A note from the blogger:
I just wanted to thank everyone that viewed my blog this semester. I had a ton of fun sharing my own experiences and re-living the time I spent abroad. I hope you learned something new or at the very least were entertained in some way.
I also wanted to thank everyone I interviewed during the course of the semester as well. I learned so much from everyone I interviewed so if you were one of them I thank you.
With dead week in full swing and finals week fast approaching, Fredonia students are flocking in large numbers to Starbucks to load up on caffeinated beverages. One of the most efficient ways to study for hours on end, bust out that 10 paged essay or finish editing a news story is the assistance of extra strong, extra caffeinated coffee.
I’ve been looking to coffee for the past 3 years to get me through the day. It’s sad to admit, but I’ve become one of those people who can’t go through the morning without a cup of joe. In Spain it seemed to me that people didn’t drink coffee in the compulsive, obsessive way that we do.
Going out for a cup of coffee or ‘cafe’ was a social affair where friends or families would sit down for hours slowly sipping on a obscenely small cup of coffee. They would eat biscuits, churros or toast and enjoy each others company. This idea is almost unheard of in the United States where we run to the nearest coffeehouse, shout our order of an extra large coffee with 2 shots of espresso, extra sugars, and sprint out the door and on with our busy day.
With the prospect of a few all nighters in the next week I figured I’d be loading up on coffee more then ever. I enlisted the help of guest blogger, Keah Brown to see what is her drink of choice is.
“My favorite coffee in summer especially is French vanilla coffee because it just tastes like warm weather and happiness,” Brown told me. “If it’s cold and rainy I love iced black coffee with caramel drizzled on top or coffee with any creamer and 6 sugars. I probably shouldn’t say this but I’ve been drinking it since I was seven. I love it even though it makes me sleepy.”
Be sure to check out Keah Brown’s blog below for more information on coffee, books and desserts!
The second to last weekend I was in Spain a group of us made the trip up to the Northeastern city of Barcelona. It was everything I expected it to be and more. Sadly were were only there for four days, I easily could have spent a few weeks there. The city was absolutely beautiful located on the breathtaking Mediterranean Sea.
One of the most amazing architectural structures I saw in Spain was the Sagrada Familia. This large Roman Catholic church was designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudí. The most fascinating thing about the church is that to this day it is still incomplete. Believe it or not construction began in 1882 and it is anticipated to be done in the year 2026. When the architect died in 1936, the construction was only 15-25% complete. There have been a variety of setbacks that have occurred throughout the years, including a small fire a few weeks before I went.
Even though the structure is still under construction, it is open for tourists to visit. When we emerged from the subway into the blinding sunlight all you can see stretched out before you is an enormous structure stretching into the sky. It is quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Both the inside and outside combine both old and modern designs in a why that is extremely unique.
I hope sometime in the future to return and see the final completed structure.
One of the most unique, and at times, frightening experiences I had while in Spain was Las Fallas. I heard from a bunch of people that attending this celebration was a must-do while in Spain. Luckily, an international student group in Salamanca organized a bus trip for students that were interested in going. The buses left Salamanca before dawn and took us across the country to Valencia.
As soon as we arrived in Valencia it was pure chaos. The streets were jam packed with people who were throwing firecrackers, screaming and drinking. On many street corners there were gigantic monuments, called “fallas” depicting different aspects of Spanish life in satirical ways.
For three days party goers eat Paella and can view the monuments that line the streets. Also, almost every night there is a gigantic fireworks display. However, the last day of the Fallas celebration (the day that I went) is apparently the craziest. On this night, around midnight, they burn down the “fallas” or in English, torches. Each falla is filled with fireworks which go off as the structure begins to burn.
The heat coming off of the falla that I was standing near was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. We were right on top of the barricade at a frighteningly close distance to the huge inferno. I took a video while we stood there but I was afraid that my camera was going to melt. My skin felt like it was going to melt off my face I had to turn in the other direction.
Even after the falla stopped burning the party went on all night. Firecrackers exploded every few feet and there was an epic fireworks display in the wee hours of the morning. It seemed like no one in the city of Valencia went to bed that night. We boarded the buses back to Salamanca around 7a.m. after spending all night out in the city. I’ve never slept better on a bus in my life.
I can honestly say there is nothing like this in the United States. If there is, someone should definitely tell me about it. Being able to witness a four-story structure burn to the ground in the middle of the street was insane. If anyone who will be studying abroad in Spain has the chance to go to this event I highly recommend it! Even if you’re anywhere in Europe making the weekend trip to Valencia would be totally worth it. It was tons of fun and a great cultural experience.
