Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I thought I would take some time out today -- EVEN THOUGH I AM WORKING, SPAIN, WHY DO YOU NOT RECOGNIZE THIS AMERICAN HOLIDAY, TOO -- to update my blog!

I am thankful for having internet even if it doesn't work super super awesomely because now they have blocked facebook at the school. And I am thankful for the friends I've made in Vigo because my roommates are kind of lame. And I'm thankful for Manu and his sister so it's kind of like family on Thanksgiving day. I am also thankful that the weather here is still pretty good. I'm mega thankful that there is a grocery store literally across the street and I can get my chips, yogurt, cookies and juice there for super cheap. And I'm thankful that EVEN THOUGH I HAVE TO WORK TODAY that I really only 'work' for like barely any part of the week. Also I'm thankful that although each time I update and say that I will include photos and then I end up not, no one has tried to find me with torches and pitchforks to 'inspire' me to add photos.

I'm thankful for other stuff, too, but sometimes it isn't as funny or interesting as aforementioned things: like my family, getting my stuff done for grad school, the new harry potter movie, etc. etc.

In other news, a few weekends ago I went to Santiago to see the Pope. It was mega lame. Everything was gated off so you couldn't GO anywhere and it was so crowded I couldn't SEE anything. But there was a protest and tv screens so I could see the Popemobile and the bazillions of people there.

I hope everyone is having a fantastic Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving break and I look forwarding to seeing everyone Dec 15!


Monday, November 1, 2010

And back!

Sorry I have not written sooner. I know my legion of loyal fans have been anticipating the day when I would update this xD but, what can I say. I'm almost busy and still adjusting to my new city and job, well 'job'. And I don't have internet in my apartment so it's been kind of annoying getting online if I'm not at the school and it's closed on the weekends.

Anyway, I thought I would do a quick compare-and-contrast about last year and so far this year! See, the simplification of English process has taken root and I make little diagrams to explain things. It's an epidemic!!

Things that were more awesome in Monforte/Ourense:
I had internet in my apartment
I had awesome roommates
The teachers gave me photocopies of activities to do in class so I didn't have to plan anything

Things that are more awesome in Vigo:
My apt is walking distance from the school, and super super close to the train and bus station
When I prepare a lesson, I use the same thing for two weeks, so I only have to do some preparation once every two weeks!
My roommates are barely there so it's not like we are fighting for space (except for how I don't have any space to put food in the freezer)
I made quick friends with the French teacher (who speaks English) so if my brain needs a break from all the Spanish I just go hang out with Luc.

Most of what I've been doing if I haven't been in school talking about myself for 24 classes has been going out at night. I'm getting pretty hip on the cool places to go, there are a few 'going out zones' so you sort of have to figure out how all of it works. But it's tons of fun! And I'm meeting lots of new people.

The craziest thing that has happened relating to Kansas: one of my students studied at Bishop Miege high school for a year about 12 years ago!! That is nutty. One of the teachers went to KU and married a guy from Wichita, but that isn't so strange since KU-Santiago have an exchange program, but Bishop Miege?! What a small world!!

Ok, well I will try to update later. I want to show everyone some pictures of Vigo and all the crazy statues that are here, which are fun to see everywhere, so it will be like a taste of my reality. But that will have to wait until I get a better internet connection, haha.

Until next time!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Look at this! Two posts in one month! Could be considered a record. Unfortunately, I have been feeling really rushed all the time for no particular reason so am feeling too rushed to put pictures up. But, I finished the Camino! Which means very little. I got this sweet little certificate thing though and I can say that I've walked over 200 kilometers (120-ish miles), so I will put that up on my 'accomplishments you might say at an interview to prove something but you won't actually put on your resume'. Other things like that are the marathon and reading the entire Harry Potter series in Spanish. Also I can do summersaults.

Currently I have been going to the beach in the afternoons and have slightly dimmed the blinding reflection my bare stomach causes and going for lots of walks around the town and stuff. There was an international jazz fest recently and I went up and talked to the jazz group afterward, they are from Detroit and one of their next stops, after some other Spanish town and Paris is Helsinki, Finland. Also I met the mormons here. Then I kept running into them. July is like Americans in Galicia Month! Who knew!! I didn't even get an invitation so I would know what to bring!

