This can’t be good, can it? Well.. I hate to say it but… yes. Okay. I’ll just say it. Imovedmyblogsofollowmehere: http://wonderlustr.blogspot.com/ MIL GRACIAS.
#1 reason (aside from the food) why I LOVE to travel is how much of an amazing opportunity it is to be able to sit down and think about my individual significance and purpose in this life.
Sometimes we meander through life without ever coming to realize the potential we have to make this place a better one. The daily grind of work, making money to make ends meet, encountering unwarranted hardships all blind us from the inner beauty that struggles to shine through the walls we build around us.
I too have scraped and bruised my knees a couple of times during my walk of life, but I really take to heart what they say “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. Luckily, I’ve been immensely blessed with wonderful parents who’ve played a HUGE part in challenging me to always be a better person and to value myself and what I have to offer all while showing humility and kindness to others. Of course, I’m not QUITE there yet, but I’m glad to have such wonderful role models to learn from.
Of course, I can’t forget about the very special people who I have happened to cross paths with. There are so many people who happen to come into your life, but sometimes by chance or maybe by fate, a connection is made and even more rarely, a lasting friendship is built.
I want to thank everyone that’s made an impact in my life – both good and bad – for teaching me about the hardships in life as well as the joys. Thanks to every experience, I have become a stronger person; you have all proven me wrong at some point and changed my perspective and taught me that not everything is black and white – that life is created through layers and layers of experience and for that, I am deeply grateful.
Thank you everyone for being beautiful and unique.
It’s always nice to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city and thanks to my history professor who was OBSESSED (and I’m putting it lightly when i say ‘obsessed’) with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, I can’t escape her little voice drilling us everyday in class. Thus, to relieve myself from mental exhaustion, I spent the day at El Escorial, a getaway palace/monastery about 30 miles outside of Madrid where the royal family would go just cuz they effin’ could. Personally, I don’t understand why my house doesn’t look like this. My daddy tells me I’m a princess so where’s my GD castle!?!?Oh you know, just a hallway dedicated to how many battles the king has won and why he’s so AWESOME… conceited much?! I do say this begudgingly though because it’s actually a beautiful work of art painted directly onto the stone walls! Beautiful ceiling in some huge ass part of the castle. The Courtyard of Kings The front of the monastery… yeah I would totally be a monk if I could live in that! Inspired by a random woman taking model shots. Entrance to the royal gardens
Goodbye Escorial! Thank you for your wonderful reminder that I need to go find me a prince ASAP. On a more serious note, El Escorial was a wonderful place to visit for the day and the whole trip cost under 15 euro! Another magnificent thing about this palace is that it has a Pantheon of Kings where all of the royal family from the Hapsburg and Bourbon lines are buried. It’s a tad bit eery but definitely magnificent and unfortunately I couldn’t sneak in a photo; security was breathing down my neck – no respect for personal space at all… Anyway, I can now say that I have been able to experience the charm of this ‘little’ palace and I almost almost feel like a real princess!
Before I start my post on New Valencia, I want to put a little disclaimer – it’ll definitely help with the confusion that I had with all the names of places in Valencia. Apparently, Catalán, a romance language famously known for being spoken in Barcelona, is also spoken/written/used in Valencia too. So, all of the names of the buildings are in Catalán, not Spanish.
What I personally felt was so wonderful about Valencia was the beautiful juxtaposition between old Valencia and new Valencia. The old part, as you saw before had architecture that you would typically associate as being “old” with cathedrals and towers and plazas, but La Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències or the City of Arts and Sciences, according to my trusty old friend, Wikipedia, “is the most important modern tourist destination in the city of Valencia”. Apparently nobody likes old things.. how sad. These series of buildings where designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela and the project took 2 years to complete. Pretty impressive.
