Sunday, April 29, 2012


On Friday I went to one of the coastal towns in Spain called Nerja.  It's located along the Mediterranean coast, and there are a bunch of beautiful beaches there.  Ashley, Amy W., Amy M., and I stayed in Nerja for two days (one night).  Let me just say that although this was not the smoothest trip yet, it was still a lot of fun and definitely worth it!
Here are some of the reasons why this wasn't the smoothest trip ever: First of all, planning our trip to Nerja was not very easy.  Since we don't have classes Monday or Tuesday of this coming week, the four of us knew that we wanted to take a short trip somewhere this weekend.  We couldn't decide where we wanted to go or how long we were going to stay there for.  We finally decided on Nerja but we originally we were going to stay there for two nights.  I found a cheap hostel online called Hostel Azahara.  It was only 10 euros per person/night and included breakfast in the  morning.  I made reservations for us to stay there from Friday to Sunday.  On Thursday, the day before we were going to leave for the trip, Amy saw on the weather forecast that it was supposed to rain all day Saturday and Sunday.  We decided on only staying in Nerja one night and coming back Saturday.  However when I called the hostel to try to cancel the second night the man working didn't speak English very well, didn't really know what I wanted to do, and told me that the only way that I could cancel the reservation was online.  After a lot of confusion, Amy finally was able to call and talk to him and get it straightened out.
Another thing that didn't go the smoothest was the bus situation.  We ended up not even buying our tickets until that day at the bus station.  That always makes me nervous, but we were able to get the 9:00AM tickets to Nerja like we had planned on getting.  The problem was that none of us realized until the next day that the lady who sold us our round trip tickets sold us return tickets for that same day and not for Saturday.  Since we didn't realize this mistake until Saturday (when the bus for our purchased tickets had already left) they made us buy new tickets in Nerja and wouldn't let us exchange our old ones! That was very unfortunate that it was pretty much 10 euros down the drain.  Oh well what can you do.

Anyways, like I said before we left for Nerja around 9AM on Friday.  After about a two hour bus ride we arrived at the gorgeous coastal city. Our hostel was literally right in front of the ALSA bus stop in Nerja which was very convenient.  Hostel Azahara was a cute little family owned hostel.  The four of us had our own room with a bathroom and a mini fridge in it, which was very nice.  After checking in to the hostel we put on our swim suits and headed to the beach.  There are little beaches all along the coast in Nerja, with a few bigger ones too.  First we checked out the Balcon de Europa, which was once a fortress in the 19th century and is now a beautiful balcony overlooking the sea.

Next we walked along the shore, exploring some of the smaller beaches and climbing the rocks and such.  We decided that we were going to walk down to one of the larger beaches to lay out. The beach that we stayed at for most of the day was called Playa de Burriana.  The weather was really sunny and nice that day.  It didn't feel unbearably hot though because it was pretty windy along the shore.  Although we all put on 50 SPF sunscreen, Amy M, Ashley, and I all ended up missing random spots and getting some pretty bad and painful sunburns. The worst for me is the backs of my legs, especially right under my knees, and the line where my tank top ended, right near my armpits. I did get my first ever watch tan line though which I'm pretty excited about.

After laying out on the beach for hours, reading, napping, and enjoying the weather, we walked back to the hostel to take showers before dinner.  We walked all the way back to the beach after showering because we wanted eat dinner at this pretty famous Paella place.  Unfortunately it was only open until 6PM and it was 8:00 by the time we got there.  Instead walked back to this Italian restaurant that we had passed on the way there to eat dinner.  When we passed it we had seen a ton of people eating there and a sign that said Pizza for 3.50 euro.  It worked out nicely though because we all got a ton of food for super cheap! Ashely and I split a pitcher of Sangria that only costs 5 euro (so 2.50 each).  I ordered pasta for 3.50 euros so I was really surprised when it was a ginormous plate.  The Amy's each got veggy pizza that was really large too for only 3.50.  Amy M. got pizza and pasta because it was so cheap so why not haha.  After dinner we went back to the hostel.  Since we were so drained from being in the sun all day went to bed somewhat early.