In annoying news, getting my residency card is becoming a big pain in the behind. I have made three trips to Ourense (the first one being a bust since I was misinformed of when I should be there and the bus was late, bad combo) but yesterday it FINALLY went through. So when I come back to Spain I can just go over there and pick it up and be all like legit. Hurray! I also tried looking for an apartment, no dice. Fortunately, the people at the school in Vigo will help me when I get there so I am not too panicked.

This is also my last post! When I was not in Ourense this week, I went to a barbecue party at a beach house and finally jumped in the frigid Atlantic waters because it has been mega hot here recently. Additionally, today is Peñas which should be quite the fun fun time! I would think about adding some words of wisdom here, but since I will be back in two months time it doesn't seem necessary as a finality or anything. So I'll just leave this as my last post, hopefully during the summer break I can post some pictures of what I'd been doing recently. Cross your fingers! See everyone soon in Kansas!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So, ironically, even though I have been on vacation since June, I have not put in the time to update this blog. Well, maybe not ironically, it IS summer and everyone is a little lazy during summer break. But my summer break is like 4 months, so tsk tsk me for not being on the ball.

As everyone IN THE WORLD knows, Spain won the World Cup. What does this mean? Very little, except for the huge people gathering to watch the last few games and celebrate downtown. Oh, and typically non-patriotic Spaniards have been chucking up the Spanish flag all over the place, so everything is littered in red and yellow. And they win like $30 million, which all the economists - with the excitement and increased tourism and drinking in bars/restaurants - claim will get Spain out of their economic crisis. Which is kind of laughable, but I guess positive thinking doesn't hurt? But it was fun watching and seeing the spectacle and how famous Pulpo Paul has become! Yesterday I was watching TV (omg, finally a tv, don't judge) and it was kind of like when KU won the national championship. There was a huge welcome home rally and parade and they were up on stage and giving speeches. Except more singing and dancing and fun little Spain cheers. Anyway, I'm considering offering my OBVIOUS talent for being in the place where a team WINS IT ALL to the highest bidder. So, professional sports teams, please get in touch and we can work out a fair and advantageous contract for both parties.

As another update, I moved out of Ourense and am bumming around in friends' apartments until I fly back to Kansas for two months. It sort of complicated my running schedule because Ourense had the perfect trail and I knew all the distances, but change is good even if I have to use more math. And now I'm using a different super market, so it's both exciting and frustrating all at once! It's more expensive but there are some new fun things to try in these last few weeks. This week Manu and I, and hopefully some of our friends, will be finishing the Camino de Santiago. We will be starting where we left, in Baamonde, but it would be much appreciated if everyone could do the rain dance where they are so it doesn't follow us on the pilgrimage, thanks. xD Also, hoping it won't be mega hot. My sleep schedule is typical summer (wake up after 11), so adjusting to wake up early to walk in the cool dawn will be trying at best.

In other news, I met a group of Texas Tech med students who are doing a course/practicum in Santiago. It was hilarious. They didn't speak much Spanish so when a group of Catalans came by wanting to talk with AMERICANS, they had me translating a lot. And didn't even buy me a drink for all that work! Texans. xD Actually, they were mostly really nice and didn't glare at me when I kept giggling at how they said y'all the entire time. Well, I guess that's it. I spend most of my day reading, watching tv, running and buying gummi candy (I've moved on from zaps and it seems to have transferred to things like gummi ham hocks, which don't taste like ham but instead a juicy piece of heaven) so nothing too particularly crazy happens. Next time I feel inspired, I'll put up some pictures of Ted's and my trip through Spain and some summer photos. Until next time!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

May-June happenings

So after temporarily quitting the Camino, my life went back to normal. I would play squash on Wednesdays, occasionally go for a run, have conversation classes in Ourense, and then you know, actually go teach classes in Monforte. I fill my time watching some of my favorite movies and bad tv shows online and read on trains. I went to a 5.5k race in Santiago for women and against breast cancer and I placed pretty well! I sort of have a horrible sleep schedule on the weekends after getting back to the apartment around 7am and then recuperating that day or the next. There aren't tons and tons of things to do, especially without a car, but I have kept myself active and entertained.

May was a month of tension at the school. And I mean tension. Suffice it to say, I am more than content to not have to go there and sit in the teachers' lounge while people are purposefully not talking to each other to avoid a repetition of a screaming match.

