Spanish Studies Abroad Student Blogger

Spanish Studies Abroad Student Blogger
Student Blogger

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mis restaurantes favoritos

On the very rare occasion that I'm not at home eating with my host family it is probably because I am at one of the following restaurants. I've had the opportunity to dine at many places while here in Alicante, but I can easily say that th flowering three places are my favorites.

First is my favorite place to get gelato, a store called Amorino. I can promise you that I have tried the lemon and pistachio gelato at more that 10 gelato places in the center of Alicante and this is the store I keep coming back to. Not only are the treats delectable but the location is also superb. The store is located right near the beginning of the Explanada and therefore pretty close to the beach and the port where I often go walking.  The picture below showcases some of their tasty flavors of which I definitely recommend their lemon gelato.

Second on my list is this fun and tasty Mexican restaurant called the Cactus Cantina. After watching the Spain vs. Englad soccer game that was held here in Alicante my friends and I were craving Mexican food and I remembered this place I walk past a couple of times per week that we could go to. The food ended up being delicious and it definitely hit the spot and the atmosphere was also very pleasant! I later found out from my host mom that this is considered the best place for Mexican even by the locals, soI definitely recommend it!

Last but definitely not least is this pizzeria called Sale & Pepe. I was recommended to try this restaurant after commenting to my program director how much I was craving pizza, and so one night my friends and I decided to go out here after catching a movie. It was a great choice! Not only was a their margarita pizza delicious so was their pasta and sangria. We ended up staying for a couple of hours  and chatting with some other customers and just having a great time!

I definitely recommend trying out these places if you're craving non-Spanish food! There are slo so many more restaurants that I never got to try that I wish I could have. Walking along the Explanada or the Rambla you are bound to find many and newly polarized area to dine is the Calle San Francisco!

Dig in!,

La Universidad de Alicante

As my time here in Alicante comes to a close I thought I would share a little bit about my experiences at la Universidad de Alicante and my favorite places on campus.

My overall experience on campus was very good, but at first it was a little hard to adjust to. The university is very large and has about 30,000 students compared to my school back in the states that has as bout 2,500 students. Getting used to the size of the campus and the number of people took a little while but after some time I began to appreciate it.

Once my classes started in earnest I got to meet some incredible people from all over the world. This was mainly due to the Spanish classes I took through the Centro Superior de Idiomas as the classes were for all international students. One of my favorite memories from one of those classes was when the five girls that made up my class started talking and the woman from Mozambique in our class shared a lot about the situation in her country. I am incredibly greatful to have had the opportunity to meet people like this who helped me not only in my learning of a new language but in my understanding of the world.

One of my favorite things about campus is how pretty it is. Right now everything is green and when the sky is boy and the sun is shinning campus looks incredibly beautiful. On the days when I have to eat at school I love sitting outside and eating the lunch my host mom packed for me. The fact that it is still warm enough to do so in December is crazy to me since I am used to lots of snow at this time of the year.

One of my favorite study place on campus is the second floor of the main library right by the windows. From there one can see the mountains on the outskirts of the city and the view is honestly incredibly! I could sit there and study for hours with a view like that! It is something I am definitely going to miss next semester.

Unfortunately I don't have many pictures of the university but here a couple that show some building and just how green and beautiful campus is! And here is the website to see everything that the UA offers!

Monday, November 30, 2015

EspaƱa vs. England

One of the other activities that I had the pleasure to attend last month was the soccer game between the Spanish and English national teams that took place here in Alicante on November 13th.

Earlier that week I had gotten up earlier than normal to go to the University where they were selling tickets to students enrolled in Spanish classes through the Centro Superior de Idiomas. (They offer a lot of great activities so check out their Facebook page Me and my friends were among the first 50 people there so we were able to get our tickets for 25 euros, which was a very good price compared to the prices online.

On that Friday I went over to my friends apartment around 5:30 and we started getting ready and then walked to the stadium from her house as it was only a 10 minute walk. We got there with plenty of time and got to look at all of the tents that were selling merchandise. I ended up buying a jersey and a commemorative scarf that is super cool!

After that we met up with the group where we checked in and got to paint our faces and got free t-shirts, that are very nice. We waited for the rest of the people coming with the University to show up and then we headed over to the official sponsors trailer where we received our tickets and got another bag of free things!

Walking into the stadium was so surreal, the grass was so green and beautifully cut, and when we found out our seats were in the first row of the second tier we were beyond excited because we had an incredible view of the entire field. We took pictures for a while and then the game eventually started. The atmosphere in the stadium was so much fun to be in, all of the cheering and general energy was contagious and helped make the experience even better. Spain ended up winning 2-0 adding to the general excitement in the stadium. I feel very blessed to have been able to attend this event as it was something that I had always wanted to do.

This last weekend I also had the opportunity to go to the Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad game at Camp Nou, where I sat in the fourth row and was able to see the players up close. I definitely recommend going to a soccer game while in Spain as the atmosphere is incredible and a great cultural experience! The soccer team in Alicante is the Hercules Futbol Club and they play at Estadio Jose Rico Perez if you want to attend a game!

