Adventure is Out There!

"¡Si no has visto Granada, no has visto nada!"


Reblogged from padfoot-the-lost-boy
i-am-a-lost-boy-at-heart:

If this didn’t make you cry you’re not human.

i-am-a-lost-boy-at-heart:

If this didn’t make you cry you’re not human.

Saying Goodbye

So I leave in a day and a half, and it still hasn’t totally hit yet. (sound familiar? Haha)

What.

The.

Heck.

It doesn’t FEEL like I’m leaving. Some part of my brain is like “Oh yeah, you can just pop on back whenever you want. Nothing will change. Everything will be the same.” But we all know that’s not totally true. I had my last class today. It was weird seeing my friends turn in their tests and then just wave goodbye. It’s hard to believe that was probably the last time I’ll probably ever see them. It is just too crazy to comprehend.

I think the hardest thing will be saying goodbye to the kids at the daycare I volunteer at tomorrow morning. I love those little kids and have gotten so attached to them that it’s going to be hard saying goodbye. I also love the lady I work with Irma, she’s so sweet and patient. I’m going to miss them all so much.

Not to mention Toni, my homestay mom Toni, my Intercambio Maria-Jose, and all the friends I’ve made at the CLM in my classes or in my program. Making connections is what has made studying abroad worthwhile, but at the same time, it’s what’s going to hurt the most. Some of them I know I’ll probably see them again in the future, but others I’m not so sure about.

Gahhhhhh, I feel like I’m just one big blob of uncontrollable emotions. Like I’ll be fine one minute and then the next I’ll start sobbing. (I dislike this feeling immensely.) But I guess that’s just part of the process, huh?

These last few days I’ve been running on Spanish time, and it’s been absolutely wonderful. I’ve just been packing a little here and there, going to places I like to go, doing what I want to do, with no rush or worry. It’s been really nice. Tomorrow I have to whole day free, so I’m going to the daycare, checking in for my flights (13 hours from Madrid to LA. ;-;), finishing up the last of my packing, going on one last Intercambio, and then going out for tapas one last time with my friends. Sounds like the perfect way to end the semester to me. 

If you’ve ever been curious to see what Granada looks like, here’s a little taste! I’ve been to/ know almost all of these places :] (I apologize if you’re sick of the Gandam Style/ Harlem Shake videos.)

Quick Update

Hey guys,

So I know it’s been a while since I updated, but life has been pretty crazy! I went to the Barcelona one week, went to the beach this past weekend (still. so. sunburned.), then I have finals to study for this upcoming week, along with packing/saying goodbye/seeing places and people for the last time/ being an emotional wreck. 

These last three weeks had definitely been the hardest. I want to go home and see my family (and probably you, too if you care enough to still be reading this haha) but I don’t wanna leave just let. I’ve only felt like I’ve finally got the hang of Spanish these last couple months and there’s so much more to see and do and I’d LOVE to be able to come back to Granada but I have no clue if that’s even in the cards for me. So I have no idea if it’s a “goodbye forever”, or a “I’ll see ya later” It’s also been crazy thinking how much has changed, especially how much I’ve changed. I’m definitely more independent and confident and who knows how much else! haha

Granada will always have a piece of my heart and I will always consider it “home.” I’m totally in love with this place and can’t see my life without it.

This might be last post while still in Granada (I’m going to make a mushy “Thank you” post and probably make some updates after I come back home, but we shall see).

Even Frank Sinatra knows what’s up!

No pasa nada en Barcelona

The first weekend in May, my friends Lindsey, Rachel and I went to Barcelona. This is probably my second favorite trip (even though a lot of crazy things happen) and that’s probably because we didn’t have a legit plan, at all. I’ve never said “we have plenty of time” and “no pasa nada” (no worries or don’t worry about it) so much in my entire time here. Our AIFS trips are always cool, but it was nice to get away from the group and not have to be on a strict schedule and then have small chunks of free time.

