An Abandoned House & Fairy-tales!

I need to not leave recaps waiting for too long, so here’s a mini one!

IMG_3435.JPG

Yesterday I ran 5.1 miles before doing short strength workouts, I’ve been really good about doing abs everyday the past 2 weeks! Also, I think I’m becoming a wimp about the weather because it was 60 degrees and I was pretty cold for a mile or two…

Then I was at the library all morning with some people from class, it stunk to be inside but now most of the things I needed to do this week are out of the way! It’s supposed to be nice for the rest of the week anyways so I was fine with it.

lkjhgffghj.jpg

After getting all that done I still had a bunch of energy, and the sun doesn’t set until 8:30 now! So I went for a walk to explore a path I’ve been wanting to go down for a while. But first I needed a snack because I was so hungry. I put cream cheese and strawberry jam on fresh baked multigrain bread, something I’ve seen people do at UMass before! I always thought it looked so gross, but I gave it a shot and it’s my new favorite combination. It tastes like strawberry cheesecake but way healthier 🙂 I also had a few chips cause I was craving something salty.

IMG_3444.JPG

All fueled up I went for a 4 mile walk 🙂 I love walking lately, I think I used to not be patient enough for it and I just wanted to run. If I have time, I like doing one run and one walk a day.

FullSizeRender.jpg

And I found an old abandoned house! The creepiness of it doesn’t match the happy happy weather.

IMG_3458

Lately I’ve found that I’m definitely in a running rut because my runs lately have felt so not energetic and I can’t find myself to want to go any further than 5 miles. Ugh.

Today I ran 3 miles and my legs just didn’t want anymore. But I didn’t want to be inside because it was beautiful out!

IMG_3466.JPG

So I grabbed my frozen strawberry and lemon water and headed up to the roof to read a children’s Spanish book! My dad said that’s a great way to learn expressions.

IMG_3465.JPG

Plus its fun to pretend to be a kid again and read fairy-tales!

IMG_3471

I sat up there for about an hour and a half and I talked to a really nice lady who was hanging her clothes out to dry! Seriously, dryers don’t exist here, people just hang their clothes out and I love it. I used  to always use the dryer all the time at home while my mom still hung the clothes out, but now I’m so used to it. When it rains or is going to rain, the Spaniards don’t do laundry- simple as that. Her husband actually works at the University and she was giving me the inside scoop on all the great things to do in Granada during Semana Santa 🙂 I’m already doing so good on my pact with myself to learn more Spanish, I have an intercambio tomorrow and two next week!

I made a snack since there were still 4 hours till dinner!!!! Sometimes I love the late dinner time, sometimes not so much.

Yum yum yummmm.

IMG_3482.JPG

Have a very happy Tuesday!

Flamenco in the Caves, a Hole in the Wall, and La Noche en Blanco

I love, love, love Sundays. There’s something cozy about having adventured all week and weekend and spending the day putting my life back together in between sips of coffee. I know a lot of people hate the end of Sunday, but for me there are usually no distractions and I can get a lot of work done!IMG_3316.JPG

I have some random thoughts to get out before I write the activities we did this week.

The beginning of this week was hard because I got rejections from internships that I would have loved to be a part of this summer. But things can’t always be so simple and handed to you that easily, so practicing being rejected is good. It can be frustrating to work on applications so hard after classes everyday and seeing it not amount to much. So after allowing myself to sulk for a few minutes I decided to enroll in a computer programming class at UMass for the fall, because I think that’s one of the things I am missing to be a good researcher. It always feels better to do something about it when you aren’t getting what you wanted.

Now that it’s nearing the end of the usual time to apply for summer jobs like that, I want to turn my focus on Spanish. Time is flying by and I only have about 2 months left! And when I get back to school I only have one more Spanish class to finish my major (ahhhhhhh). I don’t know when I will be immersed in a totally Spanish-speaking environment again and I want to take full advantage. For me that means changing it up. Too many times I’ve skipped out on intercambios or other activities because my friends and I are tired from activities that day. So the last two months I want to dedicate to getting out of my comfort zone and making my Spanish be the best I can make it before I leave.

____________________________________________

It felt so good to get back to running after totally indulging last week and not running at all. My legs were moving slowly but I loved being out in the sun running along the river again. I decided not to care about my pace this week because it was not going to be as fast as usual. This week I ran 28.4 miles.

On Wednesday we went to the caves in the Sacromante for a Flamenco show! I didn’t really know what to expect when we headed up to meet the program, and it was totally different than anything I’d imagined.

