22 4 / 2013
Sorry for being MIA the last two months… here is the first half of the best Spring break ever!
On Thursday (21st of March) after anxiously awaiting their arrival for the 3 months leading up to it Madi and Annie finally came! I went and picked them up from the airport and after a few tears shed on my part, an awkward hug from ann, and a short discussion of their lack of culture shock thus far (all the signs are in English!) they got to experience their first metro ride! And what a thrill it was as I wove my way around everyone forgetting they had their huge luggage to tote around and they were anything but pleased but I was too excited to actually get to our hotel room and catch up!
About an hour and 3 transfers on the metro later, we arrived at our quaint little hotel only a block away from Sol (downtown Madrid)- we shared a few giggles about the bidet and then took a little tour around the historical area of Madrid to see the oldest restaurant, the palace, and the monastery then we ate delicious kebabs and decided to hit the hay relatively early in order to rest for the next day.
We rested until 12 in the afternoon, oops, by then we were so hungry we decided to just go next door to VIPS where we all ordered the American breakfast…branching out was going well so far, but we had a big day ahead of us and needed a bit more nutrition than a croissant could offer. Our first stop after freshening up was the Museum of Sorolla who was a famous painter in Spain, his house/ studio is now a museum so not only did we get to see a lot of his work but we got to walk around his house where almost nothing had changed since he had lived there- even his paint brush he had been using on his last painting was there with his unfinished painting! A little creepy but still cool- he’s definitely one of my favorite Spanish artists. After that we took a trip to the Museo del Traje (Clothes museum), it showed us a all types of clothing ranging from the past to the present and all of the different styles and fashions that have come in and out of popularity- it was interesting but in order to make it more engaging we played “which is your favorite?” and we all pointed to what dress or parasol or corset we would rather wear. That can only entertain for so long so our next stop was a cute little cafe near my school called “Van Gogh Cafe” where I introduced them to Tortilla de Espanola (a delectable mixture of potato, eggs, and salt) which is a traditional Spanish dish here. However as per usual, the rest of the kitchen wasn’t open because Spanish people eat at the weirdest times (at first I thought it was cool and cultural but now I’m over it since I’m constantly hungry) so we grabbed some pizza down the road. We went back to the hotel to rest and get ready for our long night ahead of us! As we were laying on the bed elated the wifi finally worked Madi says “OH MY GOD”, Annie and I both thought it was going to be a giant spider so when she said “I JUST SAW A MOUSE” we were both a little relieved but mice are her worst fear so luckily it had crawled under our door and went into the hallway and we didn’t see any members of it’s family…We told the front desk and they didn’t seem too alarmed but did offer to let us switch rooms but since Annie had practically moved into our room we decided against it. After that heart racing little incident we were on our merry way to El Tigre- a famous tapas bar where you can get one large beer, sangria, or mojito and they bring out huge plates of random tapas for you to eat- it’s more about the experience than the quality of tapas but it does the trick of making you full as well warming your insides for only 6 euros each! We were feeling a little cheap that night so we stopped by a store and grabbed a few bottles of wine and headed back to our hotel room where our beds were calling out to us. We had a classic photoshoot then at 2 we managed to rally and go to my favorite club Star Studio where we danced the night away and Ann was the hot commodity of the night. To end the night we went to San Gines for chocolate con churros and chowed down and then made it home around 6ish so they got to experience what a typical spaniard does on the weekend!
The next day wasn’t ideal but it was a beautiful day out! We asked for late check out so we could sleep a tad longer before we went to the apartment we were going to stay at with my parents and Si and Lisa. We headed to Starbucks for some brekkie and coffee (0 and 2 for cultural breakfasts). Madi went to use the bathroom and while Annie and I were sitting at the table two guys came in and held a sing over our table trying to get us to read it- at first we were both confused because it was illegible writing then I remembered a story a friend had told me where they had their phone stolen when a gypsy had put a piece of paper over it and grabbed the phone along with the paper. The same thing was happening right before our eyes so I slammed my hand down on the paper and grabbed Annie’s phone and kept shouting “NO” until they left. Our hearts were racing for awhile after and sadly Madi missed the whole debacle! So that was thrilling but then we headed to the apartment and realized we didn’t know what number it was, we tried to use a payphone to call the owner but considering we’ve never even used one in English it proved to be pretty difficulty. I drug them to Vodafone to refill my minutes and made them wait outside until it was finally my turn in line. I called the owner, we dropped our bags off at the apartment, then went in search for some food to boost our energy. Once again we stopped at a cafe whose kitchens weren’t open and we ordered Nachos but then received plain chips with two different salsas for dipping…I brought them to get empanadas but the chicken wasn’t very appetizing so we decided we would wait until our parents got there to eat with them. We took a little snooze and then they finally arrived!!! It was a joyous reunion- I missed them more than I had realized. We went to a cute little tapas restaurant in Plaza Santa Ana next door to our apartment and ordered basically two of everything on the menu and of course lots of wine (soon to be a common theme now that the parents are in the picture). Our waiters were adorable and we had the best time with them and after our delicious meal they brought us each a shot of bubble gum liqueur- a little nasty and mouth wash like but we drank them anyways! The day started out iffy but ended wonderfully!
