Thursday, June 30, 2011

San Sebastian Continued

2. "" BEEF
5."" Cat Got Your Tongue?
Seriously, they did not tell me until after I ate it! It was my favorite thing. Oh it was Cow Tongue!!!!

Ok on a note loading pictures not as seamless as I expected. So make a little trip to my facebook PLEASE to see all the pictures that go with these stories!

For dinner we ate at the number three restaurant in the world, Mugaritz. 19 Courses later I can say it was probably the best meal of my life. They have a simple philosophy, go to the market daily, get the best ingredients and make a menu from those items. You get two little cards before your meal, the envelopes say submit or rebel. Of course we submitted.

The next day we lunch at Akelare. It was also amazing. Check the facebook for pictures PLEASE. It Was so good and the pictures show this!
I had:
Iberian Ham (TDF)
Turbot (The best turbot I have ever had)
Chocolate box (Best desert, hands down)

Then we hopped back on the train and had dinner at Arola. Crazy good, located at the Hotel Arts, where all the celebs go. Amazing tapas, the best croquettes I have ever tasted.
Oxtail Ravioli
Steak Tartar

Now we are on our last day here...did the bike ride this morning and spent the past while in this cafe doing all these posts!!! Check Facebook for photos



Finally, we are in Spain. It has been a blast and a whirlwind adventure at that. We arrive at 8 AM Monday morning. We got off the ship around 10:30 AM and were off to our hotel. A 30 Euro cab ride later and we were there (damn expensive Barcelona). After flustering about because we were a little further from La Rambla than we wanted to be (that is city center) we decided to head that way.

With our money necklace wrapped under my clothes and my camera gripped tight as possible we sat off by foot. Last year 62 SAS students were pick pocketed the first day in Barcelona (the pick pocketing capital of the World). We encountered a serious riot on the way to Las Ramblas. There is a large amount of people camping out in a square in Barcelona right now because of their economic crisis. I know, USA is not the only one struggling. In fact, thier situation may be worse than ours. Fights broke out just all of the sudden so fast. People started yelling and the next thing I knew something out of a movie happened. Little European cop cars came flying down the road not stopping until they were so close they had to slam on their breaks and their cars turned at angle as they left rubber on the small Spanish streets. They proceeded to roll out of their vehicles waiving batons and swatting at people. I realized quickly this was my cue to get the hell out of there!

Upon leaving the square we arrived on Las Ramblas (finally). Now 1:00 PM and we were starving. But I remembered they do not eat lunch until around 2, so we waited around a little bit. We ended up at Attic for lunch, a little place over looking Las Ramblas. This was pretty delicious!

After this we went to Gaudi’s famous La Sagrada Familia. A truly amazing church and even more amazing architecture.

Then we returned to the hotel and took the metro back to ship for Flamenco with Dinner. Although, we had a bit of an ordeal. When we told the Cab driver “Port Terminal A” and showed him the paper he somehow accidently took us to the airport. I know you are thinking how did we not notice? Well everything is pretty close in Barcelona, so the Airport was about the same distance. When we realized this we told him and were freaking out because it was 5:45 and we were supposed to be at port by then because the bus was to leave at 6! After a crazy cab ride and a very stressful one at that we managed to get there at 6:06 and the bus had not pulled away yet. Thank goodness. The Flamenco was a spectacle, like nothing I had ever experienced. I ate paella, drank Spanish red wine, and found myself in love with the Spanish culture.

Then we had amazing shots at this bar called Chupitos.

San Sebastian

Awoken at 6:00 AM by my hotel wake up call. We got ready in a hurry and headed for the train station. With no dilemmas arising we got on our train around 7 AM. Fast forward six hours and we were in lovely San Sebastian.

A town like nothing I had ever seen. Something out of a storybook. Classical architecture surrounding me wherever I went, with the sea as a backdrop to this quaint little town that clearly knows the word relax. Sort of like everything becomes slow motion. No more hustle and bustle guard your belongings for dear life like in Barcelona. We arrived to our hotel, Villa Soro, a mansion right of the street with around 40ish rooms. Seriously, I felt like I was in a fairy tail. All white marble bathroom complete with a bidet. Funny story there! I used that thing and of course there is a little towel there to dry off your bottom when you are done. And Samantha did not know I used this little towel, and mistakenly used it as a washcloth for her face. Now, that is funny.

We explored the town and enjoyed many different PINXTO’S (the basque form of tapas) and boy were they amazing…

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 9

Day 9 (At Sea)

So I obviously did not posts days seven or eight. Things have just been super busy. Plus, not too much happened on those days. On day seven we played cards with Gladys for 4.5 hours. It was so much fun, and she continues to amaze me with her ability to remember things so well.

