Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Back in the land of AZ

And back to reality. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Spain and will get into a little more detail soon, but I thought you all might be interested to hear my latest housing issues. Take a guess, water, gas or electricity. Well, this time it’s water. Again. I returned home from all my travels (when I got back from Spain, I quickly turned around and went to Baku for a couple nights to watch some March Madness on Saturday night) to find that I had no water left in my big water tank. No problem, I’ll just turn on the well pump, I thought to myself. So I plugged in the pump only to find that it is no longer functioning. So once again, I am out of water. I would like to say I will have it fixed this week, but I am leaving again on Thursday to meet up with my parents and aunt who will be here for a while to visit. Needless to say, I’m quite excited to see them again. Plus it should be a good time showing them around the country. Now on to Spain.

We left Baku around 6 in the morning and flew on to Moscow. We had to land for a couple hours in a town about an hour away from Moscow because of bad weather. It didn’t really matter though since we had a 7 hour layover so we weren’t in danger of missing our flight to Madrid. When we finally did get to Madrid, we met up with Joyce’s friend Nicole and her friend Sarah. Our original plan called for us to then catch a bus immediately to Sevilla, but we had a small problem finding the bus station and figuring out the Metro. We finally did, but it was too late. Little did we know, it would end up being a trend for the vacation… the whole getting lost and sleeping in bus station thing. We decided to wait it out in the bus station for 6 hours or so and we had some Doritos and tequila thanks to Nicole to keep us warm and busy. We had to sit outside which got a little cold, but what can you do. We finally got on the bus and made it to Sevilla where we had a hotel waiting for us. Unfortunately, we had no idea where the hotel was and after waiting for a taxi for an hour or so, decided to hoof it in the semi-correct direction, then completely wrong direction. What didn’t help was the parades going on in town that crowded the streets and all of us being tired from travel. We finally made it though, and checked in without any problems.

Joyce’s friend Caroline was going to meet up with us in Sevilla and gave us some directions, which of course, we could not follow. So Joyce and I wandered around for a couple hours, ate some food (tapas are freaking awesome, by the way) and went back to the hotel where Caroline happened to be waiting for us. Good times. Funny story, while we were eating it was after midnight which meant it was St. Patrick’s Day. I tried to order an Irish car bomb, in Spanish, and got laughed at. The bartender’s eyes popped out of his head when I said car bomb in Spanish, and I tried to explain how to make one. They finally got someone that spoke a little English to help me out and I tried to get behind the bar to make one, but eventually gave up. The next morning, Caroline took us around a little bit and showed us how to get around town a little bit. We ate some breakfast then wandered for a bit. Turns out, when Joyce and I got lost, we were about 5 minutes away from the hotel. Go figure. The rest of the day we walked ALL over the place and saw pretty much all of Sevilla. We took a lot of pictures of old buildings, parks and churches and at night we watched the parades celebrating Holy Week. There are a few pictures of the guys in robes and the floats they carried around with candles. It was all pretty impressive. After that, it was time to say goodbye to our nice hotel room and leave for Valencia.

