Monday, December 13, 2010

sometimes i think it never ends.

i'm nearing the end of a 9 hour take-home final.
is it just me, or are finals getting waaaaay out of hand?

anyway, you should all know that the only way to get through a take-home final is to listen to Christmas music.
That's what i've been doing all day, and that's what i'll keep doing for the next.... 2 hours. until this final is over.
it kind of makes the process fun. or maybe i just stopped caring about college. you know, whatevs.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Yielding to peer pressure

I feel like everyone is doing an "end of the semester" post, so yeah, sure.... I'll jump on the bandwagon!
I finished my work at BYU on wednesday.
HECK YES I DID!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, I've thought this 2 times before, but this time I'm really sure. But who knows? I just know that I'm done, and I am not interested in coming back to continue my education here. It was really great 4.5 years, but it's time to close this chapter, and time do other fun adventures.

The world is my campus!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Happy December!
Do you know what that means?

Now I get to say, "I go to London next month!"
Yes, that's exciting.
5 weeks, people. 5 weeks.

And Merry Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

it never gets old

I will never ever ever ever ever get tired of saying that i get to live and work in London, that i have lived and worked in Germany, and that I got to backpack for a month in Europe. not ever.
I'll work a hop, skip and a jump from here!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Granada the Pomegranate

GRANADA!!! The one place outside of Prague that I was really really anxious to go to. I mean, I wanted to go to a lot of places, but Granada was like, #2 on the list of "Very Important places that if you miss I will make sure you regret it for the rest of your life." So it was glorious morning when my train rolled into the station.
I took a night train and shared a compartment with three little old ladies, and it was hilarious. They didn't speak a lick of English, and I hardly speak spanish... language barriers are always fun.
Granada means "Pomegranate" in arabic. The city is so named for when the Muslims invaded Spain and took over. They were kicked out of Spain entirely in 1492, and Granada was their last stronghold. But more on that later. Tidbit: The street lamps are in the shape of pomegranates. quaint.

excerpts from my journal:
"I got here and settled in and then went on the free walking tour of the Albayzin [ the ancient and beautiful part of town]. There are so many twisty, windy, crazy streets. Sometimes a road will start out wider than the breadth of my arms, and in the end I'll be edging sideways...makes me feel like a spy. The Albayzin is amazing! all whitewashed walls, silly grafitti, many a tapas bar, flowers on the window sills, cobblestone streets, and a great smell of desert dirt and spices. Really, I love this place."
View of the Albayzin and Sacramonte in the back

"I found a nunnery that makes and sells candy!! It's so tasty! Well, it definitely tastes odd, but I like it!"

"In true Spanish form, I joined a group leaving the hostel for a late dinner and a tapas tour (each on separate nights). And I mean a late dinner. We were seated at 10pm and had our food by 10:30. And in true European fashion, we stayed chatting at that table till 1AM. but it was a flamenco restaurant, so it was dinner and a show!! Three guys came out, and man, Flamenco is awesome. Intricate, a strange mix of river-dance and tap, but with all the attitude of the latin dances. FUN!

The tapas tour was exciting - we went to about 4 bars. Granada is a college town, so with every drink you order, they also give you tapas (small appetizers). YUM. By the end of three drinks you're quite full. Our guide let us know that that's actually a good preventative measure because the kids don't get as drunk because they're full. hahaa funny. I got lemonade at one bar, coke with lime at another, and pomegranate juice at another. And each tapas bar served different tapas! it was a fun night. I smelled outrageously like smoke (GROSS!) and had to let my coat air out over night. ah well, it was worth it.


Alhambra = "the most romantic place on earth". Well, Schwetzingen gives it a run for it's money, but the gardens of the Alhambra are breath-taking. When the Muslims ruled, they believed that Granada was directly under heaven. Literally. I can see why... with the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas in the east, and the beautiful valley stretching out before you, and the setting sun... I would think I was IN heaven. The Gardens are ridiculously extensive, and the actual architecture is nothing we see in the west. Intricate mosaics with stones and colored glass, all those curly cutesy desigins, outdoor courts with reflection pools, fountains, and artistically sculpted greenery. And so many flowers!! The Alhambra is a must see! I spent 8 hours there.

Granada was lovely. I great respite - since it was so warm in southern Spain. I loved the oranges that grew on the trees, free for the taking, the late night adventures that are just part of the culture, the Albayzin with it's crazy, twisty funny streets, the caves on Sacramonte where hippies lived, the cozy little carmens (private gardens), the delicious candy from the nuns!, and the lovely couscous we had at the hostel. And so much more. I spent 5 days in Granada and could easily spend another 50.

