A Travellerspoint blog

Ronda

sunny 14 °C

So this Sunday we had another excursion! We went to the city of Ronda. It's weird, it was a beautiful city and the tour we went on (details to follow) was by far one of my favorites, but for some reason, Ronda just didn't click with me. We did only get about 6 hours there, and an hour and a half was spent eating at a restaurant, but it just seemed like it was missing something to be considered a classic Spanish city. Not sure. But either way I still enjoyed it plenty! The tour we went on was for a BULL FIGHTING RING! How cool?!?!? I've been so so so pumped to do something with bull fighting since we've been here, and I'm so glad we got the opportunity! It was a nice sunny day too so that worked out nicely, as usual! But before I get to that, I have a little background, and other pictures first!
We got to the city at around 11 am, and from there toured around for a bit to mostly check out the sights that Ronda is partially known for. Not as good as Toledo, but I mean, if this were the only place I were to visit in all of Spain, I'd be pretty satisfied!
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See what I mean?? Then we went into a little town circle thing where the bull fighting ring was.
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Then it was time to head into the ring! Yeah, we actually got to go into the bull fighting ring where Spanish culture was at its finest!! Here, a very famous matador, Pedro Romero, spent pretty much all of his career in this ring. He "performed"/etc. here thousands of times, and was beautiful in his movements, and never got actually injured at any fight. Which obviously means he was pretty amazing at his work.
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worked out so well that one of my friends wears a red jacket! Toro!
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more sights!
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famous Ronda Bridge... pretty sure it used to be a prison actually. aka, no one ever tried to escape!
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at one point, someone's house? Can't even imagine living here!!!!
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more sights!
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and here was our view during lunch! que linda!
So after lunch, we walked around a bit on our own and I finished my souvenir shopping for the trip, except for a few probable Barcelona things! Or so I thought, until I bought my brother and I both something else yesterday (tuesday). Overall it was a nice day, great to have more memories and sights to look back at!!

Posted by Smarks17 10:49 Archived in Spain Tagged bridges bull_fighting Comments (0)

Sabrolena - Vamos a la playa!

sunny 22 °C

This Saturday we had a free day, and being the adventurers we are, we weren't going to sit around on facebook all day! It was almost always the idea to go to one of the beaches on the coast of Spain, which are only about 1 hour away. It was nice, I didn't do any of the research, I just showed up when and where they said to for the bus, and paid what they said we'd have to, and we were on our way! We met at 10 am to take a bus that brought us to the main bus station, and from there we took a coach bus (only $12 round trip!!) to Sabrolena.
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It's funny, no matter where you go, it seems that all coastal towns will have the same sort of feel to them. Tourist shops, ice cream places, cutesy restaurants, and lots of palm trees! And it was probably in the upper 60's the entire day, so with that very pleasant temperature and the sun beaming down on us, it felt like absolute Heaven to be there. After walking about 15 minutes from the bus stop, we arrived at the beach.
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It seems that everyone has such beach instincts - once at the end of the boardwalk, we remove our shoes, and then have light conversation about the location to sit, and then organize the towels almost like a speechless tetris game where everything just fits perfectly into place. Already a great start to the day! For a while we just enjoyed being in the sun (the phrase to sunbathe is "tomar el sol," which means to take in the sun). We still had our jeans on, but I had taken off my leather jacket and cardigan and was laying there with my tank top!
After some time of sitting around, a couple of us decided to climb the cliff in the not so far distance. What an experience in just a half hour! The sights got better and better as you climbed up, and it felt fun and free to be climbing around like little monkeys.
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After that, we headed back to our towels to relax more. By this time we had been there for about 2 hours, so it was roughly 2 pm. With the climbing, I was feeling actually pretty hot so I decided to go ahead and just sunbathe in my bathing suit! Although it was a tad chilly, I'm sure you can just imagine the feeling of the sun soaking your skin. Mmmmm. Then once the others were back from a restaurant (their host parents didn't give them lunch - as always I got a ham and cheese baguette thing with a banana and orange juice box. So more like a lightly adorned ham baguette and the rest), we decided to do what most of us really went there for: swimming in the Mediterranean Sea!!!! I'm in the orange bathing suit and to the far right (for the ones where it's us running in!)
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The water of course was cold, it actually kind of took my breath away for a second because of the shock... but isn't that what true adventure feels like?? I think you're not doing it good enough if you're still comfortable. So of course we jump out after less than 5 seconds of idling, but then after a quick assessment of one of the girls' cameras, she realized that the person who took them took the pictures in some way that they didn't come out! So we figured, hey let's just run in again! Anything for the sake of a good picture. I was reasonable enough to not get my hair wet, so it doesn't look like we all jumped in, but believe me, it happened!!!
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What's funny is that it was snowing that day, all while we were sitting on the beach and going into the water! Overall it was a really fun experience. What a great day at the playa!!!
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ps- as of this blog entry, I added more "Sights Around Granada" pictures!

