Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sevilla, Córdoba y mi primera presentación

Saturday, October 24, 2009

We got up bright and early for our tour of Sevilla. We left about 10 kids at the hotel because they didn’t make it to the bus on time. I have a feeling they weren’t even trying to make it, since I heard some people come in around 6am. I got up at 7:30. We did a little driving tour with our two tour guides (I forget the one guy’s name, but the other was Izzy!). We first stopped at the Plaza de Espana that was part of the 1929 international fair. We took some time here to take fun pictures before it became more and more crowded. Also, there were horse drawn carriages all over the place! We got back on the bus and headed to the Alcazar. First we walked through the gardens, which Izzy told us had many, many types of citrus fruit trees (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, etc.). In fact, this garden had many different kinds of just about everything! Izzy pointed out a flower from India, a tree from Brazil and another plant from Argentina just off the top of his head. Apparently there were many more too! Once in the Alcazar palace, Izzy gave us a wonderful tour of all the different rooms. We saw where King Pedro the Cruel lived, and where Christopher Columbus first went to ask to be funded for his voyage. Then we walked over through the Barrio Santa Cruz, which was the old Jewish quarter. We made our way through the tiny streets to the Cathedral and Giralda bell tower. The Cathedral had a plaque from the Guinness Book of World Records stating that it’s the largest Gothic church. It is also the second largest in volume after St. Peter’s. It was pretty impressive. I’ve been to St. Peter’s, and obviously that one kicked this one’s butt, but it was still amazing to see the kind of architecture they were capable of. One of my favorite things in there was this giant mirror they had placed on a short platform that you could look down at, and then see the high ceiling and the giant organ. The main altar was HUGE, and consisted of 44 different scenes of Jesus’ carved out of wood. The crucifix on the top was over 8 and a half feet tall, but looked like it was only 3 feet tall. That’s how big the altar was. Also in the Cathedral was Christopher Columbus’ tomb, which was pretty neat to see! His giant tomb is carried by 4 big men, who apparently were 4 different kings from different Spanish regions. Before we left we went to the Giralda tower to go up and see the view from over 330 feet up! It was made up of all ramps, so there were some people pushing strollers! On every side there was a window, so we stopped to take some pictures at those, and then finally made it to the top. It was pretty impressive looking out at everything, but what I liked was all of the bells. Paula said that sometimes kids have gotten stuck up there when the bells started ringing. We heard them ringing earlier that day…from the Alcazar gardens…and it was still loud. I can’t even imagine being up there if they were going. There were about 20 of them all together.

