Wednesday, April 25, 2012

La Feria de Sevilla!


Hello again!  

I have just had so many to post about, 3 posts in one week is a record!! I figured it would be best to get these posts up before I go to Ireland.  That way when I get back from Ireland I am all caught up!

This week it is the April fair in Sevilla.  I went the last two nights and lets just say it is INTENSE!! Seriously the coolest thing I have ever seen. Everyone is so dressed up, they have their big flamenco dresses on with huge flowers in their hair.  The men are all dressed up nicely in suits and ties, lookin' sharp.  This is just a fun time to be here in Sevilla.  The fair takes place at the end of my street so it has been crazy in my neighborhood.  So many people around, street performers, live music, vendors, etc.  

Every year the fair starts on Monday night at midnight.  At midnight the "portado" (The entrance way) is lit up.  Of course I went to see it! Here is a video of the opening night of feria...

Raquel and I waiting for it to light up!
The information that I posted next is information that i got from a website.  I thought that it explained the fair better than I could have!  All of the pictures and videos are from me :) Enjoy!

La Feria does not bring along with it the navigational difficulties through the center streets that Semana Santa brought. It will, however, bring crowds, booked-to-the-brim hotels and hostels, a significant and sometimes city-wide hike in prices for just about everything, and plenty of excitement and fun to be had!

This crazy tradition began in the 1840s as a livestock fair and continued to grow in it’s festive nature with the presence of casetas, private tents where most of the dancing, drinking, and festivities take place. These require a previous invitation to enter, but if you don’t happen to receive one you can pass by them on the street and look at how much fun they are having! Casetas are a sign of wealth in many cases, and each has a kitchen, bar, and sound system or live entertainment keeping the food, drink, and conversation flowing all night long. For those on the outside of a private caseta, there are about sevencasetas municipales which are open to the public. There are also plenty of other ways to enjoy the festival. The Calle de Infierno, houses games and rides similar to ones that can be found at a fair in the States. Beautiful people dress in traditional clothing atop beautiful horse and dance sevillanas, a style of traditional dance similar to Flamenco (although it is important to make the distinction as sevillanas has a different rhythm and style of singing).

My friends all dolled up :)
The food of La Feria is often more pricey than you normally find in the city without the security that the quality matches the price. You can expect typical tapas style food, pescaito frito, queso, jamón ibérico, calamaresand many many other kinds of seafood. For the typical drink try a jug of rebujito, the manzanilla (dry sherry) mixed with Sprite to create a deliciously sweet drink with a deceiving amount of alcohol. They will serve it in little shot glasses, but suppress your American urge to shoot it because the Feria lasts all night long, so endurance is key.

Feria at night!

Feria during the day!

Enjoying the Caseta!
This was the cutest little boy in his outfit!

Hit up La Feria by day or night — each have their own vibe and will offer you a different and equally fun experience. Daytime is great for watching the parading horses and enjoying a laid-back atmosphere ideal for taking pictures. Nighttime is the time for dancing and drinking in the beautifully-lit streets of this mini-city in Los Remedios created for this one week out of the year when all ages can be found all hours of day or night celebrating and having fun in true Spanish fashion.

Check out this video I took at the Caseta I was in! It was so neat watching them do their "Sevillianas" dance.  I took lessons to learn this dance but I still have a lot to learn!  All of the women know how to do it so well!

All in all, I LOVE feria.  It is so neat.  I cannot wait to go back tomorrow night! I will take more pictures and will update this blog with the new pictures I take!

Hasta Pronto!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rock N’ Roll Madrid 10K

This weekend I made the trip up to Madrid to run in the 10K race! Right now I am currently on the 6.5 hour bus ride coming home from Madrid. My friend Sarah and I took the bus ride up to Madrid early on Friday morning so that we could tour Madrid a few days before the race. Prior to the race Sarah and I would meet up once a week and we would go for runs next to the river in order to train! [10K is equivalent to about 6.2 miles just an FYI J.] So anyways, the race went well in the end, we finished. Although the beginning was a bit of a disaster. There were a lot of lessons learned to say the least!