There is a “Michelle Obama” chair in the cave, where she sat when she went to see the Flamenco show in Granada 🙂

The dancers come SO CLOSE to you, because the cave is pretty much a long tunnel and they don’t have a huge dancing area. I almost got hit in the face with one of her fancy little fan movements. And there’s a story line, which I didn’t know was part of it. I thought they were just going to dance randomly but there was a couple who met, fell in love, and got married.

IMG_3266IMG_3270IMG_3273IMG_3275IMG_3281IMG_3291After running on Friday morning I went to get some coffee with Alicia and Jourdan at a café we hadn’t been to yet! It was a nice way to spend the afternoon. Alicia’s program ends in April, I can’t believe she’s already leaving next month 😦 Good thing she goes to UMass too so we can hang out all of next year 🙂IMG_3341IMG_3340It was a cozy (and cold) kind of Friday.IMG_3336On Friday we decided to make a trip up to the lookout for a sunset view since there were only a few of us around. I wonder how many pictures one can take of the Alhambra in a semester before it is too many…IMG_3362IMG_3364“The limit does not exist!!!”IMG_3368We grabbed dinner with our host families and then went to find a hole-in-the-wall bar my friend told me about. She met a French and British guy who were playing there! Unfortunately we got there too late to be in the room (there weren’t enough seats) so we watched from the outside patio. It was a cool place and very local, I’m so glad we went!

It was definitely a good description because we almost walked right past it before we saw the sign. IMG_3381IMG_3380On the way out we saw people practicing for Semana Santa. Semana Santa in Granada is very well-known for its “pasos” (floats of thrones with religious icons), and also for the unique surroundings of the processions. The floats are so huge and the people underneath it have to be very coordinated to walk together! They have to bring it all the way to the top of the city for their day.IMG_3378Saturday was a beautiful morning for a 5 mile run, not a cloud to be seen!IMG_3387The day was called “La Noche en Blanco” in Granada. There were a ton of street vendors out, so we went to check out center city. The stores also stayed open until 5am, Sephora was having a party in their store at midnight!

There was a flamenco store and jeeez those dresses are expensive, I saw one for 350 euros!IMG_3392IMG_3390There were things to do in every square, like tae kwon do and gymnasts!IMG_3395IMG_3398We got margaritas afterwards to refuel 🙂IMG_3399Then we found a green screen! IMG_3403We could hear music so we headed in that direction, and we found a really fun little concert going on. They were playing really popular songs because everyone knew the words except for us! I could eventually sing the repetitive lines after a while but we tried to look them up when we got back. No estamos lokos.IMG_3405IMG_3408And more processions when we were leaving! Those poor guys what do they do if they have to go to the bathroom?? Guess they can’t!IMG_3411We hit up the trails for a Sunday morning hike today! I forgot about the time change and thought I was just super tired this morning. It was nice being only 5 hours ahead of home for a week, but now we’re back to being 6 hours ahead.

We found a few more waterfalls than we had on these trails the last time 🙂 I led us in the wrong direction for a little but we made it to some view points eventually!IMG_3413IMG_3415We found a little house thing that was cute.IMG_3418These little side creeks had ginormous frogs in them is was so gross! Everytime I saw one I got goosebumps!IMG_3424IMG_3426This afternoon I’ve felt tired, but I also feel so ready for Monday at the same time! I’ve planned to meet up with some people to practice my conversational Spanish and I’m really excited. Unfortunately I also have presentations and essays due this coming week, so this afternoon has been completely dedicated to that.

I can’t believe next weekend is already the beginning of April! It was nice to have another weekend here because I’m going to busy busy busy next month. Not that this weekend wasn’t busy though 🙂

Ian in Spain (Part 2)

So where did I leave off? Oh yes the monster hike, so Thursday ended up being pretty low-key. I had to go to some classes but Ian met me on my break for brunch and was going to try and check out one of the bike stores nearby.

IMG_3109.JPG

Afterwards, we moved our stuff from the Airbnb to my apartment for Ian’s last night in Granada!

We stopped for lunch and split a slice of cheesecake at the cafe next to my apartment before we walked up to the event place that Julia and I like to walk to. It was fun seeing Granada from a different side 🙂

IMG_3122IMG_3119IMG_3117IMG_3116IMG_3115

So many views!IMG_3113IMG_3112

IMG_3111.JPG

I just realized the excessive amount of food photos and GOODNESS I need to eat some fruit this week.

Speaking of food… for dinner we got Mexican tapas and I am definitely going back, they were soooo good. We split nachos and got two beers each, but beer fills me up so much so Ian usually has to finish mine 😦

Cue a movie and a rough night’s sleep- and after Ian’s last churro breakfast we were off to Malaga!

