Monday, November 26, 2012

12 days left!

First of all, I apologize that I haven't updated in so long.

Secondly, Google has officially cute off my ability to update pictures... so if you want to see Madrid, Granada, Seville, and Lisbon, (or the millions of other pictures I've taken) just ask upon my return!

Madrid turned out to be awesome. We were on the very edge of the city, but right next to a metro station, and about 3 minutes away from a BEAUTIFUL park, with leaves everywhere.

We spent our days in class, visiting lots of tombs outside the city, going to starbucks (YAY!), lots of museum trips, and planning and preparing thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and I was sad about missing out, but ours ended up rocking. Thanks to the pointers for finding a big house outside the city, our social chairs planning the whole day, and the work of pretty much everyone on the trip, Thanksgiving was everything that it should be... complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, canned cranberries, pumpkin pie, ect.

We're officially in Granada, which is currently on the same page as Geneva (not so hot). But, I have a debate tomorrow and finals next week, so it's giving us time to study!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I had no expectations for Bilbao. Brennan studied there fall of his junior year, and whenever I've heard his talk about the trip, it was always about cool places they had gone elsewhere in Europe. So when I saw the city on the schedule, I thought it would be good homework time. False. It was beautiful. Part of it was the perfect weather (60-70 degrees, and sunny), and that the city was a beautiful combination of old fashion and modern architecture that made it feel distinct from the other places we've been. But it was also a fun environment to be in. There were tons of young people (college students and families) and because everyone goes out for "tapas" in the evenings, the shops and restaurants are all busy at night, which made us feel like we were in a bigger city (like London).

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

playing in the Guggenheim

modern art... okay so at first glance, it looks weird. but it we had audio-guides that gave context for everything we were seeing and helped explain the artists point in their art, which was extremely helpful and kept me from writing it off.  the main exhibit was on Oldenburg and most of his art was in designed in reaction to discontent with American consumerism and it was surprisingly interesting and informative, although I definitely enjoyed it more for the history than the art. 

tommy and scott

on the river outside the Guggenheim 

our second afternoon, the pointers canceled the museum we were supposed to visit and planned a boat trip around bilbao instead. even though we move around a lot, our schedule of class, museums, and something at some point in the evening is fairly consistent, so we were all super happy about having something fun to break it up! 

kelsey and me

me, corinne and jess

after the boat cruise, luke, tommy, corey, emily and i went up to a park that i've been running through the last few days and wanted to visit one last time. its a walk from anywhere we went as a group and our hotel, but right along the river a ways, and was hands down my favorite place in bilbao. 

meet emily schock. she's one of four emily's on our trip. but it's shocking how cool she is. (sorry... that was bad). anyway, she's the only student on the trip not from westmont. she goes to Taylor University (its in the midwest). we like her so much that we are trying to convince her to transfer. but considering that she graduates in the spring, the odds are against us. 

night at the symphony 
me, jess, lauren

jess found the most amazing store ever. it was everything cozy and wonderful. what i'm holding happens to be a slipper that has little beads that you warm up in the microwave and then wear. how awesome is that? it took everything in me to maintain self-control. 

 any idea what's going on in spain right now? synopsis: people are not happy that that they took out too many loans to by homes they couldn't afford and are angry that they now have to take steps to pay them back (sound familiar?)... we are taking a class on the EU and actually had a chance to hear a guest lecture on the economic crisis last week, which was incredible to hear about. then we stumbled onto this protest later that same night. there were about 6 blocks of people packed and marching calling for spanish government to loosen the austerity measures.

this is what "Tapas" looks like! people here eat late and it's weird. call me culturally insensitive, but the structure of the spanish day is unlike anywhere else we have been and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense... although it is fun! tapas happens between 8-11 and everyone goes home and eats dinner or goes out after that (they then carve a three hour block of their afternoons out for "siesta"). so it serves as appetizer time. the atmosphere is great, and its fun that families are walking around/at all the parks and friends are hanging out in the streets with their "tapas". 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The South of France

Because I just updated, this post is going to be brief! But I wanted to make sure that I posted my Avignon pictures before we move on to the next few weeks in Spain. For the most part, this was a stop out of convenience because its a halfway point between Florence and Bilbao (our next stop). But it was nice to spend a few wonderful nights in a little fortress in the South of France... :)

The best part was yesterday. We went to the Pont Du Gard (a Roman aqueduct nearby) and got to run around by it and around it enjoying the nature and scenery on a PERFECT fall day. It was one of my favorite days on the trip so far because I felt like a little kid rolling in the grass and playing with the yellow and red leaves. And, because we were expecting more ancient ruins, it was a fun surprise to get to play!

Our hotel is wonderful here as well. Real towels, breakfast that includes fruit (YAY!), and semi-normal sized pillows! And the weather has been unbelievable! (60s and sunny!) can you tell I like this stop?

There isn't too much to do in Avignon itself, but I have gotten the chance to run in the mornings along the river on the outside of the walls, which is gorgeous. I didn't bring my phone, so I didn't get my own picture, but I'll steal one offline and put it at the end so you can see what my view was!

exploring the city of Avignon 
rachel, kels, torii, brooke, hannah, hayley, lauren, my, angela

there was nothing open (sunday) except for the candy shops :)

pont du gard with corrine and jess

becky, lauren, emily, kim, sophi, me, michelle, jess, elizabeth, and corrine

on the top of the bridge... look at the sky!

palace of the popes... where 9 of the popes lived during the captivity
(aka - avignon's claim to fame!)

briana... showing off he scarf and attempting to prove she can fly 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Finishing Florence

We are officially in Avignon, France! But its rainy and cold outside, so before we have new adventures, I thought I'd update on the last week. 

