Wanderlust n. an impulse to travel and explore the world

Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Friday morning  Kayla and I departed with our study abroad program for Cordoba and Granada for the weekend! (Both cities in the South of Spain) It took us about 2 hours to get to Cordoba! Here are some pictures of our first glimpse at this small city!

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Now, there really is only one large tourist attraction in Cordoba, which is “La Mesquita”, or the Mosque. In order to understand this grand building, you have to understand a bit about Spanish history! Cordoba was one of the three Arab capitals in Spain when the Muslims invaded from North Africa. (The other two capitals were Seville and Granada!)

In the year 785 A.D. the construction of La Mesquita was started on top of the old Christian Church that was previously in Cordoba (San Vincente). As you know, Spain was eventually reconquered by the Catholic Monarchs, including Cordoba. King Ferdinand III defeated the Arabs and reconquered Cordoba in 1236. Instead of destroying the large mosque the Muslims had left behind, Ferdinand believed it to be cheaper and wiser to transform the mosque into a Cathedral! Today, La Mesquita (the mosque) is actually a Cathedral! (But it feels like both on the inside, very unique!) Let me share some pictures so you can see what I mean…

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Inside La Mesquita there is a large courtyard where little rivers of water run through it. In all mosques there is a place for people to wash there hands, feet and face before entering!

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Similar to the Cathedral in Seville, there is  large bell tower attached to the Cathedral/Mosque in Cordoba. This “minoret” was once used by the Arabs to call the city to prayer.

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A glass part of the floor to see the old ruins from the Church of San Vincente before the mosque was built over it!

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The column and arch pattern goes on forever inside this huge mosque!

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As you can see, this doesn’t feel like your average Cathedral! But then you turn a corner and find this!! Ah, that looks much more Catholic!

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It’s hard to describe how truly unique (and strange) it is to be walking through endless aisles of columns, arches and red…then stumble upon a crucifix, white ceilings and an Altar,  just in the middle of a this ancient mosque!

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This huge building can hold 20,000 people inside it. It is absolutely massive!! Although it is no longer an actual mosque, but rather a Cathedral, la mesquita is still a beautiful example of the rich Arab influence in the south of Spain!

If you plan on visiting Cordoba, you really only need a day! It is a very small city, but worth the stop on the way to Granada!

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Adios Cordoba! Stay tuned for some posts on my trip to Granada and my visit to Alhambra! xoxo

 

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Hello everyone!!

Sadly, this will be my final post on Morocco! After an adventurous morning of riding camels, we traveled along the coast to “Hercules’s Cave”, a very famous place in Morocco. Legend has it, Hercules’s once lived in this cave!

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When we entered the cave, it seemed just like any other cave…

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When we turned the corner of the cave, we saw a lot of sun coming from a large whole in the cave wall!

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When we got closer…this is what we saw!!

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It was so beautiful!! The waves were crashing into the bottom part of the cave! (If you look out into the water, you can see the different shades of blue/green, which is where the Mediterranean is mixing with the Atlantic!)

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Just hanging out in Hercules’s “love shack” (what our tour guides referred to the cave as)

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Amigas!!

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After visiting the cave, we went to a Moroccan restaurant near the beach!

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After a yummy (and spicy) meal, we headed off to the small beach town of Asilah! This town is very famous for an art competition they have every year, where artists from all over the world paint the walls of the city with murals! It’s beautiful!

Check out some of the pictures I took while walking around the city!

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I took this picture for my best friend back home who loves sunflowers! (Hi Liza!! Miss you!)

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The above picture was one of my favorite of the paintings!

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Soaking up the gorgeous Moroccan sun!

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After walking for some time, we came across this patterned wall! It is called the relationship tree and you are supposed to sign your name on it!!

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Can you spot my name?

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Left my mark in Morocco! Hopefully one day I will make it back to see my name again!

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Love the color of this door!!

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Cats are EVERYWHERE in Morocco.