IMG_3124

We checked in to the nicest hotel, Barceló! I could have stayed in there for a whole weekend but we went to explore the city first. There are so many beautiful buildings and way more palm trees for some reason.

IMG_3183.JPGWe went to the Roman Ruins and they were pretty close to the hotel, it was only  25 minute walk. It only cost 60 cents for each of us to get in since we were students!

IMG_3161IMG_3160IMG_3159IMG_3163IMG_3162IMG_3157IMG_3156The plaza de toros was setting up for a concert, so we couldn’t go in 😦 But we got to walk along the ocean! It was so pretty and there was a lot going on. You could tell everyone was on Spring Break because everyone was speaking English.

IMG_3182IMG_3181

The views from the ruins were amazing 🙂IMG_3177IMG_3176

Bike Zone is really getting some advertising in this post!IMG_3175IMG_3173

And there was cool graffiti on our walk back 🙂

IMG_3184.JPG

When we got back to the hotel there were chocolate covered strawberries and champagne waiting! I wasn’t even hungry but I can’t pass up a treat like that.

IMG_3186IMG_3185

The sunset from the room was perfect for Ian’s last sunset in Spain! I was happy and sad all at the same time.

IMG_3187.JPG

The time came around for a late supper (like true Spaniards!) and we didn’t end up eating until around 11pm! We were on the hunt for the best paella.

And I’m pretty sure…

IMG_3191

…we found it!

It was flavorful, salty, and filling- I could see why the place was so packed!IMG_3190

Ian had to google how to eat a full shrimp like that 🙂 And he still made a mess anyways.

We walked back and fell asleep since he had an early flight- he left the hotel at 4am! Oof, that is never ever ever going to be an easy goodbye. I had the whole hotel to myself but it felt way too big for the rest of the night. I felt much better when I woke up the next morning, after all I had the hotel until noon and I was going to use every second of it! I went to the gym and lounged out all morning. A comfy bathrobe, a movie, and a good run were making me feel so much better! I wasn’t ready to leave the room but I feel so lucky to have had the perfect week with Ian, and that he got to see where I live and what I do in a day in Granada 🙂

IMG_3192.JPG

Oh and lastly, the hotel had a SLIDE you get to go down at the end! I probably looked so weird leaving by myself going down the slide but I was not going to miss out.

IMG_3199.JPG

Even with the rain, being a bit late for the Alhambra, and other small mishaps- I couldn’t have been happier! Thank you for the best week ever 🙂

17359178_10211991656537143_4294264686405590078_o.jpg

 

 

Ian in Spain (Part 1)

After looking at all the pictures from this week I realized that I will need to split this post into two parts and they will still probably be too long! We did a lot and I don’t want to miss out on writing everything because I want to remember all the details. So let’s start from last Saturday 🙂

Ian arrived in Málaga around noon and we took a bus to Granada from there. He was exhausted (a combination of the flights and this semester) and after watching the mountains for a while he kept dozing off. Luckily he didn’t take a full nap so he would be tired at the normal time for Spain. We went grocery shopping to get some stuff for the week and walk around a little. I wouldn’t take him to the main sights until the next day because he was pretty much a zombie anyways 🙂

We got some ice cream as a pick-me-up. There was a lot going on since it was Saturday, I was glad there was so much for Ian to look at!

IMG_2874IMG_2876

We were asleep super early and woke up on Monday to go to the Alhambra! I bought tickets for 8:30 and we got there 5 minutes late but the tickets are so strict and I thought we weren’t going to be able to go, I was mad and frustrated that we hadn’t woken up earlier, but after we waited for a little while the workers there let us tag along to a group tour that was in both Spanish and English, perfect! This was my second time to the Alhambra and it was the perfect day. Everything was so beautiful and we learned a lot, it was also the perfect tour to practice my Spanish.

They give you headphones to listen to the tour guide, and you can hear him even while you’re wandering around.

IMG_2891

Ian works in the woodshop at school and he said how intricate these old wooden designs are.IMG_2898

It was a beautiful day for a visit!IMG_2895IMG_2892IMG_2893IMG_2899IMG_2900IMG_2901

All of the patterns and ceilings are crazy!IMG_2902IMG_2906

At the end we reached the gardens, my favorite part 🙂IMG_2907IMG_2904IMG_2903IMG_2908IMG_2917IMG_2918IMG_2920IMG_2922IMG_2915IMG_2911IMG_2927IMG_2925

I got him to take ONE picture there, it’s a tough life trying to photograph this guy.IMG_2924IMG_2929IMG_2926

I was so happy!

