Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Paris is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It is peaceful, serene and gorgeous. I loved every second of my adventure there. I went with Kelly, Lauren, Andrew, Tommy, Andrew's roommate who has been in Spain for a while, and their friend Remy who is French!! It worked out so well having Remy since he is fluent in French.
We went to class Thursday morning and had a normal day. Class took hours becuase we were so excited to leave for Paris. We had to be at the train station by 1230 and we hopped on our first of 3 trains that day. The first was a little tiny metro type train that took us to Hendaia, France. It is right on the border of Spain and France. Then we had to take another train from Hendaia to Biarritz which is another town near the border of Spain. Then, we hopped on our long 7 hour train which was big and very nice! We were starving by then so we got some lunch on the train. That was our first encounter with French speaking workers!! It was so funny, the lady laughed at us because Remy was reading everything to us and ordering for us! I got a baguette sandwich and had 2 bottles of wine which made me really sleepy. I passed out for the last 3 hours of the train ride and woke up in Paris! We checked into our hotel and wandered around town.
Our hotel ended up being pretty decent. Kelly, Lauren and I had our own room and Tommy and Andrew shared a room and so did Ed and Remy. The girls room was right in the lobby and the only room on the first floor, it was really weird, but it ended up being alright. Every morning they had a little continental breakfast of coffee, tea and orange juice to drink and a roll and a croissant with nutella. Nutella is amazing! Our hotel was literally a two second walk from the metro station so we bought a pack of 10 tickets so we could ride the metro whenever we needed.
Thursday night, we made our way up to the Sacre Coure, which is a huge chruch on top of a giant hill that overlooks the amazing city. It was crowded with natives so we decided to stick around for a while and just sit and hang out looking at the city at night from the hilltop.
Friday was 0ur first day there, we woke up around 9am and headed out. We went to the Louvre first. This is a hugeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee art museum that houses DaVinci's Mona Lisa upon many others. It was literally the biggest museum I have ever seen. You could spend days in that museum and still not see everything. We spent about 5 hours at the Louvre and then got some lunch. We stopped at a little cafe on the way to go see the Arc de Triomphe. We walked down the infamous Chance Elysees on our way to the Arc. The streets in Paris are stuffed, all day every day. It obviously is a very touristy town. The people were pretty friendly though.
After a long day of the Louvre and walking all over town, Kelly got a call from her Aunt and Uncle who were also visiting in Paris at the same time. They offered to take us to dinner and show us Notre Dame. Lauren, Kelly and I went to dinner with them. They took us to a great little resturant where we all had a bottle of wine and delicious food. They paid for our whole dinner and dessert as well! It was so nice of them. We got to talk to them about school and they told us about great places to go while we were in Paris. It was nice to be around somewhat of a family. Later that night, we met up with Lauren and Kelly's friend Arnaud, who they met when they were in Barcelona. Arnaud lives in Paris and was our personal tour guide. He took us to the cool bars and awesome places to take great pictures. We had mojiots and great drinks (which were so expensive!) and just hung out. It was a great night.
Saturday, we woke up early again and it was raining all day! It was yuckie. Kelly, Lauren, Andrew and I decided to go walk around town and do some souvenier shopping. I bought myself a "J'adore Paris" shirt :) and some gifts for some people! It was a very relaxed day since we couldnt do much of anything.
Saturday night, we went to a great resturant to try French pizza, and it was amazing. The food was great, the wine was even better! After that, we all went to the Eiffle Tower and just hung out infront of the fountains, took lots of pictures and just talked. It was awesome. We meet some Moroccan guys, who turned out to be pretty freaky. Good thing we had the boys with us! This was where my brand new camera, that I just bought last week, pooped out on me! I am having terrible luck with cameras here. So, I have to go return it and get a new one!!!
Sunday, we made our way to Versailles. It was PACKED. Kelly was not feeling good what so ever so her and I left Versailles and met up with Arnaud and just sat under the Eiffle Tower and enjoyed the beautiful day. It was a nice relaxing Sunday before we had to leave. The three of us went to goo see the Moulin Rogue after we got some crepes! Arnaud bought us crepes with nutella. Aunt Jane, you would LOVE them. After walking around Moulin Rogue, we were running out of time in Paris. So, Arnaud, Kelly and I got some dinner at an Irish Pub then headed back to the hotel. We met up with the rest of the group, got snacks and made our way to the train station.
