Hiking, Brussels & Paris

Four days back in Granada did not include much but homework, a few runs, and a hike before it was time to get on a plane again! Today I went for a slow 4 mile run, made coffee, and got ready to write this long post. My posts will probably be a bit shorter now because I won’t be traveling for a few weekends, or I will start writing 2 per week. I’m excited to spend more in Spain and put off traveling far for a little while!

We went hiking on Tuesday after a quick 3 mile run, and I was just following Kayla and Ashley because they had some idea of where the trails were and where they finished. Our last hike was a bit of a let-down, but this one turned out to be much, much better! We started off on Paseo de los Tristes again, and took the walk way like last time, but we turned upward on the trail MUCH earlier. It was a steep hike but I loved it because we felt sore afterwards, and the views were amazing! That’s what I love about hiking, you get a reward at the top for all of your effort. Eventually we needed to cross over a stream, only Alicia and I got our shoes wet, somehow the others stayed completely dry.

img_2364There was a clear path for quite a while after that, but we lost it after about half a mile.

img_2360We couldn’t see the path, but we could see the lookout point, so instead of following a path we went straight up the mountain to the lookout. It was super steep, and Kayla ran up most of it while the rest of us lagged behind her.


On the way down the path was so orange, it looked like we had left Andalusia completely!img_2367img_2366

And we were still getting some views pretty much the whole way down. It ended up being a 6 mile hike!img_2365

On Wednesday I was going to do a long run again, but I felt like I was done after 7 miles. It’s not like I’m training for anything, so I figured 7 was enough for the day. Anyways, I had a lot to do later on! I needed to print everything I would need for my trip in Brussels and Paris and get everything organized, teach an English class, grab something to eat, and then go to tapas for an intercambio! I was exhausted by the end of the night, but I have gotten used to the idea that I am going to be tired a lot this semester. There is a lot less homework, but there is so much to do. Sometimes it can be difficult because I don’t want to miss out on a single thing, with all that is going on, it’s easy to forget that you need to put aside time to just relax too!

After classes on Thursday and a rushed lunch we left to stay the night in an airbnb in Malaga. Since our flight on Friday was so early, we couldn’t manage to leave from Granada on Friday morning. In fact, we had to leave from the airbnb in Malaga at 5am! The night before I ate a sandwich our host mom had packed for us while some people got Chinese food. On our way to pick it up, we saw the sea, I had not idea we would be that close. I want to come back when it gets warmer because it’s only an hour and a half away from Granada.


A 4:30am wake up was no fun, but our Airbnb host was really nice and offered to drive us all to the airport for an extra cheap price. I was able to pretty much sleep for the whole plane ride, and was quite rested when we arrived in Brussels, Belgium! We went to our next Airbnb to drop off our bags, and again the host was really friendly. She even bought us a bottle of champagne to have later on! She told us how to take the bus into the city, and we left in immediate search of waffles. We were really hungry so we ate at the first place we saw, a sit down waffle bar. I got a waffle with Nutella on it, and Belgian chocolate on the side for good measure. img_2471img_2422

It was amazing, but the style there is for waffles to be crispy, while I like mine soft usually. Still, it was delicious and I’m glad I tried it! We were annoyed with ourselves when we left because we walked by a ton of waffle places for way cheaper than we got them for, we learned our lesson to look around for a good price before just buying whatever. For the rest of the trip, Camila and I vowed to keep our meals and a minimum cost. It’s nice when you have someone to hold you accountable!

After eating Camila and I walked around the Grand Place while the others stopped by a beer tasting at a little tour. The Grand Place was stunning, I took way too many photos and we walked to all the corners so we could see it from every angle. It was an open-air marketplace in the 10th century and was voted the most beautiful square in Europe in 2010!


We walked into so many Belgian chocolate shops and touristy shops (and got free samples at almost every single one).


When we all met up again we wanted to find the statue of Brussels that we had heard so much about! It’s called Manneken Pis, and finally we found a crowd of people trying to get pictures with it. I thought it was going to be this big grand statue, but it was seriously so small, and it was a little boy peeing! It’s only 24 inches tall but it is SO famous, I had to look it up when I got back because I was really confused. Apparently there are a lot of different legends about why it was made but it was created by Hieronimus Duquesnoy.img_2435img_2437

We weren’t sure where to go afterwards, so we stopped by an information booth to get a map of the city. The map that we got showed were all the cartoon murals were, which turned out to be a great way to explore! That kind of tour was called the Comic Book Route, and we saw all the best sights.15006338792_ff5fa17b78_bbrussels-comic-book-route-32

Once we got hungry again we got burgers and then went to a bar before going back to the Airbnb around 9/9:30. We weren’t sure what time the buses shut down so we decided to go back early, we were tired anyways because we had walked almost 10 miles!

