Monday, September 28, 2009

Viva su vida como si cada día fuera el último....

Sunday was a pretty eventful day. Churros con chocolate and then an afternoon of studying. Despues Maria and I took a walk through Garcia Lorca Park. There was a festival this weekend (San Maria?)Yesterday we saw a parade, marching bands, soldiers and more. There were thousands of people in the streets with candles making their way to the catedral. It was quite a sight to behold. After dinner at a mexican restaurant I headed back to play some poker with Lewis, Florian and Adam. I was able to clear the table but Adam is really good at poker so we just split the pot. I think we have decided to make it a weekly occurrence (sundays).

It'll be nice to get out of Granada for a few days. We leave for Madrid on Thursday and Cabo de Gata on Monday. My Spanish has improved a lot in one month, I almost feel like I should blog in Spanish instead.

Well its Siesta time so I should get some sleep before a long night of studying, manana tendrámos el examen final.

Hasta Luego

I'll let you know how the test went tomorrow (hopefully good news)

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Hike, originally uploaded by starkey555.

Small clip from the hike.... check out the pics as well

Hacer caca, escalar y pena

Today was our intense hike up in the mountains behind the Alhambra. Well I guess they would be considered foothills. We started our hike in Plaza Nueva and moved up along the walk way to the cemetery. It was interesting to see all of the kids that had been out at the discoteca and never got a wink of sleep. We began our trek at 10 am in the morning and made our way up the mountain. We lost some people early on, apparently they decided to follow another group that "looked a lot like ours". After we reached the cemetery we turned and hiked up another set of hills. The hills were filled with olive trees and on the path we encountered many runners and insane bikers that were taking some insane routes down the sides of the mountain. When we arrived at the top everyone broke out there lovely meals that the senoras made them, us residence kids pulled our bocadillos out and realized that they were frozen solid. Maria, Chryssi, Darly and I made our way over to some playground equipment and situated ourselves on slides, swings and totter things. Then we proceeded to thaw our sandwiches by breathing on them, or hugging them so that they would warm up. I don't know why Scarlet (the cook) froze them.

So there we were, sitting on top of a mountain on play equipment thawing our sandwiches when this girl Emmy came over to a building near us looking for a bathroom. Once she realized that it wasn't a bathroom she started to freak out. Apparently she had to crap and didn't know what she was supposed to do. So one of the other girls came over with a plastic bag and demonstrated how to tuck the bag under herself to catch the caca. Well this had everyone in a riot of laughter. Inma thought it was hilarious and I even saw Raul (Inma's man) crack up. So there went Emmy off to the edge of the mountain to crap in a bag ( I don't see why she didn't just poop in a hole or something). Needless to say, our meal wasn't the best one. I made it through most of the bocadillo de jamon y queso  and punted the rest over the ridge and into the valley.

Our way back down was more exciting, twists and turns and everything was on little paths on the side of the mountain. I've always been one for exciting hikes. I wish I could have brought my mountain bike with me. After 4 hours of walking we arrived back at Jardines. I went out for some food and came back and slept off the pain in my legs. Now its time for an exciting night!!

Hasta Luego

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spainglish Students

There's nothing worse then starting up a conversation in english and having it come out with Spanish grammar structure. I seem to be losing coherent english structures as I study Spanish. Its not just me its everyone, its actually quite comedic, we have a new language. Daryl call is Granadan English. I figure I should introduce everyone here, I know they all read the blog so I'll try to be as accurate as I can.

First up there is Maria (for those of you reading this that don't know her). Maria is from St. Paul, MN she goes to St. Thomas with me and we've known each other for about a year. She is a very bright person and as much as she won't admit she has picked up the language very well, I've been studying it for almost 5 years and she has only had it in college, thats impressive. She's also my girlfriend for over a year now and it has been really nice to share the experience of Granada with her.

Next up is Chryssi. She rooms with Marisa, right below Adam and I.

Marisa her roommate is and kind of reminds me of Maria's cousin.

Adam is my roommate, I lucked out too. He likes soccer which already makes us friends (ha). He's also very good at Spanish, well he has been to Seville for a J-term before so it makes sense but this time over he placed into the superior level (impressive). He also goes to St. Thomas but we've never met up before. We have some of the same friends, small world hey! We're on the AIFS soccer team which should be fun, I'll have brush up on my skills.

