Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Once a Week.

Since I have been endowed, February 11, I have gone to the temple.

I make it a point to go each week because I feel it is important in my life, to spend time serving others, as well as having intimate time with my Heavenly Father to ask and answer questions. It seems at the current moment I have a lot of things on my mind. My lease is about to be up and I am contemplating where to move, what to do, and all that wonderful stuff. What's awesome about my temple experiences, well one of the awesome things, is that I have been able to take through family names. I have done a lot of family history work and it has been such a blessing to be able to experience this time with those that I love. In the celestial room of the temple, you can ask any questions that you have, whereas outside the temple, you don't talk about things that happen inside the temple, not that it is secret, just sacred.

At any rate, I asked a question to a temple worker and she directed me to the temple presidency office, where I walked in and met with Brother Woodward, the recorder. I had full intentions of meeting with either the temple president or one of his counselors, but I know now that I was intended to speak to this man. We went into a back room and he asked me my question. I asked, he answered. He then asked where I was from, I told him I lived in LA but was baptized in Orange County. He told me he felt impressed to share a story with me. He told me how his great great grandmother met a young man when she was 17 who was a member of the church, and she wanted to get baptized. Her parents told her that if she got baptized, she would not longer be recognized as a part of the family. She was baptized and because of her, over 10,000 people are members of the church.

He and I both teared up as we sat in silence.

I told him that my family wasn't very keen on me being a member and that things had been rough since I had been endowed. He looked at me and smiled and said, "I could sense that."

We both sat in tears as he told me how wonderful of a thing that I was doing and to not give up or let the feelings of others stop me from being the member I am.

I hadn't planned about talking about my family, nor did that have anything to do with my question. Sometimes you hear just the right things at just the right time. I truly do believe that Heavenly Father sends the right people at the right time to share words of encouragement or comfort that we need to hear.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Turning the Other Cheek.

Like all gospel principles, you understand what it means, and it's easy to tell others what they should do when a certain situation arises, however, suddenly when the principle applies to your own life, it's like pulling teeth.

Turn the other cheek.

It seems simple, but being the bigger person is never easy. I am not sure where we as humans ever got the notion that things in life were supposed to be easy. We seem to grunt at everything that is difficult and simply expect life to be a breeze. I am guilty of this, I know. The fact is, trials come and when they come they shape our character. You can tell a lot about a person from how they handle life's unpleasant situations. That thought is slightly scary since I am sure I am not the best example of eloquently handling obstacles.

Sometimes you know a trial is coming, but even the knowledge of it cannot prepare you for the exhaustion both physically and mentally. I was raised to "kill people with kindness," however I often think the kindness will kill me... haha, since it is SO hard to do sometimes. I think of Jesus and how he was faced with prosecution and hatred and how his only response was silence. I pray that if I can't find the words to say that I too can simply love others and embrace them with silence as I turn the other cheek and continue on.

We can't control other people, and we can't allow other people to control us. If we simply do what is right, and are obedient to the gospel, all things will work out. In that I am fully confident.

"We are not perfect. The people around us are not perfect. People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way. Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way. Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive."

—President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Merciful Obtain Mercy", General Conference, Apr. 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

I Understand, Now I Ask the Same of You.

Disheartened from the events with my family yesterday I decided I would try and fill my mind with positive thoughts and began reading the conference talks, which have now been placed online. As I was reading the entire Saturday morning session, I paused to think and put myself in the shoes of others, those that really don't know or understand what I believe. I started to think about when I get sick and have some symptom. Before consulting with a doctor, I am quick to google everything I can about my symptoms and diagnose myself. By the time I am done with the search, I have given myself cancer and 2 hours to live. It always seems that way, the extreme.

With the internet at our fingertips, everyone tends to use it for knowledge, which in some cases can be very beneficial, and in other cases, can be misleading. Obviously, the only way to find out for sure what is wrong with you when you are sick, is to seek the professional advice of a physician. Likewise, the only way to find out the truth about a subject or a question, would be to go straight to the source. Ironically, my mother, along with other friends and family, never want to know about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from me, or a reliable source like, they would rather obtain their evidence from somewhere else. When I have asked why, the most common answer is that MY site, or MY response, will be convoluted and biased. I beg to differ. I do not tell people to join the church, or push my beliefs on another, rather, I speak what I believe and let others form their own opinion.

