SEVILLA WINS!

This past Wednesday the Sevilla soccer team beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 in the Copa del Rey aka the Kings Cup. After hearing and seeing drunk, screaming soccer fans in the street on the way to dinner on Wednesday night, we were fully aware that Sevilla had won. Besides the occasional chanting from fans and celebratory honking of cars, there wasn’t much more going on.

Last night on the way to dinner we passed someone from our program who asked if we were going to the soccer parade. We naturally had no idea what he was talking about and continued to walk across the bridge into the main area of Seville. We were greeted by groups of people in Sevilla FC colors, red and white, who apparently were waiting for the Sevilla soccer team that was coming through the area for a celebratory parade. We decided to wait for a while and the crowd grew bigger and bigger by the minute. Eventually the whole area started to somewhat resemble the Wisconsin football student section, especially with everyone in red and white. There were screaming fans and drunk soccer hooligans of all ages and it was a really fun, united atmosphere. The Sevilla team eventually drove through on a double decker bus and the crowd went crazy.

Word of the day: campeones = champions

And now for the most delayed post of them all: Feria

The fact that its been over 3 weeks and I still haven’t written the blog post for Feria is unacceptable. I have officially reached my peak of laziness in the blog world, unlike my mom who blogs everyday. (Hey, mom, here’s a new word for your urban dictionary. Blaziness: being a lazy blogger. I know, I’m so creative.)

Anyway, back to Feria. Feria is the largest fair in Andalusia that lasts for one week and was the reason why we had 2 spring breaks instead of one. It occurs 2 weeks after Semana Santa and is a secular celebration in which people socialize, dance, drink and eat. It dates back to the mid-1800s and was originally a fair for livestock.

The main part of the fair consists of over 1,000 tents called “casetas” that have tables, bars, food, and dance floors in them. They belong to prominent families, groups of friends, clubs, political parties, etc. and are settings of all night drinking and partying. Most casetas are private and people cannot enter unless they are invited by people who own them. There are a few public casetas that are open for anyone to go into, but they are very big and often really crowded.

As you can see from the main picture at the top, women usually wear flamenco dresses and most of them are literally the most hideous things I have ever seen in my entire life.

After getting home from Rome on Friday afternoon, we decided to go to Feria on Saturday morning. Fortunately, the area where Feria takes place was literally down the block from us, so we didn’t have to walk too far. Our neighborhood was the busiest it has ever been, even during siesta, and most women were wearing flamenco dresses. When we actually made it into Feria, I felt like I had literally time travelled back to the 1920s. The only form of transportation were horse and carriages and, with all the women dressed in Flamenco dresses and men dressed up in traditional suits, I had no idea what decade I was in. I actually did a double take of the image of the woman and man on the horse to the right and I was able to get my camera out just in time to get the picture.

We walked around for a while and then walked towards the area of Feria where there were rides. It looked like a huge carnival with games and attractions everywhere. Obviously I had to go on a few rides no matter how many euro they cost. I went on one with Landis and Melissa. When we got off we were convinced that we had whiplash and we couldn’t stand up without falling, so we decided that was enough for the time being.

We walked home to shower and change to come back at night to see Feria in lights. The picture to the left is the entrance. We got there around 12, which apparently was when the night was first beginning for all of the Sevillanos, and it was interesting to see how the dynamic changed between day and night. There was much more drinking and the place seemed to be a lot more lively. Obviously, we had to make our way back to the rides and although it was 1:30/2 in the morning, the attraction area was as busy as if it was 8:00 at night. Melissa and I decided to go on a ride and there was a camera on it, so we were given DVD of it at the end. Kind of embarrassing, but here it is:

On Sunday, we decided that it was way too hot to go back to Feria during the day, but we wanted to go back at night for the fireworks that they have at midnight on the last day. Hannah and Melissa were invited to a caseta by a man that they practice Spanish with, so we decided to stop by there. They both had learned the traditional dance done at Feria, called Sevillanas, and I took videos of them dancing with the man who invited us.

