Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's Day in the Castles of Spain


My Valentine’s Day started off well with a very nice package from home, (thanks!) and continued to get better.

Although this wasn’t my favorite trip, it was still enjoyable. We went on the tour of Castles within my province; this included stopping in three different cities, all in one day!

To start off, we went to the small pueblo of Tordesillas. This is the castle where Juana la Loca lived. Unfortunately for you, this is the only view you’ll get of the castle…photos were a big no-no inside of the historic castle.

We also went to the museum where the Treaty of Tordesillas. With some free time I explored the city, the Plaza Mayor & some interesting looking trees.

We then boarded the bus and went to the Castle of Portillo, in you guessed it, the city of Portillo. Here I went down 100 some odd steps to see the bottom of the well… as I stepped closer to the bottom, the amount of water dripping on me increased & the steps were slipperier. Let’s just say I felt like taking a shower after.

Then I climbed to the top of the castle to see this view of Portillo.

Here are some other snap shots of the castle.

Hungry we stopped for lunch..Jaime played artist and Nick took a nap.

We then went to an authentic Roman house…it looked like we were going into a concentration camp, but fortunately, it was just the way it was built. After visiting the ruins of the house, we enjoyed a presentation of “a Roman household.”

After we returned, I went out with some friends & had a great night in the city :)


Monday, February 16, 2009

The Sisterhood of the Contraltos.

As I’ve alluded to in other posts, I joined the University choir here. It’s been a great experience & I think I’m approaching my third week of attendance! With time, I’ve met more and more people in the choir and I really enjoy the conversations and laughter that they bring to my life every Wednesday and Friday evening.

Well Sunday I had an amazing experience! The altos had a fiesta, it’s something that they do once a year (other than Christmas & other choir gathering), and they invited me. Me!

I had to bring a dish, which was an adventure in and of itself because I don’t know what to bring to a dinner in another country?! So after much debate, I ended up bringing a chorizo (chorizo originated from Spain and is like a ring of sausage back home, but it’s pork).
As if deciding on what to bring wasn’t challenging enough, I was faced with another challenge. After paying for my groceries, the food and beverages remained at the end of the register. Confused, I asked the cashier if there were bags and she said there were none! So here I am with more than a handful of food, only a jacket, and Spanish people with eyes like, “are you going to clear your stuff off?” I stuffed what I could into my jacket and carried the rest by hand; fortunately, the grocery store is just down the street and no one tried to rob my purchases!

For the fiesta, we also did a gift exchange & played the “open a gift or rob one” game! 10 euro limit was all I had to go off, again, another country, what do you buy?! This is what I bought; cappuccino packages, Lindt chocolates, a mug, and gourmet nuts & candy. The girl who received it is a sweetheart and at least acted like she loved it.

Here’s what I received (a Fondue set):

I ate so much food! It was delicious – really – delicious! Here are some of the pictures of what we ate & ate & ate … (I’m not going to explain what everything is cause that would take too long, but I’ll try to remember when I return).


After the feast, we played a thinking card game. Learning how to play a game that even the Spanish women didn’t understand at first was rather challenging…it’s okay, I only made a fool of myself every half hour or so :) Then we sang Karaoke (appropriate,right?) with a Karaoke game for Play Station…a little rare, but fun none the less.

The fiesta lasted the entire afternoon & was a great way to spend a Sunday. Great food…great company…great memories.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weekend in Valladolid

Time is - = == -- -- ___Flying!

I just finished my first week of tests in a Spanish University. Of course I've had harder tests back in the States, but something about taking all courses in Spanish puts an interesting twist on things :)
There's been a lot of protests here lately, umemployment rates are increasing and workers do not feel their work hours and conditions fairly represent their wages. Here's a picture from a protest that took up the whole street and didn't permit any cars to go through.
I joined a choir group here...it's the first time I've actually had time to commit to such a pastime for, well, years! The first night I went with one other friend, who has since decided it's not really for her, which makes me the only one from my group that's going. It's really been enjoyable, we practice 4 hours a week, combined with the 30 minutes it takes me to get there, it's a good 6 hour a week commitment. Practicing with them is a great way for me to practice Spanish, both with the choir members, but also when the director does oral exercises that requires me to repeat things orally as well. Slowly, but surely, it's getting easier...

I spent my first Saturday in Valladolid! Unfortunately, it was rather rainy but that didn't stop me from exploring the city. For starters I went to the "La Mercadilla" or Market. To put it simply, if you're looking at a map, I went (accidently) as far to the left as possible and needed to be as far to the right as possible. It didn't dampen things though, because it was great to explore other parts of the city. When I finally found the market, I was greeted with sales pitches yelled into my ear. They sell anything from shoes to jeans to shirts to jewelry to socks to purses to things that look stolen. I didn't buy anything because a) I was too intimidated by the yelling and b) all the people crammed onto one sidewalk between two sides of vendors got to me.

Saturday night entailed the usual going out to the bars and staying out until 6 in the morning :)
Sunday I got up early and set off for the "Sunday Market" thinking it would be different from Saturday's, but it really was a lot of the same vendors. The rain was stronger than Saturday too, so I don't think it was a real impression of a 'normal' Sunday. This market takes place in the parking lot of the Soccer stadium and is surrounded by some pretty greenery...a half hour walk took me 3 hours because of all the detours.

Sunday's are a great day here; everything's pretty much closed and is observed as a day of rest...exactly what I need at the end of the week.
Hope all is well!