Caution: Deep Bog

Hey everyone!

It’s been a few days since I did some writing, sorry (you can probably blame it on alcohol consumption and lack of sleep, but that’s just the way cookie crumbles isn’t it?). I am currently on my way to Galway (Yes just like the Ed Sheeran song. The music video was filmed there, go ahead and give it a watch).

I guess as a preface to this blog, I would like to first mention how personal this trip was. Sometimes when you travel to a certain country it just resonates with you, and you don’t feel like some Sassenach (#OutlanderReference) on vacation, but more like you are a small puzzle piece that fits somewhere in the larger picture. I encountered this feeling in Spain, but I didn’t expect to feel it again, though I can’t say I am entirely surprised as all of my roots lead back to Scotland. I think that this is also a reason why I have put off writing this article, it’s just so personal as it links me directly to who I am and is so visceral. So I guess I’m just asking you to keep that in mind as you read it!

Well on that deep note, here is your weekend update (Though sadly lacking celebrity crush Colin Jost)!!

I landed in the mama land (Scotland for those of you who haven’t heard me call it that yet) on Wednesday night. The flight was on a small propeller plane and took a whole 30 minutes to arrive. The pilot announced our landing before the air hostesses even had a chance to disseminate all the beverages. A thirty-minute flight is absolutely fantastic, but the whole prop plane thing definitely makes you want to cross yourself a few times. Any way, made it to the mama land in one piece, where I met up with my long time friend Jose who I had met in my previous travels to Spain and who is currently working/getting his PhD from the University of Glasgow in biomedical engineering (BME) and biomaterials research. Yes I was lectured (at my request) on the properties of hyaluronic acid but I will spare you the details (unless you are interested). Anyway, he has a house in Glasgow about a 15 minute ride from the airport and it is fantastic and adorable, with its best feature, in my opinion, being the towel warmers. On another note, I have been refusing to shower in our AirBnB because I don’t like it (I am a shower princess, but I have other options so why not use them). So finally I got to shower with hot water and pressure. I also haven’t used hair conditioner for about a week now, and I think the pictures reflect that….

In the morning we went and rented a car. Which is awesome because neither of us are 25+ (we just had to pay a young driver fee). I mean they wouldn’t even rent us cars at all in Canada. Our wonderful ride for the next three days was a green, manual, diesel mini cooper, right hand drive of course. I can’t tell you how many times I (sitting on the left, where I usually drive from) reached for the shifter. Still so backwards. If you are wondering… fast forward a day and I did drive. This whole left hand side of the road of thing is hard. So many props to Jose for somehow keeping composed and calm for my whole 15 minutes of driving through the tightest windiest roads, and telling me how great I was doing. I also thank him for being honest after I was done driving, and telling me that he thought we were going to crash at least 5 times.

The first place we took our little mini cooper was right to my ancestral origins, Quarriers village. This is where my great grandma had been placed after being orphaned. We went into the visitors center and tried to meet up with the genealogist my aunt had been in connection with, but she was on vacation so we didn’t get to see any documents or find out exactly which house my great grandma lived in. The lady at the desk was so nice regardless, and give us an info book and a walking tour map to visit all the buildings. We got to see the church, and all of the memorials. One of the coolest spots was the Canadian garden (there were two) that were placed there to commemorate the Quarrier Orphans that were sent to Eastern Canada for labour (that’s how I got to be where I am). They had planted maple trees, which were so nice to see so far from home. We of course visited the graveyard and got to see all the graves. Normal people live in the village now, even the church was converted to apartments. The village itself was just so peaceful and so quiet. It made me quiet (a freaking miracle) on the inside and outside, and was such a fantastic visit.

