Monday, March 23, 2009

Nos lo pasamos bien

Valencia is where I spent the weekend, enjoying the nice semi-warm weather and Spanish culture. Unfortunately Las Fallas, which is a fiesta where they burn large paper-maiche (spelling?) objects criticizing or reflecting the events of the past year, ended on Thursday and we arrived on Friday afternoon. However, that did not stop us from having a good time. We spent time walking around the city doing the normal toursity stuff while trying to act like a true Spainard - climbing the tower of the Cathedral, eating tapas and drinking tinto de verano (red wine with lemon soda), seeing the complex of the arts and sciences, and of course shopping. We ate true Valencian paella, its birthplace is Valencia, which had chicken, rabbit, and vegetables, and drank a famous local drink called horchata which is made from earth almonds and has a milky texture - very good and refreshing. We spent some time walking along the beach and enjoyed the Mediterranean Sea - although the water was a little too cold me! Overall it was a very relaxing weekend and one and a half days is the perfect amount of time to enjoy all Valencia has to offer.

On a side note, if I have a lot of spelling errors, I apologize. I can no longer spell in English, as I get confused with endings - tion, -sion, etc.., the order of letters, and words in general. I hope that means my Spanish is that much better, but I'm not so sure about that! Until next time, enjoy this picture of the Mediterranean Sea!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Long Overdue!

Well this post is extremely overdue - I haven't even updated since my trip to Barcelona, so I guess I'll start there.

Nina and I took the overnight train from Sevilla to Barca which was a 10 hour journey, but luckily for most off it we were sleeping - I say most of it because we would suddenly come to a stop to let people off, and it was burning hot in our cabin with many pressure changes, but I really enjoyed being able to take the train. We arrived in Barca on a Friday morning about 8:00 - the city was dead. I can honestly say if I had arrived at any other time I don't think I would have liked the city as much because without many people on the streets it gave us a chance to oriente ourselves and figure out a game plan. We spent the next 3 days doing all of the touristy things - we bought a bus pass that dropped us off and picked us back up which was really convient. We packed things in during the 3 days - we were out of the hotel by 8:45Am each day, which I say is pretty good for 4 girls (we had 2 other friends meet us later on Friday). I also got to experience my first futbol game - which was held in the Olympic Stadium from 1992. That was really neat.

I can probably say the biggest difference between Barcelona and Sevilla is the pace of life. In Sevilla when I'm walking, I'm doing the passing, but in Barca people were passing me right and left. Obviously the size is a given difference, but it is very manageable. Something that was very surprising to me was the amount of English spoken. I do not think I spoke Spanish to anyone - workers and people on the street would see us speaking English and immediately start themselves, no matter even if we tried to continue to speak in Spanish. The difference between Catalan and Spanish doesn't seem to be as hard as I thought it would be- I understood almost all of the Catalan words based on my Spanish knowledge, so long as I knew the Spanish equivalent!

I really enjoyed being able to see Antoni Gaudi's work in Barcelona - who knew one man could have such influence on one city. The Sagrada Familia is spectacular along with Casa Mila, Casa Battlo, and Park Guell. I think I have found a new favorite artist.

Nina and I took the train back to Sevilla on Sunday night and arrived in time on Monday morning to attend class (don't worry, I am still going to class!). :) It was a great way to spend a weekend. I never thought I would ever actually make it to Barcelona, but being able to explore the city made one of my dreams come true!

These are just a few of the over 500 pictures I took! The top one explains my excitement for the incredible country I am in; the middle one is of the Sagrada Familia and shows the construction; and to the right I'm reppin' the C-L-E! Go Tigers! :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009


There are obviously many differences and similiarities between the McDonalds in the US and here in Spain. The first difference that I noticed right away was that the McDonalds here don't have play yards. For me, that's the best part of any McDonalds - the youth of Spain don't know what they're missing without a play yard! Also, the McDonalds here are more than one story - usually 3 or 4. The only multi-story McDonalds I know of is in Columbia, SC and to me it's a rare find. Also, the McDonalds here sell beer with the food - with some of the combos you can either get a soda or a beer as the drink of choice and most people here choose the beer. Another difference is that you won't find McDonalds while driving on the autovia - they are only located in the cities which is almost a complete contrast to the US. Although there are obviously McDonalds in cities, a lot can be found when driving down the interstate. The McDonalds here are not open for breakfast because a hearty breakfast is not very important here - toast does the job.

What about the quality of the food? Well I'm not the best person to assess this question because I only eat McFlurries from McDonalds, but I can tell you that the McFlurries are a little bit different. For instance the toppings are different - here they have something called conguitos that are like little white chocolate chips that seem to be a favorite and then the other flavor is oreo (I think). I only had a bite of a friend's McFlurry because I told myself I wasn't going to eat in any American chain restuarants while being abroad, and as far as I could tell it was the same execpt for the toppings.

I'm not going to lie about the main similiarity. Both McDonalds in the USA and here seem to be sticky. I don't know - I still had the gross feeling leaving the one in Sevilla that I do everytime I leave on in the US. I feel like they need a good scrubbing.

After having reviewed the website for McDonalds in the USA I can honestly say I did not realize they had so many products to choose from. I looked at the nutrition content of some of their menu items and had a hard time choosing what to choose (I hope that makes sense!) because there were so many options. Also I feel like they make all of their products look really fresh and healthy - granted I truly have not eaten a burger or sandwich from McDonalds in a super long time, but I seriously doubt it's as fresh as it looked on the website.

I feel like the websites for both countries are very comparable - both have nutritional information, a restaurant locator, employment information. The USA website has more of an emphasis on community activities and partnership which to me show what some of our priorities in the US are. If it wasn't important to the American public then I don't think McDonalds would have taken the time to post it on their website. There are a lot more graphics on the Spanish website which make it a little hard to navigate, in my opinion.

One thing that I find very interesting is that almost all children here have their birthday parties at McDonalds, which I find very strange especially since there isn't even a playground for them. I'm living with a family with 3 children and every party they have been invited to has been either at McDonalds or Burger King. The father said that they won't have their parties there because all of them are the same and boring - he says the parties are there because they are cheap. The children in the house don't eat McDonalds because they don't like it which makes it a lot easier on the mom because they aren't always wanting to eat there.

After this post all I want is an American hamburger!! :)