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Archive for February, 2012

Rooftop Reflections

True story: this time next week, I will be on the start of my twenty day adventure! Avignon, Paris, Dublin, Edinburgh, and London and I absolutely cannot wait! This means that I am working on getting a lot of things done this week because so much of it is due after I come back, and it was hard to recover from a five day trip to Barcelona so I am thinking ahead! I have been rocking out an outline for a paper on Napster and why it failed as a company. It is actually turning out to be much more interesting that I thought it would be so I am happy about that. I also have been working on two different major assignments for my pilgrimage class but those are pretty much done which is excellent. I am working on things for graduation as well! Less an 100 days for sure probably closer to 80 at this point – absolute craziness!

But homework gets to be a bit much after a while so I was able to relax this past weekend! I finished the first of Mom’s Traveling Socks! (Pictures to come!) Friday night I went to something called ‘Rien K3’ or ‘Nothing But 3.’ It was put on in French and it was these three guys acting how they were trying to figure out what they were doing with their lives. I actually think the language barrier added to the hilarity of the play/musical. I also finished a book this weekend called ‘Sprinkled with Murder’ by Jenn McKinlay (I think). It was really good – a baking murder mystery with the main food of choice being cupcakes. It would be hard for that book to go wrong. Yesterday though, it was so nice here but I was trucking through those papers and then I decided it was a good time to hang out on my roof in the sun and slow down for a bit.

(Picture taken by Carly Osborn. Isn’t she an amazing photographer?!)

I hope your weekend was as good as mine =)

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There were some definite highlights from this past week that just need to be shared.

Sunday, my friend and I made dinner. The chef doesn’t come in on Sundays and recently Olivia and I were looking through an Asian cookbook and decided that would be soooo good. So voila! We offered to make stirfry for dinner. We started out right after lunch cutting up all the meat and vegetables. We cut up onions, bell peppers, scallions, carrots, chicken, and pork. After that we did some homework. We kept going after that by making six dozen chocolate chip cookies. They were so wonderful and just a perfect taste of home. Then we needed to get going on actually cooking the food. This is where it got a bit tricky. Well, at one point, we had individual burners on – two with pots of rice cooking, one with meat, and one with vegetables, the oven on to cook the spring rolls, and it was also steaming the carrots. And we had all this food that needed to be cooked at once so it was so hectic but so worth it and the food was soo good (if I do say so myself!)! After dinner, we had to clean up and we had done so well all day keeping up with dishes but just in the craziness at the end, we had about a zillion dishes to do that really didn’t want to be clean. We finished cleaning those dishes and then realized all the serving dishes were still dirty. It was enough to make me want to put my head against the wall and laugh but we got through it all =)

Monday was the day to rock out our big French test. We all arrived at the University in Albi only to find out the school was on their spring break so the cafeteria wasn’t open for lunch. Thank God the bakery was right there and they served lunch food. I got this pizza type thing and wanted more than that so I got a fruit tart because not only was it dessert, it was healthy due to the amount of fruit on it! It was quite delicious. The french test went really well and afterward it was good to just relax.

It has finally started to warm up here so today was a good day for another bike ride! And, as of right now anyway, I came out of it unscathed! (I managed to incur the world’s biggest bruise on the last big ride!) Everyone here must be taller than me because when I was on my big I could just put my tip toes on the ground! But my friend Jen and I had such an enjoyable ride around Ambialet. Then we decided on our way back that we really wanted to go in the Tarn River. It was warm (the high today was 56, good enough), there was no wind, and the river looked so calm. We finally found a little path leading down to the river and we took off our socks and shoes and rolled up our pants and in we went! My first thought was ‘O, it’s so cold,’ this was followed by my second step in, and then me yelling ‘Jen, it’s deeper than it looks!’ as the water came up right under my knee!  We had so much fun. =)

My 20 day extravaganza is coming up in 10 days and I can’t wait! I really want to fiinish Mom’s Traveling Sock number one so here are some shots of it currently!

Have a superb day! =)

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Toulouse Take Two!

O I am so far behind in updating you! I have no idea what I am going to do when I am gone for 20 days!

Anyway, last Thursday (yikes!), we went to Toulouse for our second trip. We started out in the City Hall of Toulouse. The artwork in there was beautiful!

The second picture is a panel from the ceiling. Toulouse used to be the city of troubadours and courtly love which is very evident in these pictures. Additionally, while we were there, we looked at some of the busts there. One of them was Pierre de Fermat – a famous mathematician! I was so excited (There is a really good chance I was the only showing that level of excitment about that fact =) )! From there, we all walked over to the Dominican cloister and what used to be their church. The church had an interesting layout. It was a long narrow room but the altar was placed against the long wall so it seemed to shorten the church. Even though the church is no longer used as a church, people still visit to see certain relics. And these relics are the bones of Thomas Aquinas! It was pretty cool being that close to the bones of someone so important in the church. Exiting out the back of the church, we entered into the courtyard.