IMG_2943.JPG

After the Alhambra we were starving and churros with chocolate were the answer! We got so many and were absolutely stuffed. Ian said the chocolate pretty much tasted like a cup of melted Hershey bars.

IMG_2931IMG_2936IMG_2932

Obviously I finished off with a coffee.

IMG_2934

Ian took a siesta while I studied a little bit and then we went for a walk to the Mirador San Nicolas (because you have to on your first full day in Granada)! It was beautiful and it was fun to see Ian’s face when he saw the view. The Sierra Nevadas in the background make it look unreal!

IMG_3098IMG_2977IMG_2976IMG_2966

Then we walked down Paseo de los Tristes.

IMG_2969

For dinner we decided to go for tapas! Ian was really excited and wanted to “tapa hop.” It was such a good idea, why hadn’t I thought of that before? We ended up only going to two places, but it was really fun. At the first stop, El Vinoteca, we got a beer with one tapa and a sangria with another.

IMG_2974IMG_2973

The tapas there were kind of small, so we went to a bigger tapa place, La Riviera for some FREE burgers with our drinks.

IMG_2975

I was full after that, Ian got one more drink with a croqueta and then we couldn’t fit anymore. Slightly drunk and very full we made our way back to the apartment to sleep!

I had to wake up early on Monday for an exam, and my heart sunk when I looked at the forecast for the rest of the week. Rain, rain, rain, and some more rain. Of course the week before Ian comes is 75 and beautiful everyday and then his week is rain. I was frustrated again because I had a lot planned for outdoor activities! On Monday we took a long walk to the huge mall that Granada has called Nevada. I was happy being with Ian but definitely upset with the weather, but he said he didn’t mind! We walked around all the stores and got lunch there at La Cueva. Nevada is ENORMOUS, I think we must have walked four or five miles around the mall. Ian got potatoes with chorizo and eggs, I got a chicken sandwich.

IMG_2982IMG_2984

The view from the outside of the mall was pretty cool too (don’t mind the panorama car mix-ups!)IMG_2979

It was still raining later on, but luckily I had tickets for something indoors on Monday night, the Arab baths! You wear bathing suits and I would describe these as a series of hot tubs with different temperatures, and one cold room. But they aren’t normal hot tubs or baths, the inside looks like the inside of the Alhambra! It was so relaxing. I was nervous Ian would hate it, but he thought it was so cool. The massages were a flat “no” but I’m happy with what I got 🙂 I couldn’t take any pictures inside but I do have one from their page.

hammam-al-andalus

Two relaxed people!

IMG_3064IMG_3063

After that we grabbed some food, watched a movie, and called it a night (I had to get up early for another exam). When I left early in the morning it was downpouring, I could have cried because it was the day I had planned a fun hike, but still Ian was in Spain with me even though the weather was not cooperating! We met each other for breakfast after and then headed to the science museum. He could tell I was upset that my plan hadn’t been working out but he loves science museums and it ended up being really fun wandering around there together! Some of the stuff was from difficult classes he had taken and I think he was having a little bit of PTSD..

We looked at the helicopter outside for a while:

IMG_2710

and explored the museum!IMG_2708

When we got back to the apartment I checked the weather again, and sunny days were coming! I did a little happy dance because the rest of the week was going to be good weather!!!! I guess you can’t really trust those apps too much 🙂 Hikes, walks, ice cream, walking around and sitting in parks were back on the agenda!

Tuesday night we did tapas for supper again! But this time we were seeking out the bigger tapas and ended up in Plaza Einstein. I don’t remember the name of the place we went to, but it was awesome and we ended up getting three rounds of tapas.

IMG_2723.JPGIMG_2724.JPGIMG_3086

We planned on doing a hike Wednesday morning, but not until 10 so we got to sleep in! The hike was called Beas de Granada. Basically you take a bus from Granada to Beas (a town nearby) and you hike all the way back to Granada! I love that it is a point A to point B, and Ian was able to download the whole hike onto his GPS for us to follow, in addition to having step by step directions of what turns to make. It was so easy to follow for an 11-mile hike!

Before we left Ian made some delicious breakfast sandwiches, and then we got on the bus! We were nervous we wouldn’t know which bus to get on, but the bus driver standing on the outside said “Beas de Granada?” and it was that simple! The hike took us from the point the bus drops you off at, again super easy. When we first began it was really windy but as we got further into the mountains it was still, sunny, and hot! We passed by hundreds of olive trees and the view of the Sierra Nevadas was always there, and so so pretty. I wonder how many pictures we took of them.. We also passed by a few farms with tons of goats and herding dogs! I admit I was kind of afraid of the goats and Ian was laughing at me because there just goats, but still! What if they aren’t used to humans in their area or something??

