27 April, 2006

Beach in San Sebastian

This is a shot of Monte Urgull (where the previous photo of me and Laurie was taken from). On top of the castle there's a huge statue of Jesus, which you can see from the town.

When we occasionally got lost in the car (not when I was driving of course...ha ha, right...), we would say "help us Jesus" and then drive until we could see the statue, thus getting our bearings. Of course that saying stuck with us throughout the trip and eventually even Hilary was joining in. (I guess spending everyday with me for a couple of months will eventually make even a Jew cry for Jesus).

Monte Urgull

Laurie and I in San Sebastian at a castle on top of Monte Urgull. It was a nice hike up to the castle and as you can see, there was spectacular views! Our hostel we stayed in was on the opposite hill. YOu can also see the rain clouds approaching. We ended up getting drenched as we hurried to get down the steep hill!

Pamplona, Spain



View of the city of Pamplona as I walked from the hostel to the park.

Cafe in Parque Taconera


Cafe in the park at the city of Pamplona, Spain. We stayed in this city for one night while driving to San Sebastian. It was rainy the next morning, but we walked through this big park near the hostel and found millions of flowers everywhere. Castellon is not known for it's grass, much less flowers...so this was a very welcome site. I could live in this pretty little cafe (and our very handsome waiter could live there too!)

Flower Dog



Huge "flower dog" at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

That's me and Hilary at the bottom :-)

Cat's Hostel bedroom

"My" room in the Cat's Hostel, Madrid. 16 Euros a night, can't beat that, it's the cheapest place in town! and since I shared a room with 13 other "budget concious" people, it was really cozy too.

I took a top bunk and settled in for 2 days. It was fine for me, although you could say it wasn't Hilary's favorite place to stay. She was counting the hours until she could meet her tour group in a hotel. The girl has spunk and determination, though I have to give it to her. Not many people could "live" like I do!

26 April, 2006

Cat's Hostel interior

Interior of the Cat's Hostel in Madrid. It was converted from an 18th century palace. It sleeps up to 200 which is HUGE for a hostel, but since they cram 10-14 beds in some of the rooms, it's doable. It's right in the middle of the city and actually has a bar in the "basement"

If you're ever in Madrid, I highly recommend it (oh and they speak English there, too. www.catshostel.com

Beach in Biarritz, France

I had a coffee on the beach in a little outside cafe and just sat and sat and sat....I didn't want to leave. There weren't many tourists but one "hoity toity" family of 4 sitting next to us. The "mother" was in a sleeveless long "poor dead animal" coat with pannyhose and heals. Oh and she was wearing a dress too, with a large sun hat. I wish I knew German so I could have said "What a lovely coat, is it made out of rat fur?" I considered throwing-up on the "precious" coat, but then I didn't want to waste the coffee I just paid 3 Euros for...

along the coast...

Me along the coast of northern Spain...somewhere near the town of Zumaia. It was overcast, windy and chilly but still absolutely beautiful.

24 April, 2006

How not to make a Cake

I do enjoy cooking, but when there is a 12+ step process for making a cake, It tends to take all the fun out of it.
Step 1. - Find the recipe online
Step 2. - Translate all the ingredients into Spanish
Step 3. - Try and locate all the ingredients at the super mercado
Step 4. - Change all the US measurements in the recipe to Metric
Step 5. - Guess at the correct measurements since the ONLY measuring container I found starts at 235 ml or 110 grams depending on what you're measuring and it appears they don't believe in measuring spoons here!
Step 6. - Assume vanilla "sugar" will be equivalent to vanilla "extract". Since extract is virtually impossible to fine, I believe there must be a ban on it.
Step 6.5 - Convince my Mexican friend that carrots (zanahorias) do indeed go in this cake
Step 7. - Hope the pans I bought are right since it must be against the law here to put measurements on baking pans.
Step 8. - Pray that the number 3 on my oven is equal to 180 degrees C (350 degree's F)
Step 9. - Bake the cakes one at a time, since my oven is too small for both pans.
Step 10. - Wonder why in the hell my roommate had to pick a carrot cake for his birthday (in this country of massive sweets, buying a cake made with vegetables is unheard of).
Step 11. - Stare in amazement that the cakes actually came out of the oven okay
Step 12. - Frost the 2 little round bundles of warmth, (making the frosting took about 6 steps in itself...canned frosting is somehow illegal here)