Daryl is another one of the students that lives here at the residence with us. Daryldactyl (inside joke)

Breanna is another girl that is on the other side of the residence.

Jillian is Daryl's roomate and lives on the other side of residence. I think she is from the southern states.

Louis is a British student who has just recently arrived. He and Florian seem to get along very well. I could see myself hanging out with those two in the next few months.

Florian, oh boy, where to start. He is from the Canary Islands, Tenerife. He is a very, very outgoing, Spanish jock (but he's actually pretty nice, he's just obsessed with working out and running).
Alejandro is another student that lives across the street. I've talked with him a bit and he seems like a very down to earth guy.

Merella is on the other side of the residence, where most of the girls live. She reminds me a lot of my cousin Meg.

Merete is Maria's roommate. I think the two of them get along well and are probably laughing right now that I am writing about them.

Alan is from New York, actually I believe Cornell. He is studying here on his own, he just lives across the street but comes over to Jardines for meals and hangs out with the group.

Everyone here gets along for the most part and they are great bunch of students. We were even talking about having a reunion a few years down the road on a Cruise ship (or maybe back here in Granada).

There are also a lot of kids that I've met both Spaniards and students from AIFS. It would take a long time to list all of them.

To end I will say that It has ben almost a month since I left the States and I'm already feeling like I could lead a tour around Granada. I think I will start incorporating my Spanish into the blog as well just to practice using verbs and what not. Well its only 1pm here so if something exciting happens today maybe there will be another blog later tonight!

Hasta Luego


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

El Mar

Well last Saturday we left for Roquetas del mar, it was about a two hour bus ride south of Granada. I slept most of the way but early on I just stared out of the window at the mountains and valleys. I envy the Spaniards, they have such a beautiful country. After the two hour drive we unpacked in our rooms. There were two other guys in my room. Adam, my roommate at Jardines and John another kid from the Aifs group (he's from San Diego). The rooms were actually really nice, stove, microwave, sink, TV. The only thing that wasn't so nice was the broken shower. You had to hold the stopper so that the water switched from the bath head to the shower head. Other than that it wasn't bad at all. Everyone was itching to get out to the beach so we hurried over to the nearest beach entrance. The Aifs group was all situated together and we kinda just sat out there and enjoyed the sun and the ocean. I hadn't been in salt water in a very long time and it was nice to get back to the ocean. That night we had an amazing dinner and every stuffed themselves . We spent some more time on the beach later on at night, Jupiter was out and it was really bright.

The next day it was back to the beach. We walked over to a nearby pizzeria and had some AMAZING Hawaiian pizza.

Well to sum it up we ate good had a good time on the beach and even though I stayed another day it wasn't to hard to make it back. I'm starting to feel more like a traveller and less like a tourist. The total trip home took 6 hours but I suppose if we planned it out better next time then we'd have cut it down to 3 hours.

Its back to school, only 5 more days of this class and everything seems to be going okay. In class today I spoke for 5 min in a fairly fluent manner.

A lot of exciting stuff to come in the next week. Me voy

hasta luego

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


It rained today again. Maria and I were at a restaurant eating our La Merienda (between lunch and dinner) we had just finished some delicious pizza when it started to pour and a river of water came into the outdoor seating area. It was actually quite hilarious to see everyone caught off guard. Everyone was running for cover and everyone that was eating lifted their feet up as water rushed underneath us. I like this weather, it cools everything off.
Two more days of school and then its el fin de semana. I hope the weather changes this weekend though. Either way I'll just be glad to get out of Granada for a bit and see the ocean and soak up some sun. Classes are going well, both profesoras have there strengths and weakness. The first one goes out for smokes a lot but she is helping me learn the grammar. In the last week I've covered an entire semester at St. Thomas (money saver!) My second teacher has us speak a lot which I'm still not that good at. I speak in simple sentences because it takes to long to go through the process of speaking in subjunctive or conditional. So far we have only been talking in the past tense (there are 4 main ones). So ask me anything about the past and I'll be able to go on forever. My plans for extra curricular is Photography, futbol (soccer) and intercambio (speaking with a native) I'll have four classes starting up in October so I think I'll have plenty on my plate. I'm also reading Las Cuentas de Alhambra written by Washington Irving. I figure i'll read it in English and then get the Spanish version later. So looks like I've got the Granada culture, travel, language, and weather to fill up my schedule.
Adios, I'm posting pics tomorrow

