Friday, June 19, 2015

Week 4 Adventures

This week started much slower. Back to only one class a day and having time to take a siesta each day was greatly appreciated. 

Monday..
For my class we took a tour through the Jewish Quarter, the Barrio de Santa Cruz, before the Spanish Inquisition took place in 1492. It is filled with narrow streets and hidden alcoves that are beautiful. 
A patio inside one of the homes.

Later that afternoon, we had the chance to watch Los Seises dance in the Cathedral. It is a group of 10 boys that dance in front of the altar during Corpus Christi and other times throughout the year. Legend has it that the boys are allowed to dance in the Cathedral because of an agreement that said as long as they wear the same outfits that they did in the 1400s the tradition can continue.

Los Seises in the Corpus Christi parade held the week before. 
Tuesday..
We toured the neighborhood of Triana that is across the river. It is famous for ceramics. Ceramics are seen all throughout Sevilla. They even cover the bottom part of the building to protect them from the humidity. 
A ceramics' store covered in ceramics. It is now closed. Sadly Triana used to be filled with ceramics shops and now there are only a handful operating.

We also visited the University of Sevilla. We went to the building that houses the history, art history, and humanities courses. It used to be the tobacco factory in Sevilla. It has many patios and is very beautiful inside.
One of the patios inside the walls of the University.

Wednesday..
I went up the Giralda of the Cathedral. There are 34 floors to the top. The view at the top is amazing! It was originally built by the Moors, but after Spain became a Catholic country the top part of the tower was taking off and replaced to fit the theme of Christianity. 
 The courtyard and city from the top.

The bells went off while I was up there. 

That night we ate tapas at El Rinconcillo. It is a bar that opened in 1670 and is one of the oldest in the world. It was on my to do list after seeing it on Pinterest. The tapas and drinks were very good. 

Friday..
We took a little adventure to Gibraltar. Gibraltar is a British territory located at the tip of Spain. It was an important base for the Royal Navy during many wars. While we were there we took a taxi tour of the Rock of Gibraltar. With the tour we saw a cave with modern lights and music that houses performances, monkeys, and a tunnel that was dug out by British soldiers for a war tactic. The weather was clear so we were able to spot Africa 14 miles aways. The day was a lot of fun and very interesting. With Gibraltar I have been to four different countries while I have been here. 
 The Rock of Gibraltar

Lighthouse on the very tip of the territory.

Only one week left. It's crazy to think I have already been here for a month. I have done and seen so many things. Time to get the final adventures in.

Hasta Luego,
-Jota Jota



Monday, June 15, 2015

Week 3 Adventures

This week consisted of 6 hours of class a day, projects, and finals. It was so busy! But I worked through it and am still here to talk about it today. I started my second class about the history of Sevilla. Each day my professor takes us on a tour of different museums or location so we learn more about what makes up this city.

Monday.
I participated in Intercambios at a local bar. At Intercambios people come to work on different languages. I was paired with someone that wanted to work on English, while I wanted to work on Spanish. For the first hour we talked in Spanish and my partner would correct me or help me if needed, and for the second hour we talked English and I did the same for him. It was a unique experience that I truly enjoyed because it was an informal setting, yet we still learned a lot. 

Tuesday..
For my class, we went on a tour of the Maestranza Bullring. We learned about the history of the bullring that can seat 13,000 people and toured the museum and place where they keep the horses and mules. The museum is broken into the different ages of bullfighting so it was interesting to see the changes throughout the year.

Clothing worn by matadors in this day and age.

After class and lunch, we toured the Metropol Parasol or Las Setas. It was completed in 2011 and is claimed to be the largest wooden structure in the world. When the project was started, Moorish and Roman remains were discovered. This is something that is very common throughout Sevilla. So now in the lowest level of the parasol there is a museum that exhibits the remains. Level 1 was a market that includes fresh fruits, meats, and fish daily. The structure also shadows a plaza. Levels 2 and 3 offer panoramic terraces that show off the city center. 

On Levels 2 and 3 to capture a gorgeous view of the top of the Parasol, Gerald, and Sevilla.


Wednesday..
We went to a Flamenco show. I had no idea what to expect but it was very interesting. The intensity of the concentration of the guitarist, singer, and dancer is amazing. I am happy that I got to experience this cultural event, because it is very important in Spain's society. 

Did you know that there are many different types of Flamenco?

Thursday..
Corpus Christi occurred on this day so we did not have classes, but we attended the procession. Corpus Christi is a Catholic holiday that is in honor of the Body of Christ. Beautiful floats of Jesus, Mary, and others is carted throughout the streets on the backs of men and storefronts are also decorated. 

