Portugal

20140422-152451.jpg
Standard

Though this is a bit belated (like all of my blog posts, honestly), my trip to Portugal deserves a little bit of recognition. Portugal is the most beautiful country I have seen so far. It is covered in green, surrounded by beaches, and has many cliffs overlooking the ocean. The weekend that we went was not supposed to have nice weather, but we were blessed by some sun.

The trip was focused on the outdoors, which was a much needed break from the city. I really didn’t realize how much I love nature and generally being outside in it until I came to Spain. Sevilla is a fantastic city to live in, but I do miss the opportunity to go hiking whenever I want to, or to look outside and see trees. Going to Portugal, I got my fill of both hiking and trees! We took a few hikes, relaxed quite a bit, and even tried surfing!

As my first surfing experience, I had a blast!!! We started with body surfing, then brought out our boards, and then finally tried to stand! I can’t say that it was a complete success for me, but I had a blast confronting wave after wave. It is incredible how powerful the ocean is! Not to mention that we were all wearing full wetsuits, which make anyone look like a superhero. And the fact that it was pouring down rain. Sometimes I have to pull out my Oregonian face and have fun in the rain, just the same.

We had a lot of time to lounge on the beach, explore, hike around, and play volleyball or soccer. I still cannot get over the vastness of the ocean, the lush beauty of the land, and even the mentality that we really were at “the end of the earth”. Portugal is on the top of my “Must Return to Soon” list.

20140422-152247.jpg

In this moment I was really trying to sit and soak it all in, but someone made me smile for a picture.

20140422-152352.jpg

This is the end of the world! I would have believed it.

Because I go for morning walks.

Standard

I spend my Holy Week traveling with two friends to Dublin, Ireland and London England. These two places are cities I could have spent weeks in, but we did our best to compact everything into a few days long trip.

We felt really at home with the English speakers, time frames, and customs that were very similar to our own, but definitely got a kick out of all the accents and different terms they use in the UK. Rubbish bin. Refuse bag. Porridge, not oatmeal. You get the idea.

Anyways, on our last morning in London my friends wanted to sleep in before we got on our last bus through the English countryside to the airport. Here is a little snapshot of the English countryside

20140420-150741.jpg

It really does have fluffy ponies, and sheep, and spotted horses and cows. It amazes me that everywhere I go really does look like the postcard, and that these places are real and tangible.

Anyways, as my friends were sleeping in I decided to go find a little park (garden, as the would say in London) and read my book. I set out with my book, the typical Spanish translation of a John Green chick flick novel.

On my way, I walked by the river Thames, and moseyed through a park. I love that homey feeling being riverside gives me! Thanks, Willamette Valley.

20140420-151126.jpg

Then I continued my way towards Westminster Abbey and the Parliament building. The architecture of these buildings is really cool! I spent some time sitting in the lawn enjoying the company of my book.

20140420-151323.jpg

I kept walking around, taking in the sights and sounds of London, and enjoying a beautiful quiet morning. I was even asked for directions, the ultimate sign of looking knowledgeable and not intimidating! I always count it as a success if someone asks me for directions.

To all you readers out there (not just readers of this blog, but lovers of books in general), you understand how books can take you to a different world, with new places and people and experiences. I set out for a literary experience, but instead got a 3 dimensional moment that I couldn’t find in a book. My book became my travel buddy, just a reason to go on a walk. I suppose that books can take you on adventures whether they are open or closed.

20140420-151903.jpg

Toledo

Standard

On another trip with my school, we visited Toledo. We stayed in the historic center of a the small town, surrounded by its city walls and complete with narrow, stone streets and alleyways. Here are some Toledo highlights:

1. The ABSOLUTE best experience was singing in the Monastery. As we toured the monastery with my classmates, our teacher Carmen asked somewhat jokingly if any of us could sing a Gregorian chant. i spoke up and said I knew songs in Latin, though they weren’t Gregorian chants. Because I spoke up, this happy music major got the opportunity to sing, solo, in an age old monastery. My classmates and teachers all were surprised and said they enjoyed it, but for me it was the idea of singing in a place where the same words had been sung many times before with such sentiment. I love the thought of traditions and songs that can be passed down to so many people and heard in so many places and times. I really do cherish being able to sing in the Monastery of Toledo.