Every year in Valencia, they have a festival called Las Fallas. I was very excited when I learned that our trip would be corresponding exactly with this festival. We were able to plan our trip so that we would be in Valencia on the 19th, which is the last and biggest night for the festival. All over the town, they build these giant paper machet floats. They are all judged and a winner is selected, although I have no idea what basis they use or which float one, or if I even saw the winner. Either way, at night time, they light them all on fire. All of them, except the winner of course. So all day long there are people everywhere, checking out the floats, drinking beer and throwing off firecrackers. They were the kind that are somewhere in between black cats and small sticks of dynamite. It was awesome. Whenever it was time to light one of the floats, they would set off fireworks from that site so at night you can hear and see fireworks all over the place. We staked ourselves a nice spot right in front of one of the bigger floats and were able to see them set up the explosives and watch from the front row as they blew it up. They had fire hoses on either side and were constantly spraying the buildings, the float and everywhere around it. Keep in mind these things are built in the middle of these old European streets, so the buildings are practically right on top of the fire. I can’t imagine something like this going on back at home. Crazy fun. After the fireworks, we were all pretty exhausted. I was starving so Bonnie, Arzu and I stopped off at a Burger King (I know, I know, sometimes you gotta give in, you know?). Everyone went back to the bus station where we had a few hours to kill before our bus left for Valencia. The one guard at the bus station was quite vigilant though and made sure that no one got to rest their head or lay down in any form at all. If you slept for one second, this guy was all over you yelling something in Spanish until you sat up right. There were tons of people at the station though, so he couldn’t really keep up and we all got to rest our eyes for at least a little bit.
We finally made it to Barcelona and met up with Dave (my cousin) without any problems. We gathered our stuff and went to his house where we were immediately greeted with showers and beer. Not a bad combo. We went out a little bit that night to some of the bars, but we got a late start so we didn’t get to see the usual places Dave heads to. Friday night though, we got the full tour. It was a great time and I can see that Barcelona would be a fun place to live. That Saturday, we all kind of hit a wall. It didn’t help that most of us slept until around 4 or so in the afternoon (we got in pretty late that night). We decided that a relaxing day wouldn’t be all that bad, so we made dinner in the apartment and hung out all night. It was still a lot of fun and re-energizing. Nicole and Sarah had to leave early the next morning anyways, so they weren’t really interested in going out all night again. On Sunday we got a pretty good tour of Barcelona. Dave took us to Park Guell and a couple of the other major landmarks. It would have been nice to have another day to walk around, but we saw pretty much everything we wanted to. Barcelona, I think, was still my favorite city to visit though.

Monday morning brought with it another early bus ride back to Madrid. We got there early enough in the afternoon that we could wander and check out some of the major sites before we had to be at the airport, so that’s exactly what we did. Arzu went shopping, since she had already been to Madrid, but Joyce and I did a fair amount of wandering. I don’t think we even got lost. Well, maybe just a little bit. We got to see the big palace, cathedral, parks and watched some old guys play bocce ball. You can tell they go out there all day, every day. It was pretty amusing. We got to the airport in plenty of time to catch our flight and made it back to Azerbaijan. It felt good to finally get home and sleep in my bed, but it also would have been nice to spend more time in Spain. I would have liked to see a bull fight, but that will have to wait till next time. I’ve attached a bunch of pictures and have a ton more on my computer. The pictures are: a bridge in Sevilla, a parade with the guys in their robes, a float with candles and the Virgin Mary, the bull ring in Sevilla, a palace, the view from the top of the towers in Valencia, two of the floats that they set on fire, one of the streets in Valencia with tiny booths for shopping on the sides, the float we saw get lit up, Joyce, Sarah, Dave and Arzu out in Barcelona, pictures from the park designed by Gaudi and a statue in Madrid that is the city symbol.

The excitement doesn’t stop there though. Tomorrow morning, I am heading to Baku so I can meet my Mom and Dad at the airport. A few hours after them, Aunt Jeanie arrives as well. I’m excited to see them all again and can’t wait till they get here. We’ll spend Friday in Baku, then on Saturday we will head to Lankaran for a few days. Aunt Jeanie will fly out on Tuesday, and then my parents and I will be moving on to Sheki and Ganja. I figured since they have been to Lankaran before and have seen pretty much all it has to offer, I would show them other parts of the country this time. It should be a lot of fun, as always. Be assured that I’ll let you all know in a little over a week. Till then, go White Sox!


Blogger Tony said...

This water situation is ridiculous. Keep the good blogging coming. I love it. Come home soon and safe bra.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

coche bombas?

12:48 PM  
Blogger jaxson corey said...

I am much impressed by the decision and also it is necessary to declare if there is no change has been come. I am much thankful to you for sharing a very nice topic.
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10:34 PM  

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