Sunday, November 30, 2008

Still in Mexico

Now, I am writing from Mexico City. These last 3 or 4 days have been crazy but so nice. I wanted to see many places in a very short time, which is usually a big mistake. But this places are visited in half a day (archeological sites), so it has been kind of ok. I have visited seriously Chichen Itza, Uxmal, the Puuc route and Tulum. In the process, I have visited Merida, Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. These last 2 really briefly... Beaches are so nice in the Mexican Caribean! However, there are so many tourists... Everything is oriented for American tourists and a weary traveler as i am :) can really feel out of the water in a place like these. Anyway, my visits to all these amazing Mayan sites (piramids, temples, etc) has been so nice!!

Now, I arrived at Mexico City and there is some festival going on, which is nice. I have been walking around the cathedral, Templo Mayor, Alameda Central... but now i am too tired after around 60 hours in which I havent slept without interruption for more than 2 hours... Tomorrow, Teotihuacan and some more places in Mexico City. On Monday, back to real life, and final exams so soon...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Caltech and the movies

I know I should have written more about my trip to Hawaii and promise I will do! Just, these days have been kind of hectic... Yesterday, for example, I left my home at 8.30 in the morning and did not have a single free minute until 7.30pm!! not kidding... I cooked and ate in 10 minutes...

So, now, it is time to talk about something funny in Caltech these last two days. A movie or TV series has been being shot here in Caltech! And it is the third time since I have been here! Some days, walking to my lab or courses, I find the street full of trucks and I do not know what is going on. Then, it is when you see there are cameras and other materials and understand it is a movie or series. For me, this is amazing! :) I had never imagine a university can be so popular, but I guess Caltech is. I will have to get used to it!! or even to appear at the backscene in some movie! :P

Monday, November 24, 2008

New posted photos

Tonight, I have been watching photos from Egypt, during my trip there in March and have decided to post some of the best in my flickr account.

It is around 20 or 30 photos and it is a good way of feeling what Egypt is in terms of archeology and temples. Ah, and also some landscapes (Red Sea, sun rising in the desert)...

So if you have some time or just want to watch them:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Evening at Waikiki

After Hamauma Bay, we came back to Waikiki, where our hostel was. I wanted to see a bit of Waikiki by myself, so there I went.

I walked a bit in downtown Waikiki, next to Sheraton hotel, International Market... That area is quite nice, with sidewalks full of palm trees and people!

I found a way to get to the beach and arrived there for the sunset. The beach in Waikiki was also nice, with high hotels around it.

And the sunset was so beautiful once again! These last weeks I am watching too many beautiful sunsets! I am getting spoiled!

Then, back to the hostel to meet my new friends there and back to the pool-side cafe in Sheraton Hotel for some shows about Polynesian culture: hula dancing, fire dancers, Hawaiian music...

One of our friends had moved to a real hotel, so we went there after the show and wrapped up the night chatting there. A nice view from the room's balcony.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hamauma Bay

During my first day in Hawaii, I went to Hamauma bay, a paradise-like bay near Waikiki. It was amazing.

It was formed due to a volcanic eruption and has an almost circular shape. In the middle, coral reefs and colorful fish: perfect for snorkeling!!

This is me in such a beautiful beach.

Some photos of the beach:

And the whole group from Seaside Hostel. Nice guys!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

1st days in Honolulu

Hey, I am just loving Hawaii so far! It is just what I needed: a break and meeting new people.

I arrived on Friday late at night and as soon as I arrived I met a nice group of people at my hostel (Seaside Hawaiian Hostel) and went out with them to sample Honolulu's night. I was so tired, I had to come back early.

Yesterday, it was about lying on the beach and snorkelling. We went to Hamauma bay, a paradise-like beach not too far from Waikiki. Too nice. There were some coral reefs and we snorkelled there for a while. Then sunset at Waikiki and shows about Polinesian culture.

Today, surfing! it was so nice! I caught a long wave and was riding it for around 20 seconds!! down to the beach!! so cool!!