After the caseta, we went to watch the fireworks on a bridge by the river. It was a great ending to the weekend and I highly recommend anyone who is coming to study abroad in Sevilla to come back early from spring break for the end of Feria.

Here are the rest of the pictures from Feria.

Word of the weekend: fuegos artificiales = fireworks

The Final Trip: Morocco

Sorry this post is so delayed. This past week I have been busy with finals and making the most of the end of Seville.

Anyway, last weekend we went through We Love Spain (yes, the infamous program that we went to Carnivale in Cadiz through) to Morocco. While most people usually get food poisoning or some sort of stomach ailment from the food in Morocco, Hannah and I had something going on even before we got onto the bus. I’m not going to go into further detail, but just keep in mind that this affected us for most of Friday, which was only spent traveling, and part of Saturday. We weren’t really able to eat any of the foods that we were given, which was a bummer, but we made the best of our situation and ate lots of bread.

Friday/Saturday:

We traveled most of Friday, from bus to ferry to bus, to Tetouan, which was our first stop in Morocco. We arrived at the hotel pretty late Friday night in time for a late dinner (which I barely attended any of) and then we all went back to our rooms. I was rooming with Hannah and watched the only channel on TV that was in English. Some commercials were in Arabic and we thought one commercial in particular was really interesting. We couldn’t understand what the dialogue in the commercial was, but basically it was a commercial for cream that makes your skin whiter. We thought it was interesting how in the US creams are all about making you looking tanner and in Morocco we’re watching a commercial advertising white skin.

On Saturday, our tour guide took us into town on a tour. We were told not to wear shorts or tank tops in Morocco because the women are so covered and it might be uncomfortable to have people staring, so we wound up wearing leggings and t-shirts. When we actually went into town for the first time and saw how covered up the women were, we even felt too revealing in what we were wearing.

Our tour guide led us into the smaller streets of the town and areas where food is sold. People literally were selling fresh food off the streets and it was really a culture shock after having bought food in supermarkets all my life. Many people didn’t want their pictures taken, especially women, and our tour guide told us that it is because they don’t want to wind up in magazines and tour guide books.

After walking around the streets for a bit we wound up in a small square where women were selling fabric that looked like blankets off of wooden carts. We weren’t really sure what they were for, so our tour guide asked one of the women to give a demonstration. He asked for a volunteer and naturally Kim offered herself up. The woman showed us that the blankets were actually used as clothing as she dressed Kim up in an entire outfit. The man next to Kim in this picture was standing watching the whole thing and offered to take pictures with her after. (Sorry about the water bottle in the corner.)

After the demonstration, Kim was undressed and we made our way to our first stop of the day. Our guide took us to an herbal shop that sold spices and other types of organic products that are used to cure things such as snoring, asthma, colds, etc. We had both Spanish and French people on our tour and the man who was giving us the demonstration spoke all 3 languages fluently (as well as Arabic). He went back and forth between the 3 languages every few sentences and it was actually amazing to hear someone speak like that. At the end, we were able to buy any of the spices for cooking or for medicinal purposes.

After we left the herbal place, our tour guide brought us to a carpet shop. The man at the store did a presentation for us on the different types of carpets he had and told us that most of them were handmade. Some of the bigger ones took over 6 months for 2 women to complete. After he showed us different types of carpets, people were able to buy them. While the people who were interested in carpets tried to negotiate, the rest of us looked around the rest of the store that had ceramics and other handmade products.

We then went to lunch at a place that we could obviously tell was very touristy and meant for big groups, but we still had a great time. Because I was still feeling a little sick and obviously couldn’t eat any of the Moroccan food, I decided to get hena from a woman at the restaurant while everyone was eating. The picture above is what it looked like while it was still drying. After it was completely dry a couple of hours later, I chipped off the outer later and only the ink was left. While hena is known to last for around 2 weeks, this was not the best hena (hey, what did I expect after only paying 3 euros?) and some of it faded off after I showered.

