Sunday, June 28, 2009

Aqueducts are the shit

A couple of hours after getting home Saturday morning all of us were on our way to Segovia. This city was pretty sweet. Its really old with lots of history. For example, they still have their aqueducts which had been in use up until 80 years ago (that’s right; the Roman aqueducts were being used to bring water to Segovia for that long. Talk about an engineering marvel. I was impressed. The engineer in me couldn’t help resist). Even more impressive is the fact that the aqueduct has no adhesives holding it together. Each piece of the aqueduct was made like a puzzle piece and that’s how it’s held together. Awesome right?! (yes I know my CMU is showing, but I know you are all impressed by it too!) We also saw a Cathedral which was more impressive on the outside than on the inside. The last thing we saw was the old castle called el Alcazar (they say that it inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle). Documents show that it’s been in existence since around the 12th century, but the material used was the same as those of the aqueducts, which leads some to believe that its been around since before the 12th century. Inside of it, we saw the throne room of Isabel I y Fernando (los reyes catolicos) as well as some bed rooms, the chapel, and the artillery school they had inside of it. We also climbed all the way to the top of the tower were you had a whole city view of Segovia. It was one giant hike up the really narrow stairwell. The top of the tower is also where Alfonso X did all of his astronomy studies. Pretty neat, right? After that we were given time to wonder around and have lunch. A group of us decided to get some lunch. Some wanted to try the famous cochinillo of Segovia which is basically a pig that’s cooked a certain way. I was not up for that, so I got some chorizo and eggs. Yum yum. We then headed back to Madrid. We took our siestas on the bus and when we got home.

Later on Saturday night we decided to go out again (but not as late as Friday). This time we went to Chueca, the mainly gay area. Saturday was Orgullo 2009 (Gay day!) so the place was packed with all kinds of people. It was quite interesting. But every place was packed to the brim with people. All bars, clubs, and plazas were filled with people having a good time and singing songs. Since it was so packed we decided to meet up with some other people who were at a club. It was interesting because the club was closed to the public because there was a private party going on, but somehow we all got in. It was a very chill time with some dancing and talking. After that we decided to g home because we had little sleep the night before and wanted to go to El Rastro Sunday morning.

Sunday morning we headed out once again to El Rastro. I must say, I never want to that again. I’ve come to despise el Rastro. I know people who love it because of all the booths with cheap stuff and they like haggling, but I personally cannot stand the crowds of people. The moment you step out off the metro, you become one of the thousands of sardines on the streets. It’s really hot, there are tons of people who push and shove you, and half the time things are way overpriced and I don’t like haggling. It practically impossible to get to some stands because of packed it is. Plus, I’m paranoid that someone will try to mug me/ rob me while I’m walking around. I’m glad I went to El Rastro (twice) because it was an experience, but never again do I want to go there. I just get so overwhelmed and agitated when I’m there. Thankfully, we weren’t there for long. We then met up with some of the girls and had some tapas in the nearby La Latina area. We then walked to Plaza Mayor to check out some gelatos places (there were none open) and eventually ended up in Sol. At the heart of Sol there is this bakery were all sorts of pastry are sold. Since we couldn’t satisfy our gelato fix, we decided to get some pastry. I had a napolitana de chocolate. It was divine. It was like a croissant mixed with a señorita and something else. it was the best euro I have ever spent. (I am going to get so fat from this trip, but I don’t care!).

And that’s how my day as gone so far, ending with a delicious dessert. 

Hasta la proxima tios!

Uno, do(s), tres, cuatro

Thursday morning was a tiring one in class, and the looming Friday exam was getting to us. Thursday night was the Fiesta of the Month for Sampere, which meant that “Ojos Negros” (a bar) would close for business and only cater for us. Three hours of endless free sangria and cerveza. It was quite fun just sitting around and talking to all the different people who were there (those most I knew already since I have class with them or I know them through someone else). One of my professors that I had from the first week was there (as a refresher, I had two male teachers my first week: Angel and Abel), the one I have a teacher crush on. My friend Michelle jokingly said that by the end of the night I had to hook up with him. That obviously wasn’t going to happen, but it was funny how when he left she said “Hey! He left without you! What a horrible date he is!” Hahaha. After that Tema and I went home early to study for out exam the next morning and get a good night’s rest.

The day of the exam, Friday, had come. Our professors were convinced that we’d pass, but I of course freaking out thought I’d fail. There were two parts: a written and an oral. The written was about 4 pages of exercises asking you to complete sentences or write phrases using the given grammar rule. This time I made sure to remember each rule and not just fill in everything by how it sounds (well, I still did it by how it sounded, but I checked it over by what the rule said). The oral section was my favorite and everyone else’s least. We had to sit in a room with one of our professors and she’d ask us questions and we answer them. So we talked about the movie we had seen in class (“Otro lado de la cama”) and what consejos we’d give each personaje in the movie (using the correct subjuntivo rule of course). We also had to talk about the last wedding we attended using the correct form of the past tense (as if I didn’t know that already). Naturally I aced the oral part but was scared I had flunked the written. Thankfully, I didn’t. I only missed 2 things on the written and got an almost perfect score. Thus, I passed the exam and got to move on to the next level (which hopefully I will actually learn something in).

Friday was our friend Ashley’s last day in Madrid, so we went to see the Plaza de los Toros where all the bullfights take place in Madrid. We couldn’t go inside, but it was pretty impressive from the outside. We also had a little bit of fun with the fact that we were outside a bull-ring. Ashley decided to be a matador and me a bull. We had a fight (fortunately documented by the other girls). I lost (sadly). We then went souvenir shopping near Sol/Opera. Up until then, I had not bought a single thing, for myself or for anyone else. And so, I went on a shopping binge buying my loved ones silly and useless things that have something relating to Madrid on them. [Pausa: Funny Story—up until Friday, I had been using a Movistar bag as my “school bag”, to carry all my books and lunch and such since my purse is too small to hold it all. The bag ripped in half and everything fell out of my bag in the middle of this store we were in. As fate had it, they had these giant purses on sale for about 8 euros each. It’s like God told me it was time to get an actual bag and stop carrying the stupid cellphone bag around. It was fate. Un-Pausa]. After wondering around Madrid for a few hours, Tema and I headed home for some dinner and to get ready for out night out.

