Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
My travels continued last Tuesday when I packed my bags to fly to London.
It was, as all of my travels have been, eventful.
You see, the volcano (that cancelled the Paris trip and made the Greece trip possible) started to spew ash again last Monday. And somehow all the ash decided to descend upon southern Spain. Yes, it decided the Atlantic Ocean simply wouldn’t do, and keeping that ash inside of the volcano certainly wasn’t an option, so when the volcano decide to vomit some more, it chose to use Andalucia as its bucket.
This meant a 6-hour bus ride to the Madrid bus station, a 1:00am arrival at the airport, two cups of coffee followed by 4 hours of homework (I didn’t want to sleep alone in the airport), a 3-hour flight to London Stansted (the perk of cheap European travel: obscure airports), then a 6-hour bus ride to Brighton, England.
My friend Allison is studying at the University of Sussex in Brighton this semester, so my first stop was on the southern edge of the UK. We spent a day in Brighton sipping tea and doing "English-y things", meaning I spoke in a British accent. I enjoyed the freedom of grocery shopping for myself (cheesecake!) and I must admit it was rather shocking to be in a place where everything is written in English.
On Thursday we took the train to London and did a little site seeing before heading off to dinner and a show.
I had a lovely go at musical theatre when I was four, in the North Branch production of Oliver. The director initially said I was far too young to be in the show, considering he was only accepting children ages seven and up to play the all boy cast of the orphans. But my father played Fagan and I had a bowl cut and could actually sing on pitch...needless to say, I had my debut as the littlest orphan.
So I could hardly control my excitement as we headed to see Billy Elliot. My friend Jackie, who’s also studying in England, met us at the show and we all experienced three phenomenal hours of musical theatre.
The show was beyond anything I expected. Everything from the cast to the set to the costumes was perfect, and the 12-year old that played Billy put my orphan musical theatre days to shame. Since arriving back in Spain, I haven’t stopped listening to the soundtrack and have come very close to physically injuring myself while attempting pirouettes around the house.
Friday was a day full of site-seeing. Allison and I did a hop-on, hop-off bus tour and somehow managed to “see” everything “important” in London. I say “see” because we really did just see everything. Since we only had a day, I knew I’d really only get a taste of the city (which makes for a perfect excuse to return). We did make it to an evening church service at Westminster Abbey and later that night bought tickets to see Chicago. Chicago was good, but there were no 12-year old ballerinas or on stage ensembles that included miners, police officers and the grim reaper.
Saturday, Allison and I took the bus to Oxford, England where Jackie is studying. The city is full of history, which Jackie delved into during our 5-hour walking tour. We did get to see the lamppost that inspired C.S. Lewis to write The Chronicles of Narnia though.
And, if you want another interesting fact about Oxford, here’s one: During the reign of some English king, the royal family decided that no one could have deer. Oxford University, which has it’s own field for deer procreation and the hunting season (nothing like making the playing field fair, right?), was enraged. So it did what any normal community would. They fed the deer only cabbage. Eventually the deer were so much cabbage that they were, statistically by weight, more cabbage than they were deer. Thus, they were classified as cabbage, and cabbage was not black listed.
Sunday was another day of travel as I headed back to Spain. And as I landed in Spain I had a very sad realization: I have less than 2 ½ weeks left in Seville. On June 1 I leave for three weeks of Euro tripping, and after that I head back stateside.
This time should be a rather eclectic mix of emotions and memories. Before I leave from Seville on June 1st, I must write three essays, complete 2 exams and write a journal for my creative writing class. I also turn 21 on Saturday and have a birthday party with my family here along with a few visits from friends.
It’s a very, very strange place to be right now. I’m finally at a point where seeing English signs is foreign to me, my dream sequences are in Spanish and my relationship with Chencha (my host mother) is great. And while I do miss my family and friends like crazy, I don’t want to leave.
So, for these two weeks I intend on doing all I can to soak up the last of this Sevillan sun. My friend Haley and I will be starting (and completing) the “99 Thing you MUST do in Sevilla” list we found online and I know there will be moments when I kick myself for not having done it sooner.
I hate bucket lists, but the time has come, and I have my Sevillan list written.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
But year in and year out we've made the trip in our van. Sometimes we went through the UP, other times the southern route. One winter we made the trek without heating in the van. Ironically, the next summer the van overheated during rush hour traffic in downtown Chicago. Needless to say, I've been well trained in the fine art of sitting in a small area for a long period of time.
Thanks mom and dad.
But when spring break came around this year, I felt pretty prepared and figured I wouldn't need to bring out such skills. Lyndsay and I were only supposed to go to Paris to see one of my childhood eu pairs (Aisha), a mere 2 hours by plane. Key word: supposed....
