Monday, March 5, 2012

Post 9: "Remember how we're supposed to be in Granada?"

El Catedral de Seville
The plan for this past weekend was to fly to Seville, Spain, and then immediately get on a bus to Granada.    That was the plan; however, my friends and I decided when we arrived in the Seville airport to just stay in Seville.  The quote of the weekend quickly became, "Remember how we're supposed to be in Granada?"  We quickly called our hostel in Granada to cancel our reservations with the excuse that we were dumb tourists who didn't realize that the hostel we booked was in Granada and not Seville.   It might have been a little bit of a lie, but when people stereotype about American tourists, sometimes you need to turn lemons into lemonade and use that stereotype to your advantage.  We found a new hostel to stay in and were ready to explore Seville.  Our first impression: this city is beautiful.  By the end of the trip, it was truly hard to leave.  We all made the mature decision to return back to Bilbao, but the windy, rainy weather that welcomed us back really made us question ever leaving Seville.

Plaza de España
Seville truly felt like a vacation.  We ate some amazing homemade gelato, kicked a soccer ball around with some locals, toured the city in a horse-drawn carriage, enjoyed each other's company while sipping on sangria, relaxed in the sun's warmth, watched a little flamenco dancing, and saw some amazing things.  We saw the Catedral de Seville, which is the third largest gothic cathedral in the world.  It was huge (obviously) and absolutely beautiful.  It did make me a little sad though that the cathedral really doesn't function as a cathedral anymore and has become almost solely a tourist attraction.  They even charge admission.  We also saw the Plaza de España, which is definitely one of the most amazing sights I've ever seen.  It was built for the Iberio-American Exposition of 1929, a world's fair.  This plaza is decorated with beautiful hand-painted tiles.  This plaza is exactly how I imagined Spain to be before I came.  In the plaza, there is a small moat which people navigate through with row boats.  The tourists on the row boats entertained us for hours.  Apparently, it's not universally known that you have to use both oars to move the boat and that using only one oar will make the boat circle.  We also some beautiful gardens in the Alcázar, a royal palace in Seville that was originally a moorish fort.  The gardens here were awesome on their own, but the fact that there were peacocks roaming freely throughout the grounds made the palace even more amazing.

One of the gardens in the Alcázar
Another highlight of the trip was definitely the food.  Ironically, we ate very little Spanish food.  Normally, I would think of this as a bad thing, but we've all been in Spain for awhile now and definitely needed a change of pace.  We found an amazing little Mexican restaurant the first night here and ate spicy food.  This is what Charlie Sheen would refer to as "winning."  Spicy food in Spain is unheard of.  If they warn you that something is spicy, chances are it is usually about as spicy as an ice cream cone.  We also ate some delicious Italian food with shockingly small portions.  Being used to American portions, I almost split the pasta dish I ordered with a friend.  The dish came with about 10 noodles.  Thank goodness we didn't share.

I think a big part of why the weekend was so great was because I was surrounded by such great new friends.  I know that one of the hardest parts about leaving Spain will be leaving them.  Hopefully our newfound love of traveling will help us to see each other in the U.S.

In other news, I'll be exploring Madrid next weekend with all of the students in my program here.  I'm sure it will be another great trip!  I hope all is well for everyone and that my fellow Illini had a safe and fun Unofficial.  Until next time... ¡Adios!

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