Holy Toledo!

I will not elaborate on this subject much, but I will say this: Spanish wine is good and very strong.

Madrid is currently replenishing their wine supply after last night.

That statement leads me to today: Toledo.

I will admit that I was in better shape than half of the whole group today. Props to me! The hour bus ride from Madrid to Toledo was interesting…surprisingly no one threw up but according to the stories I’ve heard today, some came very close.

Let me try to explain Toledo. It would probably be best for you to google the city rather than rely on me because our tours are in Spanish…machine gun Spanish. Due to me not being 100% today I’m not sure what I truly heard from our beautiful tour guide’s mouth (who by the way looked incredibly similar to Jess’ boyfriend Paolo….they could be brothers).

Driving into Toledo was like driving into a whole other world. The city has the original walls that were built to protect the city and they snake through the new and old parts. According to my rough translations the city was founded in 2BC or 2 after BC? (Refer to google) Toledo has 49? Churches and we explored 4 today, which leads me to today’s struggle bus ride.

Keep in mind that the sun is very hot here and the shadows are very cool. So you’re constantly playing with your jacket because you can’t find the right temperature. Trying to explore an ancient city while not being 100% was incredibly difficult, but it didn’t slow me down (well, a little…especially defeating Toledo’s hills). I can’t explain the beauty inside Toledo. If you can focus on the old parts of the city and look away from the tourist traps, it really feels like I’ve walked back in time.

The city is preparing for a huge festival called something like El Día de Cristo? I can actually hear the celebration from our open hotel window. I have to add that I think Scarface could have definitely been filmed here. Talk about walking back in time…it’s a hotel you expect to see women with long cigarettes, a smoky haze everywhere, and an Italian (or in this case…Spanish) mafia chilling on the oversized sofa chairs.

Back to the city…

Spain has the coolest, most beautifully designed doors. They are incredible! The first church we saw was actually a monastery and it was HUGE! And incredibly magnificent. There was history in every stone. My dad would have been drooling. As well as Stephanie. Jess would have been drooling over the doors and the wedding that was being set up. Mom would have been sitting on a bench in their garden.

We then went to a Jewish/Islam…thing (lack of a better word)…which started out as a mosque but then became slightly Jewish…needless to say that tour was confusing. Then we went to a church where we saw El Greco’s (a painter) masterpiece. It was very large. We then continued to the biggest freaking cathedral anyone has ever seen. I think our tour guide said that it is bigger than Norte dame but smaller than the one in Sevilla. It took 200 years to build. Need I say more? Oh, and the doors have only been opened 4 times for kings and important religious people. It was finished being built in 1400. They forgot I was coming…so it wasn’t opened a 5th time…

We had a very displeasing lunch but made up for it by getting amazing gelato. We were up late, woken up early, forced to march all over Toledo, uphill both ways, without any food. It was horrible. And it was super hot. But the beauty and the wonders of this city made up for all of it. My interesting choice of words can not do this city justice. It’s one of those places you have to see for yourself.


Welcome to my soapbox

I think I’ve been doing pretty well today. Get to STL and run through the delay issues. Get excited to go to London, then that dream gets slaughtered. Finally get a flight through Miami and I am told that my luggage will be there for me.


Luckily, I prepared myself to not expect my luggage. I was cool, calm, and collected. I am not a high maintenance person…

Then time kept passing and the tears have started to build. As everyone plans to go out I realize I still look like an American and have nothing to change into. Then we are told we have a walking tour tomorrow…which means I’ll be sweating in the same exact clothes that I have been traveling in for approximately 18 hours. That also means that I can’t shower…why shower to jump back into dirty clothes?

I don’t even want to begin on my phone. I turn my cell data off and yet I have bars and am receiving text messages…hello large, unexpected, phone bill when I return.

I spent $70 on a taxi today because my lost luggage debacle costed me my free ISA ride. If you know me at all you’ll know that I’m off budget now, which puts me in a bad mood.

Rumor has it within the student population here that the airline should reimburse me if they can’t find my luggage in a certain amount of time. How much time you ask? Top rated answer has been: one week.

One week. Is this a joke?

So before I jump ahead let’s have everyone pray that my luggage shows up before I flip out. I’ve stayed calm. As calm as I can be while not having any of my clothes or shoes and looking like the biggest American tourist in the heart of Spain.

Did I even mention that everything is super expensive here? I paid $12 for a tiny bottle of water and a tiny slice of tortilla española. (Turns out it was some kind of egg and hash concoction). Bring on the weight loss! (Kidding…slightly)

Let the games begin.

Keep Calm, and Carry On

No one has ever said that traveling is easy. At least, I have not heard anyone tell me that.

My original flight to Madrid was through New York, but due to a too short layover I had to fly to Chicago instead. Wellllllll then I get to St. Louis to fly to Chicago and that flight was consistently being delayed.

As I waited (very) patiently I watched the departure time become later and later. I discovered 3 other people on the very same flight as me and they all seemed very calm about the delays. So I sat there…patiently…and watched the other people flip out on the poor service guy who was obviously was responsible for there being bad weather and delays in Chicago. Poor guy.

I was supposed to have a 2 hour layover in Chicago and then off to Madrid. The first delay was 40 minutes, which then turned into a little over an hour, then to 1 hour and 50 minutes. There goes my layover!

Before it could even get to the near 2 hour delay I was at the desk asking what my options were. The nice (very stressed out) man told me I had nothing to worry about and that I would make my flight in Chicago. Sorry chump. That wasn’t good enough for me. I’m a Jacober. We don’t wing it (flight pun slightly intended).

My other option, plan B, was to catch a flight from Chicago to London then off to Madrid. That flight would leave an hour after my original flight. Awesome! I sat back down and twiddled my thumbs and continued to watch the poor service man get tortured by angry people.