We hopped back in the green mini, and headed on our way to Stirling Castle! My first Scottish Castle! Note: We did a lot of driving, and got a nice full range of radio stations, so I guess whenever I mention we were driving picture lots of carpool karaoke and terrible dance moves (especially really terrible versions of Despacito, despite one of us actually have a Spanish as a first language. And yes I did get to practice my Spanish). When we got to Stirling, we visited the old church first, with all of its stain glass. As was my tradition in Spain, I paid to light a candle. We also got to see the old hospital attached to the church, as well as the graveyard. The grave yard had graves dating back from the 1700’s and it was so cool to see how they were all designed. Skulls, crossbones, and skeletons were very prominent grave decorations, kind of opposite of how we do it now. Then of course up to the castle which was sooooooo awesome. All the old stone, and walls, the dinner halls, just so nice to see. And the view was spectacular.

After a few hours of castle exploration, it was back in the mini to Edinburgh!! Honestly, I am impressed we fit so much in just two full days. I also continued to refuse to drive at this point, because I was scared of my Canadian driving override in which I would suddenly turn onto the wrong side of the street or go the wrong direction in a traffic circle. We got stuck in some traffic, but compared to some Crowchild trail jams I have been in this was nothing. We passed the time playing some Spanish word games, and we were out of the jam before we knew it. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city, so old and so modern at the same time. I found a cat café! By this point we were starving, so we googled “best fish and chip in Edinburgh” and went on our way. We told the guys at the restaurant what we googled and they were so happy that we had arrived at their restaurant. And yes, it was freaking delicious!!! I also had a very Scottish Soda/energy drink (?) thing, called Iron Bru, with the bottle being as manly as the name. It tasted like orange monster or something, and I was pumped up! We visited most of the sites in Edinburgh and generally walked around until it was dark. We popped into a bar, and I got to have my first Scottish beers! (FINALLY, BEER). And in traditional Canadian fashion, bumped into other Canadians, a couple on their honeymoon from Vancouver! 10/10 would honeymoon in Scotland, but Jose says it’s too cold to honeymoon there and Bali or Bora Bora is a better destination.

We made it back to Glasgow without a hitch, now full of beer and energy drink, and passed out. This next day was honestly the funnest day of my life, mainly because of the things that went wrong. I have already learned that things are definitely not always going to go your way when you travel, and you always have to be open minded and open to change and minor disaster. Or in this case, general WTF moments. But if you know me, the following events shouldn’t surprise anyone. The plan for this day was to go hiking in the highlands. So we had picked a hike the night before, that should have been doable in 4-5 hours and formed a long loop around a few ridges. Nothing too serious. I made the conscious choice back in Calgary not to pack my hiking boots, but honestly I don’t think better footware would have saved me. As soon as we started on the trail we realized just how marshy it was. We had read that there was a short walk through a marshland, but this was bigger and wetter than we expected. So naturally, within 5 minutes had my shoes and socks off and was just hiking barefoot in the squishy ground. This whole trip to Scotland we had warm sunny, weather, especially so this day, so it was warm enough to roll up the pants and ditch the shoes. Thank goodness for warm weather. One part of the trail is a small ladder that goes up and over a fence. I went up the ladder no problem, but on the way down the ladder suddenly turned into a slide and I fell from the top of the ladder to the bottom. Normally this wouldn’t have caused much issue, you could just pick yourself up and dust yourself off and continue on. But no, this more than a marsh. This is a legit bog. I know a lot about bogs thanks to a trip we took to the Glenbow Museum back in grade 5 to see an exhibition on bog mummies. Bogs can preserve bodies, bogs kill horses, and bogs have even ended huge battles. And despite all of these fun facts, I fell from the ladder, straight into a waist deep bog. WAIST. DEEP. Half of my body stuck in the mud. It was pretty warm. After being pulled out (don’t hike alone kids), I insisted that we continue despite being mostly mud at this point. We walked along a gorgeous ground fed waterfall and river, and despite a decent gain in elevation, the ground continued to be treacherous and boggy. So we decided that we were significantly underprepared for this and to turn back. We went down to a portion of the river by the waterfall, had lunch and thoroughly enjoyed the beers we had packed. It was just so calm, surrounded by terrain that was so alien to me. Nature had kicked my ass, and rightfully so, I deserved to be put in my place. It was just so surreal, the whole setting. How can such a beautiful place even exist? The pictures I took can’t even capture it. The grandness of being surrounded by these mountains, in this green, boggy place. Sheer magic.

