Tuesday, June 30, 2009

SHOP til you DROP

Today was obviously a shopping day!!! Alexa and I got up early because we were on a mission to get everything on our lists for people. I made three large purchases...A present for my mom :), for cody :), and for Mrs. Dabber and Skylar :)! I also found these pair of cool way footwear tennis shoes, but they didnt have my size. I was on mission to find them. We must have gone into about 40 shoe stores, and yet nothing! I was so mad, but I fought a purse the day before so all was well. We went back to the hostal at 1:30 to set up for a suprise lunch for Brandon's birthday. Good cake! Then we split into on assignment groups and took pictures. Since it was our last day Granada, we went to a fancy restuarant! It was a five course meal, but seemed like so much more food than that. It was very pretty too because it overlooked Alhambra (the Castle).

My picture were not so hot today!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hike from Hell

Today we drove up two hours to on a hike in the mountains. Shortly after getting there half of the group got split up from the other group. My group, without a map, accidentally chose the harder of the two trails...It was downhill almost all the way with wet rocky terrain. The uphill was worse though, and my asthma started to kick in not to mention my allergies were out of whack too!! Then after the horrible hike we ate lunch, and I bought a new purse! After that, we rode back to the Hostal and had siesta. When we got back Ms. B and Ms. K had a salad and pasta dinner ready for us; it was sooo sooo good!!! We had some more siesta time, then we walked up to san nicholas and took picture of alhambra at night. We stayed about fourt-five minutes..

My best picture of the Day:

^yeah..its panorama! (Alhambra @ Night)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Horse Stables

Today we woke up and drove to an equestrian club. We saw a lot of beautiful horses! The show horses were massive..almost ten feet tall. We hung out there for awhile. We even got to see a pony do jump, then the pony bucked a girl off. It was funny, but I am sure it hurt a lot for the girl. After that we went to lunch and had siesta. That night half the group went to go watch the soccer game, and the other half went and ate dinner and went back to the hostal.

It was a lazy day, and my pictures were not all that great from the Horse Stables...

Arab Baths and Massages

Today we broke up into our "on assignment" groups and had three hours to take pictures. Kate felt sick today, so there was only the three of us. We ventured off and took some really great pictures of street people and everything. After that we had a group lunch at Nuevo Restaurante. After that we had a short little siesta. Then we went to the cathedral down the street; it was absolutely massive. We also went to burial chapel of Isabell and Ferdinand; it was very pretty and elaboratly decorated. After that, we went to dinner in smaller groups...I had ice-cream for dinner :). Then we went back to the hostal for about an hour. Our suprise for that night was going to Arab baths and getting massages. That was so much fun!! There were three baths: one hot, one warm, and one cold. There was also a steam room that did wonders for my skin. Overall I had a really good time!

My Best Pictures of the Day:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bull Fighting

Today after breakfast we were split into four groups of four to do "on assignment" work. Kate, Brandon, and Shelby are in my group. Each group had to pick a cultural aspect of Spain to photograph. Our group picked streetlife, which includes beggers, outside markets, and street entertainment. After we wrote up our proposal, each group had an hour before lunch to go walk around Granada and shoot pictures. We didnt take many pictures but we scoped out places to go back tomorrow. After we had lunch and a short siesta. At five o'clock we rode a mini bus out to a ranch that raised bulls. We saw a couple of different matadors "fight" the bulls. This was a real bull fight because real bull fights take place on sunday. The owner of the farm picked four female horses about two or three years old, which are prime time to breed them. They use the same techniques they use on the males to see if the females have aggressive traits they would pass on to their kin. They use females for this process, so that the males do not learn from their experience. They want the males to be fresh when they first go to into the ring. I had a lot of fun. Then very late we went back to the hostal and ordered pizza and went to bed.

My Best pictures of the Day:

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Today we woke up late at ten o'clock and shared are pictures from Alhambra from the night before. After that we had about an hour to get ready to watch Flamenco dancers at one thirty. We rode the bus to the Flamenco dance studio. Watching the dancers was very intense and very beautiful. I have seen Flamenco dancing before in Barcelona a few years ago, but I dont remember it being so intense. It was amazing how they moved their body gracefully, but at the same time were so rigid and precise. I took some amazing artsy photos...some way blurrier than others, but I still very much enjoyed the little show/practice they performed for us. After that, we rode the bus back to the hostel and watched an Annie Leibovitz documentary called Life Through a Lens. It was very moving. I learned even more about Annie Leibovitz!! We had some lounge time then we sent pictures to the dancers we took pictures of today. Then later I think we are going out to dinner then coming back to the hostel and having an early lazy night.