After lunch, we took a bus to Tangiers. We stopped to look at a cave and was given a tour of it. Different parts of the cave were meant to represent different continents and different part of the oceans through the way that they were sculpted. We then stopped to take some quick camel rides. I didn’t do it because I had already taken a long camel ride on Birthright in Israel and I kind of felt bad for the camels. They were constantly being forced to stand up and sit down and if you’ve seen a camel do this you know its no easy task. There was also a little baby 4 month old camel as you can see to the right that was really cute.

After the camel rides we took a short bus ride to the area where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean oceans meet. We stopped to take pictures and a few of us bought bracelets from the small venders in the area. I got a bracelet with little chamsa’s on it with green hearts in the middle.

About a half hour later we all got back on the bus and headed towards our hotel. After settling in we decided to walk around the area for a bit. We were told there was a synagogue nearby and we wanted to check it out. When we got there the gate was closed and we were standing outside to see if anyone would come out and let us in. A police officer was standing nearby and came up to us (being a group of about 10 American girls standing outside of a synagogue) and asked us what we were doing. He told us that he was the personal guard for the synagogue and that it was closed for the day.

After showering and dinner back at the hotel, our tour guide took us to a show a couple of blocks from our apartment. I wish I had the words to describe what actually occurred there, but I don’t think anything I say will actually justify how crazy it actually was. And by crazy I kind of mean absurd, but I’ll try my best to explain. It started off with a band playing some Arabic music, then a belly dancer, then these men to the left and then some women dressed in yellow that sang and dance. The men and the yellow dressed women all had volunteers come up and dance with them, which we obviously all were a part of. Then the acts started to get weird and it seemed as if in between acts the owners of the place were literally going outside and pulling random people off the street to perform. A man performed who balanced candles on his head for no less than 20 minutes and we had no idea what he was doing half the time. Another woman came out who danced and picked out a male and female volunteer from the audience and she was making them do the most absurd things such as making them get on their knees and wave their chests in the air and then she started slapping the girls boobs. (Runnnnnnn on sentence.) It was overall a very weird experience, but we had a good time. When the show was over our tour group was escorted back to our hotel by 4 body guards which was a little scary knowing that they were needed.

Sunday:

On Sunday, we ate breakfast at the hotel and then took a two hour bus ride to Chefaouen. When we arrived our tour guide passed us off to another tour guide who was going to to lead us around the city. Once again, I have no words to describe what he was like (besides AMAZING), but fortunately Hannah took a video with my camera that you can watch below. He told us his name was “Habibi” and by the end Hannah and I deemed him “Habibi the Ha-baby,” for the sole reason that he was no taller than 5 feet. He lead us around the city, which was painted a beautiful shade of light blue.

Half way through the tour, Habibi took us to a blanket shop and I bought a new blanket for my new big girl bed at home. (For all of you that don’t know, I’ve had the same bed since I was in 3rd grade. Finally, after my third year in college, we decided that it was appropriate to get me a full bed.) It’s different shades of blue and very pretty. At the end of walking around, Habibi brought us to a market area to shop. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to look around, but I was able to bargain a bag down from 35 euro to 20 euro.

Now watch the movie of Habibi!

After we had lunch, we headed back to the border for a very long trip back to Seville. I thought that Morocco was a great ending to my trips because it was the most culturally different. I was really amazed at the style of living in Morocco and I’d definitely love to go back some day.

Here are some more pictures from the trip.

Word of the weekend:جزاكم الله خير (shukran) = thank you in Arabic

Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

This past weekend I went to the Canary Islands with Landis, Melissa and Rachel. We stayed in a really great resort (the picture above is a view from our balcony) and the room we stayed in had a small kitchen. It was meant to be a relaxing beach weekend, so I have nothing too exciting to report. We basically went to the beach all day and cooked dinner and hung out at night. Because the Canary Islands are so close to Africa, the sun was BLAZING hot, but it was really nice to be able to go to the beach and go swimming.

