Hola a todos, Since my last blog entry I have been having cycles of activity with periods of doing nothing more than waking up , watching TV or reading. I am getting tired of being a tourist a little bit and am ready to start classes. When I am in the states, I am used to being in school full time with a couple of jobs and all my other activities with the different clubs that I am in so this has been something that I am not used to.
At ICS they have an intercambio program where they link you to someone who wants to practice their English while giving you the opportunity to practice your Spanish. My intercambio’s name is Ana and last week we met in a Ceverceria. We talked in Spanish only as we got to know each other for I don’t know over an hour.
We had some things that mirrored each other. She wants to live over in the states, I want to live here in Spain. She lives with her mom, I live with my dad, She thinks American guys are all that and a bag of chips while I melt for Spaniards especially Andalucíans . She is a cool chick and the next time we meet, we will be talking in English only.
On my sisters insistence one day we went walking and found the public library of Sevilla. There was not an easy venture because there is no way that you would know that it was the library because the one sign that says library is covered by a big tree and from the outside it looks like any other building in Sevilla. Directions given by random Sevillanos on the street only became clearer the closer we got to the building but we did find it. After figuring out the locker and bike rack system we finally entered the building. 45 minutes later we walked out card-carrying members of the bibliotecas públicas de Andalucía .
During the week I visited three main places, the Parque de Maria Luisa, Plaza de España y Alcazar. To explain a bit the Parque de Maria Luisa, I took a quote from an article online.
In the 1920's, while they were redirecting the Gudalquivir and building the new port and factories that are the foundation of the city's growth today, the Sevillenos decided to put on an exposition. In a tremendous burst of energy, they turned the entire southern end of the city into an expanse of gardens and grand boulevards. The centre of it is Parque de Maria Luisa, a paradisical half mile of palms and orange trees, elms and Mediterranean pines, covered with flower beds and dotted with hidden bowers, ponds and pavilions. Now that the trees and shrubs have reached maturity, the genius of the landscapers can be appreciated - this is one of the loveliest parks in Europe . (Quintero,J. The Maria Luisa Park in Seville) http://www.andalucia.com/cities/seville/marialuisapark.htm
After walking through the park, I emerged close to the Plaza de España and decided to walk around it and not just pass by on my way to another location. The Plaza de España was laid out in 1929 for an abortive 'Fair of the Americas'. There is a tiled alcove named after each of the provinces of Spain and each tile displays an important aspect of that province’s history. I would definitely recommend that anyone coming to Spain visit it. A cool thing to do is to take a picture by each province that you have visited within Spain.
The coolest place that I visited this week was by far Alcazar. I used up my whole camera memory and changed batteries twice just on that once visit.
The Alcázar of Seville (Spanish "Alcázares Reales de Sevilla" or "Royal Alcazars of Seville") is a royal palace in Seville, Spain. Originally a Moorish fort, the Alcázar (from the Arabic القصر, al-qasr, meaning "palace") has been expanded several times. The Almohades were the first to build a palace, called Al-Muwarak, on the site. Most of the modern Alcázar was built over Moorish ruins for King Pedro of Castile (also known as Pedro the Cruel) with construction beginning in 1364. Pedro used Moorish workers to build his palace giving it a distinctly Islamic design. The palace is one of the best remaining examples of mudéjar architecture, a style under Christian rule in Spain but using Islamic architectural influence. Subsequent monarchs have added their own additions to the Alcázar. Charles V's addition of gothic elements contrasts with the dominant Islamic style. The upper apartments of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacional.
On Sunday my sis and I got up early and took the bus to Aracena in Huelva which was about an hour away from Sevilla. In Aracena our main goal was to go to la Gruta de las Maravillas. Afterwards we went to the Museum of Ham and to the Caste.
La gruta de las Maravillas or Cave of wonders in English is an underground cave that has gorgeous stalagmites and stalactites. The formations are also in different colors because of minerals and algae in the water. There are about 12 different chambers with names like, the Cathedral or Room of Bottoms and six lakes and smaller streams and pools of water. It is a truly beautiful site. We were told in both English and in Spanish that there are absolutely no picture taking which of course meant that my sis and I sneaked in a couple whenever the guide wasn’t looking but without the flash in a cave the results were interesting. A random fact in relation to la gruta , it was used as a set during the making of – Journey to the Center of the Earth.
After La gruta my sis and I meandered along to the Museo del Jamón. Spain has a type of ham that is made only in Spain and I think Portugal. It is the one of the most delicious things and something that I would miss when I’m back in the states. Within the museum we learnt about the different types of Jamon Iberico and why the ham tastes so good. The answer is cause they eat mainly acorns and roam the countryside that helps keeps the levels of fat low. The pigs here exercise – LOL - . We also learnt about the differences between the old way of slaughtering and curing them vs. how they do it now.
By the time we finished these two activities it was lunch time and in Spain and everything closes so we decided to walk back to the bus stop which took us an hour. When we reached the bus stop we found out that it was 2 hours till the next bus back to Sevilla so we decided to venture to the Castillo that dominates the top of the main hill in Aracena. It took us 30/40 minutes uphill to get there but it was worth it. It’s a beautiful building and the ruins give a glimpse of how it used to be. I was also reminded of all the historical romance books I used to read. The next time I read one my mental picture of the castles would be influenced I think by the castles of Spain.
It is a thirteenth century Medieval-style Christian castle built over an Arab castle built over an Arab castle. It was destroyed in 1812 by the French army. The Church of our Lady of Los Dolores, which is from the thirteenth century, but has later additions, stands on the site of a former mosque. The twelfth century Almohad tower is its outstanding feature.