Posted by Smarks17 12:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

This Past Week -- Jan16-20th

sorry it took so long to update!

sunny 14 °C

Hello again! Sorry I have been slacking so much on writing about my week! Between advancing to an age of 2 decades, and learning the Flamenco and visiting more Cathedrals, and actually having school work to do, it's been a consistently busy week! Unfortunately, looking back at the week does not as much allow me to include as many details, but through looking at my pictures, they can help me get to over 1,000 words ;)
Monday - went to school to start our first full week. The work isn't bad and the teacher is remaining great! The day started (I figured to look at my roommate's blog to see some of what we've been up to!) off annoyingly, just because it was a rainy one so it was much harder to get out of bed. Here's a riddle: what's even less satisfying than having 2 pieces of toast for breakfast? When the toaster doesn't work and you end up having 2 pieces of bread for breakfast instead -___- no bueno. But we trudged through the rain and did the school thing! Afterwards we went to the gift shop and picked up Universidad de Granada sweatshirts - just in time to cuddle in them with the rain outside!
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For lunch they specifically made us soup because it was so chilly, so that was nice to have the feeling of being cared for! Then for dinner we had the GREATEST dinner they've served us so far!! It's sad, I was so excited I took a picture just to show you guys what I now consider to be a feast fit for the queen that I am ;) just kidding, seriously. But check this out!
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YUM. and they've been making a LOT more fish (a good few times a week at least!) and I scarf that stuff down like it's no one's business. Whenever we have it at lunch, I take at least twice as much as how much is in that picture. They make it so perfectly and I hope that they keep making it because it seriously makes my entire day to have it! So that Monday was just one of those days that you just wanted to chill out all day long, so we did that as much as we could! Can you say Cabin Fever though...
Tuesday - FELIZ CUMPLEANOS A MI !!! This tuesday I turned 20 years old. How crazy is that??? Reading emails from my mom leading up to and on the day of my birthday felt so special... talking about entering this world as my first adventure, and my curiosity and passion for life, and how my parents have given me so many opportunities for adventure, just makes the day feel so much more special. Also, I got to read my boyfriend's birthday letter that he gave to me that I could only open on my birthday! So that was fun and nice to start my day with. However, that feeling only sort of made it worse for the rest of the day. Like most people, I get very excited about other people's birthdays. I try to make them as fun as I can, and everyone at school was excitedly wishing me a happy birthday in both classes, and the TA even bought a whole box of pastries as my birthday cake during the class that the whole group is in. Everyone made me very happy, but I guess it's just weird to be away for my birthday. This is my very first time celebrating my birthDAY without my family. (We did a very very nice bday celebration before I left for Spain but that was already 16 days before my birthday). I guess to be sitting in a poorly lit kitchen eating 2 pieces of toast the morning of my birthday doesn't really compare to coming down the stairs in 76 Marshall to pink and purple streamers, a colorful tablecloth, wonderfully decorated presents and kitchen, and a smiling mother's (and sometimes father's/brother's) faces. The school part of the day was fine and like I said everyone was so nice to me, but I just couldn't shake off being away from home. And the only things that the host moms said to me were "happy birthday" and "you're getting old!". I didn't expect them to do anything for it, but I mean ANYthing would have been more. Just a little disappointed I guess. And then there was our Flamenco lessons at 4 pm and I was really just in the mood to sleep and be introverted, but it went fine and moving around helped my spirits.
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After dinner of ham pizza (my least favorite dinner they make... on my birthday), a lot of the girls met up at Cafe Futbol to get churros y chocolate. I had this chocolate ice cream thing AND a couple of churros with chocolate. It's my birthday, whatever!