At any rate, I decided to google about the Mormon temple and see what comes up.

Those are among the range of feelings that came to me as I read the entire session that occurs in the temple. I had heard that the session was online, so I was prepared for that. What I wasn't prepared for however, was the false commentary. Why not, if you are going to post stuff in the first place, post just that, the facts, and let someone else make their own assumptions from it. I was accused of being hypnotized, practicing in Satanic and witchcraft practices as well as being told that Sex, not Jesus, is at the heart of Mormonism. Well, if you know ANY Mormons, you know we are prudes :) all joking aside, that could be the FURTHEST thing from the truth! I now understand why my mother or family, or any person outside of the church may have the hesitance or assumptions they have however ignorance is not bliss, it is hurtful and false.

I often wonder why we as a church receive so much criticism and that fact along concludes how true the church is. No one lets Satan worshipers or agnostics, or Scientologist, or any other religion, consume the amount of time people spend on trying to prove that Mormons are a cult and worship the devil. If we worshiped the devil, wouldn't we do more things OF the world, like drink, and do drugs, and have sex with random people? We are living in a world where ethical and moral values are becoming extinct, but those that strive to keep them (Latter-Day Saints) are persecuted. Sure, we are all human, and no one is perfect, but if you were to think of a Mormon you know, most would say they are kind, family-oriented, service-giving, and well-rounded individuals. The fact is, nothing adds up, nothing makes sense when it comes to the "facts" people have about the church. Here is a suggestion- go to the source, ask a Mormon what they believe, I promise you they will tell you! Unless of course, you that afraid of hearing the truth.

Ask me what I believe rather than telling me what I believe.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


It's Easter Sunday, a day where I should be celebrating with my family, the sacrifice that our loving Savior has made on our behalf and instead, I am sitting here alone in my apartment, eating a strawberry crepe, and trying not to cry. Holidays have been difficult ever since I joined the church in 2008. At first they were a time when my mother could lash out at me, tell me something which I as a Mormon believe (of course it was something she researched on the internet and was informed I believe said fact), now they have become much harder. Since joining the church my mother has never had one conversation with me about the church. I say conversation because to me, a conversation includes two people, with two viewpoints, discussing a certain topic. She has never asked me what I believe, rather told me what I believe and whenever I tell her I would like to talk to her, she gets flustered and tells me that I will just shut her out. When I joined she told me I was going to turn against my family and have a new family. I have never pushed my family away, they are the ones that push me away, mainly out of ignorance, but it hurts.

The first year of Mormonism family functions were awkward, I was told I couldn't have soda, or told certain things about the religion and I would just have to say, no, that isn't true. I think my mother thought it was a phase, I would be Mormon for a short period and then be on to something else. The second year of Mormonism, my family didn't accept my choice but they began to realize it wasn't a phase and that I was sticking with this. Things stayed pretty much the same until I was endowed in February of this year. Since being endowed, my mother has upped her criticism, has told me I am brainwashed and many things along those lines. She treats me as if I am possessed, or as if I have Satan in me (this is no exaggeration) and today was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I drove down to Orange County yesterday and did a session in the Newport temple, I was so excited to get myself in the right spirit for Easter Sunday. My mother found out that I went to the temple and I suppose that was grounds for her to not speak to me today. We went to my great aunt's house in Santa Monica so I just drove from Hollywood and everyone else met there. She barely said five words to me and quickly hugged me and rushed out when she was saying goodbye. My aunt caught a glimpse of my garments as my top shifted while eating and reached over touching my garment stating, "oh, your new garment is pretty."


I hadn't told any of my extended family that I went through the temple which immediately sent the red flag that my mother had been talking, and who knows what she has told me. I feel like I am constantly in an intervention, that the family is trying their hardest to "bring me back to the good side" and it is saddening. I also found out that my brother thinks I am part of a cult as well. My question is, what do I do that proves I am part of a cult? Have I done anything that classifies me as a Satan worshipper? Where can they possibly get away with these assumptions? As my sister-in-law was saying these things to me it took everything to hold my tears back.

I love this gospel more than anything and I knew from the beginning this was going to be a battle. I never want my children to feel this way, to feel as if they are not loved because they love their Heavenly Father, it is the worst feeling in the world.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hasta Luego Spain (Sent March 19, 2012).

