Monday, April 28, 2014

Lisbon and MOW

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Just because I haven't mentioned frisbee in awhile doesn't mean I haven't been playing. The first weekend of March we headed to Lisbon, Portugal to play in a beach tournament called MOW (Mixed, Open, Women). We headed out early on Friday to get in a half day of site seeing. The actually tournament was about 20 minutes outside of the city. I came in knowing almost nothing about Lisbon, but Portugal was on my list of places to go so I tagged along with the team and took pictures along the way. I couldn't tell you what anything was called, but for me, that wasn't the point. I got to travel, get to know my teammates and eat delicious food.
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The tournament part of the trip was...awful. It's not the organizers' fault. It just so happened that the worst weather in the history of all of ultimate frisbee happened to be on that weekend. It was cold, windy, rainy, and misty practically the whole time. That changes everything. We were tired and miserable the whole tournament. We ended up bringing two teams; my team came in 5th out of six because we kind of gave up at the end. It was hard to muster up the motivation under the conditions. The other team came in 3rd. I don't know where they got their energy from. Looking back now we can laugh about MOW and say that, speaking positively, we learned a lot from playing in that weather. But at the time, all I wanted was tea, a good movie and lots and lots of blankets.   photo batch_IMG_1319.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1312.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1320.jpg

Thursday, April 24, 2014

What I'm Reading // Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

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On a whim I bought Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil off Amazon. When I was younger we used to visit Savannah every summer so the title had always been in the back of my mind. It was a good book to get me back into reading for fun. Enough substance to think about and enough murder to be thrilling. The book also gave me a nostalgic feeling for Savannah. Berendt perfectly captured the heavy, sleepy feeling of Savannah that I remember so fondly. So here's a top 10 list of the most important parts of Midnight in the Garden of Good and my opinion.

1. Character development
2. Anecdotes/straying from the main plot
3. The beautifully captured Savannah, Georgia
4. The murder trial and what really happened?
5. Was the voodoo and magic real?
6. The fact that it's based on real events
7. Not the movie, the movie was horrible
8. The cover photo, it's just too perfect!
9. The decadence of the parties
10. The ending!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Día de Andalucía

Día de Andalucía celebrates the day that Andalucía became an autonomous community. Honestly, I didn't know much more than that when the school started erupting in celebrations. I just knew that it meant I had a four day weekend. The celebrating part turned out to be really fun, and now that I've become a part of the school, the students wanted to make sure I got to partake as much as possible. On Tuesday afternoon a band came and played traditional music, as well as the Sponge Bob Square Pants theme song. I kept trying to think back to the days before homeschooling, and I just can't say that my elementary school ever went as big as the one I work at now. But a band for Andalucía day is normal.
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Wednesday was a mess. We started with a traditional Andalucía breakfast: fresh baked bread and olive oil made from olive grown in the south. I'm a big fan of the bocadillo, so I didn't say no. The kids kept asking me if I had ever had a bocadillo before. Sometimes I don't know if it's clicked for them yet that I actually live here. I don't fly home to America every night. The second activity of the day was balloon wishes. We wrote wishes and tied them to the end of balloons. Then the whole school went outside to the playground and, after the anthem ended, we let them go at the same time. My wish ended up coming true. I'll be coming back next year! I don't know where my placement is yet, but it'll be somewhere in Andalucía. I love taking part in impromptu school celebrations. I feel really welcome at my school at this point and both the students and teachers make sure that I have the opportunity to participate fully. I got lucky in my placement, which is why I made the wish to come back.
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Never Stop Being a Tourist in My Own City

Sevilla is a fairly small city. For a weekend visit it is jam packed with things to do. But after seven months, I hate to admit it, but you get used to living here. Sometimes my friends and I like to remind ourselves that we live in an incredible city, so we go site seeing. These pictures were taken during excursions to the Torre del Oro (The Golden Tower) and Plaza de España (one of my favorite places in Sevilla).
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Rest of Christmas Vacation

When I got back from Italy I hit the ground running. If there's one thing Seville knows how to do it's celebrate. Christmas Eve meant a huge parade called the Cabalgata de Reyes. Instead of Santa Claus bringing the children their gifts, the wise men do. So the wise men parade around the city on Christmas Eve. The parade consists of floats sponsored by different companies and organizations around the city. The people on the float throw candy and other goodies. The candy throwing is deadly. I didn't know whether to cheer or cover my head to protect myself! We were on the main street of Triana and you wouldn't believe how crowded it was. When the whole parade had passed the ground was coated in gooey and sticky candy. My shoes were gross. The next day there were local parades. The one in Triana was exactly the same as the night before except smaller. Below are a couple of videos to give you the idea of what the Cabalgata was like. 

