This is going to be a doozy of a post, so get comfortable and grab some coffee or a snack! I’m going to throw it all the way back to Tuesday to begin:
Valentine’s Day was last week, and there were decorations and flowers everywhere! We asked our professor how the holiday is usually celebrated in Spain, and she told us it’s pretty much the exact same as in the United States– very Hallmark-y. Still, I liked seeing tons of flowers being sold around the city and all the cute couples being romantic.
I found peanut butter in a store!! Finally, it does exist! But I probably won’t buy it because it is ridiculously expensive here, also crunchy peanut butter isn’t really my thing. I’m really getting used to a peanut-butterless life 😦
I dressed for the occasion on my 4.1 mile run:
Afterwards, I set out for a 3 mile walk to explore streets I hadn’t been down yet! The graffiti is really cool and seems much more thought-out than most of what I see in the United States. Also, graffiti is more embraced on the city walls, rather than being constantly painted over. People call the graffiti in Granada the “back street art galleries.”
We celebrated Valentine’s Day in my apartment with some girls from the program, we watched a movie and drank champagne 🙂
On Wednesday I woke up early for class, and did my long run afterwards! I ran 10 miles because I didn’t know how much I would be able to run in London. Plus, I like when my legs are tired for the plane ride, then I don’t feel so restless. I knew Wednesday would be almost 70 degrees, so I wanted to be outside for a lot of the day. I even got some tan lines!
This was my view around mile 7, I felt weird because I was running behind that guy for so long, but I wasn’t going fast enough to pass him- he was the perfect pacer for the end of my run without even knowing it- thanks mister!
On the way back, I passed by a lot of stands selling biking jerseys, hats, socks, pants, you name it.
It looked like a race of some kind?
Oh a BIKE race, it took me a little while but I figured it out 😉
After I finished my run I wanted more time outside in the beautiful weather! I had an hour to kill so I read outside by the river. If you can call it that, there isn’t much water in it right now 😦
At tutoring on Wednesday only one student came, which was a little disappointing because we had planned a whole jeopardy game, but we can always use it another week 🙂 Instead, we played hangman and learned expressions! Our student asked what it means to be “cheesy” because she heard someone say it on Valentine’s Day. She knew it couldn’t be right that someone was covered in cheese, so we got that all sorted out 🙂 I told her that I heard someone say that someone “tiene pelos en la lengua” which translated literally means that someone “has hairs on their tongue.” Apparently it means that they say whatever they want without thinking, like “not having a filter.” Expressions are fun to learn, but it is difficult when trying to learn a new language, you take everything so literally! Tangent over- moving on.
By the time I got out, Ian had responded to my pictures of the bike race set-up saying that it was La Vuelta a Andalucía, a one-day race from Málaga to Granada and that I should definitely try to watch! I headed over around 4:15, having no idea what time the race started or would be finishing. There were tons of buses and intense-looking bike vehicles around.
I posted up on the side of the finish, there was a screen at the end, but it was far and I couldn’t see it very well… I texted my mom to ask her to look up when the race would be ending since I had no idea if it would be 3 hours or 20 minutes away.
But it looked like I was right on time, how lucky!
Then motorcycles started coming through honking their horns, it was almost time! I had only been there for about 25-30 minutes so I definitely lucked out with timing, and I got a good spot too! The guys all around me had biking gear on and shirts and signs so it was all very, very exciting.
Then the racers came through and were in front of me for what seemed like .00000000000000000001 seconds, they were FLYING. I couldn’t believe I just stumbled upon this on a random Wednesday, I felt so lucky. I was trying to watch and take it all in, so I had no idea what my photos looked like, but here you go!
It was really awesome to be there, and so close-up! I’m so glad Ian told me to go, even though I hadn’t known about it before, I looked up info on the racers when I got back so I could understand more about what I saw afterwards. I learned that:
- The race is called La Vuelta a Andalucia, but also called “La Ruta del Sol, “Route of the Sun” in English.
- It’s a 5 day stage race, and the stage that I saw the finish of was the first stage and 96.31 miles.
- Alejandro Valverde, who is 36, famous in biking, and from Murcia won the stage.
I took pictures of them cooling down too, and then ran away because they were kind of intimidating and were probably wondering why this random American girl was taking a picture of them!
After a 10 mile run, tutoring, and standing at the bike race for almost an hour, I was more than ready to siesta and then get packing for London the next day! I watched Real Madrid vs. Napoli while I got my luggage all sorted.
Thursday morning I woke up early at 5:30 to get myself situated, we weren’t leaving for two hours but I like a LOT of time to prepare, I hate being late for anything- especially a trip.
We started off with an hour and a half bus ride to Málaga, which I didn’t mind because I love looking at the landscape.
Then we left the airport for a 2-hour flight, which felt like nothing!
We made it!First order of business was to see ELLA!! I haven’t seen her since she left studying abroad at UMass in December 0f 2015, oof. We got drinks while we waited for a seat to open up at supper. I missed Italian food and pasta with white sauce, chicken, and mushrooms hit the spot. Europe doesn’t do take-away leftovers, so I kind of felt like I needed to finish all of it. Bleh, I hate that feeling.
But I got over it as we were going out for drinks! We went to three or four different places and got way too many sugary drinks. I loved trying them all, but I definitely did not feel 100% in the morning. Luckily, I got to have a lot of sleep before coffee and the bus tour!