A float of baby Jesus that is going through the procession.

Later that night, one of my goals was fulfilled- I got to go to a Bullfight! I was preparing myself all week, and I was not sure how I was going to like it. But it ended up being one of my favorite things. The fight is just like a "ballet." That's what my professor said and I believe him after I saw it. We were fortunate to witness 4 trophies being handed out and 6 very good fights. It brought what I learned in class and at the bulling all together.

The end of a fight. People are holding white rags in the air because they believe the matador deserves a trophy. He was rewarded an ear.

Friday..
We had to say good bye to the students that were only doing the program for 3 weeks. I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. We also welcomed the students that are participating in the program for them remaining 3 weeks.

Saturday and Sunday..
A couple friends and I went to Malaga to enjoy an nice, relaxing weekend. After a week jam packed with school and activities it was greatly appreciated. When we finally made it to the city, we toured the Botanical Gardens, had dinner, and stayed in for the night. On Sunday morning, we made our way to the beach for a couple hours. We were sure to apply/reapply sunscreen as we were still nursing our burns from the weekend before. The slow pace in Malaga rejuvenated me for the next week.

Gazebo at the Botanical Gardens

Beach at Malaga

Sunday night we attended the Real Betis soccer game against Real Sporting de Gijón. It was my first real soccer game that I have seen. I was lost for most of the game but enjoyed the cultural experience. The Real Betis soccer team is based in Sevilla. This year is won the Segunda División, meaning it will get to move up to a higher division. One interesting thing I learned was that they do not serve alcohol at the game because the crowd can get very rowdy. However, there are bars and a drink stand right outside the stadium for fans to get their fix.


That's it for this week. Only 2 more weeks of exciting adventures until I return home!

Hasta Luego!
-Jota Jota







Portugal

For our first major excursion we took a trip to Lagos, Portugal to spend time on the beach and catch some rays. Little did we know that we would catch too many rays and most of us would come back with extremely horrible sunburns.. But in the end it was worth it to see the beautiful beaches and rock formations.

We stayed in an apartment style place. Four or five of us shared a little "cabin" and we were right next to each other. There was a pool, mini golf course, and place to grill. The couple that owned it were very sweet. It was close to the beach and the downtown area which was a definite plus. 

On the first day there we toured the rock formations and caves in the sea on a boat. This was my first time at the ocean so I was in awe. Here is a photo of one of the rocks. Can you see the face?



So my first time in the ocean... All I can say is that is was so salty. But I am so happy that I got to experience it with this great group of people. Our first afternoon there we went to one beach and laid out and played around in the water. It was a very relaxing afternoon.


The next day we went to a beach that had many surfers and a beautiful landscape. I did not surf but I did wander around a little. As a word of precaution, make sure to always where shoes. It was a little breezy but the sun got the best of us. It was such a beautiful and relaxing weekend that was much needed.


We all wanted to stay there forever. But on Sunday it was time to pack up and make our way back to Spain with a week full of classes and activities. 

Hasta Luego,
-Jota Jota


Monday, June 1, 2015

Week 2 Adventures!

Now that I am getting into my third week of being in the city of Sevilla, I am becoming more and more familiar with the city and culture. Here is a recap of the activities and adventures that I took part in during Week 2.

Monday..
We did a tour around a neighborhood and learned more about the city of Sevilla. We took a trip by the Plaza de Toros and learned about the history of bullfighting.

Matador Statue outside of Plaza de Toros

Wednesday..
We went kayaking in the Guadalquivir River which runs through Sevilla. I was in a three person kayak with Cassia and Miranda. We did more zig zagging and spinning in circles than actually going straight the two hours we were out there. But none the less, it was a good time with many laughs. The Sevilla Fútbol (soccer) team one the 4th Europa League Trophy. We were out on the town for other reasons, so we joined the celebrations. The party went well into the next day and night. But we only celebrated the first night. It was very exciting to see the excitement throughout the streets.

 Here we go!
This is just the portion of the crowd celebrating the in Plaza for the Sevilla win.

Thursday..
We finally got to try Churros con Chocolate! I had been waiting for it since we left the U.S. The churros do not have the sugar and cinnamon on them like at home; they are plain. But when they are dipped in the thick chocolate sauce/drink, they are marvelous!
 
Yumm...

Because this weekend was a huge adventure it will be getting its own post. Hope you can handle the anticipation!

Hasta Luego,
-Jota Jota

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Siestar

7 days before I left on this amazing adventure, my family and I went to the Milwaukee Brewers game for the 2nd Annual James Family Brewers Game. It was an amazing time with tons of laughs! 