Our train left Paris at 10:50pm on Sunday night. We did not get back into San Sebastian until 8:30am the following morning, just in time for class at 9am!! I did not get one lick of sleep on the train due to having mass amounts of homework, an uncomfortable first class seat and a screaming baby. It was terrible. I was so crabby and cranky and sick that day, I was a mess. And I am glad it is over.
Looking back, visiting Paris is a must for anyone. It is the coolest place I have been thus far. We'll see how Rome, Florence, Milan, and Geneva measure up!!
This week is just filled of cleaning, packing, finalizing plans for travel, studying and finals. It is a stressful week and I don't do well with stress!! Yesterday was the festival of San Juan, they celebrate how it is the longest day of the year. There were bonfires and fesitvals all over town, and I was stuck inside writing a 4 page spanish paper on Andy Warhol and studying for my Art final-- which was a piece of cake!
I have over 200 pictures from France. So, I decided to make an album instead of posting them in this post. Make sure you look at them!!
Come Friday, I will no longer have the internet and will no longer be in San Sebastian. So this maybe the last post until further notice. I enjoyed writing all of my experiences on here for you all to see. It was such a great idea to start a blog. I will do my best to upload things. I will be returning to the beautiful United States of American July 7th. Only 13 more days!!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
On Sunday, Beth, Seth and I took a little excursion from San Sebastian to Bilbao. It was my first trip outside of San Sabby and my first experience on long bus rides as well as on a metro! We took a bus from one city to the other and it took roughly two hours. I experienced quite a bit of motion sickness, which is unsual for me, but I probably was just still a little under the weather from my day of sickness on Saturday.
Bilboa is a bigger city than San Sebastian, and more industrialized. We got off our bus and headed onto the metro and stopped at a little mexican resturant on the way to the museum. I had a margarita and chiquiles (which were basically nachos). We sat next to a cute family of 4, a mom, dad, little girl and little boy. They may have been the cutest family I have ever seen because they spoke both fluent English and Spanish. The mom seemed to be American and the dad Spanish. They would talk to the children in English and they would respond in Spanish. The little boy was aboslutely adorable. He got his dinner which consisted of tortilla wraps and when he tasted it, he said "buenisimo", it was so cute!!
Qiang's Porcelain Rose and Gunpowder sculpture. I need to find a replica for my room!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
This weekend was fun for the most part.. It all began with a wonderful crazy and traumatic Thursday night!! Everyone was finished with midterms, so we all decided to get together, start out the night with a few American games of Beer Pong, then heading to the local bars. Kelly and I had the time of our life that night. We had been outside in the streets of San Sebastian where we found 3 Spanish men beating (well jokingly) eachother with styrofoam sticks! So we joined and began a game of styrofoam baseball in the middle of the street! It was an absolutel blast.. Then we went on our merry way to the rest of the bars with the group. Later into the night, I had a funeral for my camera. Kelly dropped it and it bit the dust. I was and still am pretty upset. Now I have to spend a lot of my traveling money on a new camera. :( Such a huge bummer. So, it is sad to say, I wont be able to upload any new pictures until I purchase a new camera. Hopefully I'll find one in the next few days.
This is a picture of some of the group at Tas Tas..
Friday after class, my friend Lauren and I went to the beach from 12:30 until 4:30. It was so relaxing after a stressful week of studying for midterms, which I did fairly decent on. It was an awesome day, but my face got sunburnt really badly.
At night, 12 of us USAC'ers went to a cideria.. It is almost like a wine tasting place. It was this cute little house about a half hour away from San Sebastian, where they made their own cider and give you a 5 course meal. The cider was gross in my opinion, but everyone else seemed to like it. It tasted like straight olive juice to me, so I found myself some water!
Here is a picture of the cider kegs.. they were huge!! There was 6 different types.Here are the girls that all went to the Cideria. Lauren, Rose, Emma, Me, Sarah, Kelly, Litzaya, and Janice.
For dinner, they started us off with tortilla. Tortilla is like an omlette. This specific one had egg, carmelized onions, cod and some other stuff in it. It was pretty good for having to of my most disliked foods in it... onion and fish. The second course was fried cod with peppers. I have been very, very adventurous on my trip and trying all new kinds of things, so I tried the cod. Supposedly Spain has some of the best cod in the world, and I have to admit, I really liked it. ODD.
