Blogs

No Way, Jose!

Hasta luego, Madrid! You'll always be in our fondest memories and we wish we could stay a little longer — especially since, after another week or so, we might have finally figured out how to adjust the lights in our hotel rooms (long story). Today we were off to Merida — founded by Augustus, the first Roman emperor. Merida is the home to various remains of the Empire, including a temple to the goddess Diana, a forum, a gladiatorial arena and an amphitheater, just to name a few. If Merida sounds slightly familiar to you, it may be because it's mentioned as the home of Maximus in the film "...

You say Toledo, and I say Toledo...

To-LEE-do! To-LAY-do! Let's call the whole thing off! Clearly, today's journey took us to the old capital of Spain, and sight of Christian, Jewish and Muslim cultures, Toledo. The city is famous for its metal craftsmanship (but try getting that sword souvenir through customs and TSA), marzipan candy and Manchego cheese. Located in Castile (La Mancha), signs of Cervantes and his literary hero Don Quixote and loyal Sancho are all around. What literary work is the world's most translated, second only to the Bible? The classic by Cervantes. Dream... The impossible dream... Our lovely and uber-...

El Culturo (Popular)

Ah, the culture of Madrid — today was a day filled with sights and sounds that only Madrid can offer. We began the day with a brief bus tour of the city, including a quick stop at the Plaza de Toros — Spain's premiere bullfighting arena. Think and say what you will about the bullfight, it is a spectacle deep in the marrow of Spain's culture and rich with religious symbolism. Our local guide described it as akin to opera — love it, hate it, tolerate it — it is what it is. No matter your opinion, it is difficult to not admire the beauty of the area that seats over 25,000. Some of us even...

Por que? Porque...

Por que (Why)? Porque (Because)... Por que are we heading to the train station? Porque we're hopping aboard the AVE for our stay in Spain's capital and largest city, Madrid. We enjoyed a very smooth and rapidamente trip through the Spanish countryside, making it from Barcelona to Madrid in just under three hours. Part of the ride took us through the plains of La Mancha , the land of Don Quixote, Sancho and Dulcinea . (No ferocious windmill sightings occurred.) Upon our arrival in Madrid, we took a quick walking tour of the city — stopping by the Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun), considered...

Magnificos!

What a magnificent day in busy (and still sunny!) Barcelona. Today, our group enjoyed some iconic sights and sounds of the city. We started off the day with a visit to a masterpiece by Gaudi —the stunning, yet still under construction, work of Catalan Modernism, La Sagrada Familia . Gaudi , sometimes called "God's architect," saw construction begin on the Church Of the Holy Family in 1882. When asked how he felt about knowing he would never see the finished work, Gaudi replied that it was not trouble since, "My client is in no hurry." Our tour guide, and Gaudi super-fan, Miguel asked that we...

Mucho Gusto

There are several Spanish cognates. For example... Restaurant? Restaurante ! Stupendous? Estupendo ! Mucho gusto... Much gust?? Nope. Mucho gusto means, basically, 'nice to meet you' ─ which is just how we feel about lovely Barcelona. Before we begin our tale of Catalonian life, let's take a moment to ask some key questions about the in-flight happenings: 1. Why is the plane featured in the safety video only half-full? 2. How do I book a seat on that flight? 3. Further, why are the folks in the safety video so calm about putting on their oxygen masks and blowing up their life vests? They seem...

Vamos a Empezar

Adios, Polar Vortex! Well, Notre Dame College, we are off on another Spring Break holiday─this time to Spain and Portugal. We are excited to land in warmer temperatures and plenty of sunshine─because , as you may have heard, the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain. We landed in Newark, N.J., after a truly quick and easy flight. It's already getting warmer, as we landed to a "balmy" 30 degrees. We settled in for our layover in the Young Travellers ' Club lounge ( Muchas gracias to our intrepid leader, Roz Scheer-McLeod , for not reserving us the OLD Travellers ' lounge!). Until our 6:30 p...

France Trip Photos 2013

Nearly 30 faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Notre Dame College toured France over spring break 2013─nine days, three cities and the Provence and a slideshow of photos for Falcons back home: To read the trip blog, start at Day 1 .

What's French for "Pretzel?"

4 a.m.: Time to finish packing, check out of the Hotel de Flore and fly home. 5 a.m.: We're off to the airport to prepare for our first flight, from Nice to Frankfurt, Germany. 7 a.m.: So long, France! 9 "ish" a.m.: We arrive in the Frankfurt airport. There's nothing quite like flying German, and here are a few reasons why: Probably the only time one can hear a German flight attendant snap, "Whoever has the daughter─child running in the aisleway . . . tell her to SIT DOWN!" In the true spirit of German austerity, all public restrooms appear to have only one stall. One. Stall. A soft pretzel...

Le Dernier Diner

Happy Women's Day! That's right, March 8 is the celebration of Women's Day here in France, and elsewhere in Europe; they typically celebrate by giving women of every age a bouquet of blossoms from the lovely and vibrantly yellow mimosa trees. (Personally, I prefer a mimosa of orange juice and some French bubbly, but thanks anyhow.) We began our day by learning what it takes to be "a Nose" at the famed Fragonard perfumery of Nice. Now, maybe you're thinking, 'Um, I have a nose. How tough could that be?' Well, tougher than you'd first think! Here's the skinny: An inherent ability to distinguish...

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