Monday, June 27, 2011


Remember that song called, "Barcelona" by Jewel? I won't be held back. I won't be held down. I will lead with my faith. Hold me, release me, show me the meaning of mercy let me loose. Fly, fly, let me fly.

That's one of my favorite songs by Jewel because it's seems I'm always wanting to fly to different places. Today has been a great day in Barcelona. I was sad to leave my new friends in Mallorca but hopefully one day we can meet again. I woke up ready to shop today. I literally have shopped all day. Funny Zara In the dressing room, this young American girl (I could tell she was American by Her horrible Spanish accent) asked me in Spanish if I liked her shoes. When I didn't answer within the first second (I was still processing the horrid accent), she repeats the question loudly and slowly as Americans often do to foreigners. I said, "Just speak English." She said, OMG! You look so foreign!" I was thinking, "Oh! Thank you! sound like a valley girl. It's now 8:30 pm, and I'm sitting out on the terrace watching people on La Rambla--the main street in barcelona where all the people are. It has a very pedestrian feel since cars can't drive down the center. People are showing their talents on the side of the sidewalk wanting you to give them money. Thieves are at work trying to steal people's stuff. You know, today I almost got pick-pocketed. I say almost only because I had nothing in my pocket for her to steal. But her scrawny hand definitely reached into my skirt pocket to check. What a poor, pathetic mousy girl. I gave her a look of death, and I might add I was a head taller than she was. I also saw an old man going around to every pay phone check to see if there was money. Ahhhhh! The joys of people watching!

I did some damage at zara, mango and bershka. Let's hope I can fit it all in my backpack :). I ate breakfast at the hotel. A hardboiled egg, two pieces of ciabatta bread smothered in butter (of course), and mounds of fruit. I will talk more about the awesomeness of my hotel later. I shopped then took a break for lunch around 2:00. I took Rick Steves' suggestion and tried Restaurant Elisabets. It took me a while to find it. It wasn't on a main road, so when that happens I just go with God and hope He leads me in the right direction. He never fails. They have a lunch special for €11 (around $16) that includes an appetizer, main dish, dessert, bread, and drink. I thought that was pretty dandy. I got canalones with beef, grilled beef with French fries, cut up strawberries for dessert, and water. The beef was extremely fatty. My dad would have loved it. What little I could eat of it had a wonderful flavor.

I then walked down unknown territory to discover new things. I walked down one street then up another until WHOA! There is the cathedral of Barcelona. It was beautiful in it's gothic architectural style. I'd never seen a true gothic style before so this was fascinating. What a nice, large find on my walk! I knew then that I was in the Barri Gothic or gothic neighborhood of Barcelona. This is where the cool old buildings are. This is my kind of stuff right here: cool and old. I could've walked through there all day, but my feet and back were killing me.

I came back to the hotel to rest. Now let me tell you about Hotel Continental. I highly recommend this place to anyone traveling here. I know they have other locations as well. The rooms are great, completely pink I might add, and it's in a great location right on La Rambla close to Plaça de Catalunya. The greatest thing though is the 24 hour food bar. It's got all kinds of fresh bread, butter, and cereals. Their cooks make ravioli, yummy potatoes, rice with veggies...and fruit! Fresh oranges, kiwi, watermelon, honeydew, and pineapple. Drinks include pepsi products (ugh!), water, orange juice, milk, beer, and wine. There is also soft serve ice cream with toppings. All of this is available 24 hours a day and is pretty good. It helps save money!

After resting, I took another Rick Steves' suggestion and went to Fargas--the most famous chocolatier in Barcelona. You walk in and it smells like cocoa. I could sleep in there. I imagine this is how the chocolate factory smelt like for Charlie. I got four pieces for €3.47 ($5.20). Pretty expensive but who cares. Vacay!! I got a cream filled, hazelnut, caramel and toffee, and almond. So rich! My favorite was caramel and toffee. Then I had dinner at the hotel. I'm in for the night. It's sad I can't go out when it's dark; it's not that safe in the daytime.

I failed to mention the highlight of my last night in Mallorca. The band at the one star (that should give you some hint as to how awful they were) sang "Achy Breaky Heart" belting it in their strong Spanish accents and using a tambourin. It was quite lovely and very memorable!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do as the Germans do? No, no and no.

Yesterday was probably my least eventful day. That's fine by me since I came to relax. We had two extra hours of class since class is canceled Friday. After class, I got a manicure. Those of you who know me know that I have the fastest growing and driest cuticles (or as my students say "cruticles") known to man. They were so dry and long that they were catching onto my clothes and bleeding. I found a place in Germantown, and she got the job done for €10 ($15). It was well worth it.