Thursday

Thursday afternoon Lindsey and I caught the 4:15 bus to the bus station (so we could go to Malaga to catch our flight) and it was SO FULL. I mean, it was pretty cozy when we got on. An then even MORE people got on (it was kinda funny hearing all the heavy sighs at each stop whenever the people by the windows saw how many people were getting on. But it only lasted about 15-20 minutes, so it wasn’t that bad. Then we got to the bus station, met up with Rachel and hopped on our hour and a half bus ride down to Malaga. Afterwards, we had to take a bus from the Malaga bus station to the airport (I’m realizing that this sounds really complicated lol) however, when we got to the airport to check in (because with Ryanair, you need to get your ticket signed… Yeah, it’s weird) and I realized I had forgotten my tickets on the bus. (I’m convinced its literally impossible for me to have a normal flight). But luckily, we got there so early, that we had time to print out my ticket again and get that all solved (the only problem was not having my tickets for the 1:30am bus from Malaga back to Granada. But this gets solved later) so we hung out in the airport and ate the bocadillos (sandwiches) our homestay moms made us (mine was legitimately bigger than my face… I was the last to finish) so we hopped on our 10pm flight and headed out to Barcelona!! Flying Ryanair was a pretty interesting airway since there was no assigned seating. But it was an experience nonetheless. At one point, I swore my head was going to explode from all the pressure in my head from going up and down so fast during our short flight! Then we landed and hopped in a taxi (since it was so late and none of us had been to Barcelona) and went to our hostel, Buba house. On the way, we saw our first Gaudí building all lit up and everything! it was soo pretty!! All of us were so tired that we just got ready for bed and knocked out.

Friday

We slept in Friday morning and had breakfast in the hostel. Then we went for a little walk around the city. We stopped in front of the Gaudí house (Casa Batlló) that we had passed on our way to our hostel so I whipped out my camera only to discover it had broken (I dropped it when I was frantically trying to find my tickets). However it’s not too bad and can totally be fixed when I get home… I’m just glad it broke now instead of at the beginning of the semester! (I can’t take any more pictures of lampposts! What shall I do?!?!) So we continued to walk around, got a little lost, went back to the hostel and figured out where we wanted to go. We ended up taking the metro going up to Monjuic (I definitely recommend getting the 10 use-pass, it was super handy!) We walked around the Olympic stadiums (one of them was under construction for the X-Games in a couple weeks), found a place to eat, and then just kinda wandered around. One of the girls at the front desk of the hostel recommended a castle/ fortress thing that was free to go to that had too views of the city. So we were on our way to that, when we walked by a park and then we kinda stopped to take pictures, and lay down and rest… for a couple hours lol. But it was really relaxing and fun. Then we kinda made our own path up to the fortress (not without hiking up some steep hills and cutting across some roads.) It was REALLY windy up at the fortress (just like home! Is it weird that wind makes me homesick?) but the views were gorgeous with mountains on one side, the beach/harbor on the other, and a sea of buildings in-between. Then we went back down the hill and hung out at this “magic fountain show that was supposed to happen, but the lady at the hostel told us the winter times not the summer times, so we sat there for 2ish hours before giving up and leaving. We went back to the hostel to find something to eat and ended up finding a nice, but low-ish budget restaurant. Each of us had a different kind of risotto and then we split dessert.

Saturday

We slept in again (this time because we had a snorer in our room) and had breakfast a little later than usual. Our plan was to go to the Sagrada Familia, and then to the beach, but we made the mistake of just asking to for directions for the Cathedral… so we went to a Cathedral… the Barcelona Cathedral (which is totally different. oops.) But it worked out fine, since we were planning on going to the beach and it was WAY closer to the coast than the Sagrada Familia. So we found a shwarma joint to grab food at and then ate it outside at a nearby park. Then, we headed over to the beach and spent the afternoon relaxing there. It was soooo nice to just relax and not worry about anything for a little bit (except getting sun burnt, that is). Afterwards, we went back to the hostel and took showers and got ready for dinner. We had made reservations at a place that we had seen the night before, but was really busy. We planned on going back to the Magic Fountain show now that we new the right time to go see it, but by the time we finished dinner, it had started to rain! None of us brought any legit rain gear, so we headed back to the hostel and played card games, like Go Fish, Crazy Eights, and Old Maid, which was still a lot of fun. We had a lot of good laughs that night.