After a boggy, but more careful trek back out, I got back in the car (sorry car rental place). We were heading up to Fort William and Loch ness, but obviously I was just a literal shit show at this point, and my shoes were mudbricks. I smelled like a bog, not really the kind of perfume I usually like to wear. Anyway, we got to Fort William and I waited in the car while Jose went and bought me shoes. They are comfy, but the ugliest shoes I have ever seen (Hey I told him to buy the cheapest ones he could find). Oh well. We drove up and down Loch Ness stopping in different towns, and visiting Urquhart Castle. I was also on a mission to find Loch Ness pottery, which turned out to be at the top of a long winding mountain road with some super scenic views. When we got up there we found small wood cabin, and we enjoyed some tea with the artists it was great.

There is just so much to see in the Mama Land, I think I would have to do two separate weeks there just to see all the things, but for two days, I think we crushed it. We did almost everything we wanted to, plus some unexpected things (ahem talking about you, bog). We got home late that night and naturally drank.

I feel like the Mama Land baptized me in highland mud and took me back. Only over the last few years I have I really started to identify with my Scottish Heritage, taking more of an interest of where my family has come from and what they have been through to get our life in Canada.

Back in the airport to Belfast, I am hungover as shit, so not too much got done in Belfast. We did visit City hall though and learned more about the city! We also went to a wonderful weekend market and shopped and got lunch. Ugh so much fresh seafood, looked so good.

Sunday, we had booked a full day bus tour to a few castles, the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery, and the Giants Causeway. Firstly, I would like to ask whose idea it was to have the whiskey tour before the actual hiking part? I have bad coordination already (see bog story)! The day started out pouring rain, but soon it cleared up! Now at the distillery, I paid for an Irish Whiskey tasting. I was expecting like a few different whiskeys, less than ounce of each to try. What I was given was three different whiskeys, I think just under two ounces each. I watched the bartender pour the whiskeys with the regulator thing, and he tipped each one up twice. They were super good, but we only had less than 30 minutes at the distillery. Needless to say the bartender was impressed when I brought up all my empty glasses. I paid for that, I am not going to not drink it all. ~6 ounces in less than 30 minutes is a questionable decision. The Giant’s Causeway is so cool, and the geological rock formations are so unique. I have no idea what makes them hexagonal but they do look like a giant built a whole road with them.

I would also like to comment on travelling changes some things about you. Usually, I can’t function without sleep. I hate getting up, I hate not sleeping, but when I travel I can sleep three hours and then pack in a full day. I can nap whenever, wherever, something that is impossible for me at home. I turn into an energizer bunny. I still need my morning tea though, and fortunately there is an abundance of tea here!

That’s your weekend update! I will be writing more after Galway (The Democratic Republic of Ireland!) As always ignore all my spelling mistakes.

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“I’m a mountain goat!”

Hi all!

As I write this,  I am sitting in the Belfast City airport (it’s so small, it’s like Ottawa airport size) waiting to board my flight to Glasgow (THE MAMA LAND!). Over the past few days, we have had a jam-packed schedule in Belfast!

We first visited the Titanic Museum. If you are not that knowledgeable in Titanic things (like me…I didn’t watch the movie don’t hate me) you may not have known that the Titanic and her sister ships were built and departed from Belfast. They have a saying in Belfast, “She was alright when she left here!” And then depending on who you talk to, some meaner things are said about the British ship captain. We got to learn all about how the Titanic was constructed and all the jobs that were created as Belfast industrialized and became a very prominent port city. There was even an informative “roller coaster” type ride that helped you understand the scale of construction that was needed to build a boat that large. Titanic’s little sister, the boat used to ferry the passengers to the actual Titanic, named the SS Nomadic, is available for tours. I thought that boat was big! But it is so small compared to Titanic and other ships in the White Star fleet. Overall, it was super fun and informative trip!

We of course made to visit Tejinder’s new university, Queen’s University Belfast. It is pretty grand. The buildings are pretty much castles and the campus itself is huge! We also went and checked out her Res buildings, and they look great too! We made a stop off at the Salmon of knowledge (aka The Big Fish). I feel much more knowledgeable.