Here’s a picture I took escaping the evil goats:

IMG_3045

We took a LOT of pictures on the hike, can’t stop won’t stop!! We could see the Sierra Nevadas the whole time, and we were pretty much alone in the middle of the mountains, it was so cool! 🙂IMG_3014IMG_3016IMG_3017IMG_3018

I love this picture 🙂IMG_3021IMG_3023IMG_3024IMG_3025IMG_3026IMG_3027IMG_3031

There were a lot of mountain bikers, I wish he could have gone with them!IMG_3035IMG_3030IMG_3038IMG_3043IMG_3044IMG_3076IMG_3013

We packed sandwiches, apples, and peanuts, and we took a lunch break to eat them.

IMG_3039IMG_3041

By the time we got back we were both a little burned and very much exhausted. We had been hiking for about 4 hours! We decided to watch Inside Out and siesta until going for a walk and seeing the sunset. We had our hearts set on paella, but I wanted a view first! The Alhambra looked as pretty as ever, and then we walked down to grab some paella and a beer. We sat outside and watched the sun go down 🙂 The paella there was small (we think it is for one person there) and it wasn’t my favorite! Ian liked it but he just wished it was more. Because it was right under the Alhambra it was really touristy so I don’t think it was the best paella we could have gotten (but we would get the best in Málaga).

IMG_3103.JPGIMG_3105

The first days were a success and I was so happy that the weather took a turn for the better 🙂 After Wednesday we still had a lot to do, but the days go by so fast when we are together, I wish it could slow down just a little bit!

Finally Clicking

This week has been SO amazing. I feel like this week, Granada really clicked for me and I’m not sure why, but I do have five theories.

  • I’m so happy and excited because I just went to get coffee with two girls I randomly met the other night (also studying from the US) and we really hit it off. We planned a hike and a rocking climbing trips for the future, and we ended up talking for 2 and a half hours without even realizing it. It’s cool to to hear what other people have been doing and we updated each other on places to see and things to do.
  • Ian will be in Spain on Saturday! I have planned a lot of stuff for this coming week and booking tickets for everything was so worth it. I can’t wait to write all about next week 🙂
  • The weather really brought us all outside together doing workouts, walking around, and eating on the patio. After a rainy weekend, it was perfect.
  • Tomorrow some girls from the program and I are going to Nerja for a beach day! We’re so stoked to explore around there and soak up the sun on our Friday off.
  • My confidence to speak Spanish more has definitely doubled since I got here, and especially after struggling with French for a weekend. I am raising my hand to speak more in class, easily holding conversations with my host mom, having no issues in restaurants or asking for help, and I’m understanding conversations when I hear Spaniards walking down the street. It’s so exciting to notice my speaking and listening skills getting better and better every week 🙂

Today I just have some randomness for you, mostly of what I have been eating lately with a few adventures in the mix. I added in a lot more vegetables this week (I tend to eat healthier when it gets warmer out) and it feels really nice. At lunch, I’ve been filling up on the salad instead of all the carbs and I bring nuts and fruit to class that our mom buys us for snacks. Anyways here I go!

Here’s an accurate picture of what I do after studying and before sleeping- Sherlock Holmes and chocolate. Ever since we went to the museum in London I had been wanting to watch, and it’s so good! I forgot how good mysteries are.

IMG_2684

This cafe has really good smoothies even though they are different than the ones I;m used to. The one I like to get is strawberry banana with almond milk and ice! It’s perfect for a snack or after I finish working out and want to cool down and just sit.IMG_2697

On my run Monday I had to take a detour from my normal route because of construction, but the detour was prettier than I though, and no pavement! The only thing was that it was SO muddy from rain the night before, but I’ll definitely be coming back here. IMG_2686

I went for a walk during siesta, I still had too much energy!IMG_2700IMG_2703

The Alhambra never gets old.IMG_2704IMG_2705IMG_2706

I skipped out on chocolate before bed on Monday and went with popcorn instead 🙂IMG_2715

After my class on Tuesday I made a breakfast that I was so proud of! I usually ruin omelettes and turn it into scrambled eggs but my some stroke of luck I did it 🙂 There’s spinach and onions somewhere in there. It was really filling so I was all fueled up for our hike later on. IMG_2722

After lunch we all met up and were off! Kayla knew where she wanted to go but wasn’t exactly sure how to get there. First we went to Generalife to find the view point we were looking for, and went from there.IMG_2727

We found the lookout she was searching for, although you can’t see it very well in this photo. We decided to literally just head in that direction, go up, and hope for the best!IMG_2728IMG_2729

We stopped for a few detours on the way down.IMG_2730IMG_2731

But after walking through some questionable streets we found it! Apparently people usually drive to this lookout but we walked on the main roads and it was exhausting. The sun felt so hot on our faces but the view was so worth it.IMG_2734

Daily dose of Granada 🙂IMG_2747

Tuesday hikes are kind of our thing now, I love knowing that I have that to look forward to every week, and it gets me out doing an exercise other than running.IMG_2748IMG_2752IMG_2756

I was more than ready for supper when we got back, I added a bunch of spinach to the side of my fajitas.

