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).

 

 

Prado

Wednesday we went to the world famous Prado museum. We saw multiple pieces of famous art that has been around for hundereds of years. In preparation for our trip, we spent one of our Jbip classes studying some of the most famous pieces of art. One of the best pieces that we saw was The Three Graces by Ruben. An interesting fact that we learned that two of the graces in the painting are actually his first and second wife. You are able to see their faces but the third grace has her back to the audience. She was his mistress. This was just one of the great pieces of art we saw at the museum.

Gibraltar

Wednesday we went to Gibraltar. This was completely different from Spain. The people here spoke English and used pounds sterling as currency. After having lunch on our own, we rode a cable car to the top of the rock of Gibraltar to see the famous Barbary apes. Gibraltar is the only place in all of Europe where monkey live in the wild. These apes are not actually apes but monkeys. They have evolved over hundreds of years to lose their tale as a means of survival. We encountered many of these monkey while in Gibraltar. After seeing the panoramic views from the top of the rock we explored a cave and saw the rest of the country. Gibraltar was are last excursion before heading to Africa!

Valley of the Fallen

We went to the valley of the fallen on Thursday. This monument was very impressive. It is dedicated to all who died in the Spanish civil war. The most famous person allegedly buried here was Franco. There is a controversy on whether the remains are actually Franco’s. The remains are in a basilica that was carved into the side of the mountain. There is a giant cross that is at the top of the mountain that can be see from very far away. What we all found interesting was that we have always been taught that Franco was such a terrible person and yet he had such a spectacular tomb. We found out that half of Spain viewed Franco as a hero. This was a fact that i found hard to comprehend. Nevertheless the Valley of the Fallen was an amazing place.

Bullfighting in Spain

During our stay in Spain we have visited a small bullring in Granada and the bullfighting museum and large bullring in Sevilla.  The bullfighting museum consisted of authentic bullfighting attire, many bulls´ heads on the walls, bullfighting capes, and other paintings and artifacts that explained the history of bullfighting in Spain.  We saw a large bullring in Sevilla, and our tour guide, Paloma, told us a lot about bullfighting – for example, she explained that the bulls are killed after the bullfights and are then eaten (many people eat the bulls´ tails).  Bullfighting is a national pastime in Spain, although some people do not like it because the bulls are killed after the fights.

Flamenco, the national dance of Spain

Flamenco is Spain´s national dance.  On Wednesday, our second full day in Madrid, we had dinner and saw a flamenco show at a restaurant in Madrid called Villa Rosa.  It was like dinner theatre.  After our dinner three dancers, a singer, and a musician came out and performed.  The dancers were two women and a man.  They danced with great intensity and passion (like the Furia Hispania or Spanish fury that our book on soccer, La Roja, talked about).  Many of us concur that the flamenco show has been our favorite part of the trip so far.  We hoped that after the show the dancers would be willing to dance with us and maybe teach us flamenco dancing, but they were getting ready to do their next show.  But it was a great way to experience authentic Spanish culture through the art of flamenco dancing.

Tales of visiting the Alhambra

On Sunday we visited the Alhambra, Granada´s most famous site.  It sits atop a hill looking over the city of Granada.  We toured all of the rooms, the courtyards, and the gardens and went to the Generalife (the summer house), which is near the Alhambra.  The Alhambra is significant because it represents a time in Spain´s history when the Muslims conquered Spain and remained in power for more than seven hundred years.  The walls of the Alhambra are covered in inscriptions from the Koran (Qu´ran), the holy book of the Muslim faith.  (The Muslim conquest of Spain began in 711 A.D. and ended in 1492 with the beginning of the Reconquista or Reconquest by Christians.)  The Alhambra has many beautiful features, including courtyards with reflecting pools.  A notable theme throughout the Alhambra is the use of geometrical lines and shapes in its construction.