Sunday

We packed up all our stuff and headed out at about 10:30 to go to the Sagrada Familia (for real this time) and Park Güell, both by Gaudí. On the way, we stopped by Casa Mila, another famous house designed by Gaudí. It was really cool, but I liked Casa Batlló better. I was planning on going into the Sagrada Familia, but it was kinda expensive and the lines were SO LONG that I would’ve been waiting all day just to go in (I stopped looking at how long the line was once it rounded the corner once, anything after that would’ve just depressed me). So we went up to Park Güell, which ended up being a 40-minute walk (a lot longer than I think any of us expected). But I think this was my favorite place in Barcelona. You could make rounds in the park as short or as long as you wanted, with little picnic areas and playgrounds for kids to play on. If we didn’t have our backpacks full of stuff, I would’ve loved to go on a hike through the forest in the back of the park, but I don’t think we would’ve finished in time to catch our plane home. Instead, we found a little restaurant nearby to eat at (it was already 1ish by then), then set off through the park. We avoided the super touristy area for as long as possible, but the crowds never seemed to die down. Fortunately, the farther back into the park you go, the less people there are. The park is up on a hill, so there were TONS of fabulous, breathtaking views of the city from every outlook. After a while, we stopped and got some ice cream and sat down in one of the little playground areas. We stayed in the park a little while longer and did the places that were SWARMING with tourists (not fun, but it was all really cool looking.) Later, we walked to the nearest subway station, got on the train to the airport and checked in (I didn’t loose these tickets this time, thank goodness). This flight was better than the first pressure-wise, but we had to wait an hour or so in line before boarding, which sucked. We got into Malaga 30 minutes early, which only made us 30 minutes later than expected, but it didn’t matter since our bus back to Granada wasn’t until 1:30am (it was about 10:00/30ish by then). When we got to the bus station none of the ticket holders were open and I couldn’t even try to buy a replacement ticket at the electronic ticket holder because the bus to Granada wasn’t showing up. So I had to talk to the bus driver. It was really scary (only because if I didn’t make it on the bus, I would’ve had to wait for the next one at 7:30am and the bus station closes at some point so I would’ve been roaming the streets of Malaga all by myself at night.) But luckily, the bus driver had a list of people who had paid and I was able to tell him my seat number and he let me on no problem (he didn’t even want to see my passport to confirm my ID). So we got back to Granada at about 3:30am, so we all took separate taxis home. My cab driver was really nice, but I was SO TIRED. I was really glad to be back home in my own bed in Granada.

Marruecos!

Last weekend, I had the chance to travel to Morocco with my program. I have to say that it was a really interesting experience that I’ll never forget! It was a little different from the rest of the trips we’ve gone on because it was mostly about just being in the city and exploring the culture rather than seeing sights and historic buildings, which I liked in this situation. It was really different than anything I have experienced and I’m glad I had the opportunity to go!