Needless to say, my roommate, Ben was ecstatic since the cake was a "surprise" and it made his grand ole' 27th birthday party complete...well actually the 1/2 bottle of tequila he drank at the end of the party was probably more memorable. Oh and 3 girls from Mexico who were at the party (one of whom was the one who questioned the veggie ingredient) said the cake was very good, then she had to add that in Mexico there's a saying that if you can cook good, you are ready for marriage. Hmmm...Good thing Spain is a looong way from Mexico.

And a huge GRACIAS to Sandy who graciously mailed me US measuring cups, container and spoons! (after the fact)

16 April, 2006

I will have some beautiful photos and hopefully some interesting stories when I get back into town next weekend....for those of you living vicariously through me....

Okay, Okay, so I need to do a little work on my map making skills...

We (Hilary, my friend Laurie and me) will be leaving from Castellon and driving to the Basque Country via Tarragona, Zaragoza, Tudela and then spending the night in Pamplona. (about a 6 hour trip). On Monday morning we will head to San Sebastian and will stay there for 3 nights. While we are staying in San Sebastian, we will be taking day trips to Biarritz, France and to some smaller towns in the area. We will be going to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao which I'm really excited to see. San Sebastian is supposed to be absolutely beautiful and this area has the best food in all of Spain!

On Thursday morning, Laurie will be heading to France and Hil and I will drive to Madrid for a few days and will drop off the car there. On Sat. Hil will be meeting a tour group from the US and will be traveling for 17 days with them (Spain, Portugal and Morocco) and I will take the train back to Castellon on Saturday and will have pleeeenty of time to write my 10 page paper before school starts on Tuesday....now if I only could remember what it's supposed to be about....

cool website http://www.maporama.com/share/ for international driving directions.

08 April, 2006

Top of the Castle

March 2006

View from the top of the castle. I think Peniscola means something like peninsula since the castle is on land surrounded on 3 sides by water as you can kind of see in this shot.

El Castillo de Peniscola


March 2006

Me on the top of the castle in Peniscola, Spain.

I was very happy that day, note the huge smile, ha ha

El Castillo de Peniscola

March 2006

This is a castle we toured in a town called Peniscola which was about 1.5 hours from Castellon. It was pretty awesome! I just kept walking around the rooms in awe and then the view from the top was phenomenal.

I want to live there...

The altar of a Church in Morella

The photo doesn't do it justice as the entire altar area was in gold leaf. It was so shiny when they turned on the lights, of course by that time, I had used up the battery in my camera...

There was a tour going on right next to me, so I tried to hear what the significance of this church was, but since the lady was talking in Spanish, I still don't know.

March 2006

Morella



March 2006

I took a day trip with a group to Morella. It was about a 2 hour trip via car from Castellon. The view is incredible, but it was very overcast when I went, so I didn't get the "full experience"...well, that's just another reason to go back, right?

Ahhhhh the beach....

The coast is about an hour walk (or a 25 minute bus ride) from Castellon.

My 2nd home...


Where I spend all my free time....

Parade during La Magdalena

3-25-06 - This photo was taken during the La Magdalena festival which was a week long. There were fireworks pretty much going off 24 hours for 7 days. Bars and cafe's were open all night and there were parades, live music, craft/clothing markets and general partying going on all over the city. I didn't get to bed until 5 AM most nights either because I was out in the crowds or because my neighbors were partying and it was impossible to sleep with all the noise. It was a blast, but I am glad it only happens once a year and also glad that during the festivities, school hadn't started yet!