2. Meeting an adorable old man that makes jewelry. Toledo is famous for their gold plating and inlaid gold, and it really is beautiful. Some friends and I happened upon a shop where a precious old artist showed us how he made the jewelry, offered us student discounts, and was incredible sweet and kind. He really made my trip, and we made his day by asking to take pictures with him.

3. Chasing the sunset. We were able to find a beautiful sunset and look over part of the city. Sometimes I think that life should be measured in the beautiful sunrises and sunsets you see.

20140410-223457.jpg

1. La experiencia mejor de todo el mundo era cantando sólo en el monasterio. Durante nuestra tour, mi profesora de arte nos pregunto si alguien puede cantar algo de la música Gregorio. Y por eso, era valiente y cantaba sola en latín por todo mis compañeros. Que feliz estaba como un estudiante de música! Mis profesores y compañeras eran sorprendidos y le gustaban, pero para mi me encanta la idea de ser parte de la tradición de cantando palabras en latín que estaban cantado muchos veces antes que yo. Me encanta que era parte de una tradición, y era una bendición para cantar en el monasterio.

2. Conocí un viejo que fábrica la joyería. Toledo es famoso para un tipo específicos de oro, que es muy bonita. Era muy simpático y sacábamos fotos con el.

3. Mirando el cuando la puesta del sol. A veces creo que es mejor para medir nuestras vidas en cuantos vistas bonitas vemos.

20140410-223702.jpg

My typical singing face. Cara típica de cantante.

20140410-224120.jpg

The monastery where I sang! El monasterio donde canté.

20140410-224248.jpg

The cute old man. El anciano simpatiquísimo.

Why I travel

Standard

We have all seen a million blog posts and Buzz Feed articles about travel: why you should do it, why you should travel while you are young, how study abroad and volunteering change you and the world…you get the picture.  Well, my opinion on travel is that you should try it, just once.  Go and meet real people, eat real food, and explore what it means to live somewhere else.  It enriches your way of thinking, and expands your mind and heart to be more compassionate towards others.  Even if you don’t get to those benefits, at least you get to see another beautiful part of the world that you probably didn’t know existed.

 

What I learned is that traveling really is about the trip, and not the destination.  The experience isn’t always as glamorous as it seemed when you booked the ticket, but there are small experiences that you grow to appreciate in the end.  Here are a few moments that made me love living in the moment, however simple they are.

 

To turn in the weather channel and see an entirely unfamiliar map (and remember that the world is not ACTUALLY centered around my home country)

To use the hand dryer in a McDonald’s bathroom to dry my hair, and consider it a luxury.

Because walking to school every day across a bridge designed by the man who designed the Eiffel Tower makes you love life a little bit more.

To realize that peanut butter is a delicacy that should be cherished.

Because the Great Wall of China is under rated.

To realize how necessary language is in human communication.

To spend an hour trying to figure out the word for “redness” when buying face wash in a different language.

The nervousness feeling when doing normal, everyday activities like ordering at a restaurant or sending a postcard, and the huge sense of accomplishment afterwards.

To realize that I don’t miss my iPhone one bit.

To have tourists in a doubledecker bus cheer for me on my morning jog,

To realize how little I understand about the economy and politics. Oops.

To dance as part of a FLASHMOB in a Spanish plaza.

To have conversations with Romanians who live on the street, and feel challenged about my own way of life.

To live somewhere that has dulce de leche, and dulce de leche flavored ice cream, at my own disposal.

To drink the water when you really shouldn’t have drank. DO NOT try this at home…or, well, when traveling.

To attempt to surf for the first time wearing a wetsuit that is too big in the pouring down rain at a gorgeous Portuguese beach. Worth every drop.

To have coffee every Monday with three little old ladies that tell you what life is really about, and how to get out there and live it.

To hike down a cliff wearing a skirt and carrying a purse because, well, adventure is spontaneous and so am I.

