Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Loooong 5 Day Weekend

I didn't have classes on Monday or Tuesday this week because of  Andalusia Day.  This is a holiday that commemorates the referendum of the year 1980, which gave full autonomy to the Andalusian community.  In many towns and cities are decorated balconies, where hangs the flag of Andalusia bars and there are competitions of Andalusian courtyards, among others.  Since there are only four days during the semester that we have Friday classes, and this week isn't one on them, I have an extra long weekend.  There was an optional trip to Morocco (Africa) through my program this weekend.  I would have loved to go if it wasn't $500.  It's so hard because I want to travel to other countries while I'm here, but the planning is always so complicated and the expenses add up fast.  

Thursday night I dropped my purple intak water bottle, which I use every single day, on the floor and it broke.  I was very sad and decided that I would need to buy a new water bottle ASAP.  The next day I went to Carrefour to look for a new one.  Carrefour is a huge "Hipermercado."  It's sort of like a WalMart Supercenter or a Super Target that has just about everything you could need, such as books, electronics, sporting equipment, makeup, household items, and more.  It's not too far from my  house, but I hadn't been there before. What amazed me the most about it was the ginormous supermarket section.  They had so many American brand food items there that my willpower was definitely tempted.  I found a water bottle that I really liked so I was happy about that!

Friday night I went out for tapas with Amy, Ashley, and Ashley's friend Amy.  We went to a bar called Bar Poes.  I really liked it and I think I want to take my mom there when she comes.  The owners, who are husband and wife, opened the bar when they came to Granada 9 years ago.  The owner was really nice and we talked with him about how he and his wife just sort of randomly ended up settling down in Granada while traveling around Europe and about how awesome Granada is.  Here is the description of Bar Poe from the website: 

"Bar Poë is a tapas bar in the heart of Granada, Spain. We provide a wide range of drinks from local to world-wide breweries. Every drink comes with a FREE tapa and not any old tapa, oh no, we provide you with a fantastic selection of tapas inspired by different cultures, countries and tastes. There is our famously hot Portuguese Piri-Piri, our traditional Brazilian bean stew (Feijoada), our new Thai Chicken dish, our Italian vegetables and much, much more. And do you know the best thing of all? You get to select what you want!"

I ordered the Ensalada de Garbonzos (Chickpea salad).  The great thing is that I didn't even order an alcoholic beverage! I just ordered pineapple juice. AND he poured it into a wine glass for me too. Fancy. 
Saturday Ashley and I did a workout at a beautiful park that is pretty close to our houses.  Amy came along too to read and enjoy the gorgeous weather that we have been having lately.  During the day, it's in the high 50's! I am very, very glad that I am not in Illinois right now with the snow and the cold.  I had a nice, long skype session with my mom while she was eating breakfast.  After talking with her, I was sort of feeling really down and homesick.  I spent the night watching TV with Eva and talking a lot too.  After talking with her I definitely felt better though.  I told her how I was feeling homesick and a little frustrated because I felt like my Spanish wasn't improving as much as I wanted it to be.  She told me that she definitely noticed an improvement in my Spanish and that it was obviously going to take time.  She also make me laugh by telling me that a great way to practice my Spanish is to ask random people on the street "donde esta...?" ("Where is...?).  That way I can talk to Granadians.  I told her that it was a great idea very though I'm not really sure how much that would help haha.  

Sunday was somewhat uneventful.  I ran, caught up on my must watch TV shows (How I Met Your Mother, Gossip Girl, and Pretty Little Liars) and unfortunately added another one to the "must watch" list.  I started watching the show New Girl and it's so funny! I love it.  In the afternoon Ashley and I sat outside by the river and read and enjoyed the sun and warmth.  Since pretty much none of the stores are open on Sundays (not even grocery stores) we went on a mad hunt to try to find Ashley some fruit to eat.  She had to settle on some overprices pineapple juice from the mini mart to satisfy her fruit craving.  

