Friday, March 22, 2013

Last Day at ESADE

This past Monday was my last trip to ESADE.  I decided to document the walk so I can forever remember the last day of my MBA.  (gah!!!!) Here we go!

First I would walk from my apartment to Plaza Catalanya and get on the FGC train (usually the S1, S2 or S55) to San Cugat. The walk was about 10 minutes and the train took about 25 minutes.  When I exited the train in SC, this was my view.
This is the view back towards the train station.
This is the world's most amazing bakery which I passed both ways. I may have possibly maybe stopped at least once each trip.
This is about 10 minutes into the walk to campus. Pretty, right? It gets better...
Getting closer...
I see it in the distance!
Walking through the park that was typically full of all types of adorable dogs. (Yay for the dog fix!)
There it is! The full journey from apartment to school is 2.2 miles, and takes about one hour.
Pretty modern, huh? A bit different than McCombs...
Down the walkway towards class. On the left is Gloria's, a popular place for lunch that had unlimited wine and beer, which made for a fun 2:30pm class for many!
After our last class, the McCombs group took our last pictures at ESADE. A great group, a great experience, and with that - an MBA is done!

Exchange Adventures: Seville!

I was beginning to worry that for living in Spain, I wasn't experiencing many Spanish cities.  Luckily Taline came to visit and agreed to visit Seville with me. Thanks Taline! First things first: Why do I call it Seville instead of Sevilla? Ask Joe, but it basically comes down to the fact that I am not Spanish, so I don't try not to say cities as if I lived there. Take Porto or Roma for instance.  Anyway, on to Seville.

For some reason I thought it'd be a good idea to book a 6:00am flight.  T & I used to run at 5:30am, so I must have assumed this made sense. For the record, it did not.  After only about two hours of sleep, we made our way to the airport and proceeded to still not rest thanks to the pure comfort of RyanAir. We managed to figure out the bus system and made our way to the hotel by about 9am. Even though we couldn't check in for a while, we were able to load up on coffee. Thanks B&B Naranjo!

Given that it was raining on Tuesday, T & I decided to hit the Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla, which was luckily only a few steps from our hotel.  This museum is supposed to be second to the Prado in terms of importance, and given the number of Murillos and Zurbarans, I see why. It was a beautiful collection and an equally beautiful space.  I was really sad that the 18th-20th century sections were closed, but the temporary exhibition on Garcia Ramos made up for it.

Next we found a little restaurant nearby and mapped out our next adventure, the Casa de Pilatos. This palace was billed as being one of the most stunning in Andalusia, and it was also supposed to be free that afternoon.  Turns out it was not free, but it was stunning.  We opted for audio guides and took about two hours exploring the place.  It reminded me of the palace I saw in Marrakesh, except it was filled with Roman statues and a second floor of impressive art.  Seville clearly has a heavy Moorish influence, which makes for a surprising mix of architecture and art.

Upon finishing, we decided to try our luck at the Cathedral, only to find it closed.  It was really starting to pour at this point, so we found a little "fast food tapas" place called Tapeaje, enjoyed some Tinto Naranja, and called it a night by 9pm.  Party girls we are, right? In all seriousness, we were both exhausted and not fully with it, so I think it was the right move.


Wednesday morning was the complete opposite of Tuesday evening.   Taline and I were very well rested (um, 11 hours worth!) and it was a gorgeous sunny morning.  So, we opted to go for a run.  If I'm being honest, Taline opted to go for a run and I didn't want to feel guilty for not joining her, so I went too. She was supposed to do 30 minutes easy, but somehow I convinced her to do her hour run. This afforded us the chance to run along the river, though some government-building lined streets, and into the park to end up at Plaza Espanya.  And, I didn't die running! This was definitely a trip highlight and a fun way to see the city.

After cleaning up, we headed to the Cathedral. First we stopped at an outdoor cafe with a view of the Giralda and enjoyed some relatively healthy veggie-friendly tapas.