On Saturday morning we left early to get the the bus station in Brussels- we were busing from Brussels to Paris! This was much harder than we expected. First of all, I don’t have even the smallest education in French, so the bus station was difficult to navigate. Even if the station did have English, it still would have been so confusing and disorganized. Running around trying to find the stop was hard and actually a bit scary! We passed by probably a quarter of a mile line of homeless people, covered in blankets and on top of one another. It was actually scary because I didn’t recognize that this mass of objects were people. Two of them were fighting very harshly and I was praying that our bus stop wasn’t next to them. I couldn’t look at this pile of people because it made me feel ill, it was really sad, and it was in addition to already being worried about missing the bus. I had never seen anything like this scene in my life, I felt so innocent, naive, and privileged. We had to exit the station and go across the street and down aways until the stop. There was absolutely no sign for the stop expect for a small sticker on a street pole that said “Eurolines.” While we were waiting there were drunk people behind us, kind of in the distance, but still too close for comfort to me. It was the worst bus stop I had ever seen, and I was more than happy to get on a stuffy bus for 4 hours, we all wanted to leave so badly, I was happy that I had people with me.


The bus stop exhausted me, so again I was able to sleep almost the whole way. We dropped our stuff off at Julia’s friend’s apartment. I was happy that we didn’t need to pay for any sleeping arrangements, with her friend it was completely free! We realized we hadn’t eaten all day and it was 4:30 in the evening. Camila and I were on a mission to spend less than 5 euros for each meal, and we were able to do so for lunch- at a sit-down restaurant no less!


I just got a ham and cheese sandwich, but it was filling so I was happy. There was Dijon mustard to put on, and not knowing that it was be SO SPICY, Camila and I put way too much on our sandwiches. It was crazy hot mustard, my eyes were watering and I could feel heat coming through my nose. Lesson learned, Dijon mustard is the real deal in Paris! We were able to scrape most of it off but Camila still needed to douse hers in ketchup to be able to eat it, we were laughing so hard at how much we put on because the waiter was amused by our watery eyes throughout the meal.img_2475

We took the metro and buses to go exploring! First stop was Notre Dame de Paris. It was incredible, and we learned so much because they had descriptions in Spanish and English for everything inside. A mass began once we were inside, but they don’t close for masses, people are still allowed inside! That doesn’t happen in Spain- there are no tours on Saturday nights or Sundays usually.

img_2478img_2480img_2481img_2485img_2487Second stop was the Pantheon, which wasn’t open it was still cool to see!


The sun was starting to set, so we headed to the Eiffel Tower because a lot of people had suggested to go at night instead of during the day.


The Tower was so beautiful lit up in yellowish orange light! There was intense security to get in near it (like everywhere else in Paris and Brussels). There is a restaurant on the top of it, and meals start at almost 90 euros, and that’s just for appetizers. img_2517img_2498img_2503

The Eiffel Tower sparkles for 5 minutes every hour, so we waited to see that before we went to the Arc de Triomphe! It is in the middle of a rotary, so I was wondering how were were going to get inside! I thought we might have to dart across somehow.


Other people are smarter and found a tunnel underneath the rotary that led up to it.img_2507

The sights from the top were perfect, you could see so far in each direction!img_2510img_2512

Everyone was exhausted by nighttime and we were asleep at midnight. We wanted to get up early to go to Versailles because it was about 45 minutes away by metro! We wanted to get there on the early side because we knew it would be packed.

We stopped at a bakery before getting on the metro, and I got a croissant type thing with creme and chocolate chips in the middle, I miss it already.

img_2518Aaaand yup the line was huge, we waited in line on Sunday morning for probably 45 minutes. It was a cold and cloudy morning but I actually didn’t mind waiting in line. I love hearing all the different languages that are brought to the major sights, and people watching is always fun. There was an Italian family in front of us and a French group behind us, so I was trying to pick out words they were saying.


We finally got inside, it was free and with free audio-guides! I like using guides a lot because without them I kind of just wander and have no idea what I’m looking at. But with them I can imagine what people used to do in each room, and it paces you around the Palace.


The Hall of Mirrors was my favorite part!img_2534

Eventually the guide led us outside to the gardens that went on for what seemed like forever. We didn’t walk all the way to the end because it was freezing cold! img_2551img_2553img_2580img_2533img_2531

We grabbed quick sandwiches at a stand so that we would have plenty of time at the Louvre.


We waited in line there too for a while, and then we all picked a place to meet up when they closed (at 6) because we were all going to wander in random directions.