Michelle and Alejandro had hit it off, and so we decided to go out as a group (her friends and his) for some tapas, drink, and some fun. And so Michelle, Steph, Tema and I went out with Alejandro and his friends: Louis, Jesus, Sergio, Javi, Diego, and another one who I actually never met. First we went to a Cuban restaurant and had some tapas (which included tostone. They were quite good but nothing like the ones my mommy makes) and some wine. It was a bit awkward at first because for some reason we arranged ourselves with girls on one side and guys on the other. But it got better as time went by. Afterwards we headed to the bar/club called Sol y Sombra (Tema and I had been there once before, on our first adventure out into Madrid). It was PACKED. But it was so much fun. We had some drinks, danced a lot, and just had a good time with some good people. We girls had planned for this to be an early night because we had a trip to Segovia the next morning, but we were having too good of a time to take the metro home. So we decided to take taxis home once the bar closed. So 3 AM comes around, the bar closes and we decide to tell the boys that it’s time for us to go home, but they won’t have any of it. They want to go to another club that’s pretty far away. How do they convince us to go? They offer to pay for the cab rides, and drive us home whenever we want (Louis has a coche). How could we give up an opportunity like that? And so we head off to another club called Keeper where all the music was techno (just for you Adam, just for you). After another two hours of hanging out, the girls and I decided that it’s time to head home. And so we did, in Louis car as promised. It was a sad parting because all the guys were really nice and fun (we didn’t pay for a thing that night! All food and drinks were paid by the guys. They all also dance. Javi is definitely the best one out of all of them) but we had to go home take showers and take our naps before our journey to Segovia.

Cuidado, Cuidado.....

Que tal tios.
El lunes fuimos a la copa de bienvenidos (como siempre) y conocí el chico nuevo de CMU. Es llama Guillermo Gómez. Es de California y de descendencia mexicana y es un estudiante de ingeniería técnica (o mecánica). Es un chico muy agradable. También conocí unas chicas de Suiza y un chico de Mónaco. Todos salimos por unas tapas y un poco de vino el lunes.

El martes fui de compras (no te preocupes mami, no compre nada. Todo cuesta mucho y no hay nada que no puedo encontrar en Miami) con Tema y mi nueva amiga Kayleigh. El lunes empezó la temporada de rebajas. Todas las tienes tienen descuentos, rebajas, o liquidaciones. Vez en cuando encuentro un postal que dice “Sale” y siempre quiero decir “si dice sale yo entro” (verdad mami? ;) ). Después fuimos a casa y cenamos (por supuesto mientras miráramos pasapalabra). Después Tema y yo quedamos con nuestras muchachas y tomamos un poco de sangría y charlamos de cualquier cosa.

On Wednesday night, we headed out to a Jazz Club called “El Junco”. They had live band doing their thing, people sitting around listening/ talking and just having a good time. All of my muchachas went (as usual) and Kayleigh invited some of her college friends who happen to be working in Madrid. Their names are Javier, Alejandro, Diego, and Sergio. The first three are from Mexico working in Spain and the last one is German working in Spain, and she met them while studying abroad in London. Pretty sweet huh? Also notice how they are all guys. Kayleigh (our resident lesbian) wanted us to meet the guys and hopefully get some of us to “ligar con ellos”. They are all sweet hearts and really funny. Javier is great to talk to, Alejandro is a riot (he wants to learn how to speak with the Miami accent), and Diego always has something awful to say (which is usually hilarious). I didn’t really get a chance to talk to Sergio considering most girls were surrounding him because he was definitely the best looking of the four. So we all stayed at the jazz club for a while and chat with the boys. Afterwards to went to another place where some people from our school were hanging (sadly however we lost Javier and Sergio who had to go home early do to a 7 AM conference call). The Miami boys I had met a few weeks ago were there along with some other guys. Alex, one of the boys, tells one of the guys that I went to Carrollton and the first thing that comes out of his mouth is “KNEE HIGHS! YOU WORE THE KNEE HIGHS?! Those things were HOT!”…..and I knew immediately that they were Columbus boys. The place was not as nice as the first place, so fortunetly we left after being there for maybe 20 minutes. Then we all headed out looking for this club called “Pacha”. Diego thought he knew where it was and made us all walk in a giant circle around the city. It was pretty funny. “no te quejas, te estoy dando el gran tour de la ciudad!” he’d say. After much wondering we found it but it cost way too much to go in, so half of us opted out and decided to go home. But of course, because we’re in Spain it took us 3 times as long to say bye to each other than it normally would with all the besos on each cheek and the “mucho gusto” “igualmente!”. We all also had to figure out WHERE we were and how to get home from there. Diego lived to blocks from club (and then you wonder how he got us lost?) so he walked home, while the rest of us were pretty much in completely opposite directions. It was pretty cute though when Michelle and Alejandro were saying goodbye because Alejandro had it bad for Michelle (little/CMU Michelle, not the usual tall/blonde Michelle….so cute!); he didn’t want to leave her alone. Eventually we all got taxis and went our separate ways.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sleepless in España

Thursday night we decided to head back home after walking around Chueca after school. There were some really high-end stores in the area (you had to ring a bell to be let in, and let out). We also got some gelatos. Mine was mango and strawberry. The mangos reminded me of all the mangos we were getting for free at home before I left for Spain. I wonder if there will still be some when I get home...Anyway Thursday night was nothing special. It consisted of watching Pasapalabra at home while eating dinner and finishing off “Age of Innocence” before going to bed.

In class on Friday we watching this really silly, stupid, yet funny movie called “Otro lado de la cama” which was a “musical” dealing with relationships between four friends. It was pretty cute and pretty predictable, but the ending was open-ended. In the movie each character sang popular Spanish pop songs from the 80s and 90s; apparently most Spaniards, when they watch that movie, know every single song that they sing. The dancing and singing was horrible, but that just added to its silliness. The two most famous actors in the movie are Paz Vega and Guillermo Toro. Toro reminded me a Spanish version of Will Farrell (except not as annoying, just in looks I guess). Either way, it was cute.