Today we visited the Crumlin Road Gaol (British English for Jail). It was incredible. The jail was built in the 1800s and was used to house men, women, and children prisoners. It has an underground tunnel that runs from the jail itself, under the road, and into the court house so prisoners would never even be able to leave the jail to go to their hearings. We got to see all the cells and what they would have looked like through the years. Most prolific was the hanging room. When a prisoner was sentenced to death he would spend about a week in a cell alone and the priest would come. It was a pretty spacious cell, with a bed and private bathroom and he would get to do more activities than the regular prisoner. On the day of his execution, he would be walked not down death row, or around the jail, but into his bathroom that was provided in the suit. The gaoler would all of sudden pull a hidden bookshelf trap door and reveal the hanging room, with a noose dangling from the ceiling. The prisoner had been living adjacent to where he was going to die for a whole week without even knowing. If that isn’t some sort of psychological torture I don’t know what is. A lot of these men were murderers, some in the 1800’s for crimes of killing their wives, other who had killed police officers during the conflicts that occurred between Protestants and Catholics here in Ireland (The reason it is currently divided, and something that I am learning more and more about every day). At night they give paranormal tours of the gaol but it is only for people 18+.

We then hopped a taxi to the Belfast Castle! It was pretty dang gorgeous. One of the parts I enjoyed the most was the Castle gardens. The garden was dedicated to cats. Throughout the garden, there were 9 cat commemorative statues or hedges hidden around. And apparently, if you found them all (and the fact that they are even there) provides good luck. Naturally, we found them all. I was pretty thrilled. I then decided to try a hike that goes up the “mountain” behind the castle. I went as far and the Cave (called Cave hill) and climbed up into the cave and ripped my pants (as per usual). The path goes up further to a fort, and I intend to hike up there at a later date. The hike isn’t hard, it should only take an hour or two. But it sure is scenic. As per the title…. I was jogging down the path and got too cocky, declared I was as nimble as a mountain goat and then proceeded to fall right off the path into a bush. I am still picking the burrs out of my jacket.

My pictures can be found here: PICTURES I am adding to them as I take them!

Well my battery is dying, so I will update you all about my trip to Scotland later!

As they say here,

CHEERS!

xoxo

Blog Reboot 2017!

Hey Y’all,

I guess the title of this blog is no longer particularly relevant but that doesn’t mean that I can’t still write on it while I am here in Ireland!

We flew in last night at around 4 pm, after a long flight from Calgary to London (8 long hours). Firstly, a some of you saw on facebook THEY HAD DOGS AT THE AIRPORT and their little vests said, “Pet me!”. So that was fantastic. On the plane, there was lots of movie watching and game playing but not enough napping. Who can when the seats are so squishy? We did fly over Iceland and it looked absolutely breathtaking. There was some napping in the London airport though, for a whole hour. How I managed that it’s hard to say… Hard plastic chairs are apparently pretty comfy. Thank goodness Tejinder stayed awake because I am pretty sure I would have slept right through our connecting flight.

Now prior to us boarding our flight from London to Belfast we had remarked that our trip will be a breeze compared to my trip to Spain because we are traveling to an English speaking country. Well. We spoke too soon, because as soon as the Irish flight attendant got on the intercom to announce boarding for our flight….All we got was the word Belfast. Things have improved significantly since then (namely I sat with two Irish guys who had spent their weekend at a music festival in London and were super pumped to talk about that and the fact that I was from Canada) and our wonderful cab driver gave us a nice tour of the city on the way to our AirBNB allowing us some time to pick up on colloquialisms and slang. (On that note it seems ‘fooking’ is an appropriate adverb/adjective/noun/any figure of speech for just about anything you are looking to describe.

Belfast is rainy, and it was rainy when we landed. The first night we took a small excursion to the Tesco grocery store and got pizza because we were just so hungry. I completed my night after 28 hours of staying up straight by staying up another 1.25 hours to watch the Game of Thrones finale. I had to slap myself to stay awake but fortunately made it to the end to so I could see Jon Snow’s butt. I guess that was worth it? I slept meh, (not because of his butt). I need to scavenge more pillows for my bed (and maybe more blankets).