We were then set free and left to find our way back to the hotel. Before our guides left us, they told us that there was a Sevilla soccer game that evening. That sparked some interest, so Will, Daryl and I decided to go check out the stadium—which happened to be right around the corner from our hotel. I don’t know how we missed that on our walk the night before. We got there and were bombarded with scalpers trying to sell us VIP tickets for ridiculously cheap prices (cheap meaning 70 Euros). We finally got past them and got to the ticket window and bought our ACTUALLY cheap tickets…up in the nosebleeds. I didn’t care, I just thought it would be fun. I have been to a pro game before, but that was when we went to Germany in 2003, so I felt like it was time to see another one! We stopped by the team store on our way back to the hotel and found out they were having a HUGE blowout sale. I decided to get a giant flag (2 Euros!) for the game that evening. If I didn’t get the chance to wave it around, at least it would act as a nice blanket. Will got some other things, and so did Daryl! Instead of making it back to the hotel, we stopped at the mall that was right next to the stadium. They had already set up pre-game festivities (it was about 3:00…and the game didn’t start until 10pm), but it was mostly for younger kids. They had those little bungee things where the kids get strapped into the bungees and then jump on the trampoline. I just about went over and did it—I miss bungee trapeze! Haha. Anyway, we shopped around for a bit and then ate at Dominoes. It was PACKED with school kids who had just gotten out of school. Once we got back to the hotel, it was just about time to go to dinner and then to the game. Paula said that people didn’t really do anything before the game, but we saw otherwise on our way back to the hotel earlier. People had already started drinking and there were vendors set up outside selling all sorts of things. Apparently they can bring whatever they want into the stadium, they don’t check your bags for illegal snacks! We got into the game with about 20 minutes until it started. It was kinda funny because the whole pack of Espanyol fans (the other team) ended up setting up right in front of us. It was entertaining, but I felt a bit awkward with my giant Sevilla flag, haha. One of my favorite parts of the game was the Sevilla song, which I managed to get a short video clip of. It was so epic and sounded like it should have been in some sort of action movie. The game was really exciting even though no one scored. The Espanyol fans had cheer battles across the entire stadium with the rowdy Sevilla fans. They all had huge flags (theirs were on sticks though) and waved them the ENTIRE game. They must have huge forearms. A lot of AIFS kids were at the game, so that was fun to see everyone there. Only a few people got tickets better than our cheap ones. I don’t even know where they were seated, but I didn’t mind at all where we were. We actually weren’t that far away, and we could see the whole game perfectly. Will got some amazing photos with his really nice camera, and I got some cool videos with my not so nice camera. Overall, it was really fun and I would definitely go again!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We left pretty early in the morning for Córdoba, but not before we stocked up on churros and chocolate from the hotel breakfast (they claimed to have the best in Sevilla…I concur). We hopped on the bus for the 2 hour trip. I fell asleep, but heard that some of the scenery along the way was pretty nice. Once we arrived we walked across the Puente Romano (Roman bridge). We wandered with our tour guide, Juan Carlos Córdoba (yes, Juan Carlos as in the King, and Córdoba as in the city). I thought he was really good—prepared with photos and such to back up what he was saying about each thing. He took us through the Jewish quarter and through the Calle de las Flores (Blossom Lane). Then we toured the tiny Sinagoga that dates back to 1315! The last stop on our tour was the Mezquita, or La Catedral de Córdoba. This is an old Islamic Mosque that has a Cathedral built in the middle of it. The Cathedral ceiling was created with the Sistine Chapel in mind, and I could tell why (jugglers—“wow, you COULD do quads!”). There were really cool carvings (not paintings, that was one difference) that I tried to get some pictures of, sadly with not much success. The mosque part was really interesting as well. Each section had been built at a different time, but for the most part it looked pretty similar. There were hundreds of columns of different stones that had the signatures of the stone-worker’s name engraved in it. The arches that were made between the columns were filled with alternating red and white stone. The overall look was really spectacular—and my favorite was the section they lit via fake candles hanging from chandeliers. It had a very…Adam’s Family vibe. I guess my mind must really be thinking about Halloween 24/7 these days. After we said goodbye to Juan Carlos, we had some time to eat before we hopped back on the bus to go back to Granada. I passed out again on the bus…I guess I had an exhausting weekend even without staying out until 5am every night like some people! Coming back to Jardines felt like we were coming back home. It was a really odd, yet comfortable feeling. I guess Granada is becoming my home…finally, after almost 2 months.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ugh. Classes bright and early again. After class I mailed some more post cards, and then headed back to Jardines to eat and do some homework. I had been assigned to do a presentation on an article in my POE class on Tuesday, so I spent quite a long time on that. I didn’t really know what sort of article to write about, so I went onto which is the biggest newspaper over here. I ended up finding a few articles I thought would be interesting to the class, but decided on the Halloween-related one instead of the Facebooklite one. See, my mind is on Halloween, even though I’ll be on the beach on the 31st. I had to answer a bunch of questions and then ask some of my own that I was to present to the class. Let me put this in perspective: I can’t even talk in English in front of a group of people. Sure, give me some juggling clubs or a trapeze and I’ll perform in front of however many people you can find, but ask me to say one word and I get extremely nervous. And they want me to talk for 10 minutes in SPANISH?! AHH! Needless to say, I spent the rest of the night practicing my presentation. I took a break a little before dinner just to walk around and try to make myself less nervous. I think it helped, but then as soon as I got back to my room I could feel my heart start to pound again. I actually found my article quite interesting—it was an article on how the Catholic Church here in Spain doesn’t want Spanish kids to celebrate Halloween because it has an Oculist background that harbors anti-Christian ideas. Whew. Let’s hope I can remember what I wanted to say!

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