Friday night was rolling around, and the girls had a night on the town. All 9 of us girls headed out to El Tigre for some tapas and drinks. Some of them had a little too much of their 6 euro sangria, but we all had a blast. Afterwards we wandered through the streets trying to find this club called Paradise. However, we discovered that it doesn’t exist. Well, it does exist but only on Thursday nights. Apparently this other club is converted into Paradise on Thursdays, offering free chupitos; chupitos is the word they use for shots, it’s awesome and we’re all going to bring that word to the States and see if it catches on. Anyway never finding it we headed over to Sol, where all the stuff happens on the weekends. Two of the girls went home because we had an excursion the next day and needed to be at school by 9 AM. I wanted to do that to, but Tema wanted to stay out and I couldn’t let her be alone, so I stayed and headed off to find a bar or club. We ended up at this Irish pub called Dubliners, where they met a guy who bought them all free drinks and shots. The guy had a thing for our resident Lesbian, so it was funny when they started making out; apparently, she has some straight tendencies when drunk. I must say I was confused but highly entertained. There wasn’t much going on in the pub, but my new CMU friend Cristian and I decided to get the party started and danced together. I will be frank and say that we were awesome (that’s what happens when you get to DS dancers together). After that we went outside and tried to decide where to go. There was lots of confusion and no consensus of what was going, so somehow we all got separated. Michelle, Lauren and I headed to the salsa club called El Son. It was packed with people and lively. We all had a great time, dancing meringue, salsa, bachata, and regaetton. There were many guys that danced with us, but one guy in particular took a liking to me. His name was Julio from Columbia. He kept asking me to dance, and since he was pretty good at it I said yes. At first he told “no estoy aqui para ligar como todos los otro hombres; estoy aqui para bailar, solamente para bailar” which made me happy because I knew he wouldn’t be hitting on me then. But as time went on he kept complimenting me and wanting to buy me a drink (which I refused). He also asked me 5 times what the heart bracelet I was wearing meant. Just so you know its silver bracelet locket that my lovely boyfriend gave me for our anniversary, which is what I told him, 5 times. The fourth time he said “I know that it’s a gift from your boyfriend but what does it mean….” And I was wondering “Well, it’s a heart locket, what do you think it means?” Anyway, after telling him it was from my boyfriend he kept saying that my boyfriend didn’t appreciate what he had. Once saying that, I realized that he said earlier was all that true, el estaba tratando de ligarse conmigo. Once it was about a bit past 5 AM Lauren and I decided it was time to go find our other girls. When I told me new friend I had to leave he asked me for a kiss, so I kissed him on the cheek. But he said he wanted a real kiss. I told him I couldn’t do that and he knew why. He then informed me that it doesn’t matter but he loves me more than my boyfriend does (you hear that Adam?). Yeah, right. I headed out of there like a bat out of hell.

Some other people that I met were from the DR, Ecuador and PR. They could all dance very well, it was amazing. There was also no groping which was fantastic, especially after my experience at Kapital the Saturday before.

The other girls were at a club called Joy, and we had to wait outside for them for about 40 minutes. And I must say, I have never experienced so many men coming up to me. By the end of the 40 minutes Lauren and I had our game faces on, our “I’m a bitch you better not come over here and bother me” faces. Once the other girls got out of the club, it was time for the metro to start up again. So Tema and I headed home. We got home a bit after 7 AM, so we had about 1.5 hours to get ready for out excursion. We each took showers, ate breakfast and got back on the metro at 8:30 to head over to school. That’s right, no sleep for us!

So by 9 AM we were on a bus on our way to El Escorial. For those who don’t know, El Escorial is a palace/monastery/church/museum/school built by Spain’s king Felipe II. It built very orderly, geometrically, very stoic. Some say it was a model for how Felipe II ran his government: in a very strict, orderly fashion where religion was at its center and all else around it. The monastery still has monks living in it so we couldn’t go into that part, and same goes for the school. The school is a co-ed elementary and middle school, but a bordering school only for boys. We saw the living quarters for the king and one of the princesses. The rooms weren’t any extravagant because apparently the king believed that they should be living like monks in this life, for in the afterlife they would be living like royalty. Thus, their tombs were something extremely spectacular. We saw were all the kings since Carlos I have been buried as well as the queens, princes/princesses, and all other kinds of royalty were buried. It was pretty awesome; some of those tombs as the most beautiful marble sculptures. The most detailed and beautiful one was the one of Carlos’s half brother known as Don Juan, who was very popular with the ladies and was a great leader; he’s famous for same battle that I can’t remember right now (yeah, its that’s famous….). His battle is so well known that it was recounted by Cervantes (yup, this guy was Cervantes’ inspiration for Don Quijote). After that we headed into the museum part where there were some Greco paintings. Apparently the king has originally hired el Greco to paint the ceiling of one part of El Escorial, however after seeing some of his works he decided it wasn’t good enough and hired some unknown and not very famous painters; sucks for him, right? We also saw part of the old monastery and the library where some books that date back to the 5th century are stored. We also saw the gardens which are right at the edge of a mountain. The views are pretty spectacular.

After lunch we got back on the bus and headed to El Valle de los Caidos, which is supposedly a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Spanish Civil War (but I think most think that Franco used that as an excuse to build himself a really, really big mausoleum; after all he is buried there. This memorial is placed right at the center of a mountain range, and you can see Madrid far off in the distance from it too. It has one of the largest crosses I have ever seen. It’s the biggest in Europe and perhaps in the whole world. It’s also a church/basilica. It’s pretty impressive. Apparently not many people visit el Valle though. The Spanish apparently don’t care, especially since Franco built it and is buried there. Either way, it’s pretty sweet looking. Once done there we headed back to Madrid, and got home around 5:30ish.

Having not slept in over 24 hours, we decided to take a nap. So, we took two naps: each of about 2 hours, one before and one after dinner. We probably could have slept more, but it was a Saturday night in Madrid so naturally we had to go out. So Saturday at around 2 AM we went to a club called JOY. JOY is an old theater turned club, so it has all the balcony seats and stage still intact, but a dance floor and bars where there would be seating. It was pretty classy. The best part, we didn’t have to pay to get in. Two of the girls, while on their way to meet us, ran into one of those promoters that’s always handing out little cards and such (they are EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME). She told them that if they told the guys at the door that they were on her list, we’d all get in for free. Not sure if it would work, the girls sent me to talk to the guys in front since apparently I’m the most fluent. And so, I sweet talked to guy into letting us in for free (actually, I just told them I was on the list and I got us all in for free. No sweet talking involved). So we go in and immediately hit the dance floor. The music was quite different from that of Kaptial the week before. First off, there was no groping involved what so ever, which was fantastic. Second, since it was only floor it felt much more packed than Kapital. Also there were a lot more older looking people (and I must say, when the old guys stand around you in a circle whispering to each other, you feel like a little deer surrounded by hunters planning their next move). Joy was much more techno/remix based. It was pretty good for a while since most songs were ones we recognized, then it turned into house music and most of us weren’t feeling it anymore. Plus, since I hadn’t actually slept any I was really tired. So we headed out at around 5ish and saw a very well know chocolateria open. So we went and got ourselves some chocolate con churros (and a water bottle of course) all for 4 euros. That’s not bad if I say so myself. We satisfied our churros cravings and waited for the metro to open. This time we made it home before our host mom was up. It was fabulous.