First we all wanted to see the Mona Lisa together! There were guards on both sides and bullet proof glass, it was intense.


Then I went through French paintings, Italian paintings, and French sculptures. Time flew by before we met up to get out coats and leave.


The Louvre is enormous, it would take weeks or maybe months to see everything inside.

It was our last night in Paris so we went to the Latin Quarter, and I got a martini while the others tried Crème brûlée. Places weren’t open late since it was Sunday, so we got back around 12:45 and fell asleep.


Monday was a travel day, but we had a little time in the morning to grab some coffee. I got a very strong espresso and was ready for the day. Julia got a Nutella crepe that I was really jealous of. The place was quiet and empty, but I was glad because we were all so tired.


One flight and a hour ride back to Granada, we were able to catch the sunset- I missed Spain so much! I loved France and Belgium, but I missed the warmer weather, the people, and the language in Spain a lot.


The best part about seeing all that we did in Paris was that it was absolutely free to get in if you were a student, everywhere! We needed to show our University of Granada card and our visa, and we were all set. It was so helpful because if it wasn’t free, we would have spent so much money on that part. Instead we were able to save money and still see a lot.

This trip I learned so much, and I was surprised that most of it happened at the bus station in Brussels. I’m not even sure if that would be considered culture shock, but I hadn’t felt that uncomfortable or out of place until then. I think we managed it pretty well and kept moving forward!

Somehow I gained more confidence in my travels and Spanish after struggling to make my way through French-speaking countries. The comparison of the different languages showed me how much I actually do know in Spanish. I missed it so much and I was excited to speak to my host mom in Spanish when I got back.


Valentine’s Day, Route of the Sun & London

This is going to be a doozy of a post, so get comfortable and grab some coffee or a snack! I’m going to throw it all the way back to Tuesday to begin:

Valentine’s Day was last week, and there were decorations and flowers everywhere! We asked our professor how the holiday is usually celebrated in Spain, and she told us it’s pretty much the exact same as in the United States– very Hallmark-y. Still, I liked seeing tons of flowers being sold around the city and all the cute couples being romantic.img_2087

I found peanut butter in a store!! Finally, it does exist! But I probably won’t buy it because it is ridiculously expensive here, also crunchy peanut butter isn’t really my thing. I’m really getting used to a peanut-butterless life 😦img_2089

I dressed for the occasion on my 4.1 mile run:img_2092

Afterwards, I set out for a 3 mile walk to explore streets I hadn’t been down yet! The graffiti is really cool and seems much more thought-out than most of what I see in the United States. Also, graffiti is more embraced on the city walls, rather than being constantly painted over. People call the graffiti in Granada the “back street art galleries.” img_2098img_2099img_2100img_2102

We celebrated Valentine’s Day in my apartment with some girls from the program, we watched a movie and drank champagne 🙂

On Wednesday I woke up early for class, and did my long run afterwards! I ran 10 miles because I didn’t know how much I would be able to run in London. Plus, I like when my legs are tired for the plane ride, then I don’t feel so restless. I knew Wednesday would be almost 70 degrees, so I wanted to be outside for a lot of the day. I even got some tan lines!

This was my view around mile 7, I felt weird because I was running behind that guy for so long, but I wasn’t going fast enough to pass him- he was the perfect pacer for the end of my run without even knowing it- thanks mister!


On the way back, I passed by a lot of stands selling biking jerseys, hats, socks, pants, you name it.img_2117

It looked like a race of some kind?img_2140

Oh a BIKE race, it took me a little while but I figured it out 😉img_2139

After I finished my run I wanted more time outside in the beautiful weather! I had an hour to kill so I read outside by the river. If you can call it that, there isn’t much water in it right now 😦img_2137img_2136img_2135

At tutoring on Wednesday only one student came, which was a little disappointing because we had planned a whole jeopardy game, but we can always use it another week 🙂 Instead, we played hangman and learned expressions! Our student asked what it means to be “cheesy” because she heard someone say it on Valentine’s Day. She knew it couldn’t be right that someone was covered in cheese, so we got that all sorted out 🙂 I told her that I heard someone say that someone “tiene pelos en la lengua” which translated literally means that someone “has hairs on their tongue.” Apparently it means that they say whatever they want without thinking, like “not having a filter.” Expressions are fun to learn, but it is difficult when trying to learn a new language, you take everything so literally! Tangent over- moving on.

By the time I got out, Ian had responded to my pictures of the bike race set-up saying that it was La Vuelta a Andalucía, a one-day race from Málaga to Granada and that I should definitely try to watch! I headed over around 4:15, having no idea what time the race started or would be finishing. There were tons of buses and intense-looking bike vehicles around.


