Saturday, April 28, 2012

         Welcome to the Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia, or Cataluña in Spanish! As you will remember from my fifteenth post, the autonomous community of Catalonia is located on the far northeastern side of Spain,  essentially bordering France's southeastern border.  Here's close up of it as well as a photo of its flag.



          As you can see from the included map, the autonomous community of Catalonia has four providences that are, Lleida, Girona, Barcelona, and Tarragona.  As designated by the map, each one of theses providences has its own capital.  In addition to these four capital cities that each providence has, like the 17 other autonomous communities, the entirety of the autonomous community of Catalonia also has a single capital.  This single capital city is Barcelona.
        Speaking of the capital city of Barcelona, in my introductory Spanish culture and civilization class, we learned that this city is the home of a breathtaking cathedral called La Sagrada Familia, or The Sacred Family in English.  A modern creation from the mind of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, this cathedral is truly a spectacle! Take a look!


        In addition to La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona is also home to another one of Gaudí's spectacular creations.  This building called Casa Mila is a definite tourist attraction for anyone wanting to see something very modern and interesting! Take a look!


         In addition to the fabulous architecture that Barcelona boasts, since it's located on the Mediterranean Sea's coast, it also has fabulous beaches! Take a look at this popular one!


          In addition to Cataonia's beautiful beaches, as I have previously stated, Catalonia is an autonomous community that is also home to its own language.  This unique language of Catalonia is called Catalán and is closely related to French.   
         Well I believe I have made it to the end of my Spanish cultural blog! I hope you have not only enjoyed just now learning a bit about the autonomous community of Catalonia but also about all of my experiences I had while on my study abroad journey! I hope one day you are given the opportunity to explore this beautiful country! ¡Viva España! 


Here's where I found the map of the autonomous community of Catalonia, the photo of the Catalán flag, the photos of Barcelona's La Sagarada Familia and Casa Mila, as well as the photo of Barcelona's beautiful beach.

http://www.vintnerscircle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Cataluna.jpg
http://www.spain-flag.eu/region-flags-spain/spain_catalunya.png
http://yourattractions.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/sagrada-familia.jpg
http://www.hotels-spain-accommodation.com/hotels/barcelona/la-perdrera/casa-mila-gaudi.jpg
http://www.welcome-to-barcelona.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/barceloneta-beach1.jpg





       Welcome to the Spanish autonomous community of the Basque Country, or El País Vasco in Spanish!  As you will remember from my fifteenth post, this autonomous community is centrally located along Spain's northern border.  Here's a close up map of it as well as a photo of its flag.



         As you can see from the included map, the autonomous community of the Basque Country contains three providences, Bizkaia, Araba, and Gipuzkoa.  As the map designates, all three of these providences also have their own capital city.
        As with all the autonomous communities in Spain, the entire autonomous community of the Basque Country also has its own capital.  In the autonomous community of the Basque Country, the capital city is Vitoria-Gasteiz.
        After reading the above city names, you may be asking yourself, now these city names don't look like they're in Spanish?  Well, you couldn't be more correct! They are indeed not in Spanish but in the Basque Country's unique language, Vasco, or Euskera, as it is referred to by the Basque people.
        In my introductory Spanish culture and civilization class, we learned that one of the stand out cities in the autonomous community of the Basque Country is Bilbao.  Here's a photo of a very interesting modern art museum called the Guggenheim.  It's located in the heart of Bilbao and was designed by American architect Frank Gehry.  Take a look!


           In addition to this fabulous modern art museum, the autonomous community of the Basque Country also offers a large quantity of delicious traditional Basque tapas called Pintxos.  The following is a photo of a traditional Pintxos bar in the Basque city of San Sebastian.

         
          In addition to these delicious Basque Pintxos, the autonomous community of the Basque Country  is also the home of numerous cultural festivals.  Here's a photo of the Basque Country's Tamborrada festival.  Take a look!