So we got home around 6:30 AM Sunday morning and went to sleep. I woke up at around 12:30 hungry and had myself some breakfast. I then began to wait for Tema to wake up so we could head out on another adventure. She slept until about 2, and around 3 we headed to El Prado. Our school had got to El Prado as a field trip the week before we arrived, so it was up to us to make it there on our own. We got there around 4, and waited outside on the benches until about 4:45 and got in line for the free admission that started at 5. Every Sunday El Prado is open from 5 til 8 for free. Fantastic, no? So we made it in and hit all the big master pieces. First up was Goya and his “pinturas negras” (my favorite) as well as “el 2 de mayo” and “el 3 de mayo”, which are the two famous paintings about the war of independence in Spain. Las pinturas negras were amazing and creepy and SWEET. I think I’ll go back and check them out again. Next up was the second floor where all the Velazquez and El Greco paintings were. We went through their rooms and roamed around some more until about 7:20 to hit up the gift shop. We didn’t finish seeing everything. There’s too much to see, so we decided to go back on another Sunday afternoon to finish our visit. El Prado is huge and amazing. And on Sunday afternoons, its packed. I have never seen a museum so full of people. It was impossible to see some of the paintings without pushing someone out of the way. But it was worth it, because I got to see things like las pinturas negras or las meninas. And I must say, all these famous paintings were waaaaaaaaaaay bigger than I thought. “Las Meninas” is huge, as well as “el 2 de mayo” and “el 3 de mayo;” usually people tell you that paintings are smaller than you think (for example the Mona Lisa) but in case of every single one I saw in El Prado, they were much larger than I had imagined.

So after about 2.5 hours roaming the museum we headed home for some dinner. And then, we did our homework and went to sleep. It had been a very long weekend with extremely little sleep, so a long well deserved sleep was waiting for us Sunday night.

That’s it for now.
Hasta luego chicos y chicas!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Random Stuff

So I know I’ve talked a lot about what I’ve done in my free time, so I figured I’d tell you a little about my school .

So here’s the run down on Estudio Sampere.

There are tons of students from all over the world, but mainly the US. There are usually large group of kids from one university, like BC. They always stick together, have classes together, go on field trips together and never interact with anyone. Then there are what is called “El Grupo General” which comprises of the CMU girls (Michelle, Stephanie, Tema, and I), the Minnesotan girls (Lauren and Beth), Ashley from Connecticut, the high school Spanish teacher from Texas (Michelle, who’s become a really good friend of mine despite the age difference), Brittany from Atlanta, Ralph (the awesome 79 year old man from St. Petersburg, FL who just came to study because he wants to keep his mind sharp and has always wanted to study Spanish; he’s such a cutie), Eugenio from Amsterdam (he likes to take LOTS of pictures, usually using his tripod), Micha from Germany, Maria from Hamburg, Tanya (a young woman who lost her job, and so decided to go all over Europe for a year and learn various languages), Maria and Nick (two co-workers who came to improve their conversational skills, though they are both native speakers. Nick is awesome, he’s a like a big brother to me, watching out for the creepers who want to hit on me haha), and others who come and go but I’ve never actually talked to or met. Most of us don’t have class together but we all know each other because we either all started at the same time, or we know someone who has class with them or someone who lives with them or we went on a field trip with them.

Classes are strange here in Sampere. You can either have morning or afternoon classes. Each one consisting of two 1.5 hour classes with a 30 minute break in the middle; so you either get done really early (like 12:30) or really late (7pm) . You never know if your classes will work out the same or if you’ll even have the same professors that week. Having classes in the morning allow you to have the afternoon free to do whatever you want. However, you have to get up early, going out late is impossible, and going shopping or doing much in the afternoon doesn’t work out since things close from 2:30 to 5 for the siesta y almuerzo. Having classes in the afternoon make your days seem really long and you get home really late, the up side is you have to morning to do whatever you want (sleep, eat, go shopping since stores aren’t closed, visit places) and because you have the morning free you can go out late and sleep in. So really, it depends on what you like. Right now, I wish I had classes between the two so that I can still do stuff and go out and go shopping but still have classes somewhat early.

Every Monday there is “La Copa de Bienvenido” since every week new students come; everyone who comes gets a free glass of either: wine, sangria, or a soda. Every Wednesday there is a museum trip. They do it so that we don’t get too worked up on our classes and such. Every Thursday night there is some sort of activity, such as a flamenco dance or tapas or play or something that is cultural. Every Saturday there is an excursion to some awesome place.

The way we are taught here is so different from what I’m used to. Since none of the teachers here understand English, you can’t ask how to say something in Spanish, you just have to blab on describing what you are trying to say. We do a lot of improvised activities and things that make you think on the stop. I actually really like it, since I get to actually talk a lot in class and practice my Spanish. In high school I barely participated because I didn’t like the class and because all the girls were way better than me and more willing to participate. Class at CMU is nothing compared to my high school classes (no offense CMU). Since most people aren’t native speakers like they were in Miami, the teacher was a lot easier on them and didn’t correct them as much when they said un disparate so my Spanish didn’t improve all that much. But here, since there are only 4 of us and I’m the best “speaker” and worst “writer” (when they ask me to say a sentence using the preterito del pluscuamperfecto I just freeze up; I mean, its not like I remember these grammatical rules. I don’t even remember the ones I learned for English! I can carry a conversation perfectly, but they ask me to spit out rules I have no clue what to say…) I get a lot of practice. I actually, for once, like Spanish class. I for once feel in my element.

We sometimes have homework, and it’s never much. Usually it just some exercises in the workbook. We also have an exam every other week to see if we’re ready to advance to the next level. Let’s hope I know what they mean when they ask me for the pluscuamperfecto, right?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

La Reina Sofia con un poco de Flamenco

El martes we went to class and mostly did nothing. Tuesdays are pretty dull days here in Madrid. Not much to do except maybe shop (which we do a lot around here). However, another person from Carnegie Mellon arrived over the weekend so Tema and I decided to take him out for a walk or drink. His name is Cristian Young.I had heard of him before but had never really met him. He's a really cool guy (simpatico, si?). We went out and they had carpirinahs (not sure how to spell that actually....). Twas good.

El miercoles despues de clase visitamos el Museo de la Reina Sofia, un museo que esta repleto de arte contemporanea. Ahi hay varias obras de Dali, Miro, y Picasso. El mas famoso ahi es La Guernica por Picasso. Its huuuuuge. I've seen it in books and online before and I thought it was impressive then. But after seeing it in real life, and seeing how big it really is and all the strokes and colors, I must say it was amazing. Extremely moving,to say the least. What was interesting was that in the room next to it there were about 20 other paintings, or rather drawings of different variations of the Guernica. They were actually studies that Picasso did, experimenting with different colors and styles, shapes and figures. It was interesting to see how this piece progressed. For example,some of the earlier studies had lots of color in it, but the Guernica is completely in black,white, and grey hues. Apparently Picasso thought it more fitting and emotionally provoking to have it absent of any real color. Twas awesome.