I posted up on the side of the finish, there was a screen at the end, but it was far and I couldn’t see it very well… I texted my mom to ask her to look up when the race would be ending since I had no idea if it would be 3 hours or 20 minutes away.img_2153

But it looked like I was right on time, how lucky!img_2154

Then motorcycles started coming through honking their horns, it was almost time! I had only been there for about 25-30 minutes so I definitely lucked out with timing, and I got a good spot too! The guys all around me had biking gear on and shirts and signs so it was all very, very exciting.img_2161img_2159

Then the racers came through and were in front of me for what seemed like .00000000000000000001 seconds, they were FLYING. I couldn’t believe I just stumbled upon this on a random Wednesday, I felt so lucky. I was trying to watch and take it all in, so I had no idea what my photos looked like, but here you go!


It was really awesome to be there, and so close-up! I’m so glad Ian told me to go, even though I hadn’t known about it before, I looked up info on the racers when I got back so I could understand more about what I saw afterwards. I learned that:

  • The race is called La Vuelta a Andalucia, but also called “La Ruta del Sol, “Route of the Sun” in English.
  • It’s a 5 day stage race, and the stage that I saw the finish of was the first stage and 96.31 miles.
  • Alejandro Valverde, who is 36, famous in biking, and from Murcia won the stage.

I took pictures of them cooling down too, and then ran away because they were kind of intimidating and were probably wondering why this random American girl was taking a picture of them!


After a 10 mile run, tutoring, and standing at the bike race for almost an hour, I was more than ready to siesta and then get packing for London the next day! I watched Real Madrid vs. Napoli while I got my luggage all sorted.


Thursday morning I woke up early at 5:30 to get myself situated, we weren’t leaving for two hours but I like a LOT of time to prepare, I hate being late for anything- especially a trip.


We started off with an hour and a half bus ride to Málaga, which I didn’t mind because I love looking at the landscape.


Then we left the airport for a 2-hour flight, which felt like nothing!img_2200img_2204img_2208img_2346img_2206

We made it!img_2209First order of business was to see ELLA!! I haven’t seen her since she left studying abroad at UMass in December 0f 2015, oof. We got drinks while we waited for a seat to open up at supper. I missed Italian food and pasta with white sauce, chicken, and mushrooms hit the spot. Europe doesn’t do take-away leftovers, so I kind of felt like I needed to finish all of it. Bleh, I hate that feeling. img_2212

But I got over it as we were going out for drinks! We went to three or four different places and got way too many sugary drinks. I loved trying them all, but I definitely did not feel 100% in the morning. Luckily, I got to have a lot of sleep before coffee and the bus tour!


I honestly wasn’t crazy about the idea of a super touristy bus tour around London, but it actually was the best way to see a lot of the city. The fact is, London in HUGE. It has boroughs like New York, except there are about 30 of them- instead of 9, craziness.


We got off the bus to walk at times and then back on again. We were walking for the changing of the guards which was exciting!!


The palace lived up to everything I pictured it would be– so beautiful! But it was packed so we didn’t get very close.


This is our tour guide who was constantly making dad jokes and telling us off for not keeping up with him. We had him for two days on our tours!


We could see Big Ben in the background most of the time, but I learned that the tower is actually Elizabeth Tower, it is the bell that is named Ben.


We stopped at London Bridge towards the end. I’m surprised we had such nice weather, it was sunny and not too cold! It was shaping up to be an awesome weekend.


Clouds were rolling in though, but I still thought it looked so magnificent. It felt like a glamorized version of New York City.


After the tour some people stopped for gelato for the walk back, the place was so cute but I forget the name of it!


Katherine loving London exhibit A:

img_2270I wanted to try to run while I was there, but it proved to be very difficult. I ran 3.1 miles when I got back to the hotel, but I just ran around a little square for what felt like forever. The thing was, I couldn’t really run through the city because 1) I would probably get lost 2) I had to stop every 3 seconds for cross-walks, which is a huge annoyance of mine and 3) I kept looking the wrong way crossing the road and I knew I would make a deadly mistake if I went for it! So that was my only run of the weekend, I guess it was a good chance to practice not running every day. They had signs on some of the roads to help, Jessie said hundreds die by getting hit by the buses in London each year.


I met up with the Lizotte’s later for supper, it felt amazing to see faces from home! I got squash soup and a huge chunk of bread. Afterwards, I went back to Jessie’s place to see her apartment, meet her friends, and go to a club! I accidentally walked past the bouncer unnoticed and got in for free, oops but yay! Everyone else had to pay 10 pounds. Here’s a blurry picture we took!


