Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hasta Luego Espana!

The night before, during our last night in Spain Elissa, Julie and I found a Salsa Club downtown and we attempted to Salsa Dance. We went out for Tapas before we wandered the town in search of fun and found some of the kids from the ship in the plaza downtown. We all started walking together and we found the salsa place. It was a lot of fun and we ended up running into a lot of our friends from the ship. It is funny how we see each other all around town, its almost as if we are the only people there sometimes.

Yesterday we wandered around town a little bit more and went to the otudoor market. It was so busy but it was really cool. people were selling fish and fresh fruits and vegetables- it was just like from a movie. Then we were trying to find the beach and we walked all around town in the general direction where we knew that it was. Finally we found the ocean and then followed the path around the perimeter of the town basically until we found the beach. It was an adventure and probably took three times as long as it should have- oh well its the experience that counts! The beach (James Bond Beach, as we called it) was packed- it was over 90 degrees. The beach was very dirty (and its a topless beach- it was the first beach in Spain to allow women to wear bikinis- i guess they are more lenient now). We went into the water but the water and sand were pretty gross so we didnt stay in too long. We found more SAS kids and sat with them for a wihle before heading back to the ship. Again, we seemed to have taken the long way but at least we knew where we were going that way. We passed a botanical garden and we saw homeless kittens sitting under the shade of a tree. It was a very nice but hot and long walk back.We left port around 11pm last night and headed for the Strait of Gibraltar.

Today was bunkered in the Strait of Gibraltar to fuel up. The Strait of Gibraltar is the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean and is surrounded by Spain and Morocco. We left port around 4pm and now we are on our way to Italy.

Tonight we had Congresswomen Loretta Sanchez join us for our trip to Italy. She spoke to all the students in the Union tonight and as an RA I introduced her and read her biography to the students and faculty. She was a very eloquent speaker and spoke to us about real issues such as Iraq, terrorism, 9/11, and the economy. She has lived in Italy and will be speaking at more seminars until we reach Italy.

Right now we are all studying for midterms that we have on Tuesday and we also have papers due then as well. It is very stressful because we don’t have time for everything and we have class every day we are at sea so there is no time to relax after a port- especially with midterms. After Italy we only have 1 day between ports until we are going to Morocco. There are 5 days at sea between Egypt and Morocco- they did give us a day off during that time. After we leave Morocco we have 9 days back across the ocean to Norfolk where we will have 4 days of classes, a study day and 2 days of exams plus a few days of final activities.

Sevilla and Cordoba

I traveled to Sevilla and Cordoba on a Semester at Sea trip on Thursday June 26th. We left at 10am and took a 2 hour bus ride north to Sevilla. We all slept on the bus, there were about 40 kids. We visited Plaza de Espana, the Alcazar, the largest gothic church in the world (we think- maybe it was just in Spain), and then we visited the Jewish Quarter.The Alcazar is where the King of Spain stays when he comes to Sevilla, he hasn’t stayed there in 7 years though because he usually just takes a flight back to Madrid.  Sevilla was a gorgeous city and there were fountains everywhere you look. They also have a lot of traffic circles in Spain, and Spanish drivers are crazy! Sometimes you won’t even see anything that looks like a road and then a car will come from out of nowhere. We also noticed that drivers seem to speed up when they see a pedestrian in the road- just an observation. I met a lot of really nice girls on the trip. I sat next to Angie on the bus ( I see her everywhere on the ship now). And then we met Danielle (my roommate for the night in Cordoba), Logan, Lauren, Jenna, Jena, Emma and a few other girls.

We took the bus 2 hours to Cordoba where we spent the night. I walked the town with the girls before dinner and we got Café con Leche which we had all been meaning to try. It is a really strong coffee and we put a lot of sugar in it. It was really good, we sat in the coffee shop for about an hour before dinner. Some of the girls I was with had blonde hair and many people stopped to look at them through the coffee shop window. It was very entertaining and men old and young were looking at them. We went back to the hotel for dinner and then got ready to explore. Cordoba does not have a very exciting night life but we ended up having a lot of fun. First we walked around the downtown market and I bought a pair of white linen pants for the boat and possibly for Egypt or Morocco. Most of the shops started to close down around 9pm so then we decided to go find some Tapas.  It was my roommate Danielle’s birthday so we went out and found Bar la Playa. There were about 12 girls that went out and we ordered random things off the menu so we could try things. We ended up ordering some kind of dip, warm brie and we got fried anchovies- with the heads on. We were not expecting the anchovies but a few of us took the chance and ate them. We cut their heads off first, but we were proud of ourselves for trying it.

The next morning we toured Cordoba on a bus and walking tour. We started in the Jewish Quarter, which was surrounded by a wall. We saw the only Synagogue in Cordoba even though there is not a single Jewish person in the city anymore. There are only about 50,000 Jews in all of Spain. The Jews call Spain Sefard which is where Sefardic Jews come from. We saw a statue of Mamahides who was a Doctor in Spain that was very famous. Then we went to another Alcazar in Cordoba and a Mosque that can hold 40,000 people. The Mosque was built using 1,000 pillars. Inside of the Mosque there was a Cathedral built in the middle. It was a normal sized church inside of the Mosque but you never would have known from the outside. We left the historic area and walked around on the side streets and then walked back to the hotel. Everyone was exhausted at that point. We had a 4 hour bus ride back to Cadiz where the ship was and everyone fell asleep as soon as we got on the bus.

