Zubeneschamali (zubeneschamali) wrote,

Home again, home again

Back in the hot, flat, worn-down Midwest after three weeks in the Rockies. This was the first time in a very long time that I went on a trip just for the sake of going on vacation. Usually, I stay after a conference for a few days, or combine a vacation in one place with a trip to another place. This time, Mr. Z was the one conferencing, first for a week in Banff and then for two weeks in Park City. Mathematicians get to go to conferences in the coolest places. Thankfully, my yard isn't as dead as I was expecting after three weeks of no rain and ridiculously hot temperatures, although I did lose some plants. :(

It occurs to me that I never posted pics from my last trip, like I promised. So here's a huge picspam of what Z did on her summer vacation:

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I might be the only person who pulls out their camera while they're still in the airport...but isn't this the coolest ceiling ever? It's the Madrid airport, where I connected on the way to Marseilles.

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Marseilles was...pretty much what I expected. It's not the most gorgeous of European cities, being a hard-working port town, but it had its charms (like the houses along the beach here; sadly, we were staying somewhere else). Also, since I flew out two days after graduation with a class's worth of final grades yet to enter, I spent a lot of time working and/or lounging about rather than exploring. Still, I took a train to the nearby adorable town of Aix-en-Provence. The language geek in me was thrilled at how many of the streets and plazas were named in Provençal as well as French:

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I'm quite proud of the visual pun in this shot:

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After Mr. Z's conference ended, we went to Barcelona where I was going to spend a few days laying the groundwork for a study abroad course I'm planning for next summer. It's only going to be 2-3 weeks in Barcelona, but I wanted to talk to some people I know at one of the universities in town, and meet some more people as well. It went pretty well, and I'm excited about the course!

Barcelona has some wicked cool architecture courtesy of Antonio Gaudi:

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And some more contemporary structures that are evocative in a different way:

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We took a day trip down to Tarragona, which has the largest collection of Roman ruins outside of Italy. The amphitheater, part of the circus, and a lot of the walls are still there. It was also interesting to Z the language geek because there was much more Catalan than Spanish on the signs, whereas Barcelona is largely bilingual, Catalan and Castilian (Spanish). Note the Catalunyan flag in the second picture.

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After my work was done in Barcelona, we headed to Madrid for a couple of days. I've been to the north, south, and east coasts of Spain, but never to the middle! By now, we were both a little worn out--there's nothing like two shy people traveling together in a country where neither of them knows the language--but we still enjoyed the city.

We took the high-speed train to get there. I'd never ridden one before, and I really enjoyed it, transportation geek that I am. It didn't feel like we were going that fast, but looking out the window made it clear that we were, and the digital sign inside the car said we were going 300 kph at one point. Also, check out the bug splatter:

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We stayed right off the Plaza Mayor, which is one of the main, huge, historic squares of Madrid. It's also where they used to hold sentencings and executions during the Inquisition, which was creepy to think of given that today it's lined with souvenir shops and restaurants.

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Only in Spain would there be a restaurant called "Museum of Ham":

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We went to a couple of art museums, the botanic gardens, and that was basically it; it was too hot to wander around during the day, and we were getting tired of travel by that point. So we came home, and then a month later we headed out to the Rockies, which I will cover in my next post...

Tags: personal, travel
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