I got back to the hotel around 1:30 and fell fast asleep.

Next up was the British Museum with that same tour guide! It was right next to our hotel so we just walked (and got to wake up later). I was super excited to see the Rosetta Stone!! I had to pretty much elbow people out of the way to get a good look at it and a picture of it. Isn’t it amazing how it is like the missing puzzle piece to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs? I wish we could of looked at it longer but we had to move on eventually.


He told us of the struggle it took to get this king statue to the museum, it is SO heavy and took a lot of man power. The smile on the statue is making fun of the people who though that moving him would be so easy, nope!img_2284

All the Greek statues had no heads because the Christians chopped them all off.img_2291img_2289

More ancient art!img_2295img_2296

After the museum I met up with Jessie and her family again! They were taking Christmas card pictures and I was more than happy to help.img_2301

Then we headed over to Baker Street to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. The line was long but very worth it. There were three floors filled with wax figures, books, photos, paintings, letters, and creaky floors. img_2305

After we left I took the tube back to hang out with people from my program. The tube in London is insanely easy to use! The man who designed it, Harry Beck, was an electric designer and designed the Underground to function like a circuit board. It was very easy to follow and I took it 6 or more times while we were there.img_2299

We went to supper at Mother Mash, so people could try the dish that was so raved about. I just stuck with a cheap green salad (had to make up for the money I spent on drinks with Ella). Everyone’s dishes looked like mashed potatoes with gravy and a slice of some kind of meat pie, I would love to try to make it at home! Side not- my brother rocks at making home-made chicken pot pie, so I’m sure I could recruit him for the job. We walked to the restaurant instead of taking the tube which ended up being a long walk, but it was nice to see the sights for our last night out.

Some people went out to the bars for a little while, but Ashley, Joo, Kayla, Camila, and I were down to go back to the hotel and hang out there. We talked on the way back about how we definitely chose the right city for us, because we were already missing Granada. Not only is Granada so much cheaper than London, but I missed the mix of city and nature. I also missed how relaxed it is in Spain, and I felt like I was losing all the Spanish I had gained!

The next day I had coffee and then we had until 2 to do stuff before departure! We chose to go to Camden with our remaining hours. If you’ve ever seen or read the Hunger Games, a lot of the people there reminded me a litttttle bit of the citizens in the Capital. They had piercings everywhere, different colored hair, so many tattoos their skin appeared to be a different color, and clothing I had never seen before. It was so cool, I felt like I had stepped outside of London and into a different world.

There were a ton of food stands, everything was so tempting!!


I stuck with a hot chocolate though, because it was cold and I was trying to be good!img_2323img_2325

There were so many stands for the most random things. There was just so much STUFF to look at, it was overwhelming!img_2327img_2326img_2329

Camden has some of the best piercing places, so some of the girls in my group went to get some! I opted out (I don’t even have my ears pierced), I think it looks cool but it’s just not my thing.


I wanted to find the Amy Winehouse statue, and I did! People always put lipstick on her.img_2333

Again, just so much stuff, so much to look at, and so much to do! Three days is not nearly enough for London- I’m wondering if even a month is enough.img_2334img_2337img_2338img_2340

We left the hotel at 2:15 and didn’t get back to our places in Granada until 1:30am, I was a zombie and I had to be up bright and early for my 8am today! After that class I got in a 5 mile run which I had been looking forward to that whole stuffy plane ride, and I ended up going for a 4 mile walk too, in order to clear my head from all the busy traveling. I really just wanted to walk around and not think too much. Today is all about getting myself together, doing homework, and being able to relax for our next trip coming up this weekend: Brussels and Paris!



Tapas, Cathedral, and a Long Run

On Thursday night we went out to tapas for a night snack after a “long” week of classes 😉 We walked a bit further this time, maybe half an hour to find a place. Some of the people who were here last semester know where the biggest and best tapas are. At some places, you could buy a beer for less than 2 euros, and get a free burger, or in our case on Thursday, a plate of potatoes with a fried egg on top. Simple, yet amazing. Some people got stew on top of potatoes.

The lighting was very green in this particular restaurant:img_1921img_1922


Friday was a rainy and gray, so we decided to take a tour of the Cathedral! It was incredible, and my favorite one so far. They gave us headphones so we could walk ourselves around on a tour.img_1936img_1940img_1944img_1945

There’s usually a ginormous organ in every one we’ve been in so far in Spain.img_1943Since we were going to lie low and stay in that night, we stopped for a glass of wine and a snack on the way back to the apartment. There was casually a LOT of meat hanging from the ceiling… I guess they must make it fresh!


