Sunday, November 28, 2010

In the light of day.

On my actual birthDAY, some of us went out for Chinese food and then an exploration of dear, dear Granada. The weather was chilly but bright and beautiful. The leaves are all changing colors and I am in love with this city.

Chelsea and I harnessing our inner awkward:

All of the following images are sites I see when I run. I run by the Río Geníl and the trails are amazing. There are views of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada, the aqueducts creating a soothing noise in the river, and the smells of the leaves falling around me. I feel so lucky every single day.

Chelsea decided to gather some leaves. And it was all over from there.

Some of these bad boys were HUGE. I feel so lame. This is my first real experience with this mysterious season known as, "autumn." California does not do the ecosystem of the world justice. Happy birthday to me and my big ol' leaf:

Every day I am baffled by how rich Spain is with culture, history and simple beauty. I'll leave you with some Minus the Bear lyrics:

"This light looks good on you
Morning came early
Sitting on a park bench
That's older than my country"


What a fiesta! I truly have some amazing friends/roommates/landlords here in Spain. I lucked out.

Last night was the eve of my 21st and a party was held for myself and two other Spanish roommates with November birthdays, Belén and Alberto.

My dear Californians outdid themselves and got me a lovely silver Arabic tea set as well as whole tea leaves that smell like heaven itself. They also got me a Federico Garcia Lorco poetry book. They know me entirely too well. Do I sense some Christmas break reading in my future? Yes, indeed.

My other housemates were kind and sweet and generous enough to gift me with things like bracelets from Sevilla, scarves and gloves and this hand-plated necklace Tony gave me:

We started the night off with a delicious multicultural potluck that stuffed us like no other. And this is only a fraction of the total feast. There was homemade pizza, pasta, Persian chicken, fried rice, sushi, Japanese Tortilla, Peruvian salad, sausage, and three cakes. Incredible.

We then proceeded to dig into the three desserts by blowing out three tea candles! Haha. Belén, Alberto and I doing our birthday thang:

The following photos are just of my friends and I mingling. I sure wish I could transplant a few Americans I miss with all my heart into these images. :]

Jason likes to photo-bomb from time to time. I just want everyone to see how awkward he can really be. That turd!

And to end with a family photo. I love these folks so darn much!

Twenty-one years of age!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


A few weeks ago I posted the lengthy Amsterdam and Dusseldorf entries. Well, Natasha finally uploaded her photos and I swear she has a knack for catching me at the worst candid moments. Here's a behind-the-scenes view of a few of our proudest moments traveling Europe:

Brandon, Natasha and I sleeping on the Madrid airport floor at 4 in the morning. We had quite the wait. I slept on my valuables or stuffed them down my shirt. Clever, Laura.

The five of us desperately trying to find the pancake place. Did I think she was recording video? Probably.

The hilarious beer tents of Germany. When you're too poor to sit in a classy bar, keep walking. You're sure to find a trendy but awkward beer tent at some point!

And as Brandon likes to call it, we have an infamous "pose wall." The bright blue wall in his room is victim to Natasha's photo shoots almost every weekend. We're all too smart to take our cameras to clubs, so we take photos before hand. This also keeps any sweaty, unattractive photos off Facebook as well. Here are some moments before the parties and discotequas that didn't make it in the Christmas newsletter:

Smile, Brandon!

Laura: Supplier of Sparkling Cider to all the festivities.

Then I found a Menorah. And I was happeh.

The end.

Harry freaking Potter.

I am (obviously) all about immersing myself into other cultures. I write my grocery lists in Spanish. I try and have lunch downstairs every day to chat up my Spanish roommates. I shop at Zara and Bershka with the unadulterated attempt of looking as Spanish/European as possible. But I, Laura Fennell, was NOT about to see Harry Potter dubbed in Spanish. No way. Not now. Not ever.

So we found a theatre an hour and 45 minutes away by bus in Málaga (home of H&M and our beloved Ikea). And we got our butts up early enough to get out and catch the first Friday showing. The four of us on our way:

Once there, we had some time to kill and shopped at the huge outdoor mall. We prepared ourselves with candy until we could actually enter and stock up on fountain drinks and popcorn as well:

Don't fear: that tub of popcorn was split amongst the four of us. But the fact that the size of that tub is called "Americano" is both unsurprising and hilarious.

Great day. :]

Friday, November 12, 2010

More facts you didn't know about Spain...

Yes, it's that time again. Laura has discovered (with good or embarrassing methods) new things about her host country.

1.) In California, liquor is not sold after 2 a.m. In Spain, the cut-off time is 10 p.m. Which I find ironic and funny as the nightlife here ends at 6-7 a.m. and the nightlife in California ends promptly at 2 a.m. Hah.