Friday I got up bright and early to go to the port in Tarfia (I usually get up early, so there wasn’t too much of a difference) it was about a 4-hour bus ride and we got a 30 min break at a rest stop. Afterwards, we had to go through security (pretty lax in comparison to airport security) and then hopped on the boat. It was my first time on a boat that size out in the ocean, so it was quite the adventure. It was pretty rocky, but I luckily didn’t get seasick! The lamest part of the ride was definitely waiting in line on the boat to get our passports stamped, because they only had one little guy in the corner on his computer inputting all the info with a big huge line that wrapped around the whole boat practically. But once we sat down it was a lot better. Then we got off the boat, met up with our tour guide, Nabil, got on a bus and went to have lunch in Tangier. We had a traditional meal of vegetable soup, lamb meatballs, and couscous (one of my favorite things that Toni makes). They always say that Moroccan food is spicy, but it’s not hot-spicy like Mexican food, it’s “there are a lot of spices in this food” spicy. You couldn’t really tell in the chicken or the couscous, but even though the soup wasn’t spicy at first, the spices hit afterwards and just seemed to sit on your tongue for the longest time.  Then they gave us mint tea and a little pastry for dessert (which tasted like dried pie crust covered in butterscotch). It was all pretty good! I really didn’t know what to expect, so it was nice to have food that has at least recognizable. Then we took a walking tour around Tangier, which was really interesting. They weren’t lying when they said that you’d smell things you’ve never smelled before! They weren’t all necessarily bad smells, just different smells that seemed to blend together as you walked by each tiny shop. Like the smell of fresh baked bread from a bakery, mixed with the smell of the poultry hanging up in the shop next door an the spices if the one after that with the natural scent of the street (which I have no real words to describe). Then we went into a pharmacy and had the opportunity to buy different remedies, spices, and cosmetics. Then we finished our tour of the city and went to the hotel. We were supposed to go to the caves of Hercules this afternoon, but our tour guide decided that it would be better if we did that the last day because its near the other places we’d be going. So we had a three hour break, which was kinda lame, because we couldn’t really explore the city or anything, but I got to have sparkling conversation with my roomies, so it was all good. We had dinner in the hotel, and then hung out on our rooms again for the rest of the night. It was hard to remember not to drink the water, especially when brushing your teeth or washing your face. 

We heard the news about Boston that night. My friend Rachel goes to school in Boston and had gotten a ton of e-mails from her school saying it was on lockdown. She was (obviously) all worried about her friends, but everyone ended up being okay. It was really crazy to think that we felt safer in Africa, in a second world country, than we would’ve in Boston that day…

 

The next day, we got up at 7:30 to have breakfast, which was really only bread and fruit (and if you wanted to play it safe and not eat the fruit, only bread). I thought there was a lot of bread in Spain. I thought wrong. There’s a whole lot more in Morocco. After breakfast, we hopped on the bus and headed to Tetuan, city a couple hours away. We toured the heart (and more industrialized) part of the city first and then made our way through the winding streets of the city. We stopped at a bazaar, and had the opportunity to buy souvenirs. I did not because you have to haggle/barter prices and that is definitely not my forte and these vendors (like the rest in the street) were kinda pushy, so the combo of the two kinda stressed me out. So we walked through the rest if the city and then got on the bus to go Chefchouen and get lunch at a restaurant in a hotel. Then we met up with a new tour guide who was the cutest little old man ever, who wore traditional Moroccan attire with his IPad under one arm, a fez on his head, and a Moroccan flag worn as a cape on his back. His voice was a little raspy (think Yoda), so he was kinda hard to understand, but he was pretty freakin’ cute. He taught us the word “habibi” which means “my sweet love” in Arabic, and we would randomly go “Hello habibi! Hello my sweet!” which was too cute (all the girls in our program within earshot would go “AWWWW!”). So he showed up around town, which was really interesting because nearly the whole town is painted blue. We went to a rug shop and had the opportunity to buy rugs, blankets, scarves ect. (these guys were nicer about bargaining, but still not my thing). Then we finished the tour and had the opportunity to do a little shopping. My friends got some henna tattoos and the lady doing them was nice enough to give me a little one for free. (She was really sweet!) Other people said they got henna for cheaper, but this lady was really sweet and had a one-year-old to support, so my friends were okay with paying a little bit more.) Then after the free time, we walked through a Kasbah (yes, we rocked it.) and then we started on our way back to the hotel. Unfortunately we go stuck in traffic along the way, but I made friends with a little boy in the backseat of a car and a little old lady who was on a bus next-door to us, so that was fun. When we finally got to the hotel, we had about 45 minutes to relax and get ready for the dinner-show we were going to. Which I was totally dreading because it includes audience participation, and I REALLY dislike things that include audience participation because they always seem to go for the people who stand out, like redheads, but luckily they didn’t pick me. The food was pretty good. It was exactly what we had for our first lunch (down the to spicy vegetable soup), which I was totally cool with.  That only lasted about an hour, and then we went back to our hotel to rest.

