Monday, September 29, 2008

Hiking in LA National Forest

On Friday, I signed up for a nice activity within the new students' orientation week. It consisted of hiking in LA National Forest, but it turned out to be to climb the highest mountain in LA county!

It was a nice climb and took around 2.5-3 hours to get to the summit. The views from their were really nice. From there you can see that LA county is just a huge desert... There were just a few mountains with trees!

This is the view of the climbing path from the top of the mountain:

Can you see how straight are roads here?! Yes, those straight lines are roads in the middle of nowhere...

Even the top was quite like a desert... :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Last weekend of freedom

Hi guys and girls!

I should have written this post long time ago... but I have been quite busy and lazy to write here. The thing is now I am fully settled down here in Pasadena. I have been the last two weeks in Southern California (SoCal), in Pasadena, where I will attend graduate school for several years.

My university will be California Institute of Technology, as I already told you. The place is great. Resources are unlimited and they really try we have a good time while here in California. The last two weeks have been introductory weeks. The first one was just for international students. As you can imagine, out of 80 something grad student, there were more than 30 chinese! However, I was surprised when I heard there were 15 Koreans! For the rest, quite a lot of other people from Asia and just a bunch of Europeans. For the second week, our American piers joined us and we all went through the general introduction; you know, the typical thing "we are the best", "we have 32 nobel prizes among our alumni", "Richard Feynman taught here most of his life", etc. Actually, it is quite amazing to thing I am part of one of the most important universities in history. Even Einstein was a visiting prof here!

I will start talking about my life here soon. I Hope!! Courses will be tough though... So, now it is Saturday night... tomorrow, my last day of holidays... on Monday, real work starts over again! I will try to start "with the right foot" (---> this one is maybe only for Spanish... :) )

Friday, September 26, 2008

Djemaa el-Fna

Djemaa el-Fna is without any doubt the heart of Marrakech. When the night falls, all the city comes here, both locals and tourists. And it is full of things going on! Because all this, it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

In "la Place", as locals call it, many things can be found:

- story tellers

- hena tatoos

- snakes charmers

- Countryside people playing traditional music or dancing

- Games

- BBQ dinner. That's one of the reasons why most tourists end up their evenings/ nights here!

In short, this is magical place where everything possible can be found.

Marrakech Part 2

So, after visiting Essaouira for a couple of days, we came back to the Red City: Marrakech. There were still many things waiting for us in that city...

Of course, we visited the souqs once more... it was impossible to walk without ending up in the middle of the labyrinth of the souqs.

This is the Koutoubia, a nice minaret and one of the symbols of the city.

Then, our visit to monumental Marrakech started. The first stop was in the Palace Al-Baadi. A nice palace from the 14th century or so... the only problem is now everything is almost destroyed and not much can be seen of the original structures.

And just after that, we visited the most beautiful palace in Marrakech! The Palace de Bahia. A huge and gorgeous place. This patio is one of the best known parts of this palace.

Now, a typical random street in the medina.

And the even more typical spices shop!

To visit our visited to the city, we went to the Museum of Moroccan Art. This museum is housed in a typical rich-man house from several centuries ago. The place was beautiful. The central patio, with a nice fountain, was one of the highlights.

And finally, a photo with some donkeys behing Djemaa el-Fna.

After that, we just went to the airport and came back to Spain.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Essaouira was just like fresh air after Marrakech. Marrakech is a large city with a lot of people and where crowds are the norm. Essaouira is a relaxed fishermen town where it is quite easy to relax. It has become pretty touristic recently and that makes crowds are still present here again... but it is just ok, the town is just beautiful and cozy! A nice bastion in the Atlantic coast!

First big difference you can observe in all the coming pictures: the colours or Essaouira are "white and blue", whereas in Marrakech everything was red. That is also kind of healing after the previous days' stress.

The sea was also a good point there... it was cooler than Marrakech (even a bit too chilly at night) and the blue of the sea matched nicely with the overall of the city. Food was also great!! ;-) nice fresh fish and seafood!

The most beautiful view of the city is this one: the view of the medina from the pier at sunset... notable!

That day, the sunset was just great!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Marrakech Part 1

Hey guys! Finally I made it! After travelling around the world like never before (in my last week of holidays I have been in Thailand, Japan, Spain and California...), I finally settled down in California. Further explanation will follow in the next days! Now it is time to post some photos from my trip to Morocco with my brother Javier. In the end, our trip was just 5 days, enough time to visit two cities: Marrakech and Essaouira.

We arrived in Marrakech from Madrid and visited the city for a couple of days. Afterwards, we went to Essaouira, in the coast, a really nice place far from Marrakech crowds!! Then, back to Marrakech for a last touristic day and back to Madrid.

Now some photos (especially dedicated to Seppo! ;-) )

The koutubia, one of the tallest minarets in Morocco.

The central patio in Marrakech museum:

The central patio of the Coran school:

Another beautiful monument that completes the above trio. They are all close by.

And the souqs, a maze of narrow streets... impossible not to get lost at some point!!

And the typical funny picture, Coke and Sprite written in arab!

This is the entrance to the Saadi tombs.

And this last picture is the jewel of the city ;-) Djeema-el-Fna, the central square of the medina and world heritage. In this square there are many things going on at the same time: storytellers, snake charmers, BBQ stands, hena tattoos... I will post more pictures soon!