No hay nada como la pena de ser ciego en Granada

Everytime I walk outside I am reminded of the vistas bellas (beautiful views) that await. Several storms have come through over the past 4 or 5 days and afterward the mountains are covered in mist. The temperature is cool and refreshing. The Spaniards look at me funny when they see I am out and about wearing shorts and a t-shirt, this is warm for me. My rule is once it snows then I break out the jeans. I guess I'm just the funny American. The other day I went out between rain storms and snapped some pictures of the catedral and the surrounding area. I'll try to post a few of them on the flickr site. Apparently there is a place up in the Albayzin that gives photography classes for 20 euros so maybe I'll take them up on their offer. Next storm that comes through I'll try and run up to the Albayzin and snap some pictures. Its hard to get a good view of the mountains here because the streets are all so close together.

This weekend is the beach which should be fun too. If I have time later I'll blog some more.


Saturday, September 12, 2009


New pics are posted and some video clips as well, hope to have more video up in the future so you can see what the city is like!!

Here's the link again

Friday, September 11, 2009


Wow, time in Spain is going by fast. I can already feel my Spanish improving, my ears are becoming more adept at picking up the accent here. The Andalusian accent makes it hard to understand what the residents here are saying (its hard enough comprehending the language itself) instead of buenos dias its "bueno dia" all the "s" are lost. "Sta luego" instead of hasta luego is a another common shortening. I figure the best way to learn is to listen so every time that I am out I try to eaves drop on conversations and practice comprehending what they are saying (I don't think they ahve anything to worry about, I cant understand much yet). Most of the time I just hear people talking about work or gossiping but every once and a while I'm surprised by what I hear or for that matter see  here.

The other day after some some gelato Maria and I were sitting in Plaza Trinidad and people watching when a man came out of no where and started stalking pigeons that were eating in the plaza. Things just got bizarre from then on out. He started saluting them and acting like he was their general. Then he proceeded to stalk them again, yelling random stuff at them. One older man with a bright button up shirt and a women with a lot of jewelry and a camera walked through the plaza (I can only assume they were tourists). The "pigeon" man walked towards them and I could see the older man swing his backpack around to the front and grasp it firmly. The man circled the tourists and kept yelling gibberish (could have been Spanish) until they couple had left the plaza. Then the man proceeded to talk to the pigeons and began marching around. 

Granada certainly is an interesting and fascinating place but every now and then (as with any city) you are reminded of the poverty and diversity of its inhabitants. After about 12:00am you start seeing more and more borachos (drunks) walking around the streets. Hostel Jardines is located near the older part of the city and in much safer area than other parts of Granada. The eastern part of town (where we are) is close to the Alhambra, the mountains, the Albaicin, and the cathedral. The streets are small and quaint and there are always multitudes of Spaniards out talking and enjoying late night tapas, a very enjoyable environment. Tomorrow we head the the Albaicin (and old barrio located near the mountains (neighborhood)), I'm so excited! I'll take some good pics with my Nikon and upload them next week!!

We are having numerous internet issues here so mom maybe instead of e-mail I'll send a carrier pigeon over there with some postcards!! 



Thursday, September 10, 2009

One place for all my pics

They have the location on them so you can see exactly where I took them !!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pan con Chocolate

While walking to class I stumbled upon a store that sells pastries an bread and one of there specialtiesis a pan con chocolate. I've become addicted to this tasty treat and grab it every morning or so since the breakfasts are so small. I enjoy walking everywhere and its a nice change from los estados (plus I don't have to worry about buying gas). I find that with all the walking and the smaller meals I am starting to lose weight. I've started to journey around and find the best tapas bars (I mean after all they are FREE!). Bar Roca and another cafe south of here are so far my favorites. The customs here in Spain were confusing at first but I'm starting to get used to them now. Here are some differences that I have noticed so far:

