Homeward Bound!

By Mari Angela Puleio & Marilynne Wilkins

The end of our trip consisted of a full day of events followed by an even fuller day of traveling.  As mentioned in a previous post, the last day we enjoyed a two-city excursion where we were wowed by the aqueduct, a cooking class where we surprisingly made a delicious three course meal, and finally, a once in a lifetime chance to attend a Real Madrid versus Atletico de Madrid futbol game. The game just may have been the highlight of the trip for everyone; although we were freezing and had to get up early to depart the next day, it was worth it!

Traveling home was an experience in itself. Security was extra strict because of the recent attacks in Paris, so customs leaving Madrid and entering the US were a pain. We spent basically an entire day on the plane and in the airport. We left our hostal at 8:45 a.m. and landed in Charlotte at 9:30 p.m., though it felt like 3:30 a.m. to us since that was the local time in Spain that we were used to. It was rough for everyone but surprisingly no one complained, not even those who were sick.

Ten days was by far enough because it felt like a month with all the things we experienced. No one left feeling like it was too short, nor was anyone homesick. We were able to experience many different aspects of Spain within such a short time. It would be interesting to experience the area not during the holiday season with such a mass of tourists; however, we do feel like we got everything out of the trip we possibly could.  All in all, everyone had a great experience.

Last Day

A trip outside the city, a cooking class, and a soccer game in one day!

by Andres Camejo and Brendan McNamara

On the last day in spain we went on an amazing trip to Segovia, where we visited El Escorial and took a tour of a monastery, which was absolutely amazing. The inside of the monastery was beautiful and full of artwork and amazing architecture. Afterwards we went to tour the city of Segovia and see the Roman aqueduct. With our tour guide, we walked around and learned a lot about the city, and eventually made our way to the castle. I was blown away by the view we had seen around the castle. Climbing to the top of the tower we had a chance to take some amazing pictures.

The views were quite frankly one of my favorite parts of the entire trip; I was really happy to get to experience that.

After we left Segovia, we went to a cooking class and wine tasting which was absolutely amazing. We learned to make Gazpacho and Paella while getting to taste many different Spanish wines.  I’m sure everyone had an absolute blast as laughter was abundant the entire evening.

The Gazpacho was not entirely to my liking, but the paella we certainly a big hit with everyone in the class. We also spent a lot of time listening and singing country music, which some people though was strange, but certainly added a lot of fun to the evening in my opinion. It was a wonderful experience and a highlight of the trip (especially for Eric).

After going to Segovia and the cooking class, we ended up going to a soccer game. This game took place in the Vicente Calderon Stadium which is home to Atletico de Madrid, one of the soccer clubs from the city of Madrid. Two students arrived earlier as they did not attend the cooking class. The rest of the students arrived a few minutes before the start of the game. This was a unique experience as we have never seen such a big event. The stadium trembled as the fans of the local team cheered and sang. This was such an important game for the city because it is a national cup and the game was between two teams of the same city, which caused a real divide in the city, with each side cheering for their team. We felt involved in this event and some of the students bought the jerseys of the teams that were playing the match. The weaker team, Atletico, which is third place in the domestic league of soccer in Spain dominated the whole game and scored two goals that were impossible for the goalie of Real Madrid to deflect. Some of us were very happy with the result and some of us not too happy. However, the game provided us with a unique experience and a great time that we all enjoyed and that will be hard to forget.

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Flea Market and Flamenco

by Jeremy Swick & Freddie Tonsberg

On Saturday, January 3rd, as a class, we went to the museum of Thyssen-Bornemisza. This museum was very interesting and had many different types of artwork. In the museum, our favorite section was the Van Gogh section because he is extremely famous and we liked the style that he painted in. Other than this museum, we did not have many structured activities on this particular day since it was a weekend. At night, we had a couple drinks and then went to bed. It was a nice and relaxing day.