On Saturday Amy M. actually ended up taking an earlier bus home.  Her sunburn was really bothering her and she didn't feel like paying 8.50 for the caves that we were going to go to, 1.50 each way for the bus, and then 2 euro that they made us pay at the hostel to leave our luggage there since we had to check out by 11AM.  Unfortunately there were a lot of random added expenses like these on this short little trip.  After breakfast Amy W., Ashley and I said goodbye to Amy M. and got on the bus to go to the Nerja Caves.  It was only about a 15 minute bus ride to the caves.  The "Cuevas de Nerja" are natural archaeological caves that have the Guiness World Record for having the world's widest column shaped by the merge of a stalactite and a stalagmite.  They were definitely really cool to see because I have never seen caves before!

After the caves we walked back to the beach area for lunch.  Amy and Ashley wanted to get Paella from the famous Paella place that we had tried to go to the day before.  I actually still had one of the two sandwiches that my senora had made for me the day before, so I figured I would save the 6.50 and just eat that.  I'm so glad that I got to see the restaurant in action though because it was so cool to see the entire process as they made the HUGE batches of Paella and served them out plate after plate after plate.  It was definitely a really popular restaurant.  6.50 for unlimited Paella with a bunch of seafood and chicken in it is a really good deal.  We were watching as the cook made a fresh batch and started talking with him.  He was really nice and friendly and even let Amy come "behind the scenes" and stir the Paella with the huge paddle that he was using.
We really lucked out with the weather on Saturday because it ended up not raining much at all.  After lunch we went back to the bus station and bought tickets for the next bus home, which conveniently was in 15 minutes.  It was a really fun trip, even with all of the added complications and expenses.  Next weekend I am off to Portugal with everyone from my program! I'm so excited for that.  I really can't believe that these are my final weeks in Spain.  It has definitely been the experience of a lifetime though.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Just An Update

This week was sort of a weird week class-wise for me.  For one thing, one of my professors (Jose Javier) was gone at some conference the whole week.  In my Flamenco class that I have with him, we had this old man as a substitute.  He literally just stood in front of the class and rambled about Flamenco the entire time and we were all bored out of our minds.  Then in my Literature class we had a sub that was pretty good, but he presented these PowerPoints that were more like short novels, and no one really new what was going on. I also felt bad for him because he couldn't get anyone to participate when we were analyzing poems.  Then my other professor (who I also have for two different classes) had her dad die in the beginning of the week.  I didn't have class with her that day and then I had even more subs for those two classes that I have with her.  

The weather wasn't that great during the week unfortunately. It was cloudy, not very warm, and rained a bit.  One day during the week Eva made me one of the strangest looking meals that I have had yet.  It was a huge fish tale.  Whenever she makes fish there is always a bunch of little while bones in it and usually a bigger bone too.  Eww.  At least she served it to me with some marinated vegetables on the side and a spinach salad. Then she made up for it the next day by making a delicious new dish of pasta topped with a homemade creamy mushroom sauce.  

On Friday I went with Amy, Kristen, and Sarah to a Cafe called Bib-Rambla, which is known for being the oldest cafe in Granada.  It opened in 1907.  In Plaza Bib Rambla, where the Cafe is, there was a book sale going on with tables full of cheap books for sale.  I bought a cookbook called "Cocina Espanola" for 1 euro.  Amy and Sarah split a plate of Churros and Chocolate at the Cafe.   

That night I went out for tapas with Hilary, Killian, and Sarah.  We went to a bar that I've never been to before even though it's really close to my house.  The one thing that I didn't like is that they bring everyone at the table a plate with the same tapa, so you don't get to choose which one you want.  The second tapa that we got was little triangles of tortilla de patata though, so that was tasty.  

On Saturday and Sunday the weather was really beautiful and warm.  I spent a lot of Saturday outside reading my book called "Nada" for my lit class.  Sunday afternoon I meet up with my friends at Garcia Lorca Park and we read, worked on homework, and enjoyed the sun.  I also was able to skype with Alyssa (very shortly) and my mom and dad this weekend, so I was really happy about that.  I miss them sooo much.  It's crazy to think that I'll be home in a little over a month though!  I'm really nervous for the Oral Proficiency Exam (OPI) that I have to take at ISU when I get back to the U.S.  I need to score at an advanced-low level or higher to get certified to teach Spanish and to take one of the classes that I am signed up for next semester. I am also nervous for the student teaching interview that I have at Glenbard North High School on May 29th. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cordoba and Sevilla