The next day was pretty relaxed and Madi had the flu so she was in bed all day :(. She didn’t miss out much we just walked around the city and explored the palace area again and went inside the church. However we had another wonderful meal at Kitchen Stories- omg I had a scrumptious salad and the grilled veggies were cooked to perfection ( I want to describe the food everyone else ordered also but I don’t think anyone really cares/I dont remember/ I’m running out of adjectives to describe food). That night I took them to Chueca- known for being the gay neighborhood in Madrid which has tons of bars and restaurants but considering it was Sunday night the usually bustling streets were deserted but nonetheelss we found another great restaurant with delectable salads, gnocchi, slabs of meat, and a seaweed salad.
For our last day in Madrid we went to the Reina Sofia museum where the Guernica is located along with a lot of other modern art pieces. It’s gigantic and we were only able to cover one floor of it but it’s a really cool museum- quite the contrast from El Prado. We did a little shopping in Goya afterwards and I’d say it was quite successful. Then after we went to my senoras so everyone could see our apartment and meet her!! She speaks English really well so it wasn’t a problem having a conversation and she was precious and sweet as usual and made me show her all of my new purchases. It just made me happy for everyone to finally meet and to show the rents what they have to live up to this summer when I move back home…
That’s all for now..our Barcelona adventure will be for the next blog in two months from now! kidding…kinda.
04 3 / 2013
25 2 / 2013
Last weekend we made the five-hour drive through the luscious olive fields of southern Spain to spend a few days in Granada. The first activity on our agenda was a visit to Los Banos Arabes (The Arab Baths), which turned out to be more of a relaxing day at the spa than a historical lesson like I was imagining! There were 4 warm baths to calm you and 1 cold bath for rejuvenation and you switched temperatures whenever you pleased to keep your body guessing. Since I have at least 8 years of the polar bear swim under my belt I was able to dive right into the cold pool like it ain’t no thang- everyone was pretty in awe of me after that. We also each received a massage with sensual oil, unfortunately I had a woman with tender little ladyfingers but it was still heavenly. I also downed at least 5 cups of tea within the hour. There’s nothing quite like an afternoon of being pampered while lathered up in oil to bring people together.
After that we walked around the streets in the older part of Granada and went to one of “the best places in the world to watch the sunset”- as it sets behind La Alhambra and gives the castle a magnificent reddish glow. Stumbling on the cobble stone streets curving through the white washed walls of the houses gave off an entirely new authentic feeling of Spain. On our walk back to the hotel we stopped for “the best kebabs and lemonade in Granada” and man did they hit the spot. We hustled back to shower before we loaded the bus and precariously wove our way down the treacherous streets to the caves on the mountainside for a Flamenco show put on by gypsies! Their coordination as a group and their ability to keep up with the lightening speed tempo was impressive, bold, and beautiful. There was also a 70-year-old woman who danced for us and made me hope that I am at least as half as cool and agile when I’m her age. Afterwards we drank some wine in our hotel and then I went and met up with Kylie and her roommate Jenny- of course getting lost along the way. We went out to tapas and had some more wine and chatted about this and that- so so nice to have a little piece of home in Spain with me. When I got home my roommate Caroline hadn’t returned yet so I ate some chocolate covered Oreos from my senora and tried to watch cable in Spanish but it was a little scary and I was exhausted so I called it a night.
The next morning there was a huge breakfast buffet but we were a little tardy so we stuffed our faces as everyone was lining up for the bus and then off to the La Alhambra we went! It’s a grand palace with an amazing mosque, lush gardens, fountains on fountains, views of the entire city, and more history within its walls than Everett and Marysville combined. It was my second time visiting there but it every bit as stunning as the first time I went. We toured it for a solid 4 hours- covering all there was to see. Afterwards we enjoyed a somewhat interesting lunch consisting of blood sausage that looked like a little turd on a dried piece of apple- amongst other dishes that were typical Spanish dishes; it was on the hillside with a gorgeous view of La Alhambra and it was raly fancy so we were being careful of minding our manners (maybe that was just me who actually had to be astute to proper manners…?)I watched what I ate because I didn’t want to be too full for our big soccer match later that evening! Our program played against the IES Granada program in futsol (which is indoor on a court and uses a smaller ball)- after a cheap goal and a few douchebaggy (sp?) comments from the other team we emerged victorious! We gave them a few chances to keep the game interesting but overall I’d say we dominated and it was a well-deserved win; plus our entire program was there cheering us on and I’m pretty sure it was more people than who attend our games at UPS so we didn’t want to let them down and bring shame to our city!