Afterwards I just chilled. Since I can't go in the sun until my burn goes away, I washed clothes. And put on a concert while doing so. It made it way more entertaining. I'm sure I freaked out my neighbors, but hey! When in Mallorca...I had dinner at Cantina Vivaldi which is directly beside my hotel. The two German boys in my class, Thomas and Philipp, have been raving about it so I thought I've give it a shot. I ordered a vegetarian pizza called Pizza de Ortulana (eggplant). It had grilled zucchini, eggplant, and red bell pepper. I usually never choose a food with these items, but this was the only one that didn't contain seafood or olives. It was BUENÍSIMO!! I am so sad I didn't come sooner. I ate the whole pizza except for half a slice. I didn't care if I looked like a cerdo (pig), I was happy inside. I looked down while eating the last piece and saw that my arm had grown 2cm. I stopped eating immediately. If I come back looking like Marie Antoinette, it wasn't the cake that did it. It was the pasta!

Afterwards, Natalie wanted to show me the German district. There are so many Germans here that Germany considers Mallorca their 17th state. She said I wouldn't believe my eyes--she was correct. I had no idea this Sodom and Gomorrah existed. There were men in the streets handing out flyers. Of course I said ,"Danke." When I read and saw what was on the flyers (naked woman), I quickly through it away. One man that Natalie knew stopped us and began talking to Natalie. He saw I looked lost, and I told him I didn't speak German. I told him I was from the USA, and he whispered in my ear, "Can we go have sex later?" I looked at him with a evil smile and said, "Absolutely not." he asked why not and I said that I was waiting until after marriage. "What are you, Muslim or something?" I told him I was Church of Christ. He looked disgusted. What a perv. Anywho, there was this club called Paradise. We didn't go in of course, but in the club the strippers have sex with the men on the stage. Isn't that just dandy? A whirlpool of disease. It like at the fair, "Herpes! Hot off the grill! Get it while it's hot!". Ya know? I think I'll pass on that one. We didn't stay long. It's quite loud and obnoxious after a while. It's good to see German ways.

Today is the Night of Fire festival honoring San Juan. We are talking a bus to Palma where there are more Spanish people. I hope we don't stay out late. I'm already exhausted :). Peace and blessings!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My world right now

What a change from the good ol' USA. I am now on the island of Mallorca, but first I want to tell you a little about Lisbon, Portugal. The Lisbon hostel was my favorite hands down. It was homey and comfortable. They also did your laundry for free which made me extremely happy. We did a walking tour of Lisboa (as they call it) and learned a lot about the city. We also learned that the city is one giant hill. I should have nice toned legs after this trip :). We ate at the hostel the first night. The hostel mom cooked: chickpea soup with spinach, codfish with cream, and mango mousse. For €8 it was an awesome deal. Those who have ever traveled en Europe know it is impossible to eat a three course meal for that cheap. We got to know people in the hostel also. After dinner, we sat around the common room. Max, a guy who worked at the hostel, played the guitar and sang. I sang along of course. Then we went to bed around 12:30. I slept like a baby. I mean, come on, we'd been up since 4:00 am.

The next day trained to Belém which is a suburb of Lisbon. We saw a beautiful monastery and the Tower of Belém. It used to be an old watch tower. Of course I spoke in my English accent and took pictures acting like I was a prisoner. Classic Ashley being American and all. You know, a girl that worked at the Lisbon hostel thought I was Italian because of my dark hair and jaw line. And in Mallorca, this woman comes up to me in a frenzy speaking Swedish. I said, "No svenska." finally she understood that I wasn't Swedish. Now that's a nationality I never thought I'd look like. Yah. AND when I sit down in restaurants, they speak to me in Spanish and speak to everyone else in English or German. So yay for looking the part!!

So back to Belém...the Tower was great until you wanted to come down from the top. There was a dark, winding staircase where hardly two people could fit. It took FOR-E-VER!! I thought I was going to have a panic attack. After that experience, we deserved a pastry.