This weekend I visited two cities in Andalusia, Spain: Cordoba and Seville.  I was pretty excited for this trip because everyone from the first group who went a few weeks before us said that it was so much fun.  On Friday morning we all met up at the post office at 8AM.  I actually woke up at 5:30AM though to run, shower, and eat breakfast before we left.  We had a little over two hour bus ride to Cordoba. 
When we got to Cordoba we took a guided visit of La Mezquita and the Jewish quarter.  The Cathedral/Mosque was really beautiful! The Cathedral was built in 1236 and has Visigoth origins.  The Islamic invasion of Cordoba led to a very strong Islamic influence religiously, socially, culturally, and politically in the city. The Cathedral is the main church in the Diocese.  
After the guided tour we had free time for the rest of the time there to eat lunch, explore the city, shop, etc.  A few of the girls got Burger King while Ashley and I of course ate our sandwiches from our senoras.  Hilary was all excited with her two bags of BK and then ended up dropping part of her hamburger in the water in the park were we were eating. It was very sad. I bought some post cards and delicious soft serve frozen yogurt.  At 5PM we left Cordoba and headed to Seville, where we spent the rest of the weekend.  When we got there we went to the hotel to check in and to get our room assignments.  I shared a room with Alejandra and Sara.  Since this was a trip through the program that I am in here (CEA) all of the transportation, hotel stuff, and dinners/breakfast in the hotel was provided for us.  That night we went to an awesome buffet style dinner at the hotel.  There was a ton of delicious food such as salad, soup, fish, potatoes, marinated meat, meatballs, vegetables, and even seafood paella!  There was also a bunch of delicious deserts such as chocolate cake, rice pudding, flan, other pudding, and fruit.  

After dinner we went to a flamenco show at a bar that was near by.  We were surprised when we got there and the place was already pretty packed.  Since there was about 30 people in our group we tried to find seats wherever we could.  My friend Ashley, a girl named Rachel, and I found seats at a table with a cute old couple from England.  We talked a lot with the women and learned that she had a Spanish major and had studied in Northern Spain.  She teaches a night class of Spanish in England.  She also said that she has visited the United States and even lived there for a while because she dated a guy that went to the University of Illinois.  How funny is that!  They also let us share their pitcher of Sangria with them, so that was pretty sweet.  

On the second day of the trip we visited the Real Alcazar and the Cathedral in Seville.  In the morning we had a huge continental breakfast.  Some of the food was typical breakfast food, such as cereal, toast, hard boiled and fried eggs, bacon, sausage, pastries and yogurt.  They also served some very  interesting and different breakfast items too.  There was pretty much a full out lunch meat bar with slices of ham, turkey, salami, chorizzo and sliced cheese.  It worked out perfectly because Ashley and I were able to very sneakily make sandwiches for lunch.  There were even tomatoes set out that I used for my sandwich because in Spain some people put olive oil and tomatoes on their toast for breakfast.  There was also a hot dish of mixed vegetables and a pan of french fires.  I guess that having french fries with breakfast is sort of Spain's equivalent of having hash browns in the U.S. though.  I was one of the very few people who ate the mixed vegetables with my breakfast.
After breakfast we went on a guided tour of a gorgeous, Alhambra-like building called the Alcazar. It was built during the eleventh century over the remains of the Islamic quarter.  All of the artistic styles in Europe have been used in this monument such as Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical, and more.  Today it is the oldest royal palace in Europe.  Our tour guide was very enthusiastic and animated so that made the tour more entertaining as well.

After visiting the Royal Palace we had a 15 minute break to use the bathroom and such.  After I went to the bathroom I went into a tourist shop and found these cute and cheap hand-painted little bowls that I wanted to buy.  However, I took way too long trying to pick which one I wanted to buy and when I went outside after buying one my entire group had left aready! I knew that they were headed to the Cathedral but I had no idea where that was and I didn´t have a map yet.  I asked a restaurant worker and then frantically called my friend to ask her where they were.  Luckily I was able to find the group pretty quickly, but I was really scared at first.  

I think that it is partly due to my new-found love of stained glass, but I really love visiting Cathedrals in Europe.  This Cathedral that we toured in Seville was huge, beautiful and had a lot of very interesting history behind it.  We even got too see Christopher Columbus's tomb in the Cathedral, which I thought was pretty awesome.  The construction of the main Mosque began all the way back in 1184.  Since then several other parts have been added on, such as the Gothic part of the Cathedral in 1434 and the Baroque Cathedral in 1618.  The Seville Cathedral is the most extensive Gothic cathedral in the world.  After the tour we walked up over 30 levels to the top towers of the Cathedral were there was an AMAZING view of the entire city.  