That night we celebrated with more wine- surprise, surprise, and as we were getting ready to go out “A Dog’s Tale” was on in Spanish on tv and it’s about a dog who’s owner dies but the dog continues to wait for him outside of the train station all day and all night for 9 years until the dog eventually dies and they are reunited in heaven. I really butchered that description but it’s based on a true story and even though I am a die-hard cat lover it jerked on the strings of my heart like none other and when my roommate got out of the shower I was sitting on the bed trying but failing to hide the tears rolling down my cheeks- Apparently wine that only costs 1.50 doesn’t mix well with my emotions. I soon snapped out of it and we went to a club called Granada 10 and danced the night away. I was whipping out all my best moves and having a grand ol’ time until I realized my wallet was no longer in my purse. We crawled around on the floor for a little and retraced all of my steps from earlier that night but alas it was nowhere to be found. Unfortunately it also had my number for coat check in and I don’t think the coat check lady had ever been hugged in her whole life because she was cold hearted and kept telling me that I couldn’t get it until 7 which was 3 hours from then and our bus was leaving at 9:30 that same morning! I was stressing out but the security guard said to talk to Alfonso and once we finally found him he was a lamb and went and got my jacket for me. As soon as I got home my senora had lunch waiting for me and then I took a nap, called pops, and went to bed. One of the best weekends here yet!
another blog will be here soon….kisses
08 2 / 2013
Update: I don’t think my new Spanish friend who originally said he wanted to play soccer with me actually just wants to play soccer soooo there goes that.
Today I was on a run with Caroline and Rachel and we stopped to stretch when a middle aged man came up to us and asked if he could run with us. Apparently he isn’t an avid runner and “wanted to test his pace with others”. There are literally only middle aged men who run in the park, sprinkled in with a few woman and he chooses to ask us. So we said “why the hell not we’ve been in the market for a new running buddy and you look like the perfect candidate!” Then afterwards we invited him to go shopping with us and he said he knows of a cool few bars that we can go out to tonight, it should be a lot of fun!
Last night on the metro I met three guys from California that were confused as to why I was studying in Spain this semester considering marijuana was just legalized in Washington. Me and my poor life decisions!
Also three people have asked me for directions so far since I have been here… however since I don’t usually know where I am half the time and was caught off guard every single time that they thought I could help I always froze up and ended up saying “I don’t know, sorry”. 3 weeks in and my Spanish is really improving!
I also told myself that I am going to try and eat less bread but its’ proving to be pretty difficult. The other night at dinner I didn’t have bread with my meal but then when it came time to eat our fruit my senora made me eat my banana with a piece of bread…The fresh baguettes are so scrumptious here though so I didn’t argue.
In other news I can fit my hair into a bun!!!! And I saw a two kittens and a peacock in the park today! Oh happy days!
Just a few tidbits that didn’t all deserve their own posts but are somewhat noteworthy. Also in case that middle aged man thing made you nervous it’s not true..we just politely declined his request and then awkwardly waited in silence as he finished his pretend stretching and finally ran off.
04 2 / 2013
Today I had one class, chatted with my friends for a little after about our weekends, finally bought my spanish book, ate whole wheat bread and brie and jamon for lunch, took a two hour nap, and then PLAYED SOCCER FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE NOVEMBER. Needless to say I am floating on cloud 9 right now- after feeling like I didn’t quite fit in for the past 3 weeks I was finally in my element and it felt so good. Something had felt a little off lately- I just didn’t realize how much I actually miss playing and as much as I like running in the park it’s a snooze compared to playing soccer. There are a lot of people on my program who like to play so we’re going to play twice a week; I also made a spanish friend the other night who said I can come play with him and his friends! A little more nervous for that because they’re probably pretty legit but hopefully I can pick up a thing or two from them.
Anywayz two posts today because I have been lame and actually busy with classes- I am now enrolled in a Theater and Performance class and all we did for two hours during the first class was improv so luckily with my vast experience of improv and acting in front of others the class was a cinch. I am also in a film class where we just watch one movie a week by Almodovar and they are all focused on the roles of women in Spanish society and since I am now a woman living in the Spanish society I think I’ll be able to relate pretty well- and if not it will still be my most interesting class.
Also I have a friend named Rachel Hawkins(!) here and she has a friend who lives in an apartment so we went over there and had a “kick back” (douchey) on Saturday night just playing games and talking about tv shows we watch (who the hell brought that topic up??) and then later the conversation took a sharp U turn and we started talking about race and our places in society—I may have started dozing off at that point. But it was a nice change of pace from going to the bars all night..I can only dance for so long, it saved me some cash money and whenever I went to the bathroom there was toilet paper- which is always a plus! We also took little cat naps at 4 and then woke up and took the metro home at 6. I was trying to be really nice and polite in hopes we get invited to come back and I think I was pretty convincing but only time will tell.
P.S. I watched Kill Bill in spanish with my senora and her boyfran and it was really good times had by all…watching the second one on Sunday!