My Best photos of the Day:

Class and Alhambra

Today we woke up and ate breakfast at nine o'clock, then we walked to a hotel nearby to use the conference room to have class. Everyone picked a couple of pictures of the same shot to compare which shot was the best. Tino critiqued everyones pictures, then he showed somemore of his work. He showed the same story he shot in Haiti in black and white and in color. The two stories both effectively conveyed the message Tino was trying to send. After that we went and all ate lunch. We had seista, then we went and walked to Paddy's Bar to watch the first half of the USA vs. Spain soccer game. The pub was packed full of Americans cheering on our winning team! After the pub, we walked to Alhambra, the castle. We got lost trying to find the entrance, but the grounds of the castle were so peaceful and beautiful as well. The castle was amazing with mostly Muslim influence, and all the arabic writing repeated the same phrase on the walls "there is no god but Allah." After the castle we walked back to the Hostel and crashed.

...all my pictures from today are horrible...i had an asthma attack walking up the stupid hill to get to the castle.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Science Museum

Today we spent about five hours at a science museum. It was suprisingly intresting though. We went and saw the planatarium with a show about the moon. We saw a show of different birds flights. The owls were very pretty. The small white owl reminded me of Hedwig in Harry Potter. After that everyone split into groups. I went with the troup to the Tropical exhibit of butterflies. We were warned that it would be hotter than it was outside, but walking into the exhibit was like walking into a wet sauna. I think every pore in my body was sweating...even place i didnt think could sweat were sweating!! The butterflies were so pretty though. There was a moth that was about the size of a baseball mitt it was enormous; I have never seen anything like it before. After that everyone was just about to call it quits. Since we still had one more exhibit, we ate lunch at the museum, and it was really good i had spagetti! After lunch we went to the last exhibit, and it lasted forever!! It was very intresting though. I learned a lot of new things. Chess was invented in India as a war game, and since India did not have horses they used elephants for the originial chess. The black and white squares represent night and day. The four middle squares represent the four seasons. Horascopes came from Andalucia (the region I am in, in spain), and I learned many more things..but those are the things that mostly sunk in. After the museum, I had a good nap during siesta. Then for dinner we split into little groups and went off and ate dinner. I ordered a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwhich; it was very good. Then we went back and Tino talked about his pictures. He showed us some amazing picutres from Patagonia. The ice glaciers were so intresting. He really focused on color and contrasts of color. Then we went to sleep!!

My best pictures of the Day:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Leaning With Tino

Today in the morning we split into three different groups according to what kinds of pictures we wanted to shoot. I was the group shooting people and our group was with Tino. Tino taught us new techniques of how to take candid pictures or "spy" pictures of people on the street. It was really intresting. That was all of the morning. I took some really good pictures. We also walked all the way up the san nicholas which overlooks Alhambra, the castle in Granada. It was very pretty. Then we went to lunch, and has siesta. At five o'clock, everyone came down the to the courtyard at the hostel we are staying at and loaded there top five pictures of the day on a flashdrive to show the rest of the class. Tino criticed everyones pictures and gave a new perspective; it was a good learning experience. After class, we all went back and walked the same streets we walked in the morning and took better pictures! Seeing the castle at night from san nicholas was amazing it was so beautiful. After that we walked down and at an Indian restuarant...I had some sorta of chicken pastry veggie thing it was very spicey but also very yummy!! Then all stuffed up we trudded back to the hostel, and Tino showed us some of his worked. Tino talked about diagonals, color, and other elements of pictures we need to look for.