"See you later" Spain.

Today was my last day of vacation and last day in San Sebastian. I don't think I went into much detail about where I am staying but I am staying in this apartment/type building that the woman who owns the hostel I had originally booked but ended up being full, put me up in. Her name is Suzana, very nice woman that does not speak ANY English. I thank my lucky stars for the Spanish I took in high school and college, it is horrible, but good enough to get by under these circumstances. Suzana came by this morning to collect money, when she came we walked to the bank and she ended up only charging me 70 euros, about $85 for three nights, for my own room, not too shabby! After grabbing money she asked if she could treat me to coffee, I asked if we could get tea. We walked to this very cute little breakfast place and had tea. She told me that she was from Argentina, had come here on vacation and fell in love with the city, as well as a man from here! They ended up getting married and she has a 15-year-old son. She informed me not to worry, she was 35 when she got married, and I still have a chance! I am so grateful for her optimism :)

After tea, the two of us parted ways. I thanked her for everything and she gave me a kiss on each cheek. They are not French, they do no speak French, but San Sebastian is so close to the French border that they have apparently adapted that sign of hello and goodbye. I walked into the city and decided to do some shopping, it would be my last hurrah! It was mainly window shopping because although San Sebastian has the most amout of shopping I have seen thus far on my trip, the prices are nothing cheap! I bought some cute jeans and a shirt from this boutique, then headed towards the beach to have a sandwich and people watch. I have become quite accustomed to jamon y queso sandwiches, or ham and cheese. I went back to the hostel to put my stuff down, and pack a little bit and then head out again around 4pm when everything opens back up.

I was on a mission to get a few last presents and souvenirs, a present for my sister-in-law, for her BIG 30th birthday in 10 days! I scored this amazing present for her and I can't wait to give it to her! I also found this local designer that sold really cool t-shirts, so I picked up a few, and then headed over to the beach to watch the sunset. As I walked back to the hostel, I grabbed dinner, another jamon y queso sandwich, and found one last shop that was crowded with people! I found this really cute blouse, and with that I decided I was spent! I have to be at the bus stop tomorrow at 6:30 am, for my flight that leaves at 9 am. Tomorrow is going to be an 18 hour travel day and guess what?! I have work on Wednesday morning!

Thank you all for being a part of my adventure. This trip was my 30th birthday present to myself, even though I still have almost 6 months until I am 30. My mother asked if this was my favorite trip thus far and you know, that is really hard to answer. Every place I visit, I have truly enjoyed. This vacation has been amazing, I have been greeted with wonderful hospitality, great new friends, and amazing sights! It is so amazing to see the blessings of what the Lord has created for us; nature is absolutely stunning. I look forward to planning my next trip but for now, it is back to America and to work.
San Sebastian

San Sebastian (Sent March 18, 2012).

I could hear the rain on the rooftop throughout the night, a peaceful sound however somewhat saddening when you're on vacation, the last few days of your vacation. I suppose I can't complain, the entire trip has been marvelous as far as weather and I knew coming at this time of the year, I would not get pristine weather. At any rate, I decided to sleep in and woke up around 9 am, yes, that is sleeping in for me. I got ready and began to conquer the town around 10 am. I had prayed this morning for some nice weather and I am positive that my prayers were answered because I was greeted with the most beautiful sunshine and clear skies. As I exited the hostel, I saw a heard of runners, it was a marathon going on in the city center. I began to fall in love with this city as I walked throughout the small streets and made my way toward the beach. I found a set of stairs, I wasn't sure where they went to but I knew that there was some monument I had seen in the distance that was the highest point in San Sebastian and I wanted to go there.

I must commend the people here, they actually USE their beautiful landscape. There were so many people going for runs and walking their dogs. That is another thing, people don't put their animals on leashes here. It is quite interesting, the couple will go out for a walk with their dog, the dog will stop to smell the roses or whatever else there is to smell and the people continue to walk, they don't even know their dog has stopped. The dog suddenly sees that their owner is in the distance and runs as fast as it can to their owners and then begins to walk at a steady pace again alongside them. When other dogs come by, they don't run off! I am beginning to think that we Americans have things backwards sometimes.

