Hello all! Okay - here's the plan (we'll see if I can stick to it). Today: blog about Rob's visit, Granada, and time with my new roommates. Tomorrow/Tuesday: blog about Las Fallas and Valencia. My spring break starts at the end of this week and I'm leaving for France with Katelyn and Megan - we're going to visit Paris, Nantes (where one of my sorority sisters is studying this semester), and Mersaille. Then we're heading to Madrid for two days and one of my best friends from home is going to meet us there. Then we're all going back to Murcia for the rest of Semana Santa (Sarah is coming back to stay with me through Easter) and then I'll leave for Amsterdam/Leiden to visit her on Wednesday and stay for the rest of the week. I'll do my best to stay up to date on all of this blogging. I really love to do it, but it takes a while to keep you all informed! By the way...today is two full months for me. :)
First of all, something I don't think I mentioned. I have two new Italian roommates! During the first week of March my landlord brought them by and they were staying in a hotel while searching for apartments. God certainly answered my prayers because they decided to live with me! Their names are Valentina and Monda, and I love them! More to come about that later - just wanted to say that because I'm a big fan of chronological order in my blogs.
Okay...so, my very first visitor came to visit me the second week of March for Butler's Spring Break. My boyfriend Rob got to spend a week with me in Spain, and we had a blast together! The day before I spent almost entirely at Angie's house doing nothing - we wrote blogs, searched Facebook, and had breakfast for lunch. (The night before Angie, Katelyn, Megan, and I made pincha de tortilla, or Spanish tortilla. It turned out really well and we were very proud of ourselves for making a traditional Spanish dish). Anyway...I decided that I was going to make cookies for Rob, and we went to the store in search of baking supplies. Apparently Spanish people aren't huge fans of homemade cookies, because I could not find chocolate chips, vanilla, or baking soda. Please tell me how to make good cookies without those ingredients. I found one for zucchini cookies and decided that would be better than nothing. Unfortunately, I don't have any measuring cups or anything like that in my apartment either, so everything was pretty much estimating and guessing, which isn't quite as acceptable when baking. The cookies turned out looking like flat pancakes - I suppose it's the effort that counts?
Rob's flight was supposed to get in around 11:30, and though we had decided that I would just take the 11:00 bus and get to Alicante by 12:00, I decided to surprise him and be there ahead of time, so I got up early and ran to the bus station (I of course was running late). I got there by 9:45 in enough time to get my ticket for the 10:00 bus, only to be informed that there was no 10:00 bus - the next one was at 11:00. So, I waited patiently and wrote in my journal, got on the bus at 11, and ran into the airport when I got there so excited. As soon as I got in the doors my phone rang, and I thought it would be Rob telling me where he was inside the airport. It was definitely Rob, but to tell me that he was actually at the San Javier airport in Murcia. Awesome. So...I asked the man at the tourist desk the fastest way to get to that airport. I caught a bus to the center of Alicante, and then had to wait for an hour and half to catch my bus to San Javier, which in and of itself was a 2 1/2 hour bus ride. Then I had to take a taxi to the airport. Five and half hours later, I finally got to see Rob! We went out that night with my friends Angie, Katelyn, Megan, and Tiffaine for tapas, chocolate y churros, and then chilled at a bar for a while. It was exciting to be able to share my life here and for him to meet my friends. (The matching was completely by accident...I swear!)
The next day we went to church, and although he couldn't really understand anyone or talk to people, my church family here in Murcia is such a big part of my family that I'm glad he got to experience it. Dimas, the pastor, would pat Rob on the back and proudly say, "Roberto!" every time he passed him. Gotta love that man. I made a big lunch and then we spent the rest of the day lounging around and not doing much of anything since he was pretty jet lagged from his flight and I was also tired from all of the hullabaloo (sp?) the day before. The next night we went over to a friend's house who's friend was visiting from the US and we had a carry-in. He got to meet the rest of my friends too, which was fun. The next day I had to go to class early in the morning, and I went to the two morning classes before deciding I was done for the week. We went out to eat for lunch and then walked around and explored Murcia a little bit. We discovered a new park and walked down a path that leads out into more the countryside and goes along the river. It was a beautiful day - perfect for exploring!
We met Sam, Megan, her friend Donovan visiting from the US, and Isabella for tapas later that night at an amazing place called Izarron. Here, instead of ordering at the beginning, all of their tapas are little bocadillas (sandwiches) and the guy walks over every so often with platters and we can choose the ones that we want. Then at the end they count the toothpicks to do the bill. The food was DELICIOUS and it was a good time. Afterwards I took him to experience Badulake, the international bar that's popular among the study abroad students. One of my friends knows a boy who plays football (American football) and was working in Spain and he came too. Apparently whenever you put two football players together they get along and have a good time, so that all worked out well too :)
I had decided that I wanted to take Rob to see something else besides just Murcia, so we took a short trip to Granada. I had hoped to go to Toledo and see the windmills of La Mancha from Don Quijote and the vineyard there, but there wasn't a bus or train directly to Toledo and it would have taken too much time to get there, so we decided on Granada instead, and I'm glad we did. Granada was beautiful!!! We decided on Granada around 1, and our bus left at 4:30, so there was just enough time to book the tickets for everything and pack and head out. The bus ride was about 3 hours, but the landscape was so beautiful with the mountains and the sunset that it was a nice ride. When we got there we bought a map and talked to the lady about how to get to the place where we were staying and the good sites to see and such. After checking in, we walked around a little bit and found a nice little place for pizza and watching the Real Madrid game. We walked around the city a little more but there weren't a ton of people out on a Wednesday night and it was pretty chilly, so we made it an early night since I had booked our tickets for the Alhambra early the next morning.