Here are some hilarious things she has said over the past couple of days:

When talking about Sam and I eating from the same plate she said, “That’s what you call togetherness”

And then remarked, “shower with a friend, but don’t drop the soap”

She told a hilarious story of when she was younger and had a male friend over at her mother’s house. Basically, you had to really jiggle the lever to flush the toilet so it wouldn’t run over. Her friend went upstairs to use the bathroom and upon returning her mom asked, “Did you shake it?” The man misinterpreted the question and became red as a lobster. Gladys just loves to tell that story!

One day I was telling her about all the dolphins we were seeing and how cool it was. She told me one time she was on a cruise and there was a whale. A whale that got stuck in the rudder and engine. When I asked her if she saw the whale, she just looked up from her food and in a real nonchalant manner said, “No, just lots of blood, blood everywhere”

Also, Gladys sometimes has to burp during meals, as all of us do. Today at breakfast she had to a lot. She told me that, “It’s better to let it up and bear the shame, then keep it down and bear the pain.”

It has also been super rough over the past couple of days. This is because we were going through the straits of Gibraltar. This is the eight-mile wide waterway between Morocco and Spain. This is how you get in the Mediterranean, and today we bunkered, or refueled near the rock of Gibraltar. You have all probably seen it, I believe it is in some insurance commercial or something. It is absolutely astonishing! Beautiful!

Okay so it is actually day ten now. I know I have been a bad blogger, but I am getting better at this. Tomorrow is Spain! YAY. Lots of updates to come!

Oh, and that “guy” I mentioned who helped me with Spain, he is not just guy. His name is David Geis, and he absolutely loves Spain. He has been a dean at the Unversity of Virginia and been awarded best professor their! And also the King of Spain has knighted him!!!! Yeah, the King!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 6 (At Sea)

So, Day 6, and we have lost a total of three hours. That is to say we are three hours ahead of Eastern Time. The rocking of the ship makes me that much more tired, as I feel like I am being put to sleep all the time.

Got up on time today. WAHOO. Not only did I make my 8AM class, but also I had time for a breakfast. And a good one at that: OJ, Ham and Cheese omelet, and coffee. First class went well, I really like the history of Mediterranean civilizations.

I made it to lunch before Gladys today, which was a first. It went really well today. She was wearing a red pantsuit with dolphins on her red blouse. Way to rock it Gladys! Today, seriously put into perspective some things for Sam and I. It is truly amazing how “with it” Gladys is, at correction 89 years young. She explained this card trick to me and I could barely follow what she laying out for me. We are going to play some cards tonight at dinner and I am also going to learn some tricks. Found out she has an 80 something year old cousin whom she plays cards with back home. This really made me happy to learn she has someone at home. I shared some photos from home with her today, i.e. my family, my pets, and a few other things. She seemed to really enjoy the photographs.

Again, I just want stress how clear her mind is, and not just because of her age. She has a perfect mind, a beautiful mind. Her memory is so in tack and she never stutters when she thinks. I just find this absolutely astonishing.

Forgot to mention before lunch I met with someone. Last night there was an optional lecture on dining out in Spain from someone who has been going since the 60’s. His lecture was not just super informative, it was also fun! After the lecture I spoke with him about a few things. When in Spain I am traveling to San Sebastian to go to the number three restaurant in the world, Mugaritz, and I wanted to inform him of this. In addition, I wanted to know more about the delicacies in Spain. He told me to try Angulas or tiny baby eels complete with the eye and everything. Hoping to get to try that! Also, Percebes or barnacles that look like crunchy fingers, which you rip the crunchy end off and suck out the insides. Sounds interesting. Anyway, when I told him where I was going he knew I was a foodie and his jaw sort of dropped. When I asked him where to eat in Barcelona he told me to print off his list of restaurants recommended and meet up with him today to decide where to go.

So, today we met up in the library. He was super nice and helpful. He made a reservation for a restaurant in Spain, Arola. I will be posting pictures from all the restaurants and also the menu.

Tonight we went to dinner and met Gladys as usual. After dinner we had decided to play cards, and Gladys wanted to show me some tricks. Wow, I had so much fun with her, and I have created such a bond with her. Tonight she really opened up, I saw a side of Gladys I had not yet seen. We played cards for three and a half hours! Mind you, normally we talk for maybe twenty to twenty-five minutes after dinner. She taught Sam, Lauren (Sam’s roommate), and I three different cards games, and two amazing tricks. Again, I cannot believe how good her mind is; she was not only able to play for that length of time, but also able to teach us how to do it all. That is really amazing.

