter and went hunting this weekend at her cottage/other house. She said that the bird is really good, but I might not like it since I don’t eat meat. I don’t think this means she’s going to prepare it for me, but we’ll see. Coming home to two pheasants hanging over bowls filled with blood, guts on counter, feathers strewn about the kitchen…well that’s an experience (particularly for a vegetarian). They’re down now, but I wish I would’ve gotten a picture of it before I left the kitchen (and then nearly threw up). Meat is gross as is, but usually it’s behind a counter or wrapped in plastic. This was very much there.

 

Good: Bilbao Athletic (soccer team) played Barcelona last night and tied! It was an incredible game and very fun to watch.

 

Bad: I watched it in a café, alone (with all the other people there watching it, but still). I was going to buy tickets, but they only had 70 and 80€ ones left by the time we got there. I was going to go with two of my friends, so we decided to watch it at the café instead. About an hour later one of the girls got a call from her host dad saying that he had a friend who could get two tickets to the game. The other two girls were better friends and were both here last semester together so they went and I watched it alone. It was interesting though, I learned a lot of words that relate to soccer, and commiserated with the other patrons when Barcelona scored first. I also partook in the “all bar drink to the team” when we scored, so that was fun. Everyone cheers really loudly and jumps up and down when they score. Then, at that bar (and many others, I’m sure) all drinks are 75% off for the next 5-10 minutes, so everyone gets a drink and says cheers to the team and drinks up- quite an event, actually. It’s a good thing that soccer games usually aren’t too high scoring around here.

 

Good: We’re getting internet today! The guy is coming at 3:30 so, as soon as I can do so, I’m going to post this with my OWN internet connection, and not one stolen from the neighbors.

 

Bad: A while ago (back in the states), I noticed that my computer frequently had problems charging. I took it into Best Buy and they checked the power cord and said it was bad. They also said that my computer might be bad, but there was no way to check. I got a new power cord and things were going pretty well and dandy for a bit, but now not so much. I have to have the cord at the right angle or else it won’t charge, and the battery doesn’t keep a charge for more than about an hour. It works alright as long as I’m not trying to do anything crazy (like watch a movie in bed with the computer on my lap- like last night, all of a sudden the computer just turned off midway through). Oh well, at least I have a computer. This isn’t so much of a “bad” as a “bothersome.”

 

Good: Next weekend we’re going to Madrid and Segovia!! I’m so excited about this!!! One of the nights we’re in Madrid, I’m going to try and meet up with some friends who are studying there from back home! YAY!!!

 

Alright, that’s about it. Now that we have internet, it should be a lot easier for me to update and contact everyone. I’m going to finish up some homework and try and figure out the hours of the castaño stand (chestnuts). I’ve been craving them since I got here and I have NO idea when they’re open! Sometimes they are and sometimes they’re not. I hope they’re not seasonal, because I really really want some. The churro stand that was at the end of my street was seasonal, apparently. This was both a good and a bad thing because I could see myself buying a churro on a semi-regular basis (every other day or so? Yes) and that might lead to me being a gordita (fattish person). But those chocolate churros…oh jeepers they were good. Chocolate covered fried dough? Salty and sweet? Hot? PERFECT. I can think of nothing more delicious than a fresh, hot, chocolate con churro. It works as breakfast. Great for a late afternoon snack. Also good at night, after dinner as desert. On your way home from meeting up with some friends at a bar or café? Grab one because they put extra chocolate on them at night.

Enough blabbing about the churros. I’m going to look up chestnuts.

 

p.s. Since this is a knitting blog, here is some knitting content:

lelah.jpg

The Lelah top in Elsebeth Lavold silky tweed 🙂

 

Also, this is for Alex…I bought new shoes J

shoes.jpg

 

Around the town

Since not much exciting is happening right now (aside from the fact that I’m living in Spain and hear 3-5 different languages every day), I figured I’d show some things that I see every day.

Here we have the Guggenheim Museum…I see this beautiful building every day on my way to and from school. Very nice.

Guggenheim

(click on all the pictures to see them bigger…also the funny/distorted ones below to see them correctly)

Here is my room at home, it is very small but nice. A bed that I don’t fit on and a great desk and dresser.

Desk Bed

And now it’s off to bed with me as I have school in the morning!

Balmaseda y Portugalete

This past weekend our whole group got on buses and took a little tour around Pais Vasco, the state in which Bilbao is situated. We went to Balmaseda and Portugalete, both about 35 minutes (by bus) away from Bilbao. Balmaseda is the largest of a collection of small towns and villages in the western part of Pais Vasco with about 7,000 inhabitants in the town and surrounding area. The main attraction in Balmaseda is a really pretty Roman bridge that was built in the 15th century as a place for tax collection on all goods entering Europe. Now the bridge is seen as a national monument for the people of Pais Vasco. Unfortunately it was raining heavily in Balmaseda, so we couldn’t go see many of the other things we had planed (including a walk along the river bank, a visit to city hall, and seeing the 6oo year old church).

Puente Romanico

After waiting half an hour in the rain for the bus (Spaniards seem to be pretty lax about time), we got on and went to a little restaurant in Vilaverde (Green Village) situated between two mountains called La Capitana. The food there was amazing! I was made (special) a salad with eggs, tomatoes, white asparagus, baby lettuces, and garlic mushrooms. The second course was another one of those egg “omelets” with more white asparagus and mushrooms that looked like little ears (no idea what kind, but very good and picked that morning by the chef and his dog, so he said). Our meal came with wine (more dirt cheap and delicious crianza- I learned it was an insult to the people and country if you ask for a non-Spanish wine in a restaurant or bar, plus it costs about three times as much) and the usual white crusty bread. For desert (three plates, remember?) we had a chocolate/raspberry mouse tart that was delicious, but I could hardly finish because there had been so much other food.

Post lunch it (finally) stopped raining for a little bit and we were able to really enjoy Portugalete, a small town north of Bilbao, right on the ocean. We saw the Salazar tower (Lope García de Salazar was a famous historian in the Basque area), Basílica de Santa María, and the bridge that goes over the river (it’s really really big). We were able to travel across it in the gondola (the thing that looks like it’s hovering over the water in the photo of the bridge below). All in all a fun day.

Portugalete bridge

Cathedral

Classes started Monday and I’ve really been enjoying them. My teachers are all very good and very engaging. I am taking Basque culture and language, Spanish (courses in grammar, conversation, and writing), and contemporary Spanish culture and politics. I had to drop my course on Spanish cooking and theatre because I had too many credit hours and most of the food was not vegetarian friendly.

This weekend (Friday until Sunday- I get out of classes at 2pm every Thursday!) I plan on going to the naval museum and then scouting out hotels for my family to stay at when they come here. I might head out to a café with some friends, but no huge plans as of yet. This weekend is the festival of San Sebastian, so there will be some stuff for that going on, but nothing as big as the fiesta de tambores that’s happing in San Sebastian this weekend- that is supposed to be really huge (24 hours straight of drumming, from midnight Saturday until midnight Sunday, people don’t go to bed).

I’m leaving you with one more picture for now…this bottle of wine I am holding was .59 €, that’s $.90 American. Crazy, eh? It was on special, but it couldn’t’ve been more than 20 or 30% off because there aren’t a lot of items marked down that much. I have yet to try it, and I probably never will, because I imagine that $.90 wine is horrible.

Cheap wine