Monthly Archives: September 2009

Mountains in Madrid?

Madrid is located in the center of the country in what is known as the “meseta” or high plain. I always knew that there were mountains on the outskirts of the city, but never planned out a time to see them. However, when a friend from school invited me to go camping in the area, I said “Why not?” Despite the fact they were leaving only hours later, and I had not planned on doing much of anything at all this weekend. Spontaneous, eh?

Now those who know me well know that I am not completely “outdoorsy,” no matter how hard I try. Granted, I do not shy away from excursions, but I also cannot go days without showering, swim in cold lakes, and survive being really cold. However sometimes I forget this little fact and eagerly jump on opportunities that involve such activities, only to regret it later on. For instance, this past summer I went camping for the first time since my YMCA sleep-away camp days in middle school. Immediately after, I said “I’m glad I went, but just was reminded about how much I am not a camper.” Even so, I found myself aboard a bus heading to El Escorial only hours after leaving class Friday afternoon.

I was enjoying my stint of impulsiveness only to reinforce it by failing to ask my travel partner very many questions, including how many days we were staying. I headed to the metro station only knowing that I did not need food, should bring warmer clothes, and the bus would cost around 4 euro. Well, here we go…

We first met up with two other students that my friend knows from another university and we all took a bus 45 minutes to El Escorial, an area just outside of the city (but still in Madrid) where the famous El Escorial palace is located. Somehow we got by not paying for the bus on the way there, so that was a plus! Once we got there, we met up with a Spanish friend of theirs, Fernando, who lives in this area and who served as our expert and guide of the mountain. He has been climbing this mountain, called Alabantos, since he was younger and was anxious to show it to us.

While waiting to meet up with him at the bus station I was confused why I was asked if I “had enough water for 3 hours.” 3 hours? For the ride up the mountain? I figured I had half a bottle full. “Yeah, I’m good!”

Then I ask how we were getting there (bus or did Fernando have a car?) and thought my friend was joking when he said we were walking. Wait. That’s what was going to take 3 hours?! Yup… That’s when we embarked on our uphill, 3 hour, rocky, slippery, steep hike…

Feeling optimistic!

Feeling optimistic!

I thought I was going to die about half way, it was a very steep, surprising and difficult hike (especially when I thought this was going to be my break from physical activity for the week!) but it was so worth it when we got to the top.

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You could see everything from the peak of the mountain once we finally got up there. We caught the sunset and later the lights of the city were beautiful when it got darker. It was hard to believe we were still in Madrid.

We set up camp and turns out camping up there is actually illegal so we had to be careful not to be spotted. That also means fires are illegal, something that I always associate with camping but once we were filling up our water bottles with natural spring water whilst hiking, I realized this was not my “normal” camping trip.

Our hidden camping site!

Our hidden camping site!

Once we got all set up, we started to make dinner and by that time it was pitch black. Fernando brought ravioli and meatball to eat which we warmed up with a small thing of propane, and we also enjoyed salchichon, queso, pan, and chocolate. It was a very welcome meal to say the least.

We spent the rest of the evening looking at the stars and lights of the city.

Ok, but the worst part and probably the only reason I do not enjoy camping? IT WAS FREEZING. I really cannot fathom how you can go from sweating while walking up the mountains to shaking in your shoes only a few hours later, but folks, it happens. Needless to say, around 1am I headed to the tent to curl up in my comforter and go to bed, free from the wind. I surprisingly slept very well (probably because I was so exhausted from the hike!) and woke up just in time for the sunrise.

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It was absolutely beautiful, but alas, still freezing! We then ate a wonderful breakfast of juice, oranges, nutella, and croissants. Then we quickly packed up camp when more people started to appear at the peak of the mountain to avoid getting caught in our illegality! After taking a few more pictures, we began to head down.

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While walking both ways there was lots of “caca” on the ground from wild cows. Although I did not see any cows, we did see some wild horses that we even ended up sharing a waterspout with along the way down.

