Here we are playing catch up once again.This week has mainly been consumed by my class, which we can say is a lot harder than I imagined. As I previously said, Ángel is great but speaks really fast. The hour and a half of lecture seems like 4 hours of non-stop note taking. It's hard to pick up from him what the major details are, versus the minor side-note. Following the hour and a half lecture, we usually have a ten-minute break. I have mastered a breakfast routine, which carries me through the day, since their breakfast is usually smaller than in the US, but must last you from 8 AM until 2 PM.When I leave the house at 8, I eat a yogurt, which is like a third of the size of US yogurts. At our break, I eat a piece of bread (very typical breakfast) with strawberry jam. And when class is over at 12, I eat a piece of fruit, which will last me until lunch at 2:30 or 3.
Continuing with class, after our break, we venture off to a historical destination with our class, to continue our lecture. At first we were all like "great!" field trips every day. But, try carrying around your backpack, while writing on a notepad, while understanding Ángel, while trying to take pictures, and things turn a little more hectic.One positive note is that we don't pay for any of these excursions, which is awesome. This week we saw the following places, which were all really cool:
Monday: The remains of a Roman temple on Calle Mármoles and Palacio de Lebrija (Palace of Lebrija). The remains of the Roman temple were literally three columns, which used to be six. The temple was built by two emperors, born in Itálica, which we visited last weekend, Trajano and Adriano. It's hard to imagine that thousands of years later, the remains are still around. As I previously said, the Palace we visited was gorgeous. A female aristocrat bought it. It was originally of Renaissance style but she decided to redecorate the entire house of Roman souvenirs. You found pieces of Roman carvings, bones, tiles, statues, etc. Her family has converted the house into a museum, and it is the only house in the city that has been converted into a museum.
Tuesday: We visited the Salvador Mosque. They really were the remains of the mosque, because when the Christians re-conquered Sevilla, they destroyed the mosque, and built a church on top. What we were able to see was the "sahn" which is the patio of mosques where everyone reunites and washes their face, hands, and feet, before entering the mosque. For the Muslims, who had power in Spain from the VIII to the XV century, their cities always had "medinas," which was considered the center of their city. In the "medinas" there were 3 main components: a market, a royal palace, and a mosque. This mosque we visited today was the old mosque. When the Muslims grew to have more power, and Islam became more popular, this mosque was too, small and they moved to the area that is now the Cathedral of Sevilla.
Wednesday: Today we visited "El Alcazar de Sevilla"- The royal palace of Sevilla. It is Muslim and Christian architecture, which is a really awesome mix.
On our own today, we had to visit "La muralla y basilica de la Macarena" which is the barrier and basilica of the Macarena.
Thursday: Today we visited the Cathedral of Sevilla and climbed "La Giralda." It is absolutely amazing, I will post pictures soon.
Friday: Today, following our difficult exam, we still had a field trip, despite the fact that many of us were already on weekend mode. We visited the "Archive of the Indians," where commerce was situated. All things that Columbus found in the Americas belonged to Spain, and were stored here.
This week I also tried some interesting foods: Fried anchovies, fried fish eggs, fried clam bellies, black ham and tinto de verano. A lot of the meat and fish here is fried, but cooked in olive oil instead. Anchovies are called Bacarrones, and I wasn't sure what they were until I Googled it after eating them. Cousin Julie took me to lunch, and I asked her what I should get. I ordered the same thing asshe did, and as soon as that plate came out, I had a gut feeling they were anchovies. You hold them horizontally and bite them gently. You have to be careful not bite their spine, which you peel back, and eat the other half. They were actually really good, kind of salty, and you put lemon on them. They weren't as "fishy tasting" asI though they would be.
One night for dinner, Carmen and Antonio got tapas to go and brought them home. She always places a little bit of everything on my plate. One item I tried and thought it was really good. She told me a few minutes later, that what I had thought was good, in reality wasn't of best quality. I asked her what it was, and she told me the name, and went on to explain it was the eggs, where little fish come from. I didn't ask any more questions. That night I also had clam bellies, which I had never had before, but the texture did me in, and I will stay away from that one.
A different day for lunch, we had a stew which was really good. It had beef, and some other sort of meat in it. Carmen informed me that it was "black ham," nothing like we have in the United States. She said they are raised in the mountains in Spain, and is of much higher quality and is more expensive.
Lastly, tinto de verano, literally red wine of summer, is my new favorite drink. It's strange how different it tastes from one place to the next. It is nothing extravagant, but red wine with lemonade, but I love it. Father, try it at home, I bet you will be sold.
One funny side note before wrapping this up. One of the friends I am pretty good friends with, Jen, has a "host cousin" Javi. He is really cool and we have gone out with a couple times. First of all, he took her on his moped, and all of us are extremely jealous. But, back to the main point, this past week one day they were talking about names. He used a word that she didn't know to describe the name "Jennifer" in Spain. She didn't understand so he looked it up in her dictionary. He had told her that Jennifer in Spain was "tacky." He said that those who are uneducated name their children Jennifer. Naturally, this became her biggest concern. She has since asked her host parents, our tour guide, and other Spaniards, who have tried to nicely, yet have, confirmed this fact. I have decided to stick with Victoria, because whenever I say Tory, I get some weird looks. She is going to start introducing herself as María, or Macarena (a typical name).
Finally, yesterday we went to Cádiz, which is a city on an island, and it 18 km from Africa. It was absolutely gorgeous and gave a much different vibe than Sevilla. It is one tenth of its' size (Sevilla has nearly 1 million people, Cádiz has around 150,000). The water, which is the Atlantic, appeared much more crystal blue than that of Cape Cod. We toured around and saw the old tobacco factory, saw the cathedral, climbed the highest tower where we saw gorgeous views, and saw the barrier of the city. We finished up our visit with four relaxing hours on the beach. We all took a quick dip, but mostly napped on the beach. We saw way too many topless pubescent and older women that day, and were ready to head back home after a few hours. It has been a busy week but it definitely went by faster than the first week, which was nice. It is cooling down and fall is in the Sevilla air. Hasta pronto!