The week after Morocco wasn't very eventful. Went to tapas with my civilization class at the oldest tapas bar in Seville. The food was delicious. On Friday, Nov 19, Harry Potter came out, but unfortunately the VO theater (original version theater) isn't playing it, but I decided to go see it with my intercambio in Spanish anyways haha. It's a good thing I know the books so well, or I might've been a bit lost, and when dubbed Ron has the voice of a forty year old man. I also visited the Bellas Artes Museum that's in Seville on Friday. Nothing too special, mostly religious artwork.
On Saturday my dad came to visit
. I met him at the airport at 5 pm. We walked around downtown for a bit. It was so nice seeing a familiar face for the first time in 3 months. We had dinner together then went to the Carboneria for a flamenco show. There was a different woman dancing this time and she was amazing! It was the best show that I've seen so far. On Sunday we were tourists and did lots of walking. We went to Plaza de Espana, Parque Maria Luisa (which apparently has flesh eating bats that only live there), the Archaeological Museum, and the Anthropological Museum. We stopped for some lunch at Cien Montaditos then went to the Maritime Museum in the Torre de Oro, walked across Triana Bridge and went to the Inquisition Museum. Then we headed back to the Cathedral and went through it and up the Giralda Tower. Walked the shopping streets some more then went to a delicious restaurant and tried some venison. By the end of the day it felt like we had walked over 5 miles and my feet were tired! On Monday afternoon we went to the Real Alcazar. There was some kind of art class going on in the garden which was really neat and made me want to paint again. We also saw the peacocks (or peafowl) that live in the gardens. We ate dinner at the same place as the night before (because the oldest tapas bar wasn't open yet and it was such a yummy place). We had to say goodbye that night because his flight was early in the morning. But my week was just starting as a couple hours later I went to the bus station and picked up Lacy who had just arrived from Egypt via Madrid
On Tuesday morning we just hung out and did a bunch of catching up. I had to go to my cinema class in the afternoon but we met back up in the evening and had paella for dinner. Sarah Harlan, Caroline Burch, and Sarah's friend Ellen who is studying in Barcelona all arrived on Wednesday. They went to the Alcazar during the day since I had classes all day long, but we had a big dinner together to celebrate Caroline's birthday (at the same restaurant that Daddy and I ate at two times). We had some jamon iberico (yummmmm) and some really good roasted goat cheese with honey. By now I'm exhausted, but I had another full day of tourism ahead of me :). Thursday was Thanksgiving, and even though we weren't with our families, it was so nice to have my friends here with me! Caroline, Lacy, and I went around the Cathedral and up the tower, went to Cien Montaditos for lunch, went to Plaza de Espana, Parque Maria Luisa (and soaked in the fall air), got some delicious frozen yogurt, and wondered around. As our Thanksgiving dinner we got tapas including the most exquisite Iberian ham I've had yet. I took them to the Carboneria as well so they could get the Flamenco experience as well. This show was just as good as the last because it was twice as long, and there were two women who danced. Lacy had to leave early Friday morning. She took the AVE (Spain's high speed train) back up to Madrid then flew back to Egypt
. The other's flight wasn't until the evening, so we did some more museum hopping. We went to Torre de Oro and the Inquisition Museum. Then we went around a couple of ceramic stores and had lunch in Triana. We stopped by El Corte Ingles (the everything store) and got some advent calendars then headed to the bus stop and said goodbye. It was so nice to see them all again and to have people visit. My feet are sore, but they will recover, and in less than a week I will be in Egypt!!!
The weekend was going to be devoted fully to writing two essays, but I only managed to get half of one done as it was Luis's birthday which means big family dinner. It was really neat getting to meet his whole family and experience a huge Spanish dinner. They were all so kind and I spoke a tiny bit of English with his niece who is 8 and learning it in school. On Sunday Ana's family came over to celebrate, but I had to work on my essay. Monday and Tuesday were devoted to finishing the first essay and writing a second one, then Wed afternoon I packed for Egypt!! I was worried I would have some problems getting there because I decided to travel to London first then fly from there to Cairo, and London just had a big snow, and Gatwick closed completely
. Fortunately I was flying into Stansted (where the passport official asked me where my parents were... then realized I'm 20 years old), took a bus to Heathrow, and my flight in the morning only left a little late because they had to put antifreeze on the wings. So I went from -1C to a nice 25C (about 30F to 60/70 F). When I got to Cairo I was sweltering because I had about 5 layers of shirts and jackets on plus tights, jeans, and two pairs of socks. Passport control went fine, got a visa from the bank window just before I went through, then had two security guards tell me I had a beautiful name... this was only the start of the flattering comments/verbal abuse from the men in Egypt. Lacy met me at the airport then we got a taxi to downtown Cairo. I met most of Lacy's friends and we got dinner from a cheap place (and when I say cheap I mean mine and Lacy's dinner was less than $4 together). I tried koshri, which has chick peas, lentils, two kinds of pasta, rice, and a tomato sauce, and shwarma, which is a roasted kabob chicken meat sandwich and is delicious. After dinner we went to a sheesha patio and I had some really good mint tea with whole mint leaves in it. After one day in Egypt my Arabic vocabulary has increased in leaps and bounds... here is what I learned: Aywa- yes; La (la'a)- no; Fill mish mish- in your dreams; Inshalla- god willing; mumkin- maybe; shwaya- a little; and shakran- thank you.