Italian Extravaganza: Day 10

This was our last full day in Italy. Technically the trip was twelve days if you count the days we flew in and out, but we didn't actually do any site seeing so, in my opinion, they don't count. We stopped by one last tiny town in the Chianti region of Tuscany called Radda. It was still some sort of post New Years holiday so there wasn't much open. Dad bought some bonafide Chianti olive oil and then we headed back to Bologna. In Bologna we walked around the city one more time and had our last Italian meal.  photo batch_IMG_1283.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1316.jpg
I don't know exactly how to end this Extravaganza. It was everything that I had hoped it would be and the majority of my childhood dreams were satisfied. Suffice it to say that, as the NG guide suggested, I moved heaven and earth. I couldn't be happier that I did. And thus ends the Italian Extravaganza.
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Italian Extravaganza: Day 9

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New Years day was our day for driving around Tuscany. We woke up late because we stayed up pretty late for New Years Eve, but we got ourselves together, hopped in the car and hit the road. Our first stop was Asciano. The city was absolutely dead because it was New Years day so everything was closed. We strolled around for a little bit, took some pictures and headed back out. We took a pit stop on the side of the road for a photo op, because the rolling, green hills just go on for miles. It's incredible. Our next stop was the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. Once again, the place was nearly deserted. The walk to the abbey was like the Secret Garden. The abbey was closed but we wandered around for a bit and then got back in the car. We were going to see as many places as possible before it got dark. On our next stop I think we accidentally stumbled onto an elderly home, but the view was great. Our last stop was Montepulciano. Fun fact, they filmed some of Twilight there. How they found and decided on this town, I have no idea. Although it was definitely the most populated and touristy of all of the places we visited.
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Italian Extravaganza: Day 8

We spent the morning wandering around Florence. My goal was to get a city scape of every city so, based on an "insider's tip" from the National Geographic guide book, we headed to a cafe at the top of a department store. Not only did we feel like we shouldn't have been there, the view also wasn't spectacular. The one and only time NG steered us wrong. And I still got a pretty decent half of a city scape. We also stopped by the replica of the Estruscan Boar. Apparently if you put your hand in its mouth and let your money drop down the drain it's good luck. I thought it was highly unhygienic so I took the photo op and got out of there.
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In order to best take advantage of Tuscany, we rented a car. Getting out of Florence took a couple tries but once we got onto the highway, it was pretty smooth sailing. We kind of winged this part of the journey since there are countless picaresque Tuscan towns to see. We knew we weren't going to do any vineyards or wineries because it wasn't really the season and we're not wine aficionados (we're from Milwaukee, we like beer). Don't get me wrong, we'd tried our fair share of wine along the way, but we wanted to focus more on the villages and windy streets. Our first stop was San Gimignano. It's known for it's skyline because of its many towers. San Gimignano was one of the more touristy towns we visited. We walked around for a bit, bought some presents, ate pizza the size of our faces and headed back out on the road.
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Our next stop was Monteriggioni. This beautiful gem was thanks to the National Geographic guidebook. There was a blurb in the margin of one of pages saying something along the lines of "Monteriggioni is one of the most beautiful walled cities in the world. Go see it". So on nothing more than a blurb, we went to see it. It was straight out of Lord of the Rings, or some other fantasy series. It's teeny tiny, so we were able to walk along the wall, walk around the entire town and get back to our car in about 45 minutes. I could have stayed there soaking in the history for the rest of the day, but we wanted to get to our final destination, Siena, before it got dark.
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Once we got to Siena we prepared for New Years Eve and made our way into the city center. Our concierge had reserved us a table at a restaurant right on the main piazza to enjoy a traditional New Years Eve dinner. That dinner  and New Years was a highlight of the trip. We had a five course meal ending with popping champagne in the main square. Our meal started with appetizers. I couldn't name anything I ate, but it was delicious or...interesting. Then a lentil, pumpkin soup. After that came tortelloni with a pair sauce. Our main course was a choice between pork or prawns. Here's the thing, I'd never had prawns before. So when I popped the head off and the brain juice squished out, I was done. Later, my roommate told me the brains are the best part, so I guess prawns just aren't for me. The meal ended with a cornucopia filled with cream. We rushed outside, counted down with the rest of Siena, popped our champagne and rang in the New Year an ocean away from home. I had an emotional moment thinking about how I got here. I celebrated the New Year in Siena, Italy with my father. It's hard to top that, or believe it.
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