The Pastêis de Belém are so famous, and we wanted to try them out. The restaurant looks so tiny from the outside, but it goes on forever. You can actually watch them making the pastries. There were hundreds laid out ready to serve. José, our tour guide from the previous day, said Rey sell around 60,000 a day. They are €.95 cent euro. We got one each. They are the size of small tarts, and they are served fresh out of the oven. We sprinkled cinnamon and powdered sugar on them. And then it happened...the bite heard round the world. It was the best taste I've ever experienced. The flakiness of the pastry, the perfect texture and sweetness of the custard. It was simply--perfection. I wish I could describe it better for you, but words simply can't do it justice. It almost brought me to tears (literally) thinking about the masterpiece of these pastries. The nun's who hold the secret must sleep well at night knowing they have created the most divine pastry on earth. I figure Heaven will be like this but 100x worse. How can you speak words of such beauty?

That night, we had our farewell dinner to Lisbon and to Brian and Julie's part of the trip. We decided to go to the praised cafe Sâo Bento. They ask if we want smoking or non-smoking. We say non and the waiter directs us to a small room upstairs with five tables. You see who gets priority in this country. The walls had red velvet on them, and the chairs also. It was classy and quaint. We all ordered the steak Sâo Bento which is their classic filet with a cream sauce. It came with homemade French fries. The steak was the most tender I had EVER eaten and probably the beat tasting. The cream sauce was divine. It was so good that after we finished the steak, we sopped up the cream sauce like it was gravy.

Our waiter was in his '50s, named Manuel, and was precious. He was so tiny and cute. I told him I loved him in Portuguese "Amo-te" and he said, "I love you too.". He said it in English. What a precious soul. My meal was €27.00 euro. Not bad for the best steak in Lisbon. We left, Manuel walked us to the door and gave me two kisses on the cheek. He watched us to the cab like a sweet old grandpa.

We were sad to leave Lisbon. We'd met so many friends there. But it was time to say goodbye to them and to Brian and Julie. It wad time to build my own adventure, see what I'm really made of.

And then came Mallorca...the awesome little Mediterranean island. It was 81° today with the UV rays at 9. Let me put that into perspective for you: arkansas' UV ray was 2 today. With that being said, I laid out for four hours yesterday with my German friend Natalie. She is a bronzed babe, but I had to slather in sunscreen. I still burned like a pig being roasted. I'm in pain, but it's just on my backside. Who knows how that happened. Anywho, I couldn't lay out today, and I probably won't be able to tomorrow. So much for becoming a bronzed Mediterranean goddess. Poop.

To end my very long post tonight, I will tell you a story. This story is called "The Café", and it is a very good story. You see, there was this girl. She wanted to be a Mediterranean goddess, but she was so fair skinned that she burnt badly her second day in the sun. So all she can do is eat. She feasts on gazpacho, paella, pizza, and tapas. She gets rounder and rounder. The ocean could purchase her to be a buoy. But no, she sits in the restaurants by herself and listens to the people around her. It's a melting pot of cultures and ideas and languages. She is also listening to the music in the café. Her favorite songs of the evening were: "Alone" and "Visions of Love". She wondered what their obsessions were with 80s American music. Those were the only thoughts of the day. The End."

If I dont die of second hand smoke, I'll be back on July 4. Peace and Blessings to all and to all a good night!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 17, 2011

Portugal+Ashley=weight gain

We landed in Portugal yesterday at 7:30 am. They are an hour ahead of Spain. My time clock is so confused right now. We find the hostel but can't check in until 3:00. I felt awful. I hardly slept the night before due to the extremely loud people of our hostel and the warmer weather. With that being said, I took a little nap on the hostel couch while Brian and Julie explored. "Are you crazy?" you ask. Napping is for babies. Well let me tell you. I was about to eat people alive so sleep was needed.

We did a walking tour of la Alfama and I got toasted. The sun is much stronger by the coast. It was a 2.5 hour walk and the town is all one steep hill. It was "bom" or good :). We were going to do a nice dinner last night, but we signed up to do the meal at the hostel. The hostel mom cooks a meal every night that includes a starter, main dish, and a dessert for only €8. We heard she was excellent so we thought, "Why not eat authentic food and meet new people?"