I don’t know how many of you have ever been to European beaches, but some of them are MUCH different than beaches in the US. After going to the public beach a few times this weekend, I have come up with a list of things that I am pretty much okay never ever seeing again:

1. European cut bikini bottoms (except possibly on models, but that’s the only exception)

2. Speedos – It makes me uncomfortable when men’s thighs are tanner than my face

3. Women who have SEVERELY been effected with gravity or old age in 2 piece bathing suits, let alone bikinis

4. Naked boobs in public

5. Children over the age of 5 running around naked

And that’s pretty much it from this weekend. Here are the few pictures that I took.

Word of the weekend: desnudo = naked

Italy Spring Break Part 2: Rome

Tuesday:

On Tuesday morning, we were more than happy to check out of our creepy hotel and get to Rome to see our friends. After a missed ferry boat, a taxi and a 3 hour train ride, we finally arrived in Rome. Jori and Sonja meet us at the train station and they brought us back to their apartment to drop off our bags. We met up with Cara and Suzy at the Pantheon and went to get gelato. The place was huge and had more flavors than I had ever seen in my entire life. After gelato, we went and sat by the Trevi Fountain and we ran into our other friends from Sevilla/Wisconsin that were visiting. After the fountain, Melissa and I went back to Jori and Sonja’s apartment to get our stuff and brought it to Suzy and Cara’s, which was where the two of us were sleeping. We got ready and went to an amazing dinner at a restaurant called Tony’s where I got the best calamari and Penne a la Vodka of my entire life. They then took us to an area called Camp di Fiori where we scoped out some of the bars.

Wednesday:

On Wednesday, we walked to the Vatican. The Pope was speaking and there were a lot of people gathered around. We listened for a bit and then walked to the Vatican museum. The art was really amazing, especially the Sistine Chapel. I obviously took illegal pictures in the Sistine Chapel because it was too cool to pass up. We then took a short cut to St. Peters Basillica, which wasn’t opened until the Pope was finished speaking. We walked in the front and were 15 feet away from where the Pope had previously been sitting. We walked through St. Peters and took a quick look at the Tomb of Popes.

We met up with our Rome friends who had been at class and they took us to an amazing make your own sandwich places for lunch. We took our sandwiches to go and walked to the Colosseum where Cara acted as our tour guide and read us information from her Rome tour guide book. We then walked to the Forum and observed the ruins for a bit. We took our long walk back to their apartments and got ready for dinner. They took us to a little restaurant where I got zucchini ravioli and then they took us out to a little night club.

Thursday:

On Thursday morning, Cara and Suzy took us back to the Pantheon, so that we could go inside. It is supposed to be the most architecturally perfect building in the world and there is a hole is the ceiling that was once used to tell time depending on where the beam of light fell in the room. We then met up with Jori and Sonja in Piazza Navona, which was once used as an area for horse races. We then walked back to the sandwich place we had gone to the day before because it was just that amazing. There was a little food market open in the area and some people got food for lunch from the little stands. We then walked to the Spanish steps, but didn’t stay long because we wanted to sit in the park. We went to the Vila Borguese park and sat for a few hours enjoying the nice weather. After going back to the apartment to shower, we went to dinner. I shared an amazing seafood pasta with Ilana’s friend Lauren. Suzy and Cara got the same thing and you can see it in my pictures. After dinner we got gelato and the guy behind the counter loved us and he let us take a picture behind the counter with him. We then went back to the apartment and decided not to go out because we were so exhausted.

Fortunately, the weather was beautiful the entire time we were in Rome and it only started to rain on the day that we were leaving. We had an easy flight back to Seville and we greeted with extremely warm weather. This past week was Feria, which is a Spanish holiday and the reason we had off for spring break. We went to look at some of the festivities yesterday, but that will be another post.