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Asilah is a beautiful town, along a breathtaking coastline. I had a great time walking around the streets and soaking up the fresh salt air & sun! Finally, we boarded the bus to head back to the ferry & home! While on the bus to Tangier, we noticed two kids holding on to the back of our other bus (traveling in front of us)! Our guide said that it was very common for kids to do that! Why? They are trying to cross the boarder into Spain! When the bus stopped, the kids hopped off and popped open the back and climbed inside the engine area!! (This is when I took the picture that’s below) They rode like that for a while, until some police noticed and yelled at them to get off! Apparently, illegal immigration to Spain from Morocco is similar to the problem we have in the US with Mexico. These boys were probably only 12-14 years old!!

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After a choppy ferry ride and long bus ride, we didn’t arrive back to Seville until almost 11:30pm! Although I was very tired in class on Monday, it was all worth it! I saw some of the most incredible views and met some awesome new friends!

To end my post, I’m going to share some pictures I took on our ferry ride! The sun was setting over Morocco as we traveled along the Strait of Gibraltar! So beautiful!

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Morocco will forever hold a place in my heart! I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to go on this trip! Tomorrow I am off to Cordoba and Granada (Spain) for a weekend with my study abroad program! Stay tuned for posts about these travels! xoxo


Uh oh…guess what day it is? GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS.

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Happy Hump Day everyone!! I am back once again to share some pictures from my weekend in Morocco! My favorite part of the trip was when we got to ride camels near the beach!! Check out the awesome pictures I got of me & my new friends, and our stunning view!!

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We traveled to the West Coast of Morocco to the ocean! This happens to be where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic! The beaches were so beautiful and untouched! It’s hard to tell in my pictures but you could see the different colors of the two waters merging together!!

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Hola from the West Coast of Africa!!!!!

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Now for the good stuff!!! Meet my friend humpty (I named him myself). He’s a BABY CAMEL. (Not that small though for a baby…) We got to pet him and the other baby camel while we were waiting to ride the adult ones!

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Mi amigo!!!

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Camel selfies!!Smile humpty!

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As you can probably see, I was really excited!!

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Me and my new boyfriend…Sorry Mark (;

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After taking a lot of pictures with my new friends, it was finally my chance to ride one! It was about a 10-15 minute ride around. Half of our friends went and then the other half went so we could take pictures for each other!! (We all went in groups of 5)

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I had to be given a boost to get onto my camel!!

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Finally made it up!!! The camels are so tall!

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Casual camel trot…on the beach…in Africa!

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Honestly, riding a camel was not what I expected it to be! (Not really sure what I expected…) Surprisingly, I wasn’t really afraid of the height, I was too excited! When my camel started walking I was a little shocked at first! It felt like I was riding a horse because I was going up and down as if the camel was running! (But he was just walking!!) For the first 2 minutes, I couldn’t stop laughing!!! My friend Kristina was on the camel next to me and I remember she looked over at me and said, “We’re riding camels…in Africa right now!!!” I couldn’t believe it! I probably laughed the whole ride!! It was exhilarating!

Finally, when we were getting closer to the group who were taking pictures of us, the guides who were leading the camels told us to let go and put our hands in the air!! I thought, ‘I can’t let go, I’m so high up I’m going to fall off this camel!!’ But after .3 seconds of fear, I just decided to let go!!! It was amazing!

Happy Hump Day everyone!

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“It’s pretty simple. Adventure is what you make of it. And whether it is the travel, the discovery, or just the feeling of letting go…the only way you’ll ever find out is to get out there and do it.”

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xoxo


Salam, from Morocco!

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Chefchaouen, Morocco is also known as the “blue & white city” because of the colors of the buildings! It took us almost 2 hours to get to Chefchaouen by bus from our hotel. We spent a great deal of the morning winding through the beautiful mountains of Morocco!

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When we arrived in Chefchaouen, we got a tour from a local guide! He explained that the buildings are painted blue to keep the bugs and mosquitos away. We also learned that Chefchaouen means “between the bulls horns”. This is because the city lies between two mountains.

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There’s our tour guide!!

Now let me share some pictures from our walking-tour!!

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Hi Kayla!

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Donkeys instead of cars? Normal.

