Sunday, January 29, 2012

Not Your Average Day Trip!

Austin and I are loving living in Andalucia, Spain. We are in the Southern most tip of Spain. We are so lucky to have such easy transportation to various places. My favorite so far has been Ronda with a close second Cordoba.

Ronda is surrounded by mountains giving it a magical character. The entire town is situated amongst the mountain and you can see hills and greenery all around the city. I kept saying "Wowww!" about every few feet we went. The town was decorated with the Christmas lights and it was a much smaller city than Sevilla. We were able to walk everywhere and see almost everything.

We went across the bridge and had some pretty breathtaking views as well as scary ones. There were no railings going down the mountain. Austin is one who enjoys looking over and seeing new sights, I however get goosebumps and want to turn back around. We were able to snap some pretty neat pictures and found our way down to the waterfalls, what we found to be the road less traveled. There was nobody down there and you could hear the water, animals, and rustling of leaves. It was pure bliss and so relaxing, Austin and I were silent for about 15 minutes taking in the scenery, and if you know me....15 minutes is quite a long time. Here are some pictures from our little day trip...which was 14 Euro round trip and an hour and a half away! We are truly blessed.

 Downtown all decorated for Christmas.
 One of the first views we had of the city. So beautiful yet somewhat scary.

 The bridge. 
 Underneath there are a series of waterfalls which we discovered on our way down.

 Isn't this beautiful?
 One of the few things I did not enjoy. The lack of railing and Austin's curiosity in looking over.

 The waterfalls! I've never been this close to one before. It was beautiful

The last day trip we took was to Cordoba. We took the bullet train and arrived in 45 minutes. This town was an Iberian and Roman city in Ancient times. This city houses the beautiful Mezquita, which was once a Mosque and today is a Catholic Church. This church is beautiful, with colorful arches and such intricate detailing.
 The courtyard of the Mezquita.
 Inside, the arches go on for a long time. 

 It was dark inside, so I tried to get the detailing of the walls and ceiling.

 This is the Catholic portion of the church. Tall ceilings and white. 

We have had so much fun going on day trips and can't wait to visit more on the weekends we have left here in Spain.

Cumpleaños en España!

So Austin and I celebrated our 23rd Birthdays here in Sevilla. We had to pay for many expenses and knew we wouldn't be able to get each other elaborate gifts. So we had to put some fun thought into each present.

To be honest, these little gifts are probably the one's we care about the most. I still had not been paid so we had to take that into account. We had tutoring classes and kept that extra money for little gifts to each other.

We live really near to a bakery here called Horno San Bruno. It is my ultimate goal to try each and every pastry before our adventure here is over. So far, we've had a pretty good amount.

On my birthday...back in October Austin woke me up to breakfast in bed. For a girl, that is so wonderful, no cooking breakfast in the morning and eating and talking with your best pal.

Here I am with my amazing donuts from the bakery, my favorite juice Bi Frutas, fresh flowers, and some yogurt. I was a happy camper even at 9 AM! 

Don't worry, Austin bought two donuts for himself. That is how good this bakery is. We sat in bed ate and talked about our activities for the day. 

With my sweet presents.
He knows me so well: ice cream and yummy treats are the way to my heart. 

Granted we didn't have the funds to get elaborate gifts we did go to the Alcazar which is the perfect gift itself. How many people can say they went to a Palace in Sevilla for their birthday? You can't put a price on gifts. We've learned that happiness and time spent with each other is the best gift we could ask for! Here are some pictures from the Alcazar, the views were breathtaking and the day was beautiful.

Austin turns 23! Austin is such an easy guy to get things for. Anything homemade and something that can fill his tummy are ways to his heart. He has been receiving many birthday letters that week so I took each one and hid it, so he could read them all on the 14th. 
 Here are his array of gifts and special cards from loved ones. We had to improvise on our gift wrapping this year. Usually I have many fun ribbons, tissue paper, and fun bags but we thought these were perfect. The cat bag is my personal favorite.
 Note the little cake: again it is from the bakery near our home. Austin picked this one out and I was fortunate enough to have a few bites, it was so good. We went back the next day to sample a different one.

 The Corte Ingles has everything. I found one of his favorite beverages, he finished the last one about a week ago. These were treasured in our household since they're hard to come by here. 
We went to dinner at his favorite place, Taberna Coloniales. They have so many different tapas to choose from. We left full and happy. 

We both had great birthdays and made some fun memories from each. We both decided to head to Barcelona as a joint birthday celebration with a few friends. We were able to see and got to do so much in Barcelona. The pictures and story are in two posts before this. 

A Cultural Thanksgiving

So Austin and I apologize for the tardiness of our updating. Today is a day of writing and hopefully you'll enjoy all the adventures we've been through thus far.