Saturday was Ian and my 4-year anniversary! img_1990

I really didn’t want to sit around all morning missing him (extra), so I decided to do my long run then, instead of on Sunday. I ran 9.1 miles at 9:06 pace, and managed to do the most uncoordinated thing I’ve ever done! Coming around a turn at the end, I ran into this guy:img_1974

And it scared the living DAYLIGHTS OUT OF ME, I thought it was a real person so I fell over in fright and cut my knees all up. I feel like a 5 year old walking around with scraped up knees. Today they are a lot more bruised and swollen so my recovery run didn’t feel great– but I made it to 30.5 miles this week which I’m feeling pretty good about 🙂img_1975

After I showered and pulled myself together, Julia and I got a coffee and I read while she did homework. We sat outside and it was really relaxing, and I was obsessed with the cup my coffee came in.


We went for a walk later on in the afternoon, and it turned out to be just what we needed! I love talking with a the girls on the trip and having a view to go along with it.


The cars on Paseo de los Tristes come SO CLOSE to the sides of the street it scares me every time. I don’t know how people drive on such narrow streets in Europe but I guess that must be reaaaally used to it.IMG_1996.JPG

We walked for a long time and went window shopping on the way back.

After lying low and relaxing for a while we went out to a few bars night and I just got one drink because that’s all I really wanted- I love mojitos now, I can’t believe I had never tried one before! They are really sugary, but I had run 9 miles so I felt like I deserved it.

Our next stop is London and I’m super excited for an adventure!


A Bit of Exploration

Wednesday started off early with stretching and a few 5 minute workouts! I love them because they are so short but really hard for me, and I don’t stop because they’e each only 5 minutes. I just have to remind myself that right when you start, you’re already almost done. Is that motivational or just lazy? I’m not entirely sure 🙂

I chose 5 minute abs, 5 minute arms, and 5 minute squat workouts.

After my class I went our for a run and only got to 4 miles. Running on one side of the city is so many stop lights and it was frustrating to stop every .2 miles, so I called it quits.


I cut up two apples for some fuel before I left (peep my Halloween socks).


Then I met up with Julia for some window shopping, and we found the school book store! We didn’t have much hope because the directions someone gave us were extremely vague (and in Spanish), but we found it. It’s so different than UMass cause it actually is all books, with one little corner for clothes.


After that I taught an English class and it went really well. I’m already planning for next week! We celebrated with tapas at a Mexican restaurant. Julia and I got the classic margarita which were good, but not quite as good as the strawberry ones we got last time 🙂

They gave us mini margaritas on our way out! I was asking for the check, and when I thought the waitress asked “all set?” I just said yes, and she came out with mini margaritas for everyone. I thought she was going to charge us, but I guess they were just free to end the meal!


Today I had classes all day until 2:30, but I was able to run right after lunchtime! I don’t know if you’re actually supposed to do that, but sometimes that is the best time for me to do it. I ran 3.4 miles and explored a little bit.

When I got back, Julia and I headed out on a walk and explore some more before supper. We were walking towards the mountains to find a good view when we came upon a beautiful house/castle/something-that-looked-really-important:


But there were no people around! Where is everyone??img_1910img_1909

It wasn’t huge, but it was really pretty, and there were gardens and walk ways all around it. That’s not even mentioning the views that it had! I looked it up when we got back to the apartment, and I think the building is an “ayuntamiento” which is a place the council of a municipality. It must be a teeny one though, and we didn’t see anyone important looking!


We can’t wait to walk around this area when it gets a little warmer. Another reason it was such a nice walk is because it wasn’t very touristy a.k.a. there were only about 5 other people there (and I think they were from Granada).

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy, but whenever people say that it usually ends up being overcast. I’m hoping to get in a long run this weekend but I’ll see how that goes, my motivation is all over the place lately!


Super Bowl Sunday & Runs

Hi, I hope you all had a fantastic first weekend of February!

Super Bowl Sunday was actually Super Bowl Monday here, since kick-off was at 12:30am in Spain! But we rallied and went to Hannigan’s (sounds authentically Spanish right?) with what seemed like all the other people from the U.S. that were around. I haven’t heard that much English in a while, but that night I did- the pub was packed. I only stayed until the half time show and then headed back at 3am to sleep since I had a class at 8:30 anyways, but everyone else was out until 5:30am! I was impressed by them, but I don’t think that will ever be me 😉

You could tell by the hand-crafted menu, they knew football fans would be there.