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Inside a bread-bakery in Morocco. We got to try a piece of the fresh bread!

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Moroccan “barbed wire”

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Traditional clothes for men & women.

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What used to be two sheep…

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The whole gang!! Kristina, Kayla, me, Jess, Ally & Stef! Love them!

Since we finished our tour earlier than expected, our tour guide had the idea of taking us to the old mosque!! Little did we know, the mosque was halfway up a mountain!!!

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See that tiny building up there? That’s where we went…

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So we’re hiking…

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& climbing… to get tot this mosque! But let me tell you, the view was worth the hike!!

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Sitting on top of the world!

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The girls and Santi, our Discover Seville guide!!

And what goes up, must come down…so we hiked it back down for lunch!! Here’s a view of the mosque when in the city!

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Above is with the zoom… & the picture below is without. Yes, we actually hiked all the way up there.

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Our tour guide!!

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Time for lunch at “Casa Aladin”

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Traditional Moroccan salad!

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Rice, fries and chicken!

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My friend Ally ordered a Coke at lunch…looks American but what does that say?

And here’s my water…

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Just thought that was cool!!

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Pictures of inside the Moroccan restaurant! Such a different atmosphere!

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After lunch, we had free time to bargain and shop!! Our tour guides explained that bartering is like a sport for the Moroccans! We were able to use Durams, their currency, or Euros. (1 Euro = 10 Durams). For the sake of this explanation, I will talk in terms of Euro since it is easier to comprehend the prices.

This is basically how it works… Nothing had a marked price, so you ask the store keeper, “How much?”…then, they say some ridiculous price: “20 Euro”, and you say some ridiculously low price, about 1/4 of what they say, “How about 5 Euro?”…Then they laugh and say “No, No, I have a family to feed, I can’t do that…and they say, “how about 18 euro?”.  You shake your head, and say I can’t do that, and start to walk away. Then they say, “Okay Okay, Special price for you, special price…15 Euro”. Then you say “How about 8 euro?”. They say they can’t do that, so you walk away again. “Wait, wait, okay special price: 12 euro…” And it keeps going on until you get to a middle ground, like 10-12 euro. Honestly, it was a lot of fun bartering with the locals!! It really was like a game! You have to be sure to drop the price to 1/4th of what they offer you and walk away at least twice  in order to get what you want! It was a great experience! Turns out, it was really fun to bargain and I got some very good deals (I get that from my Dad)!

I would tell you what I got in Morocco, but some are gifts for my family/friends who follow this blog!! I promise I will do a souvenir/present post at the very end of my trip! Here are some pictures from the streets/markets we shopped in!

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The above picture is for my brother…it’s a motorcycle with a trailer attached to it!

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My friend Jordan got Henna done from one of the women in Morocco and it came out beautiful!!

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Even the Taxi’s were blue in Chefchaouen!!

After a long day of exploring, hiking and bargaining, we were all tired and ready to head back to the hotel for the night! We had time to relax, then enjoyed another 3-course meal!

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What’s dinner without some entertainment?!! (The pictures are a little blurry because they were dancing and moving around, but it was really fun!)

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After dinner, Discover Seville had a little get-together party for everyone on the trip, since we weren’t allowed to leave the hotel! There was free sangria and music! It was a lot of fun!sangria night

I want to end this post by saying Chefchaouen was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to! The people were so kind, funny and full of life! They might not have the best conditions, but they certainly make do with what they have! I will never forget my day in Chefchaouen, where I hiked to a mosque and bargained with locals! I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit this wonderful city and country!!

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Travel: It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.

xoxo


Hello everyone!!

As many of you know, this past weekend I traveled to Morocco with a travel program called Discover Seville. It was the most incredible trip!!! I had a great time.

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Before I go into too much detail about my trip, I want to explain a few things about Morocco. It is in Northern Africa and one of the three countries that touches both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic (the other two being France and Spain). The country is part-mountains and part-desert. The most common language in Morocco is Arabic and their religion is Islam. They have a King in Morocco who is widely well respected.

