beboots: (Default)
 Hey guys! If you've ever been to Spain before (or, as I know some of you, have lived/are living there right now), I was wondering if I could pick your brains for suggestions. 

You see... I may be going to Spain for a few weeks with my family. 

My mother has been intending on taking me and my (twin) sister on a celebratory vacation after we graduate this spring. We've been throwing around several ideas, and a little while back mum came up with one that seems to be sticking: Spain. 

My mother's father and his wife (whom he ran away with when he abandoned my mum's mum... when my mother was taking her last week of exams before university, so, uh, drama there) live there. They're British, but they apparently live in this small city on the Mediterranean that is composed of roughly 60% older British people. I'm told it's like England's Florida, but, well, more Spanish. ;) Anyway, mum wants to visit Granddad and Claire, mostly because Granddad now has cancer and me and my siblings haven't seen him since we were five. He's doing all right, but if we don't visit now we may never get to. 

So at the moment the plan is to visit Granddad & Claire for a few days, then... head off elsewhere for two weeks or so. The thing is, none of us have really ever been to Spain before. It was never ridiculously high on my "must visit" places in Europe, although I'd always figured I'd make my way there eventually. We may yet spend a week in Spain then fly over to Italy, but I know that there are definitely lots of attractions and awesome historic things in Spain. 

So I pose the question to you, friends list: where would you recommend going? What is awesome in Spain? I probably want to go to Granada because of the interesting Moorish history it has, but... I actually don't know much about Spanish history beyond the Reconquista and its colonial history. Also, wars with France. Some of which involved Hapsburgs. 

(Also, I need to brush off my tiny amount of Spanish gained in a single semester during grade ten... like nearly seven years ago? Holy crap I'm getting older...)

P.S.: I don't think that this post came out as enthusiastic as I'd like it to be. I'm actually thrilled to be going back to Europe! I'm just ridiculously tired right now. Also, I think I need to work up even more enthusiasm by doing research into travel plans. 
beboots: (Elizabeth)

In the continuing effort to avoid doing more homework (hey, I managed to finish that four-way book review in time to be handed in this morning, okay?), I've decided to write a review of a book that I read last week (again, in an effort to avoid doing homework). 

1632, by Eric Flint, the first in a series. (Note for anybody who knows me in RL: other books in this series besides "The Baltic War" and "The Ram Rebellion", which I already have on my bookshelf, would be an excellent Christmas gift. :D )

First, take a moment to contemplate the awesomeness that is this cover. 


Yes, that is what it looks like. The plot goes thusly: the West-Virginian town of Grantville is displaced in time and place from the year 2000 to the year 1632, essentially dumping them in the middle of the Holy Roman Empire in the midst of the Thirty Years War, one of the most bloody conflicts in European history. 

And lo, it was awesome... )

I want to read this later book in the series just because of the cover: 

Aww yeah! >:D
beboots: (Default)
(Subject line = exerpt from the chapter on the Thirty Year's War in one of my Habsburg history class textbooks ("The Habsburg Monarchy: 1618-1815" bgy CHarles Ingrao, if you want to know.)

That quote details the confrontation between some protestant dudes and the catholic representatives in Prague in 1618:

"Following a heated exchange they hurled both men, plus their secretary, out of a window. As the three men fell sixty feet into the dry moat below, one of the conspirators taunted them by exclaiming "See if your Virgin Mary will help you now!" The survival of all three men, two with only superficial injuries, prompted a flurry of pamphlets claiming that eyewitnesses had seen angels swooping out of the heavens to break their fall to earth. Whether by divine intervention or sheer luck the three had, in fact, survived the celebrated Defenestration of Prague by falling onto a pile of manure that had been dumped directly under a window." (pg. 30)

:3 Heehee - defenestration. <3

And now for something completely different:









beboots: (Buddha Lime)
(Joseph II to Leopold II - um, yeah, these two "enlightened" austrian rulers weren't all that enlightened, but I like the sentiment)

Okay, so I'm probably unrealistically optimistic, but I've been feeling really positive these last few days. :D Let me share with you what I did yesterday.

Yesterday, I took the bus from University to West Ed (that's the largest mall in the world - yes, the world - for those of you who don't live in Edmonton), which crosses the river valley at one point. The weather was gorgeous and sunny and not all that cold... I think that it was maybe -2C at the lowest.

... And I just felt really happy. Little things that I don't normally notice stood out and were incredibly beautiful to me. There was a crane in a construction zone that we passed by, in which the giant hook on the end of that giant cord thing, was attached by a long band to the base of the machine (probably so it wouldn't swing around in the wind)... and the angles of the thing just looked awesome. I wished I'd had my camera (but then again, I was on a bus, so it wouldn't have turned out anyway).

As we went along that construction site, there was a fence with a black tarp set up to break the wind for the construction workers. As the bus went by, it moved in a rippling motion that was inordinately beautiful to me. I'd never be able to capture that in a still shot - it's like smoke or mist. It doesn't look the same, static.