         This festival happens every January 19th-20th in San Sebastian.  It involves a lot of lively drum playing and is a great time for everyone in attendance!
          Well this is all for now, I hope you have enjoyed my seventeenth post as well as learning a bit about the Spanish autonomous community of the Basque Country.  In my next post, as I have said, I will continue to explore Spain's autonomous communities, this time having a focus on the autonomous community of Catalonia.


Here's where I found the map of the Basque Country, the photo of the Basque flag, the photo of the Guggenheim museum, the photo of the San Sebastian Pintxos bar, and finally, the photo of the San Sebastian's Tamborrada festival.

http://europa.eu/abc/maps/images/regions/spain/pais.gif
http://www.christiancallec.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Basque-flag.jpg
http://www.guggenheim-bilbao.es/img/all/el_museo/foto_postal_03.jpg
http://www.pyreneanexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Tapas-in-San-Sebastian.jpg
http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5044/5335254926_87d9abb9d1_z.jpg
      Welcome to the Spanish autonomous community of Galicia!  As you will remember from my previous post's map, the autonomous community of Galicia is located in the northwestern most part of Spain.  Having this location also puts it directly north of Portugal.  Here's a close up map of it as well as a photo of its flag.





          As you can see, this autonomous community is made up of four providences that are called, A Coruña, Lugo, Pontevedra, and Ourense.  In addition to each providence having its own capital city, as shown by the map, the entire autonomous community of Galicia also has a capital.  In Galicia's case, its capital city is Santiago de Compostela.
       Here's a photo of one of Santiago Compostela's most famous landmarks, the impressive Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.  Take a look!


        In addition to this autonomous community's four providences and capital city, my introductory Spanish culture and civilization class also taught me about its fabulous nature and physical geography.  Here's a photo of Cape Ortegal, Cabo Ortegal in Spanish, located off of Galicia's northern coast.  Take a look!


           Stepping away from Galicia's nature and physical geography, this autonomous region also offers many cultural intricacies like traditional Galician cuisine as well as Galicia's native language, Gallego, which is closely related to Portuguese.
           Because the autonomous community of Galicia is right on the Atlantic coast, many of its most traditional dishes involve seafood.  Here's a photo of a very traditional Galician dish that includes spiced octopus.  In Spanish it's called Pulpo a la Gallega. Take a look!


          Well this is all for now, I hope you have enjoyed my sixteenth post learning a bit about Galicia!  In my next post, as I have previously stated, I will continue exploring more of Spain's autonomous communities, this time having a special focus on the autonomous community of the Basque Country.


Here's where I found the map of Galicia, the photo of the Galician flag, the photo of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the photo of Cape Ortegal, and finally, the photo of the traditional Galician dish, Pulpo a la Gallega.

http://europa.eu/abc/maps/images/regions/spain/galicia.gif
http://www.spain-flag.eu/region-flags-spain/spain_galicia.gif
http://www.paradoxplace.com/Photo%20Pages/Spain/Camino_de_Santiago/Compostela/Cathedral/Images/800/NFront-May06-D6366sAR800.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cabo_Ortegal.jpg
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3117/2625677931_474754cf62_z.jpg


        During my semester long stay in Toledo, I was enrolled in five Spanish classes at La Fundación Ortega y Gasset.  Because La Fundación Ortega y Gasset offered such a large amount of interesting classes, it was hard to make my final decision.
        However, after thinking long and hard I finally settled on an introductory Spanish linguistics class, an introductory Spanish literature class, an introductory Spanish culture and civilization class, an introductory Spanish conversational class as well as a class that looked at Toledo's art and architecture.  (I highlighted this class in my second post.)
       Although I thought all of my classes were extremely interesting, my introductory Spanish culture and civilization class was one that taught me the most interesting things.  In this class,  I was allowed to learn a lot about Spain's demographic makeup, geography, historical background as well as its present situation in the European Union.
       One unit that our class had that I thought was the most interesting was one on Spain's numerous autonomous communities.  In Spain, there are 17 autonomous communities.  Within each of these communities each one has their own culture and way of life.
       In some, like Galicia, the Basque Country, and Catalonia, they even speak a second language in addition to Spanish.  Here's a map of Spain and its 17 autonomous communities designated by name. Take a look!


