Departing soon for the Peace Corps

I have been invited to serve with the Peace Corps in rural Nicaragua. I am currently preparing for departure---paperwork, financial matters, purging clothes, selling belongings, and most importantly, spending quality time with friends, family, and Tiffany.

This will be an adventure with completely new experiences. I hope to share my culture with the people I meet and learn in-depth about the culture and society in Nicaragua. Hopefully I can help my community in a meaningful way or at least teach something interesting! I'm sure I will learn many things from the experience. I'm off to discover a different part of the world for myself. Not to be cliche, but I hope to find myself on this journey as well...


photos of adventures in europe

A March 2009 visit to Italy and France. We flew from Philadelphia to Rome (via Munich) and then traveled by train up to Paris...view some snapshots of the traveling here.


Italy & France Travel Prep: What to EAT!

I am far from bored with the food scene in the states, let alone Philly. However, I am a bit sick of our convenience food culture and I hope to fill my stomach with some unique treats during my gastro-tour of Italy and France.

So far the Italian list includes: pasta con guanciale, pizza, gelato, pasta al tartufo, lemoncello, panelle (like fried hummus?), wine!!, bicerin (a chocolate/coffee drink), giandujotto (hazelnut chocolate treat), et cetera.

French: fromage!!, wine!!, aligot, souffle, escargot, frog legs perhaps?, turbot, cassoulet (at least one variety!), absinthe, wine!!!, boudin noir (a winter treat; a type of blood sausage), a good steak frites, and probably some more fromage!

Suggestions are welcome of course...


Europe round III

My first two experiences with Europe were in 2003 and then 2006. Both of these adventures featured Spain as the primary destination--and a more wonderful country I could not ask for. However, at this point in my life, with a seemingly unscratchable itch from the travel bug, I feel the need to see some other countries...

A chance has arrived. Now, in 2009, Tiffany and I will venture to Western Europe in search of the architectural and gastronomic wonders of Italy and France.

Airline tickets are booked. Train travel has been loosely arranged. And I am preparing a laundry list of sites and foods that I hope to experience. Our brief journey is still in planning, but we will post some highlights on this rather neglected blog site.


No Spain...Life is full of better things than blogging

As always I am very busy, and I just realized that I never finished blogging about my journey to Spain. I talk about my trip constantly though, so I guess I have been keeping all of my memories in my head...I won't need a blog to help me remember.

More blogging to come later!


mike sucks at futbol

wow. I learned that, even with my endurance, I stink at futbol. I wish I had learned to play futbol as a child...then maybe I would not have looked so silly when playing with a whole bunch of people from outside of the U.S. hehehe. I'll stick with running...no ball to worry about!

romancero gitano

Granada has many cultural events to learn more about the great Spanish poet/artist F. G. Lorca. I attended a wonderful gallery exhibit of artwork, created by artists from around the world, in response to various works by Lorca. The exhibit is titled "Lorca: Ojo con la memoria".

One night, I went to the ballet of "Romancero Gitano" in which I saw a wonderful mixture of modern ballet, flamenco dance and culture, and Lorca poetry. The stage is set in a cool and romantic section of the Alhambra's generalife gardens...SO WONDERFUL!

I was also given the opportunity to attend a memorial for Lorca (he died 70 years ago) in a small pueblo outside of Granada. I attended with my Spanish Literature class and we were given V.I.P. treatment!! ... There are many sad details about the Spanish Civil War, and one of them is the fact that Lorca was murdered and buried in an unknown location in 1936. I am very grateful that I was given a chance to see this memorial service. There was even a wonderful concert at the end...I really enjoy Spanish guitar; and we had studied the sonnets that were performed in literature class...

feria de malaga

The Spaniards know how to party...I visited Malaga one weekend, and discovered a city completely consumed by the fiestas of la feria. What a festival...

Noche 1 - Beautiful fireworks display accompanied by music...I think it was the best fireworks show I have ever seen! After the fireworks, Enrique Iglesias kicked off the concert at 12:30 am...we were listening/dancing/drinking on the beach until 5 am. We walked the city a bit, found a dive bar, returned to the beach for the sunrise, slept on two rented beach chairs until around 1 pm. We woke up to the beautiful beach-goers of southern Spain and took a nice swim in the Mediterranean *my first time* ...

Later that day...

We ate in a Chinese restaurant to see what that experience would be like in Spain...nothing special. We then used the lobby facilities of a nice hotel and picked up our bull fighting tickets.

Noche 2 - Bull fight! Brutal, interesting, very hot, 6 bulls died at the hands of the matadors...and one man was hit by a bull a few times. I am glad I experienced this piece of Spanish culture, but I can see why some people are not fans. I think it might be more interesting if the bulls were fighting each other.

Later that night we took the bus to the fair grounds, just happen to meet up with 3 Spanish friends from the beach concert, and danced in the discotecas until 5 am. I was falling asleep on my feet by the end of that. We returned to the bus station, slept a bit in the grass in front of the bus station, bought tickets, and passed out on the trip back to Granada.

late postcards

I have returned to the U.S., yet I have still not updated my blog with the second half of my adventures in Spain. I will be doing that now, despite the fact that it feels a bit lame. I feel like it is the equivalent of buying people postcards and then handing them out upon your return to the country...it means a lot more if you send the postcards while you are still abroad (with foreign stamps). Oh well!