I honestly wasn’t crazy about the idea of a super touristy bus tour around London, but it actually was the best way to see a lot of the city. The fact is, London in HUGE. It has boroughs like New York, except there are about 30 of them- instead of 9, craziness.
We got off the bus to walk at times and then back on again. We were walking for the changing of the guards which was exciting!!
The palace lived up to everything I pictured it would be– so beautiful! But it was packed so we didn’t get very close.
This is our tour guide who was constantly making dad jokes and telling us off for not keeping up with him. We had him for two days on our tours!
We could see Big Ben in the background most of the time, but I learned that the tower is actually Elizabeth Tower, it is the bell that is named Ben.
We stopped at London Bridge towards the end. I’m surprised we had such nice weather, it was sunny and not too cold! It was shaping up to be an awesome weekend.
Clouds were rolling in though, but I still thought it looked so magnificent. It felt like a glamorized version of New York City.
After the tour some people stopped for gelato for the walk back, the place was so cute but I forget the name of it!
Katherine loving London exhibit A:
I wanted to try to run while I was there, but it proved to be very difficult. I ran 3.1 miles when I got back to the hotel, but I just ran around a little square for what felt like forever. The thing was, I couldn’t really run through the city because 1) I would probably get lost 2) I had to stop every 3 seconds for cross-walks, which is a huge annoyance of mine and 3) I kept looking the wrong way crossing the road and I knew I would make a deadly mistake if I went for it! So that was my only run of the weekend, I guess it was a good chance to practice not running every day. They had signs on some of the roads to help, Jessie said hundreds die by getting hit by the buses in London each year.
I met up with the Lizotte’s later for supper, it felt amazing to see faces from home! I got squash soup and a huge chunk of bread. Afterwards, I went back to Jessie’s place to see her apartment, meet her friends, and go to a club! I accidentally walked past the bouncer unnoticed and got in for free, oops but yay! Everyone else had to pay 10 pounds. Here’s a blurry picture we took!
I got back to the hotel around 1:30 and fell fast asleep.
Next up was the British Museum with that same tour guide! It was right next to our hotel so we just walked (and got to wake up later). I was super excited to see the Rosetta Stone!! I had to pretty much elbow people out of the way to get a good look at it and a picture of it. Isn’t it amazing how it is like the missing puzzle piece to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs? I wish we could of looked at it longer but we had to move on eventually.
He told us of the struggle it took to get this king statue to the museum, it is SO heavy and took a lot of man power. The smile on the statue is making fun of the people who though that moving him would be so easy, nope!
All the Greek statues had no heads because the Christians chopped them all off.
More ancient art!
After the museum I met up with Jessie and her family again! They were taking Christmas card pictures and I was more than happy to help.
Then we headed over to Baker Street to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. The line was long but very worth it. There were three floors filled with wax figures, books, photos, paintings, letters, and creaky floors.
After we left I took the tube back to hang out with people from my program. The tube in London is insanely easy to use! The man who designed it, Harry Beck, was an electric designer and designed the Underground to function like a circuit board. It was very easy to follow and I took it 6 or more times while we were there.
We went to supper at Mother Mash, so people could try the dish that was so raved about. I just stuck with a cheap green salad (had to make up for the money I spent on drinks with Ella). Everyone’s dishes looked like mashed potatoes with gravy and a slice of some kind of meat pie, I would love to try to make it at home! Side not- my brother rocks at making home-made chicken pot pie, so I’m sure I could recruit him for the job. We walked to the restaurant instead of taking the tube which ended up being a long walk, but it was nice to see the sights for our last night out.
Some people went out to the bars for a little while, but Ashley, Joo, Kayla, Camila, and I were down to go back to the hotel and hang out there. We talked on the way back about how we definitely chose the right city for us, because we were already missing Granada. Not only is Granada so much cheaper than London, but I missed the mix of city and nature. I also missed how relaxed it is in Spain, and I felt like I was losing all the Spanish I had gained!
The next day I had coffee and then we had until 2 to do stuff before departure! We chose to go to Camden with our remaining hours. If you’ve ever seen or read the Hunger Games, a lot of the people there reminded me a litttttle bit of the citizens in the Capital. They had piercings everywhere, different colored hair, so many tattoos their skin appeared to be a different color, and clothing I had never seen before. It was so cool, I felt like I had stepped outside of London and into a different world.
There were a ton of food stands, everything was so tempting!!
I stuck with a hot chocolate though, because it was cold and I was trying to be good!
There were so many stands for the most random things. There was just so much STUFF to look at, it was overwhelming!
Camden has some of the best piercing places, so some of the girls in my group went to get some! I opted out (I don’t even have my ears pierced), I think it looks cool but it’s just not my thing.
I wanted to find the Amy Winehouse statue, and I did! People always put lipstick on her.
Again, just so much stuff, so much to look at, and so much to do! Three days is not nearly enough for London- I’m wondering if even a month is enough.
We left the hotel at 2:15 and didn’t get back to our places in Granada until 1:30am, I was a zombie and I had to be up bright and early for my 8am today! After that class I got in a 5 mile run which I had been looking forward to that whole stuffy plane ride, and I ended up going for a 4 mile walk too, in order to clear my head from all the busy traveling. I really just wanted to walk around and not think too much. Today is all about getting myself together, doing homework, and being able to relax for our next trip coming up this weekend: Brussels and Paris!