WELL, as I (and probably many of you guessed) I completely neglected this blogosphere of mine for a chunk of time. What has made me come back to write this fine evening, you ask? Well, midterms of course! Nothing better than a semi-justified procrastination tool! So, a quick run-down of February:
After Paris, we took a day trip to Ronda, a small town not far from Granada and one of the last pueblos to be reconquered by the Christians. Ernest Hemingway called Ronda the most romantic town in the world, and wrote “if you are to visit one place in Spain, this should be it.” From reading in travel books and pictures I had seen, this was a highly anticipated trip for me. And boy, I was not disappointed. It was probably one of the most bizarre/fascinating/romantic places ever created by man and nature. The town is straddles a stunningly dramatic gorge, with nearly vertical walls. Yet, somewhere in history someone decided it was a strategically good move to build the city right up to the edges. After seeing it and walking along the bridges and walls, I am highly suspicious of this logic.
Ronda also has some of the most famous bull-fights in Spain and tickets sell out the year before. The ring is also home to a museum and you are able to take tours and actually walk on the ring. Whatever your opinions on bull fighting, hearing our guide speak with such pride and adoration about Ronda’s importance in the history and development of bullfights, the best toreros, their safety, and even the bulls themselves, it really did allow you to at least appreciate that this isn’t something taken lightly in Spain.
Ronda: a glimpse into the past and heart of Spain.
After Ronda, I travelled to Geneva, Switzerland. After working in D.C. last semester with the Trade Rep, I really wanted to go see the international hub of trade, policy, and general relations. I went by myself, and about half-way through the first day realized just how much I needed some alone time. I got to walk through the international sector of the city, peeking into the windows of some of the most influential and well-known international organizations. I took a tour of the U.N. which was surprisingly interesting and enjoyable. I gawked at the WTO and watched the sunset over the lake and mountains while wondering who the countless runners were and what significant role they played on the international stage.
I went into the older section of town and was reminded that Geneva was Calvin’s original Presbyterian experiment, and the charming “Old Town” still remains a tribute to these roots in a quintessential European way.
In such a public forum I will not say how much my dinner for one cost, but as a point of reference: 18 franc pizzas were about the least expensive thing you can find anywhere in town (I didn’t order a pizza). However, my menu did include a list of “wines you have to try before you die.” Needless to say, it was one of the most incredible meals of my life and I passed an hour and half enjoying every bite/sip/minute.
I have to say, Geneva was totally my speed, my kind of place. To me, Geneva is a mix of D.C., Paris, and Annapolis. The high-powered jobs and understanding of their importance definitely gives a D.C. workaholic vibe, and the small waterside charm with a sprinkling of restaurants and marinas made reminded me of Annapolis. Add in the French language and food (with chocolate as its own category), the overwhelming sense of luxury and refinement and you can’t ignore the Parisian influence. A seemingly strange mixture, all coming together in one of the most fascinating and intoxicating cities I can imagine.
Icing on the cake…there are swans in the lake.
I also got to take a day trip from Geneva to Mont Blanc – the highest peak in Europe. I must say, despite the below-freezing temperatures the Alps are definitely one of the most mind-boggling things I have ever encountered and don’t think I will ever forget. You never really expect to see something like that, even though there are pictures to prove that it’s real. While I don’t think I’ll ever ski the five-hour trail complete with ax picks and harnesses down from the summit, I do hope to go back to the Alps for another adventure or two.
Beer and hot chocolate to warm up!!
The time between these amazing trips was filled with good times in Granada with some great friends, plenty of cafes, bars, hikes, paintings, and even some classes thrown in the mix!!
Technically my parents arrived in February, but I’m just going to save that for March…