Sunday, December 13, 2009

Se fue a Granada para silencio y tiempo, y Granada le sobrendio armania y eternidad...

He went to Granada for silence and time,
and Granada surprised him with harmony and eternity.

-Manuel de Falla

So we made it back from the deep south of Spain, it was a glorius five days spent in Granada. I never thought I would be able to make it back to soon, it truly is a magnificent place. After meeting Em's mom in Madrid we raced down to Granada on Friday morning and went straight up to the Alhambra. One of the oldest buildings in Spain, this muslim stronghold looks over the city, keeping guard over the past. Consisting of three parts: the fortress, the Palace, and the Generalife, the Alhambra is one of the largest collections of mudejar art in Spain. Built in the 7th century it has been added to by many kings, and was once even the court of Ferdinand and Isabel. It is here where they received Christopher Columbus and sent him to the Americas. Anyways as always, the palace was gorgeous with its open entryways and courtyards. We really lucked out, it wasn't super cold outside either.

Mudejar art at its finest...

Just look at that tile pattern....

They sure used water well!

La Alambra at night.

El patio de los leones
One of the roses from the Generalife

Las tres americanas from atop the fortress

After we found our way down the mountain, we definitely made our way towards tapas!!! (Granada is the only city left in Spain that, when you order a drink, they bring a tiny appetizer...for free!) Ohhhhh....I forgot how good the tapas were! Slowly but surely everything became really familiar...almost like I had never left! That night we tapaed at a few new restaurants and then went salsa dancing with my old salsa instructor! It was rad to dance again!

My birthday cooke from Em's mom!....a Polar Bear!!!

The next day, Saturday, I was officially 23! and ohhhhh...what a day we had! We slept in pretty late....cause you know, I actually forgot about he nightlife in Granada. We didn't get home until about 5 am...and thats early! Anyways, we eventually got ourselves up and made our way over to Parque Federico Garcia Lorca, which, I don't know how I didn't know this, actually has the summer house of the Garcia Lorca family in it! I can't believe I didn't know about it. So that was one of my birthday wishes, to go inside. What a surreal experience. He is by far my favorite Spanish author, and here I was inside his house. It was like mecca. We walked the grounds and took the tour of the house which was absolutely beautiful. I got to see the desk where he wrote some of his most famous plays!

Dentro de la fragua lloran,
dando gritos, los gitanos.

El aire la vela, vela.

El aire la está velando.

- Romance de la luna, luna

Lorca's front door!!!!!

It's no wonder he had so much inspiration...he was drowing in it!
The name of the house, after his mother

Later that night we were lucky enough to come across tickets for a flamenco show up in the Albaicin. One of the best shows I have seen there yet, her name was Ana Cali, and she was incredible! Absolutely breathtaking and gorgeous. After the flamenco show, we again trekked down the mountain and set out for more tapas! I remembered a really good Moroccan tapas place that was awesome! The girls surprised me with a birthday couscous...way better than a cake! hahaha. We had a good time though. AFTER THAT we went dancing (but only after spending a couple hours in the tapas bar!) we headed to my favorite club Vogue that plays techno, house, and many memories! haha. we decided to leave around 6:00 and we headed over to another favorite hangout to get churros and chocolate...we didn't get home until at least 7:00 am! Oh I love Granada!!

The Granada Cathedral in all its baroque splendor

On Sunday the four of us decided to drive to Malaga for the night. We stayed in this beautiful hotel in Torremolinos that was directly on the beach. We're talking ocean-view balcony room....I could practically taste the water from my bedroom window. It was gorgeous...I still can't believe that it was December and we were walking around without coats. On Monday we wandered around Malaga for awhile which, like Granada is rich in Muslim influence. Orange trees everywhere, Malaga has this eerie calm to it. City on one side, beach on the other. I don't know, it was a such a peaceful ambiance that was just tranquil.
Karli climbing an orange tree.

Oh, that's just the view from the balcony...

Drive up flower shop!
The Malaga Cathedral

When we got back to Granada, I met up with my house mother, Carmen. It was so good to see her! She hadn't changed a bit and we had a nice visit! Her boys have gotten so big....the little one is bigger than me now...(yea, I know, that's hard to beat) It was really nice to see her. That night we spent one last night tapaing it out....hoping all over the place and just hanging out! I thoroughly enjoyed being there and can't believe how much I missed this city! I mean, Calatayud is nice...but Granada has mi corazon...It was truly sad to leave.

Me and Carmen!

One last birthday celebration at the end of the trip...don't we look a little tired?

So, next stop....America! Can't wait to see everyone!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Just had to say it! Thanks to Kristina for the blog designing!

Love you chica!!! <3

Peacocks, turkey, and Picasso....oh my?

Well hello there, hope all is well. Life in Spain has insisted on passing by way to quickly. Like, way to quickly. I mean, there are aspects of this lifestyle that just feel right sometimes, that you don't notice the world passing on around ya. I mean everyday I wake up to this while I eat my bran flakes....