Oh, speaking of match! USA hasn't lost yet! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

At the end of May, my brother came to visit me all the way from Kansas! I bussed down to Madrid to pick him up because maneuvering the subway system can be slightly difficult and no need to cause extra stress. We work our way through the metro to the bus station again and then head off to Seville! Seville is one of the prettiest cities ever. There is almost always a cloudless, blue sky and the tiled roofs add a nice touch. Shade from trees and buildings is a godsend, this place was like Kansas but in July or August. In May it is just nuts! After visiting the typical tourist things, the Real Alcazar, the Cathedral and the Tower of Giralda (you will notice the resemblance next time you are at the Plaza in KC and glancing at the Cheesecake Factory), we tried to do less typical tourist things, but sometimes luck just didn't go our way. The hostel we stayed in was nice, although on the street where they were doing a neighborhood block party each night that was kind of killing the sleep-ability.

After Seville, we went to Granada. Granada is one of my favorite cities in Spain because it is so college town-y. So you can eat cheap and stay cheap and there are always lots of people in bars. Since the only real tourist thing to do there is the Alhambra and the viewpoint thereof in the gypsy barrio, and flamenco, but that's in the gypsy barrio also. We were able to walk around a bit more and enjoy the eats. At the gypsy cueva, it was THE SAME GYPSY TROUPE AGAIN! I do not know how all their information gets to every hotel I've been at, but seriously, that is ridiculous. The third performance I've seen. On the bright side, the angry old lady was smiling at a kid this time and wasn't death-staring anyone who held up a camera. Also, it's kind of weird to see how the young girls have aged. Doubly weird is that now I could understand what they were saying!

After Granada, we tried to go to Córdoba. This is where things got annoying. We missed the bus by literally 1 minute, after waiting in line for 30. So we had to stay at the bus station and wait for the next bus, 2.5 hours later... Which meant that we missed the check-in time for the hostel/hotel. So I was on the phone with the guy and updating him every few hours so that he wouldn't close and lock us out. We finally got there, showered, then looked to get something to eat. Except at 11.30 pm, apparently all the kitchens were closed! A wave of panic hits as I realize I am going to starve. WHO IN SPAIN CLOSES AT 11.30!!!!! Seriously, that is like a crime against humanity. Here I am all adjusted to eating late and now they are closing the kitchens. So we go to bed so we can wake up to have breakfast. Thank Allah (hey, we are in southern Spain) for breakfast. We visit the Mosque-Cathedral and then spend most of the time in the hotel (with a tv!) and go out to eat. Since we don't have a map and my navigational skills, while they have been greatly honed on this trip are still not a GPS, we don't wander too far so that means many places with food are kind of tourist traps so we hit up a mom and pop grocery store. The next morning we get to the train station to go to Seville. From Seville we bus to Madrid. From Madrid we get on the train to Ourense. Let me tell you, the worst is the overnight train. You have to be ready to be awake at 4:45am to get off the train at 5:00am, and there are no announcements about where you are.

Once in Galicia, we spent the first day or two recuperating. Now that I'm old (24 as of last week!) I needed to recuperate. Also I had internet withdrawal. Don't judge me. Then we went to Vigo to go to Isla Cies, a world-renowned beach. From there we walked around the island than laid out in the sun. I tried to go in the water but it was pretty much glacial and I decided it would be less than fun to be in a wet swimsuit on a 45 minute ferry then a 2 hr train ride. The boys, Ted and Manu, did not think the same. The beach was gorgeous and the fact that there were trails to go around the island was amazing! The water was cold, so I feel like the Caribbean islands win in water temperature while they lose in the lack of walkable trails.

We also went to Santiago where Manu gave a fabo tour of the city, while trying to avoid the rain, and we went through the Cathedral and hugged/kissed the saint or whatever there. Like every time I've ventured near the Cathedral this year, there has been a huge line. Holy year. We walked around Ourense, but because there is only the thermal fountain and thermal springs way far away, we opted for a bit of nightlife with my roommates. It's nice to see a difference between what tourists do and then what locals do, since we didn't do tons and tons of local stuff while in the south.