The race started at 9am and we thought that if we left the hotel at 8am that we would be able to get to where the race is and put our jackets, cameras, etc. in the area where you can check your stuff. The problem was that we did not look into where the location was that we needed to check our stuff. We assumed that we would be able to put our stuff near the start of the race, but we were wrong! In order to check your stuff you had to go to where the race ended which was about 2 Km’s away from the start of the race. I had stomach issues in the morning so we didn’t end up leaving our hotel until 8:10 or so, by the time we got to the race it was already about 8:40. So we had to run 2 K’s away just to put our stuff away and then run 2 K’s back to the start line. Luckily as we got close to where we put our stuff away there were three ladies carrying about 10 bags each and they offered to take our stuff to where it needed to go. All we could do was trust them at that point. So we took out what we needed and ran back to the starting line. At this point we have already ran almost 4 K’s so we were approaching the race already sweating and out of breathe. We were about 10 minutes late and the cleaning crew was already starting to go out and clean up after the runners who had just left. There were a lot of people that was in the same position as us because there were tons of people running with us, starting late as well, Thank god we weren’t the only ones! Another thing was that we never got pins to put our numbers on. Luckily we met two American girls that were in the same position as us and they each offered us one of their pins J So then we didn’t have to hold our numbers the whole time, they were life savers! In the end it all worked out well but the beginning was a nightmare. I finished the race in 1 hour and a little under 10 minutes. It was not the time I was hoping to get but I guess considering the fact that I ran 4 K’s beforehand I can’t be too hard on myself. I was SUPER proud of Sarah! She has never ran a race before and she was freaking out about this one. She did not think that she was going to be able to finish it. Her goal was just to be able to run the whole thing. Not only did she run it, but she finished in a little under 59 minutes! She thought that I would have to pass her and wait for her at the finish line, but in the end the opposite thing happened! It shows that running is a mental thing and it really is half the battle.

Me and my metal!

A friend posted this quote on her face book after running her first marathon, it helped me through my race today.

‎"It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat other runners.

Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to


The next race that I run will be in Milwaukee with Brian ( my brother) and Allison! Now I am looking forward to running that race with them! My goal is to run it in under an hour. The first race I ran it in 1 hour and 2 mins so I think it is doable.

It was neat being able to tour Madrid for a few days as well. Even though it is the capitol there wasn’t a lot to do there. There were a lot of big pretty buildings but I couldn’t really tell you what any of them were. When we were there we did a lot of just walking around and taking pictures of pretty buildings. We went shopping a lot ( surprisingly I only bought two things) and we oddly went to Starbucks like 3 times as well. I don’t know why we went there so often but we did! Haha

Here are some of the pics I took:

The sky was so pretty this night!

On Saturday we spent the afternoon going to get our bib numbers for the race. It was pretty neat because they had a whole bunch of vendors set up with free giveaways such as protein/fruit drinks, free massages, and more stuff like that. There was also a pasta party that we thought was included for the 10K runners but once we got in the loooong line for the pasta party we found out that the party was only for the Marathon runners. Dumb right?!

Sarah and I attempted to take a picture of the TV screen with our names on it. As we were taking it the worker started yelling at us to move down. Hense why im not looking at the camera and the camera cord is like swinging in front of the camera! haha

Funny story: I was still craving the pasta and Sarah didn’t have much of an interest to eat it. So I went up to the front of the line to see how much it would cost just to buy a ticket. We weren’t sure what to do because the line was about 45 mins just to get inside and we were both starving. With the tickets you get a free "plus one" with every ticket. As I was looking inside this man was about to walk in and he offered for me to come in and be his plus one. SO I said yes, and I got a free pasta meal out of it! It worked out quite well if you ask me!