Check back for the posts! And eventually more photos...


cuevas en la montaña

Today, in my exploration of Granada, I went running to the top of one of the highest mountains that I can see on the outskirts of the city...

It was quite the hike. Very steep. But, the view from the top was well worth it. I think I discovered the best view of Granada. I ran along the remains of the Alhambra´s outer wall and I found a community of cave ¿dwellers? ¿squatters? ¿yo no sé? I am going to try researching these caves a bit more, but they were cave homes in the side of a mountain. They had little chimneys, doors, etc. I was amazed, I have NEVER seen anything like this before. I think there is no running water, nor electricity...I got the feeling that they are homes to nomads and/or gitanos (gypsies). Really great view...I´m going to go back up the hill once at night to take photos of the Alhambra at night.

back blog

well, i have a BUNCH of things to post on my blog...but, I never have a bunch of time. I have my adventures logged in my journal, but they won´t show up online until I have some more time.

hasta luego.



So, the thing to do around Granada is known as "botellón". I prefer going to tapas bars a bit as well (some tapas are free if you have some vino or a caña/beer), but it is pretty fun and cheap to do the botellón. It´s wierd for an American to see all the drinking in the streets.


La Nochevieja de Agosto

Last night, I attended a festival 3 hours out of Granada by autobus (into the mountains). The bus dropped us off about 4 km from this small town that was having the festival (Berchules) and we walked the rest of the way. What was the festival all about??...well...

We arrived around 10 or 11 pm, and at midnight, we brought in the new year!! Bienvenidos 2006. It seems this town didn´t have power one new year´s eve, so they celebrated in August that year...and it stuck. So, this festival was rocking...fake snow being thrown from the church´s bell tower and all. The countdown to midnight involved eating a grape for each of the last 12 seconds. The music started shortly after midnight and went on until the sun came up I imagine...I had to leave at 5 am.

So, drinking and dancing in the streets until the bus left at 5 am to get back to Granada. I was soaked with champaign (it was being sprayed on everyone from rooftops and the ground). I got back to Granada in time for 9 am breakfast with my host family. It was quite the experience.

Lack of Updates

Hey everyone (if anyone actually looks at this blog). I thought I would be updating a lot more often...but, alas, I am not on the computer all that much here in Spain...which is a good thing.

I am uploading photos to my flickr account as I type this...

More updates to come now that I am settled in and have a somewhat regular schedule of classes.


First Night in Granada

The hostel that I found for my first night in Granada is GREAT. I met a whole bunch of people at the dinner party that we had (people from england, australia, korea, U.S., spain, belgium...).

This really nice bohemian looking woman made this 3 course meal and home-made sangria and it was all you can eat for 3.5 euros.

I really enjoyed the building and its location. It was really hot until the sun went down, but the night and this morning are quite cool.

I will head to my language school in a bit to begin my course(s).




La primera noche en Madrid era loca! The first night in Madrid included tapas, too much sangria, cerveza San Miguel, y 4 AM bed time. Also, I am visiting museums, el rastro, the park, and perhaps a bull fight later...

I will take a bus to Granada tomorrow morning.


Hostel Plans

In Spain I will experience my first youth hostel. It seems that Spain has all sorts of accommodations around the country, but the hostel route seems like the best way to go (cheap and fun?). Frommer's did a nice job of breaking down the options...

In Madrid, I will be staying at La Posada de Huertas and, for my first night in Granada, I have a bed reserved at the Oasis.

U.S. Embassy

In preparation for my departure, I have been looking at govt info about Spain. I found that the U.S. Embassy in Madrid has some warnings posted about anti-war protests that may be happening around the country...people don't really care for the Iraq situation, so I'll be sure to leave my pro-Bush t-shirts at home...I'm just joking...do they even make "pro-Bush" t-shirts?

Also, I registered my trip with the U.S. Embassy so that they will know I am in Spain ;-)


A visit to Sevilla?

I may take a bus to Seville before heading to Granada. I found out how to get there from the bus stop at C/ Méndez Álvaro 83 in Madrid. That site suggests cheap bus tickets from Socibus.

The address appears to be the bus station that I have been searching for!

Also, the Spanish Civil War is quite interesting...


Photos on flickr

I will be uploading photos from the trip on to flickr.

Trip planning links

Two more links!

Spain - tourism
Andalucia - tourism

Trip planning

Sitting at home in Florida has given me some time to look up a few things about Spain. Today I found some useful links for my trip...especially my excursion to Gibraltar:

Getting from Malaga to Gibraltar
Bus site for Malaga
Public transport in Madrid
Malaga website...looks like they have a festival in agosoto

Estudiar en Espana

My trip to Spain has been set. I will be leaving Philadelphia for Madrid on July 28 and returning August 31. I will be using the blog to record certain aspects of my journey.