The next day included class in the morning, a 5-mile run, planning an English lesson, and a long siesta! My classmate and I are teaching an English class to Spanish students here one day per week, so we spent some time Monday afternoon making a lesson plan. I hope it goes well because we aren’t entirely sure of their English level up until now, but we have a few different options to choose from when we get a feel for how they are understanding things.

This running area is going to be HOT when it gets to summertime:


I was in bed earlyish and ready for a productive Tuesday! For some reason when I have more classes, I get more done. When I don’t have enough structure in my day, it can turn lazy rather quickly.

This sky looked so pretty this morning, I knew today was going to be a good day 🙂


Today started off excellent too because Stranger Things Season 2 is coming back!! Well not until Halloween, but it’s exciting to know because we’ve been wondering about that for so long. My friends and I are obsessed, but I can’t watch it at night because it creeps me out too much!


After classes I headed out for a run, even though I didn’t really feel like it. I’m glad I did though because I always come back with a ton of energy, funny how that works 🙂 I got 6 miles in at 8:22 pace, and it felt so good! Maybe it’s the 65 degree weather, or the fact that my running is getting stronger.IMG_1845.JPGIMG_1874.JPG

Then I emailed professors from home and got to work on some internship/job applications. I have to stay super on top of that kind of stuff right now because a lot of the deadlines for summer programs are in March, and the weekends in February are about to get very busy for me! Luckily the workload in Spain isn’t nearly as much as in the US (although we do have some homework assignments), so outside of class I have plenty of time to get organized.

Happy Tuesday everyone!



We were feeling an adventure for our second weekend in Granada, so we booked a day trip to Córdoba, a province over! That makes it sound close, but it was still a 3-hour bus ride. But that’s nothing compared to 8 hours on squished planes so I was fine with it 🙂

Since we had that planned, I didn’t feel too bad about my lazy day on Friday, I wasn’t feeling so great anyways. I printed my bus tickets at our program office and got the trip planned before heading out for an 8 mile run!

IMG_1651.JPGI was going to wear my green platypus backpack so I could have water with me and somewhere to put my keys, but I had to turn after 2 miles to drop it off at my house. It was scraping up my back, and  I realized I probably shouldn’t run with it when I have a tank top on. Definitely are supposed to water it with full layers. Lesson learned- Ouuuch. I’ll stick to hiking with the backpack for now.

After the run and a few other chores I read The Fastest Mile and wrote up some blog post ideas, it was a pretty quiet day.

We had to leave early for Córdoba on Saturday, so I woke up extra early to get in a small workout! I didn’t know what to do if I wasn’t running (it’s took dark outside at 5:30), so I took to youtube to help me. I’m so glad I did because I am SO sore today. Getting out of bed hurt my abs and my arms, I definitely need to do these more often.

I did 32 Minute Home Cardio Workout with No Equipment – Calorie Blasting Cardio Training and my favorite arm workout video too (5 Minute Arm Workout – Sculpt and Shrink)! I finished off my workout with 5 Minute Squat Workout – Sculpt and Shrink. Youtube is such a useful workout tool for someone like me, I don’t have these exercises memorized, so I can’t just do them on my own. Maybe someday, but for now I need a guide with cardio/strength workouts.

Then we headed out at 7:15! We were taking a bus and wanted to be on the early side. We messed up a little getting out, so only got to the station with 10 minutes to spare, phew! I like being super early for everything, so I was a little stressed out to say the least.

On the way there, all you can see is olive trees, olive trees, and more olive trees! You know when you are swimming in the ocean and you look out into the water, obviously not being able to see where it ends? It’s like that, but with olive trees. They cover the landscape in Andalucía.


The first thing we did was go to the Mezquita de Córdoba.

The Great Mosque had two different areas: the courtyard or “arcade sahn”, and the “haram” or praying hall. The interior space consisted of a jungle of columns and red and white arches.

The outside was a courtyard with a lot of orange trees!


Then we headed inside to the Catedral, where an organ was playing. It was built in 1523, although it has been refurbished a few times since then.img_1680img_1678img_1679img_1685img_1682img_1683

We were going to go up to the tower, but they only allow people up at certain parts of the day, and we weren’t there at quite the right time. We took more pictures with the oranges before we left because that was our favorite part 🙂


Then we walked over the Roman Bridge of Córdoba, it was really windy!!


Isn’t it pretty? It was so wide too, but I don’t think cars drive over it because at the end is an entrance to a museum.img_1690

We walked along until we saw this sign :


We decided to just go to one, and we chose the gardens because it was only 1,50 euros! It was eerily quiet inside, I think we were the only people there. We walked through the gardens and found a fountain with a greenhouse.