Saturday night we walked around the downtown area some more. I was surprised by Madrid. I wasn’t expecting it to be as pretty as it was. I haven’t heard too many great things about the city so when going I had very low expectations. But in the end I thought it was a nice city, it was just BIG like a New York City. On Saturday night the Madrid soccer team had a huge game and they won. We found this out easily when every car was honking and screaming out their windows. Sarah and I were confused at first what was going on, but we soon figured out that they must have won their match. It was fun to be able to see the enthusiasm and excitement that the city had,they do love their soccer team. They are quite crazy about their soccer team to be more exact.

This week is the April fair in Sevilla. It is a week long fair with lots of drinking and dancing! It starts on Monday night and it goes basically all day and night until the following Sunday. Every city has its own fair but Sevilla holds the biggest fair. Lucky for me the fair takes place basically on my street so it is going to be very crowded and noisy, all week! Good thing I have my ear plugs, I will put those to good use this week for sure.

Random side note:

Saw the advertisement for the Hunger games cant wait to see it!

On Friday I leave for IRELAND!!!!!!! I am soooo excited! I have been waiting so long and I was finally able to work out a time to go. I will be flying into Dublin on Friday and then I will go to Galway and then will fly out of Shannon. I cannot wait!

I will have a lot to post about for the upcoming two weeks! Less than 6 weeks till I am home! I can’t believe it!

Besos J

Sunday, April 22, 2012

NO&DO- "No me ha dejado"

An interesting tid bit about Sevilla:

If you are ever in Sevilla for more than 15 minutes you are bound to notice a Symbol that is all around the City. . This symbol you will see all over buildings, sidewalks, street signs, police cars, and basically every where you look. At first I thought it was just a symbol representing the Sevilla government but I did not know that it has a lot more meaning than just that.

The symbol as you can see in the picture, is the letters NODO with a piece of roped thread in the middle. In Spanish the word for this thread is called majeda in Spanish.

The symbol, which is spoken as “No me ha dejado” translates to “it (Sevilla) who did not abandon me.” When spoken in a Sevillian accent, the phrase sounds like “no madeja-do,” which explains the NO&DO symbol, as majeda can mean looped thread, an image easily represented by the thread symbol.

What is the story behind this you may be wondering?:

Well it became the motto after the “Reconquest” of Seville from the Muslims in 1248. King Fernando III, El Santo, King of Castilla and Leon moved his court to the former Muslim palace, the Alcazar of Sevilla.

After San Fernando’s death in the Real Alcazar, his son, Alfonso X, “the Wise”, assumed the throne. Alfonso X was a scholar king, hense his title. He was a poet, astronomer, astrologer, musician, and linguist. Alfonso’s son, Sancho IV of Castile, tried to steal the throne from his father, but the people of Seville remained loyal to their king and this is where NO8DO was believed to have originiated when, according to legend, Alfonso X rewarded the fidelity of the “sevillains” with the words that now appear as the official of emblem of the city of Seville.

Just thought you would like to learn something new about Sevilla! Next I will blog about my 10K race that I did in Madrid yesterday!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Palma de Mallorca!


Only 6 more weeks until I am back in the States and I couldn't be more excited! Of course I am going to miss it here. Who wouldn't want to only work 15 hours a week and be able to travel any where in Europe on a cheap budget? I am so grateful for this experience but in the end I miss being home. After being a foreigner for a year I think I have had enough. I know a lot of people are doing this program for a second year but I don't think I could put myself through another year. Anyways.... about Palma de Mallorca!!

My roommate Raquel and I found some cheap airfare to take a little weekend getaway to Mallorca which is part of the Baleric Islands ( kind of near Barcelona). I imagined it to be a small beach town but in reality it was a huge city!! It had lots of beaches of course, but it was a lot bigger than I had orginally thought it would be. We also found out that mostly british people vacation there. In fact, I barely heard any spanish while I was there. It was a toursity island with lots of english foods such as hamburgers, pizza, etc. Although right now there were not too many people because this isn't their high tourist time of year. There was actually one restaurant called "Ruby Tuesdays" Raquel and I got really excited and we went to go check it out. We thought, maybe they even have a salad bar?! When we got there, it was not even close to a Ruby Tuesdays. We were fooled!