On Friday morning we took a train up to Alexandria
. Alexandria is right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. We dropped our stuff off at the hostel then went to the new Alexandria Library. Alexandria used to be famous for its great library way back when in the ancient times, but it was burned down in 48 BC during the Roman conquest. Today it has a very modern architectural design which allows for natural light without damage to their vast book collection. It's definitely one of the coolest/biggest libraries I've been in. While in Alexandria I tried tahini/tahina (yum), falafel (yum!), lemonade that is blended with a bit of mint to take away the sourness, and some fresh fruit juices including pure pomegranate juice, banana milk, guava juice, and pure kiwi juice, all of which were delicious. On Saturday we visited everywhere. The neat thing about Alexandria is that you can easily see its Roman history mixed with its Egyptian history. The first place we went to was Pompey's Pillar. It is the largest free standing pillar from Roman Egypt and is guarded by two sphinxes. Next we went to the catacombs. I couldn't get any pictures here since it was prohibited (and they took up our cameras), but I saw some ancient painted hieroglyphs and the catacombs (underground multiplex tombs) that were built during the Roman time and have a mix of Egyptian, Roman, and Greek influences. The bottom levels were flooded so we couldn't go all the way down. Next we went to the Alexandria Museum. It had artifacts/art from the Greco-Roman times, Pharonic times (my favorite part which included many hieroglyphs and a mummy), Ottoman Empire, Islamic era (modern day), and Coptic art (a Christian group native to Egypt)
. Again unfortunately no pictures. Lastly we went to the Citadel of Qaitbay, which is a fortress right on the Mediterranean. The view was beautiful and the weather was perfect. In the afternoon we headed back to Cairo (Lacy has class on Sunday's, so we couldn't stay for another day). We met up with Lacy's friends in the evening before going to the AUC (American University in Cairo) campus, which is smack in the middle of the desert.
On Sunday Lacy and I went to Cairo once she got out of classes. I met her Egyptian friends Yasmine and Abdul who were both really nice. While in Egypt Lacy has been teaching an English class to refugees. I got to meet her class which has people from all over including Thailand, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Sudan. It was their final day, so we had a mini party. We also visited the party of a lower level class, where I met someone who was from Darfur. On Monday Lacy had some classes again, but not as many. We group skyped with some people back at PC and wished them good luck on all of their finals. In the evening we went back to Cairo (I say this because AUC is in New Cairo which is in the desert, an hour outside of Cairo). We were going to see if Harry Potter was playing in English, but no theaters were playing it, so we decided to have a nice dinner at the sit down Felfela (has the same name as the Felfela I went to on my first day, but this one is way fancier). I tried a lot of delicous dishes which included stuffed grape leaves, babaganough (tahini with eggplant), tamia with eggs (similar to falafel), kofta and kaboab (lamb meat sausages and cubed lamb... not my favorite), hibiscus juice (amazing), and um ali (a delicious dessert of pastry, warm sweet milk, and nuts).
Tuesday was our big day in Cairo since Lacy doesn't have classes on Tuesdays
. We got up early and went to the Pyramids of Giza. As the taxi pulled up, many locals try to stop the car to get you to ride their horse up the hill, but our driver about ran them over as he sped past them. The pyramids are huge! So different and seem much bigger than the ones at Teotihuacan because they're pointier, although the Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest in the world, and the Great Pyramid of Giza is the second largest by volume (according to Wiki). There are 3 big pyrmaids and six smaller pyramids in Giza. We walked to the plateau where you can view the three main pyramids all together. After taking many photos, we took a camel ride down past all of the pyramids over to the Great Sphinx, which was soo amazing to see. I still can't believe I have seen something that was built over 4,500 years ago! In the afternoon we went to a market and got a few souvenirs. On the cab ride back to Zamalek, the island that is in the middle of the Nile, where some of Lacy's friends live, the driver asked Cassidy (Lacy's friend) if she would be his fourth wife... well T.I.E. (This Is Egypt) for you.
Wednesday morning I flew back to London. I watched Inception and Letters to Juliette on the plane. Inception was really good, but I'm not sure what to think of the ending. Once in London I navigated the tubes and London Victoria train station, and made my way to Portsmouth where my cousin, Amy, lives
. I spent the night with her and we did a lot of catching up since we haven't seen each other in over four years. We had fish and chips for dinner then went to a pub for some warmth to chat. (for the family while I was briefly in England I tried Turkey and Stuffing flavoured Walkers crisps ;) ). The next day I took a train to Gatwick airport. Gatwick has definitely been one of the pickiest for security (especially with liquid restrictions), but once past security it was my favorite airport... it's clean, there are plenty of stores to look around, and the bathrooms are all automatic haha. I got back to Seville around 8 pm. Now I have the joy of essays and finals to look foward to during my last week.
From everything I've seen this year, pyramids top the list. The ones in Mexico and the ones at Giza are so amazing and should be on everyone's list of things to see. Now I just have to go to southern Mexico to see the Mayan Pyramids.
There will be one more post after this which will be written once I am back in Atlanta. I would really like to know who has been reading/following/looking at the blog. It would be great if you could just leave a short comment. I really appreciate everyone who has read this blog... it makes writing it all up worthwhile. Hope you have enjoyed all the pictures and experiences- I know I have! See you soon,
So two part blog entry- around Seville with visitors and Egypt.... aka lots of reading.