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Now, I must warn you that I took over 300 pictures this weekend…it was just so beautiful! Since we did so many different things, I am going to try to break up some of my posts about Morocco! I will use this post as an introductory post to talk about our overall trip and itinerary.

We left Seville on Friday at 4:00pm on busses. We traveled 2+ hours (with stops at rest areas) to the coast. In Tarifa, Spain we were able to catch the 8pm ferry to Morocco! P1000977

The ferry was unexpectedly large, and we actually took the two busses with us to Morocco!

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The ride across the Strait of Gibraltar was anything but smooth! Even after taking a motion sickness pill, we all were feeling a little sick. But after a 40 minute ride, we had arrived in Tanger, Morocco!! Touchdown Africa!

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From there, we drove another hour to our hotel: “La Paloma”. Many things in Northern Africa are Spanish because Spain had a great presence their for a long time. A lot of Moroccans speak Spanish!

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It was very late when we arrived at the hotel, but the staff welcomed us outside with music and dance!

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Then we immediately sat down for a three course meal! We weren’t finished eating until almost midnight!

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A spicier form of chicken soup, very good!

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Chicken, onions and kous-kous.

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And for desert, a cake that said “Happy Valentine’s Day” on it!!

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Some pictures of my beautiful Valentine’s Day dates…Allie and Jess!

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& my roomie!!

For some reason, Stef got a balloon that said “Happy Birthday” on it…

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And then it popped…

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After a very delicious meal and some fun with friends, we were able to head up to our rooms for some sleep!!

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The rooms were very nice & the beds were so comfortable!!

That about sums up our first day of traveling! It was certainly a long journey, but worth all the long bus rides! The Discover Seville tour guides played movies for us on the bus. I still can’t believe I spent my Valentine’s Day in Africa!!

The next two days were incredibly busy. I will be writing 3 more posts about my trip to Morocco. Here is a little preview of what is to come…

My next post will be about our adventures in Chefchaouen, the “blue & white city”…bargaining with locals for goods & hiking up to a mosque!

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I will also write a post about my experience riding a camel!!

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And lastly, I will write a post about the artsy, beach town of Assilah!!

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As you can see it was a very busy weekend for us. It was really nice that everything about the trip was planned and included for us, tours, food and transportation! It was well worth it and I recommend going to Morocco through Discover Seville to anyone planning on studying abroad in Spain!

Stay tuned to hear the details about my adventures in Africa and see some really amazing pictures!! xoxo

 

 

 

 


Hello everyone!!

If you’re new to my blog, welcome, and if you are a returning reader, thank you! I am honored that my writing is being read by so many people now!!

Yesterday, Kayla and I had the chance to adventure around Seville again! Although the past couple days have been raining (…their rainiest season in 25 years, just my luck right?) not even a drizzly day could stop Seville from being filled with life. Most of our afternoon was spent venturing up and down streets in the shopping area of “El Centro”. We did a lot of “window shopping” since we are trying to save our money to travel!

I took a lot of pictures of the quaint scenery on these little roads, as well as window displays, so you could get a feel for Sevillian life! (In some pictures you can see my blue rain jacket reflecting in the glass!)

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The older church in Seville. It became too small for the growing population in Seville, so they built a giant cathedral to accommodate the city!

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Orange trees are EVERYWHERE in Seville!!

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Futbol (soccer) is their second religion in Spain.

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And of course Flamenco! So many shops filled with gorgeous Flamenco and Feria dresses!

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So many shoe stores in Seville!! They never end!

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And when you see a place like this….you have to go in and check it out. (It smelled so good when you walked by, we couldn’t resist!)

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And this actually happened twice…so we went inside this place too…

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Only in Spain do you turn a street corner and discover a beautiful church!!

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These people seem to be all around the city selling lottery cards!

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Miguel Cervantes, author of Don Quiote.

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Look what we found!! A little “Taste of America”!!

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It’s funny to see these things in a specialty store here, when they would normally be found in our grocery stores! (Trust me, their grocery stores are nothing like ours!!)

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Very steep prices for American food products here!! (We didn’t buy anything at the “Taste of America” store…it was definitely a tease though!)

