Sunday, May 8, 2011

Break in Italia

Hola again! 
First off, Happy Mothers day everyone (especially my mummy, Jessica, Jenna and any other mom's reading this :) Next off, here is my update on the second week of Spring vacations. I went to Italy with my host sister to visit my aunt and her family for a week. Sad thing is, I spoke more Spanish on this trip than I do one week in Spain. That was my wake up call to work harder and take advantage of my last 3 weeks here. (Oh yeah guys, I'm coming home 3 weeks from Tuesday!!! :) Anyways, So Maria and I flew to Pisa and spent the next week touring Siena, Florence, Venice and Pisa. Maria and Kathy saw the only things you can see while traveling with me, meaning me tripping over anything and everything, and I have a few entertaining stories involving guys and train stations... but oh well lol. We walked around Siena and toured their Cathedral, the wednesday market and the beautiful streets. I really love Siena, it's a beautiful small Italian city in Tuscany, what more could you ask for? 

We also spent a day at my cousin's grandmothers house, where I always eat the most amazing Italian food ever! Hand-made pasta, home raised chicken, home-made olive oil. It's amazing! She also has the most beautiful views of the Tuscan country side. After our amazing lunch, we went to the beach with a few of Kathy's friends. It wasn't as nice as my playa española, but it will do ;)

We went to Florence several times, one night for the festival that takes place on the first of May and the second time to wander the city. The festival was a crowded night with free concerts and events going on. We just wandered around, looking and we even watched a weird acting schools performance (which was done in English, kinda weird since we were in Italy, but whatev). We also ran into a native American music group which I found rather amusing, since were in Europe lol. The next time we were in Florence, we wandered around. We barely missed going in the Cathedral, we arrived at 4:10 and it closed at 4, which it only does on Thursdays.. weird schedule. We also went to the plaza with all the roman statue art. They weren't the originals, you had to pay to see those, but I figured they were close enough and less claustrophobic to see. (Ok, not really the same, but one thing I love more than Roman art is free) The thing I like about Italy is that they make sure you see their art, whether you enter the museums or not, and Roman art is one of my favorites. Outside the Palazzo Vecchio was a copy of almost every famous statue in Florence. I had to take a picture of every single one, which my host sister thought was weird, but I'm an art minor, what does she expect? lol 


palace of Florence

River with colored lights

The Rape of the Sabine Women

Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus

We spent two days in Venice. I forgot how easy it was to get lost in that city. I literally had no clue of where we were for almost the entire time we were there. Yay for my lack of direction :) But the city was lovely and sunny too! We wandered over all the bridges, took a 50 cent gondola ride (probably equates to a dollar with the exchange rate nowadays..) climbed the tower in the Plaza de San Marco and visited the island of Burano. We also saw a glass blowing demonstration and because I was there, wandered through many glass shops. Kathy and Maria decided that I had a obsession with glass, but like I said earlier, what did they expect?? haha. The glass in Venice was absolutely breathtaking and it made me miss glassblowing again . Although I could never make what those dudes did haha :) 

All weekend Maria was telling me: Estas una pata aka you're a duck. Which is how they say clumsy :)

My favorite glass pieces in Venice, Goblets with figurine stems, absolutely gorgeous!!


Other fun parts: when one Italian thought that I was Mexican, haha. I'm still laughing over this. Watching the Italians all throw themselves at Maria, they have a thing for Spaniards apparently. And seeing family, that's always nice :) Well that's all for now, now it's back to school for a week and after that comes finals. Pretty sure I won't fail anything, but I will still have to hit the books this week (ughh). Hasta luego folks! 

Semana Santa

So I have had the privilege to see one of Spain's most famous holidays ever, Semana Santa. I was amazed at all the effort that went into the week, and also shocked at how important it is to the Spanish since they aren't really religious. (They cried when the processions in Sevilla got canceled due to rain) But it was truly an amazing thing to see.
Semana Santa is a week long festival that takes place the week before Easter. The first processions start on El Domingo de Ramas (Palm Sunday) and continue till Pascua (Easter)  The most important procession of the week however takes place on Wednesday, it is the procession of the Virgin Mary. This happened to be the only procession I was able to see, due to some untimely rain (many processions were cancelled due to rain) and 3 proyectos that I had procrastinated shamelessly on ( I wrote in 4 days, two 4 page papers and one 7 page, all in Spanish!). And yes I am very proud of that fact :) Any ways, I travelled to Cartegena, another city in Spain, with my host sister and the girl who used to live with my host family, to visit the sister of my host mom and see the processions of that city.

Before we start though, a little information on Semana Santa. Lasting a week, there are processions every day. The processions consist of penitents (the people with the KKK hats), bands, tronos (floats) that depict a scene from Jesus' final week and depending on the city, military. Every city celebrates Semana Santa in a different way. Some watch the processions in complete silence while others will yell things like "¡Guapa!" at the Virgen Mary. Sevilla is most famous for it's processions during Semana Santa.

