Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fall 2014: 'Not Your Typical Ireland' with Prof. Finnegan

Stonehill Alumni and Friends are welcome to join us for the 2014 Alumni Travel Program - October 3-12.

Highlights include visits to the Cliffs of Moher (pictured), Galway city, Kylemore Abbey, the Aran Islands, Connemara, Derry, the Giant's Causeway, Bushmills Distillery, Belfast, and Dublin City.

For details visit Stonehill's website:  http://www.stonehill.edu/alumni/programs-events/alumni-travel-program/

Contact the Office of Alumni Affairs at 508-565-1343 or alumni@stonehill.edu with any questions.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Barcelona - Dos

Day two in Barcelona has been fantastic!

Jose gave us lots of information on the artist Gaudi - not born here but arrived in 1852 to attend the university.  His artistic style and influence can be seen across the city.

We stopped at Park Guell which was an amazing outdoor area Gaudi designed near the home he lived in.  Inspired by nature, fairy tales and classical legends the park is beautiful.  With its kissing benches, 'candy house', salamander and plaza with the longest bench in the world it is a work of art in itself.

Some of us made the walk up to the top where the three crosses are - and found even more breathtaking views of the city.

From there we headed back downtown for a short walk to La Sagrada Familia cathedral.  Design by Gaudi and still not yet finished, it is very unique and ornate.  Just walking around the outside, Jose had enough informatiion to share about its intricacies that it took some time.  The line for entrance was nearly wrapped around the church.  Jose said that a tour inclduing the inside would need hours more time - and we wanted a bit of extended free time on our last day in Spain.  So the bus brought us back to the city center for lunch and more exploration of this great city!

So hard to believe that tomorrow will be the last day we wake up in Espana - we head home to the states bringing fond memories of our journey together!

Barcelona Uno

We arrived in Barcelona to find a beautiful city rich in history.  Our local guide Jose tells us that the city has an Art Nouveau style.  Early on we noticed the Catalan flags and the 'free Catalonia' signs, as there is increasing interest in having this area sucede from Spain.

We drive by Palaza Espana Barcelona with a statue in the center and beautiful buildings around the perimeter.  We also see the old bull ring which has been converted into a shopping mall with restaurants and services as well.  We saw the Congress of Barcelona's building and stopped for photos at the Olympic Stadium from 1992.


There are lots of museums throughout the city, but a cluster of them along the hillside of the Montserrat Mountain.

Outside the Cathedral we saw the Saladana dancers.  We peeked into the cathedral while Mass was starting.  We saw the Gothic District, the busiest area of the city and we went to the harbor where some of us dipped our toes into the Sea!

We saw the pop art installations and the Olympic village area, which housed 15,000 athletes.  We also stopped at the old Roman Forum, which still has three columns.  We then headed down the busy street Las Ramblas - lined with shops and thousands of people.  We also saw the Market briefly (trying not to get lost!) which was so impressive!


After our tour we had dinner on our own - many went to the top of the renovated bull ring for impressive views.  Some were able to catch one of the water fountain shows at Plaza Espana.

Valencia

We had a long drive to Valencia but made good time with Paco behind the wheel.

The city was founded in 158BC by the Romans.  The Visigoths ruled next, followed by the Muslims.  Today the city is beautiful and full of history, blended with modern additions.

We were joined on our tour by Stonehill graduate Jason Lampke '92 who has lived here since 2000.  I was able to meet his lovely wife Maria and three children before Jason joined the group for our tour.

Ophelia was our local guide - not short on words, she talked a mile a minute and provided us with some new catch phrases:  6,000 potatoes, flip the omelette, bubs and more!

We drove to the harbor which hosted the 32nd America's Cup in 2007 - providing opportunity for complete restructuring which brought about a boom in tourism.  There is a beach right next to the harbor and a Formula One track there as well - with views of the track from yachts in the harbor.  We then drove to another new development area that boasts an aquarium, dolphin center, science and research center, an iMax and a spectacular opera house.

We drove by the bull ring which was constructed in the 1850s and is modeled after the Coliseum.  Lots of churches - on most every corner in fact!  "One to the right, another on the left..."

We concluded our tour at a cafe to enjoy a local drink Orchata.  We then said goodbye to Jason (thanks so much for joining us!) and had dinner on our own.

Today was the only bad weather we experienced - light rain until the very end of our walking tour, which brought us rain like cats and dogs - "not just puppies."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Granada - Dos

We next drove to downtown Granada where we checked into our hotel and had some free time.  Several of us met up with some special guests later while others explored the city on their own and enjoyed some of its finer offerings.

Our special guests were from the University of Granada's GRIIS Program - the one Stonehill has a partnership with for our students to spend a semester.  Amalia and Teresa work for GRIIS and they coordinated a lovely walk down the Avenido de Constitucion with Jessica '14 and Elyse '14 as well as Sara '12 (who has returned to Granada for a year after graduation to get post-graduate work done).  All five of them were welcoming and informative.  We saw some of the university and heard some history of the city, and some current facts as well:  300,000 people live in the city but 100,000 are students!!  This was apparent as the whole city has a college-town feel to it.

Check out more about the program:  GRIIS Program

We all gathered for dinner and were joined by Elyse, Sara, and Jessica.

Granada - Uno

We departed early for Granada and arrived at the world-famous Alhambra - amazing series of buildings and gardens.

The first structure hosts a traditional festival of music and dance, seating 850 people.  It is very representative of the architecture of this area - with a square outside and a round courtyard inside.

Walls and ceilings of all the rooms throughout the Alhambra are covered with carvings - 9,000 individual patterns are used throughout, many using three types of Arabic calligraphy.

We proceeded to the first of three palaces - the Administration Palace - where the tax collectors were.  The second is the Political Palace and the third is the Private Palace - each more impressive than the previous.

Water is clearly a huge part of the architectural design - fountains with connecting waterways are everywhere and water is a theme in some of the carved patterns with blue being one of the predominate colors.

We then moved through the public gardens and into the private gardens, which house the summer house.  The summer house is where the royals would spend summer afternoons in an open air structure at a higher altitude.  After sunset, they would return to the Private Palace through the private gardens.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Seville Free Time

Free time - and lots of it!

We left our local guide around noon.  Some of us roamed around the squares and grabbed lunch before meeting up with Antonio to have a relaxing afternoon back at the hotel.  Others stayed out downtown for the full afternoon.

Some sites explored were the Seville bull ring (Plaza del Toros), the spectacular Royal Alcazar, some of the public gardens and, yes, probably some shops.

The city is difficult to navigate (we'll see who got lost!).  Many will return downtown tonight to check out one of the two rooftop lounges Antonio recommends to see the city by star light.  FYI - sunny skies today again - with temps nearing 100 degrees!!!

Tomorrow we have an early morning departure to reach Granada where we visit Alhambra and then spend time with some students and staff at the university there.