When she took her cards out of her walker or as she likes to call it sometimes “chariot”, they are housed in crocheted little plastic square boxes made by Gladys. They are really something else, beautiful little works of art. After playing for such a length of time the waiters that usually help her back to her room were gone. So, I grabbed her chariot, held the front, and away we went to her room. When we got there she told us to come in and see the room. And boy was it something spectacular.

Her room did not look like something that could be found on a cruise ship, it looked like a little home. She became that sort of older person we all love that loves to show off her things. This seemed out of character for Gladys, so I was elated. Crochet works were everywhere of all colors, from blankets to crocheted coasters. When she told me to go in her bathroom I was a little perplexed, but upon entering it was beautiful. She has covered her entire bathroom floor with this plastic material she crochets on (the same thing she used as the base for the card holders), thus making an extremely beautiful floor. Pictures to come, yes I took a few. Her room is amazing; I can only imagine what her home looks like.

When I went to leave I knew just how close we had become, she has now and forever will have a spot in my heart. As I left she leaned over and gave me the biggest hug. This is the kind of the thing I will take away from a journey like this. Sure the school gives me knowledge, and the places I see will be spectacular, moving even, but forming a bond like this is life changing, and it puts a lot into perspective. Forming a friendship with Gladys has allowed me to have a sense of clarity.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 5 (At Sea)

Woke up late today! Missed class at 8 AM, probably because time went ahead another hour last night. Urg! Lucky for me though my professor apparently forgot to take roll today. My global studies class was not too bad today. I learned in the movie “Troy” the actor playing Brad Pitt’s cousin was not historically really his cousin, but rather his boyfriend, but apparently Hollywood could not handle that.
Lunch with Gladys at 11:30: Went really well today. Food was good (sweet and sour pork), which she and I both loved and also had some chocolate cake, which we both loved. When I took out my laptop on the table at lunch she said “You really think that is good idea? You might spill something…” Even though I initially said I need to work on something I never did get on the laptop and put it away. Why? Because the first day I met Gladys, the first lunch we had together, I knocked over my sweet tea and it almost went in her lap. She helped me clean it up that day though.
After we finished eating we had some quick chit chat before my class like usual. I told her of some of my plans in Spain and she did seem interested. She gave me some good tips too. Such as don’t lose my passport, but if someone puts a knife to my throat I should just give it to them. We also talked about how much money I need, student loans, jobs (again) and the unlikelihood of getting a good one or one at all. On the ship women are about three to one with men students. About 74% women students. Gladys told me how it never used to be like that, and how men used to always be the dominating sex. But now, women have the same jobs and can make more than men and often do, and Gladys made that clear to me.
I do not even have a picture of Gladys yet, and if I did I could not upload it because I am on the ship. So, let me give a picture of how Gladys appears. She uses a walker to get around (at 88 I would be grateful not being in a wheel chair or better yet six feet under) and she is tall, especially for a woman of her age. She had to have shrunk some and she hunches over a little bit. Even with that in mind she appears to be around 5’7” give or take an inch or so, either which way. She always wears actual attire, I mean no gowns or anything of that sort. Usually some soft looking khakis and a nice striped blouse or a soft green sweater adorned with her lanyard that shows her name. Time has been a friend to Gladys as she does not appear to be her age (88), and though her skin is somewhat pale, it is beautiful. She does not have the tiny little hands so many older women have, and she lacks the age spots many people her age have on their hands. Her hair is obviously all whitish grey, and she keeps it extremely short. I always thought Leonardo was on to something when he stated “Eyes were the window to the soul”, but I never really knew what it meant, I never really saw eyes that portrayed someone’s soul. Gladys has those eyes, those that seem to grab one’s attention and reveal so much from the past, from her soul.
Not to much happened between that and dinner, other than a much needed nap!
Dinner was especially good tonight. Really good fried fish. Gladys was quiet tonight during dinner. I tried to talk to her about music, but could not seem to find any artists she liked. Any suggestions from those who are reading this? Vic accidently brought her the chicken and she wanted the after I told her how good it was, so she sent it back and got her fish. For desert Vic told her it was “Fruit Jello”, after inquiring what kind of jello again she decided that was she wanted. But not just the fruit jello with whip cream on top, she also wanted milk in it. I know seems strange, right? That is what I thought, but when Vic brought her the milky jello I decided I should also try it, so I asked Vic if I could have the same. He obliged, and to my surprise jello with milk, not half bad!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 4 (At Sea)

Day 4 (At Sea)

FIRST OFF I HAVE AN ADDITION TO DAY 3: I forgot to mention I did a bridge tour. This is where one gets to take a tour of the control center of the ship. Where the big giant wooden steering wheel would be if they still had that. This was overall a very cool experience, and I have pictures to show later. It was most exciting because the Captain of the Ship came in during this tour, which we were informed almost never happens unless he has something he must do. Well, he had to come in and consult with some of his team and I happened to get some really good photographs of this short appearance. Those photos will appear on my website later. Also, I happened to see the Captain walking down a hall on the ship and asked for a picture with him, which to my surprise he obliged. I will put that photo on the blog when I can!

