Friday, November 26, 2010

The Flight to Paris. Europe: Day Five

Our flight to Paris was scheduled for 1PM. It takes about an hour on the metro to get to the airport (and we were NOT about to pay for a 35 euro cab ride there) so we left around 10AM. Being the twenty-one year olds that we are, we woke up too late to shower and decided hats would have to do for the day.

We got on the metro and headed to the airport. I couldn't believe that we were about to be in Paris, France. How exciting! Before boarding we were both hungry and decided to stop at McDonalds (surprise, surprise) before boarding. I have literally been to McDonalds everyday in Europe. On one hand it's kind of sad-I am so American! But on the other-it's not really! The McDonalds in Europe is not the exact same as America. They offer different things (yes, this is me...justifying all my trips to McDonalds)

We boarded the plane and both of us immediately fell asleep. Waking up just as the plane landed. We got our bags and headed for the metro to our hostel. Jessica had printed out directions so we wouldn't have to pay for an expensive cab ride. The airport in Paris is ENORMOUS. People are everywhere. I kind of compare it to NYC. Everyone is in a hurry and there are SO many people. I kept running into people and once accidentally ran over someone's foot with my bag. I say "sorry" but of course they don't exactly understand me.

In the airport were three men from the army. They were fully dressed in their army gear and carrying MACHINE GUNS. Just casually walking...looking extremely scary...caring machine guns. It was nuts! I said to Jessica "wow, let's not do ANYTHING that would draw attention to us."

We tried to figure out which train to took us a good 10 minutes to decide which ticket to purchase. We asked people-but like us many of them were tourists and had no idea which ticket they were going to buy either.

We ended up meeting a VERY nice guy who told us which train ticket to buy. He even carried my 50 pound suitcase down the stairs and into the train. He was so sweet. Of course, Jessica and I were a bit hesitant. The only thing we knew about Paris was from the movie "Taken" and both of us were a bit scared to be in France alone.

The nice man gave us directions after we got off the train. I almost feel bad for not being nicer to him. We both had our guard up. But we didn't want to get stolen! He spoke great English and I don't know how we would have gotten to the hostel without his help.

We got off the metro and began wondering outside. The directions the hostel gave us didn't tell us what to do once we got off the metro. It was freezing outside, but we were awe struck by the beauty of Paris. Every single building we saw was cute! It was amazing.

We went inside a restaurant to ask where St. Christopher's was (our hostel was right near it). The man spoke little English but gave us directions non the less. We followed what he said and still weren't at the hostel. Attempting again to get directions, Jessica went into a bar to ask. Luckily one of the men spoke Spanish and Jessica was able to get correct directions (I'm SO glad by best friend is fluent in Spanish! It saved the day!)

By this time we had been walking around for a good 20 minutes. We finally arrived at our hostel. It was such a cute hotel! It tried so hard to be hip, but was very clean and exciting. I had never stayed at a hostel...there were 8 girls total in our room.

Jessica knew a friend from Berthod who was meeting his 2 girlfriends in Paris for the weekend. We met up with him and had a DELICIOUS, very french, dinner. Complete with duck (french delicacy?) that tasted soft and more like tuna (I admit I wasn't too big of a fan), french onion soup (WOW! The best soup I have EVER had), and a lasagna dish.

After dinner we walked to the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. Now, let me remind you, we are all tourists who speak zero french. Which means we took the longest route possible to get to the Sacre-Coeur. It was absolutely freezing outside and we kept stopping inside small cafes to warm up.

The walk was 100% worth it. Leading to the Sacre-Coeur are about a million steps, so to keep warm we all decided to run the stairs.

WOW. The Sacre-Coeur is amazing. It is huge, white, and has indescribable beauty. From the stairs of the Sacre-Coeur you can see the entire city of Paris. Since it was late at night, the city was all lit up and the city looked stunning.

I wish pictures of the Sacre-Coeur did the building justice. Truth is, no picture could ever capture the beauty.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner at Hard Rock. Madrid: Day Four

Since we got back so late (or early?) the next morning. I slept in until 1PM. Jessica had class at 2PM so I showered and left after she did. I tried to take the metro but couldn't fine the right entrance so I opted for a taxi (so much for saving the extra euros). I just figured it was worth it in the end. There was no way I was wasting my day wondering around metro stations trying to figure out how to get around.