IMG_2759

After classes yesterday I went for a 9 mile run in the 75 degree weather! I felt so good and energized, I love those runs.IMG_2762

9 miles at 8:32 pace made me so hungry! I made veggies with one egg, with a side of banana and Nutella toast. Yummm.IMG_2772IMG_2774

After teaching English some of my friends and I went to do a workout in the park!IMG_2782 (2)IMG_2778

We did circuits and wall sits on a tree was my favorite 🙂 Least favorite = push-ups and planks, I could do cardio forever but my upper body is so weak! I’m going to try and go do the circuit with them every couple days now.IMG_2779IMG_2780

The slow walk back was well-deserved!IMG_2784IMG_2786

Aaaaand today, I’m really sore. Happy Thursday! 🙂

Caption Per Picture

It was a pretty chill week here in Granada… so I was able to run 30.1 miles this week which has been my highest mileage in a while!

On Wednesday I was a good pal and picked up a bagel for Julia at the Dunkin here, I found out that they have them and I knew she had been craving one for a while!

img_2622

We found a house/restaurant with an absurd amount of plates on the outside during our Thursday hike.img_2627

It was a hot day and the view was so perfect!img_2633

Our professors bring up the president a lot in our classes and it’s interesting to see from a different country’s perspective…img_2625

You can see all the trails going across the mountain, it almost looks like it is sliced into a bunch of pieces all the way up.img_2631It was an oddly rainy weekend.img_2638

I took advantage of the small amounts of sun to go on a few runs!img_2639

We went out for tapas on Friday and got really strong sangria.img_2647img_2664img_2668

I watched Sherlock Holmes for a while (the Netflix series is so good!)img_2657

I had to get coffee of course while we did our homework.

IMG_2674.JPG

I was grateful for a slower weekend because next weekend Ian will be here and there will be so much to do! This week it is going to be in the mid 70s and I couldn’t be more excited 🙂

 

Hiking, Brussels & Paris

Four days back in Granada did not include much but homework, a few runs, and a hike before it was time to get on a plane again! Today I went for a slow 4 mile run, made coffee, and got ready to write this long post. My posts will probably be a bit shorter now because I won’t be traveling for a few weekends, or I will start writing 2 per week. I’m excited to spend more in Spain and put off traveling far for a little while!

We went hiking on Tuesday after a quick 3 mile run, and I was just following Kayla and Ashley because they had some idea of where the trails were and where they finished. Our last hike was a bit of a let-down, but this one turned out to be much, much better! We started off on Paseo de los Tristes again, and took the walk way like last time, but we turned upward on the trail MUCH earlier. It was a steep hike but I loved it because we felt sore afterwards, and the views were amazing! That’s what I love about hiking, you get a reward at the top for all of your effort. Eventually we needed to cross over a stream, only Alicia and I got our shoes wet, somehow the others stayed completely dry.

img_2364There was a clear path for quite a while after that, but we lost it after about half a mile.

img_2360We couldn’t see the path, but we could see the lookout point, so instead of following a path we went straight up the mountain to the lookout. It was super steep, and Kayla ran up most of it while the rest of us lagged behind her.

img_2384img_2380img_2374

On the way down the path was so orange, it looked like we had left Andalusia completely!img_2367img_2366

And we were still getting some views pretty much the whole way down. It ended up being a 6 mile hike!img_2365

On Wednesday I was going to do a long run again, but I felt like I was done after 7 miles. It’s not like I’m training for anything, so I figured 7 was enough for the day. Anyways, I had a lot to do later on! I needed to print everything I would need for my trip in Brussels and Paris and get everything organized, teach an English class, grab something to eat, and then go to tapas for an intercambio! I was exhausted by the end of the night, but I have gotten used to the idea that I am going to be tired a lot this semester. There is a lot less homework, but there is so much to do. Sometimes it can be difficult because I don’t want to miss out on a single thing, with all that is going on, it’s easy to forget that you need to put aside time to just relax too!