The third course was a HUGE ginormous steak, which would come back to haunt me the next day. They don't like to cook their meat too well, and everyone said it was amazing, so I had it too. It was worse than the way my grandma likes it. It was still bleeding and mooing. The forth course was dessert, it was this solid applesauce tart thing with cheese and then they gave you walnuts. I was stuffed by then so I just had some walnuts. We made a mess with all the shells. But we had a wonderful time. We didnt get home until almost 2am. Since we went for dinner, we didn't go until about 10pm. Spaniards eat dinner way late!
Saturday, I was paying for that raw steak and fish. I was in hell. I had the worst stomach pains and was throwing up. I guess my body can't hand the odd food I have been eating. I had never been in so much pain before. It was funny because while we were eating the steak, we had a conversation about how when people eat really rare steaks for the first time they usually get sick. Well, I made that a proven fact! Needless to say, I spent my day in bed watching movies and looking online for a new camera. What a boring Saturday. Oh well.
Tomorrow, I will be going to Bilbao. It is a city about an hour south of San Sebastian. There is a famous Gugenheim museum of modern art there, so it should be really fun and exciting. I wish I would have a camera for that, but I will just make my friends take pictures for me!!
I will make a post all about Bilbao once I get back!
Hope everyone is enjoying their days. Love you all. Be home in 3 weeks from Tuesday!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
This past weekend, Friday was a bust, I slept the night away. I get so exhausted from my week and doing so many things that I am just worn out by Friday. I stayed in and ended up sleeping for an eternity. I had only planned on taking a 2 hour siesta, that turned into a 19 hour coma. I ended up missing the planned excursion to Gipuzkoa. I am slight on the dumb side, but I did get a lot of things accomplished that day. Me sleeping is nothing new... Dad laughed at me.
Saturday night, all of my fellow USACers went to our favorite bar, Molly Malone. We all had a blast, had some drinks and hung out. We all have such a fun time together. Bethany spent the night at my apartment because Kelly was in Barcelona. I plan on going to visit Barcelona next weekend (19th 20th 21st).
Sunday, we made a night little adventure to one of the only American themed resturants in San Sebastian.. It was called Foster´s Hollywood. We were so excited to see quesadilla, chicken wraps, chicken fingers, ranch dressing and free refills (they don´t believe in free refills in Spain) and things like that on the menu!! We ended up eating like pigs! I had chicken fingers and Beth and I split quesadillas.. my stomach ended up hurting really bad because I haven´t eaten greasy, fried foods since the states. It was sooooo good though.
The weeks are getting fewer and fewer! I made all of my travel plans today as well... changing your flight is a pain in the butt though!! It took me an hour on the phone with orbitz! But finally, that got taken care of. Our weeks aren´t boring, but we have seen almost everything the city has to offer us. We usually go to class, go to the beach, shop, eat and study. We still want to hike up Jesus Mountain, and visit the Aquarium. On the weekends, of course, starting on Thursday nights, we go out. Everything is so close and I know my way around this place pretty well. I feel like an actual spaniard.
I had my first exam today in my grammer class. It was...interesting. Some parts were quite difficult and others were a piece of cake.. like most exams. I only have 2 more weeks of class then 1 week of traveling. I will be visiting the wonderful cities of Rome, Florence and Milan, Italy. Geneva, Switzerland. Paris, France as well as Pamplona, Spain (we will get to see the running of the bulls!!)I will be back in the states on July 7th at 8pm--- CLEAR YOUR SCHEDULES!!!!!! :) The only bad thing is, I´m flying alone!
Hope all is well back in the states, os extrano.