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So that was nice to do with friends, and some of my better friends that I made got me a few little things and paid for my dessert so that meant a lot, and then my roommate gave me this beautiful bouquet of flowers because she knows how much I love them.
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It made me feel bad that I disliked her so much at times, but she's reminded me why I did/do since the flowers sooo yeah. But overall it was a good birthday, just very different! Besides, the bigger fun was yet to be had! The only thing stopping us on Tuesday from going out was a quiz in our group class the next day.
Wednesday - Not too much was done on Wednesday; just another set of classes. The quiz went well, I got a 100%! With that and a 100% on my first set of blogs that I write for my profesora, that class is going pretty well for me :) After class I worked on a group project with my classmate Kyle. Our topic was luckily the holidays of Spain, which is a WHOLE lot more interesting and fun than the other topics that have been covered so far!! After that was lunch, pasta and fish and salad. mmmm. From there we met at the Isabella statue to head to The Catedral de Granada: Granada's Cathedral. A lot of it looked a lot like the others, but this one was very cool because the VERY historically famous monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand, are buried there!! They are huge because they were the ones to unite parts of Spain, started and ended the Reconquista, which was the conversion of all Spaniards to Christianity, and they were the ones that funded Christopher Colombus's trip to America! Pretty important people! So it was very special to see their tombs. After seeing that, we went into the more churchy part of the Cathedral. Enjoy more pictures of ornately decorated religious buildings!!
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After we did that, Julia and I just went home and relaxed and did homework and listened to her skype her family and friends for the millionth time this trip.
Thursday - now starts more of the fun!! My conversation/language class was fine as usual, we started the Subjuctive, which is notorious as the hardest part of Spanish grammar, but really it isn't that bad. The worst is just knowing when to use it, but it's fine! Then for our culture/history class, we learned about Teterias, which are like tea bars I guess. there's a place to smoke hookah, but it's mainly just one of those nicely decorated Moroccan places that smells much too much of inscents and serves tea. It was a nice substitute for class, and everyone had a nice time, but I don't like tea and the smell of the place was starting to give me a headache (Thinking back, it's probably good I didn't go to India with my friends last summer - I would have been taking Advil like they were mints!) so we left after these weird pastries came out.
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Then we did some souvenir (someday I'll know how to spell that word - I always use spell check on it!) shopping and headed back for lunch. After siestas and homework, we had dinner and then got ready to go to the discoteca to really celebrate my birthday! Not everyone came out for churros the other night, but of course when there's drinking and dancing involved you can count on everyone to be there for one reason or another! We went to this Irish bar, Hannigan's, beforehand and that was a lot of fun. They had themed shots for 1 euro and it was nice, everyone covered my drinks! I know they were inexpensive but it was still nice. And don't worry, since they were like mixed drink shots, they weren't very effective!!! But that was a fun time, and we did some dancing and karaoke and saw the bartender make a few flaming shots!! So cool
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Then from there we headed to this discoteca called El Camborio, which is SUCH a cool place! I forget if I mentioned about it last week, but it's up in the mountains and it's all cave-like and has great music and kids exactly our age and everything. It was just a perfectly fun night of dancing and being social!
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The theme that night was strawberries and chocolate. We absolutely devoured this! (Not just me!!!)
Friday - considering that we stayed out on Thursday until 3:30 am and then had to be up to get ready for the day by 7 am, the morning class was quite the struggle. But we all were very much dragging our feet so at least we were in it together! The language class was fine, and so was the other spanish class. Then after lunch me and Julia took a 3 hour siesta. MUCH better feeling after that! It was a pretty relaxed night - dinner and then a tapas bar until midnight with a few friends. Not too busy, which I didn't mind at all!