I then spent another 3 hours walking through the floors. The top floor, the 4th, had some temporary exhibitions that were pretty interesting as well as some of Miro's later work (you know, the stuff with maybe one line and a dot and its supposed to be a bird in flight or something....). My favorite room though was were all the surrealist stuff was. Dali's paintings were amazing. I can't comprehend how he would think to paint some of those things. Some were pretty crazy. Just like all of Bunuel's films, craaaazy. Weird, crazy, but interesting all the same.

After the museum Tema and I hit up the Royal Botanical Jardins.There weren't as many flowers at you would think, they just got out of their cold season, but it was pretty over all. Huge garden with lots of fountains, statues, trees, flowers, kitties, it was peaceful and beautiful. However, it was so hot we decided to head back home.

After eating a delicious dinner and watching the latest Pasapalabra, we got ready and headed out into Sol to watch some Flamenco. The internets and Tema's book recommended this place called Cardamomo. Every other night they have live flameno (with two singers, two guitarists, a drummer, and two dancers). It was pretty pricey, but we got a glass of sangria and a front row table which allowed us to see all the action. I must say, it was so moving. I LOVED it.It was so amazing. Like WOW. We were so close to the stage we could see the sweat on the dancers' faces; the guy was sweating so much that when he turned the sweat went flying! Thank God he was turning away from us.....I sometimes thought they were going to break the floor because they were stomping so hard! I recommend everyone to go see it if they are ever in Spain. Its probably one of my favorite things I've done so far.

Anyway that's all for now. Thursday we really didn't do anything since we've gone out every night.

Hasta luego chicos!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Toledo: if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it.

Viernes por la noche salí con unas compañeras a comer paella. It was quite delicious, and also quite caro. For dessert, we had some churros con chocolate. ¡Delicioso! Since we had to get up really early the next day, there was no wild outings (sad, no? considering it was a Fridya night in Madrid). But no worries, it was all worth it since we had an excurision to Toledo.

El sabado visitamos Toledo. Hacía tanto calor!!!! 40 grados el día entero. Pero es una lugar precioso. The place is like from the middle ages. Really old buildings with so much history. Cobble stone roads up hills and down hills. The town is literally surounded by a moat and on this hill surrounded by a river, llamado el Tajo. Its about a 1.5 hour bus ride from Madrid. We arrive and immediately start taking pictures. I took a lot of pictures this time folks, I just have to put them up. Though there isn`t much landscape scenery, the buildings take care of the astetics. They were in the middle of celebrating Corpus Cristi in Toledo, which is apparently a big deal there. They had flags and banners and flowers decorating the buildings and streets. They had street performers doing acrobatics and skits (one of the skits involved chicken feet. Yes. Actual chicken feet.). The Cathedral in the center of old town is huuuuuuuuuuuge and very ornate. My favorite thing in the churh was this thing called "La Gloria" which looks like this:

We weren´t allowed to take pictures inside so I had to find a google image of it. Anyway, the church used to be a mesquita but when the Reconquista happened, it was turned into a Catholic Church, so it still has some Islamic parts in the arquitectura. There were also some paintings by el Greco in the church. Which was pretty awesome I'm not going to lie.

Afterwards we went to see the famous "Enterio del Conde Orgaz" (look it up, you'll know what I'm talking about). It's actually a fresco on one of the entrance walls of this church llamada Iglesia de San Tome. It's actually quite big, and way more awesome in person than in a picture. Sadly, I was not allowed to take pictures, AGAIN.

After we visited one of the sinagoga, one of the few left in the town. Its called the Sinagoga del Transito . There wasn´t much in the inside, but the walls and ceilings were intact so it was pretty sweet to see it. There used to be a large Jewish community in old Toledo, but when the Reyes Catolicos came into power, they expelled all of them. And before they were expelled, there was much hate for them, so out of the 8 sinagogas ahora quedan dos.

We then had about 1.5 hours of free time. A group of us wanted to go shopping, but instead got lost in the maze of streets that is old Toledo, so we never made it to the awesome artisan shops that had swords, inlaid gold plates and jewelry. However, getting lost in Toledo was fun and exciting. The buildings and roads make you feel like you´re in a different time and place, as if you are in an fairy tale outside of this world. I loved it :)

Then we traveled to an old monastary near by. It was pretty niffty, but not as impressive as all the other things we saw. We did learn that it was built under the request of the Reyes Catolicos, Isabella y Fernando. On the second planta of the monastary the ceilings was decorated in the mudejar style (mix of Christian and Islamic art forms). Inscribed through the ceiling was "tanto manta". We learned that this stood for the saying "tanto manta, manta tanto Isabella como Fernando" which means that the king and queen had the same power, they were equal in stature. Interesting no? Oh and also, in the courtyard there was a net above to keep birds out. Well one bird tried to get out, and it got stuck. And its been stuck for at least a month. Intesting, no?

After that we walked down to our bus and headed back to Madrid. It was a wonderful 45 minute nap. Once back in the city, Tema and I headed home for a wondeful two hour nap. We had dinner and watched this game show here in Spain called "Pasabalabra". It is the greatest gameshow EVER. PERIOD. I'm addicted (like I hope we'll be home in time to watch it...). We then had some hours to bum around since we decided to go to one of the most popular night clubs in Madrd: Kapital. However, since nothings happens before 1:30 or 2 in the morning, we decided to meet up with some friends around 1 am at the metro stop closest to the club. So, we got all pretty and got on the last metro out. That's right, the last metro of the night. If we wanted to get back home we'd have to wait until 6 am when the metro starts up again. And that's what we did.

So Saturday night/ Sunday morning we met up with a group of girls (me, Tema, Michelle, Stephanie, Beth, Ashley, and Lauren) and our token man (Nick). We headed to the happening place called Kapital. Its extremely popular with the young Madrid crowd as well as the internationals. By 2 am, the line to get in was loooooooooong. But the wait was worth it. We paid to get in (whopping 20 € includes entrance and a drink) and decided what to do. This club has 7 floors. Top floor, 7th, being the terrance/theater (aka the hook up floor), 6th planta the "latin groove" with salsa, merengue, reggaeton, and some hip hop. Next floor, 5th is the lounge and main bars, 4th floor is the hip hop floor, 3rd the funk and R&B floor as well as karaoke, and the first 2 floors the techno/house floors. The techno floor has a stage where half naked people dance, and every 20ish minutes they have a downpour of smoke. Its really loud and really scary the first time you winess it. I mainly stayed on the 6th floor as most of us did. From that floor there was glass and you could see all the other floors. It was siiiiiiiiiiick. The music was pretty good, even though they played these three songs at least 4 times in the 4 hours I was there: Just Dance, Single Ladies, and Suavemente.