My best pictures of the Day:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Arrival in Granada and Tino

Today we got up early and rode a four and half hour train ride to Granada from Madrid. Granada has much more personality than Madrid, and I definity like it better. Granada is a much smaller city than Madrid by far. It was a relaxing day. My roommates changed to Hanna, Allison, and Jaime. We ate a small lunch and had a long siesta until nine o'clock. Then we went downstairs and met Tino Soreano, the national geographic photographer. We ate pizza and shared pictures. Tino talked about new ways to look and take a photograph, then he showed us some of his pictures. Our meeting lasted until about one o'clock in the morning, then we went up to our rooms, showered, and went to bed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Today we took a day trip to Toledo, which is about a thirty minute train ride from Madrid. Going to Toledo was a nice change from Madrid; it was much more quaint. The group met Meagan's boyfriend Javi, also. We walked the streets, went to the plaza, tried to go to the cathedral (but it was closed), went to a sinagogue, and lastly we went to a small church that had one work of art by El Greco. Intrestingly enough, El Greco lived in Toledo. After all this we went to lunch, and I ate paella and carcamusas; it was very very good. I also had an orange for dessert. What suprises me is that fruit is often on the dessert menu at restuarants. Then we had some time to do whatever we wanted. Kylee, Merritt, Alexa, Eve, and I were thirsty and exhausted, so we went and bought water at McDonald's and chatted. Then we walked back to the train station and rode back to Madrid early to pack for Granada the next day.

My best pictures of the Day:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Museum Day

Today was more of a slower day, with a lot of air conditioning. In the morning we went to the Prado which features Spain's and Europe's most prominent artists. We saw three of the most famous paintings in the world, which happen to be three of my most favorite paintings as well. We saw:

Velasquez's "Las Meninas"
Goya's "Third of May"
& Boche's "Garden of Earthly Delights"
The tour guide told us really intresting facts and stories about each artist we went to. We also saw works of Rubens and El Greco. Intresting Fact -> In El Greco's paintings, he paints himself in and you always know which one he is because he is the one looking at the viewer. The Prado tour lasted about one and half hours. After that we split into smaller groups going to do three different activites. One group went to Castle, another went to the soccer stadium, and last but not least another group went to a photography exibit of Annie Leibovitz and Dorothea Lange. I ofcourse went to the photography exhibit with Ms. Karter, Ms. Bottoms, and Avery. It was amazing. Dorothea Lange's was very emotional showing dramatic pictures of the Great Depression and World War II, while Annie Leibovitz showed a broad spectrum of family photos to Vanity Fair covers. Annie Leibovitz's exhibit was my favorite; it featured her works from 1992 - 2005 but with a little extra here and there. I saw so many pictures I had not seen of hers, and learned more about her life. For example, at age 54 she had twins a boy and a girl; they were both very cute. Oh also, backtracking a little bit. Lunch was very good. I had paella for the first time; it was paella verduras (veggies). Anyways after the photo exhibits, we ventured off the supermercado, and I bought apples, peaches, and huge bottles of water. Then we walked back to the hostel for siesta. After siesta we went to a new plaza, which was very crazy and crowded. I got a lot of good pictures though, and dinner was tapas again with a slight varation.

My best photos of the Day:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

First Day of Shooting

Sleep was great, but I was still extremely exhausted. We got up and going at about eight with cameras and all. The whole group walked over to this park taking pictures along the wa. While at the park we had a group orientation discussing expectations and goals for the trip. We also played two games we played evolution that basically incorporated rock-paper-scissors and a partner game that was like musical chairs. Walking around Madrid was very hot, probably hotter than Houston which seems crazy. Meagan took Alexa, Conner, Kate, Kylee, Merritt, Clark, Jaime, Allison, Eve, and I to a restuarant called U3U (i believe). I ordered a Caesar salad, but it was far from. My Caesar salad did not resemble any of what I've had in the States. On the other hand, I ordered a steak sandwhich with goat cheese which was absolutely amazing! Skipping the supermercado, our group hastily headed back to the Hostel, by then it was probably 3 or 4 o'clock and hotter than ever! siesta was relaxing; we downloaded pictures and chilled in the airconditioning. I refrained from sleeping, although I was so tired, because I wanted to sleep really well that night. After sieta, we headed to the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art. The most amazing thing ever...I saw Picasso's Guernica! It had a whole room to itself and had pictures of different stages in the making. It was also enormous. After the Museum, I was absolutely exhausted and hungry, but we sat outside the museum in the little plaza being stalkers and taking pictures of spanish people. Kylee and Merritt played soccer with two native boys, it was good photo opportunities. Then, still without eating, we headed over to the train station where an amazing fountain was, and we took some great slow shutter speed shots and at night that turned out great. Shortly after we headed to Telepizza and ate, then headed home!