While the other girls went off in search of somewhere to buy lunch, Ashley and I sat down on a bench and ate our sandwiches.  After we ate we tried to meet up with some of the other girls again but couldn't find them and decided to wander around on our own.  We both have a pretty awful sense of direction and although we had a map we ended up walking wayyy out of our way to get to the bullfighting ring that we were trying to get to.  We ended up walking a ton, almost off of the map, but it was all good because we got to see a lot of the city that way.  It was definitely quite the adventure. We went to Dunkin Coffee and I got chai tea while Ashley got an ice cream cone.  Then we went back to the hotel and I tried to take a nap before dinner but I couldn't fall asleep.  Dinner was once again an amazing buffet with tons of options, such as chicken, fish, rice, pasta, soup, salad, lemony cake, pudding, fruit, and more.  After dinner a few of us girls went to a bar with our two coordinators Jorge and Danny.  

On Sunday, our third and final day of the trip, we checked out of the hotel around 11 and headed over to Maria Luisa Park and the Plaza de Espana.  The Plaza and the Park were huge and really beautiful.  First, our entire group explored the plaza and took pictures there.  

Ashley, Sarah, Sara, Kelsey and I walked around in park for a while.  After the park we walked to a plaza area and ate lunch. We sat in the plaza for a decent amount of time talking, enjoying the sun, and in Ashley's case, taking a nap.  I finally found a plastic snow globe for my collection that wasn't overpriced so I bought that.  At 4PM we met at the bus and headed back to Granada.  It was a very fun trip and for me, a very cheap too. Since I took food for lunch at the continental breakfast  I spent less then 10 euro the entire trip on things such as ice cream, tea, and a few souvenirs.  In May we are going to Lagos in Portugal for a weekend trip so I'm really excited for that too!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Second Half of Spring Break/Semana Santa

Unfortunately, I had two more failed attempts at trying to watch the Semana Santa parades.  It continued to rain on and off for the rest of the week so they kept having to cancel processions.  On Thursday night my friends Sarah, Killian, Demetria, and I went out around 9:30PM in search of processions.  There were supposed to be a few going on around that time so we figured that  we were bound to run into at least one.  We wandered the streets for almost an hour but couldn't find any.  We ended up just going to cafe futbol.  I didn't get anything but Demetria got churros and chocolate and Sarah got ice cream.  The next day my friend Amy told me that all of the processions that day had been canceled. So sad!

On Friday I messaged a few of my friends to see if they wanted to go watch the processions but none of them responded.  I decided to go out anyways to watch them.  I ended up running into my friends Rachel, Sarah, Marlee, and Katie on the street Reyes Catholicos. There was supposed to be a procession passing by the street Gran Via so we all walked over there.  We waited for a while and then of course it started raining, and then pouring.  On our walk back to our houses, we ran into my friend Ashley.  Since she didn't have an umbrella I shared mine with her and she told me about her trip to Italy that she had just gotten back from.  Luckily one procession was able to leave that day a little after 8PM, but at that point I was already home, in my sweatpants, tired, and ready to just chill the rest of the night and talk with Eva. 

Saturday I FINALLY was able to watch a procession.  At 5:30PM I met up with my friends at Correos.  We walked over to the entrance way to the Alhambra, thinking that a procession would pass by there around 6:00.  We were obviously a little mistaken about the time that it was going to pass by that point, because the procession didn't come by until after 7:30.  However, since we were so early we had a really good spot.  Since there were only two processions that day and so many had been canceled during the week it seemed like the entire city had come to watch the ones on Saturday.  
Eva told me that the float with Jesus that was in the procession that I saw was the most famous and the most expensive float in Granada.  After the procession passed, we followed the crowd down the street.  When we were trying to leave we ended up getting trapped on the patio of a bar because we thought that there was a way out on the other side.  Then we had to watch the parade pass by again because we literally couldn't move.  It was pretty frustrating trying to get home because I kept running into the procession, and then a different one, on the streets that I needed to cross.

