Wednesday, March 30, 2005

¡Vaya, talones alquitránes!

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It's so hard not being able to watch the NCAA tournament!! No one here seems to be even aware of U.S. college basketball, let alone the final four and march madness and all that. And with UNC in the Final Four, I'm dying here. Friday night we play Michigan State, then Monday night is the final game. If either were hypothetically broadcast here, they'd be on at about 4am anyway. ¡Que lastima para mi!

I shouldn't complain. We had an awesome past few days. My mom and aunt were in town, and after spending 1 1/2 days here in Pamplona (a quick walk around the old city, lunch, and the rest of the time drinking wine in the apartment!), we headed for San Sebastian. What a gorgeous town. Beaches, mountains, old city, lovely. Tom got in the ocean, despite it being abut 50 degrees (fahrenheit). Meg and i dipped our toes in. They ran up to the top of Mount Urgell (I promise to get some photos uploaded soon!!), almost to the big, looming Jesus statue at the top. I walked it. It was an awesome view. We ate dinner in the Paradise of Pinxtos (pinxtos=tapas in basque country). We even happened upon a bartender who not only spoke English, but when Meg asked if he had any pinxtos without meat, he said, "or without fish, right?" Usually, that question is answered with an offer of ham instead of meat. We were elated. We drank a lot that night.

The next day we headed to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim and to see mom and Letha off. What a museum! I knew the building was supposed to be cool, but it was much cooler than i expected. No straight lines inside (except the floors and exhibit walls)--all curved walls. It's pretty awesome. The collection was smaller than i expected though--three rooms of permanent collection (all abstract expressionism and its European counterpart, the name of which i'm forgetting) and two special exhibits, one of Aztec art and the other of Yves Klein. He's the painter I read about in London who patented his own shade of blue, and then proceeded to paint many canvases in his shade of blue. Actually, the show was pretty cool, and he seemed to be pretty interesting. I was far more impressed than I would have thought I'd be for a monochrome painter.

Back to work tomorrow. Easter week is almost over. Our friend Rich will be here Saturday to meet his fate, Jamon Serrano.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

back in Spain

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I got 5 minutes before my library computer time runs out, so here goes! (pardon the typos)

We got back from Spain last night after a long day of traveling. What a mess with Ryan Air, and the most disorganized bus system I know, Spain. After two flights, we landed in Zaragoza, waited for 45 minutes for a bus to the downtown, walked 5 blocks from that busstop to the bus station where we'd come in before, and learned that we needed to go to another bus station to get to Pamplona (which should have been COMPLETELY obvious if I'd read the 100 xeroxed bus schedules and announcements pasted all over the station BEFORE i asked). We then walked another 15 minutes or so before we got to the other station, to just barely miss the direct bus to Pamplona. We instead got the scenic route. Yay. Bienvenidos a Espana.

Times up.

Friday, March 18, 2005

worst blogger ever

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I'm not so great at keeping up with this here thing. I keep thinking i'll have time (and access to a computer), but I never do. Alas.

I am in England right now, at my aunt's house (with broadband in the house! No internet cafes for me today!). Tom, Meg, and I flew in Wednesday and we've been soaking up the English language (they speak it here, like all the time!), VARIETY of vegetarian foods (Indian, veggie burgers, Chinese), and beautiful weather. Yes, beautiful weather in London--we spent yesterday walking around London and today along the canal in Rickmansworth, and it was sunny, breezy, and about 70 degrees.

We visited the British Library, where I was able to drool over the medieval illuminated manuscripts (hee hee, good thing they're under glass!). We had a pub lunch (cider and a veggie burger with chips!), and then hit the Tate Modern. It's housed in a former power plant, and there's a big warehouse-sized room when you enter that has a sound sculpture in it that it positively chilling. Speakers spaced throughout with people saying different words and sentences, and as you walk through, they fade in and out. I wandered around the 3rd floor, which is one of two with their permanent collection. The Rothko room was really incredible, set up a little like the Rothko Chapel in Houston, but the colors were so different it had a completely different effect on the brains.

