Tuesday, July 28, 2009


We leave Madrid tomorrow at 11am and cannot wait to see all of our family and friends!!AMERICA!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

the final countdown

Great view of Barcelona from Parque Guell
Us with the famous lizard at Parque Guell

Ashley with fruit.

Here are some pictures from Barcelona for your viewing pleasure...we will be updating our last adventures after our exams tomorrow. until then...studying.

happy birthday!

A very very special birthday shout-out to the one and only ms JESSICA M LEWIS!!!

After a day full of exams tomorrow, we will most certainly be celebrating tomorrow night.

America in t-minus 3 days.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

some scenic views of the ocean

Beach in Santander
Museum of Torture

Pretty building in Santallana del Mar

Ashley and a Bruja (witch)


This weekend we went to Santander in the North of Spain. Our weekend started out on Friday, we took a bus and halfway there stopped in Burgus...not our favorite place in the world. It is kind of like a home for senior citizens with a cathedral. Anyways, after that we got to Santander and rested up before we went to explore a little bit. Our hotel was right on the beach and this weekend there was a carnival with music and food and ferris wheels/rides etc. On Saturday we went to the beach and to Santallana del Mar. In Santallana, its all about Cows and Witches. I'm not sure why... On Sunday we did a little more sight seeing and then headed back to Madrid. This week is our last full week of school and on Thursday we go to Barcelona!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Crazy American lady/host at Karaoke and her confetti
she was nuts

us with our spanish brother, Tomas

The sweeping statue in the plaza right by our home.


Hi all! This week was a busy one for us in Madrid. On Monday we had midterms, Tuesday we went to the Palacio Real, yesterday we went to Anti-Karaoke (not anything like karaoke in the states), and today we went on the little boats in the Parque Retiro. Tomorrow morning we are going to Santander in the North of Spain to see the coast and escape from this Madrileno heat for a couple days!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Palacio Real

Today we went to the Palacio Real, the "home" for the kings and queens of Spain of the Bourbon dynasty. Although the monarchy no longer resides in this home, it is still used for ceremonial purposes. It was a really spectacular place and it was pretty evident that these royals spared no expenses when building the Palacio Real.

Monday, July 13, 2009

La Alhambra


Hola a todos! This weekend we went to Granada and it was an absolutely beautiful city. On Friday we got there and had some free time to see a little bit of the city. It is definitely much different than Madrid! It is much smaller and the city center is full of little shops and amazing restaurants. After dinner we walked to the market at the top of the highest hill in Granada and got to see a beautiful view before going to see a flamenco show. The flamenco show was so amazing! The next day we went to the beach for the day. On Sunday, we went to La Alhambra, the last Muslim stronghold in Spain before it fell to the Christian Monarchs Ferdiand and Isabel in the 15th Century. Unfortunately, my camera battery died just before we got there, but it is absolutely beautiful. After that, we had a long drive home to Madrid. Overall, it was a great weekend. This week we have midterms so it should be a pretty quiet week. On Friday we go to Santander!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Greetings Americans,

We have just gotten out of bed after a 4 hour siesta (awesome, I know) and now we are going to go walk around Madrid for a bit. Nothing too terribly exciting, but we do need to save up for a weekend full of fun in GRANADA.

Tonight, we are all going to a Spanish Karoke Bar. I may or may not feel obligated to bust of some Ricky Martin because after all, we are living la vida loca.

Tomorrow at 8am, we head to Granada. It will be a 6 hour trip on the bus there and then beach and relaxation the rest of the day. It should be a blast!

On Tuesday night, we saw a play with our spanish brother, Tomas. I think we would have really enjoyed it if...
1. It wasn't a 200 degree inferno.
2. We understood what was going on.
3. There weren't only 13 people in the crowd.

Pictures to come on Sunday or Monday!

Monday, July 6, 2009

These are pictures from el Valle de los Caidos (the Valley of the Fallen) that was built by the dictator Francisco Franco at the end of the civil war in 1939. The first is a view of the cross and basilica built on top and inside a mounain and the second is the view from the basilica.

Madrid, Toledo, and El Escorial

This weekend we went to Toledo and El Escorial and this first picture is of Jessica and me in front of the Monasterio del Real Sitio de El Escorial that was built by Felipe II. The second picture is me eating this discusting fried fish that we got with our drinks at this amazing rooftop bar. I should have taken a picture of the view, because you could see the whole city from where we were sitting. The picture below is of Maty (a girl in our program) and me in Toledo with the famous Don Quixote de la Mancha. The next picture, the sideways one is an amazing view of Toledo. Sorry its sideways, tilt your head. haha. The last picture is of the madness of Chueca, where there was a three night festival with live music, food, etc.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pictures from Espana!