Anyway, once deciding what floor to go to, we decide on a "check point" time and place. We had a no person left behind rule. Awesome rule, especially in a club with 7 floors. We head up to the 7th floor, all get our free drink and hit up the dance floor. It was pretty awesome, until guys come up to you. Here´s what Í´ve learned about Madrileño men: They are all well dressed, extremely cute, dance well, and creepers. Or rather, extremely foward and don´t take no for an answer. Its always the same. They will grab you, dance with you, then ask "De donde eres? Como te llamas? Eres muy guapa..." And then they try to kiss you. I'm pretty sure they all attened 'como seducir estranjeras'at school or something. Its seriously a battle. What happened to all the nice guys who don't want in your pants [or at least won't tell you to your face right away]? Frustrating and annoying as it was,it was fun in a very strange way. I think getting the battle plan of how to avoid them/ get away from them was the fun part. Anyway,that's how my night turned out.

The floor we were on closed around 6, and since we didn't want to hit up the techno floor we decided to get some food. Cafes are open early in the morning to serve all the party people. We found a cafe across the street and ordered some tortillas espanolas. Afterwards, we got on the metro and headed home. Tema and I got home just as our host mom was done preparing our breakfast. We decided to take a nap then have breakfast and head out again. So after about 3 hours, we got up ate food and headed off to El Rastro.

El Rastro is a flea market that takes up about 5 streets every Sunday from 10-3 pm. They have an endless amount of clothing, knick-knacks and other fun stuff. Its always packed.We met up with one of our friends, Michelle [she seems to join us a lot on our adventures], and meandered through the crowds. There were some pretty awesome stuff. The most popular thing on sale were these pants called "pantalones de pirata". They look more like genie pants, or maybe MC hammer pants. They are actually kind of hideous but very popular here. We've decided that they aren't very flattering to the female body, unless you are fat. It looks like you took a poop in your pants and you're carrying it around with you. Yup, looks EXACTLY like that.

After El Rastro we walked around some more and adventured into Gran Via, the shopping district. We were crashing pretty bad considering we had about a total of 5 hours of sleep in the past 2 days and had walked all day Saturday, danced all night, and walked all morning and afternoon. So we went our separate ways.

Monday was a new weeks, with new professors and new class schedule. This week our classe are in the morning from 9-1230. Now we can't got out as late anymore, but we have the afternoon free to do whatever. So, Monday afternoon Tema and I decided to visit el Templo de Debod. But like everything else here, it was closed for the lunch/sieta [from 2-6] so we instead chilled in the park. Tema took a lot of pictures. Like alot. We also checked out the mall attached to the Principe Pio metro station. It was pretty sweet.

Every Monday our school has la copa de bienvenido where you meet everyone and get a free drink. So after dinner we headed off and got our free glass of sangria. Later we ventured to El Tigre, the place we tried the week before but it was closed. This time we went earlier and it was PACKED. Cheap drinks and free tapas with every drink. It was great. The atmosphere was awesome. Its my new favorite place [especially when you can get a GIANT mojito for 6 euors and a plate of tapas]. After El Tigre we met up with the girls again and looked for something to do. Michelle, being the every so friendly girl she is, started talking to the spaniards who were standing near us. Their names are Ruben and Antonio, both spanish professors working on their english thesis. Though in their 30s they were pretty cool. We talked for a while and then headed off to see Antonio's 'moto'. Michelle wanted to ride one, so we all went, took pictures on the 'moto' and then Antonio and Michelle took off for a vuelta a la manzana. It was pretty sweet. Since we have morning classes we had to go home,do our hw, and go to sleep so our night ended with the moto. But it was some damn fun.

Everytime I go out I meet all these interesting people. Its amazing. I wish things like this would happen back at home.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tapas y Salsa

Another night out in Madrid. Thursday night we went out and had some tapas with some people from our school. The majority of the kids there were from BC, so they all knew each other. We got to know some of them as well as other students from other countries, like Eugenio from Amsterdam, Maria from Hamburg, and another girl from Germany whose name escapes me. I also met the BC professor who is from Segovia, and married to a Cuban man. We bonded over our common Cuban-ness. After lots of tapas a many cups of sangria we headed out to find some other place. It was 10:30 by then, and things don´t get started in Madrid until about 1 or 2 in the morning so we weren´t having too much luck. One person told us about this place called El Son (Havana Club) where they play lots of Latin music. Our resident Texan Michelle is a salsa instructor at the high school she works at, and so she also wanted to dance salsa. Not sure where we were going, Michelle asked some guys about where it was. After some discussion the young one, named Alvaro, decided that he wanted to see Michelle dance salsa ("¿Una americana bailando salsa? ¡No lo creo!"). The other two men, Julio y Geraldo, tagged along probably out of boredem. They were a bit older than us, and by a bit I mean at LEAST 15 years, so I think they just came along for a good time and because their young friend was having fun with us. Alvaro, who is 26, took an instant liking to Michelle and practically attached himself to her.

Before going to the salsa club and noticing that they party hadn´t started just yet, they took us out for some food and drink. Since we already had some tapas, we didn´t eat much but had some more sangria. Also, they ordered oreja de cerdo (pigs ear......ew) so I wasn´t too excited for the food. After some interesting conversations, which involved drawing maps of the US and of Spain as well as making fun of my accent ("suenas como una cubana!!! oooooooooooooooooye!") and making fun of the America´s accent, we went back to the club and danced some salsa. Us girls didn´t particularly want to stay with these men, so we had to find a way to ditch them. We decided we´d dance a bit and tell them we wanted to go home. So, I danced with this one guy who works at the salsa club and he taught me some sweet dance moves (if only I could remember them). Then it was time to evacuate. We told them we wanted to go home. Sounded like a good idea at the time to get on our know way, but it wasn´t. One had a car and wanted to drive us all home, while the other headed in the same direction as Tema and I so we´d have to get on the metro with him. All we really wanted was for them to leave so we could find some other place to go, without them. After a 10 minute discussion about how to get everyone home, we said our goodbye Spanish style (a kiss on each cheek rather than one like the Cubans do) and were invited to a BBQ they were having this weekend (too bad we´re in Toledo all day ;] ). They weren´t that bad of guys, we just didn´t want to hang out with them the whole night, specially when the age difference is so great. In the end, it was actually quite an experience. At least I got to practice my Spanish. It was interesting to see how friendly and out going they are with just anyone. Apparently all Spanish are that way (except for los Vascos, or so I have been told....haha).