The walk down the mountain took a lot less time, although it was very hard keeping balance on the really steep parts because there was little for your shoes to grip onto. At one point, we headed down the wrong path and I was a little more than ready to head home by that time so got a bit frustrated. However, eventually, we arrived back at the station and headed back into the city.

So. What did I get out of this experience?

a) I am not as outdoorsy as I would like to think I am. Not now. Not ever. Maybe now that I have written it down for all to see, someone will remind me next time I say something like “Oh! I’m going to go camping/hiking/mountain biking/anything that does not involve a cabin, bed, electricity, etc. that’s outdoors” that I do not actually enjoy it once I am there. And that’s ok. It’s not for everybody. For those of you who do like these activities, know that the only reason I always attempt them is because I admire you guys so much and I think that I want to make myself like them so that alas, I can be as cool as you.

b) “Somos una piña” is a colloquial, fun new way to refer to a group of close friends that I am going to continue to use! (Hence, some of you probably saw it as the name of my album on Facebook).

c) I am still thankful that I am in some sort of shape and able to take on a mountain without prior notice, although next time, I will be sure to ask for more details so I am in the mindset.

d) Salchichon is a good type of sausage that I would like to buy at the supermarket, while canned ravioli in Spain is no better than Chef Boyardee and thus, not something I would like to buy. But turns out, anything tastes good when you are exhausted and on a mountaintop. Especially, when your guide is talking about how he knows how to find roots and worms to eat around the area in the case that we ran out of food. Thankfully, we did not have to worry about that problem.

e) It is crazy that you can have the two extremes (mountains and big city) just 45 minutes away from one another. Especially when you cannot even see a glimmer of mountainy terrain from the city.

f) There is nothing like the view from on top of a mountain anywhere, and the cold cannot take that away.

g) Spanish people like practicing their English just as much as we like practicing our Spanish and thus, most of the time, the conversations are bilingual but reversed using our non-native languages. Likewise, they like learning colloquial English phrases like “cut the cheese” (that was Fernando’s favorite) just as much as we like learning colloquial phrases like “Eres la leche” which means “You’re the milk,” but is similar to our “You’re the man.”

Anyways, good news it that this list could go on and on proving that this was definitely worthwhile, as is usually the case when I get done with such activities. Plus, I got out of the city for a night and only spent 3.30 Euro, compared to the 150 many of my friends spent on plane tickets all around! This weekend has also been a good break from going out and exhausting myself with the various nightlife activities. Tomorrow, I am planning on locking myself in the library until later when I am hoping to go to a concert in Plaza de Cibeles where local artists are performing to publicize Madrid’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. We were talking about it the other night, and my money is on Brazil. What are you guys thinking? Either way, I do not think Madrid has a chance but they sure are trying and it is endearing!

Also, in case you are not following college sports, Miami is rockin’ it and I am hoping they pull out a big W against Virigina Tech this afternnon. Of course, by the time I post this we will already know but either way, I gotta say I am proud of my boys!

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Finally Friday!

After the long last weekend, I cannot believe it is already Friday again! This week has been a whirlwind. It was my last full week of classes for my Orientation program, then we have finals on Monday and then I have a week off until I start my actual classes the first week in October. I have lots of studying to do for my finals but it is a little hard to be that motivated because these grades do not actually count towards Miami credit so if I do awful, it is not the end of the world.

We signed up for classes on Tuesday and if everything works out, I will only have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30-2:30 straight. Granted, it would make for a long day, but I think it would definitely be worth it. Especially since this whole waking up at 8:30 every day thing is not as easy as it was over summer. Maybe the going out until 5am has something to do with it. Either way, I cannot wait until the schedule changes!

This week I went out to a small bar with friends on Monday. It was really chill and nice just to sit down and talk. Tuesday, a couple friends asked their senora if it would be okay if me and Taylor went over for dinner (that they would cook!) She was eager to take them up on the offer and turned out to be the nicest lady when we arrived. Me, Taylor, the two boys, their senora and her daughter all enjoyed a Mexican-themed dinner of fajitas, peppers, beans, tortilla chips (called doritos here), salsa, and lots of toppings (including avocado!) It was so good and their senora was the nicest lady. In their house, they have a rule that you can only speak Spanish and it was so much fun to sit down for two hours and just talk about Spanish culture, news, and other random topics!

