Sunday, January 27, 2013

Visiting Seville y Ronda

 My Tias ( Aunt Chery & Aunt Luann) are here! It's been absolutely amazing to welcome them to Spain. I'm so thankful to have some family here to share this studying abroad experience with me. :) We enjoyed the weekend traveling together to Seville and Ronda, Spain. It's been a relaxing and fun filled weekend. My aunts are definitely SPOILING me rotten, and I'm loving it! ;) 

Journey with us to Seville y Ronda...
Saturday morning in Seville began with a hearty breakfast, it was amazing! Pastries of every shape and size. And they had the American special of eggs & bacon- oh how I've missed that! 

Here I am ready to fight the  bulls at Seville's Plaza del Toros!
 (Bull fighting ring) 

Crossing the river

I can't believe how majestic all the cathedrals are here in Spain.
European buildings are so ancient! 

This was by far my favorite spot in Seville- ¡Plaza de España!

Spaniards built this plaza for the 1929's World's Fair.

Not to brag about the weather... 
BUT it's been sunny & warm here all weekend. ;) 
I'm loving it! 
The plaza had a mosaic section for each province in Spain. 
Here's Granada :)

 After taking our siesta :) we enjoyed lots of shopping and touring Seville at night. 
Oh, and we found some chocolate! ;) 

It was super fun to eat outside, and I thoroughly enjoyed translating at dinner. 
And thankfully everyone ended up with what they wanted! 

It was so neat to see the cathedral lite up at night!

Crossing the bridge one more time!

Up bright and early to tour Ronda, another gorgeous Spanish city.

Did I mention that Europe's beautiful?! :)

 Puente Nuevo
I was excited to get my traveling buddies to join me hiking down to the valley. 
It was definitely worth it! 
 So many fun archways to explore!

It's been a fantastic weekend! My final exam for my Intensive Language Course is on Tuesday so, I'll study on Monday... ;)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hiking the Sierra Nevadas

       Ever since I arrived in Granada I've been eagerly anticipating my first hike in the Sierra Nevadas and I finally got to visit the mountains this week. :) It was absolutely wonderful to escape from the busy city life of Granada into the beautiful countryside. I enjoyed hiking with a group of students from my university as part of an all day hiking tour. We met our tour guide at the bus stop bright and early at 8 am (Didn't see a single Spaniard awake at that hour!) and hiked until late afternoon. It was so fun to eat lunch on the mountain tops and the view was AMAZING! Hiking the Sierra Nevadas far exceeded my expectations, and I can't wait for my next hiking adventure! Here's a few pictures of the day...
My first view of Granada's countryside. 
Let the hiking begin! I was SO excited! :)

 Amazing view from the top of the first mountain we hiked.

The views just kept getting more and more beautiful the higher we climbed.

This picture pretty much captures the emotion of the day. :)
 It's hard not to be happy in the mountains!

All the girls from my CEA program

The entire hiking crew, with our awesome tour guide.
This is where we had lunch, so fun!

This hike had just about everything included: caves, rivers, mountains, peaks y más! 

Wait for me! I was always stopping for pictures... 
Looks like I'm turning out to be like my dad after all! ;) 

 Really cool bridge :)
Whatever you do DON'T look down!
Yep, still loving Granada life! :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Parque Carmen Martires

    One of the highlights of this week was visiting the BEAUTIFUL Carmen Martires park with my friends Gloria and Allison Monday afternoon. It was an adventure! We set out around 4:30pm with the intent to do some hard core exploring of Granada. The Parque Carmen Martires is completely free (yes! My new favorite Spanish phrase= ¡Por Gratis!) and located right next to the Alhambra's walls so it had lots of breathtaking views. It was a long walk (40 minutes) to get into the entrance but, the scenery made it so worthwhile. 
Here's a few pictures of all that we saw...

Beginning our walk up to the top part of the Alabacin.
 We walked up lots of stairs any many narrow streets.
 It was so fun to look down each calle and see a completely different and more amazing view. Every street corner is just beautiful here with the Sierra Nevadas.
 We finally made it to the top of the Alabacin! After exploring the perimeter of the park surrounding the Alhambra we found this adorable little (or so we thought) park and palace with a giant gated entrance. It was seriously SO cute, so we just had to enter. After all, it was free!! 
 We even saw a few peacocks inside the palace's walls. :)

 So much to explore! The palace just kept going & going.
Just a few of the amazing views we saw inside the palace.