After classes on Thursday and a rushed lunch we left to stay the night in an airbnb in Malaga. Since our flight on Friday was so early, we couldn’t manage to leave from Granada on Friday morning. In fact, we had to leave from the airbnb in Malaga at 5am! The night before I ate a sandwich our host mom had packed for us while some people got Chinese food. On our way to pick it up, we saw the sea, I had not idea we would be that close. I want to come back when it gets warmer because it’s only an hour and a half away from Granada.

img_2407

A 4:30am wake up was no fun, but our Airbnb host was really nice and offered to drive us all to the airport for an extra cheap price. I was able to pretty much sleep for the whole plane ride, and was quite rested when we arrived in Brussels, Belgium! We went to our next Airbnb to drop off our bags, and again the host was really friendly. She even bought us a bottle of champagne to have later on! She told us how to take the bus into the city, and we left in immediate search of waffles. We were really hungry so we ate at the first place we saw, a sit down waffle bar. I got a waffle with Nutella on it, and Belgian chocolate on the side for good measure. img_2471img_2422

It was amazing, but the style there is for waffles to be crispy, while I like mine soft usually. Still, it was delicious and I’m glad I tried it! We were annoyed with ourselves when we left because we walked by a ton of waffle places for way cheaper than we got them for, we learned our lesson to look around for a good price before just buying whatever. For the rest of the trip, Camila and I vowed to keep our meals and a minimum cost. It’s nice when you have someone to hold you accountable!

After eating Camila and I walked around the Grand Place while the others stopped by a beer tasting at a little tour. The Grand Place was stunning, I took way too many photos and we walked to all the corners so we could see it from every angle. It was an open-air marketplace in the 10th century and was voted the most beautiful square in Europe in 2010!

img_2432img_2424img_2423

We walked into so many Belgian chocolate shops and touristy shops (and got free samples at almost every single one).

img_2426img_2419img_2418img_2430

When we all met up again we wanted to find the statue of Brussels that we had heard so much about! It’s called Manneken Pis, and finally we found a crowd of people trying to get pictures with it. I thought it was going to be this big grand statue, but it was seriously so small, and it was a little boy peeing! It’s only 24 inches tall but it is SO famous, I had to look it up when I got back because I was really confused. Apparently there are a lot of different legends about why it was made but it was created by Hieronimus Duquesnoy.img_2435img_2437

We weren’t sure where to go afterwards, so we stopped by an information booth to get a map of the city. The map that we got showed were all the cartoon murals were, which turned out to be a great way to explore! That kind of tour was called the Comic Book Route, and we saw all the best sights.15006338792_ff5fa17b78_bbrussels-comic-book-route-32

Once we got hungry again we got burgers and then went to a bar before going back to the Airbnb around 9/9:30. We weren’t sure what time the buses shut down so we decided to go back early, we were tired anyways because we had walked almost 10 miles!

On Saturday morning we left early to get the the bus station in Brussels- we were busing from Brussels to Paris! This was much harder than we expected. First of all, I don’t have even the smallest education in French, so the bus station was difficult to navigate. Even if the station did have English, it still would have been so confusing and disorganized. Running around trying to find the stop was hard and actually a bit scary! We passed by probably a quarter of a mile line of homeless people, covered in blankets and on top of one another. It was actually scary because I didn’t recognize that this mass of objects were people. Two of them were fighting very harshly and I was praying that our bus stop wasn’t next to them. I couldn’t look at this pile of people because it made me feel ill, it was really sad, and it was in addition to already being worried about missing the bus. I had never seen anything like this scene in my life, I felt so innocent, naive, and privileged. We had to exit the station and go across the street and down aways until the stop. There was absolutely no sign for the stop expect for a small sticker on a street pole that said “Eurolines.” While we were waiting there were drunk people behind us, kind of in the distance, but still too close for comfort to me. It was the worst bus stop I had ever seen, and I was more than happy to get on a stuffy bus for 4 hours, we all wanted to leave so badly, I was happy that I had people with me.

img_2472

The bus stop exhausted me, so again I was able to sleep almost the whole way. We dropped our stuff off at Julia’s friend’s apartment. I was happy that we didn’t need to pay for any sleeping arrangements, with her friend it was completely free! We realized we hadn’t eaten all day and it was 4:30 in the evening. Camila and I were on a mission to spend less than 5 euros for each meal, and we were able to do so for lunch- at a sit-down restaurant no less!