Now, rented car and to the North shore to see real surfing!

See ya! Aloha!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Destination Hawaii

In a few hours I will fly to Hawaii, and that will be my first time in the middle of the Pacific ocean. I don't have any specific plans for it but I think I will go to the beach, hiking among volcanos and doing some tourism. I will be back on Tuesday early morning Pacific Time. Until then, I will try to update the blog some time. If not possible, tons of photos on Tuesday!

See you!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Getting a California Driving License

Last Monday, I passed the behind-the-wheel driving test here in Pasadena and officially got my California Driving License. Why did I get it?

When you are a foreign national in the United States, you can drive with your national driving license if it is from some especific countries (including most of Europe). You can use it as long as it is valid in your home country. However, it turns out that the Spanish Driving License is written in Spanish and it is hard to tell policemen that it is a valid one if they cannot read it! Of course, I brought along my international driving license, which is not valid in California!! But it could serve as a translation in case things got awful... A California Driving License is also really useful for identification purposes. Everybody has one and it has become something like a National Identity Card in Spain. So, if you don't want people to look strangely at you when you say you don't have one, it is better to get it from your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).

The first step to get it is to go to the DMV office in your city and apply for it. The price for the application is around 28 USD and covers the written test and a behind-the-wheel driving test. If you want, you can take the test directly that day!! I got the book with driving rules the first day and came back the next day for the test. I studied for around 2-3 hours and passed the test. It is very simple and similar to the tests in Spain. Multiple choice, 36 questions and not more than a few errors allowed.

So, in one day, I got my permit to drive. Once you have your permit you ask for an appointment for a driving test, which is normally a few weeks after that. During that period, you can drive cars under the supervision of experienced drivers. Anyway, I drove my car without anybody, because it was legal with my European license! Driving in the US can be a bit confusing at the beginning and it is better to get used to everything different before taking the driving test. I did not and I failed the first time :( Traffic lights are on the other side of intersections, the color of curbs is different, you can turn right at a traffic light even if it is red (unless especifically forbidden), green light when turning left means yield (no orange flashing light here...), etc. Habbits driving are also a bit different. When you change lanes, you have to look backwards, towards your car's black spot! I have always been told that is a dangerous and unnecessary action and now it is mandatory and penalized me quite a lot during my first driving test!!

For your driving test, you have to bring your own car and come with a licensed driver. As I was one, I could go alone!! Yes, I went to the driving test driving my own car! And then, I failed and left driving my own car as if nothing had happened!! non sense...

Finally, last monday, I had to pay 6 extra USD for a retake fee and pass the test. My driving license will be coming in a couple weeks / 1 month.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This weekend

This weekend was the first weekend after mid-terms, and I decided to take it a bit easier. So, I still had some work done but also relaxed and enjoyed the things SoCal has to offer.

On Saturday morning, I went with Atsushi, a Japanese friend from Caltech, to Little Tokyo in LA. There, we walked in the pedestrianized area and had some Japanese food: tenpura, teriyaki chicken, miso shiru... And did some shopping too. We visited Kinokuniya, a very famous chain of bookstores in Japan, which I did not know they have a branch here in LA. There you can actually buy all the books you could buy in Tokyo! But of course, at much more expensive price.

This bookstore has its entrance at Onizuka Street, street named after a Japanese American astronaut who died in one of the Shuttle accidents... The street has a nice model of that Shuttle and some description about this astronaut.

Today, still Sunday here in LA, I have been with 3 other friends from Caltech to Six Flags Magic Mountain, an impressive amusement park located around 50 miles from Pasadena.

This park has more than 14 roller coasters! Some of them are simply amazing! You should check out this website: here .

We have been shaked, accelerated and mistreated in every possible way: standing, facing the ground, flying legs, forward, backwards... Amazing!!

And we also found some friends from our childhood: Bugs Bunny and Duffy Duck.

This is us: Me, Sebastian, Amandine and Philip.