The Alhambra is a huge palace that was built and occupied by the Muslims until the Reconquista when the Christians essentially took it over. It is the biggest tourist spot in Spain, and it was obvious throughout the day because there were SO many people there. In March. It was definitely good that we got there early because it was so much easier to take pictures. There were gardens, the actual palace, and towers to see as well. The Sierra Nevadas surround Granada and it was just beautiful for taking pictures. A lot of these don't really need much explaining, but are certainly beautiful to look at!
After we left the Alhambra, we decided to walk around a little bit. We were told that the area of Sacramonte is where the gypsies live, so we went to explore up there on the mountains. There are so many beautiful white houses, and there are also cuevas, or caves. A lot of the houses are half cave, half house, which is pretty cool. We didn't get to go inside any of them, but they were neat just to look at. We also had a beautiful view of the Alhambra from the small winding streets where we were exploring.
We stopped at a little plaza for lunch at a table that overlooked the city. The food was delicious (I had a typical Granadian dish of beans with onions and ham and it was fabulous!) and the man who worked at the restaurant was adorable - he sang to himself and squirted the cats around the table with a water bottle, and was so nice.
It was sunny and beautiful and we just had a very relaxing time eating, having coffee, and enjoying the view. We made our way down and walked around town a little more, seeing all sorts of beautiful buildings and fountains.
I even randomly ran into a girl in my business fraternity who graduated from Butler a year ago who was traveling with her boyfriend around Spain. How completely crazy! The rest of the day was beautiful, and we caught our bus and got to watch another sunset on the way home. We got back pretty late and had dinner and spent a little bit more time together before his early flight the next morning. We got up at 5 and caught a cab to the airport, which was still closed when we got there. I had no idea that airports closed, but apparently small regional airports do. I was very sad to see him go, but thankful for the time that we did get to spend together.
Angie called me up later and we went to the market to get some fruit, and then I had dinner with my roommates later that night and Megan came over and spent the night too. I felt that I had kind of ignored them while Rob was with me because he can't speak or understand Spanish, and they can't speak English. It was nice to spend time and get to know them. I took them out the next night to meet some more of my friends and we went to a bar where we danced to American oldies music - great times. I played for church the next day, and when I got back they asked me if I would like to go get paella with them, which of course I could not decline since I had never had this typical Spanish food at an actual restaurant. We walked into town and found one called La Cocina de Vives, and the workers there were so nice. I'm pretty sure that I could not possibly eat a more typical Spanish meal than this. We had a bottle of sangria, tapas (croquetas of jamon y queso, patatas bravas, bread, ensalada murciana, and calamari), then the marisco paella, which had shrimp and fish in it. I never used to be a shrimp girl, especially shrimp that still had the eyes and the tails attached, but this was extremely delicious. Following that, we had dessert which consisted of carmel flan and chocolate ice cream and whipped cream - a sweet tooth's dream.
Coffee and a shot of Baileys after that, and we were stuffed to the brim. The whole meal was so reasonably priced that I would recommend it to anyone. As we were heading back, there was a free concert in the plaza near the Catedral. We asked a lady why, and she basically just said - because. We listened to a few songs and then headed home. It was great to be able to spend a whole day with them and get to know each other better. What great girls.
Getting back into the grind of school was tough at first, but I survived my first test! It was for the class of History of Urbanismo, and we had studied about 20 cities and the test consisted of comparing two plans of cities. I was nervous, but found out that I got a .8 out of 1, which thrilled me beyond belief. I also am loving my History of Music and Folklore class - we get to sing all sorts of children's songs and I get to learn the songs that Spanish children learned growing up. We sang a few lullabies this week, and they were beautiful. I'll have to keep those in my repertoire :) My professor also changed my final assignment so that instead of taking the written final exam, I get to give a presentation to the class about folklore music from my country. I decided to do children's songs, so I'll do songs that my family sings, songs that children sing while playing games (ex: Ring Around the Rosie), relgious songs, songs from the media, and I'm going to do one song from the Native Americans. I'm really excited to get to choose and research these songs and then sing/play them for the class. I feel that I'll actually be able to contribute to the class and they can learn from me as I'm learning from them.
Short week this week - leaving for France on Thursday! Stay tuned for Las Fallas and Valencia - coming soon!