Hasta luego mis amigos.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
After our delicious dinner, started walking all the way across town. On our way, we stopped at my favorite place, gelataria boulevard. It is an ice cream place that is quite delightful. I had cappucino flavored (it was sugar free which made me think of Steff). We walked and ate our ice cream along the boardwalk and made our way to this area where there are statues called Windcombs.. It was absolutely gorgeous. We got to watch the sunset, I wish I had a boyfriend for that, but my friends were just as good!!!! The windcombs dont really have a purpose, but to just be there and be pretty. There are about 3 windcombs and one of them is a little harder to get to. you have to climb down the side of the rocks and truck it through more rocks to get over there. It is pretty neat and both Seth and Beth decided to make a little voyage over to the 3rd windcomb. Kelly and I both were wearing flipy flopys and thought it wouldn´t be such a good idea to go climbing through rocks in them. But Beth had a different idea. She wanted to be a tough girl and go with Seth, and paid for her decision. She stepped on a rock covered in moss and fell straight on her dupa. We captured the moment on film. It was funny, and yes, she is okay, but today we had to ride the bus instead of walking to school!! Poor Beth, she should have listened to the mommy of the group!
On our way back, we walked the boardwalk again. There are so many doggies that play fetch on the beach and usually they are very obedient and just stay a few feet infront of their owners. We had stopped along the way to take a picture of the beautiful sky and one dog came sprinting up to me. The owners started calling for the dog and it just so happened that the dogs name was Bella. How weird.. Mom must still be watching me all the way over here in Spain!!
I took a bunch of pictures, so here they are. Hope everyone enjoys..
Besos y abrazos.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I havent done much but be a beach bum and walk around the city, so there is not much to report on. Actually, yesterday, I ordered a pizza in complete spanish and it came out how I wanted it! It was pretty cool. My spanish is getting better, but it still can improve(obviously!!). After being in class, which reminds me a lot of my spanish classes in high school, makes me want to be a spanish teacher again. It´s a little too late for that.
Tonight I am going to go on a long walk with my friend Beth. There are these really cool windcombs on the coast and we are going to watch the sunset. Don´t worry all, I am going to take lots of pictures!!
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Notice my terrible sunburn!
This is the walk we take to school.
Beth, Kylee and I at the beach
- - When you order potatoes, you get french fries, for EVERY meal
- They have siesta time, everyday from 1:30-4:30 mostly everything is closed, and then reopens until 8 or 8:30.
- Nearly 90% of the population smokes (YUCK!!)
- Wine is cheaper than water.
- They have baday´s (cleans your butt) in their bathrooms
- If you go to a club before 11, it is not even open.
- Clubs are packed until 5am.
- In starbucks, you must type in the code on your receipt in order to use the restroom.
- Dinner is only served after a specific time
- All grocery stores are underground
- Dogs are never on leashes, and never bother people.
- They have a name for the sun... Lorenzo
- Parents allow their children to pee in bushes and often prop them up so they can go.
- Kitchens do not have ovens, only stovetops.
- I live in the basque country, so every sign is in basque and spainsh
- All cars here are stick shift
Me at the top of the Castle
Roman Aqueduct in Segovia
After Segovia we started driving towards San Sebastian. We stopped at a "self service cafeteria" and Kelly and I got pasta which was pretty nasty. It was 6 euros and tasted like spaghetti-o's but worse. NASTY!
Anyways so then we drove a lot more and finally (after the huge hail storm) got to San Sebastian.We stayed in a super nice hotel and had dinner at a neighboring restaruant and we got really yummy ice cream for dessert. Here is where we met the rest of the kids in our group for the summer.
Today we had an orientation and took a spanish placement exam. Then we found our apartment! We are living right in the center of town which is very nice in a cute little apartment. It has cherry wood floors throughout and is tiny but well kept. The craziest part is the way you dry clothes. There's a window in the kitchen that has this greenhouse type courtyard that is just for clotheslines. We did a load of laundry and were amazed.We took a walking tour of town and made a small stop at the grocery store. We had to carry our food back so we didn't buy much!
Our roommate is Spanish and her name is Marta. She is very, very nice and speaks perfect english. She has hopes to become and English teacher and is going to Los Angeles in the fall. We like her a lot. Tonight we just unpacked and got settled in and now it's about to be midnight and we have classes tomorrow so we may go to bed soon. We will update on how classes go later. OH! I almost forgot .... since Marta lives here permantely, we have the internet which is very uncommon for USAC students! So awesome!
I forgot another great thing! Kelly and I tried this little cafe by the cathedral in the center of our side of town and we got AMAZING hamburgers. We both agreed it was one of the best burgers ever. Also, an interesting thing is that when a menu says chips or potatoes it really means french fries. WEIRD!
