¡Adios España!

Today was my last day in Sevilla, and I am on my way to Madrid to catch my plane back to Atlanta on Saturday. Here are my final thoughts and pictures of what I saw everyday to and from school. The last one is the picture of my balcony and residence

image image image image

The first thing that comes in mind are the people that were behind me, supporting me on this adventure and keeping up with me on a regular basis.

Randy, for your constant love and enthusiasm towards my experience , for your caring and daily connection with me on FaceTime . It allowed me to feel your presence, see that beautiful smile of yours and follow you in your own life. Waiting for your girl for six months was not easy and quite lonely at times but without a doubt your two visits in Europe were my high points of my trip. Discovering Paris had been a dream of mine forever and to have fulfilled it with you was without a doubt an everlasting moment.

My four children and their incredible understanding that their mother was taking a break from life and follow a dream of hers, thank you. Keeping up with me and encouraging me along the way made my stay even more of a joy than a worry. I hope one day you can also follow a dream of yours and have people that cheer you on like you guys did for me.

To my sisters who also were so excited for me and listened to my concerns once in  a while. We are living so far apart but so closed in each other’s heart. Being the third girl of a family of seven girls have given me the greatest gifts of life: friendship with awesome women and unconditional love from each of them. I am a blessed woman.

And to all you friends that also kept up with me on a regular basis. I know that my return will be a bit challenging to reintegrate myself into your busy life, but again I am in gratitude to have you all in my life. You are a big part of my happiness , joy and excitement towards life and the future.

image image image image

My trip summary is like this. I had a dream, actually dreamed in my dreams about it for ten years that I was back on school and to have accomplished it is an incredible feeling. I tried to live six months without too much worrying about what was going to happen after. Work??? Finance??? Love??? House????
I tried to only focus on this experience and live it to the fullest. I had a personal goal of learning as much Spanish as I could, be able to make sentences read and understand a lot and travel the country. I am happy of what I have achieved and I leave this country with a sense of belonging and deep love . It has been amazing how my French Canadian root make me feel at home in Europe. In France my French speaking was always the source of curiosity of where I was from and in Morocco the thread that facilitated the connection between their culture and mine. In general my French gave me that extra help in guessing the meaning of some words and just the word itself.

image image image image
The one challenge I encountered what to find a balance in my live here. Between finding the right place to live, the traveling, the different schools, the studying and the social life. No one could live this experience the same way. For me when I found a place where I felt home I stayed. It was in Sevilla. The people’s energy, the beautiful city, the warm weather, where I lived and the richness of the different students created an environment so rich and comfortable that I decided to cancel my plans of moving every six weeks. I found that moving required too much energy for me, worry, adjustment on the school curriculum and my own living arrangement. The only negative for staying south is that every time I traveled I had to get to a bigger airport which usually was Madrid. But that was a small hiccup especially with the AVE train between Sevilla and Madrid (2 1/2 hrs instead of 6 1/2 hrs)

image image image image

My final comment will be about the joy and happiness I felt here. The sharing of cultures made me feel free and alive. The reasons for someone to take off two weeks or six months all had such a common thread. Redefine the direction of our lives. I felt blessed, lucky, fortunate, whatever you want to call it. I felt it during my entire stay. When I was walking the streets in Paris on Christmas Eve all by myself, in the pouring rain and super cold, I couldn’t stop smiling . A smile that came from within. A French man stopped me and asked me if I spoke French. After I said yes he said ‘ you are not from here because no one in Paris has a smile so radiant like yours. Have a Happy Holiday’. I felt like a child all the time. I was happy and serene. I am returning home with this joy, serenity and happiness that life brought me here. I also will keep on living the essence of living which is enjoying every minute of your day and let go what you can’t control. I have let go of a lot of things that at the end are not important but without a doubt I will not let go of you all, my loved ones. Again thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

Brigitte

Signing off for the last time

Lyon!!!

I left Sevilla a bit shaky but made it to Madrid by AVE and took a direct flight to Lyon where my good friend Maryvonne was waiting for me at the exit of the tram that takes you from the airport to the city center. From there we took a taxi to her place. I guess when I booked everything, it never dawned on me that this trip was as long. Left the residence at 10am and got in at her place at 7 pm

.image image image

It was super cold and actually we had sleet on Friday. My friend tool good care  of me: homemade meals, visit to the fresh market, excursions all planned out with lots of public transportations, went to see a French movie that was not too good for the Catholic Church called ” Felomina” and went to bed not too late and slept super well.

