Sunday, April 30, 2006

toledo and salamanca

these two are likely going to go down as my two favorite cities in spain. toledo will always be number one for sentimental reasons, but salamanca just blew my socks off last week. the city has a very unique feel to it. vibrant antiquity is all i can come up with to describe it right now. but it's definitely unique and i loved loved loved my time there. it also helped that i was hanging out with my long lost friend olivia. it was good to see her again, and to meet all her cool friends.

this is the view from my hostal terrace. pretty nice. the next one on here is the plaza mayor, which i would say is the best plaza mayor i've seen in spain. much better than madrid's. note the golden sandstone that everything is built with.

this is a cool guy from peru that i hung out with a lot. his name is alejandro, but they all call him "jano". next is the front of the monasterio san esteban. pretty exhaustively decorated. next is the staircase of the universidad pontificia of the to-be-clergymen. the writings on the wall are what they get to do when they graduate. the buildings of this city are covered with them, from all the centuries.

olivia took a picture of me doing nothing. then we went to this really dark church that was very cool (temperature and just coolness).

the decoration in the convento las dueñas was amazing. very neo-gothic with its grotesque figures and designs. i loved the diversity. grotesque carvings are the kind that began to unite human forms with all that is non-human (i.e. vegetation, mythology, and animals).

the salamanca cathedral is a stunner. a magnificent tribute to the gothic form, and as far as i have found, the only one you can climb up. the views from the catwalk were fantastic.

cathedrals really don't get old for me. they make me feel so small. it's a fun feeling.

the last night we went to this small old bar that had chains hanging from the ceiling and a jazz trio playing. they played some surprise beatles covers such as "lady madonna" (sorry jeremy) and "something" (my favorite abbey road song). the atmosphere was fantastic. i talked to a friend of olivia's about tennis for probably an hour.

salamanca was so great. i could have easily spent a semester there if i wanted to. the nightlife was so different from sevilla's. everything is in such a smaller area that we went to 5 bars in about two hours one night. and everything is built out of beautiful sandstone blocks. history rings loud in salamanca. number two in spain.

Monday, April 17, 2006

semana santa

or "holy week" is spain's easter. a whole week of processions through most of the cities here of depictions of jesus and mary. the "pasos" move very slowly and are proceeded by a series of candle holders, and followed by a band playing traditional songs of the week. i love things like this because they are such wide windows into cultures, so i had a great time this week indulging in the piety and flocks of people (sevilla is by and large reveared as the center of semana santa). most of the processions take place after dark, lasting until 2 or 3 in the morning. my first encounter with semana santa took place in Tarifa on sunday night on the way back from morocco. here's the procession i found:

right before this procession began a man sung in front of the platform before it was lifted up to be carried. it was beautiful.

later on in the same procession.

now try not to be alarmed by the KKK resemblance. semana santa has its roots a few centuries before before the klan had adopted their standard dress (1915).

i did this for a day on monday. it was really nice. tarifa is some kind of world capital when it comes to kite/wind surfing so there's lots of rental shops and people taking part.

these pics are back in sevilla on wednesday and thursday respectively. on thursday i found a really good spot by the cathedral to watch the pasos. it was cool.

i moved on later in the night and snapped these pictures of the cathedral and what was actually the same paso i saw before going by on my way home.

and that's semana santa. it's over and i'm back in school. however, this friday starts the next long weekend as i have next week off school too. i'm taking a trip up north to visit my house family from 2004 in Toledo before going west to see my friend Olivia from France that's studying in Salamanca. exciting stuff!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

the dark continent

dum dum dum... AFRICA. the lion king, charlize theron, and pygmies.

but first... the night in tarifa was filled with beach walking and castle exploring. i know i got my fill.