Here's my mailing address:
- Katie DiCostanzo
- USAC Edificio Ignacio M^a Barriola
- Universidad del Pais Vasco/EHU
- Plaza Elhuyar 1
- 20018 Donostia-San Sebastian, Gipuzcoa, Spain
Here is a picture of El Escorial.
Today we visited El Escorial which is a palace, a monestary and a royal pantheon. In the basement, there are tombs of Kings and Queens who governed Spain. It was built in the 16th century.
By the way, we have an amazing tour guide, her name is Marisol. She is the most upbeat, and happy older lady I have ever met. You can tell she loves this place. She has been taking us around the amazing cities of Spain.
Valle de los Caidos is a basilica carved into a mountain. The prisioners from the spanish civil war built this to get out of their jail time faster. This is a monument to honor all those who died in the war. It was very big and had a church inside.There is a huge, 500ft cross built on top of the mountain. One of the best parts was the ceiling though, it was a mosaic made of tiny sqaures. So cool!
Today after our visit to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen, we went to this amazing restaurant named Gino's. It was this fabulous italian place that had great sangria. It was my frist taste of Spanish sangria, and I think I fell inlove. It was good to finally eat something I knew I'd like!!
Kelly and I had came home and took a siesta after lunch, then we went out shopping on a street called Grand Via. There are so many shops on this street and restaurants too. We ended up spending a little bit of money to make us look a little less american!
Tonight was an easy, relaxing night. We went out to get a drink and then called it an early evening and packed our suitcases. Tomorrow we are on our way to San Sebastian and on our way there we are stopping in another gorgeous city, Segovia.
Yesterday we visited the Museo Prado and the Royal Palace located in Madrid. The Prado was pretty much a regular art museum there were some cool paintings but it was hot and we were really tired. We went to the Royal palace first and we really enjoyed it.The Royal Palace was more interesting and really pretty. It was built in 1738 I believe and it's where the royal family lives. The king and queen actually live somewhere else but they sometimes visit this and they hold banquets and a lot of parties there. It was decorated very ornately and all the ceilings were painted.
One of the street performers getting ready.
We also went to Plaza Mejor and went to a market which was our first interaction buying things! In the plaza there are tons and tons of street preformers! It is funny seeing all these different people dressed up and asking for money.
Today we went to Toledo which was GOREGOUS! It was so, so pretty. It was about an hour away and the views were amazing. We went to the cathedral and it was so cool. The inside was huge and had tons of stained glass and everything was decorated. It took 250 years to build and was sooo detailed. Toledo used to be the capital of Spain before Madrid. It is probably one of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen. Completely breathtaking.
The view of Toledo.
We also saw a Jewish temple and El Grecco's famous painting. Toledo was really fun and had great shopping. Kelly and I both bought a few things, we have to bring that Spainish fashion back to Ohio.
The entrance of the catherdal.
A little boy kicked my seat the whole time and the woman behind Kell tapped her on her shoulder when she reclined my seat which was rude. The plane was HUGE and had individual tv screens for each person to control. I watched Yes Man and Kelly watched Bride Wars. They gave us socks, eye masks, a toothbrush and toothpaste which was cool. So we made it with not very much sleep to London where we met Bethany.She was on our flight and we were on the next one together so we got our tickets together etc. London airport is HUGE and has so many places to shop it's nuts.
The last flight to Madrid was 2 hours and the worst by far. I slept for majority of the time resting my head on the little tray table. Nothing was free, not even water. Iberia sucks! It was dumb. But on the long flight EVERYTHING was free. Very cool.So we finally get to Madrid and the airport is very modern. Kelly and I got our luggage but Bethany's was lost so we waited around for that. Then we went to the shuttle station. We waited another hour but met a really nice French couple that gave us their info and told us to email them if we want them to show us around France and we could stay with them and he gave us all the places we should visit.So we rode the shuttle/van with them and the man drops us off at THE WRONG HOTEL. So the three of us have all our luggage and are walking through downtown Madrid. Kelly and Beth were asking everyone to point on this map if we are going in the right direction and finally we get to the hotel.It was tiring and frustrating but we made it and all had time for a quick shower before dinner. There are a ton of people from our program here and they are all really cool. We are very tired and have tours at 9 am so goodnight!
We'll post pictures soon.