We showered and dressed then ate. The starter was chickpea soup with spinach. I licked the bowl. The main dish was codfish with cream which is what we would call a casserole. I was a big girl and ate the fish with a smile. Dessert was a mango mousse that was so rich I couldn't finish it. The mom was so sweet and cute. She was older and rounder, and said that if she ever went to New York she would eat a hot dog every day. Our dinner crowd was fun! It was a pessimist from Seattle, a car salesman from St. Louis, a tax lawyer from Paris, two college students from cincinatti, the girl who works there from Madeira, the guy who works there, and the mom. Good conversation with new friends!
After dinner we hung out in the common room. Max played songs on the guitar and we sang and got to know each other better. A girl from Germany walked in with a girl from austria. Doris, the Austrian, looks just like Blake lively. I mean, whoa. The German, Lea (pronounced like princess Leia), is beautiful and 19. She has been traveling for a year and has only been home for Christmas. Could you imagine??? Sometimes she will go two or three months without contacting her parents at all. She had such an interesting story. I wish I could've recorded that for my kids to let them know that being cultured and knowing three languages is the norm in the rest of the world.
We got up this morning, had breakfast, then hopped the tram to Belem. We saw jeronimo's monastery and the Tower of Belem. The tower was awesome! For those that have gone, were the tiny, winding stairs in the tower not the scariest thing? I was going down, people were coming up...tiny europeans + ashley = almost squashed Europeans. Then we went to a piece of Heaven on earth: Pasteis de Belem. It's the size of a tart. It has the flakiest (I'm for real) shell and it's filled with the best custard known to man. They bring them out warm, and you sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. I had three. I wanted more. I wanted to cry when I left because it felt like I was losing a friend. Oh flaky, yummy friend--I miss you already.
Right now it's 4:24, and I'm laying in bed instead of doing another walking tour. So tired and I can hardly type this. who even knows if I'm making sense.

Peace and blessings!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 10, 2011


I guess I wouldn't necessarily call it yelling. I'll preface with that. Laying out at the pool (my sister's old apartment pool btw), I was sitting in the water reading my Rick Steves' book on Spain. The pool is quite large, too large for this incident to happen. As I'm reading, water hits my face AND my book. It was a little girl shooting a water gun right at me from across the pool. I moved my book and said, "No" in a very stern voice. Her face fell and all eyes were in me. I went back to reading and was thinking, "I just scolded another person's child." The parent never said anything to me thank goodness. I realized at that moment in time that the teacher will never leave me. I haven't decided yet if that's a good or bad thing...I need a vacay. Oh wait! I'm going on Sunday :).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

So my mom ran over a cat today

Yet it didn't die right away. Dad had to take care of that. Then one rode into town in the bottom of her Tahoe. Then one was found with its umbilical wrapped around its foot. It didn't die. Just thought you should know about the ways of the land.

My song

My song for today (to the tune of my Bonnie lies over the ocean)

I'm trying to go over the ocean.
I'm trying to go over the sea.
I'm trying to go over the ocean.
So please pack my bag for me.

I'm feeling a bit stressed out now. My stomach feels queasy & sad.
I'm feeling a bit stressed out now.
Please help me not feel so bad.

My bag is too small for 3 weeks.
What was I thinking my friends?
My bag is too small for 3 weeks.
I guess I'll just roll in the sand.

(all together now)
I'm trying to go over the ocean.
I'm trying to go over the sea.
I'm trying to go over the ocean.
So please pack my bag for me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 6, 2011

Transportation is complete!!

FINALLY I have all transportation booked. With the itinerary change, I had to book a flight to Portugal and back to Madrid. And I had to book a flight from Mallorca to Barcelona. That was a doozy because there weren't many flights left. I booked with Vueling airlines so we'll see about that. I've never heard of them. I wanted to take a boat, but that was way expensive and nine hours at sea. I don't know how I would do since I get carsick in the passenger side seat of a car. Just letting you know that this time next week I will be sleeping in a hostel in Madrid. Oh yeah baby.

Bruise update: it's turning yellow.

Tomorrow is my last day of school. I will have officially made it through one year in the public school world. My roommate Caroline is constantly amazed at the how much my rap music repertoire has increased. I have such tough skin now. I am woman.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I bite the dust yet again

Right after another teacher just paid me a compliment on how tall I was today, I am strutting my stuff down the hallway thinking, "I SHOULD wear wedges more often. They are comfortable, and I tower over mean children." Then, it happens. I'm walking on the first floor where all the hustle and bustle happens. The bell had just rang, kids were filling the hallway, and SNAP! I fall, due to my obviously still weak ankle from the fall prior to this one (april 29). No one, and I repeat, no one came to help me. Kids laughed at me. I felt like I was in high school again getting called all those ridiculous animal names. (if they could only see me now falling and surfing four pieces of pizza in my mouth last night.). So I pop up immediately and turn to everyone and yell, "I'm ok! I am ok!" they just stare and one kid even whispered, "wow!" at how quickly I popped up. If he only knew how often this happened...

- picture of my left leg that fell on my right foot. This will leave a lovely bruise.

Happy Thursday to all and to all a good day! Peace and blessings!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone