Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Castles and Cultures

Sorry I haven't posted in a while! I haven't done any major travelling lately, but that isn't to say that I've been idle.

The weekend before last, I decided to take myself to Olite, a small town in Navarra that has an awesome, restored medieval castle. I didn't have plans that Saturday and I'd been wanted to go there, so why not? I decided to live it up while I could.

When people asked me who I went with I responded, "myself!" You may think it was lonely to travel alone, but it wasn't at all. Maybe it's because I'm an introvert or possibly because it was only a day trip, I just had a ball wandering around Olite and seeing the castle. Since I was alone, I was able to go through the castle at my own pace and take my time. I bought an
audioguide and listened to every stop.

Sidenote: I was really surprised at how cheap everything was. The bus ticket was about 6 euros round trip and it was 40 minutes each way. Then, I was able to use my European Youth Card to get into the castle at a discounted price (even thought it was already a low price anyway). I even paid to go into a cathedral next door. I also bought coffee while waiting for my bus back to Pamplona. With all that, I think I didn't even pay 15 euros that whole trip.

Furthermore, I comminicated that whole day in Spanish. Normally when I travel with other people, we talk English with each other. Here, I did everything in Spanish. I even got my audioguide in Spanish, which I think really impressed the ladies working at the counter.

The castle used to house the kings and queens of Navarra. In the 1900s, they decided to restore it. It was neat to see the mix of the old and new stone. The new stone matched the old perfectly, but you could tell it was new. 

I finished touring the castle and then ate the lunch Carmen packed for me. I walked around the town some more, but it was siesta time by then which means everything shuts down. I decided that was time to head to Pamplona.
Olite was probably my most interesting weekend excursion in a while. The other days, I've just walked around Pamplona and enjoyed the outdoors, i.e. the absence of rain.

Carmen did take me to this really neat outdoor flower shop that had a little of everything. Certainly much cooler than Lowe's or Home Depot. On our way there, we came across a medieval fair that was made more legit by the castle themed hotel that it was located around. (The pictures will be later on in the blog, because I don't really have much more to say about it).

I'm done with my classes now. I had my last class the previous Tuesday and my exams started on Thursday. May 1st is the Spanish version of Labor Day and so it was a holiday for everyone. I spent the day at an afternoon tea at my friend Debby's apartment.

As I've hung out with Europeans, I've noticed how hard it is for them to keep up with the different types of English. That day, Debby, who is German, spent the day with me, an American, and a few Australians and British people. It's hard enough for us to sort out the differences, so I have the upmost respect for them sorting out the differences.

I learned a few things myself from the British. The most mindblowing of them was that the letter "Z," in anywhere but the United States, is actually called "Zed." Crazy, huh? If we just said "Zed" we wouldn't have to say "Z as in Zebra." Joking. But still, the random differences are so funny. Oh, Noah Webster and your Americanizing our English. 

I've also become more aware of the American stereotypes. All of Europe watches our movies and TV shows. Almost to the point that it's annoying, because I want to watch their TV shows and movies and they all tell me that theirs are not good. However, their idea of America comes from the TV and media. We all know that our media is a bit nuts, but do they know that? I've been able to see the stereotypes of Americans that Europeans have. It's not pretty. They all think we're fat, stupid, and go around shooting people.

Sometimes, I just want to say, "If you think we're so dumb, stop watching our TV and whatnot!" However, of course, it's not that simple. We do get all up in everyone's business sometimes and so I understand that's it's hard not to have a love/hate relationship with us. It has made me very uncomfortable sometimes.

Anyway, you probably don't want to hear about all that. I'm going home exactly two weeks from now! It's crazy how time flies. I don't want to leave, but I'm also excited to get home and be back in my comfort zone.

I've absolutely loved living with Carmen and her daughter, but living with a family also has it's downsides. For instance, today, I had to go to the library when she was leaving to go get her car fixed. She just won't leave the house for a long period of time with deadlocking it. I miss being able to come and go as I please. Also, it can be a pain having to be home for dinner at 9:00. It would be fine if it were 6:00 and then I could go back out, but after eating at 9:00, I never want to leave to meet back up with my friends. Especially since I have to shower before 11:00 because we live in an apartment building. It's hard to change 20 years of lifestyle and eating habits, after all.

So while living in Spain has been the experience of a lifetime, I thought I'd share a bit of the downsides. In a few years, however, I probably won't even remember them.

My next blog post will either be posted from home or right after my trip to Andalucia. We'll see how much of a writing mood I'm in. I've also yet to write the one about the cruise ship. It's coming! I promise.

1 comment:

  1. Castles!!! So awesome. Glad you're still having a great time. And I'm so excited to see you in two weeks!!!