I have posted pictures from Cadiz on the facebook link in my last post. I am waiting until we get to Italy on Wednesday to upload pictures of sevilla and Cordoba so that I can find a free internet café. I am doing a long trip in Italy- Rome, Pompeii, Capri, Sorento and Naples. We arrive in Civitavecchia on Wednesday and the ship continues to Naples on Friday but I am just going to meet the ship in Naples.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We're on a boat... Now THAT's a Ship

Many of you may wonder what the title is about, let me tell you.

Since day 1 of being on the "ship" we have been continuously reminded that the vessel we are on is a ship, not a boat. We have Life Boats and even smaller rafts (I think). Well today, as we were admiring the view of the sun rising over Spain, we noticed another vessel coming into port behind us. As the vessel got closer we realized that it was a Princess ship with about 4 more decks than we have. The ship towered over us for the few hours it was in port and therefore we referred to our vessel as a "boat" all day. One girl even exclaimed "we're on a boat, now THAT's a ship!" Needless to say, the next vessel that docked beside us was a vessel slightly larger than a tug boat and therefore restored our confidence in the MV Explorer, our home for the next few weeks.

My friends and I woke up at 6:30am (Spain time- 12:30 EST time) to watch the sun rise over Spain and to see us come into port. The sunrise was spectacular over the skyline of Spain. It did not take the ship long to clear customs and we were able to go ashore around 9:30am. I took a tour of the Churches of Cadiz and saw the new and old cathedrals. I also saw the Castillo dd Santa Catalina and Castillo de San Sebastian- both of which are similar to the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, FL. For those who are James Bond buffs- Die Another Day with Pierce Brosman and Halle Barry was filmed at Castillo de San Sebsatian. About 20 minutes of the film was supposed to be set in Cuba, but obviously couldn't be filmed there. The scene where Halle Barry comes out of the water in her orange bikini and Bond is at the white hotel, and also when one of the characters jump out of the tall stone tower were all shot at the fort. Another fun fact- The beach where both of these forts are located was also the first beach in Spain to allow women to wear bikinis.

After the tour of the churches I came back on the ship and ate lunch, called my parents and took a nap. Then my friend Elissa called after she got back from her trip and we decided to take it easy and hang out by the pool on Deck 7. I am going to have a busy day tomorrow in Sevilla and then Friday in Cordoba so we decided relaxing would be best. We are going to explore Cadiz more on saturday. Cadiz reminds me a lot of Flagler because of the architecture at school that was modeled after the Spanish, and all the forts and even the names of Spanish towns are street names in St. Augustine. It actually sort of felt like being at home in St. Augustine- except for that language problem. My public school spanish slowly came back to me but is nowhere enough to know what to eat or not.

Tonight I went to a Flamenco Show in Chiclana- about 30 minutes away. They gave us lots of Sherry, White Wine, Beer and Sangria. Needless to say we were all feeling on air when they started the show. First there was a horse and two flamenco dancers in a dirt arena. Then they brought out a young bull that was training for a bull fight. He was taunted by the matador and it was actually very sad to watch because he was very timid. When the bull is old enough he will be put into an arena and will entertain thousands. Whether he wins or not, by killing the matador, he will be killed. I am glad we did not watch a real bull fight. After the bull we went into a gorgeous room that held the 200+ people from SAS that attended the show. They gave us appetizers and sangria and then put on another extraordinary Flamenco Show. At the end they pulled people on the dance floor and eventually most people were learning flamenco. And of course, they ended the night with the Macarena- a classical American/Spanish dance I suppose.

I am waking up at 6:30am again tomorrow to get on the bus for Sevilla. It is a 2 hour bus ride. We are going to visit many more cathedrals as well as the Jewish quarters of the city. I will spend the night in Granada tomorrow night and tour the city Friday morning and then come back to Cadiz.


We arrived in Spain this morning around 7am. My roommate and I, along with about 100 other SAS students and faculty, watched the sun rise over Spain as we pulled into port. The sun was gorgeous and huge as it brought day to the city.
We are getting ready to go out on the town and the ship is in the process of being cleared by customs. I am seeing the Churches of Cadiz and going to a Flamenco Night show tonight. Afterwards we will probably explore the night life of Cadiz. They have warned us about pick-pocketing and petty left. Hopefully everyone will be smart. It is supposed to be about 80 degrees which is nice, supposedly its 100 in Egypt which wouldnt surprise me. According to our Inter Port Lecturer Spanish days start late. They eat lunch around 2pm and dinner isnt until 10 or 11pm. The nightlife goes on until around 5am- we will see if I can keep up. All of the students on the ship have midterms and a Global Studies paper due the day after Spain so it will be interesting to see who gets that done.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

From somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic...