Jessica had told me that I should spend my day at Parque del Retiro-an enormous park in the middle of the city. She assured me that I would spend hours walking around, taking it all in. The park was made for the royal family-but now could be enjoyed by us common folk.

I hailed a taxi and showed him on the map where I wanted to go. This taxi driver was by far my favorite. He didn't speak any English but tried so hard to communicate with me. Another taxi driver cut him off and he made vomiting sounds and pointed at the car. It was really hilarious. He used all sorts of made up sign language to communicate with me. Telling me which cars were expensive, cheap, etc. Overall it was the most enjoyable ride I've had in Europe.

I got out of the cab and entered the park. IT.WAS.BREATHTAKING. Right when you walk in you know more beauty is to follow. The park was SO green & beautiful. Which was a bit odd, remember how I told you there is no greenery in Madrid? Boy, was I wrong! I was just looking in all the wrong places.

It was the largest park I have ever seen. In the middle is a small lake/pond/body of water that people rent row boats on and circle. Overlooking that are stars and statues and gorgeous greenery. It looked so romantic-the small row boats. How fun would it be to take a boyf there?

I asked an older lady to take a picture of me in front of the statues that overlook the lake. I always was careful to ask to take pictures of me. Jessica had warned me of the many pick pocket-ers and I was not about to get my camera stolen. After she took the picture, I looked to see how it turned out....this is what it was...

So I decided to ask another person. Take two worked a little better (haha!)

I strolled the park for a good three hours. It was very difficult to leave. There was so much to look at-and I didn't even cover all of the park. There were people running, walking, eating, etc. It was very relaxing. I sat down at one of the small cafes and ordered a Sprite. It was a great time to watch nature and ponder my life.

As I was leaving the park I saw an entrance to a garden. I had never seen anything so colorful and green. there were gorgeous roses of all colors and fountains. To the left, a couple was getting married. What a gorgeous place for a wedding! Spanish wedding dresses are GORGEOUS and this bride had an amazing one. I didn't know the couple, but I couldn't help but be extremely happy for them.

I left the park and hailed a taxi to Plaza Mayor. I wanted to visit it once more before I left for France the next day. I wondered around the plaza, shopping and enjoying the view of Madrid. I found it funny that so many people approached me today speaking Spanish. I would tell them "I have no idea what you're saying" and some of them would just speak slower. This happened like 3 times today. No, just because you speak slower doesn't mean I can understand you! The Christmas market was being set up at Plaza Mayor and I was delighted to look around. I LOVE Christmas!

We were having Thanksgiving dinner at the Hard Rock cafe (they don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Spain...obviously. Hard Rock, however, had a Thanksgiving dinner for all the Americans) at 10PM. I was a bit hungry and decided to stop off at McDonalds (I'm SO American) for some fries to tie me over until dinner.

After eating I walked to Sol Plaza and met Jessica. We were told that dinner would be moved up to 8PM (dangit! Why did I eat those fries?)

We went back to the house and got ready for dinner. We were going with Jessica's roommates and some other college friends. There were 11 of us. For dinner they served us turkey, mashed potatos, broccoli, cranberry sauce, apple crisp...the works! It was the best dinner ever! I am so happy that we decided to do the whole Thanksgiving dinner thing. Me and Jessica had debated going, but after dinner we couldn't stop talking about how delicious it was. It truly did feel like Thanksgiving.

I called my mom and dad and wished them both a Happy Thanksgiving. It was good to hear from them!

Afterward we went back to Jessica's house and got ready to go out for the night.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Art Museums, Cathedrals, and Jason Derulo? Madrid: Day Three

I've had a cold and sore throat since Thursday. I figured this little virus would be gone by such luck. So I slept in today until 1PM. It felt good to get extra sleep. I wondered into Jessica's room where she was doing homework and we planned out what I would do while she was in school.

