Doing the Goldeneye jump today.
Doing the Goldeneye jump today.
I brushed up on my Spanish the past week after visiting Seville, Ronda, Barcelona, and Florence.
My friend Kramer and I spent the first three days of our ten-day break in Seville. We flew out Friday morning, which required us to leave Thursday night for the Milan Airport because the Italian trains stop running at 1:00AM. Although it was a bit of an inconvenience waiting in the airport, it was our only option since the cheaper flights are usually early in the morning.
We touched down just after nine and made it to our hostel, “The Living Roof” about an hour later. They had a very friendly staff and it’s in a great location. The rooms were meager in size, but the shower was elegant and our room was situated on top of the roof. Technically, I guess you could say we had a penthouse suite. Overall, a good price for the amenities and I would recommend it, but I’m sure there are other fine accommodations in Seville.
My favorite day in Seville was on Saturday. I went on a “free” walking tour and my tour guide was awesome, his name was Rafael and he did a great job not only showing us the city, but keeping us entertained while still teaching the history of Seville. We first learned about the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, better known as Seville Cathedra. It’s the largest gothic church in the world and the fourth largest cathedral in the world. As a student, it only costs three Euro to enter and the views inside as well from the top of the Giralda Tower is absolutely worth it. There are only 17 steps to get to the top of the tower because it consists of a series of 35 gently inclined ramps. The sultan ordered to build theses ramps instead of steps so the muezzin could ride a horse to the top in order to recite prayer five times a day. Other sites that I saw during my stay were the Torre del Oro, Metropal Parasol, Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería, Alcazar de Sevilla, and the Plaza de Espana. Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace and II: Attack of the Clones were both filmed at the Plaza de Espana and I walked over the bridge R2D2 wheeled over in the video below!
After three hours of walking around the city, Rafael, others, and myself went to a local tapas restaurant called Ochos Huevos. I had a grande beer, vegetables, and a Spanish style omelet. The food was cheap and filling. By that time, it was almost six and I had a ticket to the local flamenco show. Upon arrival, I ordered a glass of sangria and enjoyed a night of dance and music. Later that evening, I met back up with friends that I had met earlier from the bar crawl, which Rafael was sponsoring. It was a blast. I have never spoken that much Spanish in my entire life. The entire bar was littered with students from Mexico and Puerto Rico and I knew then that it was my destiny to speak as much Spanish as I could remember from my studies. I surprised myself on how much I recalled. I felt as if I had been transported back to my high school Spanish desk with Senor Valez and the verbs and nouns that I once knew magically surfaced from the prefrontal cortex of my brain. This one beautiful girl named Ana spoke to me in Spanish for most of the night. She was from Mexico and spoke excellent English; she was basically my personal tutor for the night. Really cool girl and I was lucky enough to share a kiss with her. I wish her all the best wherever she is.
On Monday, Kramer and I went to Ronda, which is a small city outside of Seville. The sights were absolutely stunning, seriously, drop dead gorgeous and defiantly worth a day trip if you’re staying in Granada or Seville and its only about a two-hour train ride. The pictures below only justify why I want to hike the Camino de Santiago once my abroad program ends.
Check back tomorrow to read about my time in Barcelona and Florence.
I went to a Bible study today hosted by some of the students I’m living with and it made me happy. I’m making a commitment to rebuild my foundation in faith. It’s not going to be easy, but I have loving friends that are here to guide and help me through these early stages. Almost my entire life I have had this skewed misconception of what it means to believe in God. I still don’t know what it means, but at this point in my career I’m thankful for everything that has happened to me and I’m ready to stop running from God. I’m not here saying that I’m going to be some saint, I just want to be a better person. My spirits are high and I’m ready for the challenges that await me.
Kramer and I decided to do the “dumb” stereotypical holding the pyramid pose. This is the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. Did you know that if you looked at every piece of art in the Louvre for 10 seconds, it would take you 4 days without sleep.
The only selfie I have taken on this trip so far besides for snapchats. I still can’t believe I saw the Mona Lisa up close. Still have no clue what expression is on her face and that is the beauty behind it.
With only Saturday to travel the city we saw Notre Dame, The Gardens, The Louvre, Lovers Bridge, Sainte Chapelle, The Eiffel Tower, and the Basilique du Sacre Coeur. It was exhausting running around, but worth it.
My favorite part of Paris was the Eiffel tower. As a kid you hear about it and know it exists, but to actually see it lit up was truly special.
We’re going to Amsterdam this weekend which will be a trip…..literally. Some of us will be treating ourselves to Amsterdam’s world famous truffle and coffee shops. This will most likely be my only time in Amsterdam so I have to do it right. Check back next week for what will sure to be a very entertaining post.
Before I begin, I want to say that this post will be heavily picture based in contrary to my previous posts. I could write a novel about what I did the past 12 days, but I want to talk about the main highlights and some of the funnier moments on my trip to Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest.
This is a photo from Saint Christopher’s Hostel in Berlin. I met some German friends at the foosball table and later that night they took us out to this club called the Fritz. It’s an old train station converted into a nightclub with five different music rooms. It took us an extra two hours to get home because we took the wrong subway, and although frustrating, I smile every time I think about it.
My favorite part of Berlin was getting to see one of my best friends who I haven’t seen in three years. We didn’t miss a beat and she and I shared each other’s company at arguably one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in Berlin. I miss her already, but I know we’ll see each other again.
Berlin is a gigantic city with so much history. We only had 1.5 days to explore so we made the most of it and went to the main tourist sites that are pictured above. At some point in my life, I will go back to Berlin, I’m seriously considering living there after my program ends just so I can learn German. I’ll be back though, maybe sooner than later.
Prague was the next destination in our epic 10-day trip. We left Sunday afternoon and 5 hours later we arrived in Praha. The first night we took it easy, and went out for a traditional Czech dinner. I had beef Goulash with dumplings and half liter of beer. The beer is cheaper then water and it’s damn good beer. If you ever come to Europe don’t expect to drink out of water fountains because they don’t exist.
Our hostel was, “how you say” fucking awesome. We had convenient storage under our beds and a dope shower. It was a REALLY nice room for a hostel. On Monday Simon, our tour guide, gave the best “free” tour I’ve experienced since being in Europe. The “free” tours are a hit and miss depending on your guide. He walked us around the basic landmarks of old town Prague, and the Jewish quarter. He even showed us a bar were we could buy pot. The guy made me laugh and smile and I still remember some of the history he taught us. That’s what you want out of a free walking tour.
If you like history here is a question to think about. If you were born in 1918 and have lived your entire life in the Czech Republic, how many different countries have you resided in? My initial thought was 3, but the answer is 8. This question makes you realize what the Czechoslovakians have been through in the past 100 years. About 80% of the population in Prague is atheist. The country has seen so many changes that they are still trying to find their own identity. If you have any questions please send me an email. Also, what semi-famous movie filmed an action scene featuring the Charles bridge? Check back later today for my post on Vienna and Budapest.
“Photo Credits Reed Stiefvater”
Its been six days since we arrived in Lugano and there is no way I can describe everything that I have been through in this post. Class starts at 9:30AM and it’s about a 25 minute walk. The stroll through the city in the morning is one of my favorite parts of the day because it wakes me up and I have time to myself to think. It’s a funny sight for the locals to see because we all walk together and we look like a gang. Right now, we are taking consumer behavior and elementary Italian. The predominant form of communication here is Italian and the language barrier is something I have never experienced before. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to end my college career. I’m leaving for Munich on Friday. Make sure you check back sometime next week for an update. Here is a photo from the top of San Salvatore. Enjoy!