Easter Sunday I was definitely feeling homesick.  When my mom came, she brought Easter baskets for Jorge, Eva, and I in her carry-on suitcase.  Jorge had slept at his dad's house though, so I couldn't give him his until he got home that night.  In the morning I gave Eva her Easter basket though, with dove chocolate and lotion that my mom had brought for her at Corte Ingles after the original lotion didn't make it through airport security.  Easter in Spain doesn't usually include Sunday morning Easter baskets, but I had explained the whole concept to Eva a few days before and showed her pictures from google images too.  I also showed her a video of a Peep in the microwave and she found it very funny and entertaining.  During the day I skyped Alyssa and then later I skyped with my mom, grandma, and dad.

Today was my first day back at the CLM in over a week.  It was a pretty exhausting and long day, but I'm actually glad to be back at school.  I don't do well with a ton of free time.  Of course now that Semana Santa is over the weather today was beautiful.  There were clear, blue skies the entire day and was in the high 70's.  This weekend I am going on a trip to Cordoba and Seville with my program.  We are the second group to go on the trip, and everyone from the first group said that it was so much fun.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Semana Santa

To start, here's a little background information about Semana Santa that I found on a website:
Spain celebrates Easter Week much more than most European countries. During the whole of Semana Santa, (Holy Week), street processions are organised in most Spanish towns each evening, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.
People carry statues of saints around on floats or wooden platforms, and an atmosphere of mourning - which can seem quite oppressive to onlookers - and the Easter week processions end with Easter Sunday, a day full of light and colour when church and cathedral bells are heard ringing throughout the country.

In some of the processions, marchers wear clothes reminiscent of the klu klux klan. Infact their clothes are meant to depict the NazareƱos, people from Nazareth. The religious fraternities and brotherhoods are responsable for carrying the statues and organising the penitents and musicians. The NazareƱos follow the people who carry the floats bearing sculptures and models of biblical scenes.

The people who carry the weight of the floats are called "costaleros" and are expected the carry these "thrones" with solemnity and grace. They use a small cushion, "costal" to protect themselves from getting sores from the wood rubbing against their skin during the long processions.
In summary, it's a really big deal in Spain.  Considering that it has honestly rained about twice in the three months that I've been here, it was SO SAD that Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday it rained every day.  On Monday my friend Amy and I walked over to Plaza Nueva around 5:30PM because we wanted to watch the Salida (exit), of one of the floats from the church.  The procession was supposed to leave at 6PM.  They even opened up the church doors anticipating the start of the procession.  Pretty much right at 6:00 it starts down-pouring.  There were a ton of people all waiting to watch the parade but everyone quickly left to take cover from the rain.  The people who take part in the parades practice all year for this event, and they cry when they can't  have their procession.  
Wednesday it finally didn't rain in the afternoon or at night.  It did pour that morning though.  In the morning I put on my rain coat and decided to go for a rain run, which was actually sort of fun.  In the afternoon Amy and I went to a cafe for tea and to do some studying.  After the cafe, I finally got to see the processions.  They were so interesting and different!  Then I met up with some of my friends for tapas.  Three of them had parents here visiting, so they came for tapas too.  We went to three different places, one of them being bar Poe because I suggested it and none of them had ever been there before.  Killian's dad even paid for my friend Sarah and me at Poe's because he said "since you two don't have parents here." It was so nice of him!  We had to find alternative routes when walking from place to place because we kept running into processions in the streets that we needed to go down.  Tonight is the procession of silence, which is supposed to be really cool to see.  I am definitely planning on watching more processions today. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Let me start at last Saturday, the day that my mom was supposed to arrive in Granada (SUPPOSED TO being the key words here).  Her flight from Madrid to Granada was scheduled to get in at 5PM so my plan was to take the 4PM bus to the airport and meet her there.  As I was waiting at the bus stop, about 5 minutes before the bus was due to arrive, my phone rings.  It was my mom saying that because their layover flight from London to Madrid had arrived late in Madrid and that she was stuck there for the night.  I was pretty upset so I bought some soft serve frozen yogurt to try to cheer me up and then went back home and tried to study for the midterm that I had coming on on Tuesday.  I also skyped with Alyssa, Aunt Laura, Uncle John, and Nick for a while since they had stayed overnight at my house.  