Previously, as we crossed the bridge across the river, a flock of what must have been forty or fifty pidgeons suddenly flew out from beneath the bridge. They were sillouetted against the blue sky and white snow, and they kind of curved around, like they were of one mind... and it took my breath away.

I'm not sure that anybody else in the bus was looking out the window on these occasions. But oh well - they existed. I saw them. I'll remember them.

What are the most beautiful things that you guys have seen in the last week?
beboots: (Default)
Yes, I have arrived home safely! (It just occurred to me that I haven't updated my "blog" since I got back, so to stave off rumours of my untimely demise...) I am happy to be home... but I think that I'm going through reverse culture shock. Why do I think this? What evidence have I?

1) I get dressed for breakfast. In my own house. You don't wear pyjamas to breakfast down with the guardiennes of your dorm in Lille. It's like a restaurant, so you dress like it. But in the privacy of my own home, I could probably eat naked, should I so choose (and if, well, my mum and my brother weren't home... But the point is... D: )

2) Everyone looks sloppy to my eye. Heck, look sloppy to my eye, because my French clothing only just came out of the laundry.

3) I miss Kir. It was delicious. (Kir = champagne and fruit juice, drunk as an apparatif before a meal. French waiters look at you funny if you don't order a drink such as this at the right time. I enjoyed acting French, okay?) Apparently, it doesn't exist here in Canada. ;_; 

I do so enjoy ordering things in English, though, and being understood. :3

I should tell you guys about the gongshow that was my trip home. First of all, apparently calling a taxi two hours ahead isn't early enough in Paris: to get to the airport, it's apparently best to book it a day ahead of time. TAKE HEED, PEOPLE! I essentially had to pay for the guy's trip to my hostel as well as the time that I actually spent in the car. It was the most expensive taxi ride in my life: €60. That's like $90, for a half hour trip. D: Still, it was actually a really nice ride. The man was very nice and polite, and spoke very clear French to me. Also, the car smelt very fresh (I almost wrote "smelt very French" right there. D: ), was very new and clean, and there was soothing music playing in the background. So it was okay. 

I did start feeling homesick for the first time on this trip, though, ironically on the last day. It was probably because I had to wait for my taxi for 45 minutes after breakfast, fretting without anything to do. I nearly cried. ;_; 

But don't worry, I didn't break into tears, mostly because my taxi arrived earlier than he said he would. So it was all good. 

I arrived early enough for my first flight, which was through Lufthansa, the German airline. Seriously guys, if you have to fly anywhere and Lufthansa is an option, take it. They are awesome. No joke. They're very efficient, feed you lots of good food, and always seem to speak perfect English (as well as perfect German, I assume, but as I don't speak German, I can't really judge their linguistic quality).

I had to fly backwards, from Paris to Franfurt. It was like an hour and a half long flight. Once we arrived in Frankfurt, I stepped off the plane, onto the tarmac, and onto a waiting bus, which took us all to the terminal. You walk right into the door, immediately see the "departure" sign with your flight on it, and are directed by very clear signs to the proper gate... where another bus is waiting to take you to your new plane. It was on the ground for like half an hour, tops. They were very, very efficient. :3

My second flight was all the way from Frankfurt, Germany, to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It was a very long flight (with Air Canada), which was tolerable for two reasons: 

1) It was a new plane, and so it had those mini TVs in the front of your seats. I watched several movies. :3 It was awesome. Also, you could track the flight on a little map of the world. :3

2) My seating partner, the lovely fourteen-year-old Juliana from Austria! She spoke German and surprisingly good English, for all that she only started learning like three years ago. We got to talk a lot, switched iPods for a bit, shared snacks, etc. It was awesome. :3

Then, it began raining just as we landed in Calgary (what a welcome, Canada!). And there was thunder, and, more importantly, lightning. There was so much electrical activity, in fact, that the ground crew couldn't legally go outside of the building because of worker's compensatin... which meant that we sat on the tarmac for over half an hour, waiting for the storm to blow over... after a nine-hour flight. Not fun. D:

But eventually, the rain let up, so we were allowed to get off the plane... thank goodness. Anyway, after I helped Juliana get through customs (and their immigration forms... D: ) and find our luggage, I said goodbye to her (she was meeting relatives in Calgary) and went to switch planes. I arrived at the right gate five minutes before we were to begin boarding... and waited. And waited. And then there was an announcement that said, essentially, that the fuel truck and hit the plane, and now something was dented, slightly. So even though it was probably perfectly safe, we had to switch planes... and therefore gates. So we ran all the way across the terminal to get to our new plane... and we had to wait another forty-five minutes for them to ready the plane so we could get on then take off. 

And you know, because of the relative short length of the flight between Edmonton and Calgary ( it's less than an hour - we essentially take off, then land), and because of all the delays, we actually departed Calgary after we were supposed to have arrived at our final destination. D: Ridiculous! It would have actually been faster for mum to have picked me up from Calgary. The next time dad books my flights (or maybe I'll book them, next time?), I will refuse to do such a short leg. No way. D:

Ironically? I had actually flown over Edmonton on my way from Frankfurt to Calgary. D: Must... take up... parachuting...

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