And that's about it! Ted went back to KC, my responsibilities in Monforte are over, no more conversation classes in Ourense... After recovering from my vacation, then recovering from my birthday week, I have about 2 weeks left in Ourense. Trying to really start my pre-training for my next marathon, thinking about the night marathon in Bilbao! It came highly recommended to me - well, going to the city, obviously not doing a marathon - from other teachers at the school and some students, for being a really uniquely beautiful city. And it's at night, so we get glow-y, reflective gifts! Unfortunately, my plans for a summer camp were basically DESTROYED! by people changing schedules and then people deciding that it really won't be an English camp but a crafts camp or beach camp. Very convenient.. but on the bright side it will give me more time to be lazy but get some running in, I've gotta start now to be ready for October!

Next time I'll post some pictures of our trip to southern Spain and around Galicia, so you all can sit there salivating for the next post! haha.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Camino de Santiago

So, one of the best things about working/studying in Spain is all of the vacation days! After spring break in February, there was another one at the end of March! Hurray! For this spring break, Easter week, everyone travels so it is mega expensive. Instead, opted to go on the Camino de Santiago. It's a pilgrimage to the Cathedral in Santiago and since this is a 'holy year' then it is like, important or something. Anyway, started in Ribadeo and ended in Baamonde (not quite Santiago) and walked over 60 miles in 4 days I think.

Ok, you have to read this backwards. Sorry, I fall prey to this everytime. The first 4 pictures are while on the pilgrimage. You can see the muddy river trails (this is actually a really wienie one, you can see grass!) and how I became one with nature (with cows) and the signs so that we wouldn't get too lost. And a picture of scenery with my should-be-patented Anti-Wind/Rain hat (just add water to a rain hat and sunglasses!). Then comes pictures of the Praia das Catedrais (Cathedral Beach) in Ribadeo. That's pretty much the only thing in Ribadeo, but how amazing is it!

Never 'actually' 'made' it to Santiago, stopped in Baamonde because the weather was being particularly disagreeable. But what I could see (in the midst of torrential rains, near hurricane winds and borderline Siberian temperatures) was a gorgeous landscape, abandoned villages and tons of farm animals. ALSO! While escaping muddied impassable trails, ducked through pastures avoiding cows and electric fences - not always as successfully as I would have liked - and swinging on trees. It was like an adventure!

Then at night we stayed in albergues, traveler hostel things, especially for the pilgrims (those who do the pilgrimage, not the settlers of New England). These were about as minimal as possible: bunk beds, no sheets. But they had bathrooms that you shared with anywhere between 12-92 people and a kitchen.

After abandoning the Camino, it was essentially Easter! I'm not going to put any pictures of it right now because it frustrates me, but next time I'll reveal some photos of the creepy ceremonies I saw (if you have a Confederate flag, get it ready!). Ok, enjoy what few pictures I'm posting now and next time there will be more fun things!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Photos from Valencia

As promised! One of my favorite and most apt sayings is 'better late than never', and that is why these photos are being posted almost two months after my trip...
These, like all others, are probably in reverse chronological order, if any order at all.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring break in pictures (Paris)

OK, so today, on my day off, I have decided to FINALLY put up some photos from Carnaval spring break (Easter spring break is this week coming up and me and a few other people are going to be doing the Pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago which means something like walking 100 miles in 8 days. Luckily my feet are nearly blister proof! [I hope]), so you can enjoy them. I still am slightly incompetent regarding putting various pictures on here with text, so sorry about how they will probably be in no order. But anyway, here we go!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Carnaval 2010, aka best spring break ever, PART TWO

Sorry this took so long! I've been doing some bureaucratic things and appearing in the regional newspaper and having to schedule appearances for autographs (just kidding), but now things are looking on track so I thought I would fill my loyal readers in on what exciting things I did after my trip to Paris.

So, once I got back in to Santiago - ok, it was another crazy flight. Darn Ryanair having cheaper tickets but being more complicated (pretty much like all my international flights seem to be) - from Paris/Madrid, I reorganize my suitcase hoping for warmer weather! Paris was basically arctic, so anything south should be an improvement. So, then Manu and I hop on the plane and do another crazy Ryanair circle. This time from Madrid to Valencia. Yay! At the airport in Valencia, there was no one there. Seriously. No one. When we wanted to get tourist information there were two kiosks actually open and the subway guy kept leaving his post. But we finally managed to make it to the subway stop to meet up with Manu's friend, Ania. After plopping our stuff down and noshing a bit, we go to make pizzas! We stay in this night because it is raining and the Valencians are wienies when it comes to rain, haha.