Sunday I got up night and early, made sandwiches for the picnic lunch at Federico Garica Lorca Park that I had planned for my mom and I, and then went over to the bus stop to catch the 7:45AM bus to the airport.  When I got to the bus station I saw that on the sign it said that there was a bus at 7:15AM, then not another one until 10AM, and then one every hour after that.  I figured that the sign must be out of date because I had been e-mailing two of my program's coordinators about the bus and they had both said that the bus came everyday at 7:45AM, 9AM, 10AM, 11AM, etc.  I waited at the bus stop until about 8:20, and then decided that the bus wasn't coming.  When I went back to my room I went on the bus company's website and saw that as of February, they had moved the 7:45AM bus to 7:10AM and took away the 9AM bus.  Since my mom's plane got to Granada at 9AM, I had no choice but to sit and wait until she tried to contact me. When I didn't hear from her by 10:00, I started to get really worried.  I frantically tried calling EVERYWHERE (the airlines, the airport, a women who's cell she had borrowed, the hotel...).  Finally about 2 and a half hours after her flight landed my mom decided to call me.  She ended up just taking the bus to the last stop which is right near Eva's house.  We ate the picnic lunch that I had ready since 7AM that morning by the fountains that are near my house.  

After lunch we walked over to Hotel Carlos V, the hotel that we were staying at until Friday night.  The hotel turned out much better then I could have even hoped for.  It was really cute and had an adorable terrace with a great view of the city.  Mom and I ate breakfast out there every morning.  The funny thing was though that when we first walked into the building, the conveniently was very close to my school, we were really confused when it was totally deserted.  We didn't know what to do but finally about 5 minutes later I saw the sign that said that the hotel was on the 4th floor.  
Then we walked over the the Albayzin area.  I meant to take us to this spot that my friends and I have gone that has an amazing view but somehow we ended up in this area where there was a huge gathering of young people with dread locks and tattoos.  There were people playing guitars and drums, hula-hooping to music, juggling, drinking, and just hanging out.  There were also dogs running around everywhere.  It was definitely quite the scene. We went over to Eva's house for dinner and she made us each a fried egg with peas, bread, and then croquetas for mom to try.  

Monday morning mom and I woke up around 8 and went for a run along the river.  After showers and a nice breakfast on the terrace I headed to class and mom headed out to walk around the city a bit.  For lunch Eva made us this thick puffy rice and topped mom's with chorizo and this scary looking, dark, crumbly sausage.  Mine was topped with a bunch of vegetables of course because Eva knows that I don't eat sausage.  Unfortunately I had classes from 3:30-6:30 that day, but mom was fine walking around a bit on her own and then taking a two hour siesta.  That night we tried to go to this bar that has delicious tapas and a great atmosphere called Bar Poe, but of course we didn't know that it was the only day of the week that it was closed.  We ended up going on a random tapa hunt and ended up getting tapas at two different restaurants that were right down the street from our hotel.

On Tuesday mom went to the Alhambra during the day.  I had my last midterm at 5PM so after going over to Eva's to eat lunch I came back to the hotel and tried to study.  After taking my Literatura Espanola midterm, which I think went pretty well, mom and I walked around by the Cathedral.  I brought two snow globes for my snow globe collection.  For dinner Eva made us what I think was one of mom's favorite meals here; a large spinach salad with avocado, tomato, cucumbers, green olives, and cheese cubes, and a tasty warm spinach dish with melted cheese on top that we dipped bread in.  

On Wednesday I had a decent amount of class again, so mom went and explored the Cathedral and went inside it too, which is something that I still need to do.  I found out that I got a perfect score on my Civilacion y Cultura Espanola midterm, so I was very happy about that.  For lunch mom got to try the tradicional Tortilla de Patata dish that Eva had made for us with another tasty salad.  That night we went back to Bar Poes, which was actually open this time.  It was really crazy because mom saw a guy that had graduated from the high school that she teaches at (Wheaton Warrenville South).  He said that he thought that she looked familiar when we walked in, and they have actually taught summer school at the same place before.  He's living and working in Granada, teaching English at one of the school's here.  What a small world!  Mom got three drinks and I got two so we got to try five different tapas and have five drinks for about ten euro.  We had a fish dish, two chicken ones, and two vegetable ones and they were all really tasty.