But then a volcano exploded in Iceland, the cloud covered Europe with a black fog and tens of thousands of flights were cancelled...including ours.
Happy Spring Break 2010. Thus begins, my monolgue.
ACT ONE: The Travel
Early day: a volcano explodes in Iceland.
6:00pm - We get on a bus in Seville to go to Madrid completely oblivious. Good music, Andre Agassi's autobiography and 20 minutes of sleep later...
12:30am - We arrive in Madrid at the bus station.
12:30-1:15 am - Bus station > Airport via metro.
1:20 am - We settle into a corner of the airport. Lyndsay promptly falls asleep. I read for a bit then try to sleep. If you've ever spent the night at an aiport before, you know what I mean by TRIED. I laid down on a scarf, used my other scarf as a blanket, put my leather jacket over my head and as anti-theft for my luggage, I had no choice but to spoon with my rolly bag. As you can probably guess, it didn't go well. I slept 30 minutes and decided it would be more restful to sleep in the cage of a famished gorilla. Back to the book.
5:00am - Quick hot coco and OJ for breakfast before we go to check in for our 7:15am flight.
5:30am - Our flight is cancelled. We reschedule to 6:40am Saturday morning. Easyjet (our airline) gives us the name of a hotel to go to and we go to look for the shuttle stop.
6:30am - We realize we've been waiting in the wrong place the entire time. Upon our arrival at the correct shuttle stop, we board a shuttle in minutes.
6:50am - They don't have rooms. In fact, they don't even know why our airlines sent us to their hotel. But, they say in the most courteous way one can be at 6:50 in the morning, you may return to the airport on the 7:30 shuttle. And by may, they mean must.
Note: At some point in here I loose my cell phone in the hotel lobby. Icing on the cake. Still not sure what happened.
7:45am - Back at complaints desk. New hotel that WILL have rooms, they promise.
8:30am - We check into a hotel in Coslada, Spain. Haven't heard of it? Not surprised. Well that's because its the louse that lives on the hair growing out of the armpit of Spain. At this point, Lyndsay and I are beyond tired.
10am-1pm - SLEEP. FINALLY.
1:00pm - We wake up and call our friend Jenny who's studying in Madrid. We inform her that she WILL be spending the day with us, she WILL make us feel better about our situation and she WILL enjoy it.
We spent most of the rest of the day doing retail therapy and drinking coffee to fend off the delusions. Later that night I speak with both my mom and Aisha. Both confirm that the cloud has shut down the airport in Paris and that there is absolutely no way we will be flying there in the morning. But, my mom tells me, you must go check in so that they give you a refund.
1:00am - Bed time.
5:30am - Taxi to airport to recieve said refund.
5:45am - You're flight's cancelled. So we wait in line to talk to customer service. Fed up, I decide to wander the airport in search of the cheapest flight. It's like an Easter egg hunt for a stranded tourist. Lots of flights are out there, I think, I just need to search high and low for them. But at 6am few airline service desks are open, but I walk to the first one I see and talk to a woman in Spanish.
"What's the cheapest flight you have today?"
"Where do you want to go?" she asks.
"I really don't care."
Her head tilts, she is evidently confused/bothered by what she thinks may be a prank."When do you want to leave?"
"Today....now...when is the earliest flight?"
"And you don't care where you go?"
"I really want to go anywhere that isn't Madrid. I just need two seats on your next flight. Please tell me you have something leaving today."
"You can go to Tenas."
"Where's that?" I ask.
I tell Lyndsay of my luck.
"GREECE!" I nearly shout.
"Yeah, but where's Tenas?"
"I don't know but it's in Greece and Greece isn't in Spain and Tenas DEFINITELY isn't in the Madrid airport!"
She shrugs her shoulders and tells me that she's all in as long as I find out where this unknown destination is.
I return to the woman who still slightly thinks I'm joking. And after asking her where Tenas is, she now looks at me as though I'm both insane and stupid.
"It's one of the MOST important cities in Europe, in the world," she says, putting emphasis on world.
"Eurpeans," I think. "They put a rock in the middle of a city and call it famous just because it's old."
I look at the map. Atenas....Athens.
In Spanish, the preposition "a" means "to." So when she said we could go "a-a Tenas, Grecia" I just heard her stumble on the word "a."
2:00pm - We board our flight to Athens. And so that's how our trip started.
By the time we got to Greece you could carry groceries with the bags under my eyes but I guess that's what 9 hours of sleep in 64 does to you.
So to Greece we say yassas (hello). To Spain we say adios. And to Iceland we say, with the utmost respect, up yours.
But give it a few days and I have a feeling we'll be sending thank you cards and a fruit package to a little country up north that forced us to be spontaneous.