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Marisa: Zaragosa

February 2, 2010

Alright, so we left around 8:20 the morning right after botellon night, which meant that I had to wake up earlier than the sun, who tends to be a pretty good judge of what time is an acceptable time to wake up. Sometimes the sun gets confused and makes a wrong decision or two, but who doesn’t at least one point in their life? Anyways, some of my first thoughts upon waking were “if I was not going on this stupid trip I could keep sleeping for many more hours” and “I can’t believe I got talked into this” and “that giant donut better be the best thing I have ever eaten” and other similar complaints, and other inaudible grumblings. Eventually I told myself to shut up, finished packing, and we left. A lot of people in our group were slower than a sloth in molasses, and so we had to seriously book it to the bus station to buy our bus ticket to Madrid from Toledo. Now of course, there was a massive line and we only had about 15 minutes before the bus left. We got our tickets and then we ran to the door that we thought was the correct door, but it turned out to be the women’s bathroom. Imagine for me if you will the look that must have been on the face of the lady who saw a huge group of stupid Americans barging into the bathroom.

Anyways, we did miss the bus and we had to wait an extra half hour but whatever the ride was fine and I think I even got a little bit of sleep. Then we had to take some crazy metro and get on the other bus, and all I can say is I am glad that we had such an able minded group leader, because most of us were essentially lost sheep. That bus ride was even better (not sarcasm). It was about 3 and a half hours from Madrid to Zaragosa and I was completely passed out the whole time. We did make one rest stop where I bought the most amazing sandwich of my life- french bread with mayonnaise and salami. It was so good that there really are not words to describe its other wordly flavor and simplicity. It was such a sneaky rest stop in many ways. It might as well have been wearing a plaid suit and going door-to-door selling aluminum gauntlets (or whatever meaningless object, insert whichever you prefer here) to help “benefit poor children” (and by that he means to help benefit his own alcoholism brought on by too many years of being bullied in junior high). Side note: I am trying to say that the prices were jacked up about 10 times higher than normal no doubt an arrangement made by the rest stop owner and the owner of the bus company. Devious. At least my sandwich of wonder and awe only cost 2 euro.

The few moments that I was awake on the bus there was such gorgeous scenery. Red rocks (and I mean RED RED, not the slightly red rocks that give Colorado its name) covered with sparse little bushes all among rolling hills. Really nice stuff.

Alright. Then we got to Zaragosa. Fast forward a bit until we are at the hostel. The hostel was pretty great considering its price, except for the fact that there was no soap in the bathroom and I forgot to bring shower shoes. Needless to say, I hope I don’t get some weird disease from those two in combination. Anyways, we had a German roommate named Gilly for the first day. She was chill. So we all got settled in and then hit the lovely and underrated city of Zaragosa.

First we saw the ruins of the Roman wall that used to surround the city, to the left of which was an awesome statue of my man Caesar. They are really proud of that Roman history there, I will tell you that much. I tried to fathom the sheer age of that wall many times while on that trip and I don’t think I ever fully did. One of the times I tried to comprehend its significance was when my friend and I were tipsy sitting out front of the Irish bar that is about 20 feet away from the wall. That’s not the best time to try to comprehend Roman ruins. I would say that the best time to do that would be while reading a book about Caesar’s life or something, and while sporting one of those crazy Roman hats.

So we got some pictures with Caesar, and with the little frog statue next to him spitting water. Then we hit the two main cathedrals which were really impressive, absolutely gorgeous. It was their patron saint day, and at one of the cathedrals they had one of his bones in a silver canister that you could kiss. So cool! And there was this pillar where Mary was said to appear and so you could go touch that too.

Then we went on a tour of some building that I honestly say I have no idea what it was. We had to wait in a huge line too because it was the free day. There were a bunch of people dressed up who were walking along the line to keep us entertained.