We were able to found a decently priced hotel with a great balcony view that overlooked the ocean! It was nice waking up to this view every morning...

Raquel even scored us a free breakfast buffet at the hotel because our internet had a bad connection. ( You would be proud Mom and BJW). At first they offered us a free coke but Raquel wouldn't accept that as an answer, she did good! haha

We had some crummy weather, in fact it rained just about everyday but on Saturday we were able to get some good beach weather. We beached hopped and went to the Magaluf beach and then to the beach 10 minutes down the shore called Plama Nova beach. That night we went out to a nice Italian restaurant and I ordered the best pizza that I have had in Europe so far. Too bad I was having stomach issues and could only eat a small part of it. Raquel took one for the team and was able to help me out :).

The other days we did a bunch of touristy things such as walking in the downtown area and checking out the old town. We also visited this old Castle that sits on top of a hill. It was pretty neat!

The last day we did not know what to do because not only was it a Sunday and there is nothing to do on Sundays as it is, but it was raining! So we had only a few options, either go to the aquarium or go to the English movie theater. So we decided to see the movie! The movie was called 3 X twenty. It was really cute! It was about life, love, and growing older. It was the first British moive I have ever seen, it was fun to hear their accents and just to see what their movies are like.

With the flight we took the company RyanAir. For those of you who don't know, RyanAir is the discounted flight agency that sells really cheap tickets but they try to rip you off any way that they can. Bringing on carry on's is where they get you the most. They have everyone put their carry on into the metal bin to make sure that your bag fits the restrictions. And lets just say they are VERY strict about their luggage. Poor Raquel has a carry on that fits the measurements for RyanAir's policy exactly. Every time she has to fly with them she gets anxiety waiting in line to put her bag into the "death chamber". Flying to Mallorca she had the biggest problem. She had to put on 5 layers of clothes from her suitcase on in order for her bag to fit into the container. The airline lady was giving her a hard time but Raquel was like " See it fits! I dont have to pay!. She tried taking out her bag and she couldn't get it out so a man came and helped her get it out. So the airline lady said, " Im sorry 'mam but if you need assistance getting your bag out of the carrier then it is too big and you will have to pay to have it checked". Raquel then got angry and said " Please, show me where it says that in your guidelines." Luckily the man that helped her said " That is ridiculousness, I will claim her bag as mine because I can take it out of the bin and Raquel can claim my bag as hers." And then they were fine... after 20 minutes of arguing...

On the way back, we had a tottally different situation happen. The lady was coming around to check bags and she skipped Raquel and I because I was in the bathroom so she said that she would come back. She never came back, so we never had to have our bags checked, it was a Sinch the second time! Word of advise, always travel with the smallest bag possible while traveling with Ryanair because they will getcha anyway they can!

Picture of Raquel at lunch!
A cute place we ate lunch at on Friday

Our flight going back to Sevilla was kind of a nightmare because the flight was orginally suposed to leave at 10:15 ( already pretty late). When we got to the airport it said that our flight was delayed another half hour so it was pushed back to 10:45. When we got on the plane the pilot said that we missed our slot in line to take off so we had to wait ANOTHER half hour. In the end we had to wait until 11:30pm until we finally took off. I did not land in Sevilla until 12:50am and didnt get home until around 1:30am. It was a long night and an even longer night because I was sick!

Overall, it was a great trip! I am glad I got to spend some one on one time with Raquel. She is going to be doing a lot of traveling and she leaves in 4 weeks so I will not be able to spend much time with her. It is sad because most of the friends I have made here are from all over, so it is going to be a while until I see them next!

One last bit of news, I was accepted into UIC! I am still watiing to here back from University of Southern California until I make any final decisions but UIC was my top choice last year and it was a VERY good school. I met a few MSW students and they all told me that if you are going to go to school in Illinois that you need to go to either UIC or U of I. Looks like i'm on the right track for now.

Miss you all and I can't wait to see you in 6 weeks!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Weidners Discover Spectacular Spain!