The next day we leisurely wake up, walk around the city, explore the City of Arts and Sciences ( and get info about their schedules before taking a detour to the beach. Here we watched the sunset while I was paranoid about getting sand in my running shoes. Anyway, the sunset was gorgeous and I did not get sand in my shoes. It's the little things in life, isn't it? After walking around a bit more and seeing all the boats in the harbor for the little boat racing thing that Valencia is famous for, America's Cup or something like that, we hopped onto the subway/trolley system (what is it with these cities having connected systems just to be confusing!) to go to a huge hotel for the Runners' fair. I picked up my number, 2361 ftw!, and got my swag bag and technical running shirt. And olive oil and socks! The most hilarious goody bag ever. After that we went back to the hostel and just crashed, because the next morning is a breakfast fun run! The important part is breakfast.

So we wake up, have breakfast in the hostel, then stroll over to the fun run site. Unfortunately, we got there late, so I sort of cheated on the run so I would know where it stopped. Fortunately, it doesn't matter because the only goal was horchatas and fartons (not kidding!! Feel free let loose that stifled giggle) at the end of the track lap. Horchatas are pretty much milkshakes. And fartons are like a sweet bread (not sweetbread, the space is important) that is cylindrical and has frosting drizzled on the top. This was the first year for the breakfast run, so the participation was minimal, maybe 40 people? After that, we explored a tower from like the Middles Ages and got a view of the city from above, it was nice. Then after eating the kind of lame pasta dinner for the marathoners and their guests, we made it to the aquarium!! Ah, the aquarium. I am sure many of you know of my affinity for aquariums and you can imagine the delirious delight at being at the (allegedly) BIGGEST aquarium in Europe! (I also love how aquariums always say they are the biggest at something, like, this one is the biggest because it is open air so the complex takes up more space. But I'm sure there is an aquarium that is the BIGGEST because it has the biggest tank.) Anyway, this aquarium is totally bomb. You get to go to each odd looking building and inside it is set up like, arctic/antarctic, temperate waters, Mediterranean, oceans in general, the Red Sea, etc. And then NOT in building but each in their own little area are birds, seals, and dolphins. And we watched the dolphin performance!! We basically stayed until the aquarium for real closed (who is surprised?) and were shuffled out. Since Valencia has not ACTUALLY FINISHED the subway line to the City of Arts and Sciences, we decided to catch a bus because it is mega far away. Bad planning, Valencia.

Now today is the marathon day! I wake up before the crack of dawn to get dressed and put all my running things on and get my bag ready for after the race. Now it is kind of chilly when yesterday was kind of hot, better for running a marathon, but a little too cool for walking to the starting point. I discard my sweats and put on my number (mentally note, next time do this the night before) and get into the starting block. And by starting block I mean the back of the pack. They fire the gun, set off the fireworks and blast Chariots of Fire and off we go! Every few kilometers (not miles, I know) they had a group of men dressed as cheerleaders and nurses, or a very small band playing music, or a gate marking each 5km with water - apparently there was a station with oranges but I didn't get there fast enough, haha - and then either every 10km and/or at the half marathon mark we were timed by the fancy chip I tied into my shoes. There were even some guys wearing costumes, like a few judges, a matador, and other people who were really fast and I didn't get the chance to pass them to see their costumes. The course is allegedly pretty easy, mostly flat, but we do go underground and then above ground following the streets going in tunnels, way awesome!, and it rained, but I was already prepared for that - Thank you, Galicia! When I finally finished - not last, yay! - I got a medal, a bag of oranges, a can of aquarius, and a bi hit of adrenaline and pride at having finished. But there was no buffet!! Come on, I just ran 26.2miles/42.2km and they don't even have food!!! So instead, I hopped up on the massage table and let some girls jiggle my legs for a few minutes then went to take a shower. After stuffing my face with food, NO THANKS TO YOU, MARATHON LACKING A BUFFET, we walked around the city a bit more then went to the IMAX at the City of Arts and Sciences. It was nice to be able to relax and watch a movie for a bit. By this point I am totally zonked and can barely walk up stairs, which is kind of entertaining to remember now, so we bus back to the hostel to pack because we are waking up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to go to the airport.