Today the plan is to explore some more of Belfast, see the university and visit the Titanic museum. Tomorrow evening I leave for Glasgow for two days to see what I have been referring to as the “Mama Land”.

Stay tuned!

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Finnigan the anxiety dog!

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Iceland!

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Leaving Iceland!

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The sunrise on the plane

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The caviar and seafood bar at the London airport that definitely looked too fancy for us

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My face after an hour nap at the London airport

 

Is that the icecream truck?!?!?!

I would like to start this post with this happy fish that was in the newspaper.

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I still find it hard to believe that I have been in Spain for three weeks. It simultaneously feels like it has been three months and three days. Hell, sometimes I forget that I am even in another country. It’s crazy.

Anyway, to answer the question I posed in the title…. it’s not the icecream truck, to my disappointment. It’s the propaganda truck. Driving around and telling you who you should vote for. Loud speakers and all, from 7 am to 11 pm. So glad our candidates in Canada do not advertise themselves by masquerading as my childhood love.

I would also like to make the announcement that I have figured out how the traffic system in Spain works, and what all the signs mean here. I have made a small reference key for your understanding.

Green light: GO

Yellow light: GO

Red light: GO

Stop sign: GO

Yield sign: GO

Merge: GO

Traffic circle: GO

Most accurately exemplified by this short, informative video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLuaPZWkvZ0

I have also learned: Hard core making out with your SO anywhere is acceptable. Staring is acceptable. Yelling at people on the train for money is acceptable. The hazard lights on the car are to indicate that ‘I am stopping here and you need to deal with it’. Basically everything flies, except shoes in the house.

On a more serious note:

Last Friday we took a trip to Granada!!! It was a 7 hour boring bus ride. But those boring 7 hours were completely worth it. Everything there is a mix of stuck in time (like Toledo was) and modern day. The first things we visited were a few cathedrals (as spectacular as always) and the old Arab covered markets. They were absolutely beautiful and just how I had imagined them: tight streets, loud with people yelling their wares, the strong smell of spices. Definitely something out of a novel.

We stayed in the four star hotel Carmen. It was actually very nice. We could look out across the city from our window in the room. And there was a pool on the top of the hotel. From the pool you could see everywhere, and every hour you could see and hear the church bells toll. I love the bell towers here. Who needs a watch?!

For me it’s the little experiences as well as the big experiences that make a trip meaningful. While we were winding our way through the small streets, we were ambushed by two little boys with water guns. They got us good, and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was a special moment for me. Though I can’t say anyone else enjoyed it.

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early for our trip to the Alhambra. This was the most spectacular tour I have ever been on, and even with my Nikon, I don’t think I was able to capture it all. On the outside the Alhambra doesn’t really look spectacular. It just looks like a bland sand coloured fort. But within it, it is absolutely beautiful. As I learned on the trip, this was very common of the Islamic architecture of the time. Bland on the outside of the houses, and then on the inside spectacular gardens and structures for their eyes only. They structured a lot of their gardens and buildings to reflect Paradise. I certainly felt like they did a very, very good job.

We walked into the first part of the Alhambra and I thought “Wow this was amazing”. I continued to say that every time we saw something new. Never have I seen stone work so beautiful and so intricate in my life. One of my other favourite places was the summer palace of the Sultan. There was a huge maze-like rose graden that was breathtaking. If anyone wants to propose to someone, or have a full out wedding, 10/10 would recommend flying your special people to Granda and going here!

The history here is so rich and interesting, but again I want to hammer this point home. Reading about it is never enough. Ever. Readings and photos on google are great, they give you a background and an idea. But they are nothing like the real thing. If you ever read about or see something and say, “I have to go there”. Go. Because if you think it is spectacular in a book, it’s going to blow your mind when you actually experience it. I almost want to say the Alhambra and Granada is my favourite place on earth. But I haven’t been enough places yet, and I know that I am going to say that about a lot of other amazing places!