The city reminded me a bit of Paris as it has not only one but two rivers going through the city: la Seone and la Rhone. Instead of the two small islands like in Paris, a big part of the city called La Croix Rousse where she lives is located there. It is on a big hill and she lives on the plateau. We go towards the left you are on one side of one river and take the right side and find yourself on the side of the other river.

image image image

Lyon has a pastel tone throughout the city. I bought myself a couple of small paintings as souvenir. This was my final big trip. On my return I kept thinking that it was almost the end. Only two more weeks and I would be going back home. France is a country that I enjoyed immensely. There are so many different parts of the country to experience. I know that I will be back here and I can ensure you when you speak the language of a country, the experience of traveling in it is a complete different one. I personally think that it is a more personal character in all the discoveries that you have and a stronger connection. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t have that in Spain, but the language spoken is a big factor to your own easiness in moving, meeting people, exploring and connecting. Hopefully one day I will have this sense of easiness in exploring any cities that speak spanish. My learning is not over when I leave here. It has just begun…

Here are more pictures of the city

image image image image image image image image image image image image image image

La Sagrada Familia

Here are some pictures of the cathedral that they are still trying to finish in accordance with Gaudi’s plans. When you look at them on the inside, look carefully the columns. They represent tree trunks with their branches reaching the sky. On the spiritual side, everything is directed towards heaven. Also the glass stained windows are just incredible. when the sunlight comes in throughout the day you see the reflection in the inside on the columns and ceiling with different strengths and colors.  On Nov 7th, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI gave a mass at Sagrada Familia. It was a huge event in Barcelona!!

image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image imageimage image image image image image

Casa Batilo

I wanted to have a separate entry for the pictures of that house from Gaudi. I guess because it was my second one and adored La Pradera, I did not getting he same WOW feeling than in November. Elisa got it though. She went to visit La Pradera after on her own and loved the Casa Batilo better. Is it because the first one you visit has a bigger impact being the first one??? Who knows!! A couple of fun facts about some pictures. The space where two seats are facing each other ( you can only see one) has a cute background. There is an one seater and the one you see is the two seaters. It was for the new couple who dated plus the chaperone…. Another one is that the building construction had an inspiration from water ( color blue and waves on the walls and in the wood work) and also of dinosaurs. The roof line represent the back of one dinosaur with its scales and majestic color. The last one I have is about the inside court of the house which we know Gaudi paid a lot of details. as light is another huge factor in his drawings, the size of its windows are always bigger on the bottom that the top, and the colors of the walls are lighter in the bottom than the tops. So you will see that the blue of the walls are darker as you reach the top of the house.. Enjoy the pictures

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

I am still here!!!!

Hi everyone, it has been a while since I entered a new blog. I have been quite sick in the last two weeks, and now I have a cold. Here what has happened in the last month. My friend Elisa came to visit me from 8-16 February. I met her in Madrid and we spent two days there, and then went to Toledo which is an hour south for a day. Then we proceeded to Barcelona until the Friday. I visited and did things that I had not have the chance to do before in Madrid on top of the usual things that a first time visitor would do. I finally had the chance to go to the Palacio Real de Madrid. I loved it. It was the biggest palace I had seen in Spain. I have visited a lot of them, but this one was a good size. Elisa was telling me that the ones in Versailles are bigger, but I never got the time to go and see them when I was in Paris. imageimageimage

Another fun thing we did was to eat at the oldest restaurant on the world and is in the Guinness Book. It is named le Botin and it was opened in 1725. It was a thrill to be there and read about the extend of the people that have eaten there, but the food was just ok. Wine was good though. image

In Toledo, which I already have an entry on it in October, I got to observe first hand the art cf damascene ware. It is a black steel object etched with 24-karat gold, silver or copper thread. There are 24 workshops in Toledo and we visited one of them. What you mostly see in the stores are not the real thing as they are made in a factory and not pieces by pieces like we saw it done in the workshop. They also are using tin instead of steel and not the gold, silver or copper as threads. the ware consists of plates, boxes, pendants, broches, earrings, bracelets, and swords.  We did some shopping!!! Toledo is also where the name the Toledo kitchen knife, sword, and replicas of old guns are made. imageimageimageimage