I decided to save money and take the Metro instead of paying for taxis. I was a bit hesitant to do this, but since we leave for Paris on Friday it is a necessity. Jessica had class at 2:30 so we walked to the Metro together. She was going one way and I had to go the other. We said our goodbyes and I boarded the Metro. Jessica had written down three musums I should see. She gave me her "10 Best of Madrid" tourist book and written instructions. All three musums are on the same street, so I wasn't nervous about finding them.

I should have been.

I got off the Metro and tried to read the map that was located inside the book Jessica had given me. I just need to interject here...I speak NO Spanish and I am directionally challanged. I STILL use a GPS when I go back home to Colorado...I use one in Utah too. I just can never seem to find my way matter how many times I've been somewhere. Okay, back to the story. So I start walking in one direction, thinking one plaza was another and that I was going the right way. After walking for about ten minutes, I realize I'm lost. So I head back to where I came from. Then, I second guess myself...maybe I was going the right way and just hadn't walked far enough. So I turn around and go back. I think I passed the same group of people about 5 times. I was the ultimate tourist. I was looking down at my map and at all the street signs with a camera in my hand...looking SO confused. (later that night I reenacted it for Jessica so she could snap a pic)

Long, long, LONG story short, I found the street the museum was on thirty minutes later. I took a picture just because I was so happy to find it! Don't think that just because I found the street means I found the museum I was looking for...that took another thirty minutes. But, eventually, I made it to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Thank freakin' goodness! Although, I must admit, I didn't mind getting lost in the slightest. The buildings are all so breathtaking and there is always something to see. Walking along Madrid is an experience in itself.

I didn't really know what to expect at this museum. The museums that I have been to prior to this all had historical objects and such. When I entered I realized the entire building was filled with artwork. I have never been to an art museum. I saw paintings from the 13th centery and famous painters like Raphael, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Rembrant. I spent two hours looking at the 1,000 paintings housed in the museum. It was an experience. I can hardly believe some of the art I saw. The paintings looked so real and vivid. Some of my favorite pieces were the pictures that showed bible stores, like David and Goliath, etc. The paintings were beautiful and it was interesting to see how the artists interprated the stories. I must say, there are SO many paintings of naked women. It's weird too-the girls will have clothes on but randomly a boob will just be showing...typical male painters?

I left the museum and headed down the street to find something to eat. I grabbed chips and a Sprite (such a great I got a call from Jessica. She was finished with class and wanted me to meet her at the Metro so we could go see an old Egyptian church. I was so impressed with myself, I walked straight to the Metro! I didn't even get lost once!!

As I waited for Jessica to arrive, I got approached by three or four different groups of people who were asking me questions in Spanish. I was so confused, I was dressed so American and looked like such a tourist, why would they think to ask me? I would simply shrug my shoulders and say "English" haha.

Jessica finally found me, but it was too late to go to the Egyptian church since it was closing twenty minutes later. We wondered to another musem, The Museo del Prado. Jessica had raved about the famous museum and the gorgeous paintings and tapastrys that it contains. We went intside and walked around. There were gorgeous paintings and we tried to locate all the masterpieces. We walked into the part of the museum that was all statues, which were gorgeous. It was my favorite! Jessica and I are not as cultured as we should be and instead of admiring the gorgeous artwork, we started to rank the statues by hottness. Some of those statues certinatly put real men to shame! haha. It was fun and interesting.

Jessica had been talking endlessly about a cathedral I didn't see when I went to the Palacio Real (it's directly accross the street) and we decided to take the Metro to see it. On our way to the Metro we passed a McDonalds. Being the true Americans that we are, we decided to go in and get some french fries. Jessica hadn't even been to McDonalds since she's lived here! Jessica said, "These are the best fries I've ever had...ever" After four months I'm sure I wouldn't remember the deliciousness of the food either. I'm glad I reminded her of the taste of America.

We got on the Metro and walked to the Almudena Cathedral. I cannot express the beauty that I saw when I entered the building. I had never in my life seen a building that marvelous. The enormous pillers, the stained glass, the high ceilings. Describing it doesn't give it justice nor could any photo. My jaw literally dropped when we entered. You can't use flash inside a cathedral, pictures are a bit blurry-so I took a video! I'll post it on YouTube one of these days.

