This isn’t a Spanish cultural thing, but I do feel the need to post about it. Last week I cooked for my Spanish host family. I made my Aunt Peggie’s famous homemade mac & cheese in memory of her. I definitely teared up more than once in the process, but luckily I had a good friend by my side (who is a much better cook than I am) to help me make it. It was a hit! Everyone was home and they all seemed to really like it! It was only my second time making the dish, but I must admit it came out really well. I look forward to making it again in the future and was really glad to have been able to share a New England classic.
Took a weekend trip to Córdoba and Mérida the other weekend with the group. Really cool places. Wish we could have stayed longer and done more exploring. First, here are some pictures from Córdoba. Lots are from the main attraction: La Mezquita, also know as the Great Mosque of Córdoba. This place was huge with some crazy architecture. It is divided into Christian and Muslim halves which was really cool to see. One of our professors, who was giving us a tour, pointed out the switch from one section to the other. The floor actually went up slightly from the muslim to christian half which she explained to represent the christian ideal of being above other religions and the idea of God being the highest of all. Very interesting stuff.
Then we have the beautiful Roman ruins found in Mérida. This place had some seriously cool stuff. The huge amphitheatre and roman theatre were actually all covered in earth and discovered accidentally when that land was used for farming if you can believe it. Imagine just digging in your field one day and discovering a whole roman amphitheatre dating back to 8BC!!
At the beginning of our Spring break, my program headed off to Valencia to see Las Fallas, a huge fire festival. And I mean HUGE. There are these sculptures big and small made primarily from wood and paper-mache and painted. Don’t worry, I will bombard you with photos.. But basically people work on these all year long for this week-long festival and on the last day, they burn them all! It’s insane. There are constant firecrackers in the streets used by both adults and children and more fireworks than I have ever seen. Fireworks are set off as shows as well as at each of the fallas before and while they are being burned. There are hundreds of them I think. They are made up of “ninots” which means puppets or dolls in Valenciana (subset of Catalan). So I met my dad and aunt in Valencia and we wandered around seeing it all. We also got to visit the aquarium, but I didn’t get many good pictures from there unfortunately.
Next we visited a paper factory that my dad does business with and I was able to see how paper is made from pulp. Pretty cool stuff. After that, we drove off for Barcelona. I really liked Barcelona. I liked it better than Valencia I think, but I don’t think I was really able to see the true Valencia with all that was going on. But anyway, Barcelona was big, but pleasant. We walked along La Rambla, a shop-filled road that runs through part of the city and down to the water. I really liked the waterfront as well. It was nice to walk around and see the plethora of boats docked down there. We visited the Sagrada Familia, a large Roman-Catholic church with a out-of-the-norm design by Antoni Gaudí. We also visited the Park Güell. It was quite the adventure to find it, but after lots of hills and confusion we came in the back entrance.