So that was my 3rd week in Spain! Hope you all aren't drooling and wincing at the computer screen after reading this novel!

Posted by Smarks17 09:57 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Sevillaaaa, my heart's devotionnnn!

seriously this is the best place ever!

sunny 21 °C

What a weekend what a weekend!
So once we left the Italica and drove a short 9 km more, we arrived in the wonderfully beautiful city of Sevilla. It was around 7ish ish, so it was dark, but the glow of the streetlights showed enough to indicate to me that this is somewhere that I will definitely like a lot. After a 10 minute walk along the sidewalks, dragging our little suitcases behind us like baby ducks following their mama, we arrived at the hotel. It's part of a chain of High-Tech Hotels, so the lobby was pretty modern, and the room/bathrooms were too. the wall/door of the bathroom was just frosted glass so it was a bit interesting to be in the bathroom and only be visually protected by such a small amount! And there was a bidet. I'm so glad I got to see one in Europe!!!
After we freshened up and got ourselves settled, we went out to go tapas-hopping. I actually learned that tapas ORIGINATED in Sevilla, so to have the wonderful tapas in their place of birth is seriously like having beers in Germany (don't know if beer originated there but obviously it's at its prime there!) or some other significant worldly comparison. Again, just another reason to travel, so I can learn about everywhere! Tapas, if you didn't know, are these small mini-appetizer type plates... usually the size of your palm all the food can fit in. Just realized how grammatically poor that sentence is, but when you speak so much spanish and hear so much spanglish and spanish and broken english, you forget how to talk well! Didn't expect it but it's true! which I actually really love :) Anyway, tapas were made for a specific reason. They mean "lids," which makes sense because they were made to put atop one's drink (usually wine glass), to 1) keep the bugs out of the drink and 2) because eating food while drinking will reduce the amount of drunk someone will get since they'll have food to absorb some of the alcohol. so I guess people just walked around with little baguette slices on their wine glasses like it was wearing a beret or something!! So yeah, with all of that being said, tapas are huge in Spain and all of us love to discover and eat at many tapas bars in all the places we've stayed at (Madrid, Granada, Sevilla). So we did that for dinner and shared pitchers of Sangria (there were a bunch of us that went).. we went to 2 different tapas bars for some food. One of them was super authentic; it had parts of pig bodies hanging from the ceiling!! It was gross, but so so cool to see it all and to see the contraption they have to get the meat. It's seriously like a holder that you crank tight and it holds the bottom of the shin in place, while they shave thin slices of the leg meat from the upper leg. Like, the hoof was still chilling there on one side of the crank, and this bright red and marbled white piece of muscle was on the other side. Again, gross, but absolutely fascinating. So from there we went to this little mexican tapas bar and got quesadilla tapas (BANGIN) and ordered some fun Mexican drinks, including a Mai Tai and another one that seemed just like a spiked milkshake. Delicious but dangerous haha. And after that we pretty much headed back and went to sleep, excited about what the rest of the weekend had to offer!
Saturday morning we ate a fabulous breakfast at the hotel, and then headed to the Reales Alcazares. It's this royal garden thing, and was absolutely beautiful! I don't have much to tell about it, so here are the pictures!
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look what we found! I call my boyfriend Peacock (long story short, he chased a peacock at the Philly zoo a few summers ago and when we became better friends and exchanged phone numbers, I called him Eric Peacock because "Eric VD" was too boring) so this was exciting to see! It's like I got a special visit from him :)
