Thursday, December 16, 2010

Let's get down to business

So that's kinda been my motto these days, getting down to business.  Except, it's reeeeeeeaally hard to sit down and do homework in Spain.  It's like a disease.  Basically the only reason I'm blogging instead of worrying about essays is because I'm halfway done with my 8 page paper and I finished a 4 pager last night. WHOMP IT!

Wowza, the last thing I updated ya'll on was Valencia.  Round two for getting down to business... it's time to catch you guys up on everything!

First things first: Manchester!  Brent and I went to jolly old England town and we had ourselves some good fun.  We visited my friend Matt (he used to live in the Tri-Cities) and he showed us around Warrington as well as Manchester.  Also, he taught us many British slang terms.  I'll cram as many of those bad boys in here as possible.

We embarked on our journey on Thanksgiving (Happy late Thanksgiving everyone), and to our delight we ate fish and chips for dinner! Let me specify: we ate authentic fish and chips, gravy, and mushy peas from a "chippy" that Matt's grandfather has been going to since it opened when he was a kiddo.  Then we went out to the London Bridge, a pub near Matt's.  It was so cozy and great!  I was ecstatic.

The next night we headed over to Manchester to check out the Christmas markets.  It was the debut of my new winter jacket I bought earlier that day.  What an ace purchase, goodness that thing is lovely/great.  Then I bought gingerbread!  Which was excellent because I'd eat a few bites, put it back in my purse, and rediscover it a few hours later.  Mmmmmmm.  We also went out with a load of Matt's friends, all of whom were sweethearts.  Pub crawling at it's finest!

the big ol' clock in Manchester.

What a cute pub! It was so crowded and jolly inside.

Here's a shot of the wheel and some markets.  It's things like this that remind me it's Christmastime!

My entourage for the weekend.  You're jealous! (and mulled wine)

Documentation of freezing-ness and yummy-ness.

The next day we went to Chester, which has a pretty awesome Roman wall that goes throughout the city.  It was slippery.  We scooted around there like a couple of champs for a while, then went back to Matt's and ate Indian food.  Ohhhhh we'd been looking forward to that.  Also, early that day we ate meat and potato pies.  I was very satisfied with our British food circuit.

Chester!  I like this one.

We had such a great time!  I can't thank Matt enough for showing us around.  It was a sound trip, for sure.  OH!! And then before our flight on Sunday we caught the matinĂ©e showing of Harry Potter!  Really, realllly good movie.  I cried.  Twice.

The next day Brent had to go home.  It's hard to be sad because we had such so many incredible adventures, but I was maybe a teeny bummed to see him go.  I would justify the situation by saying I've only got a month and a half til I go home--but we don't discuss these things yet!  I'm not ready to leave Spain!!

Next adventure... let's see.  Aix en Provence!  My first solo trip in Europe, and boy was I excited.  I think I nearly peed when I bought the tickets.  And how did it turn out?  Great!  Which just adds to my collection of "I'm capable of anything!" revelations.  That's pretty exciting.  Woohoo!!

Oh yeah, so Aix was cool!  It's a lot like Murcia; small town, lots of students, walking distance from just about everything.  I went to visit my friend Ben Jones, a fellow comm major, and he's studying there for the year.  My first request in France?  Crepes!  Man, those things are legit.  I met his friends, luckily most all of them spoke English, and they took me to a Christmas party put on by their institute.  Before hand, Ben and I made 24 eggs worth of eggnog. IT WAS SO YUMMY!  Exactly what I needed at the time, because believe it or not Christmastime doesn't feel so Christmas-y when you aren't with your family.  So, the eggnog and the festivities really hit the spot :)  Ben informed me that he and 2 of his friends were going to be performing a few Christmas carols in English and French at the party, and so I was obliged to join.  It was pretty silly, given that A) I don't attend that school and B) I don't know French at all.  But the other students clapped and it was all just a really fun time.

Other than that we just hung out all weekend, and I soaked up the opportunity to explore a new culture.  Let's just say I uttered the words "Merci, au revoir" a gazillion times!

Yes, I ate there twice.

Angela, Vlad and some part of Corbin's face.

An excellent photo of Mr. Ben Jones wearing my new scarf-like thing.
Thanks Ben for having me over and showing me France :)

I suppose you're all up to date now.  The only thing left to mention is Christmas.  I miss home!  I miss my family, my friends and all the traditions we have.  I miss getting out the Christmas tree ornament box and digging around for my favorite ones.  I miss sitting on the ground to wrap presents and having kitty come lay down on the wrapping paper.  I miss making spritz cookies, and decorating sugar cookies, then eating nearly half of them within 5 hours after baking them.  I miss having to tell Jack and Sydney (& Bo) to not eat the wrapping paper, and tying ribbons around their necks.  I miss Kayte and I having the hardest time brainstorming gift ideas for my dad.  I miss my mom putting on the Froggy Christmas cd for the first time, and laughing our butts off about it.  I miss singing the entire Frank Sinatra Christmas album while decorating the house, and being so excited when I hear Tyler singing along.

The truth is, Christmas is hardly Christmas without family.  Which makes me happy that I'll be touring Europe with my aunt Kerri in a week's time!!  But truly, for a good chunk of time there I'd cry every time I heard "I'll be Home for Christmas," (which was often because I've been playing Christmas music a ton these days).  Just know I miss you all and I wish so so badly I could be there to celebrate and be merry with you all.

My flatmate Annalisa decided we should decorate, so we did.  We're so lucky; our apartment came with a Christmas tree!  Here's a few photos from that evening.

Merry Christmas to everyone!  I'll be thinking of you all so much during my trip.  Love you!!