Wednesday our school invited us all for free tapas at a new restaurant Sugar that decided to open up the restaurant to us with hopes that we would buy drinks and they would get good publicity. It was fun to meet more people from Nebrija but we did not stay there for too long. After, we went to a place called Bar Hawaiano which we have been attempting to go to since we first got in Spain. They have this drink called the Volcan that you share with everybody. It is a rum drink with juice that tasted a lot like Hawaiian punch, but better.

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They also gave you free tapas with the drink, a flower, and paper umbrella!

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After, we headed to Orange Cafe which is a bar/club that really caters to international people. It took forever to get in but once we did, it ended up being a pretty good time, just a lot of Americans, and I am really eager to meet more Spaniards!

After, I went to El Chapandrez to meet up with some other friends. Here they also have another communal drink called leche de pantera (panther’s milk). Its like a sweet, coconut-y concoction that comes out of the ceiling! This picture is not from Wednesday but just so you can see what it looks like!

lecheYesterday I took it easy and ended up watching the television for about an hour and a half with my senora. She was starting to think I did not like the dinner she gives me because I kept telling her that I was eating out.

A lot of my friends are out of town this weekend and so I am planning on taking it easy and exploring around the city. Thanks to those who have e-mailed me recently with updates, I love hearing about the things going on in your life more than you know!

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That was an experience.

Wow, what a whirlwind this weekend has been. I cannot even believe that it is only Sunday because when I think about what I did Thursday it seems so long ago. Well good news first, I got through my first tests. After both of my teachers gave us a speech about how the Spanish grading system is so much more difficult than the US one, I was so nervous and studied as much as I could. They let us know that no one ever can get an A and that a B-/C+ is a GREAT grade here, and don’t worry, American schools understand that. Little do they know, it is my GPA that does not understand that and I couldn’t care less what my professors think, but that is besides the point. I am in Spain and thus, school comes second (or third, or fourth, depending what else is in play).

So once those were out of the way, Thursday night I went to a theatre to go a Flamenco show. Last time I was in Spain we went to something by the same name in Sevilla, but this was a whole different ballgame. We were in a HUGE theater (big red curtain and all!) instead of a small little restaurant with a stage that was basically an aisle through all the tables. And this time, it was not just men and women dressed in polka dot dresses and suits with tassels. Here, the curtain rose and a lady and man started singing while a video played on a giant screen behind them. I realized quickly that this was not your stereotypical “flamenco” show. This was more of an actual dance production, involving flamenco and ballet styling. It lasted almost two hours and was comprised of 9 dancers and 12 musicians ranging from 3 singers to a cello player to a drummer. It was unlike anything I ever witnessed before. After, I noted how it was definitely something I am glad I experienced, but would much rather sit through a Broadway production for that long and at that price!

Friday I celebrated the birthday of a friend at her host mom’s apartment who was nice enough to invite all of her friends over for appetizers, alcohol, and cake! My favorite part was when we sang happy birthday, but not. Her “mom” led us in a rendition of a traditional Spanish birthday song. She also poured us each a glass of champagne and in the birthday girl’s glass went a ring. She then has to drink the champagne (without swallowing the ring in the process) and it is supposed to bring some sort of good luck! I love learning about all these little traditions.

The birthday girl post blowing out the candles!

The birthday girl post blowing out the candles!