Here are the photos on my google drive: If you ever get the chance to go here in person, please do. You will not be disappointed. https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B4t9ZhTEACoLfm4tb3UxeVJDUHpNazNBamFXM0g4SjBEcUFvdU4xemFxNGZEVDVYd3diZUE&usp=sharing

After our tour, we had free time, so we explored the city and the market places a little more. I bought something for my mama! hehe! It’s really pretty! 😉 We ran into a lot of bachelor and bachelorette parties. They are way more wild than the ones in Canada. Let’s just say I have a phone video of my friends changing a full grown man’s diaper. His buddies dressed him as a baby and did a city wide pub crawl in early afternoon. I don’t even know what to say. Other than it’s crazy.

Later that evening, we went to a flamenco show. We had to get dressed up!

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It was amazing and passionate. It was in the same place Anthony Bourdain went when he went to Granada!!!! Unfortunately, I have to find a better way to upload the video for that. So expect it in a different post!

Some of the girls went out after that. I enjoyed a glass of wine with them and went home as I was completely bagged from all the walking. It also made the bus ride home on sunday a little more pleasant as I wasn’t nursing a hangover.

Monday morning we went to a cheese factory. We hopped on another bus and drove off into the middle of nowhere for an hour and a half. Along the way, we passed some fancy expensive houses and I was shocked as to what I saw in the drive way. No Audi. No Beamer. No Mercedes. A 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Dandelion yellow. And I saw a red one going down the highway as well. Those rich people must have payed a lot to get them imported, as it was the first truly american manufactured car I had seen here since I landed. Anyway, it made me happy.

To get to this mysterious cheese factory, we had to drive up this steep tiny gravel road. Good thing our bus was equipped with off-roading potential. Just kidding, it wasn’t. At some point we got off and walked. We get there and we walk in and the little cheese shop is adorable. We learned about the goat milk they bring in and then we got to learn all about the fermentation process. It was fascinating!!! Then we sampled our of the cheeses they produce along with a nice cup of red wine. I think I died and went to heaven. Because the cheese is made with goats milk, it actually doesn’t affect people with lactose intolerance. The more you know. After that we got to see them strain the cheese from the milk. In a big vat there is a off white liquid filled with casein and albumin and then big chunks of the aggregated milk fat and stuff that is the cheese. Next thing I know, I am being scooped a big handful of all of it and being told to slurp it. It was warm and absolutely delicious. I also got to try the liquid which was pretty much a warm delicious protein shake. And of course the fresh warm cheese. To die for. I ended up purchasing a cheese sauce from them. It has cheese that has been aged for 10 years as well as a variety of spices and herbs. Hope all my cheese lovers at home appreciate it!

After that I was supposed to go visit my work for the first time. The train broke down, and that didn’t happen.

So I went to visit my work on tuesday and we took a cab and not the train. It was nice to meet everyone. And then I trained it back for 1.5 hours. Now I work at 9 am everyday in the lab. And despite the long commute and me having to be up at 6:30, it still is awesome. I really, really love it. We are working with fibroblasts and a cell line called HaCaTs, which are melanocytes. It’s a tissue engineering lab, so we are trying to grow skin in vitro. It’s amazing. Everyone in the lab is fun and warm hearted and leaves funny drawings in the lab. My lab supervisor told the PI that I “Know mountains of information”. Please hire me. lol. Everyone wears nerdy t-shirts. I fit right in. Though I will admit that science in Spanish is harder. These sum it up pretty well, though I haven’t taken any pics in the tissue lab yet. Also important PSA (as seen in the picture): Don’t let your sperm zoom off! I started a lab notebook and now I feel like Ellis Grey from Grey’s Anatomy. My coworker stuck the happy face on my lab jacket so I decided it should go on my notebook instead.

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Anyway. That was the gist of this week! Miss everyone enormously! Only 19 more full days here. Where has the time gone! I might lose my tan in the lab, so I better get outside! Talk to you all soon! 😉

xoxoxox

PS. I am going to be honest with everyone. I have gained weight. Because I eat like a queen here. My pants fit tight because it all went straight to the butt and hips. haha. I have real Spanish junk in the trunk now. >.< okay TMI. Good bye.