On Sunday, January 4th, my classmates and I went to the flea market that is only open on Sundays. This flea market was only a couple of blocks away from our hostel, so we walked there. At the flea market, there were thousands of people who were trying to shop, but it was on a tiny street, which made it very difficult to walk. The market seemed like it was a couple miles long, and it had thousands of different stands that ranged from selling clothes, CDs, artwork, toys, sunglasses, and a lot more. This was something that I have never seen back in the United States. Everyone at the flea market here was very patient and did not mind walking slowly whereas in the United States, everything is at a fast pace and not many people would have the patience to walk around at this market, including me. I became extremely frustrated with how slowly everyone was moving, and so I was happy that we were able to leave within two hours of being there. In that two hours, I was able to purchase a vest for myself and two shirts for my girlfriend. In the end, I believe it was a great experience, but I would not be able to do that every Sunday, just because I would not have the patience. At night time on this day, we went to a Flamenco dance, which was very interesting. The dancers were really into the show and they seemed to be having a great time performing. This is the first time we saw this style of dancing, and were very impressed with it.

Exploring Madrid

by Tyler Rogers and Adam Oscienny

1/1/2015

Following New Years Eve we all had a well earned rest and left the hostel around 14:30 to find some food. We decided to walk to a different area of Madrid, one we had not seen yet. The area was located a few blocks southwest of the hostel in an ethnically diverse area. We split up into two small groups to find something that would please our appetites. Four of us turned down a narrow cobblestone alley and stumbled upon a somewhat rundown pizza joint. Sharing a few pies we concluded the slices were some of the best we had ever tasted especially when accounting for the low price. The other group went to a Spanish restaurant and ordered the menu del dia, a three course meal which included a traditional dish of paella for a fixed price. Returning to the hostel for a siesta we relaxed for a few hours before leaving once again to share conversation over a variety of hot beverages and sweets at a local café. While making our way back to the hostel we meandered our way through shops and stalls browsing through a variety of merchandise.

1/2/2015

Waking up early on this chilly morning the group hopped on a small shuttle bus to explore beyond Madrid. Our first stop was the small town of Esquivias which is where the well known author Cervantes lived. His most famous work of course was the tale of Don Quixote. We explored his property which gave us an idea of just how much shorter the people of his time and location were! As we continued our tour we drove around the city of Toledo, the original capital of Spain. This fascinating city is protected by a river on three sides coupled with a thick, stone wall. Within Toledo we visited the Sinagoga del Transito, a building full of history located in the Jewish quarter. While in the city we had the chance to see one of El Greco’s most famous paintings, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. Our next stop on the walking tour was the Cathedral of Toledo where we witnessed countless works of art and artifacts of religious themes within the buildings walls. After Toledo we drove to a town of 11,000 people called Consuegra. We visited the castle and windmills which overlooked the town and surrounding plains of La Mancha. The castle offered astonishing views, and overall, the events of the day truly painted a picture of the quests of Don Quixote and Sancho, bringing these two characters to life.

Happy New Year!

Days 2 – 3

by Mike Hayes and Garret Chan

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Out and about in Madrid

On Tuesday, the second day in Madrid, our day was filled with activities and it started early. Due to our jet lag, some of us had difficulty waking up and making it down to the lobby at 9:00 a.m. Once we were all assembled in the lobby we walked to Gran Vía, a plaza in Madrid, and took the metro to a stop that was relatively close to a bus we were taking to Banco Santander’s headquarters, Boadilla del Monte.

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Taking the metro

We really had no idea what we were about to be doing because we were with a guide and not our professors on this particular outing and we had not asked any questions. It turned out to be a little city that seemed abandoned; we later learned that everyone was off for the holidays. The bus drove us around an olive tree forest and we eventually stopped and entered one of the buildings where they showed us a video about where we were. It was very strange because we walked into this enormous auditorium without speaking to anyone and they played this video and then we got up and left and went to another building. We did not see or speak to anyone until we got to the next building where we were shown an art exhibit of Spanish paintings. The tour guide described each painting to us rather than letting us walk around and explore on our own.  Overall, it was interesting to see how this successful company had created it’s own city for employees to enjoy while at work.