On Monday I went for an awesome long run along the river.  Running along the river and right near the Sierra Nevada Mountains never gets old!  Eva made her delicious noodle, chicken, and chickpea soup for lunch.  In the afternoon I sat by the river and read and worked on school work.  I took an amazing siesta and then went to Corte Ingles and a few other stores with Amy.  Amy and I decided that we definitely need to practice using Spanish more when we are with out friends, because since we are all American we speak English.  We spoke Spanish the whole time we were shopping which was una buena idea.  The two month long Rebajas (deals) are on their final closeout prices and it is sooo hard not to buy things! I'm very proud that I resisted the rebajas and didn't buy anything because I really don't need anything at the moment.  

Tuesday was the final day of my superrr long weekend.  Once again it was a somewhat uneventful yet relaxing day. I FINALLY satisfied my ice cream craving by going to a soft serve frozen yogurt shop that they have here.  I got the natural flavor with rainbow sprinkles like always. Yum! Considering I usually eat ice cream every single day, multiple times a day in the U.S. the fact that I have only had it three times here is very sad. Oh well what can ya do.  I would also do just about anything to have a taco night in the Schneider household.  I want a delicious, corn shell taco with black beans, dad's homemade salsa, and guacamole sooo bad. However, Eva is an amazing cook so I really can't complain.  I don't think that I will ever get tired of all of her tasty meals, her carefully prepared salads and her delicious homemade soups.  Here is my meal today for example...

It's going to be weird only having two days of classes this week and then the weekend again since this week isn't one of the weeks that classes meet on Friday.  I wanted to go to Madrid this next weekend but now I don't know if that's going to happen.  For my Flamenco class we are supposed to go to a Flamenco show in Friday but we got an e-mail from the professor saying that it might have to be rescheduled.  My friend who is in my class and I were going to maybe leave for Madrid Friday afternoon, but now we don't know any details about the trip, or if it's even happening.

It is so hard to believe that February is almost over.  I have been in Spain for about two months, which is crazy. Time is flying by.  Since this year is a leap year, I actually get to say that it's exactly one month til my birthday tomorrow!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Gorgeous Day in the City of Granada

Yesterday was an intense skype day for me.  First I skyped with my mom and dad.  After that, I skyped Alyssa.  After skying with Alyssa I FINALLY got to skype with Kaity and Alaina.  I enjoyed hearing about Alaina's birthday celebration the night before ;) Thennnn I skyped with Brittany too! I miss my family and my friends so much sometimes.    

Today was such a beautiful, warm, sunny  here! I had a pretty chill morning that included a short run, working on some homework, eating the delicious chickpea dish and spinach salad that my senora made for me, and working on plans for when my mom comes to visit (which is only a little over a month from now!).  When I was running down the street Reyes Catholicos I ran into an enormous procession or demonstration or whatever you call it in the street.  I'm not really sure what it was for, but there were a bunch of people holding signs and waving flags and such.  Then in the afternoon my friends and I took a walk over to the Albayzin.  We took some photos and just enjoyed the amazing weather.  

Ashley and I left a little bit before the other three.  We passed a church and when we saw that mass had just started, Ashley asked if I wanted to go with her.  She hadn't been to that church before, but figured it would be worth a try.  For starters, it was freezing cold in the church.  When the priest started talking, we were both a bit shocked that his voice was really, really scratchy and old and sort of scary.  We felt bad but ended up sneaking out early because we were freezing and couldn't even make out the words that the priest was saying, his voice was that scratchy.  Also, I was wearing yoga pants and an ISU hoodie at mass.  Coming in late, sneaking out early, and rockin' the most American outfit that there is was a very bad way of attending my first mass in Spain haha.  

I know that this was a short post but I figured that it was worth posting it so that I could post a few pictures as well...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's been a while...