Me in Morella


It was pretty cold up that high. (of course I don't know how high up we were, but it was high, rainy and MUY FRIO, brrrrr)

Driving up there in this van (European size van, not TX size) with 7 people crammed into it was an adventure and I almost got sick. I was in the middle and kept swaying back and forth as we went up winding roads...I was thinking how do I say "I am going to vomit" in spanish". Where was good ole' Dramamine when you need it? I got to a point where I wanted to tell the driver to pull over, but we were on a very narrow road with no guard rails and barely enough room for a car to pass, so....I just kept positive thoughts and made it to the top with out loosing my breakfast. It was well worth the "suffering" as you can see from the photo. On the way back I made a mad dash to the van so I could get a window seat (I figured that I probably could throw-up out the window descretely enough if needed...and have a vomit-story to top my sister Pam's, although hers is a good one, mine would have been more exotic)

Classmates

3-25-06 - Some of my new friends. They are classmates of mine. My roommate Ben is the curly haired dude with glasses in the back row.

Photo taken at the University dorms when we got together to taste Mauris' (on my right) Native food (Egyptian). And oh my gosh, was it MUY MUY BUENA! (very good)

Plaza Tetuan

There are many little plaza's all around the city. This one is called Plaza Tetuan and is one of my favorites... (at the moment, as I keep finding more).

Castellon, Spain

My apt.



After an agonizing search, we found the PERFECT place. A 4 bedroom/2 bath apt. about a 7 minute walk from the Cuidad Centre (center of the city). Hilary is posing in the entryway of the building. We're on the 3rd floor. I am sharing the apt. with Hilary & two guys who are in the same masters program as me. (Ben (NY) and Robert (CA)

Parque Ribalta


I'm on the phone trying to find an apartment (holding the want-ads out of Spanish newpaper which I can't really read and looking at a map which I don't understand!)

Parque Rebalta, Castellon, Spain.

View from Tower Bridge



View from the top of the Tower Bridge, London

Tower Bridge


3-04-06 - Tower Bridge in the background.

St. James Park


3-03-06 - Me in St. James park, London.

St. Paul's Cathedral



3-04-06 - Theresa (from Australia) and I in London.

St Paul's Cathedral in the background.

London


March 4-2006
Hilary and I in London

Partying in London


3-4-06 - Tommy & Ed from Gothenburg Sweden (Thank you for the country correction, Tommy....I knew deep down you guys weren't from Dublin, hee hee). We met them at the YHA Oxford Street Hostel & had drinks at the Coach & Horses Pub near the hostel.

Exactly why am I am Spain???

Well, I'm here to get my International Masters Degree in Peace, Conflict and Development Studies. I will be in Castellon, Spain at the Universitat Jaume I for the spring term (March 28th - June 23rd), then I will be going to Innsbruck, Austria for the summer term (July 3rd - August 26th). I then have a month off before the Fall semester (back in Castellon) which starts on Sept. 25th.

My address is:

Calle Gibraltar 4-3
Prta. 11
12004 Castellon, Spain

(basically that means that I'm on Gibraltar street, 4th building, 3rd floor, apt. #11)

07 April, 2006

Welcome to my blog...

Hello all,

I hope you find this next phase of my life somewhat interesting. Hopefully many of my friends and family will find it so awesome that they will want to experience it themselves and fly out to see me sometime!!

I left Austin on March 1st, 2006 and arrived in London on the 2nd. After "loosing" one day to travel and another to exaustion (after partying until 5AM), I found out that 3 full days in London is not nearly enough...I did get to see many things, just not intensively. (Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, British Museum, Covent Garden, Tate Museum, Tower Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral) We stayed at the YHA Oxford Hostel (14 Noel Street) It is a cheap nice place and we met lots of interesting travelers there.

I arrived in Spain on the 6th and stayed at the Pension La Esperanza (37 Calle Trinidad, Castellon) for 9 days while trying to find an apartment. I ran into a guy named Robert, who turned out to be a student in the masters program and is also fluent in Spanish. He helped me find a place and actually ended up moving in (it's a 4 bedroom) since it was such a nice place with equally as nice little oompah-loompahish elderly Spanish couple landlords. Hilary and I settled in (and I spent a wonderful day deep-cleaning the place). Ben from NY moved in a week later (in the program as well) and then Robert moved in on April 1st. It's been an adjustment with 4 of us in one apt. but Ben's an incredible cook and Robert is hardly ever here. We just got wireless in the place, so that is why the long delay in making a blog. Before getting it, H and I were going up to our rooftop and connecting to someone's connection. It was okay, but not very convenient, plus it was cold up there!

I do not know how often I will update, but at least once a week. ENJOY!!