The gardens was okay but not SUPER exciting, plus it was a really gray day so I don’t think the whole place had its usual glow like I’ve seen in photos! Also, people were hungry, so we found somewhere to eat when we left. Luckily my host-mom-landlady person packed me a sandwich and fruit so all I needed to get was some coffee! The rest of the girls split tapas and 2 pitchers of sangria. They got croquetas (They remind me of fried mashed potato balls with cheese and bacon), potatoes with some kind of sauce, and Spanish tortilla. I’m really used to Spanish tortilla because my dad makes it all the time at home, and I can say for sure that his is just as good as the restaurants here!


I got café Americano, which is basically just a bigger cup of black coffee, just what I wanted!img_1727Then we headed back to the bus station, it was starting to rain and my socks were wet 😦


It was the perfect amount for a day trip, and when we got back I was exhausted. I fell asleep almost immediately when I got back! 


Run Talk & Looking Ahead

This started as a blog for running and I may have strayed from that just a bit, into the everyday boring pieces of my life… So here’s a post all about running!


(I love how serious my brother looks in this photo, #6 going for the win!)

This week in Spain I was able to run every day, which helped me so much because the churros con chocolate here are far too tempting! I was also able to explore a lot and get a better mental image of what the city looks like on the outskirts.


Wednesday: 3 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: 3 miles

Saturday: 4 miles

Sunday: 7 miles, I missed my longer runs- I will do a long run again this Sunday!

Monday: 3.6 miles

Tuesday: 5 miles


I spent much of my Sunday run thinking about all the reasons why I even continue to run. When I first began, I was trying to lose weight as a highschooler, but now running isn’t so much about weight for me. I used to hate running but I woke up and did it everyday, an extra mile if I had eaten dessert. But I’ve found running is much better and more fun when you are doing it to honor your body, not to punish it! For me, now it is much more about overall health and happiness. It’s not a chore anymore, it’s just part of my daily routine, something I just do without thinking.

While out running I realized that-

I run for so many reasons. I love how it wakes me up in the morning, boosts my mood, allows me to explore new places on foot, to think, to feel more comfortable with eating, and for the confidence it gives me. I love the people I meet through this sport. All the people I have met through running are good people at heart, and a lot of them are still my best friends today. I like how you can be competitive with yourself, chasing a certain PR. I love how the work that I put in to running shows. I like seeing myself make progress. I wish I could word it in a non-corny way, but I have been through all the options and it just doesn’t seem possible: But running is really like a paraphrase of my life. By this I mean some days running feels so easy- I could run fast for hours and still feel like I was in the clouds. Other days feel much harder, and I struggle from start to finish. These different runs tend to come in streaks, and that’s kind of how I am. It’s nice to know that during a “bad streak” of runs, a “good streak” is on the way. Bad streaks never last forever, and I love to always know that!

It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great!

When I run alone, it gives me time to think and have time to myself. Being in college, it is a constant wave of meetings, class, clubs, work, and interactions. Running is like a step outside reality for a little bit, and I can look at situations in a different light. Like on Sunday, we had paella and I was upset with the amount I had (I thought I had ate way too much). So I set out on a long, slow run- not to burn calories, but I just wanted time to think about my lunchtime experience and the anxiety it caused me. It was just what I needed, after coming back from 7 miles I had forgiven myself, ready to take on the afternoon. It’s silly that a run can fix me sometimes, but then again, the things that I worry about are pretty silly too 🙂

So at this point, the last race I ran was about four and a half months ago! It was so much fun, and I reached my goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon time. It’s was certainly rejuvenating to take some time off from training, running however far when I feel like it, but now I am craving a schedule to follow again. I didn’t want to plan on anything before coming to Spain because I didn’t know if there would be safe places to run, or if going for a run was a normal/safe thing to do here. But it turns out that running is easily done in my area, and actually very common! So now that I know I could commit myself to a training regimen, I want to do it. The thing about a training schedule is that, well, there kind of needs to be a goal at the end! What am I working for? I’ve had my eyes set on doing a marathon for a while now. That most likely wouldn’t be until the fall though though, so I would need something in the meantime. I’m still thinking of a good goal (maybe a faster half marathon?) but I will write about it on the blog when I decide on something 🙂 I did see one marathon I kind of have my eyes on while I was researching that looks SO FUN… and a good course to train for over the summer, so I guess we’ll see!

Another thing* I’m trying to pay more attention to STRETCHING. Being injured absolutely sucks and makes me sad, so I want to take preventative measures! I have gotten injured about 3 times in the past two years and I still never really took stretching and rest seriously, so now that is one of my running resolutions. Plus, it’s been kind of nice to sit outside in the 65 degree weather after a  run 😉