 

Sunday morning, we had breakfast and then we toured around Tangier and went to Asilah, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what we did first, because it’s all kind of a blur now…oops. But we stopped by the first lighthouse in Morocco, the beach, drove by some fancy looking palaces, drove though a place called “the California quarter” (because it apparently looks a lot like San Francisco and a lot of Americans moved here back in the day), and a place where we had the opportunity to ride camels! I did it, and it was super cool!! Then we went to the caves of Hercules, which I thought would’ve been bigger, due to all the hype, but it was pretty. They had a monkey on a leash for tourists to take pictures with and stuff, which I didn’t like (especially since they gave it a bottle of Coke and it was eating the plastic label. Not okay.). Next, we toured around Asilah (I think) and then we went to eat at a restaurant…whose menu was all in French. I felt so sorry for our Assistant Director Edu! He had to translate from French to Spanish and then Spanish to English in his head to tell us what half of the stuff was. I can only imagine how hard that is… I have problems when there are only two languages! Afterwards, we went to the port and boarded our ferry back to Tarifa, we landed there about 8pm and then had another four hour drive back to Granada. I felt grateful to have our regular bus driver, Jose back with us! (The bus drivers in Morocco were a little too aggressive/liked driving down the middle of the one lane roads.) I didn’t get much sleep on the bus, but it was nice to be back home in Granada, even at 12:30am. (And I actually made it to my 8:30am class the next day. It wasn’t pretty, but it happened.)

 

This weekend I’m just hanging out in Granada, trying to get stuff all ready for finals (eek!) and enjoy this last month here (I’ll write something else about that in a little bit) because next weekend I’m going to Barcelona with my friends and then next week I’m going to Costa del Sol with my program. I’m pretty stoked to see the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona; it’s going to be quite the adventure.  

Here Comes the Sun! (doo-doo-doo-doo)

After two months of cold and a month of rain, the sun is finally out in Granada! And man, does it feel good. I’m not usually one to get Spring jitters, but ohmygoodness it is SO FREAKIN’ HARD to do schoolwork when it’s so pretty outside (I think growing up in Southern California has spoiled me absolutely rotten, because I’m used to sun all the time).

Now don’t get me wrong, I was pretty content with the clouds and the rain for the most part I considered it a nice change from what I’m used to (and it made me feel like I was in “Singin’ in the Rain” all the time… i’m easily entertained) but when the sun came out, for the first time, oh man, it was like a whole new part of the city opened itself up. That’s the only way I can describe it. It makes really WANT to go take walks and WANT to go on adventures even more than before! It also makes me want to pack up all of my winter clothes out of sight and bring out my summer things (which I didn’t bring a lot of…oops.) I’m also very grateful to have sunscreen (thanks Lisa!) now because it has come in handy A LOT. (I tried buying sunscreen here, but they sell the sunscreen right next door to the tanning lotion and didn’t want to end up like an Oompa-Loompa (or a carrot, in my case) by mistake! haha) If I don’t have too much homework, I definitely go out and explore and it aways kinda feel like it’s a day wasted when I don’t get to… but hopefully I’ll be able to make the most of the month-ish I have left.(One month. I can’t believe it. GAHHH!) 

I don’t have too much else to update. I’m going to Morocco next weekend (which is sure to be an adventure), and Barcelona two weeks after that. This past weekend, I went to the caves of Sacramonte and the weekend before that I on a hike with some of the people in my program (which turned out to be WAY more of an adventure than I expected!)

Hasta Luego! :D

Ireland! (aka MY PEOPLE!)

