Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ronda, Spain

Ronda is in the province of Malaga and is a town in the Spanish mountains. On a cliffside to be precise.

You'll see it in the photos, but the town is perched rather precariously on the edge of a steep canyon.

It is a truly beautiful place. Ernest Hemingway lived here for a while and part of his book For Whom the Bell Tolls takes place in Ronda.

roomie Marina :) 

One of the other things that Ronda is well known for is their bullfighting. This is the interior of the ring (^) 
We talked extensively about bull fighting before we left for this Academic Travel. I actually gave a presentation about it, which resulted in me watching hours of bullfighting footage on YouTube beforehand. I learned a lot and our class had a very heated discussion about the ethics of bull fighting after the presentation. One of the most interesting points brought up was that a large group of muslim students were extremely anti-bull fighting but pro-halal killing of animals, which some animal rights groups say is inhumane. I don't think it has to be a battle of ethics, but we had a really interesting discussion! 
Then, while in Ronda, our tour guide who was at least 70 years old, spoke so passionately about the beauty and honor of bull fighting that he started crying. And while I am not pro- bull fighting it certainly gave me a new appreciation for how deeply connected some Spaniards feel to bull fighting culture. 
More on this topic to come in the next post! 
Mas churros con chocolate! Although these churros were honestly disappointing compared to the amazing ones I had in Sevilla. These were were too crunchy. Chocolate was A++ though. melted liquid gold. 

so fierce 

two more photos from seville, oops.

And on to more posts of Southern Spain! 'Cause this trip was rockin'

xx

Friday, September 9, 2016

Seville, Spain

HOLA AMIGAS 
(let's be honest, do any men read this blog?)

Not to be all mysterious and worldly, but as I am returning to this blog after a little five month break, I can't help but think about how much has changed. How I've been around the world and back. And I'm in the midst of an adventure right now! But before we get to all that -- SPAIN. 

I traveled throughout southern Spain for two weeks in March.. yes, March, I'm a little behind here. But, it was really beautiful and I want to make sure I get these pictures posted and the memories written down before they disappear into the black abyss that can be my brain sometimes. 

So here we go: 

Seville 

Brace yourselves. This is only one city, but we spent half of our trip here, so I have a few photos to share. 

Ok story #1 THIS (^) I saw this mosaic outside of our hotel on the first day and HAD to take a picture and ask our local tour guide about it. She looked at me like I was crazy, she sincerely could not understand my question. But I kept seeing more and more references to these hooded figures around town. We saw little figurines of these hooded people in every gift shop, mosaics, statues, marzipan sweets in their shape at bakeries, you could even buy their costumes in all colors and sizes from adults to infants! So I persisted with the tour guide, trying to get to the root of this. At first all I got out of her was that they were members of "the brotherhood" and then that they were catholics. We tried to explain the outfit in America is offensive to African-Americans and she said that was ok because there are no black people who are catholics in Spain.. Which is when I started to have an inkling of a doubt that this town just might have some kind of association with the KKK.  But I kept asking any kind of local guides we came in contact with and eventually I gathered that the idea behind this old tradition is that these costumes are worn in the Easter parade so that other citizens can't tell who is marching and then you aren't worshiping out of pride, but for piety. 

Our beautiful orange tree filled courtyard at the hotel was a welcome site after coming from snow in Lugano. 
View from the roof of our hotel in Sevilla 
solar panels (thumbs up emoji) 
"The mushroom" a modern park space downtown
Real Alcazar a beautiful Moorish style palace built by Pedro I "The Cruel" 
All the intricate tile work was amazing and I wanted to take pictures of every corner! 
Those skinny and tall palm trees always make me think of L.A even though I've never really been
My first time seeing a lemon tree! 
The Cathedral of Seville
Christopher Columbus' tomb which controversially may or may not actually hold Columbus' remains. They were transferred all over the world after his death from the Dominican Republic to Cuba to Spain, or maybe not? But, apparently Spain says that DNA evidence from the remains of Christopher Columbus' brother proves that the remains in the tomb in Seville are really Columbus. While the Dominican Republic says that they definitely have the real Christopher Columbus but they don't want to open the tomb to prove it.. 
Mirror selfie in gothic cathedrals ^ 
La Giralda, the bell tower of the Cathedral and the best view of the city. Totally worth the 34 flights of stairs up to the top! I could've stayed up there for at least an hour just taking in the city, but we only had 20 min :( 
Are those views not incredible!?! 

We stopped at a little bookshop and I found this bit of Star Wars humor too funny, especially in spanish! 
oh and SPEAKING OF STAR WARS: 
So I kind of fell in love with Star Wars last autumn when I watched all of the movies for the first time with my little brothers before the newest movie, The Force Awakens (Episode VII), came out. So I was obviously unabashedly excited to find out that they filmed part of the prequel movies in Seville at Plaza de España. 

me ^
them ^
me ^
Also, paying homage to my birth city of Toledo, Ohio I ran across the plaza to find this bench so I could take a photo. Even though I don't really feel any great love for Ohio, I'm happy to have been born. 

We went to a flamenco show, and it was definitely a highlight of the trip.  The dancers were WAY more passionate and intense than I thought they would be! I don't know how to explain it other than there was no smiling and you could feel the passion and purpose in every movement. 
We visited the week before Easter and apparently they take Easter VERY seriously in this part of Spain. And one night we stumbled across these men practicing for the parade. I heard rumors about this float, but I was so happy to see it in person! It isn't motorized but instead is carried on the backs of 150 men who have to practice the parade route to memorize and coordinate every set of stairs and low-hanging terrace. If the float is too tall for a doorway then men kneel and march on their knees. It was crazy to watch they have this weird rhythm of 2 steps forward 1 step back. Not the most efficient process if you ask me. 

Highlight of Sevillla was having the most delicious dough-y churros con chocolate. During the rest of my spain trip I had some mediocre ones, so I am here to tell you that the BEST CHURROS CON CHOCOLATE in all of spain just might be found in Sevilla at Bar El Comercio I recommend it x1,000 and it's centrally located so just go there already if you're in sevilla!  

YUM 

More Spain posts hopefully coming up not five months from now :)