in Barcelona I had the chance to discover more of Gaudi which I have talked about in November when Randy came to visit. I added the Casa Batilo and La Sagrada familia, his cathedral which is still not finished. It is breathtaking and mad at the same time. Also we took the time to visit all the different quarters: Barri Gotic, the   Vieja Ciudad, and the El Born. And we got to have dinner with Picasso at the 4Cats, a restaurant where he used to hang around and have meetings with his friends included Gaudi. We also went to the museum of Picasso which they have two in Spain, one in Barcelonaa and one in Malaga.   image image image image image image image image image image image

in both cities I had rented apartments which I have loved throughout my stay in Europe. Hotels have been used very scarcely just for a one night type of thing. But for a stay it is so much more impressive to stay on one of those typical buildings of Spain or France with high ceilings, huge doors, old stairways and lifts, creaking floors and lots of space. All my stays were just amazing. In Barcelona I had the chance to stay at the same place that in November. Was very central and lovely. Overall, it was a great week. Elisa burned me out. When I came back my class had gone though a lot of material and I was announced that the final test for the entire level was on Friday. I went to class that week and studied 8 hours a day. I started feeling really bad on the Wednesday. My room had no heat and no one was coming to fix it. I was freezing, and I ended sick, sleeping like a log for an entire week after the exam. However I had bought my ticket to go to Lyon, France the following Thursday, and I decided that it was going to be my last trip and I was going. I needed a change of scenery and air. Tell you more about it in another blog entry. Another thing is before I left for my week on vacation with Elisa, I had canceled my last week of classes as I wanted so much to travel the North of Spain, the only area that I had not seen.  But when I came back, I was so exhausted that I realized that I was done. There is no more energy on this girl! This girl needs to go back home. Oh yeah!! The doctor said I was doing a bad gastro. Ah!!! May have got the bug in Barcelona because usually it takes about three days to incubate. So I will be home in mid March. Goodbye to Barcelona! I will be back to Madrid two more times. On my way to Lyon and on my last day before flying out. And thank you to Elisa for our many adventures, the good food and wine, for taking the time to spend a great week in Spain and for all the laughs that we had. We were together for Valentine’s day!!!!!! We both missed our lover ones at home. I can’t wait to see everyone.   image image image

Visit to Cordoba and the Mezquita!!

As of this weekend I had four weekend open to travel around. This was a school trip as there were a group of young students from Norway and had a trip included. You always need a minimum of 25 students to get a bus and be worthwhile the expenses for the school. It probably be the only trip because we could never get that usually. We left mid morning and came back at dinner time. It is only an hour and a half from Sevilla While Granada was 3 1/2 hours by train.

It is one of the most prestigious building in Arab-Islamic culture. It was founded in 785. The interior us so amazing, a labyrinth of bicolored columns with horseshoe arches and where it is possible to see the three different parts of it as two additions where done to it from the first building. It was converted into a Catholic Christian Cathedral. It is the only place in the world where you can worship Mass in a mosque. In the center of the building is the Christian cathedral. Past the cathedral is the maksura, the royal prayer enclosure, where the arches are more elaborate and lots of gold was used in the domes. The mosque is regarded as the one of the mist accomplished monument of Moorish architecture. Since the early 2000′s, Spanish Muslims have lobbied the Roman Catholic Church to allow them to pray in the Cathedral. The Muslim campaign has been rejected on many occasions.

imageimageimageimage

image

Timageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

We had an hour or so to walk through the old alleys of Cordoba. Also I went a little bit farther and had lunch in the main Plaza with a friend from Japan. We had wine and paella.

image image image imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

 

The the next two weekends and next week I will be traveling with my good friend from Atlanta, Elisa. Will surely do Madrid and Barcelona but will try to surprise you with the three extra days that we have and have not decided what to do with them yet!! Total of seven weeks left in Spain. It is going to be a bittersweet moment when I embark on that plane. I love it here, but miss everyone so much at home!!

Another visit at Plaza de Espana!

The school offers weekly visit at different historic sites of the city. This week it was the Plaza and the views at night were awesome. I spoke about the plaza before. Adjacent to it is the Parque de Maria Luisa. Again it was built in 1929 for the international fair, the Exposition Iberoamericana. What I learned about it is all around the half circle at the base of the building are benches that represent every region of Espana. There are fifty of them and at each area, there is a bench, and tile work that is representative of a special event in history regarding that province. Also there are shelves on each side of the bench where people would leave books to read. Throughout the park you have the same idea where different gardens have been dedicated to a Spanish author and many bookcases made of ornated ceramics were the site where people would sit down in a nice afternoon, pick up a book and just read.

Here are more pictures of the Plaza and the park

image image image image image image image image