So this was our first Thanksgiving as a married couple. It is probably going to be one of the most memorable as well. This is my first as a Watkins', my first without my immediate family, my first to be the one cooking, my first without a microwave, and my first in a new country.

Since there were so many firsts' Austin and I were able to establish new traditions and recipes. We had to improvise on a few things due to food items being hard to find. Turkeys are not in bulk here during Thanksgiving so we had to find a Carneceria and order one three days in advance.

There it is! Austin did a great job cutting and prepping the turkey. I did not have the stomach for it. Here is why: the turkey still had feathers on it and Austin had to take a few things out that are normally cleaned in the States. I was so proud and the turkey tasted great. 

We thought Thanksgiving would be perfect if we had friends to celebrate with. This Thanksgiving is one to go down in history for the Watkins' family. We celebrated with 3 other Americans' (who contributed recipes from their family, we even had a pecan pie), we also celebrated with 3 lovely ladies from Britain who have NEVER had a Thanksgiving before, and two Sevillano's who also had never celebrated Thanksgiving. 

It was so fun to see the faces of those who have never celebrated and how they still can't fathom how much food we make. We went around the table and all said what we were thankful for. This was probably my favorite part due to some speaking in Spanish, English, and Spanglish. All the different accents were my favorite too. 

Here is a picture of the clan and the array of food. We had some pasta made by our British friends and the drink Tinto de Verano which is a favorite here in Spain. 

The meal lasted about 3 hours and went until 1 AM (truly the Spanish style). We talked about the different traditions all our families have and listened to the excitement of those who experienced this great holiday for the first time. 

Austin and I received the most special gift from our neighbor, Jose. He is a very talented individual and has been our go to person here in Spain. He has showed us a kindness that we will always cherish. He has showed us his home, taught us how to make a Spanish dish, and has taken Austin to a Sevilla futbol game. 

Here we are with the amazing picture he made. He is quite the artist and I've enjoyed looking at his pieces. This was my favorite and as a thank you to Austin and I he gave this to us. It brought me to tears and is now hanging proudly in our living room. 

Austin and I really enjoyed this holiday with new friends and even got to Skype with family which made it more special. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Welcome to Barcelona!!!

A couple of weekends ago Austin and I traveled to Barcelona with some friends. We took a short hour and a half flight from Sevilla. We arrived and the city was beautiful. Here they speak Catalan which is a mix of Spanish and French. Sadly, we heard more English than anything.

This was our first time visiting the city and we were anxious to see what awaited us. We received many tips of places to visit from a friend. We arrived early Thursday morning and dropped off our things at the hostel.

Austin and I took a stroll along our street and found our first Gaudi house (it was our mission to see as many as we could)

This is Casa Batllo and was a 3 minute walk from our hostel. Austin and I stood outside the building for about 10 minutes taking in all the different designs.
Here is the next Gaudi house we found! 

We wanted to visit Parc del Laberint which was outside the city. We mastered the metro system and found our way there. We were so anxious to see this beautiful maze but sadly it was under construction in November. We went into the park anyway and took pictures of the maze from afar.

 Here is the metro system we mastered!! 
 The entrance to the park
The park was on top of a hill and in the distance we saw what looked like a palace. We asked many people about the "palace" and received many funny looks. What we did not know was what we actually saw was an amusement park with a church. We ended up taking a bus to the site and took a trolley to the park. It was my first trolley ride and super exciting! The park is called Tibidabo. It is a mountain that overlooks all of Barcelona and is 512 meters above sea level. This made for a spectacular view.
 Our amazing view of the city.
 This is the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor (which we mistook for a palace)
 Austin enjoying the scenery
A view of the amusement park from the top of the church.

We went to the Ice Bar later that night with friends and enjoyed some cold beverages. Austin and I decided it was a great experience but we will probably not go to another. It took quite some time to warm up after the experience was over. 

We went to the Sagrada Familia the next day and this church is breathtaking. You can't help but stare for a long time at all the detail and hard work put into every bit of the church. Pictures do not do it justice. The church has been under construction for over 100 years. This church is the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture. It should be complete in 2025. 

After the church we went to Parc Guell. Or as some know it to be the park where America's Next Top Model had their finale. Austin and I loved all the architecture and the different colors that were inside the park. We saw the Gaudi "gingerbread" houses and the house he lived in. We spent a few hours in here and enjoyed all the scenery.

We left on Saturday but had to see the Barcelona stadium before our flight that night. The boys were super excited to see the stadium and welcomed any pictures we wanted to take. We were able to see the entire stadium, press box, turf, and VIP seating. We toured the museum before hand and got to see Messi's uniform and Champions League cup. 
 So many smiles throughout this tour! 
 Here is Austin by Jorge Lorenzo's motorcycle gear! 

Inside the stadium.

This weekend trip was so memorable in many ways. We were able to see so much in a little amount of time and got to appreciate all the treasures our world has to offer. We are looking forward to new adventures and new places to see.