Anyway, I started off the day with a hearty breakfast to energize my body and soul – a napolitana de chocolate aka a chocolate croissant WITH chocolate sprinkles!!!Fat kid strikes again! I inhaled this thing; I don’t even remember what it tasted like. The minute I saw the chocolate sprinkles and warm chocolate inside the buttery warm freshly baked croissant, I temporarily lost consciousness. All I know is my tummy was very happy after I regained my senses. 390237874 calories later, I was walking along the River Turia, which has now been transformed into a park, I began to see glimpses of something sleek and my heart started racing with excitement. I guess new is better… sometimes. Finally, I arrived at my destination and all I could do was stare! It was so shiny and new and nice and clean and beautiful and intriguing. Needless to say, my brain was getting more exercise than it was used to. Poor poor dumb brain. The first thing to come into view was El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, or the Palace of the Arts of Reina Sofia and interestingly enough, this is the latest edition to the City of Arts and Sciences and was completed in 2005.
An opera house and performing arts center. Looks a bit like a trojan helmet, no? I think that’s why this building was so impressionable for me. I can’t explain what about it I like aside from being aesthetically pleasing. I think it’s the quiet majesty of it that makes me realize that our human minds are capable of creating something so extraordinary and that is what leaves me speechless.
The next thing you will see is L’Hemisfèric. The inspiration from this building comes from the human eye which is better seen at night when it reflects off the water. Here is a picture I found online:Inside of L’Hemisfèric is an IMAX theater, a planetarium, and a laserium (whatever that means).A combined view of the two buildings
My final stop was at El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, the science museum in the City of Arts and Science. Inside, the museum is like any other large science museum, so if you want to save money then I would suggest not paying to see the museum. You can still enter and buy souvenirs or use the restrooms.One of my favorite things in the museum. I love change and everything about it – as Gandhi said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. I’m pretty sure they were talking about environmental changes (duhh) but still, his words of wisdom were going through my head as I saw this and I loved that it was there because it reminds me of the significance of every individual.
There are more buildings in the City of Arts and Sciences and more places to explore within it, but unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to explore everything. Pictures definitely don’t do this place justice, because it’s not just visually stunning, but something about the ambience has a powerful impact on the experience.
Finally, as I was walking back to my hostel, I saw el Parque Gulliver which is an architecturally designed playground. It is based on Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and is located in the River Turia.
And the Palau de la Música, also located inside the River Turia.Overall, my weekend getaway was just the thing I needed before officially starting school in Madrid. Valencia is a wonderful place with so much to offer and I’m glad I was able to go alone and away from the capital. I’m excited for my next trip at the end of October to ….. you’ll have to wait and see!!
Two weekends ago, I took a trip to the beautiful city of Valencia in the south east region of Spain. Being that I’ve practically lived my whole life in Southern California, I needed a little break from the big city to frolic along the beach and enjoy half naked old people (to whom gravity has not been very kind to) baking in the sun.
My trip had a rough start but what’s a mere glitch when I’m heading off to one of Spain’s most beautiful cities! I spent most of Friday on a bus to Valencia but as soon as I got to my hostel I unpacked and headed out to explore Old Valencia. One piece of information that might have been useful to me is that basically everything shuts down in the city at 9pm. But, I was not given the fortune of knowing this information and so, I took a few pictures and headed back to the hostel for some shuteye.The view of Plaza de la Reina at night.
I had a schedule planned out for the next day, but when I woke up, it was drizzling and so I changed my plans but right as I was about to step outside, the rain stopped and the sun shone bright. Too lazy to change my plans AGAIN, I headed over to the flea market in Benicalap and boy did I do some work! Everything was so cheap and I headed back to my hostel with about 3 more pounds of goods and mind you, I only brought a small backpack to carry ALL of my things -.- but on the bright side of things, I did get a nice arm workout. I headed back into the city center for lunch. Paella, a traditional Spanish rice dish apparently originated in Valencia because Valencia takes great pride in their greatest crop which of course is… rice. Surprising eh? I thought rice only grew in Asia! Anyway, Valencian paella has one very special ingredient – rabbit. Yes, you heard correctly, rabbit. If you know me at all, I will try (almost) everything at least once but I would be lying if I told you that images of cute little bunnies didn’t pop into my head while I was ordering my food. In the end, of course it was DELICIOUS and tasted like chicken.. no surprise there. The little restaurant I went to was very Spanish and had interesting wall decorations of plates?… I don’t even know, but with a glass of Valencian wine, and a plate of Valencian paella, I was content. There’s little Thumper…tasty little beast.