The final installment of my Fred Fest series comes to you straight from the Guinness Factory in Dublin, Ireland. Whether you’re a beer drinker or not, there’s no denying that visiting the factory is a must. This multi-story factory incorporates information about Ireland’s rich history while keeping visitors hydrated at all times. The highlight of the tour is the final stop at the top of the factory. Guests receive a free beer from a bar situated in a room with a 360 degree view of the city. Nothing beats a Guinness brewed & consumed right in the factory. Now stop reading and go out and enjoy Fred Fest.
Stay thirsty my friends.
In the spirit of keeping my posts related to all things Fred Fest I plug on & bring you the third part in this fully informative mini-series.
With the weekend within reach many of us will be beginning our Fred Fest-ivities within the next few hours, if you haven’t already. We are left to ponder the difficult decision of what will be our alcohol of choice for the weekend. How cheap is too cheap? Do you go for Natty or Keystone Light, or maybe throw down a few extra bucks for Coors or Labatt Blue. The possibilities are endless as Fredonia students flood into Walmart, Fred Mart, and every gas station between here and Dunkirk.
Spain was the first time in my life I was able to legally purchase alcohol, so as I strode into my first liquor store there I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Not only was the whole alcohol filled world open to me, but beverages illegal in the United States were also available to me.
I’m talking of course about, Absinthe.
Historically, this drink is a highly alcoholic beverage with a proof ranging anywhere from 90 to 148. It is made from botanicals and leaves of wormwood mixed together with green anise, sweet fennel and other herbs. It is traditionally green in color and is known as the ‘green fairy’. Very often it is portrayed as a highly dangerous and addictive drink with hallucinogenic side effects. The chemical thujone was blamed for the crazy side effects and in 1915 the drink was banned in the U.S. along with many countries in Europe.
After close to 80 years absinthe returned in the 1990s but under strict guidelines in the European Union. Even in the United States you can now obtain “absinthe” but it has completely different ingredients and nothing of what the original drink included.
I must admit a mild curiosity when I saw absinthe on the drink menu. There was a particular shot called the ‘Diablo Verde’ or green devil which consisted of a mix of cannabis and absinthe. We all worked up the courage to try this drink, however, besides a god awful taste that was pretty much the extent of it. No dancing fairies, no crazy visuals, just a slight buzz that comes with your average shot.
Still, it’s not every day you can say you took a cannabis-absinthe shot.
In the spirit of the fast approaching Fred Fest I’ve decided to keep this week’s posts as predominately alcohol related as possible. I bring to you the second part in my mini-Fred fest related series.
One thing Salamanca wasn’t short on was bars. In the six months I lived there I don’t think I even made it to half of them. There were bars of every possible theme or type. Irish pubs, gay bars, international bars, a bar that only sold shots, bars with beds, cages, and poles in them and even a Michael Jackson themed bar named Jacko’s.
Menu at La Chupiteria, the “shot only” bar
As much as the exchange rate sucked, we surprisingly didn’t spend that much money on alcohol. Every night we would meet under the clock in the Plaza at around 11:30p.m. At that time representatives from the different bars would walk around trying to get you to go to their bars. Almost always their pleading came with the promise of free drinks. We would stand around in the plaza for 15-20 minutes as a slew of free drinks were thrown our way. Then we’d embark on a journey consisting of as much free alcohol as possible. All you had to do was present the tickets given to you by the representatives to the bartenders and voila…free drinks.
Coming from small town Fredonia, the going out scene in Salamanca was big city living for me. Here a night out consists of walking up and down Main and Water Street attempting to find the best drink specials.
However, in Salamanca the possibilities were endless. There was the BJs of Salamanca bar called Paniagua packed to the brim with hipsters clad in plaid. Then there was the Sunny’s bar called Cubic packed with underage Spaniards all looking to get laid at the end of the night. There was the international bar called The Irish Rover where all the international students flocked. Every week they hosted a party in honor of a different country featuring music and different activities of that country. For the American Party there was even a break dancing competition. Medievo was the Old Main where ladies night always meant free drinks for woman.
It’s amazing how many more bars you can cover in a night when clubs are open till 7a.m. or later. Then at the end of the night/beginning of the morning there was the P Dubs drunk food place called Leonardo’s. At least a handful of people could be found passed out or slumped over on tables there towards the end of the night. I think this classy establishment closed its doors around 5 or 6a.m.
No matter what your idea of a good time is, there was a bar in Salamanca that would make you feel at home. Speak the language? That’s an even better in with the locals and higher chance of getting free drinks. Cheers.