I continued up the stairs to the highest point in San Sebastian only to find the most gorgeous view. I can only imagine this place in the summertime. The beaches go for miles and their beauty will leave you speechless. I spent some time enjoying the scenery and made my way back down the mountain, only to be greeted with brisk and windy weather. Everything is closed here on Sundays, most are even closed on Mondays as well, so I walked through the city enjoying all of the sites and when it began to rain, I came back to the hostel. After a few hours of being cooped up inside, I decided to take a gander outside once more. The wind here is so incredibly strong, it literally pushes you. The birds couldn't even fly down to catch their prey because the wind was blowing so hard. I got some amazing pictures of the waves crashes against the rocks while walking along the beach. If you thought walking on the beach was difficult, try walking in 40 mile winds, your face feels like you have put it outside the car window and everything is being pulled back, attractive, I know!

I have to admit, eating here is quite intimidating. I tried to make reservations at the best restaurants that I had heard about but everything is either full or not open on Sunday or Monday. All the other restaurants, I can't understand the menu and get discouraged. The bars here all have sandwiches lining the bar, I am good with things I can go in and see because then I know what I am eating! I bought a small sandwich with jamon (ham) and cheese and some peppers and made my way back to the hostel once again. I have included some pictures that I hope you enjoy! This is really such a beautiful place, it is just freezing right now!

Statue from a distance
statue from a distance
me on the hike
San Sebastian
view 3
view 2
statue from the morning hike
man with dog

Wind Tunnel (Sent March 17, 2012).

You just can't put a castle in your accommodations in the middle of a trip because everything after that is going to be a disappointment! Lucien drove me to the bus stop this morning at 8 am, after my last night warm shower, a blow dryer, and some fresh strawberry marmalade atop fresh baked bread. I took a train from Auch to Tarbes, a larger city, where I was able to catch a train to San Sebastian. There was this amazing city which I didn't get to stop at but now I am slightly regretting it. Saint Jean de Luz, on the southwest part of France was absolutely serene. I am honestly thinking of taking the train there tomorrow however I am afraid if I go there, I won't return, and I am not kidding. Please go google this town because it is amazing and a hidden gem. I arrived in San Sebastian and followed my directions to the hostel, directions I am not sure who put together but none of them were correct. A nice couple walked with me part way and directed me in the correct direction. Lost yet again I stopped at the tourist center to find out where the street I was looking for was. Carrying a 20 pound bag on your back, plus a camera bag, and a shopping bag with gifts, makes for a very dreaded walk! After finally reaching the hostel this woman came running up to me and asked my name, which I told her. She said in Spanish, because she spoke no English, that she had tried to email me and tell me there was no room in the hostel tonight, that it was the weekend and the entire city was booked. She had used a Spanish to English translator to write the email and it didn't translate that way for me. I was quite frustrated at this point, she told me there was another hostel that she owned AH! That sent before I meant it to. Anyway, she paid for a taxi to pick us up and take us to the other hostel, where I have my own room and own bathroom, so it is pretty much a hotel, no castle, but a decent place.

I laid all my stuff down and made my way into the city, when suddenly it got freezing, about 40 degrees, and the wind was blowing worse than when my brother and I went skydiving. I began praying for the wind to stop. All I wanted was to find something to eat and find the hostel, two things I could not find. There is more shopping here than Beverly Hills. There are streets and streets of shops. I finally came across a market and bought some bread, a pear, some marmalade, and ham. Tonight I am going to relax and then tomorrow I will explore the city. I really hope the weather is nice because this place is all beaches!!

Oh, Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Snails (Sent March 16, 2012).

I am starting to see a ritual here with food and things I would normally keep as pets or simply throw off of the sidewalk. Lucien told me today that the French are all about food, they plan everything around it. Actually it is quite interesting, they wake up late, like 9 am, and have breakfast, something which consists of bread (fresh of course) with marmalade (way better than our jelly in the states), some fresh squeezed orange juice, yogurt (nothing like what we eat, more of a Greek yogurt consistency), and tea or coffee. Because of their relaxed schedule, I was able to sleep in this morning. This bed is incredible, I did not even want to wake up at 9 am. The pillows must be 100% down, you just form right into everything and quite frankly, I would be 100% satisfied if the remainder of my trip was to be spent at this Chateau.