the tarifa castle was re-traversed and all of the mystery held behind the door was revealed. dum dum dum! i wish i could put music on here, but i can't. here's what the place looks like, to refresh your memories:

so that's all i saw the last time. let me tell you that this time i went alone to the castle. at midnight. so i was crapping my pants. i moved down through the stairwell past the door and i came to this doorway:

beyond this doorway was a room:

you can see a door in that photo. this door opens to a passageway that looks out over the sea:

and that's all there ways down there. just the castle basement/dungeon/lookout/who-knows-what. but i was very satisfied with my ability to explore that place alone. i bought a flashlight for the occasion. later on, after i got out and found the mexican girls i was traveling with, i convinced one of them to come back with me.

this is Jade being all blair-witch in the corner.

the next day it was on to morocco. duh duh duh DUM duh DUM. charge! we left europe in our dust...erm, spray.

here's the first view of tanger, morocco from the docks in the bay.

my favorite moroccan friend Behiya was conveniently on her way home to visit her family and we rode the same ferry over, so she helped us find a nice and fair cab driver that would take us down the coast to the quiet beach town of Asilah. on the way there our driver Ahmid stopped us at this little outlet to give camel riding a try.

that's right. i rode a camel in africa. bam!

after we got to Asilah and found our hostal we headed down to the beach to play some frisbee (i've been dying without it) and do some swimming if it seemed like a good idea. we headed back after sunset.

the Asilah nightlife was kinda cool. we tried to find some wine but to no avail. i did watch some of the valencia v. celta vigo match at a bar with a cool moroccan guy that i met. other than that though, we just hung out in the room. here we are with our friend Erik (from Texas) that we met on the ferry.

the next day we hit up the markets. hot times!

we said goodbye to Erik who was going to venture farther south for a couple days and headed back up to Tanger with Ahmid who came back to Asilah to pick us up. 4 amigos and 1 chauffer.

so Africa was great, a super blood-pumping adventure. monday we came home from tarifa and i had a nice sleep last night without any worries. this week i have no school because of semana santa (holy week) which is a pretty big deal around here. actually, more like the biggest of deals. the world comes to sevilla for semana santa and its saintly processions down the streets. i will be doing lots of homework in my down time this week, and will be spending many nights downtown watching the happenings. i'll report back soon with photos as always. thanks for reading!

Friday, April 07, 2006

morocco, take two

we're trying morocco again. i will hopefully return on monday with piktures.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

sevilla v. zenit

fabrício's last night here went perfectly. we rolled into the sánchez pizjuan stadium at about eight on thursday and the match was scheduled for nine. so we had an hour to enjoy the stadium filling up, the perfect sevilla night at 60 degrees, and the nice view of the zenit fans fighting the security guards. it got pretty intense for a few minutes. i read in the paper today that 15 russians (zenit is from st. petersburg) were detained and 9 security guards received medical attention - one of which had a broken jaw! yikes.

let's cut to the chase, though: sevilla killed them 4-1. now, it would be important to know that this is the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup, so no match is easy by any stretch. these are some of the best clubs in europe. so that makes it even more impressive.

this is fabrício and i pre-game getting pumped.

this banner dropped down and almost made me cry! "más que mi corazón me late tu escudo" is "your shield beats more for me than my heart" and was a really special thing to see as the team was coming out of the locker room. this is actually the clubs centennial season - it was started in 1905.

here's the team celebrating martí's goal off a penalty kick. it was 2-1 then.

here's some sweet in-game action.

you should download these video files. they may take a little bit (16 MB and 9 MB respectively) but it will be worth it.
here's a link to the celebration after goal number 3:
here's a link to fabrício's post-game video analysis:

so it was a great night. and here's a hilarious story from after the game: we're sitting on a bench and this very sad russian man walks up to us with an inquisitive look on his face, leans down close to us, and says as clearly as he could "Vodka". as if asking which direction he could get some, we explained with spanish that he couldn't understand and pointed the direction to a bar. then he walked off. the only russian i've ever talked to in my life said one word to me - "vodka". it's no longer a stereotype, it's a fact. the end.