To be able to have conversations about politics, economics, and religion in my second language.

Because I have never seen so many fluffy baby chickens in one place.

For that moment when I had my first original thought about a literary concept in Spanish.

Because sometimes having Easter Sunday in the park and running home barefoot is just what you need.

And a tropical downpour and a power outage is actually a great way to spend a night.

Because poverty is real, and so are the people experiencing it, and I am only beginning to realize what that really means.

For the challenge, once I am home, about how I am going to remember what I learned, and the new way I am going to live my life.

To want to change the world I am seeing.

To prove to myself that music is a universal language, and that sometime musicians in rural Nicaragua are waaaaay more talented than you.

To be asked to sing Katy Perry and the Titanic song wherever I go.

To meet people, see places, and experience moments that forever change me and my thoughts about the world.

 

 

All things considered, most of these moments are silly, but unforgettable to me.  From a girl who used to be homesick spending the night at my friends house (who happened to live two doors down) as a child, I have grown to learn that there is so much more out there when you try new things, as crazy as they may be.  I am thankful for what I have been blessed to be a part of, and the person I am becoming.

 

 

Sevilla v. Real Madrid

Standard

Let me tell you, attending a soccer game was one of my favorite Spanish experiences thus far. Futbol is a BIG DEAL here, as it should be. Just last night as I was walking home I could hear cheers from bars, homes, and people watching the game on their smartphones as they made their way through the streets. Sevillans sure love their soccer.

Emily and I showed up early to the game, and we encountered a crowd waiting outside. Apparently they were waiting for the bus that brings the players.

20140411-140748.jpg

Everyone was already super excited. There were a bunch of police on horses and others keeping people away from the bus. Soccer is a serious matter. We were just happy to finally have our real tickets in hand.

20140411-141049.jpg

We went in and found our seats, which were surprisingly a great view! Oh, I forgot to mention that the game started at 10:00 pm on a Wednesday night, which explains how it is possible to watch these games live from North America. The life of a Spaniard. Anyways, we ate our bocadillo picnic and watched the crowd fill in. And fill in it did! We we soon part of a Sevillanista army, the whole stadium full of red and white. Real Madrid didn’t even stand a chance.

The game itself was probably the best soccer I will ever see played. It was super exciting, and now I definitely believe that Spain has some of the finest soccer in the world. Because the game was in Sevilla, the entire crowd (minus a few choice Madrid fans) was rooting for the same team. Here each soccer team has an anthem, and the crowd sang together, chanted together, cursed together, and celebrated together. It was incredible being part of this overwhelming soccer experience. One new experience for me was their distraction tactic: everyone whistling at once, which creates an absolutely horrid sound.

20140420-150009.jpg

Though I am not a Madrid fan, one bonus was seeing Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world’s most famous soccer players. He was there. IN PERSON. I just thought that was cool.

For the longest time, the game was tied 1 to 1, but SEVILLA PULLED THROUGH in the end. That is right, folks! Sevilla beat Real Madrid, the hotshots of the soccer world. I think I am converted into a Sevilla fan forever.

20140420-150154.jpg

Ronda

Standard

Ronda is a smaller town about 2 hours from Sevilla. It is the epitome of Spanish; the people, the white houses, the beautiful setting, the history of the town-all Spanish to the max.

Ronda es una pueblo casi 2 horas desde Sevilla. Es demasiado española, las casas blancas, el paisaje, y la historia.

I was privileged to get to experience Ronda (now one of my favorite places on earth) twice in the same week. Both experiences were unique and magical in their own way.

Afortunadamente tenía la oportunidad conocer Ronda dos veces en la misma semana. Los dos experiencias eran maravillosos en su propia manera.

