Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sangria in the Sun

In what seems like a never ending effort to catch up on blogging, I've decided to go ahead and condense two weeks' worth of activities into one post; here goes nothing.

La Plaza de Toros
Nearly one month into this amazing semester and it's blowing my mind just how fast each week flies by. Now more than ever am I beginning to understand just how important it will be to seize each and every day! And what better way to do just that than by venturing out and exploring a bit without the direction of our fearless leaders Sam and Maria Angeles. With some free time on our hands and adventure in our hearts, my friend Courtney and I made our way over to the famous Plaza de Toros to take a tour of this magnificent bull ring, which just so happens to be the oldest in the city of Sevilla. Thanks to our tour guide who spoke both Spanish and English, we learned all about the rules and customs associated with bull fighting, famous bull fighters, known as toreros, and the traditional uniforms worn during the fights. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to tour the ring, wander along the river and climb to the top of the Torre de Oro, a stone tower left over from when the Muslims occupied Sevilla in the eighth century. Even with the clear blue sky as a backdrop, the pictures don't do these amazing sights justice!

Traditional torero uniform

Later that week, Ariel and I had a chance to meet up with our intercambio partner named Mamen. Mamen is a 25 year old Sevilla local who is currently enrolled at SAIIE to learn English. Each week we get the chance to hang out, whether it be at a cafe or a heladeria (gelado shop) and converse in both Spanish and English in order to better our speaking skills and make friends with a true Sevilliana!
My group finished off that week with yet another cultural activity organized by our very own Maria Angeles, this time it was a trip to a contemporary art exhibit called Nunca Jamas. The theme of the exhibit was childhood memories, such as toys and cartoon characters. The artists used a lot of bright colors and playful designs in their paintings and sculptures and the exhibit was enjoyed by all!

Nunca Jamas
Still feeling pretty tired from our trip to Granada the previous weekend and another busy week at school, Ariel and I decided to stay in Sevilla for the weekend and continue to explore all the great things this city has to offer (most importantly the tapas and gelado). Yet before long it was Monday morning once again and we were back to our hectic routine that we've come to love. That night we had an amazing opportunity to attend a professional soccer game at the Betis Stadium in Sevilla. The stadium was hosting a special event at the game for university students so we were able to sit only 8 rows back from the field at a fraction of what that kind of ticket would usually cost. Nearly the entire group came to the game and it was awesome to see how excited the Spanish get about the sport. Even though I spent most of the game just trying to keep up with which team had the ball, it was a lot of fun to experience the game of soccer, or should I say futbol, from the standpoint of a Sevilliana. Later that week we took a walk to Parque Maria Luisa to go ice skating at a temporary rink that had been set up as a temporary exhibition. Even though it was 60 degrees outside and sunny, we laced up our skates and hit the ice, some of us harder than others. It had been a while since I had last skated but it was (almost) like a riding a bike and after a few times around the rink I was basically Michelle Kwan. 
Cathedral in Cordoba

Once again, the school week had zoomed by and all of a sudden it was Friday and we were up bright and early and on our way to Cordoba for a day trip. Only about 2 1/2 hours away from Sevilla by bus, the city of Cordoba is known for its enormous cathedral situated right on the river. After taking a walking tour of the cathedral and old part of the city, we had some free time to enjoy the bocadillos (sandwiches) our senoras had packed for us, wander through the city in search of gelado and finally find ourselves a nice cold glass of sangria (because really, why not?). On top of all that, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the temperature was just warm enough to leave us with sun kissed cheeks.

The next day, Ariel, Megan and I decided to purchase bus tickets and take our own little day trip to another nearby city called Jerez. Jerez, also known as Spanish Sherry Country, is where much of the world's sherry comes from. After finding our way from the bus station to the city center, we explored a few plazas and eventually ended up at the Tio Pepe Bodegas, one of the leading providers of Sherry and Brandy. We took a three hour tour of Tio Pepe and had the chance to visit all the different bodegas on the property, ending it all with a sherry and brandy tasting and a sampling of tapas (of course). Needless to say we got back on the bus that evening feeling rather sophisticated and pretty darn proud of ourselves for making the day such a success. 

La Plaza de Toros

Betis Stadium

Riverside in Cordoba
Sherry tasting at Tio Pepe

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