Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mi casa es su casa

Well folks, I made it to Logroño, which is a city in the providence of La Rioja. Here is a little map for you visual people. 

I´ve been here for about 2.5 weeks, and I must say that I am in love with it. Apparently, it was voted the number one place to live in Spain because of the quality of life here. Technically I live in a small town called Ladero, which is right on the border on Logroño. I take a bus into town, but you can pretty much walk everywhere you need to be with in 10 or 15 minutes. 

The downtown looks like a typical Spanish town with narrow streets and old buildings, but it is surrounded by mountains and vineyards that I love. I live in a newer development, so my surroundings are quite spacious. 

The dark building in the middle is where I live. Sorry that this photo is kind of dark, but you get the idea if you look close enough.

This is my front door. Notice the Hobbit-like door knob. 

This building is only about a year or two old, and it looks an IKEA display because everything is IKEA! But I loves me the IKEA, so I feel right at home.

I don´t have any pictures of them yet, but my host family is better than I could have ever dreamed. They are a Chilean family that moved here for the Wine scene. La Rioja is world famous for it´s wine (wine is cheaper than water here), and my host dad is a wine maker. They are a couple in their late 30´s with three kids, who are adorable. They are really laid back, super nice, and just a good time to be around. We get along really well. 

I have nothing to really compare this experience to, but living with a host family in Spain is the life. I get up for dance class with the magical Veronica (yes I have a Spanish dance class),

 and then go 2.5 hours of language class taught by this firey Spanish chica.

I can´t even tell you how much I love Ines. She is loud, always looks fantastic, halarious, and one of the nicest people you will ever meet. She makes learning grammer a very entertaining event. 

Here is my class (all USU students) with our history teacher the first week we were here. But history class is no more. 

At around 2:00pm, I take the bust back home (this sign is how I know when to get off. I have yet to figure out what it means)

 and find lunch and a made bed (when I run out of time in the morning to make it myself) waiting for me. Lunch is always followed by my favorite thing about Spain: Siestas.

Here is my made bed where I endulge in siesta goodness.

Upon arising from a delicious nap I do homework, watch some TV (which I have in my room), or go out to my personal patio and do some yoga.

So far in the evenings I´ve had a cooking class with the beloved and masterful Paco. No words can describe my love for this man. He calls me his American daughter. 

And he feeds us the most delicious food in places like this:

This is a underground tunnel from the 1400´s. It used to be used for hiding when the city was being threatened. And now it feeds hungry Spaniards and their guests! 


I should also note the Paco made us his award winning ice cream. It won first place at the international ice cream tournament. First place! I have offically eaten the best ice cream in the world. And boy was it!

They eat dinner around 9 or 10 here, so after cooking class I usually go straight home to bed. 

And then I wake up the next morning and do it again. Not too shabby, eh? And we only have classes Monday through Thursday, so I have the whole weekend for adventures. I will post about the adventures thus far soon.

And that is my life in a nut shell. I can´t believe I only have a few weeks left.

Stay tuned for San Fermin craziness and climbing in The Pyreneese! 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Barcelona or bust!

After moving, online classes, and running Ragnar (which I will post about one of these days), I made it on a plane that whisked me away to Spain! After three plane rides and time travelling, I was painfully reminded about how flying and jet lag quickly kills the magic of going to a foreign land. But, stick around long enough and the magic comes back. And it doesn´t take long in a place like Barcelona.

Yes, my reason for coming to Spain is for a Study Abroad program through Utah State in La Rioja, but I figured I would visit some friends since I was in the neighborhood. Meet Susie:

She was one of my roommates when I lived in Costa Rica studying Yoga. She lives in Barcelona teaching dance and yoga, and it was so lovely to meet up with her after two years of being apart. She was my saving grace while I recovered from travelling, and she helped me learn the ways of the Spaniards. Honestly, if you ever need someone to help you kick jet lag where it hurts, Susie is the one to do it. Man oh man. But I loved her for it. 

Barcelona really is a magical city. It seems that each brick in the cobblestone streets has centuries worth of stories to tell. Majestic cathedrals mingle inbetween restaurants and shops, and each round about is home to a fountain or statue of some explorer or war  hero. Palm trees wave with the breeze coming in from the Mediterranean, which you can get a peek of if you leave the narrow streets. Susie lives in a neighborhood called Gracia, which is more like a village that hooks onto the bigger city. Sadly, my time there was short, and I was mostly in a jet lag haze, but here are a few things that I got to do.

The weekend I arrived was the weekend where they celebrate the saint San Juan. People of all ages gather in the streets at all hours of the night to eat, drink, and set off fireworks. I had the pleasure of being startled by cracks and booms many-a-time while walking around and while I was trying to sleep. One of Susie´s british friends, Kate, had a few of us over for dinner to celebrate.  

Dancing in the streets happened, of course. Here is Madalena and Susie shakin´it.

Gaudi is a famous Spanish architect who creates crazy buildings such as this:

And this:

One day we chilled at a beautiful beach right outside of Barcelona. Here is Kate and her adorable son Oscar enjoying the day.

Here is the beach, but this photo doesn´t do it justice. It´s near the airport so we could see airplanes come and go. They were so close I felt like I could reach up and touch them.

We went to a huge market that seemed to have every food under the sun.

This is a plaza where the royality used to live. 

One of the many cathedrals. We were able to see a wedding going on inside.

Susie and her delightful boyfriend Alejandro. I´m so thankful for them. They took such good care of me!

And that is a brief rundown of my time in Barcelona. I was so fortunate to have Susie and her wonderful friends there to show me a good time. 

Now, I am living in La Rioja and have a week of my program under my belt. But I´ll post more on that later. Feel free to follow me on this blog to stay updated on my time living in Spain and other European adventures.