Monday, May 29, 2006

tennis. or in french: tenis

i saw me some tennis yesterday. i dont have much to say mostly because this french keyboard is difficult to type on and i need to go to sleep so my hosts will as well.

i did, however see parts of these matches: tommy robredo (spanish), maria sharapova (russian AND HOW), tim henman (england`s man), david nalbandian (argentine), carlos moya (spanish). so the spanish flag i bought came in handy as i waved it and basically made everyone ask themselves if i was in fact spanish.

two more days of paris sites and then its off to brussels in a place they call belgium.

au revoir!

Friday, May 26, 2006


i've been in madrid a few times and seen most of the highlights there...or so i thought. i went outside of the city proper yesterday to a place called El Escorial where there's a giant monastery and the royal tombs since the 1600s. El Escorial was very cool, and i enjoyed it. but the site on the mountain to the north was the real deal as far as sites go. el Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen) is a monument for two important things in spain's history. one, it's a monument to the fallen soldiers of the spanish civil war (1936-39). two, it's the final resting place of the late "dictator" francisco franco who died in 1975 and ruled from the end of the civil war until his death.

lets start with the monastery San Lorenzo to be chronological.

these are all royal tombs. the first photo being in the kings and queens room that was a round and very dark room with lots of gold. the second photo contains tombs of family members.

next is the basilica of the monastery which was surprisingly interesting architecturally. whereas most churches will have columns or pilars supporting the weight, this one had only 4 massive pilars that were at least 30 feet thick.

the library of the monastery was close to the coolest part. there were lots of old astrological/astronomical globes and several old globes of the world that were probably made a few decades after exploring the new world.

ok, on to the other place. it probably helps that Valle de los Caídos is certainly not the first basilica that i've seen or else it wouldn't have been so impressive. but the fact that i've seen cathedrals and basilicas and all kinds of religious buildings before helped me see how amazingly unique this basilica is. the monument itself is impressive enough from the outside, i had no idea what lay beneath the exterior.

we opted for the 7k hike up to the monument instead of the more expensive bus that takes you there, so we got some extra views of the monument on the way.

the monument is really cool to look at. it's out in the middle of the mountains northwest of madrid and basically in the middle of nowhere except a few dotted towns around it in the hills. when you walk into the basilica, you are confronted with these awesome-looking guardian angels that seem to ward off irreverence.

the basilica is just a long vaulted tunnel, but much deeper than any basilica i know of. the atmosphere here is not anything less than creepy, scary, or even evil. with decorative rugs hanging on each wall depicting scenes from the apocalypse, and dark robed sculptures with no faces gazing down from the ceiling, the basilica commands attention like none other.

the center piece of the basilica is one lone decoration. jesus hanging from a ragged tree trunk, with one stream of light falling down to illuminate only him. it was pretty spectacular.

this is looking back down the basilica from behind the center piece. franco's tomb lies in the foreground.

that isn't all though. the coolness continued with the tram that took us up to the cross.

this is the back side of the monument that you wouldn't even know existed from the front side.

the cross was so big from up there. everything was so big. the scultures were SO big. i don't know how to describe them.

see what i mean?? that big toe you see is as big as my entire body. these scultures hung over the edge of the cross' base and seemed to be falling on top of me as i walked under them.

holy cow that place was cool.

Friday, May 19, 2006

hey hey hey

it's coming down to the wire here. two more full days left in sunny and too-hot sevilla. seriously the temperature here has been near 110 for the last four or five days and i'm running low on sweat. i found out today that my friend's grandparents that put me up in paris will be able to do so again when i visit the city next week for the french open. that was great news because it will save me quite a bit of money and because they are nice people and i like nice people.

i ended my guitar classes on thursday and learned my favorite "falseta" so far. that's like a piece of a flamenco song. it's nice when you can play flamenco music, but even better when it sounds so good, like this one i learned. i said goodbye to more people yesterday at the going away party. i gave my final presentation at the archeological museum. tomorrow i think we're going to the davinci code those of us that remain from our core group.

these are some non-themed last week pictures. friends, torsi, the cathedral bell tower.

consider this the end of my sevilla blog. any other blogging will take place on the road. i'll probably post something in about 4 or 5 days from my hostel in madrid where there's wireless. thanks for reading as always.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

final countdown

there are several things i could count down today. let's start with the soonest thing which is leaving sevilla. that countdown has 9 days left on it.

the next countdown would be until the beginning of the french open. that one is 15 days away.

the next one is until the flaming lips concert i'm going to see in belgium. countdown shows 24 days.

next countdown is to the beginning of the world cup. that one's got 27 days left.

then i guess my last countdown would be until going home, cause there's not really any other major dates besides those. 60 days until i fly home.

it's finals week right now, so i'm spending a lot of time in the dorm or at the library studying for the tests/presentations. i really need to take some time out today and get some more hostels reserved in rome, brussels, zurich, and barcelona. this week i thought a lot about my upcoming travels. it's going to be really fun and i stopped worrying about all the problems that could happen and just think about the adventure that i'm going to have. so, that's nice.

that's all i got. here's a few pictures. i went to a flamenco show the other day where my guitar professor ruben was playing:

there's ruben on the left.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

how many roads...?

Lagos, Portugal was my destination this weekend. i went on friday morning with a company called "discover sevilla" that offers excursions for students. the trip/hotel/misc benefits cost me 100 bucks, which was nice for a whole weekend. lagos is notoriously the postcard photo capital of portugal because of its ridiculous beaches and rocky cliffs. the pictures below are not postcards that i set on the ground to take pictures of, but rather whatever i happened to walk by during my days at lagos. roll the clips!

these first two pictures from the edge of our hotel's parking lot. first, a secluded beach that i never did find the route to (unless swimming out around the cliffs). and second, the Playa Doña Ana. cookie cut for postcards.

here's the beach i spent friday and some of saturday at: the Playa Camilo. it is less crowded than the other ones because it took a little bit of walking to get to. i spent my time laying in the sun for a few hours, reading books or trying to not count the abundant topless sunbathers.

this is a little niche i found while hiking around the cliffs. it was really impressive the deeper i climbed, as you can see in photo number dos. there were fishermen going in and out of these rocks. i guess the fish like the views too.

here's a little street in lagos. it's a typical nice little mediterranean town. white houses, stoney streets, and lots of restaurants.

it just occured to me that "aaron and the end of the world" sounds like a good children's book title. well, where i'm standing was literally the end of the world up until about 500 years ago. the southwestern tip of europe. and the last sight columbus saw before he found the greatest nation the world has ever known. the sunset was nice too.

ok, well i've got two more weeks here in sevilla before i hit the road. it's time for paper writing and final studying. which i should be used to at this point. so, wish me luck! see you in a couple months.