Yes, I know that it's been a while since I've written.  This week was week two of classes and pretty much just consisted of me getting into the swing of things.  I REALLY like the two women teachers that I have.  Jóse, my Flamenco and Literature teacher, is the only one that I have somewhat mixed feelings about.  I do like him and how passionate that he is about the subjects, but he is really intimidating.  He isn't afraid to tell someone off when they don't give the response that he is looking for.  I'm sort of afraid to participate in his classes.  I really need to start participating though because participation in class is factored into our final grade.  Another thing that I'm a little worried about is how this semester will affect my GPA.  Grades in Spain are on a totally different numeric system, where getting what are considered A's and B's in the U.S. are much more rare and hard to get.  Oh well, there's no point in worrying about it now.  

One day this week I decided to run down a street that I haven't been down since the first week that I was here, all the way back in the beginning on January.  There is a building on the street called Molinos that some classes are held in.  Since I haven't had a class there, I never need to walk down it though.  Since I haven't been down that street since the first week when we took a walking tour of the city I forgot about all of the AMAZING graffiti art that is on it.  After running down Molinos that morning and rediscovering how cool it was, I decided to walk down it before my 11:30AM class that day to take pictures.  Seriously, it's not graffiti, it's artwork.  

Before I start this next topic, I want to make something very clear.  I LOVE my senora Eva and couldn't be happier with her.  However, this past week there have just been a few things that are starting to drive me slightly crazy.  The main thing is that she asks me the exact same questions every single day, multiple times a day.  For example, every day during the week I wake up at 8:15AM, put on somewhat the same running clothes, and go for a run.  Every single day she asks me "vas a correr?!" (are you going running?) Yes... just like I do every day at this time, in these clothes. Other questions that she asks me every day, multiple times a day include "are you studying?" No, I don't study every second of every day.  Then on the weekends "are you going out with your friends tonight?" which is annoying because I usually don't know my plans  until an hour or two before I leave, yet she asks me about it all day long.  

Every single time she sets a meal in front of me she asks "está bien o quieres más?!" (Is this good or do you want more?) This question is usually asked again during the meal and then at the end too. "quieres más?" "quieres más?" "quieres más?" ahhh I'm sorry, but not once have a answered "si".  She still doesn't seem to understand that half the time I am physically incapable of eating the very large amount of food that she give me in the first place. And I hate wasting food.  And I feel bad when I can't eat it all.  I just really, really wish she would catch on...  Okay sorry enough complaining because like I said before, I love Eva and the fact that she is always so caring and happy and sweet.  

Normally there are no Friday classes, since they are either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday.  However, there are four Fridays during the semester that we have class.  Two of those times the Monday/Wednesday classes meet and two of those times the Tuesday/Thursday ones meet.  Yesterday was one of the Fridays that we had classes.  I definitely didn't enjoy having classes on Friday when I'm used to having Friday's off.  That night I went out for tapas with my friends Amy, Rachel, and Sarah.  Amy suggested that we try this place called Cocoa's.  We went there and it was so cute! The walls were covered with mosaics and other designs, such as roses.  They also serve breakfast, tea, coffee, crepes, and sandwiches there. 

It was definitely a pretty girly restaurant, with all of the flowers and colorful artwork on the walls and a lot of tea and coffee drinks. I ordered what I always do, tinto de verano.  I do love that drink but I need to learn what other drinks they have here that I like.  I always get tinto partly because I don't know what else there is.  They also had some great options for tapas at Cocoa's.  The only problem when selecting a tapa in Granada is that most of the time it's hard to understand the descriptions of them on the menu.  Usually I just pick something and hope that it's good, without really knowing what to expect.  One tapas said "crema de calabaza con tortellini y mozzarella."  I knew that calabaza means pumpkin so I decided to try it.  It was different, but had a really good taste to it!