We also got a donut! They were out of free ones because that was a morning thing and we didn’t get there until about 3 or so. It was not that exciting, but it tasted like lemon and I was just happy to have gotten a donut at all. Let’s see, what next? My friends and I parted from the group and went to get bocadillos, because we were all craving them. I asked the waiter for “jamon y queso y mayonesa” and instead I got some scary abomination with this weird meat that had fat on it and tomatoes and like a gallon of mayo. I could not even eat it. People traveling to Spain take heed- the jamon here is NOT the honey baked style goodness of the US. Then we took a siesta, and eventually my friends and I went to the aforementioned Irish bar (which I think was called Gallager’s) for drinks, what else?

I think this was one of my best bar nights ever. I don’t know how it is logical but it seems like every Irish bar is AWESOME in Spain. Maybe the Spanish bars in Ireland are awesome? I’ll find out.

Then we went back, and we went into the TV room in the basement of the hostel. There were two German guys watching 17 Again and we all got to talking and it was hilarious trying to understand each other and one spoke a little French so I got to put mine to use, as well as all of my pointless German phrases. I am glad we made friends with them though because they gave us eggs for breakfast one morning which was such a pleasant surprise!

The next day we woke up way too early, and we headed out. However, my friend needed to exchange her dollars for euros and so we had to part from our group that was heading over to the palace. There was only one bank that exchanged money that was open on Saturday so we set out on a mission to find it. Both of us can read a map about as well as we can read Arabic. Actually, I guess maybe I should not assume that my friend can’t read Arabic because she might be some crazy pro at it and I just have no idea. Anyways…

We got lost and stopped at a hotel and the ladies at the front desk were two of those awesome people that are so nice it just makes you feel amazing. They called two banks for us to see if they were open, and then called the one we were looking for just to make sure that they exchanged US dollars. They then gave us detailed directions and drew its location on our map. Their help was much appreciated which we made known, and they made me feel better about the world. We exchanged the money, and then tried to find our way to the palace even though we were well aware that our group had probably left.

So we read the map as best we could, but it obviously was not good enough because we walked about a mile and a half the wrong direction down a street before I commented that we should have been there and looked at the map. So we crossed a cool bridge and saw the nice view of the cathedral and then walked the other way but somehow ended up on the wrong street so I was getting frustrated but then we finally made it there after a few hours. So we saw the palace, and then the place where they do bull fights, and then we made it back to the hostel and took a much needed nap.

When we awoke, two of the ladies in our group had returned and so we all napped more and then went on another adventure to try and find the Goya museum. We walked really far and it turned out it was a different expedition but it was still kind of interesting. Then we walked back but on the way we encountered this magical candy shop much akin to Willy Wonka’s factory (but about 800 times smaller). They had these amazing and fancy concoctions and I wanted one of each but I just got a gorgeous piece of marzipan and a little cake/mousse thing. Delicious!

Then came another disappointing part of the trip. We found a restaurant and I wanted the pesto pasta so bad because I was craving pesto and it was cheap but it is only served during the day. I was so disappointed so we all got the cheapest thing, the soup, except one of my friends who got the salad with goat cheese. It was good, but just broth which we decided is probably the liquid that drains from a pot that they cook something else in. Then we got the bill and they charged us for the water and bread!!! I was so mad. The bread cost the same as my meal. Gr….

Then we went back to the hostel and drank two bottles of wine while playing never have I ever and then went back to the Irish bar. My friend and I talked to the German’s again before bed. Fun stuff…The next day started out amazing, because one of the Germans gave Jeanine and I EGGS!! We were exstatic! The rest of the day was relaxing, we went to the Goya museum. That guy is super creepy. He had all these crazy drawings of people eating each other and donkeys teaching baby donkeys how to read. Whaaaatttt? Then we went to a weird street market where they were selling really creepy stuff like Nazi memorabilia. Umm… how is that acceptable? The trip back would have been fine if a screaming girl was not sitting behind me. FIN

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