After spending twenty minutes admiring the divine beauty, we headed home on the Metro. It was dinner time! Jessica's host mother made us salad, paella, and ice cream. Paella is a Spanish rice dish that is absolutely AMAZING! I'm a fan.

Jessica and I made our itinerary for paris (we will only be there Friday night-Monday morning) so we could see as much as we could and have a firm plan. I am SO excited! Afterward we got ready to go out. Spain has an incredible night life. People don't go out until around midnight-which is so odd! We decided to go to a club called Orange. It was "hippy flippy" night and if you dressed up you got in for free. Any excuse to dress up is fine by us, so we raided Jessica's closet and transformed ourselves into hippies.

It was rumored that Jason Derulo would be there, so we tried to look our best. We headed to the club on the Metro and stood in line. We got to Orange at 12:30. As we were waiting in line, who passes us? JASON DERULO. I didn't even say anything. I simply hit Jessica and let out an awkward sigh/exhale. Jason Derulo had just passed us.

We got into the club and a guy Jessica knew invited us into VIP. Twenty minutes later...who appears in VIP? Jason Derulo. VIP was filled with girls and as soon as he sat at his table they began swarming to him. We stayed in the back and just talked. About ten minutes later the swarm of girls had dwindled and we decided to go up and start talking to him. Jessica, Stephanie (her friend), and I talked to him for about 15 minutes. He told us he was off to another country in the morning.

"So, you just get to fly around the world and hang out?" I asked.
"You think that's what my life is like?"
"I would like to think so."
"I get up at 8am and do interviews until 9PM or 10PM"

I admit, not even I wake up at 8AM. But, sorry Jason Derulo, I still don't feel bad for you. haha. It was interesting to talk to him. People all over the club were snapping photos of him. I'm pretty sure that my face is in a bunch of random people's cameras...

It was awesome to meet an American celebrity in Spain! So random!! He doesn't speak any Spanish either and we talked about the whole not understanding anyone thing. It's seriously the worst thing EVER! Jessica and I got bored of standing there talking and decided to leave and go dance..which was so much fun! Jessica and I always have the BEST time when we go out. The night was fantastic. We got home at 4:30AM...4:30AM!! Madrid night life is insane. When does anyone ever sleep? It was only a Wednesday night!

My feet are absolutely killing me from all the walking I've done. People here walk EVERYWHERE. I'm guessing that is why everyone is so dang skinny. I literally have not seen one person who is overweight.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Jessica and I are joining some of her college friends and going to Hard Rock for a Thanksgiving meal. I am a bit sad I won't be with my family, but I am here with Jessica-who is just like family to me :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I understand the music....Britney Spears? Madrid: Day Two

Today went by so fast I can hardly believe it. Jessica had class this morning until noon so I slept in, took a shower, and got ready. When she got back we went to a small resturant and split a sandwhich, which was delicious.

Our plan was to shop and sight-see a few churchs Jessica had to see for her class to write a paper. Luckily Jessica is just as obsessed with shopping as I am and we spent hours wondering the streets of Madrid stopping in all the cute shops. Shopping in Madrid is insane. There are stores EVERYWHERE and more resturants than I could ever count. I have NO idea how they all stay in business. Isn't the competition tough?

We tried on clothes, bought clothes, and browsed through dozens of stores. The shopping is absolutely fabulous. (I would be 100% broke if I lived in Madrid...that is a fact!!) It's funny-in every store they blast American Pop Music-Britney Spears, Avril Lavinge, Black Eyed Pea, Rap-even some Jack Johnson. Every single store played English music. Since I've been here I haven't even heard Spanish music. I literally have no idea what it sounds like. I decided that next time I need to ask someone a question (and I obviously can't say it in Spanish) I just need to think of an American song that has the words. Like, if I want more of something, I'll simply start singing Brittany Spears' "gimme more" Perhaps then they will understand me.