Thursday was my 21st birthday! It was also the day of the nationwide strike for the labor reform, so both of my classes for that day were canceled.  It was up to each professor individually if they wanted to hold class or not.  While we ate breakfast on the terrace that morning I opened birthday cards from mom and dad, papa, grandma, The Swiatlos, and the Nonceks.  I also got an iTunes giftcard and a Fossil bracelet and necklace set from my parents.  Mom and I made sandwiches at Eva's and ate a Picnic lunch at the beautiful Federico Garica Lorca Park (like I had originally planned for day 1).  

On the way back to Eva's we stopped at the Dunkin COFFEE, not Dunkin Donuts, that they have here.  I've never been to it before and I was surprised to see that although it is only a Dunkin and not an ice cream place like Baskin Robins too they still had soft serve ice cream and sundaes.  Mom got coffee and I got some soft serve frozen yogurt.  At 10:30AM U.S. time/5:30PM Spain time I registered for my Fall classes at ISU.  I somehow got into the Psychology class that I need for a middle level endorsement even though my counselor was telling me that the class would most likely be blocked for majors only.  I was very happy to get into that but now I'm going to have a pretty intense semester with 16 hours. For dinner that night we went to another bar with delicious tapas called Mayerlings.  We both started out with the "tapa especial" that I had gotten last time I went there.  It's rolled eggplant stuffed with seafood and cheese and served with some lettuce and dressing on the side.  It was a great birthday and I'm so glad that my mom was here to spend it with me.  

On Friday we took a little over an hour bus ride to Malaga, another city in Spain that is right along the Mediterranean Sea.  I didn't really do the best job researching how to get to our hotel once we got dropped off at the Malage bus station, but we figured it out eventually.  Out hotel was called Hotel Los Naranjos and was very close to the beach.  It wasn't warm enough to swim or anything, but it was still a beautiful view.  After checking into the hotel we walked over to this castle/fortress thing called the Alcazaba. On the way there we stopped at a restaurant for lunch and ordered Paella and salad.  I'm glad that mom got to try Paella since it is such a signature dish of Andalusia.  The Alcazaba dates back to the 11th century and sort of reminded my of Malaga's version of the Alhambra.  It was really cool to see it and also to see the amazing views of the city from the towers.  
We walked back to the hotel along the beach and stopped at good ol' Mercadona (my favorite supermarket in Spain) and bought some sliced ham from the deli, Brie cheese, green olives, and bread for a picnic lunch on the patio in our hotel room.  It wasn't as good as our patio at Hotel Carlos V in Granada though because there wasn't much of a view besides a wall.  That night we walked along the beach and got the most    breathtaking view of the city call lit up at night.  Then we went out for beers, but no tapas this time since we were full from dinner.  They did bring us out some delicious gourmat green olives though.  It's funny that I eat so many green olives now when I didn't even like them before I came to Spain.  

On Saturday we a large continental breakfast at the hotel.  They had a bunch  of fruit, yogurt, croissants, cereal, coffee, and freshly squeezed orange juice.  We walked over to the second of the who castles that are in Malaga.  This one was called the Castillo de Gibralfaro.  Since it was even high up on the mountain then the first one, we got an even more amazing view of the entire city, the Mediterranean Sea, and the mountains.  We made another stop at Mercadona to get ham and blue cheese for another picnic meal.  We had to check out of the hotel by noon so we brought our luggage and food to the beach and ate there.  Then we headed back to the bus station and took the ALSA bus back to Granada. 

When we got back to Granada we went to Eva's and mom tried to do the online check in for her flight.  My computer was being really annoying though so she wasn't able to do it.  We went to the hotel that I had booked us for the last night so that mom could shower before we headed out for a final night of tapas at Bar Poe.  I had booked us a room in a hotel that was cheaper than Carlos V called Hotel Niza.  I figured it didn't really matter since it was only for one night.  Don't get me wrong, it was a very cute little place with character, but you could definitely tell that it was a cheaper hotel.  The rooms were really tiny and old fashioned.  At Bar Poe mom decided to be brave and tried the spicy chicken liver tapa for her last one.  It was served with rice and actually tasted pretty good!  The problem with Hotel Niza that night was that there was one room that was playing loud music until 2AM. So rude! The fact that we had to get up at 6AM for that mom could catch the 7AM bus to the airport meant that we didn't get much sleep that night at all.  I was really sad to see my mom go.  We had such a great time here in Granada and had quite the adventure exploring Malaga.  I'm so glad that she was able to visit me here because it is such a huge chapter in my life!