        Because the autonomous communities of Galicia, the Basque Country, and Catalonia each speak a distinct language, which in my opinion makes them the most culturally diverse of the 17, my next three posts will dedicate a special focus to them.
       Well this is all for now, I hope you have enjoyed my fifteenth post!  In my next post, as I have said, I will continue explaining about Spain's autonomous communities, having a special focus on the first  autonomous community of Galicia.

Here's where I found the above photo of Spain's 17 autonomous communities.
 
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_x7xNgfhbbWo/TH5xwH_5UkI/AAAAAAAAAsA/GNhH-7kdgbA/s1600/Spain4.jpg

Friday, April 27, 2012

       From the very first day I moved in with my host family, they were very quick to tell me about their vacation home located in the small pueblo of Carriches.  They explained that during the summer, in order to get away from the busyness of Toledo, as a family, they often spend weeks upon weeks relaxing in their beautiful pueblo home.
       Since my host family was so proud of their second home in Carriches, one weekend they invited me to spend time with them there.  Because I was so eager to learn and see everything I could about Spain and the Spanish way of life, I very happily accepted their invitation!
      After taking a 40 minute road trip west of Toledo, we finally made it to Carriches.  Here's a picture of its city center.

   
         After exploring Carriches' quaint city center, we made our way to my host family's home.  Here are some of my favorite pictures of its outsides and courtyard.  Take a look!






       
             After enjoying its outsides, we ventured inside where my host family gave me a quick tour.  Here are some of the pictures I took!




         After exploring Carriches' city center and my host family's delightful home, I took it easy the rest of the weekend.  Here's a picture of me relaxing on a hammock outside.  


         Well this is all for now, I hope you have enjoyed my fourteenth post!  In my next post I will begin to explain how the numerous Spanish autonomous communities have led to such vast cultural diversity within Spain.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

       After taking about a three hour bus ride south of Córdoba, we made it to the lovely Andalusian city of Granada.  Since we arrived late, after checking into the hotel, we all got to bed early in preparation for for our guided tour of La Alhambra the next day.  Here are some photos of the fabulous view I had of the Granada from my hotel room.  Take a look!



        After having a great night sleep and a delicious breakfast in our hotel the next morning, we all boarded the bus to embark on our tour of the majestic Alhambra.  Here are some of my favorite pictures of its beautiful courtyards and its extreme artistic intricacies.  Take a look!








         After enjoying a fabulous guided tour, we all took a moment to notice the great view La Alhambra had of Granada.  Take a look!


           After taking one last look at La Alhambra and the city of Granada, we all boarded the bus and embarked on our lengthy journey north back towards Toledo.
           Well this is all for now, I hope you have enjoyed my thirteenth post!  My next post will explore my Spanish host family, having a special focus on their pueblo home in the Spanish city of Carriches!

        As with our four other previous excursions, after signing up in order to book enough space on the bus, in restaurants for meals, and this time in hotels because the excursion would be a weekend long, we all embarked on our program's last group excursion to Spain's southern region.
        The first city we stopped in was Andalusia's Córdoba.  Because Spain's southern region is so close to northern Africa, a large majority of its culture includes a lot of islamic influences.  The highlight of our stay in Córdoba included a guided tour of Córdoba's beautiful combination of a cathedral and mosque.  In Spanish its formally known as La Mezquita de Córdoba.
        The following are some of my favorite photos of La Mezquita de Córdoba's outsides and courtyard.  Take a look!



          After having time to explore and take pictures of La Mezquita de Córdoba's outsides and courtyard, our guided tour ventured inside.  Here are some of my favorite photos.  As you can see I was very fond of the red and white striped arches as well as all of the intricate detail.  Take a look!





          After taking time to explore and take pictures of the entirety of the insides of La Mezquita de Córdoba, our guided tour concluded and we boarded the bus to take us to Granada, the next city part of our large group excursion.
          Well this is all for now, I hope you have enjoyed my twelfth post!  As I have said my next post will explore the beautiful city of Granada with a special focus on its islamic fortress/palace La Alhambra.