It's absolutely hilarious when they have signs translated from Spanish to English. One sign in the store said "50% The last one will be the cheapest" which I think was supposed to mean that you buy one item and you get the second (cheaper) item for 50% off. Another sign said "Please, take care of your things. Thank you" I have no idea what that was supposed to mean...perhaps don't leave your items unattended? It's really funny! So many of the T-shirts sold here have American sayings on them...there are no shirts with Spanish words or sayings...only English. And usually they make zero sense...They just say "happy" or "funny" so random. And some fashions are absolutely ridiculous. Things that would NEVER sell in the these coats (Only 14 Euros!)

We stopped and toured inside the Basiilica Pontificia De San Miguel chapel. WOW! I have never seen a church so beautiful. The stained glass, statues, and paintings are absolutely amazing. Cathedrals are all over Madrid...and every single one is decorated more incredible than the last one.

Jessica needed to see another chapel (which I can't remember the name of) so we walked down the street to find it. When we got to the cross roads, we asked some police where the chapel was. They had never heard of it. One policeman took out his iPhone and searched it...turns out we were right infront of it. We pushed the door open and walked inside. It was by far the creepiest moment I've had in Madrid (and I was here alone..with no friends, phone, or language translator). The church was empty and dark. I thought at any moment someone would jump out and scare us. There were statues of the Virgin Mary and random paintings but the church seemed to be completely deserted. Every other enternce door we tried was locked. Too bad for Jess-we couldn't even tour the chapel she had to write about for her paper. Good thing the internet exists so she can research it there.

Remember how I wrote that during my flight I thought Spain had so much open land and greenery? The exact opposite is true for Madrid. Buildings are EVERYWHERE and they are so close together. The streets are extremely narrow...I highly doubt a bus or semi could get through most of them. There are no patches of grass and there are very little trees. The entire city is cemete, rocks, and buildings. Although, I must say, the sight is far more beautiful than any greenery. The architecture is mind blowing.

We went to the Plaza Mayor, a plaza completely surrounded by buildings built in the 17th century. We sat down and had a quick snack and talked about how surreal it was that we were both in Spain. All around the plaza were artists painting beautiful paintings of Spain, Spanish dancers, and bull fights. It was fun to watch them and sift through all the gorgeous artwork.

Jessica had talked about seeing the oldest restaurant in the world, Botin Mediterranean, which started in 1725. We traveled down the street to find it. The restaurant was a cute little thing. We entered and got to take a tour of the bottom level. Inside they showed us where the oldest oven in the world was. INSANE! They even had a certificate from the Gennis Book of World Records stating it was the oldest restaurant in the world.

We continued shopping and walking around. I swear we walked more than 8 miles today. Luckily I wore comfortable boots! Jessica wanted to take me to another resturant before we headed home but couldn't remember the name. We walked up to a group of police and she asked about it. The first guy didn't know the answer so he asked his partner. When his partner didn't know the answer he asked another policeman. That guy didn't know what Jessica was talking about either, so they got on the police radio and asked the entire force! They kept saying to Jessica (in Spanish of course) "we're the best police...aren't we? We'll get you directions!" haha. So nice! We ended up finding the resturant...and it was closed. such luck.

There are two odd things about Madrid that I am going to rant about for a moment. First of all, EVERYONE smokes. The young, the old, the rich, the poor. Absolutely everyone. They also smoke everywhere they go! On the streets-even in the restaurants. We were talking to one waiter and he said that people can no longer smoke inside starting January1st (too bad both me and Jessica will be gone). But seriously, everywhere you go you are surrounded by smoke. It's a bit annoying when you are trying to finish a meal and someone is smoking at the table next to you. They don't have "smoking" and "non-smoking" sections either. ew. The other thing...Madrid is obsessed with ham. I'm not talking about the type you find in a deli..sliced and packaged...they hang their ham. There are just ham legs EVERYWHERE. it is absolutely disgusting. I am deeply scared from seeing ham being hung all over. We were having a snack at one small restaurant and surrounding us were ham legs! Over dinner one of Jessica's roomates told us that the reason they started doing it was to annoy/offend the Jews. That is such a Spanish thing to do. GROSS! I told Jessica I wouldn't be having ham this entire trip. How is that sanitary? The meat is just like...hanging there!