My first trip was with the University of Sevilla choir. We had a concert in the Iglesia Maria Luisa, which I later found our was built in the 15th century and was where royalty used to watch the Corrido de Torros. My day began by chasing a trombonist down the street by my house, because the choir was very relaxed in its ourganization and I was hoping he was going to the same place as me and could help me find the bus. It turns out that he had no affiliation with our group. Whoops. Later, another American in the choir and I followed another choir member down the street and successfully located the bus! Our plan had been to wait for people in black clothes to walk by and follow them to where we were supposed to be. Foolproof.
Para mi primer viaje a Ronda, fui con el corro de la Universidad de Sevilla. Cantábamos un concierto en la iglesia María Luisa, del siglo XV. Al principio del día, no sabía nada sobre nuestra concierto: donde estaré, como llegare, absolutamente nada. Finalmente encontraba una otra americana del corro, y pensábamos en un plan buscar personas vestido todo en negro, y síguelos a nuestra autobús. Somos inteligentes.

Anyways, we explored the city a bit, and then went to the church for our rehearsal, and later concert. I have never performed in a mini-skirt, in a cathedral, frozen because stone does a GREAT job of keeping the Spanish heat outside, standing on a bench rather than risers, or with a Spanish choir. And it was beautiful, in many ways. What struck me was how I was in an entirely new place, but carrying on their tradition. This choir performs the same Mozart requiem at the same church every year. It was a well supported tradition, proved by each seat being full and audience members standing for the full duration of the Requiem, as well as the encore we performed (have you ever heard of an encore to a Requiem???). I was able to partake in this tradition, with people of a different nationality than myself, and in all walks of life, young and old. It was special to sing in a significant place with such significant people, and be a part in this significant tradition.
Explorábamos las ciudad un poquito, y fuimos a la iglesia para ensayar. Nunca en mi vida estaba en un concierto vestido en un mini falda, en una catedral, casi muerto de frío porque la catedral está construido de piedra, de pie en un banco, con un coro de españoles. Era tan bonita. Me encanta la idea de su tradición, y a mi me encanta ser parte de su tradición de cantar este réquiem de Mozart que cantan cada año en el mismo sitio.

The second trip, I went on a day trip with my school. Our grammar professor had explained to us that he never tires of visiting Ronda, and now I can see why. After a picnic lunch accompanied by two great guitarists playing Hotel California and Hey Jude in a Flamenco style (this really exists!), myself and two other friends decided to try and find the waterfall that was located under the bridge where we ate lunch. I had been starving for a piece of nature, and the green fields had already begun feeding my soul. I am so proud to be a part of this creation.
El viaje segundo fui con mi escuela. Comimos nuestros bocadillos con una serenata de Hotel California y Hey Jude en el estilo flamenco, dos amigas y yo buscábamos por una catarata del puente famoso de Ronda. Echo de menos la naturaleza, y en realidad el paisaje, el verde, y una aventura de la naturaleza era una necesidad para mi.

Little did we know, our trip to find the waterfall turned into a full-on, cliff scaling adventure! There are metal rungs in the side of the cliff that you can go down in order to get near the waterfall. The cliff went straight down, so we climbed straight down with it.

Once again, this is one of those “you had to be there to really understand” moments. But the combination of good company, the trust of my new friends as we scaled the cliff, along with the fact that I was wearing a skirt and hiking with my purse, surrounded by the most picturesque scene of Spain, really spoke to me. My friends mentioned how they often think of how much of life they feel like they are truly living in the moment and living to the fullest. My time outdoors and living in a spontaneity that I haven’t been able to easily grasp in Spain made me thankful to be alive and to have chances each day to truly live. We talked about the trust and encouragement we had in each other as we climbed, and how our grand hike was a metaphor for our lives each day in the way that there is encouragement through relationships, and safety in trust.
Era una experiencia que nunca voy olvidar. El sentimiento de confianza y seguridad de mis amigas nuevas en una situación inseguro era impresionante, y estaba en el momento en uno de los más bonitos lugares eh visto en mi vida. Con mi falda y bolsa, no era tan preparada hacer subir y escalar un acantilado, pero tenía una mentalidad de “carpe diem”.

My experiences are my own, but I am glad to have great and thought provoking people to share them with. Cheers to Kelsey and Audrey, who made me sore, scared, appreciative, and pensive. I look forward to thousands more days of truly living.
Mi experiencias son sólo mis experiencias, pero tengo ganas de estar en el momento exacto y tener más oportunidades espontáneos y impresionantes como eso.