Now for some pictures!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mercadillo de Teulada

It has been about a month since my last entry so I have a lot to catch you up on! I've been very busy this last month but things have started calming down now.

One thing I have done a couple of times this last month is frequenting one of the local farmers markets, the Mercadillo de Teulada. To get to the market from my house it is about a twenty minute walk uphill, but it is usually very enjoyable because I am able to chat with my host mom the whole time.

The Mercadillo is held in a parking lot behind the sports complexes of the city and is often filled with soccer fans cars when it is not a market day. The Mercadillo is held every Thursday and Saturday from around 8:00 to 14:00. I usually go on Thursday mornings, and have found they are calmer than Saturdays.

My favorite part about the Mercadillo are the piles of fresh fruits and vegetables! There are so many and it makes me so happy, especially since I know I will get to be eating great healthy food for the next week.

As you can see from the pictures above there is a huge variety of products! Right now there are a ton of oranges and because of that I probably have at least four everyday. The mushrooms that they have recently started selling have honestly been delicious, and this is coming from someone who before coming to Spain absolutely hated mushrooms! The Mercadillo also has a lot of clothes and shoes and other household products. I think my best day of purchases was when I got a scarf and a pair of shoes for a total of 4 euros, and they are both great quality!  I wish I would have gone to the market with my host mom sooner as I could have avoided spending so much money on clothes at the beginning! I will definitely be doing my shopping there if I need any other clothes. Another thing I really like about the Mercadillo is how friendly the vendors are. On more than one occasion they have offered up recipes or thrown in some extra food just to be nice, and they often remember you, assuming you've gone to their stand a couple of times.

I would definitely recommend checking out the Mercadillo de Teulada if you get the chance!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Teatro Principal and the Russian National Ballet

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to do something I had never done before: go to a ballet! I didn't just go to any ballet though, I went to see the Russian National Ballet! Like the world famous one. They performed for one night at the Teatro Principal, which is the main theater in Alicante.

The whole experience was amazing! The theater itself was beautiful, with its roman architecture on the outside and great interior design in the theater, and the performance even better!

The seats we had were in the third balcony and they cost 20 euros each. The tickets were more expensive the closer you got to the stage. y buying the cheaper tickets we didn't miss out on anything. We had a great view of the stage from where we were sitting and a great view of the theater in general.

The production itself was incredible. The first act was Romeo and Juliet, and it was very enjoyable. I would have to say that I enjoyed the second act more though. The second act was a mix of several different ballets that included Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake. Out of all of the dances I would have to say that Sleeping Beauty was my favorite. The costumes and the music were amazing and of course the dancing was breathtaking! I now have so much more respect for dancers.

I encourage you to check out the Teatro Principal and the other events they offer! The link below will take you to their website so you can browse around if you want!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

My Top 5 Things to do in Alicante

It has been almost a month and a half since I got to Alicante and I have had plenty of time to explore the city and surrounding areas, so today I want to share my top 5 favorite things to do in Alicante.

1. The beaches here in, and around, Alicante are amazing. The beach right in town is called Playa del Postiguet, and it is a very nice beach. This beach tends to be more crowded, especially during the summer months and September, as many foreigners like to spend the day tanning and swimming here. I have spent several afternoons there and definitely recommend it. However, el Postiguet is not my favorite beach in the area. My favorite beach is called San Juan. To get to this beach it is necessary to take either a tram or bus for about 25 minutes. The beach makes up for the small amount of time and money that you have to spend getting there. San Juan is a very extensive beach, my host Dad told me that is actually 14km! Not only is it a large beach , but it is less crowded and much cleaner than el Postiguet. One of my favorite things about going to San Juan is how beautiful it is. The area surrounding the beach is all mountains, and that combined with the endless views of the sea are breathtaking!

The first picture is of Postiguet and the second is from San Juan.

2. My second favorite thing to do in Alicante is walk along the Explanada and in the port area. The Explanada is a pedestrian street that goes along the length of the port and brings you to Playa del Postiguet. Along the Explanada there are many restaurants, many of them offering Spanish food but others also serve Indian or American food. Also, there is a section of the street where street vendors have permanent stands to sell their goods. There is a huge variety of products being sold from things like bags and clothes, to nuts and incense. The quality of the products is very high and the prices are reasonably low so I enjoy walking around and doing some shopping there. 

The port is also very nice to walk through as there are more restaurants and vendors selling their goods there as well. You also get to see all of the boats in the marina and are sometimes lucky enough to see large cargo ships coming in. At the end of the port there is an elevated walkway that takes you out even further so that looking back on the city you get to see the port area, the beach, and the castle towering over it all. It is really very pretty.

