It hasn’t been difficult at all for me to keep up with blog posts to inform and record about my traveling, but this write-up is a DELIGHT to recount. 🙂 I had a really fantastic week with my parents, my sister Ashley, and my boyfriend Bill.
Some of you will understand my reference to National Lampoon’s European Vacation — I promise you, it wasn’t that bad. Others of you will understand that when I say “Lorah-style”, you should read “with lots and lots of rain, and probably some thunderstorms and/or hail”. For the last several years my family has taken rainy camping trips to Cape May as our family vacation but we took advantage of my semester abroad to celebrate some big birthdays in 2012 (50, 50, 21 and 18) and to have a fun week visiting me here in Spain. Bill’s Easter break coincided with this week and so he was able to join us, bringing along with him ALL of the rain that Grove City has been missing out on lately.
Before you start to read, go to this link for some background music 😉 Imagine thirty or forty thousand sevillano soccer fans singing this…
We spent the week in three parts: four days in Seville, two days in Barcelona (in Cataluña, in northern Spain on the Mediterranean coast), and one day in Madrid (the capital of Spain). We had LOTS to do!! This is a good chance for me to tell you about some of the big sights in Seville (since I usually write about when I go to other places) so I’ll put lots of pictures in (and as always you can visit the link at the end of this post to see more pictures on my Shutterfly).
Saturday: They were all a little jet-lagged so I went easy on them 😉 We met at the train station and went to their hotel, and after they unloaded we went to the Plaza de España and Parque Maria Luisa. They had travelled during the night and not slept, so they made it until about dinner-time and then all went to bed.
Sunday: For breakfast we had “chocolate con churros” and “cafe con leche” — some typical Spanish breakfast items. We all visited the art market I visited at the beginning of the semester, where local artists sell their paintings. It was Palm Sunday, the first day of Spain’s Holy Week festivities, and the first of many several rainy days. (I am telling you, it rained SO LITTLE in Seville until this week…and now all of a sudden it’s overcast and rainy every day 😛 some luck). We went to a church service (it starts at 12:15pm!) … all in Spanish, so needless to say, they didn’t get much out of it 😉 but I was glad they went, and several people came up to us and welcomed us. After church we tried paella (a rice dish normally served with mussels, shrimp and chicken mixed in) and took a walk along the river. We got to witness a few interesting Holy Week festivities in Seville this week — the city is famous for its “Semana Santa” activities. There are dozens of “brotherhoods” who each belong to a certain church in the city and during Holy Week each brotherhood has a procession where they parade from their church to the cathedral in the center of the city. The procession involves a marching band, nazarenos (penitents who wear outfits exactly like the KKK), and a ‘paso’ or float carried by more men (usually the float is a statue of a scene or figure relating to Holy Week, e.g. Judas betraying Jesus, or Mary crying). For dinner we went to my host family’s house!! They made us Spanish tortilla, salmorejo (a special cold tomato soup), Iberian ham, etc. and we had a great time all trying to understand each other 😉 Since I was the only person who could really understand everything that was said, I wound up translating eeeeevery word of the conversation back and forth — I had a cold and by the end of three hours my voice was gone, but it was SO FUN! I appreciated the opportunity to show my family and Bill where I’ve been living and who I’ve been living with 🙂
Monday: I think it rained a lot on Monday and we considered visiting a small town near Seville but decided to go to the mall for a while instead 😉 so we slept in a bit and relaxed for the day, shopping and browsing and just hanging out 🙂 For lunch we treated ourselves to a delicious American meal at T.G.I.Friday’s 😉 We visited El Corte Ingles, a huuuuuuge Spanish department store. At night we had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to a Spanish soccer game. My host brother had told us the night before that there was a special deal for tickets that night and we took advantage of it, only 10 euros per person! It poured while we were walking to the game but the rain held off while they were playing and we definitely did not regret going 🙂 The energy in the stadium was electric, and Seville won 3-1 against Mallorca! There was one section of sevillanos who literally did not stop singing for the ENTIRE 90-minute game!! They had tons and tons of cheer type of songs that were impossible to understand but really fun to hear 🙂
Tuesday: This was our last day in Seville so we had to pack things in a bit — we thought about visiting the Alcazar (royal palaces and gardens) and the cathedral, but one was closed and the other had a long line. We went up to the walking area on the roof of the “Setas de la Encarnación”, a mushroom-shaped structure in the middle of the city…random, but it’s the largest wooden structure in the world. I showed them the ISA building where I had my first two weeks of classes, and my university where I now have classes. For dinner we went to the Carboner¡a, where lots of tourists go not only to get a typical sevillana meal but also to see a real live flamenco show — a style of dance and music that originated here in southern Spain, Andalusia.
If the last song ended already, you can go to this youtube link and see a TV commercial for Seville’s favorite beer — it’s an advertising masterpiece. It helps if you understand Spanish, but it still makes me excited to be in Andalusia every time!
Wednesday: In the morning we caught an early flight to Barcelona and then took a bus tour while we waited for check-in time at the hotel… whew, that bus tour was an adventure. It was a “hop on, hop off” thing that stops at all the important sites in the city. Thing is, it was raining pretty hard at this point and the roof to the second story of the bus (it was double decker and there were hardly any seats on the bottom story) was temporary and quite flimsy. We all had to sit in the “window” seats, which meant that every time we made a turn the water accumulated on the roof of the bus would splash off into our laps 😛 Once we managed to secure seats underneath (by waiting until other people got off) we were soaking wet and notttt exactly in the mood to tour Barcelona 😛 We took a walk along Rambla, a market-ish street, after the rain let up, and visited a house we talked about in my art class, Casa Batlló by Gaudí.
Thursday: On Thursday we tried Bus Tour: Take II, a much more successful version of the first bus tour. This time we got out at a few of the stops and saw some cool stuff… the Olympic stadium from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics is still there and open to the public…until you hang from the I-Beams and get kicked out, as Bill and Ashley did 😉 (we snuck back in for a quick picture…we’re soooo wild!)… we also saw Gaudí’s “Sagrada Familia”, a huge art nouveau cathedral that is still under construction.
Friday: We flew to Madrid from Barcelona in the early afternoon and met up with our family’s exchange student Koko, who my family hadn’t seen for about five years!! She stayed with us for two summers and it was cool for my parents to meet her parents (they live in Madrid and I came to visit them three years ago here). We all went to a nice restaurant together and then they took us to Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol, two big plazas in the city, and also the royal palaces. Since it was my last night with my family and Bill, we went back to the hotel pretty early and relaxed and played some friendly Phase 10 (a card game), which Bill won… purely beginner’s luck 😛
Saturday: This morning we had breakfast at the hotel and then I went to the airport with everyone to see them off and to catch a train back to Seville it’s hard to believe this week has passed already, I feel like they just got here!! Now I have about 5 more weeks until I go home in May.
Thanks for following along — I hope you all have a wonderful Easter tomorrow celebrating our Risen Savior!
more pictures at:
http://jamielinspain.shutterfly.com/ (three separate albums)