After breakfast I headed into the small town to tour their historical spots, a large cathedral, as well as a 14th century prison. The prison is quite interesting actually, the Catholics used to throw people in the prison and then they would forget about them, leaving them to die in this whole. The prison is not something that you can tour inside, Lucien jokes that there are only bones left rotting inside. One of the amazing things about Europe is the history, I love that these towns are built around architecture that has many stories and history behind them. After exploring the historical part, I of course had to now explore the shopping part :) I bought myself an amazing pair of red leather shoes, they are amazing! I then wandered the streets and happened upon this second hand store. In Spain they did not have any and I was told that is because Spain was a poor country for such a long time and they associate second hand stores with the poor, thus, they have somewhat banned them from the city. Nonetheless, I came across this boutique and saw the most beautiful alligator or crocodile purse in mint condition for 30 euros ($36.00). I found some fabulous belts and leather gloves as well. The total for everything was 40 euros. I reached in my wallet for my card and she quickly said no. They only accepted cash and all I had was 20 euros. The closest bank was back in the city square, which was a good 10 minute walk. In France, they close all the shops at 12 and re-open at 4, another thing that has to do with food. I paid for the smaller things and ran to a bank to get money for the purse. I ran back and the shop was closed. I found a worker in there and I tried to motion with money that I want the purse. After 5 minutes of my hand gestures, she opened the door with the purse and I handed her the 30 euros! I met Lucien back at the city center and we returned to the chateau for lunch.

Snails, salmon, potatoes, beat salad, and bread. Then of course crepe and tea for dessert. When he told me we were having snails for lunch my face was somewhat frightened and suddenly I wasn't too hungry however I felt it an insult not to eat what they have cooked for me, especially since it is another delicacy of France. We had a very long, two hour meal. Lunch is the largest meal for the French people, something us Americans should really catch on to so that we don't eat until we can't fit in our clothes and then rush to bed. After lunch they take a nap, around a 30 minute rest and then they are prepared for the second half of the day. We had this wonderful chestnut spread that we put on the crepe and it was my desire to purchase some to bring home so Lucien and I went to the market. I purchased a lot of wonderful and healthy (just kidding) items that we cannot get back in the states and if we could they would be a fortune. Then we went over to another part of town where I did some shopping and found a beautiful dress and sweater for a total of 30 euros, that is a bargain!

You see, Lucien was a captain for very wealthy people for a long time in his life. I asked him if there had ever been anything scary that happened and he told me about this one time when he was young how he got shipwrecked and was with a young French girl on a life raft for 15 days with no food or water. He then told me that there was actually a story written about him. I want to purchase the book for principle alone. It is called The Rage to Survive written by Jacques Vignes and here is the description they have online: Lucien, congenital escapist, who had bought and refitted a gaff-rigged steel cutter in Beaulieu, and Catherine, nineteen-year-old dropout daughter of a career civil servant, who went sailing with him one day into a storm which forced them on to an inflatable life raft.

Tonight we will have a relaxing time in the castle and then tomorrow morning I will catch a train to San Sebastian, Spain at 8 am. I will arrive in San Sebastian around 3:30pm, to a place not as luxurious as this, and finish off the remainder of my trip. I am completely grateful for Lucien and Cazou for allowing me, someone they had never met, to come into their castle, have a spectacular room that people pay 400 euros for a night, eat with them, and have them show me around this pleasant city. I don't have pictures for you today, only one of my purse! I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.

Duck (Sent March 15, 2012). goose.
I have arrived in France and I am staying at the most amazing chateau, or castle, just slightly better than the hostel I have been living at for the past 5 days. Actually, who are we kidding, I am living like a queen. Let me backtrack to the beginning of my day as to not take away any part of my adventure for your enjoyment. I woke up pretty early so that I could make it to La Sagrada Familia before they opened at 9. There is always a tremendously long line and I was on a tight schedule to make my flight at noon, so I wanted to be first. After waiting in the cold for over 30 minutes, I was entered into one of the most amazing sites. The church began construction in 1882. As you know, or you are finding out right now, Gaudi was commissioned to design this cathedral in in 1883 at the age of 31. I can't even begin to describe the church so I will have to include pictures! After finishing up at the cathedral, I hopped on the metro (my first time in Spain since I have walked everywhere) and made my way back to the hostel to check out and grab my backpack. Funny, after only 5 days my light backpack was suddenly something I was dreading wearing with all of the things I have bought thus far. I made my way to the city center to catch the aerobus to the airport and adios Barcelona.