The 3rd delay happened, which forced me to change my flight to London because 6 minutes was not enough to get off one plane and sprint to another. Up I went and I waited in line. While waiting I met 2 adorable, blonde, British lawyers that were going to be on the London flight. Perfect!

We wait. And wait. And wait. Poof. There goes the London option.

I’m standing to talk with the single service man working while watching two old men try to cut their way through the very large line that was progressively growing larger. Time is running out and I’m really not going to make the London flight now.

I’m texting my family to keep them updated on my shenanigans. My mom took it the hardest. Nearly turned her to have a drink. My sister Jess was thinking logistically because she has become the traveler out of the family. My sister Stephanie was the most calm, asking small questions, saying her ooh’s and aah’s when necessary, and also putting me on a search for a girl from the Bad Girl’s Club.

That was my panel while standing in line trying to figure out how I’m going to make it out of the United States. Knowing that I had to be on that flight for London, I call the 1-800 number for American. They put me on hold and then tell me they’re going to call me back. Great. Who’s going to win? The automated voice on the phone or the single service man?

They tied! Got a call while the man was trying to “get my coupon code” (your guess is as good as mine). The phone told me to talk to the man because I checked a suitcase. Great. So I wait.

As I wait the fly gets pushed back once more….and then it gets pushed forward. My British friends are now speaking fluent British with the f bombs here and there and saying things like, “We’re going to have to leg it.” There are the Brits I knew I loved!

I continue to wait and the service guy realizes I’m not making it to London, but he found a flight out of Miami to Madrid that is overnight. The ticket is sold to the highest bidder!

Here I am. On a flight to Miami for a 2 hour layover then off to Madrid. I’m surrounded by a large gypsy family (I’m guessing this purely based on my TLC knowledge of gypsy shows) and many tired looking people. I want to watch Hyde Park on Hudson, but alas I can not because there are probably better screen qualities in 3rd world countries, and I would rather not listen to a high pitched buzz that is overpowering the dialogue through my ear phones.

Am I complaining? Not really. How can I be? I’m only on my flight to Miami. The game has just begun.

Mt. Vesuvius

School has wound down. Summer has begun. I’m leaving for my dream trip in a matter of days. Sounds great doesn’t it?

On paper it sounds and looks like a great time. In reality, no one warns you about all of the small, complicated details that have to be worked out before you leave the country.

Change money to Euros. Buy electric converters. See/visit everyone and their mother before you go because you’ll be gone for 2 1/2 months (aka forever). Live in a messy room because you’re in the middle of packing. Continue working at your job. Pay for last minute fees, like changing your flight because now someone decides to tell you that you won’t have enough time to make your flight.

Get the picture?

I’m more stressed than I have been all semester, including preparing for Dr. Kemp’s final, writing Dr. O’s 15 page paper, and taking 3 finals all in the same week. Hence the title of this post: Mt Vesuvius. The mountain that has grown on my chin. Thank you stress.

I’m not trying to scare anyone away from studying abroad because the outcome will be completely worth it. I’m simply trying to warn you about everything that must be done before you leave. Someone should have given me fair warning about all of this.

For now I have to study for my placement exam, continue packing, finish my to-do list (one of a thousand), get my GRE prep material together, and clean the kitchen in order to keep my sanity.

There is a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel but it’s on a dimmer and I have to squint one eye and strain my neck to see it. But it’s there.

Bogey has arrived!

I had lunch with some great gals today and we discussed the upcoming adventures. One of the coolest things that happened during our lunch was that I was given Bogey! Who’s Bogey you ask? He’s our school mascot and he’s ready to travel!

I cannot wait to take him with me on our adventures. What nonsense will we get ourselves into? Not only do we have a gringo and a Brit but now we have Bogey. My oh my.

Stay tuned for Bogey’s trip abroad and see what kind of shenanigans he will get himself into.

I foresee Bogey getting his tan on, enjoying train rides, and photo-bombing many, many people.

Let the games begin!!!

Getting ready for his big trip

Getting ready for his big trip

3 Weeks…

I’m constantly being asked, “When do you leave?” “When do you get back?” Etc. etc. Please, let me set the record straight: I leave May 22 and return August 7.

I will be attending the University of Valencia and taking a total of 4 classes, all taught in Spanish. Yes, I know. Let’s say it all together, shall we? Yikes!

Today I gave about a 12 minute long Spanish presentation and I can honestly say that I’ve been more nervous giving a presentation in English. If you know me at all then you’ll know that talking in front of crowds does not phase me whatsoever. I thought for sure speaking in Spanish for that long in front of my classmates would make me freak out. Surprisingly, I was calm and it went well (at least I think/hope it did).

My point is that I’m living in Spain so I can be completely fluent. I don’t want to be “educationally fluent,” I want to be native fluent. Giving that presentation today made me realize I’m closer than I thought I was, which is a huge relief! I was so nervous about landing in Spain and being the little, white girl trying to speak Spanish.

Now that I have a little weight off of my shoulders I thought I would feel lighter. Then I made the mistake of walking into my room and seeing the large suitcase I took out a few days ago to start the Tetris game, I like to call packing. Main concern? My shoes!!! How is a girl (with quite large feet) supposed to pack enough shoes for two months? It’s like asking an alcoholic to pack either alcohol or clothing. What would you choose?

Tomorrow is the 3 week marker until I go on this life changing experience. I have yet to find out my host family and my class schedule but it will be here any day now. For now, I have to do something with this overflowing suitcase full of shoes and borrow some heavy dumbbells so I can I squeeze everything into it. Or I’ll just have a couple of friends over to sit on it while I zip that thing up! I’ve got to bring clothes some how…

What do you expect me to do? Go to Spain naked?