Here are more pictures from Rome.

As for today, IT’S MY 21ST BIRTHDAY, which is really exciting! It is really nice out and we are planning on going to dinner and then watching fireworks at midnight that are in honor of the end of Feria. Thanks to everyone who has already wished me a happy birthday!

Word of the week: Grazie = Thank you in Italian

Italy Spring Break Part 1: Amalfi Coast

This past week I went on my second spring break to Italy with Ilana, Melissa, Hannah and Rachel. We started on the Amalfi Coast and then made our way to Rome later in the week. Unfortunately it rained half the time we were on the Amalfi coast, so we only got a couple of good beach days in.

Thursday:

On Thursday, we arrived in Sorrento to find ourselves a 10 minute walk away from our hostel in the rain. When we finally reached our hostel, it seemed really nice. There was a huge bar next to the lobby area, which we later found out is used as a bar open to the public with blasting music. Our room was off of the roof of the hostel and we had a really pretty view of the mountains.

After checking in, we attempted to walk into town to find somewhere to eat. Apparently the Amalfi Coast has some form of siesta also and most of the restaurants were closed. We finally found a small pizza place and ordered our first pizzas in Italy. We never have high expectations for our first restaurants in new places because we inevitably always pick the worst place in the entire city. The man that owned the restaurant was the only one working there and he was very friendly and welcoming. He told us that if you go to a restaurant and the chef is not fat then that means the food is not good and because he was fat it meant that his food was good. The pizza wasn’t too terrible, but it definitely did not live up to our Italian standards.

Because it was still raining after lunch, we decided to hang out in the hostel until it got nicer out. Fortunately before dinner it cleared up a bit and I was able to take a few scenic pictures. The picture to the left is the view from the roof where our room was.

We took the train into town to walk around for a bit and we passed a billion lemoncello shops, which is by the way the grossest thing ever but I’ll get to that later. We had dinner at a great little restaurant and I got great risotto with mushrooms. We then went to a really good gelato shop and made our way back to our hostel.

Friday:

Unfortunately it was still overcast when we woke up Friday morning, so our only option was to go back to the Sorrento center. We decided to walk there to waste time and then we walked around again. We had salads and pizzas for lunch and then we shopped around a bit. Melissa, Rachel and Ilana got their own customized shoes made and they were all really cool. Later in the afternoon it started to get nice, so we went back to the hostel to hang out on the chairs on the roof and watch the sunset. Later we walked to a nearby restaurant to get dinner and then we came back to the hostel.

Saturday:

On Saturday, we had our first nice day and we decided to take a day trip to Positano, which is about an hour bus ride away from Sorrento. We arrived in Positano in the early afternoon and were able to spend the entire day at the beach. The beach was filled with black rocks rather than sand, which I was a little disappointed about, but it was still beautiful. We walked around the town for a bit and I bought a pair of gold gladiators, which were an early birthday present. (Thanks, Aunt Karen!) When the sun started to set behind the mountains, we took a bus back to Sorrento.

Sunday:

On Sunday, we left Sorrento and took a ferry to Capri. When we arrived in Capri, it was extremely overcast again and the directions to get to the hotel were extremely unclear. We took a half hour bus ride up to Anacapri and arrived in the Anacapri center. At that point it started to rain, but the streets we had to go down were too small to take a cab. We talked with our bags in the rain down cobblestone streets for 20 minutes in the rain until we finally arrived at our secluded hotel. The hotel was very old fashioned and was basically one long hallway with white marble statues in between each room. We walked back to the main area in the rain, which took about 15 minutes. We stopped at the first restaurant we saw. We ordered lunch and played cards and tried to stall as long as we could from going back into the rain.