Hola mis amgios!

First of all, Happy Easter!! Please eat a piece of lamb cake for me!

So as you all know, my parents came to visit. They were here for almost 2 weeks and they left here last Tuesday. It was such a great experience being able to travel with them and to be a tourist again even in my own city. I loved being able to show them around Sevilla, the city that I have called home for the last 7 months ( WOW, 7 months!!). There are a lot things I love about this city and as any place you live, after you become accustomed to it you start to forget the little things that at first put you in "awe". While my parents were here I rediscovered the things that I love about this city and it makes me appreciate even more why I am here. This city is so beautiful in so many different ways and it is important to not overlook its beauty! I need to take advantage of these next 2 months because no offense to Darien, but it is not NEARLY as pretty. haha!

While my parents were here we covered a lot of ground! We went to: Sevilla ( of course) Ronda, Granada, Cadiz, and Barcelona.

I decided that it would be fun to have a "special guest" give a few highlights on our trip, who is that special guest? My momma!

Here is what she had to say:

Spain...Glorious Spain.....Oh How I Wish I were back there right now!
So many amazing experiences in two short weeks. I fell in love with Spain for so many are the things I will miss the most.

-Plazas with fountains...filled with families..dressed in their "Sunday Best" everyday

-Getting lost walking down narrow streets with shops and tapas bars.

-Spanish music and the expressive, energetic art of flamenco

-Grand cathedrals with their massive altars, stained glass...and gold...

Cathedral in Barcelona
Outside of the cathedral in Granada... one of our favorite little streets

-Spectacular train ride though the mountains to Granada with the view of Alhambra Palace from Saint Nicolas Park

View of the Alhambra from Saint Nicolas view point!

-The sound of horse's footsteps on cobblestone streets

-Maria Luisa Park in Sevilla with its beautiful palm and banyan trees....swans..fountains and flowers

Plaza Espana
Maria Luisa Park

-Colorful buildings and their balconies filled with potted flowers....
For example:

-Tapas, paella, Manchengo cheese, Patatas con aiolli, churros con chocolate, tinto de verano, cruzcampo, rioja vino,cafe con leche, bakeries, market in Barcelona with the fresh fruit and juices, Coloniales Restaurante in Sevilla!

Tapas in Granada!

Tinto de Verano! (Wine and lemonade)

Market in Barcelona... yum!!!

Breakfast at our hotel in Granada

Enjoying a Cerveza in front of the Alhambra

-Spontaneously joining in on the Sardana Dance in Barcelona

This was a sight to see!!! She did so good too!

You may be wondering: "What is this crazy dance my mother decided to partake in?" Well let me tell you. The Sardana dance is a circle dance, typical of the Catalonian people. Basically everyone stands in a circle and holds hands and as you can see they have different movements with their feet. In Barcelona they do this dance every Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. We were lucky to be in front of the cathedral when this took place. What I liked about this dance was that people of all ages were doing it. The people mom were dancing with was an older crowd. Then there was a group right behind them that were younger kids who were learning the dance. It is nice to have a traditional that people of all ages are interested in and are wanting to keep up!

-People watching from Laura's balcony...people with their dogs...and babies in fancy buggies and children kicking a ball in the street.

-The feeling of a close neighborhood of people who meet in the afternoons in outside cafes

Most of all I miss my beautiful daughter Laura...I am so proud of her for stepping out of her comfort zone to move to a land where she knew no one... and by doing so... enriched her life and those she meets with her kind heart and loving ways.

Seeing her first Semana Santa procession... can you tell that she loved it?!

Mom and I on the beach in Barcelona!

We took these cable cars over Barcelona to get to the top of a mountain!
Beach in Cadiz, I decided to get a little Artsy :)

Pictures of Ronda: Ronda is the hidden gem of Spain! They have this super old bridge that they are known for. Such a cute little majestic town!

So that was our trip in a nutshell. We made many great memories and I am so thankful that my parents were able to come visit!

Next post will be about Semana Santa in Sevilla!!!