¡Johnny, la gente esta muy loca!

Hola! I have finally sorted out the technically difficulties thanks to Connor! I have started uploading my photos to google drive, and instead of uploading them on here, I will provide a link to view them all!

So here is a very delayed update, and then I will have a more recent update for this week!!!

Where do I even start! Things never cease to be busy here, there is so much to see and do! I will start with the day excursion to Madrid. Firstly, it’s a huge city, and there a lot of people. We took the train, and it was awesome! The train is double decker. And you can certainly fit a lot of people in there. The ride is a lot smoother than Calgary’s C-train so standing isn’t a big problem. The main station is huge, with lots of train lines, comparable to Grand Central Station.

When you get off the train and come out of the subway the first thing I noticed was the architecture. We have old historical buildings in Calgary, but nothing as old and as historical as these. Not to mention monuments. We went to lots of buildings, so here is the pictures I took. I haven’t been using my Nikon because it’s too big and hard to carry around, and apparently the amount of pick pockets here is huge. Considering I would lose my head if it wasn’t screwed on, I decided to leave it at home. The Royal Palace was spectacular. There was an opera across the street and you could hear them outside of the building. There is so much to see, and I am so excited to go to Madrid and see more, as we only had a short tour of the main buildings downtown.

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The next day we went to Toledo. If that name sounds familiar it’s because all the swords for Lord of the Rings were made there. It’s insane. I can’t even begin to describe how Medieval it is there. Small streets, gothic architecture. Castles, mosques, cathedrals, synagogues. Basically a shot out of Assassin’s Creed (including the Templars). I will let the pictures do the rest. They are in the google drive link at the bottom of this post. You can read all the textbooks you want and look at all the google pictures in the world, but you will never fully understand the magnificence of this city until you see it yourself!!!

I do regret not taking my real camera here. But I still think the pictures turned out fine and I had lots of fun. We actually ran into some Canadians while there! We knew they were Canadians because they bumped into us and used the word sorry very profusely! It was nice to meet other Canadians abroad. It’s like we all share a special bond as Canadians no matter where we are!!

I lit a candle in one of the cathedrals. It was the most spectacular cathedral out of all of them, but were weren’t allowed to take photos in there. Everything was inlaid with gold and all the paintings were done by Greco. Literally a piece of history. Being in there was overwhelming and awe-inspiring.

After all this we went to a beer factory. It was like being in “How’s it made” on the Discovery Channel. The beer is called “Mahou”. Do not make the same mistake I did and pronounce it “Ma-hoo”, because people will laugh very hard on you until they are crying (ahem Jessica). I have never seen so much beer in life.

We walk to school every day, and every day we pass through a park. The park has a big koi pond… and not all of the fish are alive. So we have started to play a game called “What’s dead in the park today”. So far it’s been fish, birds, and of course dead bread that people have thrown into the pond for the fish.

We miss a lot of Canadian things here. But we did find peanut butter. YUM! Everyone really appreciated me bringing it as a snack to class and we just ate it with our fingers.

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And let’s be honest, you can never go wrong with Siesta time!!!!

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I have been trying to keep in touch with everyone at home. It’s hard with the time difference. I miss everyone a lot! But I also don’t miss you guys because this is awesome. Just so you know. haha. Internet access is limited, and sometimes while I am skyping, the video feed freezes. Which is both annoying and hilarious. As some people would know. Can’t say I look great frozen either. :*

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Hope everyone is doing well!!! I will be posting about my trip to Granada and the cheese factory very soon! xoxoxoxo

Here’s the link to the photos!! Take a look! https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B4t9ZhTEACoLfmQ5TVdGZVBkOEFwYlpFX0NGdjdfR0ZRLUFtRWxOLTZVWXFrMzhoR0UwSzg&usp=sharing

PS. every second block is a traffic circle… Help.