The cake that we had was SO good and eating it was followed by dancing the Macarena in the cramped living room. Later that night, we went for churros and chocolate, something I had been missing out on since I got here! While I did enjoy them, I am certain that I can find a better chocolateria around here somewhere, even though this was the most famous one! Besides, I am not opposed to doing research when it comes to churros and chocolate if that is the sacrifice I have to make for when my mom comes and visits! I’m pretty sure she is more excited to try these than see me…

Saturday I slept in (finally!) and wandered to Sol to pick up a Real Madrid scarf. Afterwards, I tried a fried calamari sandwich which is something else Madrid is known for! It was SO good (and not good for you) and less than 2 Euro! That’s one thing that amazes me here. Even though the Euro is expensive to our dollar, things that are here are so cheap! You can get a good sandwich for less than 2 Euro at almost any restaurant and every time I go to the grocery store I am so surprised at how far 20 Euro can get you! Later, I needed to write postcards so went to this ice cream shop I had read about that is really close to me. It was very tasty and I finally got my postcards written!

Later that night was La Noche en Blanco. It is a big festival that happens once a year where the main street Gran Via closes down and decorated with beautiful lights, the Plaza Mayor is covered in white balloons, and all the museums, theaters, parks, art galleries, and music venues offer free things. My favorite part was how in four plazas they had big screens set up playing videos that were dance lessons. The plazas were packed with people all doing this dance while looking up at this screen.

learning how to dance in the middle of the street? totally normal.

learning how to dance in the middle of the street? totally normal.

the group for the evening!

the group for the evening!

Before, we all met at an Irish pub to watch the UF vs. Tennessee football game. I did not think that I would, but I actually miss watching a good ol’ game of pigskin every now and then, especially now that Miami is apparently doing good! While there, we also saw people eating some American fare, and I can tell you, I have never been craving a hamburger more in my life than I am right now. On the bright side, we went to a gelato place called El Cupido which was amazing. By far, the best gelato I have had since I have been here so that was a success!

But back to La Noche! While if I was a local, I am sure that I would pick a movie to go to or art gallery to peruse, but for us it was just fun to walk around and observe everything going on. Even while walking home, we randomly walked by an outdoor screen set-up showing some Japanese film. It was crazy to me how there were still little kids out at 2am, but such is the life of a madrileno!

And finally to today! My dad told me about la Vuelta de Espana that was ending here in Madrid today. It is like the Spanish version of the Tour de France and apparently there were some pretty big riders participating. I looked at the schedule and knew I would be cutting it close but decided to go wander towards the route this afternoon anyways. I went to a Plaza and plopped myself down to wait and see if any action would occur before I had to leave. Unfortunately, all I got to see was what looked to be the race for the younger people or maybe just testers for the course? Either way, it was cool to see bikers nevertheless, but I would have loved to see the actual race!

the bikers i did see!

the bikers i did see!

Nevertheless, it was all ok because tonight I had the Real Madrid game! We made sure to get there with plenty of time. The away team must come from relatively close to Madrid because they sure had A LOT of fans that were not scared to show their support throughout the entire game. We collectively sat at the top two rows of the GIANT stadium but it really was not too bad because at least we could watch the whole game!

view from the top!

view from the top!

It was definitely the nosebleed section, and for once in my life, my nose did bleed. It was such an amazing environment. Although you always here about how into soccer the Europeans are, until you are in a stadium with almost 100,000 fans can you really take it all in and truly understand their devotion to these teams. Thankfully, Madrid pulled it out 5-0. I say thankfully because although, yes I do live here and would want them to win, but also, I was wearing a scarf and was not in the mood to be heckled the whole way home.

the group before the grand victory!

the group before the grand victory!

The best goal came from Ronaldo, of course, when he headed the ball in off a corner kick. It was just classic.

Wow, so yes, this weekend was full of all sorts of experiences and I am absolutely exhausted. I do not have a full week ahead so I am sure I will have plenty of time for rest and recuperation!

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Little Observations

Coming back to Madrid from Valencia made me realize just how much I love this city. While I loved the laidback, beachy feel of Valencia, I really missed the buzz and excitement of Madrid. While we were gone over the weekend, the city also decided to cool down. Making my walk to school today in a tank top and scarf a bit chilly! Thankfully, I had to walk rather quickly which warmed me up instantly, but my professors still looked at me like I was crazy, only made worse by the fact everyone else in my class was wearing sweatshirts. My bad.

