Sunday, May 20, 2007

Long Weekend

Whew. So we had a long weekend trip to Segovia, Toledo, and Burgos, and it is kind of funny how sitting on your butt on a bus for a lot of hours really wears you out.

We started off leaving at 8:30 Friday morning from Santander, heading down to Segovia, which is about 4-5 hours away. We dropped our stuff off at the hotel, ate lunch, and then went on our guided tour of Segovia. They have Roman aqueducts, which are pretty amazing. Not only did the Romans think of a way to move the water uphill to where it was needed, but the entire thing was built back in the first century AD without any cement or anything. Then we went and saw a variety of things in the city, ending with the castle. It had a dried up moat, and what can I say...I'm a sucker for castles. Anyway, after that we had some free time to look around before dinner, and then that was the end of the day.

The next day we had breakfast at 8 and left the hotel at 8:45 on our way to Toledo, which is about 2 hours from Segovia. We had a tour guide this time (the other times it was our art/culture teacher), named Carrrrrlos. (Which is how he said it when he talked to us.) He was pretty funny, although the group asked him to talk to us in Spanish but he talked like we were 8 year olds and kept going back to English for most of it anyway. It was kind of nice because he was talking his Spanish so slow and Spanglishing it so much that I think I actually understood everything he said. We saw a lovely panoramic view, one of the churches, the cathedral, and El Entierro del SeƱor de Orgaz by Greco, which is a really famous painting from the Spanish Renaissance. The Cathedral is the tenth largest in the world and the second largest in Spain, so that was spiffy as well. Then we had lunch and free time, and then it was back to Segovia and the hotel.

Sunday, we again left at 8:45 to head home and go to Burgos. The weather, which was warm (really hot by Oregon definitions - wimps can't take 85 degrees!) :) and sunny for Friday and Saturday, decided to drop to the 60s (freezing by my little Vegas standards) and rain Sunday. We got to wake up to a nice thunder storm though, which I've missed while living in Oregon. We did a big tour of the Cathedral in Burgos, which started off really cool and impressive...but was really big and I've noticed the spiffy architecture stops being spiffy after you've been looking at it for two hours. Then we had lunch and took off for home, getting home at about 5:30. Originally I think we were supposed to spend more time in Burgos and see something else, since we were supposed to get back at 9, but with the weather I think they decided against it, which by that point I was happy with.

So that was it. Lots of cool stuff, lots of time on a bus, lots of not wanting to go to school today...I just need a day off. :) But it was fun to see the stuff.



Monday, May 14, 2007

The people are crazy, crazy, crazy!

And no, I don't mean the Spaniards, although I'm starting to think that the food could have been used for medieval torture, but that seems to just be my host mom's lack of ability to cook. All my other friends are complaining about how good the food is and how they are getting fat...I swear, I might hurt someone if I hear another tiny girl complain about being fat again. I actually heard the sentence "But I'm up to 127 pounds!" -Gasp!- :)

So I have figured out the reason that people hate Americans, and why there are riots in France over the new president saying that he wants to have a good relationship with the US. There is a valid reason why most of the world hates us and thinks so poorly of us - because of the people who study abroad.

Now, in my group there are about 28 people or so. Of these, I am the poor cousin in the family, and quite a bit. My friend was talking to her parent's about how she didn't quite have enough money for London, and they deposited $1,000 in her bank account the next day. Almost everyone is rolling in it, which would make sense since this is pretty expensive (thanks to good 'ol Uncle Sam for giving me loans that I will be paying off until I am 85). In that alone they are leading a great example, telling the one guy from China in our classes that families have a car for every person in their family in the US, which is their economic circles.

At least half of the people here are in a frat or sorority, and are acting in the stereotypical way that makes me crack jokes about frat and sorority people. There are these two 18 year old freshman girls that are loving the fact they can get drunk every night...and think their story about going swimming at midnight, in the ocean, naked, alone, and drunk, on a school night no less, is hilarious. Almost everyone in my group is a walking American stereotype that makes me hate us too.

Do you know how bad it is? My closest friend here, who I spend time with everyday, is a reformed christian republican who actually likes Bush. And I like her better than anyone here! (And that may sound mean, but she thought it was hilarious and finds it just as funny that she is spending all this time with a tree-hugging liberal lesbian, so we're even).

Aggghhh. I may lose it in the next month, I really may.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hmmm...Remember me?

Now the dirty secret is out...I'm horrible at keeping things like journals. I still have a diary I bought when I was in 7th grade that I still kind of write in...and it's only half filled, if that. Oh well. :)

So, obviously, I made it back from London, although the trip was...interesting.

To start things off, my camera broke somewhere from the day before and going through the security at the airport, which made for an excellent start of the trip. Thankfully, both of my friends had digital cameras and I bought a disposable while I was there, but I'm kind of bummed - it's only a few months old. Now I get to try a repair shop in Spanish! Eek.

So, Friday we went to the Tower of London, which was pretty cool. It's kind of weird being in a place where someone was kept until they were executed, or being in a room where people where tortured for various things in that exact location. We paid for the audio guides, which were well worth it, and thankfully I was with other nerdy types so we all ended up listening to the extra information on each site. They even had people reading writings that people made there, including this one guy who was tortured by being hung by his wrists in metal manacles. He said that when the pain got so bad that he passed out they would lift him up until he woke up and then let him hang again, and that they did this about 9 times. They wanted him to renounce the Protestant belief or something to that effect, and he told them it was crazy talk and he wouldn't give up his soul to save his life. I definitely liked the whole torture stuff. :)

We ended up spending a lot more time there than I wanted to, since I had a time limit they didn't have and didn't really care about the armory that we ended up being in for over an hour. (And it was crawling with a school group of 8 or 9 year olds, of which my friends told me they lost me in the crowd..ha ha. I was only shorter than about half of them, so there!). Then we went to the British Museum, which I had wanted to see more, but I only had about an hour and a half. I decided to call it a wash instead of getting really pissed off, so I saw the Rosetta Stone and went to the ramen place I read about in my guidebook for dinner. (Yes, it's an addiction, but it could be much worse!)

Then I went to see the Lion King! Which is why I had a time limit my friends didn't. It was the coolest thing I have ever seen in my entire life! I could go on and on about it, but I'll be nice and won't. If you can get a chance to see it somewhere, do, and pay for the better seats. When they did the opening of Circle of Life the different animals came down the aisles, as well as at some other parts. They did a really good job of turning a cartoon with animals in it into people-animals in person. It's amazing.

Then the next day I went to York, which I can't show you any pretty pictures because I was all by myself and it's on a disposable. It was good, I got to walk along the original city wall that was built by the Romans and then rebuilt later on, and then I think a little more later on, so my feet and the Roman parts were far removed, but it was still pretty cool. I discovered, not surprisingly, that I wouldn't be able to shoot arrows through the arrow slits, since I could barley see out of the bottom of it. (To which Karli, at Tower of London on a similar wall, made a lovely reference to Lord of the Rings and asking if I would need a box to stand on or if she should just describe everything to me. Let's just say I feel the dwarf's pain, I really do.)

There was some major stumbles in the trips and some changes and all that resulted from it, but I'll save that for another day since this is a little bit long already.