It was so incredible, and it looked like something you would find in a movie.

Then it was time for lunch which is always an exciting part of the day because we are all so hungry! We ended up going to this panini place which was awesome except the waitress needed us to reorder because she found out they only had so much chicken and I think we all just confused her terribly in trying to sort that out with our limited french. But in the end, she smiled and I’m not sure if it was because we were amusing or because we were leaving …

After lunch, we visited le Pont Neuf which is ‘The New Bridge’ which is actually the oldest bridge in Toulouse. When they built the bridge, to distinguish it from the old one, they called it the new one and now it is old and this completely makes me smile.

Then, once we finished in Toulouse, we headed to the AirBus place near the Toulouse airport! We rode over to France on an airbus and it was huge. It was really cool being able to see where they make these enormous planes, how they do it, and be near to them to get a feel for how huge they really are. All in all, an excellent day =)

 

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Good Bye, Barcelona!

I’m sorry the posts have been so slow in coming. Trying to recoup from Barcelona last week was hard because it just felt so hectic and full but here is the last Barcelona post!

Sunday, we were headed out of Barcelona at 9 when I saw it – the moped that I wanted!

Isn’t it awesome!?!?!? Anyway, we had a two hour ride and then we arrived at the Dali Museum! This was really interesting because it was abstract and strange but in the right amount.

This is the outside of the building. I could completely get behind the army that uses baguettes instead of swords! We had a little over an hour to go through the museum. We probably could have spent the entire day there and still not have seen everything we wanted to. It was chock full and bursting at the seams with art work. There were all these little random nooks and crannies where art was hidden, and it was all over the ceiling and out in the courtyard.

After we looked at the museum, it was off to lunch! My friend and I ordered paella. It’s a pretty common Spanish dish so I decided to try it even though I had never ate the majority of the sea food in it.

This dish was huge!!! So we dug in except I had a small problem. There was this shrimp looking at me, and I had absolutely no idea how to eat it so I asked my friend how to. But before, I ate him …

He deserved a little kiss! (Nope, I don’t play with my food at all =) ) But we got through the majority of the dish and still had room for dessert (of course!)

We rolled back into Ambialet around 630 and seeing the monastery was truly lovely. It ‘s hard to believe I was actually in Barcelona. The city was beautiful, the culture wonderful, I saw so many incredible things, and had the time of my life there. It still feels like a dream =)

Have a stupendous one! =)

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… and I bet you a lot of people are laughing at that title but I swear it is relevant to Barcelona =)

Friday and Saturday in Barcelona were insanely busy. Friday we started off by going to the Picasso Museum. All 16 of us moved as a group to get there. Barcelona was funny; all the shop and museum entrances were hidden behind garage doors or big wooden doors. We almost passed it because even though Picasso is quite famous, Barcelona is not a city of typical museums and buildings. Well, when we got there, we had to wait to get in so look what came along!

Hi, Mom’s Traveling Sock! Of course it came to Barcelona with me =) Throw that little sweetheart in my purse and bam, insta-knitting while waiting =)

The Picasso Museum was really interesting. I never knew that his style evolved so much. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take pictures so here is all the proof I have:

But it was quite cool. From there, it was off to lunch. And we walked and walked … and walked some more. I knew we were traveling far but was blown away when I later saw how far we walked! For lunch, I had anchovies that were fried and served with the heads on. So you had to cut the heads off and take the spines out. It was actually quite fun and good! From there we visited an artist’s studio which was quite impressive to see in person. Next (Friday was nuts the amount of stuff we did), we went to Parc Guell. This was designed by Gaudi and was very reflective of nature not only in the plants but the buildings as well.

It was so beautiful. And we just kept walking up and up and up in the park and when we got to the top …

The view of Barcelona was incredible, and I wouldn’t have missed that for the world.

Clearly, after all of this walking, the next step was taking a nap which I proceeded to do in fine form. That night for dinner we went to a tapas restaurant which is really big in Barcelona. My friend, Carly, and I each ordered 3 dishes a piece and split them. From there, all of us decided to go out for the night, and it was just so much fun to be out with everyone.

Saturday was just as busy. We started out the day at the Miro museum. He was probably my least favorite artist on the trip because his ideas were too abstract to even begin to understand them. But we had fun with the statues outside.

I need so little encouragement to do something strange. Anyway, our next stop was Sagrada Familia!

Now, I can explain to you the statement about feeling small. With these churches and buildings that we visit, one of my favorite things to do is stand as close as I can and look up. When I do this, I feel so small and just so overwhelmed by the magnificence that it takes your breath away.

Sagrada Familia was been in construction for over 100 years and is expected to continue for the next 15 or 20. This is also designed by Gaudi who made the tallest point on the church one meter less than that of the nearest mountain because he wanted to show that man is not greater than God. There are a lot of nature elements that are reflected in this piece as well as math which I was overjoyed by. When you walked inside, you were just blown away.