My life here in Granada is just sooo different then my life in Illinois.  I love it here so much and I am so happy to be here.  My classes are going well, the city is gorgeous, and everyone is really nice.  I have met some great people here too.  It's just hard because there are a lot of things that I miss about home.  I miss my mom, dad, and Alyssa SO MUCH.  I also miss my friends and having access to certain things that I don't have here (a car, certain restaurants and stores, etc.).  I'm trying really hard to just focus on being here and enjoying every minute of it, and not think about home.  That's about all for now.  I'll try to write back again soon.    

Friday, February 10, 2012


Today we took at day trip to Ronda, which is a province of Malaga. It is located at a basin surrounded by mountains and is one of the oldest cities of Spain.  There are many archaeological findings in the city space that belong to the Neolithic Age.  We met at Correos at 8AM and took a two hour bus ride to the city.  The views there were amazing!  
Some of the important places that we saw were:  
1. The New Bridge and the Bullring of the Royal Cavalry Order of Ronda-the New Bridge was constructed from 1751-1793, after the first bridge that was built in 1735 collapsed and killed around 50 people.  The construction of the Bullring of the Royal Cavalry Order of Ronda took more than 40 years.  The building has a height of 98 meters.  It allowed for the connection between the modern quarter of the city, called the market's quarter, and the old quarter of the city.  This allowed for the urban development of Ronda.  
2.The Palace of Mondragon-this building is considered the most significant civil monument of Ronda.  It is also known as the Palace of the Marquis of Villasierra and has several distinctive architectural aspects. 
3. The Bullring- Because of the history and architecture of the bullring in Ronda, it is recognized as one of the oldest and most monumental bullrings in Spain and the place were the modern bullfighting art was born. 
4. The Arab Public Baths- These baths are located in the old Arab quarter of the city, today called the San Miguel Quarter.  These baths were really cool to see.  We also went into this little room and watched a movie that told us what the different rooms were used for and how they operated.
After the tour, we had about two hours to eat, shop, and explore the city.  Some of us ate the lunches that our Senoras had packed us in the beautiful park that was right near the Bullring, while other's went to eat at McDonald's.  It's funny that although there are several McDonald's' all over Europe, they seem to have a few very different items from city to city, or country to country.  The McDonald's in Ronda sold beer, chicken wings, and "build-your-own" McFlurries were you choose two different toppings/syrups from several different choices such as kit-kat, chips ahoy, white chocolate syrup, caramel, and more.   I bought three post cards for my postcard collection.  Around 4:30, we boarded the coach bus for the ride back to Granada. It was definitely a fun, interesting, and exhausting day!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Classes and Fun Random Things about Spain

This week I started my actual classes at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas at the University of Granada.  I know that I've been here in Spain since the beginning of January, but we had an intensive language course for the first month.  Anyways, I have five classes but actually only have three different professors because two of them I have for two different classes.  Even though it's only the first week, I think I am going to like my classes and professors.  The only books that I had to buy were two photocopied packets for 5 euro each! I might have to get two other books for one class, but I shouldn't have to spend any more then about 20 euro on textbooks.  That's soooo crazy considering I've spent close to $500 on textbooks for one semester at Illinois State.  

On Monday night there was a little get together for the people in my program at a bar called bar Lola that is near our school.  There was a bunch of free tapas and drinks and such so that was fun.  On Friday we are taking a day trip to Ronda, which I think is about 2 hours away from here.  

Lastly, I just wanted to include a few things about Spain that I find entertaining because they are very different from the U.S. I'm pretty sure that I already mentioned these things in another blog entry, but I figured I would explain them a bit more.  

 1. When you go to the supermarkets in Granada, chances are you will see most people using these cute little rolling shopping bags.  There are even designated areas by the check out lines for people to lock up their cart while they shop.  They charge you for grocery bags, which is why everyone either uses their little shopping cart or brings their own bag.   My personal favorite supermarket is called Mercadona.  Another popular one is called Conviran.