The walk back from school though today was lovely and I am absolutely obsessed with how it feels outside. Without it being scorching hot, I’m not exhausted in the middle of the day, begging for a nap. It also made me forget that everyone else is siesta-ing around 2-5 which means a lot of shops are closed. After grabbing lunch with Taylor, I wanted to shop around but almost every place was closed down! I even walked into one little knick-knack store (the door was open!) but the owner rushed in telling me it was closed and I realized she was right outside loading things into a car. No wonder the lights weren’t on inside… I figured she was just saving electricity!

Speaking of lunch… We had our first Menu del Día experience today! Menu del Día is something that a lot of restaurants offer for lunch. It is a fixed price (usually around 10 euro) and it gives you a chance to try nice restaurants for a cheaper fare. You choose a first course, second course, and it comes with a drink and pastry! Since lunch is the biggest meal of the day for most, the portions are huge. Me and Taylor did not really know what to get, so had the waiter choose. For the first course, we got a spaghetti with meat sauce, and steamed spinach with shrimp (SO GOOD). Next we got grilled chicken in some sort of sauce with peppers, and potatoes. Also very very tasty. And we finished with a chocolate cake and postre de Santiago, which is almost like a shortcake! After all is said and done, I feel accomplished! Customs like tapas and el menu del día are things restaurants offer that have really intimidated me. Thankfully, workers are always really willing to help you out, but you with all the cafeterias and bars there are ways of doing things and if you do not know exactly what to do, it can be very nerve wracking walking in!

Today I also got my room cleaned so decided it would be a good time to take some pictures! So here ya go…

Where I sleep

Where I sleep

Clothes hanging outside my window

Clothes hanging outside my window

And no need to worry about closet space!

And no need to worry about closet space!

I have my first test tomorrow morning, and another on Wednesday. It is technically our mid-terms. Next Tuesday I also pick the classes I will be taking for the rest of December and so I am hoping that works out well and I arrange a schedule that I like.

Sorry this is turning out to be a long one but yesterday I also took a quick tour of el Museo Reina Sofia. It was once a hospital (one of my professors was born there!) but it is now a contemporary art museum, with its most notable piece of artwork being the Guernica by Pablo Picasso. After studying this painting for so long in so many different classes, it was amazing seeing it in real life.

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I was also a fan of this one by Miró. We also some some really interesting pieces by Dalí. The tour was really quick so I definitely want to go back another time (all the museums here offer free days for students!) when I can walk around more and see more of what the museum has to offer.

Ok, I think that is enough for now. I am going to go to Pilates for the second time since I have been here. Surprsingly, it is very similar to the classes that I go to at home, but this one is taught by a large (but fit and skinny) gay man. It is a great way to stretch though. After walking around all day I always wake up super tight and achy so I do not doubt that incorporating Pilates into my schedule will help out mucho!

Hope you guys are all off to a good week! And if reading this is making you want to come visit me, please

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¡Vamos a Valencia!

So this weekend we decided to bus it about four hours East to Valencia to get in some sun and explore a different place. Thankfully, a friend of a friend lives there and was more than gracious to offer up his apartment for us to stay at. So Friday after classes I ran home, packed, and we were off (I wish it was actually that simple… we may or may not have been the last one on the bus and basically sprinted from the metro to the bus station, but needless to say, we got there!)

Our new friend Rodrigo picked us up at the station and we went back to his place to unwind after the four hour bus ride. I was actually able to sleep on the bus ride there (may or may not have been thanks to getting only three hours of sleep the night before…) so that was nice and made the trip a lot quicker! Later that night, we went into the Old City for some of the best sangria I have ever had, followed by the most delicious seafood paella I think I will ever taste. Valencia is famous for their paella and I now know why.

Before...

Before...

And after.

And after.

Later that night we went to the playa (beach) and later a nightclub called Las Animas that was mainly located outside on a rooftop terrace.