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so as you can see, this was a lot to take in visually. It was absolutely magnificent and it also smelled so clean and nice :) and on such a beautiful day, I definetely was not in a hurry to leave!
However, we had more things to see and do, so from the Garden we meandered into the Cathedral right by it.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plus_ultra_(motto)
I absolutely am in love with the meaning behind this. The whole concept of exploring further beyond, especially with how it relates so much to Spain, really interests me. Although I understand the seriousness of a tattoo, I am interested in getting one, and it's always been my plan to have something in Spanish or relating to Spain or Latin America. Coming to Spain, I made sure to keep my ears open to possibly find a phrase or idea that really speaks to me, and this one is resonating pretty strong so far! But of course I have a lot of thinking to do no matter what I do. Either way, it's still an awesome idea.
From there we went to another Cathedral, called The Cathedral of Sevilla. This place was huuuge. The organ had either 700... or 7,000 different pipes. I forget which one, but either way that's a whoooole lot!!! Here's some pictures:
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THIS IS WHERE CHRISTOPHER COLOMBUS'S BONES ARE. Too. cool.
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from there we climbed to the top of the tower where all the bells are and everything. There were I think 37 small ramps (instead of stairs), and they had them conveniently labeled so you knew how much further you had to go!
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What a beautiful city. How perfect does this look!
From there some of us went with another women who has been helping out Doris navigate and teach us a lot about the country. She started with us in Madrid and actually teaches at Universidad de Granada so she's been with us where ever we've been going. Since she lives in Spain, she knows of some of the less known attractions. We trusted her knowledge and went to check out the Plaza de Espana, and what a great decision that was!
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And again, on such a gorgeous day, it could not have been better.
After doing that and then going souvenir shopping for a bit, we headed back to the hotel by around 6. From there we showered and got a little dolled up for the Flamenco show that most of us decided to go to!!! It was so awesome.. learning some of the basic moves made us appreciate how talented this women was. She was incredibly passionate, it was so easy to see her emotion in her face and body movements. She danced while this other woman absolutely waiiileddd these beautiful Spanish songs and the guy played the guitar. It was only 13 Euros, and the experience was seriously worth at least double. I'm so glad to have gotten the opportunity to go!
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After that, some of us went to a discoteca and that was fun! Most of the people were in their later 20s so it felt a little weird to be there but we all still had a lot of fun dancing and all. After that we went to bed!
Sunday we had planned to tour the Golden Tower, one of Sevilla's biggest landmarks, and also a bull-fighting ring, but unfortunately it was raining the whole day so all of our plans got cancelled. A lot of us were bummed to have missed learning about such cool things! but the weekend was still packed with plenty of pictures and memories.
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After checking out of our hotel and walking the same 10 minute walk (in the rain of course) to the bus, we hopped on and drove back to Granada in time for dinner!
Between the rain and the traveling and the packed plans, you better believe we slept great Sunday night! And that was Sevilla :)

