Posted in: Home / Archives for January 2008

Hidden Treasure in Salamanca!

There is no better place on Earth to study Spanish than in Salamanca! The city’s majestic architecture, cultural history, and linguistic purity are unique characteristics that, for me, make Salamanca a city of hidden treasure.

Due to its lavishly decorated sandstone cathedrals and university buildings, Salamanca is so distinctively called La Dorada (“The Golden City”). Not only does the sun bathe Salamanca’s landmarks in resplendence right before sunset, but the city is rich with local legends and stories.

I tagged along a guided tour of the city and learned about the cleverly hidden “lucky frog” (“la rana de suerte”) on the main façade of the Universidad Civil building. According to legend, university students received good luck for a year with their studies if they found the frog without help. Nowadays, tourists will gaze upward for an hour in the hopes that they find the frog and are then blessed with one year of good luck. If you go to Salamanca, this is a must-do before you leave!

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Italian and culture in Florence!

Florence is totally, utterly, completely… incredible! Wow. It is THE city of renaissance. Which, (unless you are a super history buff) might not mean much until you arrive… but then you arrive, and… Wow!!

As you can tell, when I arrived in Florence, I was lost for words. You might start your time, like I did, by going for a stroll across the famous Ponte Vecchio. And as you wander along this centuries-old bridge, which is lined with centuries-old shops, and feels like a street, apart from when the shops part for a view of the River Arno either side of you, you start to think; my god, this is amazing, I have never seen anything like this in my life! You can then stop to take in the view down the Arno from the bridge, and you’ll be thinking; wow, this view of the city is awesome, and look, I can even see the dome of that massive duomo church thing from here! (Ha ha, which I later discovered is more accurately known as Bruneschelli’s dome). So then, you get to the other side of the bridge, all the time soaking up the lively, bustling atmosphere. Sightseers mixing with Florentines, mixed in with the buzzing of little mopeds zipping along the cobbled roads.

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Antibes and everything else!

If you are looking for a real taste of life on the Cote d’Azur, you HAVE to go to Antibes! Palm trees along the sandy beach front, quaint French markets alongside a glamorous yacht filled marina, fabulous clear blue skies and sunshine, yummy seafood restaurants… I loved Antibes!

There was nothing more relaxing than sitting out on the sun terrace of the French school where I was taking a course, and basking in the sunshine after classes, enjoying a tasty lunch from the school cafeteria, and taking in the amazing view of the Mediterranean. After that, I would have the difficult task of deciding what to do in the afternoon… whether to head down to the beautiful sandy beach, or take a refreshing dip in the swimming pool at my residence. Or whether to be energetic and take part in a school activity such as the volleyball tournament, or head into the beautiful countryside to take part in rafting or mountain biking, or go sailing down at the marina. Or maybe I should indulge my cultural side and visit the famous Picasso museum, or one of the lovely hillside villages famous for their artisan works. You see, in Antibes, you have the best of everything!

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Suntan and Spanish in Malaga!

I arrived in Malaga in September, full of expectation, a bit unsure of my high school Spanish but with an eagerness to learn much more… and within just a month of my arrival, I truly felt like a resident of Malaga, part of the scenery, one of the locals… even though I’d only been there for a few weeks!

My apartment was lovely, and just a minute’s walk from both beach and school! I chose a shared apartment, and was happy to find out that I was living with girls from Italy, and Sweden, who also happened to be in my class.

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Want to experience the ‘real’ Italy? It’s a Pisa cake!

Do you want to experience a real slice of contemporary Italian life? Do you want to party like a Pisano, take time out like a Tuscan, and lounge along the river Arno like a local? If so, Pisa is THE place to visit!

I had an utterly awesome time in Pisa. I really recommend it to anyone wanting to spend time in a beautiful Italian city, but yearning to get beyond feeling like just one of a zillion swarming tourists! There is no question that the city is gorgeous, historic, and has one of the most famous and instantly recognizable landmarks in the entire world (the mighty Leaning Tower of Pisa of course!), but Pisa is also nicely compacted.

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Wine and Spanish in Mendoza!

As part of my attempt to learn Spanish, I decided to come to Mendoza, Argentina, in order to have some classes and learn more about Argentinean people and their culture. Getting in contact with the people whose mother tongue is the language you are learning is something I consider to be of high importance since you see how things work in practice and become more sensitive to their way of living.

The Spanish School in Mendoza, where I’m studying is very good in putting language and culture together and as part of our culture enrichment programme, we were taken to Bodega Escorihuela to learn something about the culture and production of wine, which happens to be the most important industry in the region, exporting wine all throughout the year countries all over the world.

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Chilling out in Paris

Victor Hugo wrote…

To err is human. To loaf is Parisian

I heard this quote a long time ago back in school when we spoke about France. As a matter of course I forgot about it until I came to Paris and spent my first weekend in the famous city and suddenly realized how accurate this quote is. There are so many places you can enjoy by just loafing along or you choose sitting down in a nice little café and savour watching the other people loafing around.

I spent 2 weeks in December in Paris and the Christmas lightning was unforgettable, especially on the Champs-Élysées! The strollers on the 1970m long Avenue are separated from the traffic by golden shining trees. And after a long walk along all the fancy stores like Luis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Hermes, et al. you get rewarded with an incredible view on the wonderful lighted ‘Arc de Triomphe’.

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