We then drove back to the city where we met up with our Professors and met with one of Dr. Wendorff’s contacts in Spain who works at Adidas. He explained to us that he was a lawyer for Adidas and worked with Real Madrid, a famous Spanish soccer team, and helped with their licensing agreements with Adidas and all of their merchandise sold in retail stores. We ate lunch at a restaurant next to the building he worked in before we headed across the street to tour the Real Madrid stadium. While eating at the restaurant we noticed that everything we were eating was more healthy and fresher than what we eat in the United States. For example, we had juice that was made from freshly squeezed fruit right behind the counter.

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Dr. Wendorff and one of her many contacts

We then walked across the street to take a tour of Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid’s stadium. This was an awesome experience for all of us.  We thought that we would just be looking at the field and walking around a little bit. We were mistaken; it was like a museum inside of the stadium with impressive technology. It was very cool to see how much the team gave back to their fans and let them into the club to get a behind the scenes look at a lot of interesting things. We were able to see the inside of the locker room as well as go down to field level, where you really get to see the amount of pressure on these athletes due to how many people are watching.

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Real Madrid Stadium

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Sitting on the bench is not so bad at the Real Madrid stadium!

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Viewing the many trophies and awards at the Real Madrid stadium

That night we stayed in and got a good night’s sleep because the next day was New Year’s Eve.  The morning of December 31st, we walked to the Royal Palace and went to the Cathedral next to it before eventually going on a tour inside the Palace. The Cathedral was impressive but not nearly as cool or extravagant as the Royal Palace, in our opinion. We got to visit the armory before going on our tour, which featured all of the old armor and weapons used by the Spanish army throughout history.

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El Palacio Real

We were not allowed to take pictures inside of the armory or the Palace.  We saw a few people take pictures and security guards would walk over and quickly stop them. They told us we would be arrested if we took any pictures. I do not know how serious the threat was but we listened. We had a tour guide that was telling us about the rooms we were in and their history as well as some interesting facts. Some of us lowered the volume and did not listen to him and looked for ourselves and read the information instead of relying on him. Most of the rooms were so extravagant that it is hard to describe the immense detail that was needed to construct them without experiencing it yourself.

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Ceiling at the Palacio

We got split up from one another because of the large crowds and our lack of cell phone service, so we were not able to eat as a group. We all went to different places to eat: some went to the busy local market where there was all kinds of fresh food prepared.

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Getting food in the crowded market

From there we went to the Accent building (home of the Spanish company working with us to arrange our activities while in Spain), where we discussed film and bullfighting and learned more about Spanish culture. In class we learned about bullfighting so some of the information was repetitive.

Since that night was New Year’s Eve, we wanted to experience the Spanish tradition of going to Plaza del Sol and eating the 12 grapes as the clock struck midnight. Most of us were able to stay together and get to the Plaza and experience it as a group. There were a lot of people there celebrating and it was quite hectic but it was a great time.  ¡Feliz año nuevo!

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Celebrating the New Year in La Plaza del Sol

Day 1 – Arrival!

First Day

by Eric Dolan and Spencer Corkery

As we got ready for our trip to Spain, we anticipated we would run into many problems that we would have to solve. The first obstacle of our trip was figuring out how to get to the airport. More importantly…getting to the airport on time. With all of our friends home for Christmas break, we decided to get an Uber. After getting to the airport exactly at noon and making it through security relatively quickly, we all had a lot of time to kill before the flight. So naturally we all decided to start spending money and go to various restaurants. We personally went to Chili’s. It was not a cheap expense. Also, to our surprise, most of us were reading before and during our flights.