2. In the living room, there is a round table that is covered with a blanket and a table cloth type thing.  Then there is a heater underneath the table.  When you are cold, you simply turn the heater on and  lift up the blanket/table cloth combination that is draped over the table and put it on your lap.  Since the heather is underneath the small round table, the heat is some-what trapped inside.  It's pretty hard to explain, but hopefully my pictures help.
3. The bathrooms.  One thing that we definitely don't have in the U.S. is the bidet.  It's funny because in my intensive language class the teacher was trying to explain what it was used for.  Out of a class of 10 people, I was the only one who knew and only because my mom's friend had commented on one of my blog posts a while ago.  Also, my showers aren't very enjoyable since the shower head doesn't connect to the top thing like it's supposed to.  I have to turn the water on and off several times when I shower to shampoo, condition, shave, etc.  

Also, the over a month long "Rebajas" are on their final stage before they are over.  That means that there are crazy, end of the sales deals being advertised in just about every single store window.  It is sooo hard passing all of the stores multiple times a day.  Seriously, my will-power is really being tested right now.  

My dog bit from a few days ago is pretty black and blue and gross looking.  I hope it scars though cause it will be a nice match to the scar of Hero's (Kaity's three legged dog) teeth marks on my other thy from when he bit me about a year ago.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I'm Seriously in Love with Granada and Everything About it

Granada has yet to stop amazing me.  Each day that I'm here, I'm either discovering a new area, a new shop, a new park, a new place to run, or just learning something new about the city in general.  The other day, I decided to run down by the Albayzin.  Little did I know that I would find myself running along a beautiful river, with the famous Alhambra right above me (that's it in the top right corner of the first picture)!  The area that I discovered is called "Paseo de los Tristes" and looks like this...

Can you believe that this AMAZING view is about a 10 minute run from my house?!  But it doesn't stop there.  Yesterday I decided to explore the Arab markets that are by the Albayzin.  There is a small, steep, narrow cobblestone street that leads up to the Alhambra.  The street is lined with Moorish markets selling beautiful, colorful, and handmade products such as scarves, coin curses, bags, jewelry, jeweled boxes, and more.   

I found a little plaque for my mom that has a rose and a quote that says "El amor por los hijos es como una rosa, cada    día crece más y más.which means "The love for children is like a rose, each day it grows more and more." Sooo perfect for my mom since she, Alyssa, and I all have matching rose tattoos and because the name Rose is so important in our family.  I also brought myself a scarf and part of Alyssa's birthday present (I can't say what it is though in case she reads this). I included a picture of my purchases, and the  boots that I brought here in Granada a few weeks ago haha.  

As I shopped in the markets, I realized how different the people that work in the shops in Granada then the workers were in Paris.  Personally, I felt that the people in the stores in Paris were either creepy and attacked you the second that you walked in their store, or didn't like you because you were American.  The workers in the stops in Granada didn't stare me down when I was in the shop.  However, whenever they saw me looking at something, like a scarf, theysaid "try it on if you want!" and were very nice and helpful.  The young and pretty cute guy that was working in the shop where I brought my scarf even started up a conversation with  me, asking if I was studying here.  

Finally, today I had yet another adventure.  I turned down a new street yet again and found myself running right by the famous Cathedral.  GORGEOUS!  On the way, I ran into a group of three gypsies.  They had their little plants in their hands like always, and tried to get me to take one as I ran past.  Here is what I found about them on a website:

"Around the cathedral and in the Alhambra car park there are a number of gyspsy fotune tellers who offer a fortune selling service. It goes like this. They hand you a sprig of rosemary, you take it. You feel too embarrassed to give it back or throw it on the floor. They tell you your fortune although you don't understand a word. Then you feel so embarassed that you give then a euro just to get out of the situation."

On my way back to the house I pasted a man walking two small dogs.  All of the sudden one of the dogs jumped and me and but my thy! Although you can probably do without a visual, I'll give you one anyways...