While we were there my sister asked why isn't "to take a nap" a verb in Spanish. In  Spanish "tomar una siesta" is the saying "to take a nap." So from that moment on we made it a verb "siestar." It is completely incorrect but it's fun. I am trying to make it a thing while I am here, but it's not going as planned.

When I was back in my first years of Spanish in middle and high school, we learned about siestas in the culture section of the Spain chapters. But I did not realize how critical they actually are until I arrived here and have been living here for over a week and a half.

Between the hours of 2:00pm and 5:00pm many stores and restaurants close. Schools even let the children out for a few hours. The reasoning is because it is hot here! Believe me. Walk out the door, bam instasweat. The hottest part of the day is between these hours. So people go home, eat lunch, nap a little, and then return to work or school after. However, because of this resting time the nightlife does not start until midnight and goes until 6:00am. This is something that has taking a little adjusting to, but I'm managing.

As I have experienced this siesta time during my week and a half here, I can safely say it is one of the best ideas in the whole wide world! I think it will be one of the toughest things to have to readjust when I return in a few weeks.

Hasta Luego,
-Jota Jota

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Week 1 Adventures

I have officially been here for a week! Crazy to think how fast that time went by.. 

Monday..
We went to lunch and tried many different foods that are popular as tapas. We had tomatoes, croquettas, sliced ham on little pieces of bread with tomato sauce, tinto con naranja(red wine with Orange Fanta), and of course sangria. It was nice to see parts of the city for the first time. 
Sangria

Tuesday..
We went to the Real Alcázar de Sevilla which is the royal palace of Sevilla. The upper levels of the palace are still used today by the royal family when they come to Sevilla. It is the oldest palace in Europe that is still in use. Alcázar means Royal House or Room of the Prince.


Wednesday..
This was more of a relaxing day. But we did get tapas later in the afternoon. We did a little wondering and walked by the University of Sevilla and the Bull Fighting Arena. We ate along the river near the Torre del Oro.
Torre del Oro

Thursday..
We attended a festival for the El Rocío pilgrimage. If you would like to learn more go to http://www.andalucia.com/festival/rocio.htm There were tons of people and the men and women that were taking part in the celebration were wearing traditional Flamenco clothes. There were bulls that pull carriages so that was my favorite part. We also stepped inside the Cathedral of Sevilla. It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third largest church in the world. It was absolutely stunning!
 El Rocío Pilgrimage                                         
 Cathedral de Sevilla

Friday..
We went to Plaza de España on a bus tour. This was one of my favorite places so far. The building is shaped in a semi-circle that resembles a hug for the Americas. It was built for the Ibero-American Exhibition in 1929, along with the many other pavilions that are located in Parque Maria Luisa. We then finished our bus tour throughout the city. We went across the river and back seeing many things this beautiful city has to offer.
Plaza de España

Well that sums up week 1! Very excited for the adventures that are to come ahead in week 2. 

Hasta Luego,
-Jota Jota

Friday, May 22, 2015

New Friends

¡Hola!
Let me start off by introducing you to the lovely group that I get to spend the next five weeks with.
Sarah, Natalie, Madison, Will, Jason, Zander, Kyle, Elena(Our excursion planner), Miranda, Me, Megan, and Cara.

Many of us are from Wisconsin, a couple from the east coast, one from the west coast, and two from Colorado.  We already act like a family, and I don't want to have to leave them... in 4 weeks. We get together for tapas and drinks regularly. We are taking classes at the Spanish American Institute of International Education. It is a program that is affiliated with UW-Platteville. Here is the link if you would like to learn more... http://saiie.com

We are the only ones taking classes during the summer here, so they are very small. The professors are very nice and helpful. Some students are able to participate in sports programs with people from Sevilla that are around our age. The rest of us are excited to cheer them on when they have their games and competitions.

I am taking an upper level Spanish composition and conversation class. It will be a lot of work, but I don't think it will be too difficult. The reality that I actually had to study set in on Tuesday night. It was a pretty tough realization, because I don't really want to.. But I did come to Spain to study and stuff... It is a small price to pay to be able to experience this beautiful place.

While we are here we live with a señora and her family. Many of us have a roommate from the group, which has made the transition much easier. I live with Megan in an apartment building that is about a 20 minute walk from the school. Our señora makes us 3 meals a day Monday through Thursday, 2 on Friday, and 1 on Sunday. That means I will have lots of tapas and other fabulous food on the weekends. Starting tonight with tapas. 

Hasta Luego,
-Jota Jota
(Jota Jota is JJ is Spanish. It is an inside joke between my Spanish classmates and I from classes at UWP. I decided it was only appropriate to sign off with it since I am in Spain.)