The flight up to Philadelphia was rather uneventful, except for the major freak out from a passenger who claimed she could “hear everything,” and refused to sit next to a screaming baby. The flight to Madrid also featured a loud child that kept some passengers up. Professor DeBell was obviously not phased by this noise, as she was asleep before the plane even left the ground. Lots of us did have trouble sleeping though; a few of us weren’t able to sleep at all during the seven-hour flight. Luckily for those who could not fall asleep, there was plenty of entertainment on board with TVs in front of each person.

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Since Spain is a western country, culture shock has not been an issue. The biggest difficulty so far that we have faced, has been the six-hour time difference between the US, and Spain. This was evident when we landed at eight o’clock in the morning (Madrid time) with a full day ahead of us, and our bodies were not prepared. Unfortunately, because of this, we were unable to enjoy and take advantage of the days opportunities as much as we hoped, such as visiting El Prado, due to our exhaustion.

Besides the exhaustion we are extremely excited to finally be in Madrid. Since the city is so old, it is vastly different from any American city, especially Charlotte. Madrid is not dominated by tall buildings and impressive skylines, but rather old buildings only a few stories high. Another difference from America is the food. Although portions tend to be smaller, so far we have enjoyed the new experience.  During the upcoming days we will have to get used to later meal times also. We all look forward to the days and adventures that lie before us and are excited to find out what Madrid has in store.

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Sevilla: Gateway to the New World

While in Sevilla I saw a combination of Moorish and Roman influences on the architecture of the city. The palace was largely of Moorish influence and had subtle Roman influences. One example is the little, I guess you can call them, pools of water used to wash the hands and feet before going to pray. The entire palace was covered in tile, and I mean everywhere, the floor, the walls, and the ceiling. They used tiles because they help to keep the palace cool during hot summer days, which is a given in Sevilla.

The Alcazar, Sevilla

The Alcazar, Sevilla

The cathedral was a whole different story. The entire outside of the church was completely of Moorish influence. But when you stepped inside the church the Roman influences appear. When Sevilla, the last Moorish kingdom in Spain, was finally taken, Catholicism was built on top of the Moorish architecture inside the church. The reason the Catholics didn’t tear down the church was that it was so big and to most the bigger something is the more power it has. So the Catholics wanted newcomers to see how much power they had by keeping the outside of the church the way it was. On the inside of the church there were organs and many large and small structures that adorned the walls of the church. Everything had so much detail put into it that it is no wonder it took so long for it to be completed.

By Ashley Morrow

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Viva Espana, Viva USA

A little bit of Mexico in Madrid - visiting the Mexico exhibition in a park dedicated to Christopher Columbus

A little bit of Mexico in Madrid – visiting the Mexico exhibition in a park dedicated to Christopher Columbus

Our first week is now under our belt, and I think it is safe to say the Madrid JBIP2014 crew is in love with Madrid and we are ready to move in and stay for the rest of eternity. Sorry Mom and Dad, but Spain has stolen my heart and I can’t come back…just be glad the country has my heart and not a handsome Spanish man, right? This past week has been filled with so many different cultural events: a trip to Sevilla home to the oldest functioning palace in the world and the 3rd largest cathedral (and some serious heat…105 degrees to be exact), bullfighting, a stroll through El Rastro (one of the longest running markets in Spain), flamenco, and art museums home to Dali, Picasso, Dega, Van Gogh, Goya, and many more.

We have also had the pleasure of experiencing the Spain vs. Netherlands game in an open plaza in Sevilla, packed with eager Spaniards, muchas cervezas, and hope for a win. Despite losing the game 5-1, being in the middle of the plaza when that one goal was scored was a memory the group will never forget. The eruption of cheering, chanting, dancing, fist pumping, and beer sloshing that came from that plaza gave me chills. That night, I became a futbol fan. We all did. But I think anyone would jump on the World Cup bandwagon if they got to experience the excitement our group did. ​