My Two Best pictures of the Day:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Arrival in Madrid

The flight from Houston to Paris was horrible. It was about eight and half hours. The Paris airport was nice and had great food. We had about an hour layover in Paris. Then we flew from Paris to Madrid. Jetlag was also horrible. Finally after getting settled in Hostel Nuria in Madrid, Davin and Meagan, our National Geographic guides, took us on a walk to the Plaza Mayor. Madrid is hectic and similar to New York. Also, there was an enormous amount of construction going on...I guess it follows me everywhere. I stayed in a room with Shelby, Alexa, and Avery. Davin took Ms. Karter, Avery, Alexa, Shelby, Clark, Robert, Jaime, Eve, and I went to a small Tapas restuarante and ate some new adventurous things. In Spain, the grade of pork is much higher than it is in the states. So we had cured thinly sliced pork with melon and cheese (both seperate). We also tried this pork sausage, which was very lean, with olive oil and salt to add flavor (this was probably my favorite). Then we headed back to the hostel, and the route back was quite intresting. The street our hostel is on is across from the McDonalds, which happens to be the hooker hangout in the wee hours of the was halarious!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Expedition

From Madrid to Sevilla, Spain is graced with elaborate cathedrals, palaces, and hilltop fortresses—grand monuments from a captivating past. Spain also pulses with youthful passion and spirit, evident in lively flamenco halls and bustling city plazas. Powerful empires have left their mark here, including the ancient Romans and the Moors of North Africa. Experience the artistry of the Moors, the music of the Gypsy culture, the historical legacy of the Spanish Empire, and the flavors of the Mediterranean as you explore Spain through an On Assignment project of your choice—Photography, People & Cultures, or Filmmaking.

Student Expedition Map for Spain

5 days. With its spacious parks, grand architecture, and vibrant street life, Madrid is one of Europe's great cities. During a comprehensive orientation, get acquainted as a group and begin to work together in your On Assignment teams. Set out to discover some of Madrid's lively neighborhoods, from the hip and elegant Lavapiés to the open-air cafés of the Plaza Mayor and the jazz clubs of Plaza de Santa Ana. Examine the works of the masters at museums such as the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, Reina Sofía, and Casa Sorolla. Stroll through the ornate halls of the Palacio Real, still used by King Juan Carlos I for ceremonial events. Meet for a picnic in the Parque del Buen Retiro, and a take a rowboat out on the lake past beautiful rolling parklands.

10 days. Travel by rail to Granada. The city was the seat of Islamic Spain until the Moors were expelled by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492. Traces of the Moors' long presence can be found in the meandering alleyways of the Albaicín neighborhood, the lacy arcades of the Alhambra's courtyards, and the city's Arab baths and tea nooks. With its underlying Gypsy, or
gitano, culture; its flamenco caves; and its free-tapas establishments, Granada is one of the liveliest of the Andalusian cities.

Spend ten days exploring Granada and the surrounding countryside with your team—film, shoot photos, or practice Spanish with locals. In the ornate Renaissance cathedral, see the tombs of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Take the back road up to the Alhambra, and visit the gravity-powered fountains of the Generalife gardens. Catch a train to Córdoba, and venture into a maze of striped archways at the Mezquita—a mosque so vast that an entire Christian cathedral is nestled within it. Visit the lesser known town of Úbeda, whose miraculously preserved Renaissance mansions have earned it a designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ascend into the snowcapped Sierra Nevada, Spain's highest mountain range, and hike to the whitewashed hamlets of Las Alpujarras. Tucked into orchard-covered hillsides, these villages remain largely unchanged since they were established by Moors fleeing the Spanish reconquest in the late 15th century.

6 days. Travel through western Andalusia to Sevilla, an important military center in Roman times. Sevilla served as the entrepôt for much of the silver and gold pillaged from the Americas at the height of the Spanish Empire. Wander the lively streets of the Barrio de Santa Cruz (the old Jewish quarter), and discover hidden plazas. With your On Assignment groups, explore the cathedral, the Giralda tower, and the Alcázar—impressive monuments to God and royalty that were funded by spoils from the New World. Hike among the striking rock formations in the rugged mountains of Andalusia, and travel to remote hilltop towns such as Ronda and Arcos de la Frontera. Our program ends on the historic Costa de la Luz. Discover the vibrant seaside city of Cádiz, stroll along the beach, and bathe in the refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean. We'll cap off our Spanish adventure with presentations of our On Assignment projects before traveling to Málaga for the flight home.