3. El Castillo de Santa Barbara is the main castle in Alicante. It is situated on top of a large hill/mountain that over looks the sea and the city. It is a very difficult walk up to the top, but there are very well kept paths that make it easier to do. I however recommend getting a ride to the top, if possible. The castle is actually one of the largest in Europe and so there are many areas to see while there, and years worth of history to learn about that it is necessary to dedicate a fair amount of time to seeing it all. One of my favorite places is the courtyard where prisoners were kept during the Spanish Civil War. The views from this area are gorgeous, and I also really enjoyed learning about Alicante's role in the War while there. The top of the castle has the best views in the area, by far. The views of the city, beach, and sea are incredible, especially if you can go when the sun is setting. This is definitely a place to go while in Alicante.

4. Another one of my favorite things to do is to go out at night. "El Barrio" is where almost all of the night life in the city is. The area is filled with restaurants, bars, and clubs. The environment is very fun, as there are so many people out at night and so many places to go. I really enjoy the dancing and overall fun that I have whenever I go out. The only drawback is that in Spain people don't start going out until after midnight and they stay out until the early hours of the morning, so I am always very tired after a night out.

5. Another one of my favorite things to do in Alicante is hiking. I have not done a whole lot yet, but have plans to do some serious hiking in the surrounding mountains very soon. One easy and quick hike that I have done though was incredibly enjoyable. The hike we went on took us down by the sea and through some secluded beach areas and was very very pretty. I am definitely going to be exploring more of the natural wonders close Alicante within my remaining two months here!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Weekend Excursions- Part 2

Last Saturday I took my first trip out of the province of Alicante. It wasn't a long trip to Valencia though, only a two hour bus ride. It felt even quicker than two hours though as everyone on our little fifteen person bus was fast asleep.

The first stop on our tour of Valencia was La Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias, (The City of Arts and Sciences). According to our tour guide this part of the city was all built within the last fifteen years. In the last years the city has seen a large increase in the amounts of tourists coming to the city largely due to this part of town. La Cuidad is made up of multiple museums including, an aquarium, science museum, observatory, opera house, and gardens. The architecture of each building is beautiful, each of them unique and very aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, we didn't get to go inside any of the buildings as we were told that one could spend hours in each of them, and we did not have that kind of time. While we were in La Cuidad we also got to try horchata, a drink that is typical of Valencia. It was very good and I will definitely be buying it in the future!

After our quick tour of La Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias we got back on the bus and until we got to the center of the city. Our first stop was La Lonja de la Ceda, which was built in 1498. This building, which was the silk market, is the only building in Valencia protected by UNESCO. Upon entering we walked into a beautiful Muslim style courtyard with orange trees and a small fountain. Our guide explained to us that even though the market was built during Christian times this style of courtyard had become so popular that it many buildings still built these courtyards. We then proceeded into the building itself which was filled with Gothic columns and chandeliers. The inside of the market area was very cool, with a large space for trading, and also a stairway that led up to a tower, where the people who couldn't pay their debt were sent. There was also a chapel off to the side with a beautiful stained class window, and a an archway with bats engraved in it. We were informed that bats are actually very important to the city of Valencia because they are believed to bring them luck, even the city's soccer team has bats on their jerseys! We next headed to the upstairs area of the building, which was used as a customs house for a period of time. The room was rather plain but the ceiling was absolutely incredible with very intricate designs of dragons and other creatures.

Our next stop was the current central market, which was just a short walk from La Lonja. Walking in we were greeted by the smell of seafood. The market had a lot of fresh produce, plenty of seafood and meat, and other assorted goods. The ceiling of the market was decorated with oranges, which even though they are not native to Valencia have become one of its main exports in the past century.

 After the Market we walked through the center of the city, passing many restaurants and shops until we go to La Plaza de la Reina, where the cathedral is. The cathedral was absolutely beautiful inside and out. The first chapel we stopped in supposedly holds the Holy Grail, the chalice that Jesus used at the Last Supper. There are four other supposed chalices throughout the world, but according to our guide this one is a likely candidate for the real one as its history goes along very well with the known path of the Holy Grail. We also went into several smaller chapels that had once been privately owned by rich families in Valencia. One of them was even owned by the family that produced the only two Spanish popes. One thing that made this cathedral different from others that I have visited was the art displayed everywhere. I really enjoyed looking at the paintings as I thought they added a unique flavor to the church. 

After our Cathedral tour we had free time to eat and explore the city. During our hour for exploring some friends and I went back to some of the cool looking buildings we had passed on our ride through town. Our first stop was the Ayuntamiento, or city hall. We continued on to the train station and Plaza de Torros, which are right next to each other. All of the buildings were very pretty and I really enjoyed walking around the city and taking in all of the new things. 

We made a brief stop at an art museum (Museo de las Bellas Artes) before leaving. My favorite part of the museum was the exhibit they had on a local artist Joaqiun Sorroya. His works were more from the Impressionist Period rather that Baroque and Renaissance Periods, which I had seen a lot of that day. The ride back to Alicante was beautiful. To get back we had to drive through the mountains and with the sun setting the views were beautiful. 

I'd have to say that my favorite part of the trip was wandering along the side streets of Valencia and getting out of the touristy parts and seeing what Valencians do. I would definitely recommend visiting Valencia and if you get the chance I would take the time to explore La Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias, as I've heard very very good things!