Probably my favorite church especially aesthetically. The stained glass was beautiful but not everywhere because Gaudi said that some people didn’t know when to stop with color and he wanted to respect the natural light.

Next (after a nap), we went to the Gaudi house. He designed this house to make you feel like you were in the ocean.

It was done all in blues and the glass in the house was designed so that if you stood in front of it and moved your head, you felt like you were under the ocean. My favorite part was the room on the roof!

There was this dome, and it just had water flowing over it. There was a spot light on it and the room itself was domed. The reflection looked like water was coming down the walls of the room and with the sound, it was just excellent.

Our last big hoop la in Barcelona was going to see Flamenco dancers!

The expression on their faces and the music was way too cool. I actually sat front and center and it may be the only time in my life I will have been happy to sit in the front!

Afterward, a bunch of us headed out to dinner and saw a break dancing group and watched them for a while. One guy jumped over three girls as they were standing! From there, we finally found somewhere to eat (it was after 11 at this point). And rather than getting dessert at the restaurant, we headed over to McDonald’s to finish off the night, and Barcelona, with ice cream =)

Have  an exquisite day =)

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Beautiful Barcelona

Hello again! After the craziness of last week and consequently having it bleed into this week, I am finally back to tell you about my adventures!

Let’s start with Wednesday. I was 10 kinds of excited to be going on a bus ride. I love to be in a car/bus, and I am perfectly happy driving or being driven. The teachers kept telling us to bundle up for this trip since we would be walking around outside, and currently France is going through ‘Le Grand Froid’ or ‘The Big Freeze.’ It is currently the coldest it has been in France in the past 50 years, and I am so happy I am here to experience this!

We arrived at Carcassonne for our pilgrimage around mid morning.

It was beyond gorgeous (and doesn’t it look warm out? It most definitely was not.). We traveled here because of it’s importance during the Albigensian Crusade which took place right around the area where we are staying and we are learning about it in class. The best part of the day might have been lunch when we got to go inside and warm up for a while. Except, I unfortunately choose the seat in front of the unlit fireplace and there was a draft! But it was still magnificently warmer inside than out. After warming up, we headed off to look at the church.

There were exquisite stained glass windows there as well!

After we finished our tour of the church, we jumped back on the bus and headed to Narbonne for the night. Once there, a bunch of us did the McDonald’s in a different country experience. We started off by heading one direction, completely doubling back, and finally finding it. It was a bit cold to be wandering around outside like that but we had fun. Once again, France is healthier than America and yes, that does include at McDonald’s.

The next morning, we left around 9 and jumped back on that bus. And guess what I saw?

The Pyrenees Mountains! If you were to talk to me in person at this very moment, I still cannot believe I saw them.

Because Spain and France are foreign countries for me, I consider them just these awesome and amazing countries and think that entering them should be a big deal. You could barely tell when we passed over the border into Spain but you could definitely tell a difference when we finally arrived in Barcelona!

The city is a city but feels like so much more. The buildings are, for the most part, quite low so you really still feel the sky and how open the place. Another example of how open it is comes from their intersections which have beveled corners rather than angle corners which lends to a much more open feel. The people of Barcelona were much more expressive and open then the French. The clothes were much more eccentric as well as how people acted which was lovely and a fun change.

We started off in Barcelona with a walking tour. We went through the city and headed towards the central hub which was insanely close to where we staying. We walked down ‘La Rambla’ which is the main drag where they are vendors and street performers.

From there, we walked down to the docks and I saw the Mediterrean!

And there was a pirate ship! (I don’t know how many of you know this but given the chance, I would totally grow up to be a pirate.) The day was gorgeous and just right. From here, we were set free to do some exploring on our own. My friend and I headed back down La Rambla and there was this totally awesome street performer out! He looked like the Mad Hatter and if you put a few euros in his tin tea pot he would animate and interact with you. I need almost no encouraging sometimes which resulted in this:

Definitely one of the highlights of my trip =)

For the rest of the day, it was just wandering around the shops. My legs had better be in the best shape of their lives right now given the amazing amount of walking we do! Dinner was quite lovely at this little place that was cheap but o, so good! We went to bed early so we could be ready for all the adventures the next day would hold.

I will post again soon about the next two days I experienced in Barcelona!

Have a marvelous one! =)

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As I write this, I am an hour from leaving for Barcelona! And I was tired last night and didn’t update so now you get the quick version!

1. Sunday = Super Bowl! I stayed up too late and even put money in on a pool and in general had a great time with friends =)

2. French class was awesome. We are having a big test on the 20th!

3. Yesterday was so busy in preparation for today. We even had an extra class.

I am not taking my  computer with me on this adventure so I will be back in about a week to tell you all sorts of amazing things with pictures!

Have a fabulous week! =D

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