The most remarkable thing about the flight back was, after being delayed in Madrid a few hours because of weather conditions and missing the buses back to Monforte for work from Santiago, as we were descending to the landing strip in Santiago, the pilot instead GOES STRAIGHT BACK UP INTO THE AIR. It was mega windy and he couldn't land the plane so we had to go back up, circle around, then he went for a second landing attempt. It was intense. After FINALLY landing, we ate and relaxed a bit before I had to go to Ourense.

In conclusion, in the 11ish days of my vacation week, I was on 8 different flights and walked millions of miles around Paris and Valencia, then RAN millions (26.2) of miles in Valencia. This is why people say they need a vacation after a vacation.

Next up, photos from my vacation! Stay tuned!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Carnaval 2010, aka best spring break ever, PART ONE

Hello! Bonjour! Hola!

A snippet of multilingual spring break part one this year! In France, I spoke spectacularly hilarious mangled French and then listened to spectacularly hilarious mangled English in response (am now convinced that all stereotypes about Parisians replying in flawless English to anyone speaking lackluster French is completely false, their mastery of English [despite being obligatory in their formative years of education] is only slightly better than the French I've never learned, which is yet ANOTHER strike for Europeans not living up to the reputation that they are all polyglots.) while speaking in Spanish to clarify through my interpreter friend, Anna, what was missed through the other two languages. In short, hilarity ensued. Also, at times it was really boring because everyone only spoke French so no one could translate fast enough so I was just hanging out listening.

Anyway, so, to begin explaining my awesome adventures!! My flight got into Paris on Friday evening and then I was on a 70 minute bus ride to actually GET to the city. By this point I am exhausted because RyanAir and Madrid were sort of being complete jerks and I had to run around the terminal trying to find stairs so that I could find the desk to get a stamp that I was told I didn't need but actually did, all right before the flight. I was running through the tunnel to board, too! Luckily, I made it and my running skills paid off while I was schlepping around a suitcase and going up- and downstairs. Ok, right, the bus. This was boring. It was dark and snowy so I couldn't see anything anyway. When I got to Porte Maillot (some congressional palace thing), I waited for Anna and then we had a huge miscommunication trying to find each other inside and outside this massive building. Eventually, success. Then her friend Elodee came to pick us up and take us to her apartment. OMG SHE HAD PET RATS. I STAYED IN AN APARTMENT WHERE THEY HAD RATS ON PURPOSE. Sick.

After chomping on some food, we fine-tuned our plans for the next four days and then went to sleep. Thank goodness, I was zonked. Once we woke up, there was definitely no rush here, haha, we went to the grocery store IN THE SNOW and then ate lunch and then meandered to the Louvre. Holy cow, this place is nuts. To say it is gigantic would possibly be an understatement. Also to say it is easily navigable would be a lie. But it was quite the spectacle, and in low season!, and had very fascinating little sections. Of course the Mona Lisa is the big draw, so we fought our way through the crowds to take pictures of the tiny painting encased in glass then pictures of all the people taking pictures. After we made our way out, we walked toward the Cathedral of Notre Dame and then the Pantheon where Napoleon is buried then went to meet up with Elodee and her friends at the Bastille. Don't be fooled, IT DOESN'T EXIST ANYMORE!! I sort of had this expectation that there would be a huge prison tower there and basically they just had a memorial obelisk statue thing. But it wasn't for nothing, I had some tasty crepes and chocolat chaud! The less than ideal part was waiting outside for nearly 2 hours to get a cab to go to Elodee's apartment, in freezing temperatures, fighting in line with all the other people.

The next morning, Anna and I got up early and headed to Versailles!! We had to take a special train to get there (their metro system leaves the most to be desired. It is like two systems in one, quite illogical and confusing.) and then we went into the palace. I think I have sort of reached the point where a palace is a palace is a palace. I kind of wish I had gone in the summer/later spring because I could really see how the gardens would be really impressive, but in the winter they were muddy, snowy, dead and walking around on the ice was kind of perilous! But not to worry, we survived. Back in Paris, we went to Notre Dame again but this time went inside. Regretfully, we couldn't go up the tower because of the icy weather, but still. After this, we went to the D'orsay museum with all the impressionist paintings, then on to the Arc du Triomphe. We passed through a park with other memorial things (Paris is sort of parallel to the Louvre, there are so many gorgeous works of art, but people only focus on the really famous things, so they miss all the smaller ones) to get there. And then stand in the middle of the street to take pictures!! This was even more hazardous than all the ice. Actually, probably borderline stupid with all the traffic, but whatevs. We were able to go up the elevator for a city vista, but they didn't accept my fake French student ID so I actually had to pay, haha. The view was gorgeous; on the hour, the Eiffel Tower has special sparkly lights so we got to see that from the Arc as well as a general plan of the city. Very beautiful! Very cold!