Then we went to the Cathedral, which ranks as the third largest in the world.  As one would imagine, it took us quite a bit of time to see everything.  Some of the highlights included the tomb of Christopher Columbus, the blind Madonna, and the second largest pearl in the world resting atop a crown for the Virgin.  Armed with audio guides, we explored almost every nook of the building before climbing up to the top of the Giralda.  The views, as expected, were incredible. 

 From there we hung out in the orange tree courtyard before going to another restaurant to refuel. At this point we decided we wanted to see a flamenco show, so we made our way through the Jewish quarter to buy tickets at the Juderia de Sevilla for a show at the Casa de la Memoria.

Here is where I admit my skepticism.  I thought a flamenco show was doing to be incredibly cheesy, but something I might as well see in Seville.  And now I admit how wrong I was.  The show, composed only of a guitarist, a vocalist, and a dancer was one of the most breathtaking shows I have ever seen. It was so intimate and expressive and emotional... and I can't even begin to express how stunning the dancer was.  Taline and I both agreed it was a (if not the) highlight of our trip.
From there, we went to a tapas bar called Choco y Late and scored with a delicious dinner.  It was nearing midnight, and we were feeling pretty proud of our late-night selves. Which meant it was time to go to sleep.


For our final morning in Seville, I opted to have a long breakfast at the hotel while Taline went for her run.  Fully loaded up on cappuccinos, we made our way to the Alcazar Palace and gardens.  We decided to forgo the audio guides and just explore on our own.  I was once again blown away with the extravagance of this palace. It reminded me again of the palace in Marrakesh, but was nearly a thousand times more intricate and beautiful.  The best part was walking out to the massive gardens, which went on for acres and acres.  One day, when I am mighty rich, something like these will surround my summer home.

After the Alcazar, we stopped in to the Archivo General de Indias, which is home to Spain's historical archives documenting both its history and its explorations to the new world.  Much of the collection was donated by Christopher Columbus's son.  While T & I didn't understand the exhibition thanks to the lack of English subtitles, we did learn a lot about about the city during a short film about the archives.  I'm glad we stopped.

After that, we walked back to the water, enjoyed a leisurely lunch, and then grabbed our stuff before heading back to the airport.
I am so thankful I was able to explore this city, and even better with Taline. It seemed most like Madrid, and nothing like Barcelona. I feel like it was a good opportunity to see Spain from a different perspective, and also learn how powerful the city was before its river essentially dried up. I also enjoyed our slower pace and the opportunity to really explore the places we visited. Overall, another great trip and one more reason why I love Spain.  Lastly, if anyone can teach me how to flamenco, I'm ready to learn!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Marathon Spark

I have seen two marathons since arriving in Europe.  The first was during my trip to Marrakesh, and the second was yesterday in Barcelona.  Not only did I get to see the marathon, I got to finish the last 4 miles with Taline! This was kind of unfair because I got all the benefits of a race (i.e. the cheering, the bands, the anticipation near the finish, the look of people who though I'd just run 26.2 miles.) 

Before I had foot surgery, I was in the best shape of my life. Running was fun and easy, minus the pain in my foot of course. But after having to take two months off, immediately followed by starting my MBA, followed by starting a pretty hard internship... and throughout still having stupid pain in my feet... I basically ruled running out for distances of over 5 miles.  (If I'm being totally honest, I think I was completely burned out from years of training and put working out in general on the sideline.)

While in Barcelona, with much more free time, I have been trying to run at least once per week. I usually run 3-4 miles, at a very slow pace that often seems like walkers are passing me, and often with the feeling that I may collapse from exhaustion by the time I finish.  But I can feel the draw of getting back into a training program. 

I don't know how I could train this summer if I will be in Central and South America for most of it, but I do think it would be a good thing to start again when I get back. Perhaps maybe another half and/or full is in my future? I already have one friend (Taline) committed to joining me (i.e. keeping me accountable.) Who knows, maybe it's time to get back in the running game?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sagrada Familia

At last I visited the amazing Sagrada Familia. This is clearly a place impossible to capture in pictures, but I tried to capture some of my favorite parts. So glad Taline was able to share this with me. 

Lastly, my favorite quote from Gaudi.