My Grandma gave me something that no one else could: a trip to Northern Ireland and a chance to meet and discover new things about family that I (for the most part) didn’t know I had. I am SO grateful and thankful for her doing this for me and I hope she knows just how much I appreciate it. :]

(Confession: I don’t like tea. At all. But for this one week, I became a heavy tea-drinker, because it’s basically all I was offered (it was that or coffee, and I REALLY don’t drink coffee). SO I kept track of my tea intake to make myself feel better, or at least add a little bit of comic relief to my day lol.)

Saturday:

Cups of tea: 0

I hopped on a bus to get to the Granada Airport at 11am. It was really weird to see the places that I usually walk from a bus point-of-view. I got to the airport a couple hours early (my flight wasn’t until 2 or so) so by the time I got through security, I had about an hour and a half to kill, which was perfectly alright by me. So I got on my first flight to Madrid, no problem. Halfway through my flight (which was only about an hour long) I heard on of the other passengers say that their flight to Heathrow (my next destination) was cancelled because of the weather there, and my stomach just about dropped. So I booked it over to an info desk as soon as I got off the plane and they confirmed that it was cancelled. So I had to go over to the Iberia info desk and talk to them about getting a new flight. But of course, they next flight out to Heathrow was the next day. At 3pm. Just about 24 hours from where I was at that moment. Awesome. But Iberia was nice enough to hook me up with a hotel for the night that day a free shuttle to and from the airport, dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. However the hotel was only about 5 minutes away from the airport, meaning it was on the outskirts of the city, so I the only I just hung out in the hotel for the night. I ended up watching Storage Wars and Billy the Exterminator (Lesson Learned: I’m never living in the South. Ever.) I made friends with a lady that would’ve been on my flight with me, so we went to dinner together and talked a little bit (she is fluent in 4 languages, I was very jealous). After dinner, I just went back to my room and hung out a little bit, took a bath, and knocked out.

Sunday:

Cups of tea: 0

I attempted to sleep in (it was a fail, but oh well). I had a pretty late breakfast because I knew I probably wasn’t going to get much of a lunch or dinner. And then I re-packed up my stuff and went to the airport again. (I had the shuttle to the airport all to myself. Lol) I made it through security alright and then hung out for a little bit by my terminal until it was time to board. My flight was full of school kids on a trip (middle schoolers: my personal favorite. -_-) but one of the flight attendants was nice enough to move me to an aisle so I could sit in my own row, instead of being completely surrounded by them. Unfortunately, my flight was probably 35ish minutes late taking off and then another 10 or so landing. Giving me next to no time to reach get through security and board my flight (I might’ve actually made it if I landed in the same terminal that I was leaving from, but the shuttle to the new terminal was probably a solid 20 minutes by itself). So I missed my flight. (Aren’t Irish people supposed to be lucky?!?) SO I went to British Airways and told them my problem and they hooked me up with a new flight that was about 45 minutes later. (if they were going to set me up on another flight for the next day, I was legitimately going to start bawling.) But I got on my flight alright and found Margaret and Sam (the family that I was staying with – my grandma’s cousins, I have no idea what that makes them to me exactly) alright. So they took me from Belfast to Downpatrick and gave me a little something to eat and then I went to sleep because I was EXHAUSTED. (Did I mention it was FREEZING in Ireland? The high for the week was 37° F: the coldest spring they’ve had in 50 years. Needless to say, the electric blanket is one of my new favorite inventions, right up there with air conditioning and indoor plumbing.)