I flew an airline I have never flown before, Vueling. It was so simple and such a wonderful flight, especially for costly a measly $40.00. I was frighted that they wouldn't allow me on with the backpack and were going to make me check it, which would be about an extra 40 euros ($50). My flight was delayed 30 minutes, which made me feel horrible because Cazou would be picking me up from the airport. I was told she would be there with a sign that said, "Nicole." After waiting for 30 minutes and not finding anyone, I decided to call the castle. Cazou answered and said that her husband, Lucien, was there to pick me up. She told me he had white hair and he would be on his way. Suddenly I felt like a lost kid searching out every man with even a speck of white hair. Then that awkward stare down begins as I look at him, wondering if he is going to look at me and ask my name. I started to give up hope as everyone cleared out of the airport, when I looked behind me and saw this man slowly approaching, white hair, and a bent sign. He slowly made contact and went to lift the sign. I saw my name and quickly smiled. I found my ride and had achieved victory! Lucien is such a nice man, with very dry humor. He kept joking around with me and definitely broke the ice between two strangers that didn't know each other. In case you missed this before, my father knows them and had told me about this castle. They have never met me, I have never met them, but alas, we meet in France.

The castle is on 36 acres of property. Deer stream throughout the land and it is magical. Apparently France had a horrible winter last year, pipes froze, and caused much water damage to parts of the castle. It is in renovations and is closed to the public for another 3 months so I get to be here alone with them! After relaxing and getting settled in, in my large bedroom on the south end of the quarters we went out for dinner. I couldn't read the menu because it is all in French and this is not a tourist spot so they don't have an English translation, therefore, I had to rely on Cazou to order everything. She informed me prior to dinner that duck was their delicacy here and that the best food you could have in Southern France was duck liver. Well, we were at a very fancy restaurant and I wasn't about to say, "I don't eat that," so, you guessed it, I had duck liver and duck. Duck is a red meat, somewhat like steak but much leaner. It is actually quite good! Duck liver is, um, well, I am not sure how to describe it other than I wouldn't have it again. It melts in your mouth, not much chewing is necessary. Before dinner we had this amazing goat cheese that was wrapped in a wonton looking thing upon a bed of greens and for dessert, she described it to me as apples in a phyllo dough with ice cream. I took one small bite of the dessert when suddenly I could feel, smell, and taste, a mound of alcohol. They douse, and I mean douse, the top of this dessert with a specific liquor indigenous to Auch. I immediately said, I don't drink, and that pretty much ended that dessert eating haha!

We made our way back to the castle where I am now writing this email. I am excited to just relax here. I am going to explore the small city, indulge in more French meals, sans alcohol, and then make my way to San Sebastian on Saturday morning.

SF 1
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The Castle!

Tarragona and Sitges (Sent March 14, 2012).

Nothing like waking up in the morning, going to put in your contacts and dropping one down the drain. After trying to decide whether or not I wanted to open the drain, it was 7am and I wasnt thinking rift. I turned on the water only to watch the contact I had already thought was down the drain, go down the dark. Thank heavens for glasses because I'm going to be four eyes the remainder of the trip.

I walked over to Catalunya Plaza for my tour to Tarragona and Sitges. Andrew, mu guide from Scotland, did the Figueres tour yesterday. I had actually followed him yesterday to listen to him inside the museum. As luck would have it, he was the guide today. It was awesome for me because there were six people ok the tour and I got to sit in the front seat which meant I got to pick his brain for the hour ride to Tarragona. I learned so many interesting facts about Dali and I wish I had more time to go back. He told me that Dali is actually buried in the museum and that he wanted everyone to walk all over him. The main room of the museum is directly above his tomb. He was married but they never consummated that marriage and after her death he went into a depression and was secluded into a wing of the museum. Dali wanted you to experience things on their own so actually tour guides aren't allowed to say much inside the museum.

Dali left everything to the Spanish government and that's why the city is so poor. They don't receive any money from the museum. He worshipped and somewhat stalked Freud and a lot of his work was geared towards him. The figure with the drawers was to represent that everyone has secrets and they sometimes pull out their drawers or other pull them out. Picasso was also an idol of his.