View from above

View from above

It was quite the scene and provided for some prime people watching. There we met some hombres from Holland who became our friends for the night! We returned home around 5 because we were all exhausted and went straight to bed so we could wake up to go to the beach!

We spent all day at the beach on Saturday, finally got some color back (because, yes dad, I am so pale!) While we were laying out, we spotted our Holland friends walking past and they ended up coming and sitting with us for a few hours, then Rodrigo joined us when he got off work!

Finally back on the beach!

Finally back on the beach!

Eventually we were starving so went back to the apartment for some pizza and tortilla española, and to siest (siest is the verb we’ve created for when you are siesta-ing). Once we all decided to get up around 10:30, Rodrigo made us some grilled chicken and pasta which was absolutely delicious! After, we went out in the city to some bars but did not stay out too late because we had a big day ahead today!

Rodrigo works at L’Oceanografique, one of the biggest aquariums in Europe that is part of La Ciudad de las Ciencias y Museos in Valencia. It was absolutely gorgeous and some of the most amazing buildings I have every seen.

The aquarium from the outside!

The aquarium from the outside!

Even better was the fact he got us in free. I saw the biggest Beluga whale of my life and some sea lions that were insane. It was so much fun and such a good way to spend the day before heading home on the bus! On the way, we also had some horchata, a Valencian drink that is kind of a creamy, milky, fruity drink. So hard to explain but SO good!

Yummmy!

Yummmy!

I got back tonight around 9, ate some dinner, talked with my señora while watching the news, and just finished my homework! I usually eat dinner a little bit earlier so have never seen the news and it was so interesting to watch it tonight and see the changes in content and format. I’m hoping I will get to watch it more and I’ll let ya know more of what I notice.

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Its all about your mental state.

So first of all, it is really bugging me because I simply cannot figure out how to do an apostrophe on these keyboards! I remember figuring it out in Miami but now I forget and all I can get it to do is an accent mark like this ´, hence the reason my grammar is wrong in my post title! I would just change the title but ya know, not much I can do. So for all you grammar sticklers out there, you will have to pardon me for my mistakes.

Next question would be, now why the title? Well, I wish I could have written you yesterday because I was running on two hours of sleep all day and it might have been entertaining. Actually, by the end of the day I felt completely fine but the whole sleep from 4:45-6:45 and walk to class at 8 thing will not be permissible all semester. Probably a good thing I figured it out now and not the day before a test, right? Even so, yesterday I managed to make it through all my classes, to the phone store, to a tour of el Palacio Real, and even the gym! The key was to just not think about how little I had slept and instead just go through the day like nothing was different. Last night I got 8-9 hours of sleep and today feel perfect! So yes, I learned that while it is probably not the best decision to go out on a Monday, as long as you stay positive the next day, it may not impede on your productiveness as much as you might think!

El Palacio Real

El Palacio Real

Good news is that I did join a gym really close to me that I like! They have so many classes (including pilates everyday!) and the coolest part for me so far has been the free personal trainer! I decided to be gutsy and on my first day meet with the trainer to start a program. I did not really know what to expect but thought it might be a fun way to immerse myself since he talked to me the entire time in Spanish. I really enjoyed myself and it is a really cool system because bascially there is always a trainer there and you can just talk to them and update your program at any time. I am hoping to go to Pilates too later this week and try that out. A couple other students I know joined too and have gone to some spinning classes that I might tag along for later in the week. For some reason spinning has always intimidated me but they say the instructor is really energetic and again, the fact it is all in Spanish just makes it that much more exciting.

Classes are going well and the homework is very manageable. Something about being in this environment has given me lots of confidence to participate in classes and talk with the professors more. I am also talking to my señora more at dinner time and that has been fun. She even showed me pictures of her entire family yesterday which was cute and she is now giving me perfectly sized dishes! Every Tuesday is laundry day and so I came home from school to find all my clothes strung out to dry on a line which made me laugh. Later when I came back for dinner, my clothes perfectly folded and my bedroom all cleaned up. Definitely something I could get used to…

Well, that is all I think for now! Me and Taylor are heading to Valencia this weekend to bask in the sun and hopefully eat some oranges! I also booked a trip to Barcelona in November and am hoping to get some more trips ironed out soon. Hasta luego!