After my wonderful meal, all I wanted to do was curl up and take a siesta; it doesn’t help that I downed a glass of wine on an empty stomach. But, the allure of exploring the beautiful buildings in the city was too great to pass up. So, I slapped myself awake a few times and headed to the city. Needless to say, it was one of the best decisions of my life. My eyes couldn’t handle the beauty of the architecture in the city! It also didn’t hurt that the day was warm and beautiful. It definitely was reminiscent of my time in Viña del Mar in Chile because there were palm trees dotting the city alongside beautifully old buildings.I can’t remember the name of the plaza but La Catedral to your left.El Mercat Central or Mercado Central of Valencia. Unluckily for me, it was closed every time I went because it opens from 9am-2pm everyday and is closed on Sundays. The Mercado Central is supposed to be an amazing food market, so yeah, I definitely missed a glorious opportunity to pack on the belly fat.La Lonja, or the Silk Exchange in Valencia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and represents the typical Spanish gothic architecture of its time. Strangely, it reminds me of Monty Python….Plaza de la Reina in the daytimeBeautiful street art by my hostel.Chanced upon a Valencian wedding!And a nice refreshing orxata or horchata Valencia style sans all the yummy goodness of a Mexican horchata. This one I tried because it’s a traditional Valencian drink, but personally, it tasted like pasty sugar water…. not really my thing. But it did give me a nice little refuge from the rain!
Valencia Part II coming soon!
Big city life is definitely something that takes some getting used to. I feel like I only have brief moments of free time to sit and reflect because the majority of my time is spent exploring city streets, strolling through the park with new friends, drinking the night away, and of course, taking little siestas or “naps” as we call them in English. By the way, the siestas here are AMAZING because it’s basically a country wide nap time and everything shuts down where people go home to dine with family and friends or to get a little shut eye after partying up the night.
Anyway, although I’ve been here for 3 weeks, it seems as if time has been flying by. I guess it’s true what they say about how time flies when you’re having fun. Anyway here are a few tidbits from my past 3 weeks here in Spain.Arco de la Victoria – an arc of triumph in remembrance of a battle during the Spanish Civil War. Also, the view I get to see everyday walking to school :)One of the city streets in Puerta del Sol which is in the heart of Madrid.My first legitimate jarra or jar of sangria in Spain! Deliciously refreshing!Yep… it is what you think it is. Mannequin heads on top of legs? I don’t even know and the best part is that this is the window display for a peluquería or a hair salon. Definitely the place to go to get my hair did.My all time favorite indoor/open air (does that even make sense?? lol) food market in Madrid. My friend and I got fresh papaya orange juice after eating disgusting oil-drenched cafeteria food they serve us in our dorms and it was like heaven in my mouth! Here in Spain, juice is called zumo but the Mexican in me still thinks it should be called jugo.
The Spanish kids are absolutely ADORABLE, so much so that I couldn’t resist sneaking a little photo of this girl who was outcasted from the group… I know it seems borderline pedophilic to take pictures of random kids, but trust me, once you see them, you just can’t help it.Yes, the Gasol’s are a HUGE deal… literally.
Drinking Spanish wine at a nearby bar by our residencia. “Rioja” wine comes from a region in Spain called “La Rioja” and in my humble opinion produces some of the most superb tasting wine I’ve had. The Spanish love.. and I mean LOVE their pork… what you see here is cured legs of pork where they just cut thin slices right off the leg and EAT it.Yep, you can buy your very own cured pork leg at the supermarket.The Spanish love their pork so much that even the dogs look like pigs. What a bizarre country…This last picture I want to end the post with is a picture of the beautiful Palacio Real or the Royal Palace and the official residency for the royal family of Spain. However, it is mainly used for official ceremonies because the royal family resides in another palace somewhere in Madrid. It’s construction began in 1738 and was completed in 1892 and was built in baroque style architecture. Apparently, the interior of the palace is adorned with art by monumental artists such as Caravaggio, Francisco de Goya, and many more. After seeing this palace, I’ve come upon the realization that I don’t need to marry rich, I just need to find me a prince. Now that I have a clear mission in Spain, I feel confident in saying that I have a purpose for being here instead of finding a job in our terrible economy back home :).