Monday:

Cups of tea: 3

Today I went to the Inch Abbey…or at least what is left of Inch Abbey. There’s not a whole lot of it left, but considering it was built in the 800’s I’d say what is there is in pretty good shape. Then I went to the Inch Parish Graveyard where some of my ancestors were buried in the early 1900’s, which is kinda insane to think about. Next, I went to Down Cathedral where St. Patrick is (supposedly) buried. It was very old and rustic looking on the outside, but very bright inside. Then we went down the hill and went to the St. Patrick Center, which was all about the life of St. Patrick (who would have guessed?!?) It’s fairly new and pretty cool. They had this one video at the end that takes you around Northern Ireland with these breathtaking helicopter-nature-shots of important places in the history of St. Patrick, which was awesome! Next (or maybe before the St. Patrick center? I honestly can’t remember.) I went to the Down County Museum, located in the old city prison. It was very interesting and more interactive than I thought it would’ve been. Then we went and had lunch in the café in the museum. Afterwards, we drove up to Saul Church, which was built to commemorate the first church St. Patrick built. It was SO small! Then we went back to Annacloy (the family home I stayed in) and then on to Comber to meet Ann (Sam and Margret’s daughter) and her family and have dinner, which was very nice (their dogs were SUPER friendly lol).

Tuesday:

Cups of tea: 5

(I’m almost positive I could’ve bled tea at this point. SO. MUCH. TEA.)

Today I just visited friends and family members of my grandma’s. I saw my grandmother’s friend Sally in the morning, and then my grandma’s cousin Mabel in the afternoon. Apparently, Mabel visited my grandmother when in 1995 (when I was 3), and then asked if I remembered her. (Surprise: I did not.) But she had pictures with my family and me so it was interesting to see those. Mabel took me around her town a little bit. I got to see the shore, the local golf course, and her church (where she plays the organ).

Wednesday:

Cups of tea: 1

Today, I went down to Dublin to visit my friends Lindsey and Rachel. I woke up to snow, so I was a little worried that the freeways would be closed, but everything turned out okay. I took a 2-hour bus ride down (It was fairly empty, which was nice). Once I met up with my friends (which wasn’t hard to do) we went to the Spire, and then to Trinity College and I got to see the Book of Kells (I geeked out just a little). For lunch, we went to Leo Burdock’s for their famous fish and chips (kinda – I got a fish fillet burger because it was a little cheaper, but it came with a MOUNTAIN of fries. I made a decent dent in them, but there was no way I could’ve finished them). Then we walked around and did some serious souvenir shopping (while it snowed outside, it didn’t stick though). The we went to a park nearby and took a walk around there (finally caught up on that Irish green I had been missing out on because of all the snow up North!) Aftrwards, we stopped at The Quay’s Bar for a drink and an authentic Irish pub experience (I had a coke, I promise). Then we grabbed some pizza, and I grabbed the 7pm bus and listened to U2 all the way home.

Thursday:

Cups of tea: 3

Today was my “free” day with Sam and Margaret, and since we couldn’t go up North to see the Giant’s Causeway (since it was all snowed up) we went up to Armagh and showed me around. First we tried to go to St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral (there are 2, one Catholic and one from the Church of Ireland), but it was Maundy Thursday mass, so we went over to the St. Patrick’s Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, had lunch and then went over to the Catholic Cathedral. Both were very cool looking (the architecture geek inside of me died a little), but the Catholic Cathedral was definitely more ornate. Afterwards, we took the long way home through Newry along the coast, which looked very pretty, and very cold. We stopped and got ice cream along the way (Fact: ice cream is always good, no matter how cold it is outside). Then we went back to Annacloy for a little bit, had dinner, and then I got to go to the Inch church, where my ancestors attended regularly and where my grandma was baptized for Maundy Thursday service. Margaret and I sat in the “Rea pew” (four rows from the front, I guess it’s in our blood). Between sitting in the family pew, seeing the place where my grandma was baptized, and having a church service in English for the first time in three months, the experience was overwhelming to say the least.