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Segovia y más!

Hola amigos y amigas! Hope you are enjoying your Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately that is not celebrated here in the country of Spain and, alas, I am in classes today. It’s weird but classes are almost like a relief because it gives me something to do. A solid plan of somewhere where I have to be the next day which is disconcerting while I am still trying to get used to all this free time! Those who know me well know that (for better or for worse) I thrive on having lots of things going on at once, whether it is club meetings, UMTV shoots, running errands, or doing homework. That being said, this whole free time thing gets to me a little bit, but I can already feel myself adjusting and I know it will be something I miss when I go back to UM in the spring.

Saturday we took an excursion to Segovia, a small city about 50 minutes outside of Madrid. I had been there before when I came to Spain with my class in the 8th grade and I surprised myself when I remembered the rooms in the castle that we toured! We first saw the Aqueduct and then went to el Alcazar and two cathedrals. I still have to pinch myself when I am touring around all these places. At times, it is still hard to believe that I am in Europe around so much rich history and beautiful architecture. After walking, our legs needed a big break so we relaxed and had a lunch overlooking the hills.

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The specialties in Segovia are cochinillo (suckling pig) and cerdo (pork); so naturally, I knew I had to try it. It was so good and my first real meal at a restaurant since I have been here which was a definitely refreshing!

in front of the aqueduct!

in front of the aqueduct!

We were all exhausted after the tour (I woke up at 7:00 every day since I arrived!) and passed out on the bus ride home. When I got back to my house I laid around until dinner. I had tortilla española which is a common food here. It is basically a thick omelet of egg, potato, and onion. After, I ran across to an Internet café to skype with my parents and then returned quickly home to go to bed because I needed a good sleep! I am working on getting the WiFi to work where I live so that I can get on the Internet more and see all your lovely faces via skype so I will let you know how that goes!

Today was a nice and relaxing Sunday. I finally got almost ten hours of solid sleep and so felt great when I woke up! I met up with few people and we went to El Rastro, an outdoor flea market that is held on Sundays. Literally the streets are cramped with tourists and a few locals looking for cheap buys. They had so many different types of things from jewelry to bags to shoes to parachute pants?! (Literally, they are everywhere here but do not worry I am not returning to the states with these… ever.) I did not buy anything but I’m glad to see what is out there and will definitely come back. This place is also a hotspot for pick pockets but I kept my bag close and my money zipped tight!

Afterwards we needed a refreshment so picked up Napolitanos from El Mallorquina, a famous bakery near La Puerta del Sol. It only cost a Euro and was SO good. We then went and sat in an air conditioned Starbucks (also all over the place!) to relax before heading home.

Oh, a side note. Turns out their modern buildings are beautiful too because I went to the most magnificent H&M of my life today. I felt like I was in Bergdorf’s… but cheaper. I’m thinking about sending all of my clothes home now so I can restock solely from that store.

I digress. Then, I went over to Taylor’s place to grab lunch with her and a few of her friends. We did not end up actually leaving for our then late late lunch or early early dinner until about 5:30. On Sundays lots of places are closed completely or have very limited hours so we knew we were pushing our luck. However, by that time anything would do so we stopped at a coffee shop for bocadillos (sandwiches) and I also had a smoothie. It really is hard to adjust to their eating schedule but soon enough, it’ll happen.

Later, I ran home because I had not been there since the morning and needed to figure out if I actually had homework, but then went back to Taylor’s to eat cake for her friend’s birthday (who needs homework?). It’s unbelievably nice to have someone so close with a nice apartment that includes Internet and a nice place to sit!

So that’s where I am at today. Tomorrow I have classes and am planning on heading to buy a membership to a nearby gym (I’m gonna need it with all the bread and cheese I’m eating for every. single. meal.) and hopefully figuring out this Internet debacle!

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