Hola everyone!! I apologize for the delay in this blog post, but I must admit it has been a busy week! I also realized that I had to upgrade space storage on my blog because I post so often, and so many pictures!! I now have to be careful about how many pictures I put in my posts, so I don’t go over again! But I worked it out because I didn’t want to let down everyone who’s been following me on this journey!! I promise to put together a video of my best pictures and videos at the end of the semester for everyone to see!
This past weekend, after a day trip to Cordoba, we traveled to Granada for two nights! It is a beautiful, old city, hidden between some mountains! It was one of the 3 Arab capitals of Spain (the others being Cordoba and Seville, like I mentioned) and has a great deal of Muslim and gypsy influence!
Our first night in Granada consisted of a Flamenco show in the gypsy caves!! So beautiful! For anyone who is unfamiliar with flamenco, it is a very well respected art in Spain. It represents all types of emotions, ranging from joy to pain. Most women and men who dance Flamenco are older, because it is a dance that requires you to have life experience before being able to portray the right emotions through dance!
The small dance floor and seating area in the cave!
A picture of my roommate and me (aka my twin) near the gypsy caves, that overlook Alhambra before the show!!
The following day we headed off to actually visit and tour Alhambra! This palace was built by one of the Moorish King’s, and was later turned into the main living quarters of the Arab Sultan around 1,000 A.D. It is absolutely massive, and is set high on a hill overlooking the City. The two main areas we visited were the Palace and the “La Generalife” or the royal Gardens of Alhambra.
The above picture is an outdoor theater located in a separate palace built by the Catholic King Charles V within Alhambra. They still have shows and concerts here during the summer! So beautiful!
Now for some pictures inside the Sultan’s Palace!!
The details painted and sculpted into the walls were incredible!! This was one from the King’s bedroom!
One of my favorite shots of Alhambra! Beautiful reflecting pool!!
I didn’t know this, but the famous author Washington Irving actually lived in Alhambra for a while, observing and writing about the people that lived there!!
After touring the Palace, we headed along a windy path to “La Generalife” where the royal gardens are located.
I really like this picture from inside La Generalife, but I bet it is more beautiful when everything is in full bloom!
My small group of “Spring 2” students who study at the University of Seville with me! There are other programs studying there as well, and at other schools but this is our small group!! Everyone is so awesome!
After an almost two-hour tour of the massive and beautiful Alhambra, my friends and I headed for some Tapas! Granada is famous for their tapas in Spain and still does the traditional version of tapas. (Remember, tapas are little appetizers!) In Granada, if you order a drink at a tapas bar, they bring you a little dish of food! The more drinks you order…the more food you get! It just comes with the drink, so they are considered “free tapas”. A lot of cities in Spain were like this for a while, but then started switching to a the modern version of tapas we see today. However, Granada has maintained the tradition! Since we are college students, we love anything with the word free in it (especially when it comes with a beer)!! And since we were hungry…we ordered a couple round of drinks and received a few tapas!
The rest of the day we had some free time to shop, relax and enjoy more tapas! In the morning, we toured the city and visited the Royal Chapel and Cathedral in Seville! King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel (the first Catholic monarchs of Spain) who reconquered Granada from the Arabs, decided to build this cathedral in honor of their victory. They are both buried inside the Royal Chapel, along with their daughter, Juana “La Loca” and her husband!
Believe it or not, the bell tower on this cathedral is not actually finished! It was supposed to have two more blocks (like the one with the bells) on top of this!! But, the architect who was designing it died and they ran out of money! It is still massive though! I could not imagine it any taller!!
The only good shot I could get of this massive Cathedral!!
Like all Cathedrals in Spain, the architecture and design is breathtaking! We were actually unable to go inside, since it was a Sunday and there was services going on! We did tour the inside of the Royal Chapel however!
This is on the outside walls of the cathedral! They are the signatures of students who graduated from the University of Granada (the first one established by the King, across the road from the Cathedral). Our guide told us that students would slit their arms after graduating, and mix their blood with a type of paint and sign their names on the Cathedral! Not exactly what I will be doing when I graduate from St. A’s next year, but hey, whatever makes you happy!
Now technically we were not allowed to take any photos in the Royal Chapel, but since I’m such a rebel I snapped two quick shots! The first is of the tomb of Ferdinand and Isabel!
It is hard to tell in this picture, but along the gate in the front there are stairs that you walk down and can look through a glass window and see the King and Queen’s actual caskets!!! It is honestly a little freaky but I went down and looked anyway! So amazing!
In the second picture, I zoomed in on the wonderful art and statues behind the altar! I have now been inside a great deal of Cathedrals, all of which have some grand design displaying the gospel or life of Jesus behind the altar, but I have never seen one that shows the death of John the Baptist! His head is off and about to be placed on the platter! I couldn’t resist taking this picture because I have never seen anything like it in a church before!!!
My weekend in Granada was very nice, but come Sunday afternoon I was ready to get home to Seville! I missed my host Mom, my room and the warmer weather! Although Granada is very beautiful and old, I am thankful I chose Seville to study abroad in!!
Tomorrow, I am off to Cadiz (city in the South of Spain along the beach) for the night for “Carnaval”, which is a two week long celebration in the city! It is one of the most famous festivals in Spain, so I am excited for the chance to go! Everyone dresses in costumes for Carnaval, so Kayla and I will be going as fairies (wearing tutu’s and painting our faces)! I will try to write a short post on my experience at Carnaval but I will not be bringing my camera because I do not want to damage or lose it! (Don’t worry, we will take some pictures of our costumes before going!!)
Also, I am skipping my Wednesday classes (very unlike me, but it’s for a good reason) because I am flying to Rome on Tuesday night with Kayla! I am so excited to visit Italy, I have always wanted to go there!! (I know my Nana who is Italian is very excited about this trip!) I promise to do a couple posts about our trip there as well!!
As I write about my upcoming adventures, I always am reminded by how blessed I am to have this opportunity to travel and see the world! I am so thankful, and couldn’t have done it without the help of my family and friends! Love you all!
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!
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!
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…)
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.)
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?)
Our Host Mama also puts out blocks of cheese and “chorizo” (which is kind of like pepperoni) to go with each meal!
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!
Chick pea & Potato soup
Potatoes smothered in (what tastes like) a marinara sauce.
Lentil Soup (Not one of my favorites)
Chicken & Rice (This was delicious, the rice was seasoned and covered in an olive oil)
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.
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)!
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)!
Our host Mom keeps so many clementines in the house, it’s crazy!! (They make a really good snack though!)
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!
Kayla’s Spanish omelet in Toledo.
My spinach tortellini in Toledo.
“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!)
My first Montedito! (The first of many, I hope!!)
I also found the Holy Grail while in Madrid!!!!!!
It is a very famous Chocolateria where we got churros con chocolate!!
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….
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!
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!!
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!!
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!
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!