Friday:

Cups of tea: 3

It was finally nice enough got me to go out and take walk around the grounds around Annacloy (they are so stinkin’ pretty, it’s almost unfair. I could’ve lived in a shack out back and be perfectly happy). Then one of my other cousins Edward Rea took me up to Belfast and we drove around the city for a little bit. Next, we went to the Tianic Quarter and saw the Titanic museum (which is right on the dock of where it was built). It was really new and VERY interactive and had some pretty neat stuff in it. It went from what things were like in Belfast at the time, to the building of the Titanic, to her maiden voyage and who/what was on the ship, to the crash, to the aftermath, to discovering it in the ocean and then the subsequent movies. It was really cool. Afterwards, we went up to the government building, and then on to Edwards house in Killyleigh, where I got to see the family tree he has been working on. I got to see eight generations up (about late 1700’s) from me, which was kinda insane to think about. Then he took me back to Annacloy for dinner and afterwards I visited my grandmother’s friend Peggy Patterson, her daughter Sylvia, and Sam and Margaret’s daughter-in-law and grandason, Mary and Connall and their dog Max (who was just like Dug from ‘Up’ in border collie form), who were all very nice and welcoming (Mary even gave me Oreos with my tea, to make me feel more at home, it made me happy).

Saturday:

Cups of tea: 1

I started making my way back to the airport at about 9am. I made it through security and (finally) made it to all my flights on time (I’m finally becoming a pro at this airport thing). Unfortunately the airports were busy because it was the day before Easter and it seemed to be “bring-your-grumpy-child-on-the-airplane-and-sit-in-front-of-or-behind-Allison-day,” but I’ll take that over missing a flight any day (unless it’s a 10 hour flight. That doesn’t count.) So I made it back to my apartment in Granada safe and sound by midnight Easter morning. I was SO TIRED, but I unpacked, gobbled up some snacks, and then knocked out.

Sunday:

Cups of tea: 0 (finally back to normal! Por fin!)

Unfortunately, it was a rainy Easter morning for Granada (Spain has received more rain in the month of March than it has in the past 30 years or something crazy like that. Yeah. It’s a lot of rain.) So that meant all the cool processions were cancelled. I was really bummed about that because I was really looking forward to the cultural experience of it (and literally all of my professors mentioned them at least once). But I went to church in the Cathedral, which is still overwhelmingly pretty to me. It was kinda hard to listen to the sermon because there was a crazy echo that distorted the Priest’s words a little bit (and I was kinda getting a headache from all the incense). But they said a few things in English, which was nice that they were so thoughtful. After, I went back home and had lunch, took a nap because I was still very tired, and then went on a little walking adventure with Lindsey because we didn’t wanna be cooped up inside, doing nothing on Easter. I’ll have to say that spending Easter without my family was really hard, especially when we have such a set tradition and I can basically guesstimate what they’re doing at different times. It really makes you think about the things that you took for granted back home now that they’re gone. BUT I shall see them soon enough! And I know that’ll be awesome!! :D

So this stuff doesn’t really fit in anywhere, but it’s kind of an interesting insight into my trip, I guess:

Going to Ireland was definitely a little taste of was it’s going to be like going back home. It sounds kinda funny, but as I was travelling I experienced this transition between languages going from Granada (and only speaking Spanish), to Madrid (speaking Spanglish), to Heathrow/Ireland (and only speaking English). Which was really weird, both coming and going. At first it was hard to just speak English and at the end it was hard to just speak Spanish. I’m also so used to being lost in translation/ having a limited vocabulary, that it was weird having people understand what I was saying the first time. At times, it felt almost too easy. Or I would think in Spanish first and then go “Oh, wait. You speak English. Nevermind.” Going back to speaking Spanish was like riding a bike (even though it was only I week, I felt like I forgot so much), but not without a few headaches along the way. In Ireland, I no longer stuck out like a sore thumb (as you can imagine). Hell, I usually never even got a second glance – and it was absolutely wonderful. I felt a little more comfortable and didn’t feel constantly worried about being pick pocketed (still kept my wits about me though) or harassed by a street vendor. So it was a definite wake up call when I was back in Madrid getting stared at in the airport or getting called “ginger” in broken English on my flight to Granada. It was hard to get used to again. I do have to admit, I knew I wasn’t going to fit in before I came here, I just never expected to have to get used to it all over again, after only being gone a week. It’s strange how stuff like that works out…