The Lake in el Parque Retiro
Holla to the home state!

Me looking awkward by the Palacio Crystal

McMannimal looking surprised and Ashley looking silly.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Top Three...

Top 3 reasons why Europe > America
3. You don't have to take your shoes off at the airport.
2. Museums.
1. Gelato- everywhere, in every flavor, anytime.

Top 3 reasons why America> Europe
3. You eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at normal hours.
2. Air Conditioning.
1. Washers and Dryers.

As you can see blog fans, so far... it's a toss up. We will keep you posted on our continent preference from here on out.


Day Two en Espana

Last night we met up with some of the other students in our program at an Irish Pub (weird, I know) called Dubliners in the city center. We only stayed for a couple hours because everyone else had just flown in that day an they were all extremely tired. We got to know everyone a lot better and we are excited to spend the next five weeks with them. Today we woke up and went back to La Parque Retiro, kind of a central park of Mardid, and walked around. We saw the Cristal Palace and the Palace of Valasquez. Then we went over to the business district and did a little shopping...but no buying. The dollar is super-weak right now so everything is very expensive. We are still looking for some good deals. The one thing Spain does right is shoes! They are inexpensive and so much cuter than in the U.S. I think they will be my downfall. Oh well...

This afternoon, we had a meeting about our first out of town trip to Toledo and El Escorial. I am excited to see this very old city and we have a pool at our hotel! It is hot as hell in Spain right now! Ok, dinner is ready...adios!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hola from Espana!

Hi from Madrid, Spain! Today was a busy day as we moved in with our host family and had a meeting with our program and a tour of Madrid. Our family is absolutely amazing! They are originally from Argentina and they own a theater school and company here in Madrid. They have four children, but only two live in the home. Tomas is 23 and very nice and their daughter, who we have not met yet is 17 and will be traveling a lot this summer. Adjusting to this lifestyle is definitely going to be interesting. It is 10:15pm and we just finished dinner...and it was an early dinner for them! We did have a wonderful siesta today though, which definitely gave us a little more energy. All the kids in our program seem really nice and we can't wait to get to know all of them. This weekend we are all going on a trip to Toledo and we are really looking forward to seeing the history of that great city!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Finale

The last stop on our trip was three days in Rome and we were both so excited to finally get there! After a five hour train ride to the Termini Station, we caught another metro to the Lepanto station, near where we were staying at the B&B Fiocca. About a five minute walk from the station, Andrea (a man) was waiting for our arrival. Our room was perfect, roomy with two beds and free wireless internet! We quickly dropped our stuff off and headed back out to Ancient Rome where we were meeting back up with Emily and Lauren.

Once near the Ancient Center, we headed straight for the Colosseum. We didn’t plan to, but we ended up stumbling upon a great guided tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We were absolutely amazed by the sheer grandeur that was once Ancient Rome. Our tour was great and lasted about three hours. Afterwards, we wondered over to the Campidoglio and then ate dinner near the huge Victor Emmanuel monument. We were exhausted from our day of traveling and headed back to our hotel for the night.

The next morning, after eating a very American breakfast of coffee ad cereal provided by Andrea, we met up with Emily and Lauren near the Trevi Fountain. Though beautiful, taking in the Trevi Fountain did not take long and after about 15 minutes, we headed over to the Pantheon, the best preserved of all the ancient buildings in Rome. Afterwards, we wondered around that area for a bit and then went to the Piazza Navona. Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is pretty amazing and the atmosphere around this piazza is great. We decided to have lunch there and had some of the best Pizza of our trip! After lunch, we wondered over to the Spanish Steps and window shopped around the designer stores before heading off to the Vatican!
At the Vatican, Ashley and I took a tour of the museums and the Sistine Chapel. It really is absolutely amazing to see it in person. St. Peter’s Basilica was more than we could have imagined and we spent about half an hour wondering around inside just looking at all the amazing works inside the church. We were pretty exhausted after our tour so we headed home. That night, we went on this really hilarious pub crawl and pretty much witnessed every reason why Europeans dislike Americans. After about three hours, we got bored and headed home.