In Cartegena, the procession I watched lasted for about 3 hours. I had to miss the Copa del Rey final between Madrid y Barça, but being in Spain, you could ask anyone around you for the score and they could tell you. In fact almost all the men in the processions had earbuds in, listening to the game on radio. (like I said earlier, fútbol is more of a religion here than christianity). So I was able to follow the game and watch the processions at the same time. (I am pretty sure living in Spain has made me a hardcore fútbol fan, Madrid won btw :D) Anyways, the procession was absolutely beautiful. The tronos (floats) were huge and everything on them was real, including the fruit and meat on the trono of the last supper. The most important ones were carried by 50+ men for the 5 hr walk. The procession finished with the trono of the Virgin Mary and then the military. After that, Easter sunday was low key. I made the mistake of going to mass before the Spanish choir wakes up (11:30 am) so it was just readings and the sermon (and I understood a lot of it!! :) Then I made my host family pancakes, because it's an easter tradition for me and because they've never had pancakes before.. Needless to say, they loved them.

Look mom! I'm doing dishes!! ;D

Friday, April 15, 2011


So I forgot to include my adventures in Sweden is my last blog (sorry George and Anna). I went to Sweden early March and thought that I had shared that adventure already.  I went to Sweden to visit my brother George and his fiancee Anna for a weekend in Gothenburg. The first day there we went to the science museum there, which was very cool. We saw the shark tank, the rainforest room and some other cool exhibitions. Afterwards I helped Anna put together while George went to work. The next day we all walked around Gothenburg a bit, after Anna made us all (and a few friends) a fantastic brunch. I left later that night, after the final adventure of walking to the airport. This airport is tiny and in the middle of nowhere, and George decided that we could walk from a bus stop a little under two miles away. Which didn't bother me, the day I can't walk two miles will be the day I cry. But it is the first time I have arrived to an airport by foot. :) Here are some pics from Anna's blog, because her pictures are much better than mine :) 

The lion things are George's and Anna's presents to my future nephew Leonel Espino, Leo for short  
¡Hasta Luego!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

ehh, way too lazy to think of a name ;)

Lo siento for the long wait (for those of you who still bother to read this thing :) I have a lot to tell, so brace yourselves for a long one!
Way back in March I went to Ireland to spend some time with my sister Jill, who was there for a graduation present from my parents. We ended up starting the trip on great terms. Long story short, I ended up waiting for Jill to pick me up from the airport on the road outside the airport for 2 hours at midnight (it was FREEZING!) while Jill had parked and gone inside to look for me. Jill also didn't have a cellphone on her, making things rather difficult. We finally found each other after I received a call from my aunt in Italy (!) telling me that Jill was looking for me and my mom was getting worried.... (only I could get people in 3 different countries worried about where I am). After this mishap we had no problems at all. We spent the first two nights in a little bed and breakfast and exploring the Irish countryside outside of Dublin. We visited the Powers Court, which Jill loved because she felt like she was in Pride and Prejudice, all that was missing was Mister Darcy (although she also had to state right afterwards that she could never marry Mr. Darcy because he was a jerk, ohhh Jill ;) We also went to an old abbey, a waterfall and some random castle ruins on the side of the road. Ireland is an absolutely amazing country and so beautiful. There are lots of sheep though, I am pretty sure that they outnumber the people who live there. My favorite thing with the sheep is that they are everywhere... roads, fields, yards, and soccer fields, which made me laugh because the Spaniards would never allow this, lol.

 The next morning, after a short run, we checked out and headed to the hill of Tara. After it taking us both a pathetic amount of time to find the entrance, we spent some time wandering around the old royal grounds. There were of course sheep there, and a running club running circles around the hill top, lol. Then we headed to Dublin for the day. We spent some time wandering around, then Jill went to study for 5 HOURS, and I went to to wander around some more. I ended up spending 40 minutes watching a street show and hours wandering around all the city sights. The next day Jill left and I met up with my friend Michele. We bought some tickets for a bus that took us around the city sights that we could hop on and off at any time of the day. We went to the Guinness factory then killed some time wandering the city before heading to the airport. We spent ages at the airport because she is paranoid. Every time I mention that to her though all she says is "London.." and I shut up :). I loved Ireland though. The people were so nice and open and the country is beautiful. 

My next trip was to Germany to visit a friend of mine, Anna. She was an exchange student in Centralia my sophomore year. It was a nice visit. We biked around her small town of Kamp-Lintfort and I met her friends at a birthday party later that night. They were all very nice to me, and some were willing to talk to me in English which I really appreciated, because I now know how hard it is to speak a second language. The next day Anna, Max (her boyfriend) and I all went to Düsseldorf. It is a nice city, with the Rhein river running through it. We walked around a bit, then went up a tower so we could see the entire city. Afterwards, we headed back and watched Max's basketball game. That night I went with Anna and her friends went to an old shut down steel factory, which has had neon lights added to it, and people can walk up to the top whenever they want to. It was wicked cool :) The next morning I headed back to Spain. 

Well that's a wrap up of my latest travels. Other than that, I have been busy with school. Yes despite what you all may believe, I do still attend that. And it's starting to get tough, meaning I have entered the due date month. I have a 7 page paper due next week, I'm writing about fútbol. I also have several projects due, and I had all my tests last week. But, nice weather has arrived here, and I spent the last two days at the beach, and today I went hiking :). In two weeks I have spring break. I get 2 weeks off! I will spend Semana Santa with my host family, with their family in Cartagena. Then the second week my host sister and I are going to Italy to visit my aunt Colleen. I am excited, especially because I will have to speak Spanish for the entire break :) Well that's all I believe. I will post some hiking pictures soon! ¡Hasta luego!