We walked back to the apartment and the house mother cooked soup, meatballs, and potatos, and Flann. It was another delicious dinner. I do feel a bit odd though, they have the entire dinner conversation in Spanish. I am left sitting and wondering what the heck is going on.

After dinner Jessica and I decided to walk around. It was another gorgeous night in Madrid. It's true that this city comes alive at night. There are so many people EVERYWHERE. If you've ever been to Canal Street in know what I'm talking about. People shoulder to shoulder walking the streets after 8PM. It's so much fun! I have no idea how I'm ever going to leave here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Am I the only one who doesn't speak Spanish? Madrid: Day One

Day One in Madrid.

I finally had landed in Madrid. The final decent of the plane showed the long stretches of open land and greenery. There were no mountains, but I wouldn’t call the land flat either. A bit hilly. Gorgeous none the less...

Once I landed I immediately turned on my cell phone-I had promised my mom and dad a text the moment the plane hit the ground-only to find out that it didn’t work. It “couldn’t connect to a network”, which was extremely frustrating because I had talked to T-mobile and told them I was going to be in Europe and they said nothing further needed to be done-except that I should disable the internet from my phone.

I got my passport stamped and waited for my bags. All around me people were speaking Spanish-I didn’t understand anything. I figured my mom was having a bit of a panic attack since I had yet to contact her. So I hopped on a pay phone (which will probably cost me a fortune when I get my credit card statement) and called her. Sure enough, she had already worried enough that she called Jessica. I assured her that I was fine and my plane had landed…then she hit me with a bit of bad news. Jessica had gotten food poisoning in Ireland and had not made her flight….which meant she would not be at the airport to meet me. Remember how that was the ONE thing I was worried about? Of course it couldn’t go right. I called Jessica and she gave me the address of her apartment and assured me her roommate would meet me outside. She then gave me names of places to visit until she arrived…which would be 10 hours after I had been in Madrid.

I admit…I freaked out. I immediately called my mom again. No phone. No friends. No Spanish. I was scared out of my mind. My mom was just as scared for me-if not more. I hung up the pay phone and went out to catch a taxi. The only sentence the taxi driver knew in English was “first time in Madrid?” I tried to make conversation about how there were so many motorcycles in Madrid and about the tall, beautiful buildings…but he couldn’t understand me and kept rambling in Spanish.

Jessica had told me that her roommate would meet me in front of the apartment, near a waterfall. I got out of the taxi and looked around…no waterfall. I had already been in panic mode and drug my suitcase along the way for awhile, praying some waterfall would appear. Turns out, the waterfall had not been turned on…but there was an American girl. “Are you Jessica’s friend?” “Yeah!” finally. I had found someone who spoke some English and a friendly face.

I dropped off my luggage and went back down to the street with Lindsey, Jessica’s roommate. She was going for a run and I was going to grab a taxi and head to Palacio Real de Madrid. Again, my taxi driver didn’t speak English but took me to the Palacio.

I cannot even put into words how magnificent the Palacio Real is. The entire experience was breathtaking. From the outside, it was pretty and I was excited, but once I entered the building I was in complete awe. Every room is decorated so exquisitely. Every room is different. Each ceiling is painted beautifully and every inch of the walls are covered in bronze, porcelain, and other decorations. I took the tour with the audio guide and learned so many unique facts about each room. The Salon del Trono, or Throne Room was incredible and complete with chairs for the King and Queen. There was one room, the Gabinete de Porcelana y Saleta Amarilla, which was completely covered in porcelain decoration. It was the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen. I cannot believe people LIVED here! To have that much beauty surround you every day, I cannot even imagine. You are not allowed to take pictures inside the Palacio..which made me extremely sad! All I have is memories...I wish I could have captured it all!

I was minding my own business, touring the Palacio with my audio guide when a group of second or third graders passed in a group. One boy said “hi” and I replied “hello!” he then proceeded to tell me that the boy next to him was his brother. I was like, “oh…he’s your brother” the two boys snickered and started speaking in Spanish and pointing at me. I wished so badly that I knew Spanish at that moment. Those little elementary children laughing at an American…who clearly knew nothing about Spain or any Spanish. It was funny…but kind of sad. Haha

I had to ask random people to take pictures of me next to the Palacio. It was awkward. Who wants to be in a picture by themselves? But at the same time, there was no way I was only taking pictures of buildings without me in them! It was hard to leave the Palacio. I stayed there for 3 hours. I wanted to keep looking and taking in the beauty. I literally had to force myself to leave. It is so gorgeous.