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The best T-shirt I’ve seen so far here!! I do Spanish yoga all the time!!!!

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I hope this post gave you an idea of what shops are like in Spain….great fashion, delicious sweets, religious figurines and beautiful flamenco fans…all intertwined with windy cobblestone streets and open plazas!

Now I am off to a weekend in Africa!! Packed the essentials: Camera, water, snacks and toilet paper! So excited to ride a camel! (I promise to take lots of pictures!) Morocco here I come!!

Feliz Dia de San Valentin! xoxo


Hi everyone!! Here is the long awaited post about Spanish food!! I wanted to collect some pictures of my meals before making a post, but I finally think it’s time! (Warning: do not read this post if you are hungry!!)

Here in Seville, everyone eats Mediterranean foods. It is both delicious and very healthy! My roommate Kayla, is taking a class on Spanish cultural studies and has been learning a lot about the food here! I am going to have her do a guest-post for you all soon on all the interesting things she learns in that class!!

To begin, I am going to break this post down two ways: food at my homestay and going out for food!

Homestay

For those of you who don’t know, I am living with a host family in Seville with my American roommate Kayla. Our host “Mama” cooks us 3 meals a day! Like I have said before, their meal times and portions in Spain are much different than in the US.

Breakfast is normally served between 8:00-9:00am depending on our schedules and is very small! My normal breakfast consists of two pieces of toast and some fruit! Recently, our host Mama has been leaving out boxes of cereal and muffins for us in the morning as well!

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I also wanted to share a picture of the device I use to toast my bread on each morning! Our host Mama doesn’t have a toaster, so we use this (looks like a mini-George Foreman grill…)

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Lunch is the bigger meal of the day here. It is served between 2:00-3:00pm. They usually serve a traditional Spanish salad before the actual meal! (Spanish salad: lettuce, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, olive oil & vinegar.)

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Surprisingly, the simple dressing of olive oil on the salad is very, very good (and probably a lot healthier than the salad dressings we use in the US)! The loaf of bread that can be seen on my salad plate is also served with both lunch and dinner. She brings the bread out in a basket, and everyone rips a chunk off with their hands to go with their meal. Sometimes we go through multiple loaves during one meal! The good thing is that the bread is very fresh here! Our host Mama gets new loaves every day! I hate to admit it, but I probably eat almost two loaves each day!! (But with all the walking I do here…carbs don’t count right?)

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Our Host Mama also puts out blocks of cheese and “chorizo” (which is kind of like pepperoni) to go with each meal!

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Dinner is served between 9:00-10:00pm each night. This seems very late for us Americans, but the Spanish also stay up later than us too. This meal is often smaller than lunch. I think our host Mama has been trying to help us adjust by slowly making dinner a little later each night. We started off eating at 9:00pm and now we don’t eat until almost 10:00pm!! I am going to share pictures of our various lunches/dinners that I have taken so far & describe what they are!

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Chick pea & Potato soup

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Potatoes smothered in (what tastes like) a marinara sauce.

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Lentil Soup (Not one of my favorites)

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Chicken & Rice (This was delicious, the rice was seasoned and covered in an olive oil)

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Mashed vegetables in a sauce, with hard boiled eggs. (Honestly, this was one of the only meals I really didn’t like). I ate the eggs, but I didn’t really like the sauce all the vegetables were mashed with. Luckily, our host Mama was very sweet about it and heated me leftover chick-pea soup instead.

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Spanish Omelet. (Yes, an omelet for dinner!) The Spanish think it’s weird that we eat eggs for breakfast in the US because they eat eggs for lunch/dinner here! A Spanish omelet is eggs and potatoes, usually with something in it! This one had pieces of ham in it (of course, they love ham here)!

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Sometimes we watch Spanish Wheel of Fortune while we eat lunch!

And for desert…..fruit! Honestly, it’s a big let down for me (a chocolate lover) but the fruit here is so fresh, it’s great! I probably eat an average of 3-4 clementines a day here! They are the juiciest and sweetest clementines I have ever had! Lucky for us, we are also here for orange season (huge in Seville)!