20140403-224647.jpg

Andorra

Standard

Andorra is a small country on the border of Spain and France. I had no idea it even existed, but I had the privelege of visiting and exploring the town of Andorra la Vella with my friend Olga.

Andora es un pais pequeño entre España y Francia. No tenia idea que lo existe, pero tenia la oportunidad visitarla y conocer la capital Andora la Vella con mi amiga Olga.

It is absolutely beautiful, and sourounded by the Pyrenes mountains.
Es perfectamente bonita, y adentro de los montañas pireneos.

20140324-214213.jpg

In Andorra they speak a conglomaration of languages: Spanish, French, Catalan, and English were the ones I recognized. It is popular for the spa, as well as great skiing and other snowy adventures. Here is a summary of my time spent in country number seven on my list.
En Andora hablan bastantes idiomas incluso Español. Frances, Catalan, y ingles. Es una destinacion popular porque la Spa y tambien los lugares esquiar y trek en el nieve. Aqui es un trato de mi tiempo en este pais.

We took a bus from Barcelona to Andoraa, and got a great view of Northern Spain on the way.
Fuimos en bus desde Barcelona a Andora, y vi el paisaje maravillosa del Norte de España.

20140324-215145.jpg
We arrived and checked in at our hotel, and searched for somewhere to eat lunch. Lunchtime for a Spaniard is 3:00-4:00, but after arriving at 3:30 nowhere was open! I guess crossing a border can make a big difference. FINALLY we found an open restaurant with tasty sandwiches.
Llegabamos a hotel, y teniamos mucho hambre. Es tiempo almorzar en España es a las 14:00-15:00, pero todas los restaurantes estaban cerrados. Una frontera cambia mucho. POR FIN encontrabamos un bar con bocadillos ricos.

20140324-222955.jpg
We returned to the restaurant multiple times to eat, though the waiter thought I was crazy for ordering water to drink and asking for pizza without tomate…apparently tomate is tomato sauce, and not tomato as a topping.
Comimos en este bar muchos veces, pero el camarero no entendio porque quiero beber la agua y comer una pizza sin tomate. Claramente estoy estadounidense…

We cafe hopped a bit and found a lovely patisserie with a much nicer owner. She was great to talk to and educated us about the specialty pastries. I had a yummy buttercake with almonds.
Fuimos a varios cafes y un patiserie con una deuña simpatica. Ella nos explicaba sobre todos los pasteles y postres especiales al region.

20140324-223240.jpg
We returned to this place as well and had nutella crepes for breakfast.
Regresabamos comer crepas de nutella.

The second day we continued to explore the city. We went on an AMAZING hike on a pathway that goes around the entire city. The view was spectacular and it was incredible to be in the Pyrenes.
El dia siguente explorabamos la ciudad. Mi parte favorito era una caminata en un sendero alrededor la ciudad en los pireneos. ¡Que vista espectacular!

20140324-223601.jpg

We even found some hiking buddies.
Conocimos algunos amigos.

20140324-223734.jpg

Later we were delighted to look out the window and see snow. SNOW!!! I missed the snow in Oregon this year so I was completely overjoyed to get a taste. Literally. The snowflakes taste the same in Europe, in case anyone was wondering.
Mas tarde, era nieve! No estaba en Oregon durante la tormenta de nive, y por eso estaba tan emocionada para el nieve.

20140324-224244.jpg

They were the biggiest, fluffiest flakes I have ever seen.

We also met some interesting people. I guess they enjoy the snow differently in Andorra?
Conciamos estes personas que tambian les gustan el nieve en una manera…diferente?

20140324-224015.jpg

Later that day we spent time in Caldea, the largest and most popular spa. I had never been to a spa before, and it was wonderful to relax after traveling, classes, and constantly thinking in Spanish. The best part was swimming in a warm pool outside in the snow and having the fantastic view of the Pyrenes. It was surely an experience to remember.
Lo mismo dia fuimos a pasar tiempo en Caldea, el spa mas grande y popular. Lo mejor era esta en los aguastermales afuera con los pireneos y la nieve. ¡Que bonita la experiencia!