One of the many fountains in the Alhambra. This was my favorite one. Check out those Roman arches!!
hahaa I just found this intensely amusing.
Many people in Granada decorated their patios and windows this way. Lots of flowers and hanging plants, plates with interesting designs. It's so beautiful and artistic!
This is in one of the Carmen's - a private garden. This was in the college campus, and if I looked directly to my right I could see the valley of the Albayzin and the Alhambra. It was lovely.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Barcelona has that perfect vibe I'm lookin' for!"

I left marseilles on a night train and woke up in the beautiful city of Barcelona. My journal contains a rather funny passport experience, in which I pray pretty hard to not get in trouble. It worked. Prayers work. I almost got into a lot of trouble, but the guy right in front of me was even more of a delinquent than me, so I got off scotch free!!

Barcelona is a magical, wonderful, happy, chill, awesome, artistic, metro, spiritual, beautiful, funny place. I loved every single thing about it. I'm going to let the pictures do the talking, and write quotes from my journal.
In Park Guell (a park designed by Antonio Gaudi) are these fantastic and lovely tile mosaics. I am so in love with these it's ridiculous. This was on the roof of a building in the park, and I loved it the most because it was of the sun. Gaudi was a genius.
PAELLA!!! probably one of the yummiest dishes ever. "I decided to follow Shannon's orders and get some paella on La Rambla. I'm munching on some tapas now (cheese, an odd potato cake thing, and bread)...YAY paella is here!.... oh my gosh, this stuff is so good! No words describe the fantasticness that is my yummy paella. MMMMMmmm saffron, peppers, and chicken. Wow, I love it."
These were the tapas I just wrote about. Those were AWESOME! P.S. People watching on La Rambla is one of the funnest things ever.
Oh, La Sagrada Familia. Kelly, if we go to Barcelona, we are coming here on the first day, no doubt. LSF is a cathedral designed by Gaudi, and of all the cathedrals I went to, this was my 2nd favorite. Gaudi did so much and I loved it a lot. Especially the windows. He said, "The church will be luminous. Church of Harmonious light" Gaudi got it right. He used darker glass on the bottom and lighter on the top. The light streaming in had such a powerful effect. The pillars in the church are shaped like trees, so the branches arch out and form a very clever support. The feeling of the church is like you're outside, with the light coming through the windows like it falls through a thick tree grove - interspersed and and colorful. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
More houses by Gaudi. He was such a clever architect. I was fond of the house on the right, cause I loved the masks.
This is that house on the right at night. Doesn't it look demonic?!?!? I loved this effect. In the day it looks so friendly and benign, but at night I thought minions of hell could party here. Not sure if that's what they're going for, but that's what I got!
On La Rambla (a very touristy street!) are these people that dress up like statues and tourists give them money for their clever costumes. "These people sit there until someone else gets too close. Then, they blink or cough and freak out the poor unfortunate soul. It's hilarious. They are so real looking, I can't tell sometimes which are statues and which aren't!"
At the end of La Rambla is the Mediterranean Sea. I walked on the beach for a little while till I found a comfortable spot to relax and write in my journal. It was very peaceful.
On my last day in Barcelona I walked about 12 miles. At the end of the day I was in Park Guell, and I sat on these benches, next to the boganvilla, and listened to some artist play the spanish guitar for an hour. It was one of the most peaceful and lovely experiences of my life. I love spanish guitar, and I got to reflect on what an amazing opportunity travelling to Europe was and is. And rest my weary feet.

Some other silly quotes from my journal, during my time in BCN:
"I will never doubt Shannon's opinion again."
"Dear men of Europe, PLEASE STOP KISSING ME!"
"I'm so glad there are parrots in this park and not dumb pigeons."
"He asked me if I was alone and I promptly replied, NO. Then he promptly left me alone. I'm so grateful for white lies. YES, I'm grateful for LYING."
"Every country's Christmas market is different. Spain loves the greenery and Christmas plants."
"The sculpture on the Passion facade (of La Sagrada Familia) actually looks like bone. Like the texture of bone. Gaudi wanted this part of the Cathedral to show raw emotion of the event, and he got it."
"I LOVE it here!!"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

yes, i'll write about what i said i'd write about, but for now i want to do this.

Out of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Thornton, & Mr. Rochester, I would....

Kiss Mr. Rochester
"What do you think of the Master?" - Ms. Fairfax
"He seems very changeable, Ma'am." - Jane Eyre

Dump Mr. Darcy
"I could more easily forgive his pride if he had not wounded mine." - Elizabeth Bennett

And I would marry Mr. Thornton.
"I don't want to possess you! I want to marry you because I love you!" -Mr. Thornton
"Well you shouldn't! Because I don't like you...and I never have." - Margaret Hale

Thursday, August 12, 2010

may or may not be back again...