1. Propinas or tips are seldom given. If you are going to tip it is usually because you really liked the cerveza or the meal and then its only 5% or so.
2. When you (a family or a group) are at dinner and the phone rings it is considered rude to not pick up the phone. Once the person explains they are in the middle of dinner the person on the other side says vale vale (ok) and shortens their conversation.
3. If you are asked to come over for dinner you ALWAYS refuse (not being mean but just say I have homework or something else going on) the first time you are asked. If they insist you refuse the second offer. Only after the third offer or they insist again do you accept. This one confused me but how I understand it is, if you accept the first offer then it is not sincere. If the family insists several times then it is a sincere offer and return.

I'm off to lunch, but I'll blog some more later!!

Hasta luego


Monday, September 7, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

London Pics here

More to come

Alhambra y Granada

I'm so glad that we have the weekends free to wander about the city and really do whatever we want. Today we woke up, ate a small breakfast (pan toastado) and walked over to Plaza Nueva to meet the rest of the AIFS students. We had a special trip planned to the Alhambra which is a Moorish settlement (now turned monument). After a very, very steep hike we met up with two guides and split into groups. I've always been a bit of a history buff and I was very excited to take the tour. Our guide was was very knowledgeable and I got some great pictures (which I hope I will be able to upload...) Once I upload them to flickr I'll write detailed descriptions for each one. The tour was a great way to learn more about the city and its history. In 711 the Muslims invaded Spain from the south and conquered most of the country in only 7 years (a fairly fast take over in those days) all except the upper Basque area which was protected by the Picos de Europa in the north. The Spanish began their reclaim of the area but it took them over 500 years to reclaim the land. So the culture of Granada and most all of Spain is tied into the culture of the Muslims. Spanish language, architecture, etc all have Muslim influences. The Alhambra served as a fortress of sorts housing a small city of 2,000 people. So its rather a complex of buildings/palaces and gardens rather than one palace.

Outside the walls higher on the hill behind the Alhambra is the summer home of the Sultan. The gardens there were absolutely gorgeous. And the palace itself is a work of art. It is designed to move air through the corridors and out the other side, allowing it to be cooler during the day. Look for the pictures coming soon and there will be more information about each section.

Well siesta is almost over and the city is starting to fill up once again. I have errands to do since its still another week without clean clothes, maybe even do some hand washing....

Not much for dinner tonight so I might go up to the cathedral and sit down for dinner at one of the Italian restaurants.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Its been a interesting few days....

Well classes are done with for the week and we have the weekend to look forward to. The Alhambra tomorrow and then Sunday to rest. I find myself thinking in both Spanish and English now. We've only had 8 of the 80 hours so far but that is equivalent to 2 and a half weeks of class at St. Thomas. The class is 4 hours long and split into two 2 hour parts with two different teachers. I'm in the Kenia building which is about a 5 min longer walk past the center for modern languages. Leah is also in that building, and yes Mom I did get in touch with her finally. My class seems suitable enough. Its a lot of Spanish but then again we are in Spain. I try to keep my days  fairly open for going on walks or watching Spanish TV. Around 2pm everything shuts down and everyone heads home for siesta and lunch. I have yet to take a siesta but today i might break that trend. I was able to get a good phone for use over here and it was fairly cheap 20 euros or so.

My favorite thing to do is walk around the city and just explore, I'm starting to get a mental map of the city. I find the more I speak, listen and write in Spanish the more the comfortable the city feels. One thing that is nice about Granada and the province that it is in (Andulucia) is that there are tapas gratis, free appetizers!! Buy a drink, cerveza or sangria and you get tapas.

I haven't been able to get a good internet connection to upload my photos but I am hoping that tomorrow or Sunday I will be able to have over 100 posted!

The meals here are wonderful, fruit, gazpacho, salads, jamon y huevos and much more!! I'm adjusting to the heat and the way the city works around it. Night time is when the city comes alive! Maria and I have walked up to the catedral at night and its a wonderful sight. (i'm stuck in spanish mode so some of my sentences may sound a little weird)

I'll post a link soon with some pics if I can find internet fast enough to upload them.

As for now thats all!