 This park has definitely been one of the best kept secrets in Granada. 
We were so excited to have discovered it!

After touring the palace we were delighted to find several trails in the back of the park. So of course we continued exploring! Keep in mind that we had NO idea what time it was...
It's like we had found the Secret Garden. :) 
  Any time I see switch backs like these, I HAVE to follow...

And the view at the top was simply breathtaking!
 All the climbing was definitely worth it, so many beautiful vistas. :)

 We found a gorgeous panoramic view of the entire city of Granada along with 
the Sierra Nevadas and the Alhambra. 

 So there we were on the top of the world, enjoying all the beautiful scenery when it occurred to me that we had better head back down before the park closes. Hahahaha, we wouldn't want to get locked in here tonight! Truer words were never spoken...

    So we rushed back down the hill, walked through the gardens and the palace to the entrance of the gate. Giant gate, completely locked. There we were right in front of the locked gate, with the park's closing hours that clearly read 6pm at 6:13pm. So being the level headed gal that I am... I panicked!  What would we do?! 

     We soon got the attention of some incredibly sweet Spanish ladies outside the gate and asked them if there was another way out. (Now picture this, 3 very American looking chicas behind 2 huge gate doors attempting to speak Spanish to the natives...) They reassured us that there was another gate just down the path a little ways. We thanked them profusely and then ran to find the other gate. Yep, we found the gate alright. Again, completely locked. And of course, the sun had set & it was getting dark. Can you say spooky?! 

    We attempted to ask another Spaniard for advice and he directed us to the same gate as before. After explaining to him that we had just tried that gate & it was locked he just looked at us, said plainly, "well, I guess you're stuck then!" and walked away. Not the most comforting thing to hear! 

   Then we walked back to the first gate, hoping to find someone else to help us out & praying we wouldn't have to sleep in Parque Carmen Martires that night... The park was definitely a LOT less magical at this point! Thankfully, we spotted a security guard outside the gate walls & after getting his attention he told us plainly to call 092- he even told us the numbers in English! ( I guess it was obvious we aren't from around here...) So I called the number, thinking it was the gatekeepers number but no, it was the police department! The police were very understanding and promised to send a car over right away to let us out. That officially makes my first police call! (I think I'd prefer doing it in English...) Oh, and we also meet 2 Korean girls at the gate that also got locked inside too. They spoke broken English and no Spanish so just imagine me trying to translate to these girls while calling the police. Crazy.Thankfully, before long the policemen arrived and set us all free! 

 Our final picture before realizing we were trapped...

By the way, Granada police are very friendly! You should have seen the look on their faces when they found us. They  just smiled and asked us where we were from... ;) 
We decided to celebrate with some churros & chocolate. Adventures like this definitely call for chocolate. :) What a night!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Adapting to Granada Life

 I can't believe I've been in Spain two weeks already! The last few weeks have definitely flown by. I've started my intensive language class and am really enjoying my two new professors. The title definitely summarize the class well, it's been a challenge but I'm enjoying learning LOTS of Spanish. I really appreciate the consistent schedule everyday and am getting used to my 30+ minute walk to  class. Just got two new roommates @ mi casa & I'm loving all the company! Thankfully, my Spanish's improving and communicating with my señora's getting better everyday. 
I meeting lots of new amigos & thanking God for His faithfulness everyday! 

Here's a few pictures of my most recent adventures... :) 
The Alhambra
(A view from the outside of the fortress' walls)

 At the beginning of the week before starting classes, we visited the Alabacin which is a Muslim neighborhood filled with beautiful white casas that overlook the Alhambra. It's absolutely gorgeous and has a beautiful panoramic view of the Ahambra fortress.
 So many amazing vistas here in Spain!

 Here's a view of the many white houses in the Alabacin neighborhood. 
Gotta love those mountains in the background! 

Mi nueva amiga, Allison! She's, wonderful, from Colorado & wants to go hiking with me in the Sierra Navadas. That'll be our next adventure, for sure! :)

 The CEA group on top of the Alabacin

 We stopped to have tea at a local tetaría, it was SO adorable! 
These are my friends Sarah & Gloria both from good ole Illinois. 
 So cute! 

 Just a few of the amazing views I see everyday walking around Granada... 

 My favorite spot to listen to online sermons, el parque Garcia Lorca 
(Garcia Lorca Park for my English speaking friends ;) ) 
There's lots of scope for the imagination here! 

So blessed to be able to live in this beautiful place for a semester. 
God is SO good! :)