After we couldn’t stall much longer, we went to the only store that was open on the block and picked up some snacks. We made our way back to our hotel to play cards and napped. When we woke up it was still raining and, because none of us had expected it to be raining that much, we had not brought any rain gear. We all had to make some makeshift rain apparel because all of our other clothing we wet as seen in the picture to the left. We walked into the Anacapri center and only one restaurant was open. Our dinner was good, but overpriced. We had a little trouble communicating with the waiter and a man from Milan who spoke fluent English sitting at a table near us overheard us and interjected into the conversation to help. He wound up buying us a round of lemoncello and we decided to drink it so that we didn’t look rude. It was by far the grossest thing I have ever tasted and I gagged after trying it.

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and we were really getting freaked out about how dark it was and how far away the hotel was. When we got the lobby door was locked and we had to go through a side door. The hotel was really creepy and we started to realize that we were the only ones staying in the hotel. It reminded me of “The Shining” and we were all really creeped out.

Monday:

When we woke up on Monday morning the sun was shining. We took a bus down to the port and paid for a private boat tour of the island. We had our own boat with a tour guide who took us around the island. He told us that 1 square meter of land along the water costs 22,000 euros and he showed us all the miraculous houses and hotels along the edges of the cliffs. We went around the perimeter of the island saw the white grotto, the coral grotto, the small blue grotto, fishermen’s cave, the green grotto, the red rock grotto, the candle cave and the blue grotto. We could barely see the blue grotto because the water was so high from all the rain from the previous day. Despite how cold the water was, Hannah and Melissa decided to jump into the water.

After the boat tour, we took a tram up to the Capri center and grabbed a quick lunch. We walked around the town a little and then walked to the Gardens of Augustus, which were beautiful gardens on the top of one of the cliffs. We then walked down a windy path (see picture to the left) to get to the beach, but we only stayed for a little because it was really windy. We then went back into town and walked around for a bit and I got a really cool white watch as another early birthday present. (Thanks, Gram and Zaide!) We then went back to the hotel to rest and shower and found a little place for dinner where I got homemade pasta with mushrooms and clams.

So that was part 1 of my spring break. Despite all the rain and bad weather, we were able to have a great time and appreciate the days that were nice that much more. Spring break post part 2 will be up shortly. But in the meantime, here are the rest of the pictures from the Amalfi Coast.

Observations about Seville

So after being here for a while I have obviously noticed some things that are different. Here is the list that I have compiled thus far:

1. Cars stop dangerously close to pedestrians on the street.

2. Everyone lets their dogs poop on the sidewalk and then they leave it there.

3. Most dogs are not on leashes.

4. Ham is put on everything!

5. Shades are on the outside of windows.

6. Men whistling at you or calling out names to you on the street is acceptable/flattering.

7. Tips are not expected for service.

8. The houses all have marble floors making all of the rooms FREEZING.

9. All of the first floors in buildings are considered floor zero.

10. It is completely normal to tap both the car in front of you and behind you while parallel parking. (“That’s what bumpers are for.”)

11. Most 4-year-olds dress better than I do.

12. Milk doesn’t need to be refrigerated. (Which I find questionable.)

13. Red lights are treated as stop signs.

14. Traffic laws in general aren’t really abided by.

15. Random people will stop you on the street to have an entire conservation with you.

16. The entire city closes between 2-5 (for siesta of course).

17. The entire city closes on Sundays.

18. There are a lot less options to choose from at the supermarket.

19. Most households don’t have dryers, so people hang dry all of their clothing.

20. The PDA (Public Display of Affection) here is OUT. OF. CONTROL.

21. Pigeons aren’t really afraid of people.

22. Sevillianos wear long puffy winter jackets when its 55 degrees.

23. Most youth smoke.

24. Churros with chocolate sauce is considered an acceptable breakfast.

25. All cabs are Mercedes.

26. People blast music from their cell phones in public.

27. Most lights switches for bathrooms are on the outside.

And thats all I have for now. I’ve noticed that most of these things aren’t just traits of Seville, but traits of Europe as a whole. My biggest issue: the damn pigeons.

Word of the day: observaciones = observations

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