In light of recent events, I may or may not be resurrecting this travel blog. It all depends on a couple of things. Mostly a security clearance.

But first, this weekend will be filled with hiking, packing, cleaning, moving, and hopefully some yummy food. Then I will finally fill ya'll in on what went down in Barcelona, Granada, Morocco, and London. The last 15 days of my trip!

Can you believe it's almost been a year since I first left? Time flies.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I could be a mediterranean person

Marseille(s). both spellings are correct.
So... remember how i love The Count of Monte Cristo? How it's my most favorite book of all time? I read it for the first time when i was 14. I have actually TRIED to find a different favorite book. I don't know why. But The Count wins every time. i read it once every other year or so... and everytime... it's just... oh my... just... no words.
So, Marseille was on the list because it is the place where the book opens, and where young Edmund grows up, and where he is betrayed, and where one can visit the ominous Chateau D'if. Ummm.... talk about awesome.
I spent one day in Marseille - in on a night train, out on a night train. It was so lovely! Early in the morning I headed to the old Harbor where there was quite a bit going on. it was a lot like pike place market in Seattle... only without the overhead coverings and flying fish. There were tons of vendors, selling everything from shrimp to... other fish i don't know the name of... to christmas trees and flowers! Marseille is such a pretty town too - quintessentially french, and very very mediterranean. it was warm and sunny too... such a relief from rainy italy!
Anyway, the very very first thing i did was find the boat/ferry company that takes tourists to the chateau. found it. bought a ticket. waited ever-so-impatiently. got on a boat!! fidgeted the whole 25 minutes it took to get the island of If. (by the way, that's pronounced "EE-f", not "if".) got off the boat. I wish i could have seen my face, because when you round the corner and that prison comes into view... it's just so cool. i stopped. stared. took pictures. and pictures. and more and more and more pictures. really, it's like my pilgrimage for my favorite book. you know how some people go to england to see Jane Austen sights? well... i follow the count. :)
So, highlights: The main island itself is smaller than i imagined. maybe 2 football fields. the chateau is only 3 stories, with an inner court yard the size of my living room. some rooms are quite luxurious -- with a fireplace and windows! some are quite as dank and dark as depicted in the movie. The real Abbe` Faria stayed in the chateau, and his room is larger than most. it's on the 2nd level. (With a killer cool door, by the way. it's blood red, with this huge old lock. best door ever!) i fenced in there... pretending to be edmund. and i quoted some lines from the book because.... you know..... i have to.
I walked all around the island looking for the graveyard, but i just don't think i had the right vantage point at any time. There was one place where maybe...maybe. I'll just have to watch the movie again.
The mediterranean itself is so beautiful. clear as a pool, and just so pretty.
I traipsed all over that little place for about 3 hours. Then the boat came to take us back. sad day. But this does mean i got to explore marseille for a little while longer! The Basilica of Notre Dame (not to be confused with the cathedral in Paris) is the prettiest thing in the world. it's up on the top of a hill... a huge hill... that takes about 45 minutes to hike and it's steeper than the Y hike...killer.
but the basilica is worth it. or you could cheat and take the bus. ha. but the basilica has all these interesting decorations - there are boats hanging from the ceiling! or painted, or carved. Cause it's a shipping town, see? how cool is that? also, one wall is dedicated to soldiers from Marseille that fought in wars all the way back to 1880. Their medals or helmuts hang on the wall with a name tag underneath. It's so sweet, to remember the soldiers that way.
From the top of the basilica, you literally have a 360degree view of the city. and it is striking. you can see aaaaaaalllll the way out to world's end. i watched one ship sail forever, till it was a speck in the distance, and then *poof* it was gone. guess it fell off the edge of the earth.
The basilica also has some battle wounds from when it was attacked in WWII. it still has shrapnel in the walls, and gouges in the facade.
I stayed up at the church for about 3 hours (pattern, anyone?) and headed back down. funny, the hike down was so much easier. in town, i grabbed a panini for a late lunch (ohmygoodness, so good!) and walked around the wharf and old port again, visited another cathedral, the roman port, a greek theater, and heard some carollers sing. what a day!
back to the train station, grabbed my luggage, got snapped at by an old crazy lady, and on the train to barcelona...
but, oh, marseille... we shall have to meet again!
Inside the Basilica. See the boats?
Chateau D'if!!
Best quote in the book.
This is the real Abbe Faria's room.
First look when stepping off the boat...
Ummm... i think i was trying to pull a "i'm sad i'm a prisoner" face, but it just looks demented. i was too happy to even pretend to be sad!

Flower market on the old port.