img_2474

I just got a ham and cheese sandwich, but it was filling so I was happy. There was Dijon mustard to put on, and not knowing that it was be SO SPICY, Camila and I put way too much on our sandwiches. It was crazy hot mustard, my eyes were watering and I could feel heat coming through my nose. Lesson learned, Dijon mustard is the real deal in Paris! We were able to scrape most of it off but Camila still needed to douse hers in ketchup to be able to eat it, we were laughing so hard at how much we put on because the waiter was amused by our watery eyes throughout the meal.img_2475

We took the metro and buses to go exploring! First stop was Notre Dame de Paris. It was incredible, and we learned so much because they had descriptions in Spanish and English for everything inside. A mass began once we were inside, but they don’t close for masses, people are still allowed inside! That doesn’t happen in Spain- there are no tours on Saturday nights or Sundays usually.

img_2478img_2480img_2481img_2485img_2487Second stop was the Pantheon, which wasn’t open it was still cool to see!

img_2491img_2494

The sun was starting to set, so we headed to the Eiffel Tower because a lot of people had suggested to go at night instead of during the day.

img_2495

The Tower was so beautiful lit up in yellowish orange light! There was intense security to get in near it (like everywhere else in Paris and Brussels). There is a restaurant on the top of it, and meals start at almost 90 euros, and that’s just for appetizers. img_2517img_2498img_2503

The Eiffel Tower sparkles for 5 minutes every hour, so we waited to see that before we went to the Arc de Triomphe! It is in the middle of a rotary, so I was wondering how were were going to get inside! I thought we might have to dart across somehow.

img_2505

Other people are smarter and found a tunnel underneath the rotary that led up to it.img_2507

The sights from the top were perfect, you could see so far in each direction!img_2510img_2512

Everyone was exhausted by nighttime and we were asleep at midnight. We wanted to get up early to go to Versailles because it was about 45 minutes away by metro! We wanted to get there on the early side because we knew it would be packed.

We stopped at a bakery before getting on the metro, and I got a croissant type thing with creme and chocolate chips in the middle, I miss it already.

img_2518Aaaand yup the line was huge, we waited in line on Sunday morning for probably 45 minutes. It was a cold and cloudy morning but I actually didn’t mind waiting in line. I love hearing all the different languages that are brought to the major sights, and people watching is always fun. There was an Italian family in front of us and a French group behind us, so I was trying to pick out words they were saying.

img_2520

We finally got inside, it was free and with free audio-guides! I like using guides a lot because without them I kind of just wander and have no idea what I’m looking at. But with them I can imagine what people used to do in each room, and it paces you around the Palace.

img_2541img_2544

The Hall of Mirrors was my favorite part!img_2534

Eventually the guide led us outside to the gardens that went on for what seemed like forever. We didn’t walk all the way to the end because it was freezing cold! img_2551img_2553img_2580img_2533img_2531

We grabbed quick sandwiches at a stand so that we would have plenty of time at the Louvre.

img_2548

We waited in line there too for a while, and then we all picked a place to meet up when they closed (at 6) because we were all going to wander in random directions.

img_2566img_2565img_2578

First we all wanted to see the Mona Lisa together! There were guards on both sides and bullet proof glass, it was intense.

img_2569

Then I went through French paintings, Italian paintings, and French sculptures. Time flew by before we met up to get out coats and leave.

img_2576img_2577img_2572

The Louvre is enormous, it would take weeks or maybe months to see everything inside.

It was our last night in Paris so we went to the Latin Quarter, and I got a martini while the others tried Crème brûlée. Places weren’t open late since it was Sunday, so we got back around 12:45 and fell asleep.

img_2582

Monday was a travel day, but we had a little time in the morning to grab some coffee. I got a very strong espresso and was ready for the day. Julia got a Nutella crepe that I was really jealous of. The place was quiet and empty, but I was glad because we were all so tired.

img_2585

One flight and a hour ride back to Granada, we were able to catch the sunset- I missed Spain so much! I loved France and Belgium, but I missed the warmer weather, the people, and the language in Spain a lot.

img_2588img_2586

The best part about seeing all that we did in Paris was that it was absolutely free to get in if you were a student, everywhere! We needed to show our University of Granada card and our visa, and we were all set. It was so helpful because if it wasn’t free, we would have spent so much money on that part. Instead we were able to save money and still see a lot.

This trip I learned so much, and I was surprised that most of it happened at the bus station in Brussels. I’m not even sure if that would be considered culture shock, but I hadn’t felt that uncomfortable or out of place until then. I think we managed it pretty well and kept moving forward!

Somehow I gained more confidence in my travels and Spanish after struggling to make my way through French-speaking countries. The comparison of the different languages showed me how much I actually do know in Spanish. I missed it so much and I was excited to speak to my host mom in Spanish when I got back.