Eso es todo por ahora. Esta noche voy a salir con unas amigos. Queremos comer paella. Mañana voy estar en Toledo el día entero. Super guay.

Vale, hasta luego!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guay o Mola?

So, Tuesday night after our classes, Tema and I decided that it was time to explore the city nightlife. We went out around 11 and headed towards the center of town, where all the bars, tapas places, and clubs were open. Tema, new friend named Michelle, and I headed to a bar called El Tigre (famous for cheap drinks and lots of free food); its really popular with the young student crowd. However, when we got there it was closed!!!! And while we were standing there wondering why, a three American guys came up to us and started talking to us. We weren´t too keen on them, especially since they were American and didn't even try to speak Spanish even though they had been here for 6 months! So we went on our way looking for another place to go.

We came upon this street known as ¨La Calle de Letras¨because it has poems written on the ground (Laura, you'd like this). This street, called Huertas, had tons of bars to go too. After scouting some out, we decided on one called "El Bodeguito". We went in, enjoyed the music and a drink (mojito yum). After that we headed out and met some other Americans from WashU. Their names are Tyler (the nice white boy who could dance really well....ADAM YOU MUST LEARN HOW TO DANCE LIKE HIM), Breck(a girl who was so drunk she didn´t even know what her school was), and Drew(the guy Breck decided to go make out with). Along with them was an odd Mexican guy called Guillermo. We went to another club/bar called Sol y Sombra. We danced and had another drink. While there, two pretty old guys started hitting on Tema and I. One guy was Spanish and the other "an artist from Holland" who seemed to like my hands for some reason (he drew a dragon on it with a marker....strange? Oh yeah). Our new American buddies left us and we were alone with the two old men. After much maneuvering Tema and I managed to escape, though they tracked us down and asked us to dance. They told us that they were 21 and 23, but they clearly weren´t. We could tell. Fernando, the Spaniard, had a liking to me and put his arm around me. That was my cue to inform him of the buff boyfriend I had waiting for me(right Adam? ;] ), and we we left the bar (it was closing time anyway). We wondered around the streets for a bit. It was late, and yet the streets of Madrid were full of people (not crowded like Disney crowded, but lets just say you were never the only person on the street).

Apparently we seemed lost, thus a young Madrileno approached us and walked us to our destination (toward home of course). He meandered us through the streets of Madrid, talking endlessly about anything (how he studied abroad in London, how he wanted to practice his English with us, how people don´t seem too different even though they are from different parts of the world, how my Spanish was really good,....anything!) This guy, who´s name is Daniel but likes being called Danni (yes spelled like the girl, though he is not a girl), explained to us the uses of ¨guay" and "mola" which both mean cool. However, "mola" is used by people called "pijones" or something of the sort. He tried telling us that "es como un estilo de ser: hablar, caminar, vestir....como alguin quien se ve 'cool' pero no lo como decir un "guido"...." Danni had some funny descriptions, especially when he was trying to tell us that they use "H&S" shampoo (he meant head and shoulders) because they use so much gel in their hair they get dandruff...Anyway after having interesting conversations with him, he ran into some other guy from Colombia named Andres, who was trying to get us to go to his nightclub where una banda de rock n roll estaba tocando.....He then proceeded to tell me that he eats iguana eggs. Yup, the conversation switched into strange foods that though sound gross you should try because its an experience! Once the conversation of lizards and kidneys passed, Danni found us a cab and we exchanged numbers so we could hang out again. Tema and I made it home and passed out.

The next day was a trip to one of the many museums here in Madrid. This one is called Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. It's three stories of different art, including some Piccaso, Goya, Miro, Velazquez, Dali, and even Degas. We wondered around for about 3 hours, then ate lunch outside and headed to class. Class here is the most interactive Spanish class I have ever had in my life. Since its only 4 of us its almost like its one-on-one. Our first prof, who's name is Angel, is from el Pais Vasco. He's all about the creativity and imagination. He likes doing activities were we have to think of things on the spot (which can be scary sometimes, and hilarious other times). He's such a cutie :).....our other prof is Abel from Cadiz. He's got this laid back attitude. He's just such an interesting person and persona; its hard to explain him. You just have to experience him. The one cool thing though is that for the last 30 minutes of class on Tuesday he just told us of all the cool places to go hang out. It was awesome.

While everything was going smoothly, I noticed that my phone was gone! I searched through my piso, mis pantalones, en la escuela. It was no where in sight. I even had my friends call it to see if it would ring. The number was disconnected. So, this meant that someone had TAKEN MY PHONE!!!!! I was pissed. Really pissed. Now I was disconnected from my family, my friends here, and I lost all the numbers of my new Spanish friends who don't go to school with me. JOOOOOOOOOOOOOODER! And so, my perfect trip hit a hiccup. I went and bought a new phone, which didn't end up pretty cheap. So things got back on track.

After a very interesting and long night out, we decided to take it easy last night. We met up with some friends from school and headed out to find some sangria. What a night to go out. It seemed like everyone (and I mean EVERYONE: old people, young people, really really really young people) was out last night. This is why: today there is not work; its a day off because their independence day, 2 de Mayo, fell on a Saturday, so no one could get the day off. So, they moved it to today, so that people could get a day off. And thus, everyone went out to party and have a good time since they would sleep in today. Anyway, we found this bar/club where they had free drinks from 11 to 12. Free sangria? You bet! So we went in, had some sangria and left. We then found this other place called 41, where the promoter got us to go in by giving us these electric blue drinks. It wasn't bad. Then we decided to dance for a bit before the metro shut down at 1:30. So we danced and headed out to the metro. We were late and feared that it wasn't running anymore, but it seems that because of the holiday today, it was running later last night. While waiting for the metro, we found a very interesting dispenser: a condom machine. Yet, if you ever need one while on the metro, it'll only cost you 50 cent euro!.......bwahaha.....

So, because today nothing is open, there is nothing to do :(
Thus, I came to school to use the wifi and update my blog, upload some photos, and eat some food.