My living room window

But I guess I should start at the beginning. After I dropped mom and dad off at the airport I decided that it was time to see contemporary Spanish art: first stop, La Reina Sofia. Most well known for the museum that houses Picasso's Guernica. The museum consists of artists from all walks of life, the one commonality is that they are Spanish, (I mean, a few outsiders got in there, but you know how it goes.) My little added bonus to it all was that the museum had many works by Salvador Dali and of course, Federico Garcia Lorca.....can you imagine my excitement?! (There was a lot of it.)

Guernica, with man. Just to show size.
Original drawing by F. Garcia Lorca
Letter from G. Lorca to Salvador Dali

After my Madrid adventure and the parents had left, life came to a pattern. Sleep, school, tutoring, gym. I mean, there's nothing wrong with this pattern. It's just how life happens I guess. So yes, I joined a gym....its call Sporttake, and it's the "trendy" gym in town. Ha. It's fun...and let me tell you, taking a gym class in spanish is tough! (Next time you're in a yoga pose, you let me know how you react when someone starts describing in Spanish!) It's fun though....They offer all types of classes so it doesn't get boring.

School is good, there are of couse good days and bad days, but when is it not like that. The kids always have something new for me to experience, that's for sure. Today I had 22 fifth graders sing Happy Birthday to was very sweet! Which they then proceeded to sing to me, "Happy Birthday to you, we went to the zoo, we saw a big monkey, and we thought it was you!" haha. That was not expected.

Well Calatayud has its own resident peacock family (pavos reales.....royal turkeys) and they like flocks of ducks, have preference when crossing the street....

Well, as you know, Spain doesn't celebrate good ol' turkey day, so us gals had to make do with tacos, which I'm sure the first pilgrims thoroughly enjoyed with their native counterparts. ha. On Saturday, the three of us decided to make a Thanksgiving feast for our english professors from our schools, totaling 11 of us! and yes, we actually cooked a turkey! (karli and I) and it came out awesome! There were sweet potatoes and green beans, all the regular old fixings....the only thing missing from the table was the cranberry sauce, a tragedy. Apparently they just don't believe in cranberry sauce here. terrible.... Overall the night was a success. The teachers enjoyed themselves immensely and literally want our recipes. We have to throw a shoutout to our moms who helped us through the turkey is scary cooking a full bird in your oven!

Overall, Thanksgiving was fun...there was no parade and no football...but c'est la vie. Friday, on to Granada!!!! (my excitement is overflowing...) Birthday saturday, no better way to spend it than in a city a love....(obviously it'd be nice if the family were in that city too....but when in spain, next best thing, right?) More adventures to come!

spain family!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The adventures of Mom and Dad Mouchon, part deux

So, my parents have now seen Calatayud. C-town. Good ol' pueblecito. They stayed in the very nice, Hotel Castillo de Ayud, which coincidentally happens to be right next to my house. On Monday, as soon as we got into Calatayud, I took the parents right up to the old Castle on top of the mountain. As always, the view is beautiful, and dad, being the kid that he is insisted on climbing the tower. Can't take him anywhere anymore. We still had fun though.

Dad on top of the tower
Hotel Castillo de Ayud
The main drag in Calatayud
On Tuesday Mom and Dad got to see one of the schools where I work. They met my director, Rosa, and some of the teachers that I work very closely with. Of course, I had to work, but they were able to walk around the city and check things out. That morning we also got the chance to drive over the Roman Forums that are just outside Calatayud. This town is from the 1st century when Augusta Bilbilis was the leader of the Roman town. All that really exists is the original amphitheatre, the town's forum, and the hot and cold public baths. It's incredible to see, especially that it still exists after 2000 years! There is a museum here in town dedicated to the forum that contains all of the artifacts that were excavated from the site....truly incredible!!

The Roman Amphitheatre. That sucker can hold over 5,000 people!
Part of the old Forum
Bahhhhhh! the sheepies were down in the ravine!
On Wednesday we drove up into the Pyrenees to a town called Jaca. It is mainly a ski town, however it used to be the seat of power in the province of Huesca a long time ago. Also, it is one of the first stops on the Camino of Santiago. (The famous route of passage for the catholic followers in Northern Spain. It spans from the Pyrenees to Galicia and stops in over 100 churches along the way, named for Saint Santiago who was originially from Spain.) The city was so cute; tiny cobblestone streets, lamposts from like, the 1600's, and a cathedral from 1263. Only about 16.000 people, everyone definitely knew everyone in this town. With the Pyrenees looming overhead, the city was just beautiful.

The Pyrenees

The Cathedral
The roommates!

Thursday and Friday, me and the 'rents had some fun just hanging out, drinking wine, and making food. It was fun to have them around. I must say, Dad easily got used to the idea of the siesta, I think he started taking a longer one than me! Ha. Thursday night we took mom and dad out on the town! We went and played cards in Baviera and then we took them to the famed Australia bar in town and mom got to meet some of our friends. Give her two glasses of wine in Spain...and you get a silly mommy. hehe!