One more somewhat comical thing happened last night I was watching Cheaper by the Dozen 2 on TV with my Senora and her ten year old son.  I couldn't figure out why they kept saying "Bacon" in the movie.  Finally, i realized that they were actually saying "Baker," the last name of the family in the movie.  When the Spanish people said it in the translated version, it honestly sounded just like bacon. 

I start my official classes tomorrow at the University.  I'm pretty happy because my schedule turned out exactly how I wanted it to. Hurray! Here's the lineup of my classes:

  • Curso de Estudios Hispánicos (6 de febrero a 24 de mayo)
    • Asignatura: Producción oral y escrita - Grupo: 0703 - Aula: A04
      • 15:30 - 17:00: Lunes, Miércoles - RAMÍREZ RODRÍGUEZ, INMACULADA
    • Asignatura: Literatura española (S. XX) - Grupo: 0A01 - Aula: A13
      • 17:00 - 18:30: Martes, Jueves - LEÓN SILLERO, JOSÉ JAVIER
    • Asignatura: Historia de España (desde Franco hasta la actualidad) - Grupo:0A01 - Aula: A05
      • 11:30 - 13:00: Martes, Jueves - VARA OCÓN, CRISTINA
    • Asignatura: Civilización y cultura españolas - Grupo: 0A02 - Aula: A05
      • 11:30 - 13:00: Lunes, Miércoles - VARA OCÓN, CRISTINA
    • Asignatura: El arte flamenco en la sociedad y la cultura - Grupo: 0A01 - Aula:A14
      • 17:00 - 18:30: Lunes, Miércoles - LEÓN SILLERO, JOSÉ JAVIER

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Wow, I really don't even know where to start with this trip to Paris.  All I know is that this is definitely going to be an extremely long entry. I'll start with the long and complicated journey to Paris on Saturday...

Saturday, January 28: Getting to Paris
I woke up at 5:30 AM so that I could meet up with Amy, Ashley, and Killian in front of Corte Ingles at 6:15. Our original plan was to take the Granada public bus to the Estacion de Tren (where our bus from Granada to Madrid left from).  However, we found out that the buses don't start running until 7AM.  Since our bus left at 7AM, the public bus wasn't an option.  Instead, we took a taxi to the Estacion de Tren.  We got on the ALSA bus and traveled five hours to the Madrid Airport.  We had a ton of time to kill in the airport until our plane left at 5:15PM.

I had bought a cheap rolling suitcase to bring on the trip.  I was stupid though and just assumed that it would be an acceptable size to use as a carry on.  The airline that we took is super strict about their very limited baggage allowance though.  When my suitcase didn't fit in sizer, I FREAKED out. I tried shoving it in, I tired rambling to the lady in crazily incorrect Spanish to find a way to bring it on the plane, and ended up having to pay 50 euro to check it in instead of the 16 euro that I would have payed to check it in earlier.  I was pissed to say the very least.  On a more positive note, I found 20 euro at the Eiffel tower a few days later, so we'll just say I payed 30 euro haha.  

After that very sad incident, I tried to relax and forget about it on the flight to Paris.  We landed around 8PM.  Then we two different metra lines and ended up right by out hostel, Absolute Hotel/Hostel.  We really lucked out on our hostel!  We had a four person room, with a bathroom and shower in it.  There was a common room area with three computers to use with internet access and a free breakfast every morning.  

Sunday, January 29
Day 1 in Paris: free walking tour, Petit Palais Museum, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower at night.  

Let me just say, we definitely took advantage of the free breakfast at Absolute Hostel.  Each person got a basket with a croissant AND a huge piece of baguette in it.  Along with that, there was cereal, milk, coffee, tea, and juice.  We would save the croissant or baguette for later, buy some lunch meat and cheese from the supermarket, and make sandwiches for lunch.  After breakfast that day, we headed out to meet up with a group for a free walking tour of the city.  When they say walking tour, they definitely mean walking.  Considering we walked around a lot after the three hour tour too, visiting a museum and the Eiffel Tower, we were pretty much on our feet from 10AM until 8:00PM.  

