Wednesday, May 29, 2013

{travel} london, united kingdom

 Welcome to my return into an English speaking world.

How wonderful it was to order food and drinks with no difficulty (or weird looks.....) ;) This trip was also my introduction back to food that is more similar to American than Spanish. Woooo! Chipotle and chocolate chip cookies anyone!?

We went to stay with one of my best friends from college, and roommate during senior year, Rima! She is living and working in London currently, but will be studying for a Master's degree in the fall. So proud of this rockstar!

Hi Rim! Thanks for taking us to Ben's cookies. :)

I found a quatrefoil in Trafalgar Square. Phi Mu <3 p="">

We got breakfast one morning at a great place called The Breakfast Club in SoHo. 
I definitely recommend it.

I'm drinking a "flat white." It is a cappuccino with more milk than coffee. Quite delish!

Yummy margaritas in a really good Mexican restaurant in SoHo. 

A proper British tea near Trafalgar Square.

Side note: How in the world can scones be so different in America than in Britain? I would like answers! (they are on the second plate down in the above photo.) They were more like... American biscuits? I was really confused. Also. Clotted cream is reaaaallllly different. I suppose we are doing things wrong in the US!

We took a lovely walk around Big Ben.

Later, we ended up at King's Station. Breanne really wanted to take this picture & Rim joined in.

Possibily my favorite part of the entire trip. Borough Market is incredible!

Free samples. Delicious food. Champagne, wine, and beer for sale. Just good ol' fun. I love markets!

We went to this ridiculous sandwich place with a 20 minute line. Totally worth it.

I could really go for another one of these again.

We got really lucky with the weather and were able to enjoy a day beer in Hyde Park on our last day. 

It was the perfect end to a wonderful trip!

Thank you Rimmy!

xx, Jen

Monday, May 27, 2013

{travel} sevilla,andalucía, españa

So in the time it has taken me to write this post, I have gone to Sevilla twice. Twice. Oops. 

I went once as a continuation of my trip with my friends Breanne, Helena, and Dani during Semana Santa week! (Check out my posts about Granada & Cordoba). The second time I went, I met my parents during their little side trip from Madrid two weekends ago. Whew. 

Sevilla's biggest pull for me is the INCREDIBLE FOOD. Like. Really now.

This is here is called pisto. It is similar to the French ratatouille. Nom nom nom. 

We were there the first time during Easter Week - so we saw a lot of parades and these elaborate floats.

Plaza de Espana is incredibly beautiful

Alllll around the bottom section of the Plaza are these little bench inlets with intricate tile work dedicated to each major city in Spain. We had to take a picture with our beloved Madrid, of course!

We had a love / hate relationship with Cordoba thanks to the weather.

More nomalicious food. Espinacas con garbanzos, berenjas a la planca, and queso de cabra del horno en salsa. 

Say hello to the very bizarra "Setas." This structure is actually called the Metropol Parasol, but are ...fondly? called the Setas. You can go to the top of the structure for a 360* view of Sevilla.

It only costs about 1.50 euros to go to the top, but once you have experienced the beauty of the view from the Alhambra, it just isn't quite as impressive.

Wandering through the Jewish Quarter

Cathedral and the Giralda Bell Tower in the background!

It was the perfect end to a lovely trip with my girlfrands.

I swear. Blogging more from now on. Must remember every aspect of my life here!

By the way... I'm thinking about teaching English in China next year. Full time globetrotter. Can't be stopped.

xx, Jen

Monday, May 6, 2013

{travel} córdoba, andalucía, españa

Córdoba was an interesting experience. I wanted to love the quaint little city so much more than I actually did. However, this might be entirely due to the inclement weather we had pretty much the entire time we were there, and the horrendous bus ride we had to endure on the way there.

What we thought was going to be a 2 hour direct bus ride from Granada to Córdoba, ended up being a 4.5 hour windy, bumpy ride on a "commuter" bus that stopped in (I'm convinced) every single drab, industrial city in all of Andalusia. We all thought that we were going to be sick. Eeeek!

To top off a great commute from Granada, we arrived in Córdoba to cold, driving rain. We attempted to make the most of it for a few hours and wandered around the city for a while.

Dani was a good sport about the rain....

... but she's from England so it's just another day in the life, really. This is how I felt most of the day:

Welcome to Córdoba folks.

We did see a few cute little buildings and plazas during our trek through the rain.

Córdoba is known for all its white-washed buildings with bright painted accent colors around the doors and windows. Rick Steves suggested that we check out this "local favorite," Montilla Moriles, but it was during a weird hour in between lunch and dinner so it was closed. 

We were so cold and wet that we decided a few hours in to just grab a cup of tea and head back to the hostel. We stayed there the rest of the night reading, listening to music, and chatting. It was very necessary.

We thankfully woke up to BEAUTIFUL, warm sunshine the next morning. 

Too bad we had to leave at 12:45 and still wanted to tour the exquisite Mezquita-Catedral.

Touring this incredible piece of history completely made up for the crappy, rainy situation that happened the day before. This building has a crazy history. The mosque itself is built on top of an old church's grounds, which was built in about the year 600. There is glass paneling in one section of the mosque that allows you to look down at the original floor of the former church. The building was refashioned and expanded into a mosque when the Moorish empire was in power starting in 784. It was expanded to its current size by year 987. The arches are made from alternating strips of brick and stone.

The Moors controlled the Mezquita until the Reconquista in 1236, when the Catholic King Ferdinand conquered Spain from Islamic rule. They decided to allow the mosque to continue to stand, but added their own touch of religion in the massive building.

Hellllllo Catholics! There is also a chapel room near the cathedral section of the Mezquita, but it was closed off to the public eye, so I don't have any pictures of it! When I told my students about my trip to Cordoba, my favorite part was telling them about visiting this monument. They really had to work out their English prepositions!

A Christian chapel built next to a Catholic cathedral, which is built inside of an Islamic mosque that is built on top of an old Christian church. WHEW.

After thoroughly enjoying our tour through the Mezquita-Catedral, we took a walk down Calleja de las Flores.

So romantic. So Spanish.

After wandering for a few minutes more, it was off for a quick breakfast of coffee & toast, then onwards to the train station.

Next stop: SEVILLA!

Trip Overview:
  • Travel Connections: We took the worst bus ever. It isn't the company's fault (Alsa), it is just a horrible route! I would suggest attempting to find a train or maybe renting a car. A 2 hour drive was more than doubled on the bus. eeek! Cordoba is on the AVE line with Sevilla & Madrid though. Super easy 1 hour train ride to Sevilla.
  • Where we stayed: Pension Cibeles - It has a great location in the center of town, and is very quiet and lovely. The room was clean, bright, had lots of electrical plugs, and WIFI access. It was a really nice change from a normal hostel. I recommend this place! 4/5
  • Highlights of my trip: Hands down, the Mezquita-Catedral. It is a must-see! Also, I'm sure wandering the streets and visiting the patios would be a nice thing to do on a clear day, but with the rain it was just kind of miserable.

I am seriously falling behind on my travel posts. I have a horrible memory, so I need to get all of these trips down in writing so I remember all of my favorite moments from my year abroad in a few years. Next up: Sevilla, London, & Valencia!

xx, Jen