On Friday we set out again for Madrid, this time we walked to the Royal Palace (built in 1738) where mom and dad could see where the courts of Spain used to sit. (Now the official residence of the monarchs is el Palacio de la Zarzuela, in Madrid). We also decided to have one more go at paella before they left, we found an amazing place in la Plaza Santa Ana (ha! didn't realize the connection until just now!) where we just spent the night in true spanish style: eating, drinking and being merry.

The next day, the parents left for the airport and I met up with my good friend Christina, whom I studied with in Granada. She is currently doing her masters here in Madrid and it was the first time I had been able to see her in three years! We had a nice chat and I'm sure it's not the last time we'll be seeing each other this year.

well until next time...not sure what's in store for me next. We shall see! Au revoir!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We'rrrrre off to get my parents! To Madrid I go!!!

Well, mission accomplished. The parents are in Spain. Spain has the parents. All is right with the world again.

Again....let me just put it out dad, in Spain, is one funny site to see. Ok, now I can continue...

Well, my parents have finally seen more of Madrid than the airport. On Saturday night we walked all around Madrid. La Puerta del Sol, La Plaza Mayor...the subway system, everything you could imagine. Mom ate a spanish tried spanish beer. It was definitely a day of firsts. However, it was pretty crowded downtown, do to the fact that it was Halloween. I find it hilarious that the Spanish have no real concept of why we have halloween, but they still partake in the festivities. (I bring this up because the Plaza Mayor was complete with Mickey & Minnie Mouse as well as one of those tables where 3 people poke their head through the tabletop to make it look as if they don't have bodies. Oh, Spain...) Another thing that is pretty funny is that if you DO choose to dress up on Halloween, it is unacceptable to be anything except something scary...while I was in Madrid, my roommates dressed up as Indians, and I guess comments were made!

Even so, Mom and Dad seemed to like Madrid...I mean, dad had to stop in every ham shop on the a kid in a candy store that one. He also wanted to buy enough wine for the whole week in that one trek....tip of the iceberg. It was a gorgeous night in the plazas though. The clouds were out...and it was super warm! Mom couldn't believe that it was almost novemeber.
Me and the ma dukes!

Dad and his ham

I guess I tired them out, eh?

The next day we went on our three hour journey to Valencia. Now, let me tell you. It is very hard to navigate in a car when someone is driving that doesn't understand Spanish. The outcomes are VERY interesting. I'm just starting off with that point....haha. Anyways, Valencia is about 3 hours away from Madrid and Sunday morning we headed in that direction so Dad could see his fish. Oh, the fish. There were many fish. Red ones, blue ones, big ones, and little ones. Sharks and dolphins too! Ohhhhh, my dad couldn't get enough. I have to admit, I did like the penguins though. They are suppppper funny. Ahh, but dad dragged us to the dolphin show, and made us look at every fish in the place....(let me just let you know, that there are over 15,000 kinds of fish at this place....) Over all, the place was pretty cool. But ohhhh....words can't describe...

The park of Arts and Sciences
The Aquarium, el Oceanografico
Some fish.
Some more fish.
Even more fish. Actually, these fish were call "Sweetlips" which is why I took a picture of them....
Hey look, a tunnel of, what are they called again? Oh that's right, fish!
Couldn't go to the aquarium without going to the dolphin show, now could we? It's Sea World memories all over again....

Well, after the aquarium we tried to find out hotel. Good times, especially with no map of the city. Have no fear, we found it. Nice hotel too. It was called Medium Hotels Valencia. Definitely recommendable. (A very 'Yuriy' hotel!) Dark colors, very chic inside, very nice overall. That night me and mom figured that since we were in the place were paella originated from, we had to be sure to try it. Well we found this little outdoor cafe in the middle of some side street in the casco viejor (old part) of Valencia that had AMAZING paella valenciana....the saffron was golden yellow, the meat cooked to perfection, just the right amount of vegetables....geez, this is making my mouth water. Anyways, the setting was great, people walking by on their way to their own dinners, a gorgeous night....all we needed was an accordian player to show up, and voila, you have the perfect setting.

After that, we had a chance to walk around old Valencia, espeacially its gorgeous cathedral, that we actually got locked inside of. (It was like a sign from grandma telling me I should go to church more, I just know it!) When we finally found our way out of the spooky cathedral, we stumbled upon this cute little plaza where we enjoyed a nice cup of tea and the full moon. I love people watching, and for some reason these Spanish plazas are the perfect settings. It was defintely a gorgeous night for it.

The Valencia Cathedral
La plaza de la Virgen. And that's right, the Basilica is right NEXT to the cathedral..
The next day, the three of us ventured over to the port of Valencia. Oh, it was almost 70 degrees outside! Absolutely incredible. I had to practically hold mom back from jumping in the water. The beach really was gorgeous, I couldn't believe that it was actually November. Well after we perused the port for awhile, we decided to get going on our hike to Calatayud.

The Port of Valencia, not too bad for November, eh?

She really didn't want to move....
Look how happy there are to be in Spain!

In our next chapter of 'The parents are in Spain": how the parents climbed the Castle of Calatayud, Dad continues to say thank you instead of gracias, and Karli and Emily learn a new card game.....will they make it?