And two more shots with roaller coasters:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hi Standard

Hi Standard was a Japanese punk rock band very influential in the 90s. Ken Yokoyama, Akira Tsuneoka and Akihiro Nanba created a band which sold out every live punk rock show they were in, sold millions of records... They even signed for Fat Wreck Chords, one of the most influential punk rock labels (owned by NOFX's Fat Mike) in the world and toured all around the world several times. Their albums were published in Japan and in the US. They splitted in 2000 but left behind some of the best punk rock albums I have ever listened to. "Growing up" or "Making the Road" are simply too good!!

One of their more energetic songs, from 1996!

Picasa web

Hey, I just found out all the photos of this blog are archived in picasa web... google's photo website.

And here, my best photos, some of which are not in this blog:

I went through all of them and it is nice to see the contrasts of so many places put together... Seeing all these photos, I realized I have done quite a lot of travelling recently!!

I am kind of traveling sick! But, is there anything more interesting than traveling? Getting to know new places, beautiful cities, breathtaking natural scenery... As long as I have time, money and energy, I will continue travelling!!!

Btw: an update on my planned trips now:

14-17 Nov: Hawaii. I will visit Oahu, the island where Honolulu, Waikiki, etc are

26Nov-1Dec: Mexico. I will travel in Yucatan peninsula (Cancun, Merida, Mayan sites...) and then I will go one day and a half to Mexico DF (half day downtown and one day to the ruins in Teotihuacan)

From the end of final exams until 15th Dec: San Francisco

From 15th Dec to 4th January: Home for Christmas

From 18th to 23rd Dec: Malta

So, as you know, if you wanna join, just contact me and let's go for it!! My conditions are always the same: get ready to walk a lot, see a lot and forget about resting until you get home!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Geekiest thing ever...

You think you have seen everything and nothing will surprise you... wait until you see this video!! :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes! We can!

Yes, we can! And yes, he could!! Barack Obama is the newly elected president in the United States. I am really happy with this change! Now there might still be some hope for this country. And in general, this result is the best possible for the rest of the world!

"Yes, we can!" is a phrase he repeated over and over again and which made people shout together with faith and joy. I hope he can keep up with the hope he has generated.

Here in Caltech, almost everybody supported Obama, so there has been and there is still a party going on. Some photos follow. Even Queen's "We are the champions" was played some minutes ago!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And it is here... finally

Yes, my friends, today it is the Elections Day! Finally, we will have a new president in the USA. I hope it is Obama ;) Of course!

It looks like he is going to win quite easily, but let's see what happens in the states with many non-decided votes. If you have checked these days the intention of vote polls, it is funny to see that both coast and the Great Lakes region vote for Obama and the middle of the country votes for McCain. That clearly shows the great division between these two areas.

Tomorrow, there will be a party at Caltech, at the Graduate Students appartment blocks to see altogether the results of the elections as the votes are being counted. I think I will join if I have some free time. Still two more mid-terms to go! and they will be on Wednesday!! we'll see...

So, that's all from this side of the Atlantic, or the Pacific!!

Malta, RyanAir and Valencia

The lowcost flight company Ryanair has decided to stop operating from Valencia due to political reasons. The result is my flight to Malta has been cancelled :(

However, I still want to go there this Xmas. Is there anybody interested in joining me for 2 or 5 days in this Mediterranean island? The starting airport would be Girona and the dates, from 18th Dec until 20th or 23rd Dec.

Somebody interested?? Cheap flights and cheap hostels...

Beautiful sea scenery, prehistorical sites, the Malta order warriors sites... and the nearby Gozo and Comino islands.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween at Caltech

Yesterday, it was Halloween and there were several events at Caltech at lunch time. I didn't have my camera at that time, so I took some photos with my cell phone. Sorry for the quality.

There was a custome contest:

Some pumpkins preparation tutorial:

And some people singing Caltech songs... like "Caltech girl".

In case you don't know this infamous song... hehe:

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Today, it has been Halloween. I did not plan to disguise, but in the end I kind of wore a costume. It looks very much like last year: here. But it was fun!