First off- Happy Father’s Day. Obviously I am not with my dad but I love and miss him very much J

 I received the confirmation for the rest of my excursions today.

Greece: Sights of Athens and the Acropolis, Delphi, and Saronic Islands

Turkey: Istanbul City Orientation, Palaces of Istanbul and Asiatic Side, and Jewish Tradition in Istanbul

Egypt: The Best of Alexandria and the Pyramids with Camel and Jeep Safari

Morocco: Casablanca City Orientation with Visit of Mosque, and Coca Cola Plant Visit


I am very excited about all these trips. Between all of the trips I had previously mentioned and these I now have a trip almost every day in each country and I usually have the last day in port to wander around and visit places I didn’t get to spend enough time in.

The seas are calm again today. My professors are growing on me but I still think International Business will be the most difficult class. Tonight there is a “Rock the Boat” social dance thing. I have to work at it as an RA again. I actually haven’t gotten much time to socialize because I am always working- its getting frustrating. We are having a meeting with our Director to discuss these issues soon.

We saw a lot of dolphins last night during dinner and supposedly there were some whales but I did not see them. The captain altered our course to avoid the iceberg a few days ago and because of that we passed two gorgeous volcanic islands. When it became dark you could see lights on the islands so people are living there. We were wondering how or why they got to be there because we are still miles from any land. As of noon today we had traveled 1,300 miles from Halifax I believe, and we only had 900 or so miles until we reach Cadiz. We have two more days of classes until we reach Cadiz and I think we are all ready for a break from the never ending homework and we are ready to set foot on land for a little while. In Spain I will be viewing the Churches of Cadiz, attending a Flamenco Night and traveling overnight to Seville and Cordoba.

It was cloudy last night but on the horizon we could see the sun still setting and it was around 11pm, it was gorgeous. Today is the summer solstice and tomorrow the sun is supposed to write at 5am so hopefully we will remember to close our blinds!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Just Another Day in Paradise

The seas were calm yesterday but today they were pretty rough again. I went to class and then took a good long nap to pass the time. Then Elissa, Marilyn and I went to Shabbat dinner. It was really cool and there were about 30 people there of all faiths. We met a lot of really nice people. Then the three of us did homework on the upper deck. I had RA duty tonight on Deck 7 where the Pub Night was, I just had to make sure no one was taking alcohol out of the area. Other than that its been a pretty mellow day. We move our clocks ahead another hour tonight so we are now 4 hours ahead of EST. There is a dance "Rock the Boat" on Sunday night and we are supposed to arrive in Spain on the 24th. Yesterday we had to change our path to avoid an iceberg. The water temperature is 62 degrees and we are about half way across the ocean but I guess Icebergs are still there. Elissa and I are taking a Bridge tour (where the Captain is) on Monday which should be pretty cool. I signed up for more trips in Greece, Turkey, Morocco and Egypt. I think I will know what trips I get tomorrow evening so I will update those. Goodnight!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

And We're Off

We left Tuesday night for Spain and are somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. I couldn’t update yesterday because the seas are really rough, they said they haven’t had a voyage start off this rough in a while. Even crew members are getting seasick. Everyone is pretty much miserable, our stomachs are doing flips. We have had orientation all day yesterday and we have tried to sit out on the outside decks as much as possible to relieve the nausea.  I have met a lot of nice people though, I met Elissa (ironic) at the Bon Voyage and we have been hanging out ever since. I also hang out with my roommate Marilyn and some other girls that we have found. The voyage started out make two complete circles in the Halifax port in order to make sure the compass was working… it would have been nice if we had known that because we were very confused the whole time. We just got basic information last night and they have been telling us about the in port trips, security, health etc. Last night we had an opportunity to see the ways to get involved on the ship via clubs, activities and sports.

Classes start today, I just got out of Global studies which is a required class for everyone. I have international business and business ethics at 12pm and 1:30pm. We are now 2 hours ahead of EST . A lot of students are from California so everyone is thrown off by the timing. The weather looks to be clearing though so hopefully today will be a better day. We think we hit a storm Tuesday night which caused all the bad weather.

I am heading to the Campus Store to buy a voyage tshirt and other fun stuff. I have been told that Campus Leaders (RAS etc.) get a discount so that would be awesome.

We are set to arrive in Spain on June 24th so until then the Blog will probably be boring. I did sign up for the rest of my trips last night so hopefully I will find out in a few days which ones I got. The sign up was for Greece, Turkey, Morocco and Egypt, I am really excited for these trips, I signed up with Elissa for a lot of them. She is really funny and reminds me of a girl Kat I went to Israel with, really bubbly and such.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Welcome to Halifax, Nova Scotia

We have just arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is cloudy and chilly here- 9 degrees celsius.. and everything is in Kilometers- so confusing. Oh well. We are going to explore and maybe go see the Bay of Fundy- the largest tidal change in the world. I board the boat on Monday June 15th for RA training.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Almost Ready

I am starting to think of things to pack... any ideas? I have researched what women should wear in the various countries, we will see how that goes. It is going to be very hot in the countries and it seems as if I have to wear skirts and long sleeved shirts in Morocco and Egypt at least.