Salvador Dali was born in 1904 but they say the real Dali was born three years prior. He had a brother named Salvador Dali that died 9 months before Dali was born and his parents believed his brother was reincarnated through him so at 4 they took him to the grave and said look, this is you. He was obsessed with death and thought that him and his brother were like Gemini brothers. One was destined to die and one was to be eternal which is why he had a big ego.

The first stop in Tarragona was the aqua duct, used to carry water to feed Tarragona. It took three months to make this and was built by engineers and soldiers. It is called the devils bridge because they said the architect would never be able to make the bridge without the devils help. Tarragona is a town of about 134,000 people. It is the Third most important Roman city and has the biggest circus. Not a circus with clowns but one with chariots. Imagine the underground shots of Gladiator. It looked like that. The guide let us on our own for two hours to explore the city. I bought the most amazing jacket and then headed into the circus to tour around. It's so amazing looking at history like that. Napoleon blew up a majority of the circus but what's left is very significant to the town.

From Tarragona we went to Sitges, a beautiful town on the Mediterranean sea. I sat down for lunch at this cute little restaurant on the water called Yamuna with sounds of a Spanish man serenading by guitar. I had a fixed three course menu with dorado a la plancha (white fish) with ensalada caprese (mozzarella salad) and a brownie with strawberries. Simply amazing and all for 15 euros.

We drove back and stopped at this hidden house that Gaudi designed. It was awesome and we were not allowed to be there, which made it even more fun. The tour guide was amazing, he gave each of us chocolate indigenous to Tarragona, a cocoa covered almond that was unlike anything I've ever had! Go look up catanies and order yourself a lifetime supply, you won't regret it.

I rushed back to the hostel to meet up with a group that was headed to a Flamenco show and dinner. The Flamenco show was very passionate and interesting to watch. We all headed to this place for dinner that only the locals go to. I had this traditional Spanish meal that consists of spinach with pine nuts and raisins.

It's been an eventful but amazing day. I forgot to mention I ripped my favorite pair of jeans tonight! I would have shed a tear but I haven't had time to morn over them yet! I think that means I've eaten too much.

Tomorrow I'm going inside La Sagrada Familia, which is everything this city is. I thought one f the tours I went on was going to take us inside but it didn't. It opens at 9 am so I'm going to head there before my 12pm flight to Toulouse. I was going to take a train from the airport but my dad's friend, Cazou, is picking me up and taking me to the castle. I'm so grateful for this amazing trip and the adventures I've had thus far and can't wait for what awaits me!
1-Tarragona Aqua Duct
1-Tarragona Devils Bridge
2-Tarragona Streets
3-Tarragona Circus 2
3-Tarragona Circus
3-Tarragona stadium
4-Sitges salad
4-Sitges fish
4-Sitges dessert
6-Gaudi house 1
6-Gaudi house
8-Dinner with hostel people

Dali and Picasso (Sent March 13, 2012).

Today was my museum day! I woke up and took a train to Figueres, a town about 2 hours away to visit the home of Salvador Dali. If I could describe this town to you, I would have to compare it to something along the lines of a Mexican city. The city itself looked to be somewhat poor and it's obvious the only reason it is visited is because of Dali. There were cute little outdoor markets with fruit and meat and signs pointing everywhere for the Dali museum. When I arrived it was quite crowded, even for 10 am. After to being to the Louvre and many other museums, this was probably the most intriguing and interesting. Dali had a brilliant or crazy mind, whichever you would like to believe. HIs artwork is beyond outside of the box and makes you smile just trying to imagine how he constructed his masterpieces. There was this one room replica of his in the museum. The chair was a set of lips, the coffee table was a nose, the curtains were hair. I will include a picture so you can see how awesome this view was. I bought some prints and I may give one to my brother, if I still love him when I get home :)

After browsing throughout the city, I decided to make my way back to Barcelona to view the Picasso museum. You would have thought I was on a wild scavenger hunt, I couldn't find this museum for the life of me. I am proud of myself, I even had two very successful conversations, in Spanish, with fellow pedestrians, trying to locate this museum. I finally found it down a tiny side street and waited in quite a long line to enter the museum. Once inside I whipped out my camera, like usual, to capture some images when two guards came up to me and told me no pictures. I was astounded. I have been in the Louvre, which has the Mona Lisa and pictures were allowed. There wasn't even any of Picasso's famous paintings in this museum, I am pretty sure they are all in Chicago and New York. Nonetheless, I browsed through all the rooms and made my way out of the museum and back towards the city center. I walked up Las Ramblas, walked through this amazing fresh produce market, searched for some awesome shopping, but alas, nothing. I just got back from dinner with some people at the hostel. By the way, this hostel is amazing! Best hostel I have ever stayed out!!