The days are going by faster now that school is in session. My history class is not bad because I am somewhat of an amateur history buff. I added my third class today (Medical Anthropology), which I take with Samantha. Seems like it will be an interesting class in addition to the others. Other than that not too much happened.

However, I did have lunch with Gladys today along with a couple from Colorado. The wife is a Coordinator and the husband sort of patrols the ship as a community officer. He used to be on the police force for 20 some odd years in Colorado. We shared some interesting conversation between all of us. Gladys was pretty quiet today whilst enjoying her meal. But she did say one thing funny about Samantha and I…When the couple was talking about Sam and I being on the ship together Gladys remarked in a one shoulder shrugging kind of manner “They just wish they could room together hehehe.”

I missed dinner with Gladys tonight because she had told me she might not be able to make it. One of the waiters, Vic, was quick to inform me once I arrived at dinner that Gladys had been there at 5:30 like usual. And sadly, she ate alone. So from now on I will do my best to always be there with her. Not because I feel bad that she is alone, but because I sincerely enjoy her company and feel as though I can learn a lot from her.

Oh and I remembered I ask Gladys about something I forgot to mention. I asked her about people throwing their babies at you in foreign countries in order to steal from you. She informed that one time it happened to her. I asked her what she did when it happened, and not to my surprise she had a wonderful answer: She threw it back!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


This blog will entail my life, and specifically my point of view. It will commence with my journey aboard the MV Explorer while enrolled in Semester at Sea.


Day 1 (At Sea)

Day one proved to be an interesting start to a voyage (not a cruise) on ship (not a boat). To say many interesting things have happened would be an overstatement. A very hot (temperature wise) mandatory drill took place. We had to assemble out on the decks at the sound of an alarm whilst wearing long sleeve shirts, pants, close toed shoes, and also adorned with a life jacket.

Food. Not bad, Not great either. But, I know I set the bar a little high. I will say the Jerk Chicken for dinner was good and stood out.

Day 2 (At Sea)

Seriously a day filled with nothing anyone would want to hear about. Orientation. That is all.

Oh, and India has medical school for 400 rupees a year (around 15 dollars). Met a girl from India and basically found out India knows how to do a lot right.

Food. Good Asian style pork and good brownies.

Day 3 (At Sea)

The best day yet. The best day in a very long time. Classes started and that has nothing to do with why it was the best day. Gladys is the reason it was such a superb day. Who is Gladys? She is a life long learner aboard the ship (someone older who comes and visits lectures), but she is a very special LLL. She has been on over 24 voyages, been to virtually everywhere, and she is 88 years old! She is sweet, but to the point.

I saw her having lunch today by herself and decided to join. Lunch was quiet and I asked a lot of questions. I got a lot of one word answers at first. When I asked “do you have children” she quickly retorted “no, if I did I would be in jail for murder.”

After my wonderful but all to short lunch I decided to go right at 5:30 for dinner in hopes I would see Gladys eating. I was correct! I should mention she has a walker and does not get around well so she has food brought to her, and it often varies from the buffet the students are given. She also does not even go to the cities in port anymore due to her handicap. At dinner she opened up and shared tons of information. Also, she has no children, no brothers or sisters, and her husband is deceased.

Just some tidbits from Gladys I have to share:

Gladys only thinks the “rich” should have children (due to overpopulation problems and financial issues)

Says if your poor and have kids you may need money and then to get it by sleeping with a man, which creates more children

Believes 90% of college graduates will have a hard time getting a job and if they do, they are “God Damn” lucky

There are over 2,000 dowry deaths a year (look up dowry death on google if you are not in the know)

Judicial system and the government stinks

All married men cheat, though they do not think they are because they are not leaving there wives and children

Her husband cheated on her and she cut his sparkplugs while he was in his lovers house. When he came out and was trying to fix the car she was going to ram her car into him over and over again, but opted out because her cousin was there and convinced her otherwise

Believes someone who commits suicide is not a coward, but actually brave because they can do that (a lot easier said than done)

Thinks she will pass in the next year or so and hopes to in her sleep

We talked about many other things such as the as in depth discussion about the economy. She taught me more about the value of a dollar by providing me with insight on how much things used to cost, how much she used to make, how much her father used to make, and many other things.

But, my absolute favorite was when we were talking about photography and she told me I have stop by her room sometime and see this giant photograph she has (printed on German paper).

Expect to see more Odes to Gladys in the blog. Why? Because she is inspiring!