A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: KaiDoo

The White City on a Hill

About 1 month into my program I decided to take a day trip with some fellow classmates and we decided on a city called Ronda. I was not sure what was there, but only told to see the ‘gorge’ or ‘abyss’. After taking a rather long bus ride, I found myself riding up a giant plateau with a city of white sitting on top.

Ronda is an incredibly beautiful place, but beyond the breathtaking sights there is not much else. It is home to one of the oldest bullfighting rings in Spain and has a mix of strange museums. I ended up going to the Bandit Museum, which was surprisingly uninteresting. To my surprise however, we bumped into a renaissance fair and were able to taste a great variety of desserts and shop among a strange collection of artisan goods. The visit ended with a small hike out to a great viewpoint of the city before climbing back aboard the bus.
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The giant bridge that connected two parts of the city on different plateaus.
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A view from some public gardens behind the city.
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The renaissance fair we stumbled upon.
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A view of the city high above the ground.
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A horse that was roaming free in the area that our hike took us.
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The view from the front of the city, where the short hike ended.

Posted by KaiDoo 07:56 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Sevilla in Ruins

I know it has been a VERY long time since I have last updated my blog, but I will be continuing it! The problem is that I again have no internet in my home stay and the internet at my school is rather terrible because it always has at least 10 students using the wireless all at once to Skype and e-mail. I’ve currently been in search of a trusty internet café from which to begin delivering more postings.

So as some of you may already know, this semester I am in Seville instead of Madrid. It has been a drastic change and I am only just finding myself settling in. It was a hard adjustment at first because I had returned to Spain, but back to a different place and with none of the same people. I had a hard time relating to the other American students and felt like one in a crowd. The city itself is significantly smaller and calmer than Madrid, which has been nice but sometimes frustrating. Suffice to say I am finding the local haunts and making friends with my fellow students, and it looks like this is going to be a very good semester.

To start you off I am not posting pictures of Seville, but from the ruins of Italica. This is a Roman city that was uncovered not far from Seville. It was the birth place of two emperors of the Roman empire, Trajano and Adriano (I am not sure if they have different names in English). We were taken out there on a group field trip our first weekend and while it was rainy, it was very awing to be in such an ancient and historic site.

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This is a mosaic that has been miraculously spared by time. It is in what was most likely the house of a very wealthy man in the city, as mosaics were often constructed by slaves. It depicts several of the Roman gods, after which the days of the week were named (with the exception of Sunday).
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A snap shot of the remnants of what used to be the baths.
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An old oven.
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The coliseum from above. The center there was covered by large panels of wood and would hold lions, or sometimes they would remove the wood and flood the center, in which they would set toy boats afloat and have re-enactments of historic battles.
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To give you an idea of the size. The stadium seating was actually another level higher, but over time it fell down.

Posted by KaiDoo 07:57 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

But Where are the Lions?

Granada, situated in the south of Spain, was one the last Moorish kingdom in Spain and happens to be where my last visit has been. After more than 6 hours on a bus, I was more than delighted to find that our school had put us up in a hotel that was not only located in the oldest and most historic section of the city (the old Arabic neighborhood), but it was also a palace once, built approximately 11 years after Columbus discovered the Americas. On top of that some of my friends decided to 'coincidentally' travel to Granada at the same time and we were able to run around the city together.
Granada is famous for 2 major things (there are probably more, but they seem to fall short in comparison to the awesomeness of these two things). 1st is the mighty Alhambra, an incredible fortress/palace/town/gardens/convent built by the old Moorish kings to repel any attacks by the Catholic Kings of Spain. The entire palace was incredible and insanely intricate and decorated. Sadly the most famous patio was lacking it's giant fountain with 12 lion statues, as they were being restored... 2nd is that with any drink you buy at the bars in Granada, you are given free of charge a rather hefty plate of tapas (small appetizer-esque foods). In essence if you go to get some beers, you also get a dinner included.
Granada was all in all an incredible place, and just being in Andalusia got me very excited for my next semester in Seville!
Anyway tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I hope you all have/had a great one with lots of delicious foods! I know I'm sorry I'll be missing the fantastic food my Aunty Sandy always makes!
¡Abrazos!
~Kai