We decided to walk up the street to this places called, Tapas, Tapas, that was recommended by some people. The three of us, one girl from Boston and one guy from Canada walked over. It was 40 euros for horrible tapas! The guy ended up paying for all of us, which was nice and then we headed to get waffles with ice cream! Apparently this is something popular here, it was so amazing. I am in chocolate overload right now and I will be purchasing new clothes since mine won't fit anymore and so that I don't have to be naked the remainder of the trip :)
Dahli 1
Dali 2
Dahli 3
Dali house

Portrait of Picasso by Dali
print I bought
Picasso by Picasso

Breathtaking Barcelona (Sent March 12, 2012).

Today was a very long but eventful day filled with break taking views, lots of history, and of course Catalonian culture. Let me start out with the most important fact; rollerblades are the fanny pack of the 80s for Barcelona! I have seen more people on rollerblades than in cars... okay, maybe that is a fib, but still, there are a lot. I started the day out with a tour to Montserrat at 9:30am. Montserrat was so incredibly breathtaking that it almost brought tears to my eyes. Let me start with some brief history for you. Franco, who was in power until 1975, was a much hated man. He wouldn't allow anyone to speak Catalonian, forcing everyone to speak Spanish. The only place they were able to speak Catalonian was at Montserrat. In the 12th century it became the home of the Black Madonna (or Black Virgin) and to this day is a sight of great pilgrimage. There is also a monastery there which has the oldest young boys choir. The first hour we were there I spent hiking up the side of the mountain which was seriously breathtaking. Then at 12:15 they opened up the line to touch the Black Madonna. The line was long and the boys choir was going to sing at 1:00, but only two songs. Halfway through the line I got slightly upset knowing there was no way I would make it back to the chapel in time to see the choir. Alas, as we made the pilgrimage up to the Black Madonna, I could hear the boys in the distance and where she stood in the back of the chapel, elevated up 100 flights of stairs, I was able to overlook the entire chapel and watch the choir sing. I will include pictures so you can see this beautiful sight. I then went outside to the side markets where I purchased some sheep cheese (very strong) and got back on the bus. We made our way back to town and had an hour break before I would be going to look at La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell.

Small interesting fact...there is also this awesome tale about Saint Jorde, a man that slated a dragon to save a virgin woman. They celebrate him all over the city, there are buildings named after him, and dragons everywhere! On April 23 they have Saint Jorde's Day which is like our Valentine's day. The men give women a rose and women give men a book!

During my break I wanted to shop. Everyone that I have asked where I can find a good leather jacket (since that is my mission in Spain) they try to say Zara or H&M. I don't want to shop at places that we have in the states. I am beginning to think that I may just buy something to say "I bought it in Spain". The vintage stores here are nothing like our thrift stores and they are WAY overpriced. I got an empanada on a side street and made my way back to the second half of the tour. We went up to Parc Guell, which is a park that Gaudi was commissioned to build. It was intended as an oasis for the rich but they said it was too far away from the city and so it became a park. It wasn't my favorite, but it is a pretty place. We headed over to La Sagrada Familiar, which is the church that Gaudi built, however it is still in construction and will probably be another 15 years before it is finished. Gaudi was an interesting man, he was never married or had children and was killed after being run over by a train.

After completing that tour I decided I was going to shop a little bit. Brother, I got you the coolest mosaic elephant (it reminded me of grandpa). I then bought myself some shoes. I didn't get any sort of deal on them, but I liked them so I bought them! Tomorrow I am going to head to Figueres and see Dahli's museum. Barcelona, the actual city is very small and easy to get around. Figueres is about 60 miles out of the town center but I hear it is a place I must go. I hope you're having a good Monday at work :)


montserrat outside

montserat hike


Boys Choir

boys choir

Black Madona
Black Madona

parc guell 2

parc guell


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