Basically, the last week of art was finishing up the last few museums and studying for our final/finishing up last projects to turn in. A bunch of people were also sick, so the week consisted of lots of sleep, vitamin C, and water! It was nice to have a chance to skype, email, and catch up with lots of friends and family back home, and because we officially completed the top 15 things to do in Florence (or so trip advisor says), so we didn't feel the pressure to be out and about all the time. It was nice to finally feel like I knew a city, but I was definitely getting restless by the end of our stay.

Our final wasn't too bad, and now were back to the races. We left at 630am this morning, and we were all doing homework for our other three classes the whole way here (except for the lucky ones who can sleep on buses...)

(*stay tuned for some awesome directions to my favorite places in florence.)

this picture does not do these sandwiches justice. on the recommendation of a fellow westmont student spending her semester in florence, we checked out this sandwich shop behind the Uffizi (down the street inbetween the plazzo vecchio and the Uffizi, on the right) our first week in the city. i think the best way to communicate how amazing it was is to say that some people went back every single day. by some people, i don't mean me, although i wasn't far behind! the bread was warm foccacia, just out of the oven, and the key was telling the guys who worked there to make you whatever they felt like. so... salami, cheese, sundried tomatoes, fresh tomoatoes, arugala, eggplant, and a bunch of spreads (olive, gorgenzola, truffle, ect.) were fair game. and they were the best food that i had in italy. hands down. 

inside the Pitti Palace

as we've traveled and missed the comforts of home, we wondered who the heck would want to live in a house like this? its pretty, but where are the cozy chairs and fireplaces? as tommy knapp so eloquently put it "can you imagine trying to find your mom in this house?" we might have gotten lost and ended up seeing a costume museum/native american tribute on the top floor. (that's right, we went to europe to learn about the indians) 

belvedere gardens
me, hayley, hayley, elizabeth, jess

me, tommy, jess

me, emily

me, hayley

view from the top of the gardens, overlooking Florence

painting by Fra Angelico that i had to do a presentation on. synopsis: this is (one of the many) "the annunciation"(s). its based off the story in luke when gabriel comes to mary. it's in the museo san marcos at the top of the staircase leading to the monks quarters and is placed there to "shock" them. no one knows why the black lines above their heads are there, other than to add perspective to the scene. perspective was just being uncovered at this point of the reniassance, and trust me... its harder than it looks. (notice how my paintings aren't pictured? watercolors are quite the challenge)
when this painting was assigned to me over the summer, i looked at it and thought it was bland. but after seeing so much elaborate art and cathedrals with reds, golds, and dramatic uses of light, i really like how simple this is. 

my super sneaky picture of michelangelo's david. there were picture cops up closer to it... they like to yell "no photo!" every time someone takes out their camera/phone (at any and every museum). we resist the urge to tell them to say "no photoS" every time. 
on a serious note: i'm not one for sculpture. it's beautiful in it's own right, but i have a lot more appreciation for paintings (something that i learned on this trip...proud mom?:)
BUT, this sculpture was amazing. it was built to stand on the top of a cathedral, not in a museum, so it's huge. but the david is gorgeous. there's this look on his face and his stance that just seems like he is so ready for what's coming. our professor said that the best sculptures "jump out" at you, and i thought he was ridiculous and repeated how thankful i was to be a bus/econ major until i saw this... we also studied donatello's david, and there is honestly no comparison. if you are ever in florence, this is on my must see list for sure. 

this is the indoor market near the leather market. think huge warehouse, with a farmer's market inside. it's very italian, with people yelling at you to sample their bread/olive oil and to take a grape. 

i wish that i would have taken more food pictures while i was here. but i figured this would do.
 i have to say... my last night jess and i got ravioli with ricotta, pears, and balsamic vinegar and that was the best meal we had in florence. (take the right before the leather market turns into the main street when you come from the Duomo. where the awkward people handing out flyers are... in case you're ever there)

a tribute to the election and the stress that it caused last week. we had a few brave souls who stayed up all night to watch the election (were 9 hours ahead), who were very sad come about 5am) 

welcome to the leather market! where aggression, strategy, and confidence will help you win big!

gelato place corrine found our last night! we went to a shop called venchi one of our
 first nights in florence and fell in love. it was around the corner from our hotel and one of the only places that makes their own gelato. aka... we went most nights. BUT, in the spirit of doing something different, corrine found the trip advisor "#1" gelato place in florence, and it was AMAZING. (it's one bridge past the ponte vecchio on the way to the park/us embassy) i'd recommend both as the two best we've had thus far. 

happy kylie!

ponte vecchio at night!

so now we move on. two last thoughts on italy. 

1. studying art in italy made the experience. honestly, i would have had no idea what i was looking at or why it mattered if it wasn't for Dr. Carlander. we had passes that got us into pretty much whatever museums/art/gardens that we wanted to see, and i was extremely thankful for how free we were to explore florence. 
2. over the course of our month in italy, i've been reading Acts. last night was the last chapter and Paul was arrested and being dragged all over the place and through ITALY. how cool is that? now when i think of what it meant for him to claim that he was a roman citizen, i think of rome, and everything we've learned about the government there. both make me super grateful for the places i've seen, and leaves me wanting to explore more :)