2.) There is an extremely low, often nonexistent tax on groceries and retail items. However, if you work in Spain, your paychecks are heavily taxed. The good news: the system is socialized. Primary and Secondary School is free as well as University. Also, Healthcare is socialized and Spain seems to be doing just fine. In fact, this country is extremely healthy and often relies on the Farmacías for at-home remedies, thus saving the system thousands each month. Also, Eastern Mediterranean areas of Spain are amongst the healthiest places in the world to live, a fact endorsed by the World Health Organization. :]

3.) Spaniards sleep, on average, an hour less per night than other European countries. Also, contrary to popular belief, they don't take siestas to sleep in the middle of the day. They go home to have lunch with their families and to spend time with their loved ones in general. We've been told through a friend that a Spanish man once said the perfect siesta is sitting in your most comfortable chair with your keys in your hand on the arm of the chair. Once you get just relaxed enough to drop your keys and floor to jolt you back awake--that is the perfect siesta.

4.) Mothers don't call their children a Spanish version of, "Sweetheart," or, "Honey." The most common term of endearment is, "Mi Vida." Yes--"My Life." And they will use it casually. For example, if they are picking of their child from a friend's house and the children are off playing, they will say, "Donde está mi vida?" I think it's so beautiful.

5.) Dos Besos (two kisses) really is NO joke. They will plant one on you if you're having a good day, a bad day, a Wednesday, if they haven't seen you in 48 hours. Yeah. Example: I had been in Nerja for 3 days. When we got back, Alex and I were playing cards in the upstairs lounge one evening. Fernando saw us and said, "Hola, Laura," and proceeded to lean around me. There was a sock left over from someone's laundry on the chair next to me so I figured he was reaching for that. OH NO! He was going for dos besos and when I said, "Espera, que pasa?" He laughed and said (in Spanish) that he was trying to kiss me. I felt like a MORON. But I kissed him and we all had a great laugh. I literally kiss upwards of ten cheeks a day here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Trip to Córdoba

This Sunday, we had a group excursion to Córdoba, Spain. En route, I spotted this lovely little castle in the hills:

We stopped outside the city at an architectural museum called Conjunto Arqueológico Madinat Al-Zahra. If I had had a guide, I would have understood more of the symbolism behind the artifacts I was viewing. But I did gather that many of the dishes and pottery I saw were from the X-XIII centuries. Yeah, that's like the 900s to the 1200s. Incredilbe.

The panel I am standing in front of has ataurique decoration and is made of limestone between 953-947 AD. Yeah. OLD.

Once in the city of Córdoba, we went to a very old synagogue that, like the famous mosque in Córdoba, has toggled between faiths over the years. It was a church, then became a Jewish synagogue.

After that, we had some free time to find food and explore the city. Cheetoh, Kira, Christina, and Natasha and I found some tapas where I tried blood sausage. Yeah, I, Laura Fennell, tried blood sausage. And it wasn't bad. I will be honest. Haha. But that wasn't the high of our break, the city itself is just spectacular.

I look so little compared to that beastly fountain.

However, Córdoba is most famous for its vastly huge and ancient mosque/church or mezquita-catedral. It is so rich in history and culture, it is a World Heritage Site. The site was originally a pagan temple, than a Visigothic Christian church, before the Umayyad Moors converted the building into a mosque, and later built a new mosque on the site. Currently, it is a beautiful fusion of the Islamic faith and the Christian faith. And I loved it! This is part of the outside:

Then we entered and were blown away. I will try to explain as much as I can after the photos.

These arches are a combination of stone and clay which prevents them from crumbling or deteriorating over time. The clay is moist and more flexible, so it gives more. Also, all of the pillars are recycled from other archeological sites in Spain, Europe and Middle East. The other sites were deteriorating, so the pillars were salvaged. Very Islamic style.

Now you can see the Christian influence on this enormous building as well. The change is so abrupt. One minute you're looking at a golden arch that looks like it's straight out of an Arabic country, and then you see this big Catholic mural. So incredible.

This is one of my favorite photos. The majority of the photo looks so Arabic, until you peek in the bottom left and see Christ on the cross.

That is very much real gold and very much a statue for God.

This area was my favorite. First of all, that ceiling will keep you staring for hours. Secondly the cathedral is so full of minute details, I couldn't believe parts of it were real. I could take a semester course on this room alone and still not understand all of the symbolism of the arches, the saints, the angels, the angles, the number of pillars and lines, the molding, why some is stone, marble, wood or gold. It was all so overwhelming. I encourage you to zoom in on this picture and just study it. I couldn't count all of the cherubs and holy helpers. I can't imagine going to mass here and hearing the organs on either side of the pews with 50+ stops. Incredible.

And that's our group walking across the famous Roman bridge out of the city and back into the less-ornate every day life. :]