After the Palacio I took a taxi to a museum Jessica had suggested. 12 Euros later I was at the museum and excited for another adventure. I was extremely depressed when I saw that the museum is closed every Monday! 12 Euros wasted! I started to wonder down the street toward Downtown when I saw a payphone. I figured my mom was extremely worried and gave her a call…I was right. She hadn’t even slept she was so worried. I feel a bit bad now; I was enjoying the beautiful Palacio while she was worried sick for my safety. I assured her I was fine (and that I had my pepper spray with me) and filled her in on the adventure I had just taken. She was glad I was safe and sound.

I walked Downtown and decided it was time for some lunch, by then it was 3:00pm and I hadn’t eaten since my plane ride. It was far more difficult to find somewhere to eat than I thought! It doesn’t help that I’m a picky eater and was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to find something I liked. Twenty minutes later, with an angry tummy, I found a restaurant that said Pizza & Pasta! Perfect…America food and English words! I was stoked.

I sat down and ordered a cheese pizza…the host spoke great English and I felt extremely happy and welcome. The cheese pizza didn’t taste like the pizza here, but I had two pieces and enjoyed the American music videos that were playing on the TVs in the restaurant.

Suddenly, I felt extremely tired. So tired I thought I would pass out in the restaurant. I had traveled for 13 hours and the jet lag had finally hit me. I hailed a taxi and went back to Jessica’s apartment. I rang the bell (she lives with four other American girls), praying one of them was home. In my mind I had decided that if they weren’t home, I was going to a hotel. I was THAT exhausted. At one point in the taxi I dosed off, I had to get into a bed somewhere! Just my luck, no one was home. I found a payphone and got out my cell to look up Jessica’s number, when I realized my cell was FINALLY working! Whoo hoo! My dad had called T-Mobile at 6AM and gotten everything figured out. I could officially call out and take incoming calls. No texts, but I felt so much safer with a cell that works! Thanks dad!

I called Jessica and she told me to go upstairs to her host mother’s room. She said, “Ring the door bell. When she opens it and says hello say ‘Jill’ and hand her the phone.” Such a great friend…she knows I don’t understand anything anyone says! I did just that and the house mother showed me to my room. I was extremely excited. I slept for four hours.

At 8PM Jessica finally arrived. She had just started to feel better. It was amazing to see her! We went upstairs and ate Pumpkin Soup (surprisingly it was extremely good), tortillas, and fruit. We ate with her other roommates (One of them is a Pi Phi!!!) and talked to the house mother. Thankfully the girls translated everything; the house mother speaks no English.

After dinner we went down to Sol Plaza and walked around. We stopped at Starbucks and got hot drinks and wandered the city, catching up on the past 3 months of life. Everywhere you look there is an amazing statue or waterfall. There isn’t an inch of the city that isn’t decorated…it’s absolutely gorgeous. I can’t believe Jessica lives here. After an hour or so of wondering, we took the Metro back home and decided to turn in early and get a good night’s rest (especially since Jessica was so sick yesterday/this morning).

The first day was a bit rough, but it was also great. I learned that in a tough situation I can still manage to be okay. I didn’t talk to anyone, unless I was asking them to take a picture (haha), it was weird feeling so isolated but it was also nice to have some time to ponder the beauty I was looking at and have some “me time”. I felt safe here. There are people ALL over and police are everywhere, on horses of course! I was extremely worried and anxious that I would be scared the entire time, but I was calm (although I did be sure to hold my purse tight, be aware of my surroundings, and act like I knew where I was going)—and I’m not just saying that to calm the nerves of my mom & dad who are reading this J This city is far more beautiful than I expected. I am so excited for the days to come.

It’s midnight and I am extremely exhausted. I’m going to turn in….I’ll update the blog again tomorrow!