The next day we went to the Eiffel Tower, this day was a little more relaxing because we did so much yesterday, but still, waiting in lines and ascending the tower took like FOUR HOURS. Then we went on a boat tour which was TOTALLY COOL! AND IN ENGLISH! We hung out on the Seine for an hour and heard stories about the buildings that are architecturally gorgeous but basically have some unknown purpose, then we learned about silly traditions involving bridges, and where famous ex-pats lived while in Paris. It was a very interesting tour.

Finally, the last day we went to the Moulin Rouge (just the outside, no worries), and Sacred Heart and Montmarche or something. We met up with one of Anna's friends who is from southern Spain but is at Anna's school in France, and she was really fun. We went to the Opera and then decided it would be way more awesome to see the Catacombs/ossuary instead. And it totally was. It was like thousands and thousands of bones layered up 60ft below the streets. After that we walked around the Isle of St. Louis, where Notre Dame is, some more and then tried to find the right metro stop to get back to the apartment. There we packed, said our goodbyes, ate crepes (it IS Mardi Gras day after all!) and pastries, and went to sleep. I woke up like 4 hours later, to get on the subway to go to the bus stop to wait 2 hours outside - stupid RyanAir - then finally got on the 70-minute long bus ride, then hustled through security to board. The next non-photo entry will be about going to Valencia with Manu. Stay tuned!


Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy February!

I have the day off today because the students in the afternoon class have their exams. That also means that next Tuesday I have the morning off and on this and next Thursday I will be kind of floating around the teachers' lounge not going to classes for the afternoons. So, enough of rubbing that in everyone's face, I decided to announce how exciting my February will be!

On the 12th, I will be going by train to Santiago, then flying to Madrid, then flying to Paris!! I am so excited, it is incredible! My friend Anna (who studied with me in Santiago three (!!!) years ago), will be my hostess. It will be wonderful because she is French and knows things. Whereas I am perfectly capable of saying my name and that "I don't speak French" and "I don't know" and things like "cold", "hot", "beach", "snow", "flat hair/fallen cake". So, really nothing terribly pertinent to DOING things or ASKING for things in France.

Anna is planning out this amazing trip, involving all the major touristy things. Like Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Champs du Elysse (sp), the Louvre, the Museum D'Orsay and maybe going out a bit at night. Also, I was doing the math and for my training I'm going to have to do an 8-mile run one day while on vacation. :( While I'm kind of bummed about that, I know it's something I have to do to meet my goal. Anyway, it is going to be totally awesome. I will let you all know how it goes!

Speaking of goal, the day after I get back from Paris, Manu and I are going to Valencia! There are a few events lined up with the marathon, such as runners' fairs, a breakfast run (where I will be reppin' KS!), free guided tourbus tours, a pasta dinner (yay for carbing up!) and then the actual race. It is going to be kind of intense because this is allegedly an 'easy' marathon so a lot of really competitive and experienced racers come out to make personal records on the course, so it's looking mostly like I will be hanging out all by myself in the back. But it is still pretty epic that I'm really going to DO it! And in a gorgeous city! Win win (although not literally, hahaha)! Will also let you know how it goes! Oh! And I get this sweet gift bag. Bonus.

So, there you have it. This will be a phenomenal February (phonetic alliteration forever!) and I am excited for it to get here!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

winter photos!

OK, so once again these are in reverse order and sloppy. But, you can figure out that these are pictures of the Christmas decorations in Galicia, the end of year dinner (yes, just the food, don't judge me for my priorities) at the Parador in Monforte, Christmas in Kansas, snow (and more snow), Ted's Eagle Scout Court of Honor, the Plaza lights on New Year's and the crazy amount of rain that is flooding the riverwalk where I run in Ourense. Enjoy!