Our tour guide was a cute, funny, and energetic guy named Alex.  He is from New Zealand but has lived in Paris for three years.  We started the tour at St. Micheal's Church.  From there we went to several famous places and buildings such as the Haussmann's Renovations, Academie Francaise, Assemble National, and the Place de la Concorde.  We also went to this bridge that is said to be the most romantic spot in Paris.  The bridge was covered in locks  or every size, type, shape, and color.  Lover's are supposed to put a lock on the bridge to "secure their love."  We also saw the beautiful Tuileries Gardens. 

After a quick stop outside of the Louvre, we took a short break near a McDonald's and Starbucks.  It's really crazy not only how many huge McDonald's and Starbucks there are in Paris, but how crowded they are all the time.  Next we headed down the Champs-Elysees, towards the Arc de Triomphe.  The Champs-Elysees is a street in Paris that has a ton of high-end shopping stores and restaurants.  The Abercrombie and Fitch on the street had a roped-off line out front and a large golden gate entrance!  We ended the tour at the Grand Palais and Petit Palais.  The Petit Palais is a museum with free entry, so we went in there for a while.  

Even though we had been on the move all day long, we weren't done yet.  We went to the Eiffel Tower to see it when it was lit up at night.  It also sparkled on the hour!  It was so surreal being there.  The Tower is pretty much all the way across the city from our hostel, so we walked close to an hour to get back.  Another thing to note about Paris is that its soooo cold!  I was definitely not prepared to face the cold after being in the amazing weather of Granada for almost a month.   I had brought a snow globe for my newly forming snow globe collection, and then managed to drop it two minutes later.  Yeah, I had a lot of bad luck during this trip.  However, I was able to  find another one a day or two later, so no pasa nada.  

Since the shower head in my Granada home doesn't connect and you have to hold it when you shower, I actually took the best shower that I have taken for a while in the hostel.  I also had an amazing night's sleep, because I was so exhausted from the action packed day. 

Monday, January 30
Day 2: The Louvre, Montemarte, Sacre Coeur Basilica, a nice dinner, and out to a bar

I forgot to mention that when we were checking into the hostel the first night, we met a guy from Germany named Fabian.  He is a student in Germany, but is traveling around by himself before he goes back to take his final exams.  He actually ended spending a lot of our second day here with us.  In the morning, Ashley, Amy, Killian, Fabian, and I went to the Louvre.  The great thing about having an extended stay Visa for the UK is that we got into all of the Museums that we went to for free!  The Louvre was beautiful, large, and very very confusing.  Ashley and I wandered around for a long time looking for the 19th century section and asking a lot of people for help, but they didn't help much.  

After the Louvre, we found a market and brought two packets of ham lunch meat and a wedge for Brie cheese for sandwiches.  When we split the price four ways, it was only around 1 euro each. What a deal!  Then we just each brought whatever drinks, chips, or fruit that we wanted separately.  We needed somewhere to sit, eat, and warm up, so we went into a McDonald's.  It was a good thing that Killian had to buy a croissant for her sandwich there too, because a worker who was cleaning the tables came up to us and was like "no, no no, no!" It was hilarious when Ashley grabbed Killian's receipt and wiped it in his face, without saying a word.  I honestly felt like the people in France didn't like us very much or that we were always making them mad.  

After lunch Amy, Ashley, Fabian, and I walked around near the Opera House a bit while Killian went in, because it wasn't free. She really wanted to go, so we just told her to take a lot of pictures for us. After walking around for a bit, we parted ways from Fabian and took the Metra to what was probably my favorite place that we went to on the trip; Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur Basilica.  Butte Montmartre is an adorable little town area where many painters and musicians live.  It's really unique and there are a lot of little shopping areas and restaurants there.  We walked up the massive hill to the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, which is a Roman-Byzantine style   church.  From the top of the hill, there is an amazing, unobstructed view of Paris.  