Technical Difficulties

Hey guys! I have been trying to upload photos for a solid 24 hours and put them in here. It is really not working. I have already written the post to go along with the pictures, but my post would not be complete if I couldn’t share with you what I am seeing! Connor suggested uploading to google drive and then inserting, because the wordpress photo uploader isn’t the greatest, so I will give that a try! Hopefully it works!

Sorry for the wait everyone!!

xoxo

Besitos

Taylor

But What About Second Breakfast?!

Hola Everyone!

Today was my first official full day in Spain! I am still a little bit jet lagged, but not too bad! This is the first time I have been able to sit down and write because I have been on the go 24/7. But I will start from the beginning.

I would like to say that things began without a hitch but that would be lie. It started when there was mix up in ticket printing and checking in. Someone else got my ticket and that took a while to sort out. And then we boarded the plane for Frankfurt and that was fine. Didn’t really get any sleep, but I did watch The Hobbit and Kingsmen for free. Thanks Air Canada! Also while the premise for Kingsmen seems like it would be geared towards children… it’s not. At all. In the slightest. So please do not watch it with your kids. Or just don’t have kids and watch all the movies your heart desires. Here are a few shots from the plane ride! Sleep deprived selfies are the best selfies.

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I think some people might have been happy that I left them for a little bit….. 😉

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So. We land in Frankfurt a little later than expected, and by the time we get out of the psycho security we find ourselves with 10 minutes before our next plane leaves. The natural course of action was to sprint like The Amazing Race as fast as we can to try and catch the plane. The Frankfurt airport is huge. To get to our terminal we had to go up one set of stairs and then back down another one, and essentially cross the entire damn airport at a breakneck pace. If that doesn’t wake you up, I don’t know what will. While all of my peers made it to the terminal on time, our professor did not. And she got left at Frankfurt while we flew to Madrid. Fortunately, she was able to catch a flight shortly after and arrive about 4 hours after we did. Crisis averted.

We land in Madrid and take a bus to Alcalá de Henares to meet our host families. Still 0 sleep. I get off the bus, and before I know it I am being hugged by a lovable lady named Violeta. Still half dazed she rushes me straight into a cafe, luggage and all, to meet her mom and dad. Who are adorable and sweet Spanish folk. We sit down, have a Coca-cola and then her husband comes to pick us up. Her house is easily identifiable because it has the most lavish garden in the front and is about as adorable as she is. From the outside it looks small, but on the inside it is four floors and is very spacious. I have just about enough time to put my suitcase in my room, and then I am down in the kitchen for Spanish cooking 101. Now my Spanish is pretty workable. But I have not slept in 24 hours by this point, and Violeta talks a mile a minute, god bless her sweet heart. And then voila, I get treated to this:

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At this point, I am convinced that I actually died and went to heaven. This is the most authentic and best tasting paella I have ever experienced. Fresh seafood, cooked over a gas bunsen burner, in a huge paella pan. It can’t get any better than that. Violeta practically invited her whole family over to meet me, and that Spanish immersion is very very overwhelming. After dinner and dishes, I try and stay awake, but it’s impossible and I face plant in my bed. My roommate, Jessica, arrives while I am sleeping.

So here’s the thing. I thought paella was dinner… nope that was lunch. So I was awoken by Violeta to come for dinner. At 10:30 pm. What. They eat a lot in Spain. A lot. It’s crazy. But I am not complaining, everything is absolutely delicious. I finish dinner and go and crash again, and wake up for my first day at the University here.

Breakfast here is perfect for me. Ie) Basically have some tea and coffee and maybe a piece of fruit and then start your day. I am not going to bore you with the details of my orientation, but I do have photos from the short tour that we went on. We don’t have anything like this Canada! Nothing compares to the history here!

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As you may notice, a stork lives on pretty much every building, as they are a protected species here in Spain!

Anyway, everything pretty much looks like the set of some amazing movie:

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Not to mention, I could drink the coffee here all day, with or without milk and sugar.

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It’s past midnight here, so I have to head to bed. Class in the morning, but I will continue to post as often as I can!!! Talk soon! 🙂

Ps. If there are spelling/grammar errors in here, I am sorry. I am forgetting English slowly.