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Our host Mom keeps so many clementines in the house, it’s crazy!! (They make a really good snack though!)

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Although portion sizes are known to be smaller in Spain than the US, it doesn’t feel like that at home! Our host Mom always says “Come mas, come mas” (which means, eat more, eat more!!). One afternoon, our host “brother” was visiting his Mom and had lunch with us. He told us that his mother was going to fatten us up while we were here!! She definitely loves cooking for us! I don’t mind the big rations, but I always feel bad when I’m too full to eat anything else (and she’s always offering us more bread, more cheese and more fruit!!)

For those of you back home, worried about what I am eating: trust me we are well fed here in Spain. I am trying a lot of new food (and for anyone who once knew me as a picky eater, the tides have changed!)

Out to Eat

Now it’s time to talk about the food I’ve had while out to eat! We only really ate at restaurants during Orientation in Madrid & Toledo, before we got to our homestay, but I will share the pictures I have taken of those meals now!

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Kayla’s Spanish omelet in Toledo.

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My spinach tortellini in Toledo.

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“Cien Montaditos” or “100 Little Sandwiches” is a restaurant we first discovered in Madrid, after our tour guide recommended it to us, but later came to realize is all over Spain–including Seville! It is one of my favorite places I have been to eat so far! They have so much variety, including 100 different mini sandwiches all between 1-2 Euros! (This is also a great place to get 1 euro wine or beer!)

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The menu!

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My first Montedito! (The first of many, I hope!!)

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I also found the Holy Grail while in Madrid!!!!!!

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It is a very famous Chocolateria where we got churros con chocolate!!

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It seemed as though many Spanish were ordering these churros to share with a group…but naturally there was no sharing for me!! Although it is difficult to tell in this picture, the hot chocolate is not what we are used to in the US. It has more of a consistency of melted chocolate! I don’t think anyone actually drinks it here, but it is used for dipping the churros!! (SO GOOD!!)

Now you may be wondering about Tapas….

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In case you don’t know what Tapas is…they are basically little appetizer dishes! Normally people in Spain who go out for Tapas order a couple different dishes and share with friends! We went to a Tapas bar called “El Tigre” in Madrid! Of course, we had no idea what we were doing at first! It was very crowded and many people were standing by these little counter tops all over the room! The waiter asked us what we wanted to drink and we all ordered a “pequeno cerveza” or small beer. Nearly a minute after our beers arrived, so did 5 plates of appetizers! We were all very confused and thought the food was given to the wrong people! The waiter told us that these were our Tapas, so we decided to start eating!! It was a really cool experience, and we later learned that in many Tapas bars, when you order a drink, the Tapas comes with it! For 5 beers & 5 large plates of appetizers it cost us 10 Euro!

I will probably have to do a separate post on all the various Tapas once I become more experienced in the art of food here, but they are really good! The most famous is “paella” which is rice and seafood. It’s not really my style but a lot of people love it here!

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For our second round of Tapas, we forgot to say “pequeno” when ordering the beers…so we got “grande”!! Woops!!

I will try to do a post later on in the semester about the variety of Tapas and the best places in Seville once I have discovered them!!

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And for desert…gelato!! I’ve had gelato here twice, and I am on the hunt to find the very best place in Seville! This was kit-kat gelato and was veryyyyy good!!

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And a picture of my latest purchase, from earlier today!! I bought this at a cute pastry place near my house in Triana on the way home from running errands! I think some people call these pastries “Elephant Ears” back in the US, but it is basically a sweet and flaky pastry covered in chocolate!

I have already tried a bite (for the blog of course!!) so I can let you know how it tastes…and it’s delicious!! What else is new!

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Lastly…to finish up my food post, something that goes with almost every meal here is wine! Everyone in Spain drinks wine, especially sangria! Although I was never big into drinking wine back home, it has grown on me a lot since being here. My favorite drink is a “tinto verano” which is sangria mixed with a lemon spritzer!! Very good!!

Hope my post hasn’t made you too hungry!! Until next time, xoxo!