September 11 holds a special place in my heart as I’m sure it does for a lot of other people. For me, I can’t vividly remember everything that happened that day because everything seemed so surreal. It didn’t seem possible that the invincible U.S. could have been delt such a crippling blow, but sometimes life works in funny ways. The aftermath of what happened on that pivotal day is still felt today. A beast was awakened and now, too many lives have been lost and are still continuing to be lost with the flimsy excuse of “fighting terrorism”. You can’t fight a concept, only people. The violence and hatred and prejudice that has arisen from the dust of the World Trade Centers is something that has set mankind back into primitivity where violence seems to be the ONLY answer. We continually engage in threatening each other with nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction – even the word is terrifying in itself. I believe in a better world; in a world where our walls of ignorance can be teared down and all we see before us are fellow human beings rather than phenotype.
A wise and peaceful man once said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. I am undoubtably blessed to have been awarded an opportunity to spend a year in a culture and nation foreign to my own, and as the days go by, I learn and I grow and I strive to be the change that I believe in. I hope that we can all believe in ourselves to change the current state of affairs even if it’s only changing the life of one person. It’s about quality and not quantity and in the end, every human life is valuable. Therefore, in loving memory of all who have sacrificed their life in some way or have had their lives sacrificed for them, let us honor these lives and run towards a better future.A beautiful pathway lined with trees in Retiro Park – Madrid, Spain
So, just a quick update before heading out to a little bar where my friend has befriended the waiter by the name of Hermano pronounced “Errmano” who gives us 4 glasses of wine for the price of 1! What a deal! The wine in Spain, by the way, is absolutely DELICIOUS and oh so fragrant. I drink it to quench my thirst. So far, I’m loving the Spanish siesta which is where the country as a whole takes a little breaksies during the day from 2-5pm. During this time one can either rest and spend time with family at home or nap… which is what I do and it suits me just well :)
I’ve only been here a couple of days but I feel like I’ve seen and done so much it’s a bit overwhelming but I’m LOOOOVVVINGGGG it! I can definitely see myself fitting riiiight in. Anyway, here are a few English slang translations my friends and I have come up with and I thought I’d share them just in case you might want to add a little Spanish spice into your life.
Palabra – Word
Espalda arriba – Back up!
Abajo – Down
Mi mal – My bad
And my personal favorite:
Chupa mi cacahuate izquierda – Suck my left (pea)nut
Sorry for the lack of photos but I promise MASSIVE photo update coming soon!
My room looks like a tornado threw up in it. That can only mean one thing…. I’m PACKING! As some of you may know, at the end of this month I will be moving to Spain for one year…holy becheesus.
A little over a year ago, I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for about 5 months but that time, I was so dumbstruck at the fact that I was ACTUALLY going that I felt numb to any sort of sentimentality. This time around, a flood of emotions are washing over me where one minute I’m ecstatic to embark on this thrilling adventure and the next minute I feel reluctant to leave the place that is most comfortable to me. But I guess when it boils down to it, the allure of plunging myself into the unfamiliar excites me far beyond anything else. I’m such a daredevil (my horoscope tells me this so it must be true).
My currently super exciting life of absolute nothing consists of sitting in Barnes & Nobles for hours on end reading these books. It screams I’M AN AMERICAN TOURIST! ROB ME! but I’ll learn to deal.Tourist gear? Check! Shades? Check!
I always fall behind the trends when it comes to technology. I’ve heard of the app Instagram since last year, but it never peaked my interest until about a couple weeks ago. So what exactly aroused my desire to download this app? I have no idea to be quite honest, but whatever it was, I am immensely grateful to the workings of my inner brain because I have gone on an Instagram craze and have been taking photos of everything and anything you can imagine with this special little app.
For those of you who don’t have Iphones (I don’t know why you’re depriving yourself of happiness), Instagram is an app where you can take photos and change the look and coloring of it to make it have more of a vintage feel to it. It’s actually pretty amazing and I’m always happy with how the photos turn out so, GO BUY AN IPHONE! Anywho, here are some of the pictures I’ve been taking so far:
Now if you aren’t itching to download this app, or buy an Iphone for that matter, then you are “loco en la cabeza”