On Monday, the group sported their red, white, and blue and marched the streets of Madrid to make it to Dubliners, an English bar off of Plaza del Sol. We were greeted with a packed bar and fellow Americans pumped for the game. To be shoulder to shoulder with excited Americans screaming the national anthem and chanting USA!USA!USA! was unbelievable. (Connor’s rendition of Dr. Commins! Dr.Commins! Dr.Commins! was pretty awesome too and a JBIP favorite…) Within the first couple minutes, USA scored and the bar erupted with excitement. Beers were being clanked, fists were pounding, voices were yelling, high fives and hugs among strangers were exchanged. and it was an overall grand time. ​

Before the madness of the game, the group was able to have an amazing family dinner done potluck style. Each apartment made some dishes to share with everyone. The menu consisted of some wonderful salmon (thanks to Connor), succulent octopus (Kelly and the girls won the Wendorff Award for best dish), pork kabobs (Kenny’s pride and joy), paella (Walker’s contribution), bull in a red wine marinara sauce (from the girls on Calle Santiago), Sangria (Dr. Commins), and a chocolate dessert from Dr. Wendorff.

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By Taylor Park

Buenos dias from Madrid (by Rami Kuseybi)

 

Fit for a Royal!

Fit for a Royal!

What an incredible 24 hours it has been! We arrived in Madrid at about 8 a.m. and went straight to the bus where ACCENT picked us up. The airport in Madrid was very modern, filled with beautiful architecture. Once we arrived at the ACCENT center, everyone was put into groups and given their apartments, located throughout the city. My apartment is located in the heart of Madrid just a couple of blocks from the shopping district. Our apartment is perfect, with cute bathrooms, a kitchen,and two bedrooms. Once we got situated, we walked around the streets of Madrid and ate sandwiches in a little cafe. They were traditional ones of ham and cheese, which were so good!

Once lunch was done, we walked off the beaten path for a little while until we arrived at one of the most beautiful palaces I have ever seen. It was the Royal Palace of Madrid, where the kings and queens of Spain used to live. The architecture was out of this world and every inch of the palace had so much history and beauty. It was filled with beautiful whites, golds, and blacks. There were also hundreds of sculptures throughout the outside. The attention to detail was amazing! Once we walked around the palace we got to tour the gardens behind it. These gardens were filled with pink flowers and carved ferns that went for about a mile. There were white marble sculptures throughout the garden that were so beautiful as well.

When we left the palace, we got back to our apartment and could not believe how phenomenal the palace was and how awesome of a first day we had! I can’t wait to spend the rest of the 3 weeks here in Spain!!

Morocco: another world

On Wednesday evening, after having spent part of the day in Gibraltar, we took a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier, Morocco.  While we were in Morocco we toured the Kasbah in Tangier (a kasbah is a fortress), where we went to some of the shops and places like a spice shop, a bakery, and a place where Moroccan rugs are made.  We went to the tip of Morocco where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet.  And on our tour of Tangier we went to the cave of the mythical hero Hercules that opens out to the Atlantic Ocean.

On Friday we drove from Tangier to Rabat, the capital city of Morocco.  While we were in Rabat we went to a mosque, witnessed one of the calls to prayer, and toured the Kasbah where we saw some of the shops and buildings and courtyards.  Friday night, our last night in Morocco and on the trip, we went to Casablanca, Morocco’s richest and most contemporary city.  We drove through the streets of Casablanca, including the Boulevard de Paris in the French quarter (Casablanca was once occupied by the French until Morocco gained its independence in 1956).  We went to the Mosque of Hassan II, one of Morocco’s princes who died thirty years ago and was very popular.  The Mosque is a beautiful place with a large tower that is the tallest structure in the city.  It is located right on the Atlantic ocean.

During our brief stay in Morocco we experienced some wonderful meals.  Our first day in Tangier we experienced some authentic Moroccan food – they use a lot of spices and vegetables in their food.  And when we arrived in Morocco on Wednesday evening we went to a restaurant and had chicken tagine (a tagine is basically a type of bowl that Moroccans serve a lot of their food in).  We also got to have some mint tea at lunch on Thursday (it is good for digestion).