On our last day in Rome, we went to the Borghese Gallery where we saw Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, one of the most amazing pieces I have seen in Europe. Though small, this gallery is definitely worth the trip as it houses some very famous works. As we had pretty much done everything on our Roman Agenda, we spent the rest of the afternoon wondering around the Villa Borghese and the surrounding areas. That night we met up with Lauren and Emily again near the Spanish Steps for a nice dinner and desert. That concluded our amazing trip to Italy and our last stop before Spain.

We are very excited to spend a night in Madrid to rest before we meet our host family and the other people in our program on Monday. This trip has gone by so fast…we can’t believe it is over. And as we probably won’t have as much free time on trains and at night, we probably won’t be blogging as much. Arrivederci!

- J&A

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cinque Terre Pics

Cinque Terre

We hiked 6 hours yesterday. Cinque Terre is comprised of 5 small towns grouped together by a various mountain trails. We woke up around 8am to meet Emily and Lauren so we could start or day of pretending to be outdoors ladies. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. I mean, would you really want anything but 80 degrees and sunny?? Nah. The hike started all uphill in Vernazza to Corniglia to Manarola and we ended for some delicious pizza, pasta and salad in Riomaggiore. We then took the train back to Monterroso to do the most difficult and longest part of the hike. Cinque Terre is a little piece of untouched paradise. The houses are plastered to the sides cliffs and you can see nothing surrounding clear ocean. We saw one car and it was basically a uni-bomber white van carrying fruits to a restaurant. (essentially the anti-thesis of Manhattan) The population consists of mostly tourists. Makes you think, people who live in Cinque Terre… rich or crazy? Cinque Terre was hands down my favorite part of our backpacking adventure thus far. I tried to convince Jess, Emily and Lauren to skip out on Rome and stay in Vernazza for a little longer… I was turned down. It is definitely on my list of places to visit again and I highly suggest it to ANYONE
This morning, we woke up at 5:15am to head off to the station to catch the train to Rome. We have 3 days of jam packed quests in Rome before we are off to Madrid. We hope our new brothers and sisters like us!

I brought my digital camera I’m gonna make the Pisa do a million poses.

Before getting to Cinque Terre, Jessica and I did a one hour drop-off at Pisa for some sweet pictures. For your viewing pleasure, please enjoy the pictures below.

Florence to Cinque Terre

The morning of the 22nd, we sadly left Florence for Cinque Terre, five small towns in the Tuscan Region. We got on a train from Florence to Pisa, where we got off for a one hour lay over to see the famous leaning tower. We were seriously the most obnoxious picture taking tourists that have ever visited that leaning tower. We met three older American couples who realized our expertise at hilarious leaning tower poses (see below) and we became make-shift Pisa Photographers…it was funny. After about an hour in Pisa, we boarded a train toward Cinque Terre. Here is where it gets interesting…
Our ticket was for Florence with a stop over in Piza and onto Sarzana?? However, everything we read said to get off at La Spezia and then take a small regional train onto the town of Vernazza. I am not good at trains and so we mistakenly got off at Sarzana and had a one hour-wait until we could catch a regional train to Vernazza. So here we are in Sarzana, where no one speaks English and we don’t know what is going on…we are hoping for the best.
Update: it just started to rain. Cool.

Florence in Summary

Florence in Summary…
The Leonardo Hostel is awesome, however it doesn’t supply towels so we dried off with T-shirts
Ashley did laundry and met this bizarre American man. He said his name was Ray, but his friends call him Marcello??? RayMarcello loves Barack Obama and hates Sarah Palin. He wanted to talk about politics forever, but Ashley just wanted to do Laundry.
There are dogs everywhere in Florence…they poop on the streetz
We trekked up to the top of the Piazza Michelangelo for an absolutely amazing view of the entirety of Florence. It reminded us a bit like Sacre Coeur. Our legs are sore.
We had the absolutely most amazing gelato near the Santa Croce…we were so focused on this ice cream
That we ate it in silence and almost cried when it was finished. We recommend the cookie and cheese cake flavors.
We accidentally ended up in the middle of a marathon.
While in the Uffizi, looking at the Venus of Urbino, a mom asked her three-year-old daughter what she noticed in the picture (probably thinking the girl would say a dog)…instead the girl shouted, “ I see her boobies!”--We laughed so hard, the mom did not.
Note to Spanish speakers, Italian and Spanish are much more different that you think.
Michelangelo’s David is absolutely larger than life.
Florence is cool.