We ate dinner in a cute little restaurant in Montmartre.  Then we took the Metra right back to the hostel, which was amazing after so much walking the day before.  When we went back to the hostel, we played a fun game called "fish bowl" in the hostel basement/kitchen area.  The game has three rounds and is sort of like a cross between charades and catch phrase.  That night, the four of us and Fabian went to a bar.  Killian and Amy ordered a drink that Fabian told them was very "French."  Unfortunately, the drink tasted a lot like black licorice, was gross, and neither one of them liked it.

Tuesday, January 31
Day 3: Museum at the Hotel-de-Ville, Norte Dame, back to the Eiffel Tower, and a dessert.  

Our first stop of the day was a small art display of a featured artist named Sempe at the Hotel-de-Ville.  Then we went to Notre Dame.  Inside the church was so gorgeous.  There was a mass going on too, which was interesting to see.  After Notre Dame, we set out to find a supermarket.  It was a lot harder then we thought to find one.  We asked several different people and got several different answers before finally finding this place called Monoprix, which is both a department store and a supermarket.  The best thing was that they even had an area with tables and chairs for eating, so we didn't have to go and invade a McDonald's.  

After lunch we took the train to the Eiffel Tower.  Ashely and I actually waited outside while Amy and Killian paid about 4 Euro to go up to the first level.  I know that I keep sounding like a cheapskate, but everything in Paris is so expensive so I had to spend wisely.   Ashley and I just figured that we weren't going to get any better view then the one that we had gotten from the top of Montmartre.  It was freezing cold as we waited though so we decided to run a lap of two in the area whenever we feared that we might die of hypothermia.  We must have looked really, really, ridiculous but it helped and it's not like we knew anyone there.

When we arrived back at the hostel around 8PM, we were shocked to see another girl from our Granada program in the lobby of hostel.  Her and her group of friends had just arrived after spending a few days in London.  What are the chances of seeing someone that we knew in Paris, let alone in the same hostel as us?!  We went out for dessert that night and April, the girl from our program, came with.  

Wednesday, February 1
The loooong journey back to Granada 

Amy, Ashley, and Killian were all headed to London after Paris.  For convenience, to save money, and to have time to unwind and relax before my classes start on Monday, I just brought a round-trip ticket from Madrid to Paris.  The problem was, their flight left at 10:40AM while mine didn't leave until almost 9:00PM.  It was a flight at that flight, or one at 6:40AM, and since we had to take two different train lines to the airport, I figured I wouldn't want to make the journey there alone.  I bought some coffee, wandered around the airport shops for a bit, and then finally settled down to write in my journal and read my book.  All of the sudden Killian comes running up to me.  She had accidently brought a ticket for the next day instead!  I felt so bad for her.  She called her dad and he had to buy her another plane ticket 6PM.  Although it was an awful situation, it allowed me to have company in the airport for a while, and to take a nap while Killian watched out stuff.  I arrived at the Madrid airport at 11PM.  At 1:30AM, I took a bus overnight back to Granada.  Luckily I pretty much just slept the whole way back.  From the Estacion de Autobuses in Granada, I had to take the Granada Public bus back to my Granada home.  I got back around 7:30AM, unpacked, and then slept from 8AM until almost noon.  

I am so glad that I went on the trip to Paris.  Although the planning was complicated and stressful at times, it was definitely worth it in the end.  Ashley, Amy, Killian, and I saw so many things in the short time that we were there.  Although traveling there was the experience of a lifetime, I was really happy to return to the cute, personal, and familiar city of Granada.  I  personally feel like Paris is somewhat overrun with tourists and that the people there don't care much for Americans. When I saw cobblestone side streets, cheep prices displayed in the windows, and was finally able to communicate with and understand people again, I was so happy.  It's funny that I got more excited to hear Spanish in France then to hear English.  Well, that's about it for my epic journey to Paris, France.