Today, we walked along the idyllic Union canal, which runs from the London zoo up to the Midlands (Birmingham, I think?). We watched the canal boats float along (or, moreso, sit there) and saw one guy go through a lock. And we ate the best chips ever. It is Tom's birthday, so we had cake too, whoopee!!

Speaking of Tom, he got the official news yesterday that he's matched at Bay State Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts, so we're going to have to dust off our snow suits when we get back to the states. We're really happy about it, since that's where we'd both been mentally planning to go, so it's nice to know that we're actually going.

Umm, tomorrow we head to Amsterdam for 2 1/2 days, followed by a frighteningly poorly-planned return to Spain on Tuesday. RyanAir didn't make it too clear to us when we booked our retuen trip that we needed to allow at least an hour between flights to make a changeover in London, so we've been scrambling to find new flights back to Spain. Wouldn't be too much of a problem if Semana Santa (the Easter holiday) weren't coming up, as the rates are pretty crazy. Tom and I are now flying to Biarritz, France, then taking two trains to San Sebastian (you have to disembark on the border and switch trains since the Spanish rails have a different guage than the rest of Europe), then a bus from San Seb to Pamplona. We, however, got the last of the discount flights to Biarritz, so Tom's sister Meg is going to take the train from Amsterdam and see a bit of France along the way. I think it should all work out, but it's a little stressful. Yikes.

But there is a beer waiting for me downstairs, and I don't want to disappoint it, so I sign off. Imagine if I get my act together enough to write an entry in Amsterdam? Hope it's semi-readable. (or maybe i don't...)

Monday, March 07, 2005

demasiado frio

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So it´s still really really cold here. I keep telling myself it´s just as cold in Pennsylvania, but it´s one thing to be cold in a normally gray city, and another to be in a Mediterranean country where it´s been freezing, snowing, blowing wind, and otherwise downright cold for the last two weeks. I threw a fit about it today. I may throw another tomorrow.

My internship is going pretty well so far. I´ve worked* in the newspaper collection and acquisitions department, visited the science and medical libraries, and working on a translation of the library´s web site. I tend to understand most of what people are saying to me, but answering direct questions is still hard. You miss one little word (they say "when," i think i hear "why"), and my answer doesn´t make a whole lot of sense!

*work here signifies the librarians telling me what they do in their department. If you don´t think that´s work, you're probably fluent in 5 languages and i don't want to hear it.

I was thinking about the idea of homesickness this morning as I was REVELING in UNC´s defeat of Dook last night. I missed the game, as US sports are a blip on the map here (had i wanted to watch soccer, i´d have no problem, but NCAA hoops is not to be found. Not in Pamplona at least.), but we got a call around midnight last night from Tom´s dad confirming what we already knew. Dook fell in the Dean Dome last night. I read in the Herald-Sun this morning (yay online 24-7 news!) about the two bonfires on Franklin St. and the crowds of students out late. I would be there if i weren´t my own couch on fire.

Anyway, I was bumming about missing the best UNC basketball season in a long while --checking the scores online ain´t the same as getting riser seats like some of my SILS friends did :( --and i was debating whether i was "homesick" or not. I don't think so...while I´m definitely sick for a Carolina spring, I'm glad i'm here, even if i´m periodically miserable about not being able to order a veggie burger (or able to find someone who knows what a vegetarian is), to go to the grocery store at 3pm, or get access to the university gym here. But i don´t have that longing for home that i had when i went to summer camp when I was 12, or when I went away to college. It´s nice that Tom and Meg are here--we can bask in each others' misery and scream in english in our apartment about how crazy things are.

Okay, i´m trying not to become a ranter. I´m trying to keep this blog more reflective than venting, so perhaps I sign off now. Plus, I´m almost out of time here at the public library.

Only 9 days before we go to England to visit my aunt! We´ve heard rumors that in England, they SPEAK ENGLISH and COOK FOR VEGETARIANS!!

Hasta luego--