Salut tout le monde! Hope all is well with everyone and sorry for the late update, I've been a tad busy with classes and an amazing trip to Spain with my friend Iida. I'll start with Spain first, it was fabulous! We flew into Madrid first and met up with my best bud Fiona, who showed us a fun couple of days. We couchsurfed but they were very busy and we didn't have a lot of time for interation but they were very nice and cooked us a yummy dinner one night. So Madrid is gorgeous I have to say. I think it often gets passed over because of Barcelona but it's really a nice, huge city with lots to offer. We saw the Palace and all the beautiful Plazas, ate plenty of yummy jamon (ham, the spainards are crazy for it), churros and hot chocolate and walked a lot.
Fortunatley the weather was beautiful and Fiona informed me that Madrid has the more trees then London and Paris combined so we definitely explored all the big parks. My favorite was probably Parc Retiro, which was enormous and full of life, and just overall a great place to spend the afternoon.We also checked out Museum Prado which had a lot of famous Goya and other Spanish artists I can't remember their names now :D. It was nice having a spanish speaker with us a lot of the time, because even madrilenos (citizens of madrid) don't speak english that well. Sometimes it was a bit tough on the language front but for the most part we got by with miming :). Madrid is one of those cities that doesn't have a lot of tourists or big tourist attractions but it's very lively and just had a nice vibe.
After Madrid we headed to the infamous Barcelona where we arrived chez Miguel a Peruvian couchsurfer. Again couchsurfing on this trip wasn't too fantastic, we were there during the week most of the time, so they were busy working but still very kind and had some intersting conversations all the same. Barcelona is fantastic, I loved it a lot, we started the first day at Las Ramblas, the main street in the city filled with somewhat obnoxious mimes, and a great market, La Boqueria, where we got some fresh fruit and fruit juice. I think we were able to hit up all the Gaudi architecture in center of town and it sure is cool! Spain has pretty crazy architecture, in Madrid too, every building almost is from a different era, with a different style. Nothing like France where it's all pretty much the same. We visited an architecture museum, Poble Espanyol, which was just a big outdoor city with all the architecture from each region. It was pretty interesting, and I hope one day I can return and check out more of the little towns in Spain.Anyways back to Gaudi, we decided to pay the 13 euros to enter into his Casa Batillo and it was pretty awesome. They say there are no straight lines in his architecture and I believe it now. We were told that on the facade of the building he didn't have any plans for the builders, just drawings so basically he was just shouting out orders until it looked right to him. Pretty crazy guy. We also visited Parc Guell, which was also quite magical and beautiful, all the mosaics are so gorgeous and the park offered great views of Barcelona.
Finally we visited Sagra Familia the crazy church but decided it wasn't worth it to go in since they're still building it. Iida and I also met up with my Bordeaux friend Emily and her friend and it was nice to have some new faces with us and we enjoyed delicious paella together. Barcelona is definitely one of those must visit places, it's just soo culturally rich and a beautiful place. I wanna go back ASAP :).
Well Spain was wonderful and I've now decided I must start learning Spanish, but before that gotta get through these business courses. The week we got back was "core courses" as they call them and I'm only taking one so it was a pretty relaxed week, but now for 2 weeks we have our majors, which is 8h30-16h45 (with a lunch break) for two weeks straight everyday. It's really exhausting and I'm getting a little discouraged, but I'm trying to keep in touch with my professors and asking for extra books, problems, whatever they can give me. I hope it all works out but right now it's just a little ridiculous, and finance overload!
Well that's about it for me, I went skiing again last week and I seem to be improving little by little but we'll see if I'll have the time or money to go again, need to start getting serious about these business courses. Irene, my highschool friend at UW is coming end of March and we're gonna head off to Rennes for a couple of days and see Mont Saint Michel so that should be a nice break from the maddness right now. For more pictures check out my picasa account, http://picasaweb.google.com/stephlach I've got loads on there. Ok until next time!