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A market in Granada, in narrow Arabic style streets.
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The church in Granada. It just so happens as my companions and I were inside taking pictures, a large crowd of well dressed people entered and a wedding began. I quickly tried to flee but my friends decided to stay and watch a few minutes before we slipped out.
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Some Christmas sweets common in Granada. The majority were made of almonds and were incredible. These particular sweets were bought from a convent where the nuns could not show themselves. What we had to do was ring a bell, talk through a window/door contraption with a wheel in the middle that had dividers to prevent any possibility of seeing each the other side. They put the sweets on the wheel and we put the money, and the wheel was spun to exchange. It was all very cool.
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Where we ate the sweets. You can see the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background covered in snow.
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One of the patios in the palace of the Alhambra. A common thing in the architecture is to put some form of water in the middle and force the person to walk around instead of directly. It was to force people to think during the extra time to get around instead of just act.
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An example of how highly decorated the walls were... sooo incredible.
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A unique style palace started by Carlos V inside the actual Alhambra fortress, due to a revolt by the workers/taxpayers it was not actually completed for many centuries.
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The original burial site of Queen Isabel, the Catholic queen of Spain, who curiously was buried inside the Alhambra, the last kingdom of her enemy.
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A view of the Alhambra with Granada in the background.
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A breathtaking garden in the Alhambra, this was in the Generalife section if you ever get to visit.
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Another angle of the same garden.

Posted by KaiDoo 07:33 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Gaudi-Palooza

Barcelona was a short stay during the end of my vacation time, but despite the rain that harassed us a couple times it was quite incredible. For those of you not too familiar with geography or the autonomous communities of Spain, Barcelona is situated in the Northeast corner of Spain in Cataluña. The language there is actually Catalan, however everything is also written in Castellano (the Spanish spoken throughout all of Spain) and English. It sits right on the coast and is a major vacation and tourist city.

There were quite a few impressive sites to the city, but I found myself mostly infatuated with the architecture of the city. Barcelona is not only famous for the architectural works of Gaudi, but also Miró and others I’m sure. The city has a certain energy to it and many quirky things to discover. One of my favorite eccentricities of the city is when it gets dark and food vendors with amazing samoas come out. It was completely unexpected but greatly appreciated.

¡Adios por el momento!
~Kai

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One of the many houses the Gaudi designed in the city of Barcelona. There are at least 4 if not more, though they were way too pricey to enter. Gaudi is famous for his innovative organic designs and use of materials.
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La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral of Gaudi in construction. It is enormous and is so incredibly interesting. They have been working on it for a very long time and it is projected to be finished around 2026 or so. This was Gaudi’s last major project before he died, hit by a tram. Engineers are trying very hard to reproduce all his models and plans and create it exactly the way he planned. It was incredible to be inside the cathedral before it was finished because all cathedrals tend to be very old and created centuries before I existed, but once it’s complete I can say I saw it while it was in the process of being built.
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A view of Barcelona from Park Güell, a property designed by Gaudi, turned into a public park by the city.
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One of three crosses that sit on top of a peculiar structure within the Park Güell.
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The lizard being hugged by the mysterious girl is incredibly famous and more or less the symbol for the park and maybe Gaudi’s work in general.
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The park entrance. I more or less fell in love with the park and its intriguing shapes and colorful mosaics. The houses reminds me of ginger bread houses during Christmas time.
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Barcelona city with a tower from the Museum of Gaudi, within the park. It was around here that I heard one of many street performers singing and was compelled to spend 10 euros to buy a CD of hers. There was something unique about her voice and use of the Catalan language that was so entrancing.
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A beautiful church in the center of the city that looked something like ruins from an Indiana Jones movie.
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A snap shot from the dock in Barcelona. In the picture there is the sea, the mountain, a boat, a monument (the giant rings), and a very dramatic sky.
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The beach in Barcelona, which was cold but very therapeutic for me. In all my time away from water I forgot how calming the sounds of the ocean and the smell of salt is. It was fantastic getting to take my shoes off and walk in the sand a bit while watching the waves break. As great as it all was, the smell and the sounds were still different from those in Hawaii and I think I won’t really get my fix till I get back home for Christmas.