Espero que gusteis mi blog!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Martes en Madrid

Mi segundo dia de clases aqui en Madrid. Ayer [lunes] fue mi primer dia. I had to be at the school by 9 AM in order to take a placement exam. Surprise surprise, they told me I had excellent speaking abilities, but my writing was horendous (teehee). So, I was placed in advanced/intermediate grammar and conversation. My classes are everyday por la tarde. Desde las 15:30-17:00 y las 17:30-19:00 (for those of you who don't know how to use military time that's 3:30-5:00 and 5:30-7:00...). Tengo las mananas libres para hacer cualquier cosa. However, yesterday was the gloomiest day ever. No sun, actually kind of cold, and rainy. So, after my placement exam I had about 5 hours free. I met some new people who were from America and one guy from Portugal. We walked around the Retiro (again) went into a cafe and had some cafe con leche y un chocolate. We also had lunch and it wasn't so bad. Then the classes started. My teachers are....interesting to say the least. They are pretty nice and somewhat amusing and very SPANISH. They like to refer to me as Cubanita for some reason.

Anyway, classes went by and ended, and then we went off to something the school held at a bar called "La Copa de Bienvenido". We went to a near by bar where everyone could have one free glass of either cerveza, vino, o sangria. I, por supuesto, went for the sangria. It was wooooooooonderful. We were having some trouble mingling with the other students since the majority all come from the same university (BC) and are all already friends. However, our Portugese pal decided to ask the Australian guy who was standing near us how to say "platypus" in Spanish....that didn't go very well. We eventually met some other people, two who go to UF and went to Columbus (seriously why do I always find someone from Miami?!) Anyway, we mingled and it was fun.

Tema and I then decided to go find some food. We found a nice little tapas place and ate foodz. Yum. Since we're still jetlagged, we headed home around 10 or 11 and passed out (again). But we slept well and headed out on another adventure before classes started. We found this tiny tiny church where Goya was buried. You would never think it was anything of importance; its just this tiny building on the outskirts of the city. But it was awesome. The whole interior was painted by Goya, and his tomb was right in the middle. Sadly we couldn't take any pictures so I can't show you guys the awesome-ness of this Goya church. We wandered about trying to find our way to this giant cathedral. I forget the name just now....So we're walking through this park and up a hill and we finally find it! (or so we think) So we pay our entrance fee and enter, only then do I realize that we've just entered the crypt of the cathedral. Yeah, a bunch of tombs. Sounds creepy right? Well, it wasn't. It was beautiful! Some of those rich people have way awesome tombs. I wish I could have one as nice as those people. Done with the deceased we finally make it to the actual cathedral. It was huge and beautiful. It wasn't much like the traditional churches, it had some pretty modern-esque ceilings and stain glass windows. You'll have to look at my pictures to see what I mean. We spent quite of bit of time there. Afterward we had lunch by the Palacio Real, where Tema proceeded to feed a little bird that ended up in a flock of birds by the end of the meal.

Now I'm sitting in between classes updating my blog. We were discussing festivals and customs of Spain and each of our places, only to realize that my family does a lot of things that the Spanish do (proof that way back in my family tree I am Spanish :P)

No tengo mas que escribir por ahora. Te veo manana, vale?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bienvenidos de España!

Hola todos desde España (donde los keyboards en los internet cafes tienen un "ñ" tecla).
So before I delve into my Spanish tales, I have a humorous tale about my flight to Spain....

So my day started off fine. Checking in was fine, there was practically no line in security, and my one checked bag was not charged. The flight was on time, and I had a bag full of food goodies that my mommy gave me. Little did I know the journey ahead of me. After reading "The Age of Innoscence" for an hour, I realized that we hadn´t left the ground. We hadn´t even left the gate. Ten minutes later, we are told that we are 10th in line for take off. Well, so I was a little bit over an hour delayed, I´ve been through worse, right? Maybe. That wasn´t until 4 hours later (mind you this was supposed to be a three hour flight to JFK), when we were told that there was a plane with landing gear problems at JFK, thus we were put into a "holding pattern" aka circling the sky until we were given the okay. However, we ran out of gas circling, and were forced to land in Norfolk, Virginia. Of course, I didn´t know we were in Viginia since the flight attend couldn´t speak English. I wasn´t sure what she was saying. Anyway, we were in Virginia for an hour, and in that hour everyone had to go to the bathroom, including me. Thus, the toilets decided to rebel against us and refuse the flush. Lovely, I know. The plane smelled of wonderful waste for the remainder of the trip. Thus, after landing 4 hours later than planned, I made it just in time for my flight to Madrid. This one was quite different from my JFK flight. Though it wasn´t smooth flying the whole way (it felt like one of those simulator rides, you know like the Star Tours ride at Hollywood Studios....), we did manage to land and entire hour early. And that ends my flight tale....

So I arrive in Madrid, I get to my host mom´s apartment in one piece. I was excited to be in Madrid and living with a real Spaniard, only to soon realize my host mommy is actually Cuban. Yup, born in Cuba and raised Havana. She´s lived in Spain for a number of years, but when someone tells you that they are going to make your ¨lunch¨ instead of your "almuerzo", you realize that yes, they are indeed Cuban (which made me giving her a CD of Cuban music as a thank you for letting me stay with her a bit strange, considering she´s already Cuban, and it was nothing new to her). But either way, it was nice being able to use Cuban slang and not be looked at strangely.

The rest of the day (yes I did not sleep since I left for Spain....24 hours and counting!) I walked around Madrid with Tema. We went to la Plaza Mayor, el Parque del Buen Retiro, and just got lost. My favorite place thus far is definetly el Retiro. The place is huuuuge with lots of things to do: silly/creepy statues to take awesome pictures with, lots of green grass to lay on and nap, a lake with row boats, lots of people to watch, lots of trees to sit under, a really cool glass garden looking thing, and other things we didn´t get to see. It was great! I took waaaaaaaaaaay too many pictures, and walked more than someone who is sleep deprived should (and being sleep deprived means that lauren doesn´t know how to spell anything). I must say, I really like it here. I feel like I could fit right in (with the exception of their shoes. Does anyone ever notice that Europeans wear completely different shoes?)

And so, I end this entry. I am waaaaaaaaay too tired to write anything of substance, while at the same time be too tired to rant on endlessly. Thus, I will continue my tales of Spain another day (and hopefully with pictures).

Friday, June 5, 2009

First Blog. Ever.

Hello people!
Well, I decided to have a blog for my trip to Spain. (I'm sure the people at CMU will be thrilled with this). I haven't exactly left for Spain, but I have begun the process. I'm practically packed and ready for my early morning flight tomorrow. (I feel like I may have over packed. Though every time I feel that way, I end up being the one girl with the least amount of clothing. This may be hard to believe, but if you went to Carrollton you'd understand). Tis going to be exciting. New country, new people, new food, not-so-new language, who could ask for more?

Anyway, I'm off to enjoy my last meal at home, and most likely hang out with my friends in Miami.

See you in Spain!