Posted by Smarks17 11:46 Archived in Spain Comments (3)

Cordoba y el Conjunto Arqueológico de Itálica

about 2.5 hours from Granada

sunny 20 °C

What an amazing weekend!!!
The entire weekend's plans were to leave Granada in the morning and drive to the town/city? of Cordoba to see some great landmarks, and then stop by another town (don't know the name of it) to visit these ancient Roman ruins. Then go to Sevilla by before dinnertime and spend the weekend there! So with that little background, here's the Cordoba parte:

Well let me first start off by saying that if I had more than maybe 2 negative bones in my body, I would have been a sour person during a good part of the day during Cordoba. Background: thursday I took a siesta (nap) and set my alarm to go off before dinner (the pm). Since Julia blew out her alarm clock the first night in Spain, we've been relying on mine to wake us up, which has always worked out fine. We both remember to set the alarm the night before and we always wake up as we should in the morning. However, when I set the alarm for the next morning, it turns out that I set it for PM and not AM. You can imagine the initial panic when one of the sisters woke us up 30 minutes before we were supposed to be at the meeting location to get on the bus!! Which means we had 15 minutes to make sure everything was packed, to do our makeup, get dressed, etc. and then 15 minutes to actually get there (aka sprint walk with our little carry-on sized luggages banging around behind us like the cans attached to a "Just Married" car)! Well, considering I have many pictures currently uploading onto my blog, I'm happy to say that we made it! And with 2 minutes to spare before we had to actually be there! Usually an unintentional late morning before work/school can ruin a few good hours of your morning, but this mad dash made the trip just more of an interesting experience. Everything is an adventure!
So we drive a few hours (aka we pass out while the driver takes us there) and then finally get to Cordoba! It's a beautiful day - sunny, low 20s (*C), a great day to be in Spain :) We got off right at this famous bridge that just went under a lot of restoration. It's above a river called "El Puente Romano"
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This river is actually very significant to Cordoba, as it was the reason Cordoba was built where it was. The Romans new that this point was the highest point of the Guadalquivir, and Cordoba became a huge city for trading through that river, especially with Spanish olive oil, wine and wheat, from there back to Ancient Rome. Fun little fact!
From there we walked through the town just a bit
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and then headed to La Mezquita-catedral (built in the 9th and 10th cent). It was once a mosque (mezquita translates to "great mosque") and was one of the largest in all of Islam when it had finished being built and added onto. Though it was once a mosque, it is now a Cathedral because of the reconquoring by the Christians. More fun facts.. that I am able to recall so well because a guest speaker taught us about Cordoba and Sevilla for an hour that thursday in class! Anyway, it's very clear that it hasn't always been a Cathedral, because although one of the additions are very ornately decorated in Gothic decor, when you first enter it really feels like you're in Morocco or India. Not even sure if I compared it correctly; looks like I'll have to do more traveling to figure it out!!
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you can see that as we go through, it clearly becomes a lot more Catholic. It's interesting, (and this I remember on my own!) it took so long to do this addition because they kept running out of money. And everytime they got enough money to keep adding on (think 50 years or so), the styles of design had changed. So there are parts that are more Gothic, that are more Medieval, and other parts that were inspired by Michelangelo with his frescos, etc. So obviously being in such a massive and ornately decorated building was very wonderfully overwhelming. It's true that we've seen a lot of cathedrals and you'd think it would all start blending after a while, but for the most part they really do stand out differently in my mind. They all have similar ceilings and stained glass and sometimes the same shapes of the doorways/etc., but they all have such distinct parts about them that makes it easy for each to still stand out in my mind.
After the cathedral, we explored a little bit through the city of Cordoba more. It's so nice - the streets are clean, the buildings are clean and painted in bright colors, just the whole place has such a positive and nice feel to it. And then once I thought I was already in heaven, then came the patios!!! Patios are these little areas in between houses that are almost like mini gardens. It's just a small little square, and on the outside of the houses, the inhabitants hang flowers. It's almost like those invisible shelves where you don't know how they got to be on the wall by themselves, but with FLOWERS!!! of course I thought of my mom, and tried to channel my sights/smells to her. I guess this will have to do for now!! Check it out:
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this was just behind some side street we ventured through.. seriously, don't make me leave!
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and look, even more that we found!
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and here's a really tiny mosque! The balls at the top of the dome represent the 5 pillars of Islam and then the symbol at the top. Pretty cool!

And then we hopped on the bus soon after (well, after lunch and some souvenir shopping) and headed to the Roman ruins!
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These things are about 2,000 years old so it's absolutely crazy to see different spots of the community where their daily activities took place. For example, here is where they took their showers after working out (I guess guys have been pumping iron since the dawn of man! I don't mind! ;) )
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And a few more sights... I forget what the rest were used for but she did also show us a big ashtray shaped thing that was actually the oven used in their bakery! I forget exactly what the bakery was called, but it sounded a lot like Panera, which helped me make perfect sense of why Panera is called what it is!! Then we headed to the amphitheater to see where the Gladiators fought. Now this made me think of my dad because I thought of that movie that's always on tv, where they were doing some Roman gladiator thing. Ben Hur?
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^That's the program director/my Spanish208 professor/the nicest woman ever!! We all love her a lot. I'm so glad someone like her (the mother part especially) is guiding us around and is responsible for our adventures and safety. The mexican part in her (she immigrated earlier in her life) I think really contributes to her adventurous side. So with that said, what could be better than going to a foreign Spanish-speaking country with a Mexican mom??
So after we ran around and climbed on the roped-off rocks (oops) for a little while, like the children that we still can be, we finished our drive to Sevilla. And that's where my next blog will begin!

Posted by Smarks17 05:54 Archived in Spain Tagged cathedrals mosque ancient_ruins italica Comments (0)

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