Posted by KaiDoo 07:40 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Oú Est Le Toilette?

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent the other week in Paris and then Barcelona. Paris was everything I imagined and more, the visit definitely fueled my desire to learn French (after I work on my Spanish more and maybe actually learn enough Chinese to communicate). The streets in Paris are huge and the city is full of trees and water (the Seine and canals), it was all so glamorous and picturesque! When I got to Madrid I thought that it was a big city with so much history, but compared to Paris it is very small and new. On our first day my friend and I looked at a map and figured that we could walk from one point to another in half an hour, however after forty-five minutes of walking we were a little lost and only approximately half way to our destination! Regardless we did end up walking the majority of our stay and I got to see life in the side streets and the quirky character of the neighborhoods. The stereotype of the French seems to be that they are snooty and pretentious; however everyone I met seemed very friendly and kind. Especially kind were the workers of the Boulangeries, which I frequented often. My goal while in Paris was to survive entirely on the fantastic baguettes and pastries, and in truth I came close to realizing this goal. All in all I can only really say that Paris was fantastic and I look forward to visiting the city again some day in the future. Adieu! ~Kai

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The Eiffel Tower was my first stop and instead of taking the elevator up I decided to take the stairs, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. As is probably usual, the lines were very long and considering the top was in the clouds I decided to only climb up to the second floor of the three.
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Not a bad view of the city if I say so myself. Those of you familiar with Paris might be able to pick out some of the famous buildings and monuments.
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The Seine River and La Défense.
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Another tower shot.
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The Arc de Triomphe, which has to be entered through a tunnel because the giant round is impossible to cross.
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Museé Picasso, which was very hard to navigate… It was fun and quirky though!
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Notre Dame, which was actually very pretty. There was also a choir singing inside and it was very cool getting the echo singing effect while walking through the gorgeous cathedral.
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A street performer at Sacre Coeur. He was very impressive.
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The actual cathedral of Sacre Coeur; it sits on top of a giant hill and is incredible both inside and out. The general area was probably my favorite of all of Paris. In the picture if you notice a silver goblin man, he is a street performer that was applying make up and happened to get caught in my picture.
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Here’s the view from in front of the cathedral.
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I tried to get a good picture of the actual palace of Versailles, but it is incredibly large and it was next to impossible to fit it in one picture. I settled for pretty pictures in the garden and the Trianons. The palace however was impeccable and instilled in me the great desire to live on an enormous property filled with marble, mirrors, and gold.
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The Gran Trianon, one of the elaborate houses on the actual grounds of Versailles that the king would live in for a while when he tired of the palace.
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One of the many fountains in the gardens.
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On the way to the Louvre I bumped into this neat statue and pretty church. With just the right angle they complement each other very nicely.
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The Louvre with it’s giant glass pyramids. The Louve was INCREDIBLE! Not only does it contain famous works, such as the Mona Lisa and Venus di Milo, but it has so many pieces of art. My roommate from the hostel told me that if you were to spend 30 seconds looking at each painting in the Louve, it would take you 4 months to see all the paintings. Furthermore I heard that the Louve closes off different sections each day because it is so large and doesn’t have sufficient workers to keep everything open. What is even more is that it has amazing architecture and enormous gardens. Fantastic…

Posted by KaiDoo 07:41 Archived in France Comments (0)

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