Category Archives: arts

Slow down you crazy child…

So for my final Euro-trip I headed north to Austria to visit my best friend Kelly (the same one who visited me in Madrid last weekend!) I got in very late on Thursday night after a looooong day of traveling and she greeted me and took me to her dorm. Drastically different from my sitch, she lives in a residence of just foreign students which made for quite the experience! Her floor is really lively and it seems like a great time to live with a big group of kids from all over. Even though I love the experience of living with a host, I think that this way of doing it would be really really fun, and Kelly seems to agree.

Friday we woke up early to catch a three hour train to the land where the hills are alive... Salzburg!

First sight: Sound of Music themed cow

It ended up being really cold and rainy the entire day, making our self-guided walking tour a little less than pleasant. There were plenty of Christmas markets though to warm our spirits through hot wine and fun treats.

All the apples had little hearts on them like this!

True to form, I tried the inescapable Mozartklugel, a truffle that has become a tourist gimmick even though it is the size of an eyeball. Lemme just say I was not a fan (but I also just do not like dark chocolate).We rounded off the wet day at a really cool restaurant recommended by our hostel and I had amazing sausage that definitely made up for my failed attempt at eating Brautwurst in Germany.

Much better than before 🙂

When we returned to the hostel for the night we opted to watch Sound of Music (much to the worker’s dismay who responded “You want to watch Sound of Music now?” trying to conceal her confusion as to why we would not just join the party going on at the hostel bar instead). But feeling like the rain jilted me of my true Sound of Music experience, I was determined to watch the movie (not to mention, one of the girl’s I was traveling with hasnever seen it!)

Thankfully, Saturday brought better weather and we embarked on our day in very much the same manner as before, only this time our feet weren’t soaking wet and heads not turned to shield the rain. Lemme tell you, it was a very different city we saw and it turned out to be very pleasant.

Good work Salzburg, you redeemed yourself

We saw the Mirabell gardens where the Von Trapp kids frolic singing Do-Re-Mi, Mozart’s Residence, and visited more markets! Then, we headed back to Vienna for the night where Kelly and me had a fabulous Italian dinner and took a stroll around the city, taking in the lights and sounds of Vienna.

I love Christmas in Europe!

Although I had been in Austria since Thursday, Sunday was my first actual day in Vienna. It was a bit cold but nothing a headband bought at a metro station can’t fix.

We went to a church mass with wonderful music recommended by none other than my buddy Rick Steves. The man does good but am I am happy to be done with studying his Best of Europe book! After the service we hit up Demel, a famous Vieneese chocolate shop, for the best cup of hot chocolate I have ever had. We then went to the Schonbrunn Palace and, of course, stopped along some Christmas markets along the way (can you tell they are everywhere?!) True to form, I had some wonderful roasted almonds that were heavenly.

Monday was spent at Naschmarkt. Kelly, knowing my affinity for food markets, had a strong inkling I would love this place, and love it I did. Every food market is a little bit different and this one was no exception. Filled with vegetables, fruit, olives, and cheese, it also had Indian spices, flowers, falafel, and sushi galore. I sampled some falafel (one person was offering 20 pieces for 2 Euro!) and picked me up some amazing dried fruit! This one also has a bunch of little cafes and restaurants interspersed among all the stands- we chose a Chinese place that hit the spot and filled us up for a long wait at the…

Opera! After visiting the Albertina Museum (showcasing Impressionist paintings that were so pretty and a good change from the older art I’m studying at the Prado) we headed to the opera to try to get standing room tickets for the premiere of Macbeth. Vienna is known for it’s classical music and I knew that this was something I would love to do. It’s really cool because you can get standing room ticket for 3-4 Euro, so we took our chances and ended up getting seats. I absolutely loved the show. I was unsure of what to expect but this was unlike any opera I have ever seen and it definitely exceeded my expectations.

And now here I am, on my last flight back to Madrid, snacking on this baby I picked up at Naschmarkt. Gosh am I gonna miss pastries…

It tastes a lot better than it looks, I promise

Vienna was so different from Madrid but I really liked it. I am still in awe by how many food stands selling Doner Kebaps and sausages one city can have, but it can definitely come in handy when you need something cheap and on the go! The buildings were so big and beautiful and the city just embodies classiness. While the weather was cold some days, I am thrilled I came during Christmas time for the markets- I think I could just tour those and eat all the different food and drink hot wine all day long!

But alas, all good things must come to an end. I cannot believe that when I get back I will have ten days left in Madrid before heading home. Where does the time go? Needless to say, I have a long to-do-before-I-leave-Madrid list waiting for me upon my arrival!

P.S. Does anyone recognize where my title comes from? Lemme just say it was the very first song I listened to when I got off the plane after landing in Vienna. One of my absolute favorites and it just felt appropriate…

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Day by Day

It seems like at the beginning of every week my friends and me have hopes of having a “Cultural Week” where we get out and explore new places. I tend to do that a lot on my own anyways, but they are starting to get motivation to do the same. Although I had tentative plans to head north to Galicia this weekend with Taylor, once we realized lots of people would be in town, we decided to save the trip for another time and stick around in Madrid. I was excited because although I absolutely love getting out and traveling, it is nice just to lay low in Madrid and not be so exhausted come Sunday. But seeing as we were staying here, I also wanted to make sure that we made the most of it, and overall, it was a very successful week!

For starters, on Tuesday night a group of us went to a hole-in-the wall bar called Cuevas de Sesamo. Walking along the street you would never know it was there, but I read online that it had really good sangria and was a favorite spot for locals. So I convinced people to go and see what it’s all about, and it ended up being so cool! It’s a darker bar and from what I can tell, mainly just serves sangria (or that is all that I saw on people’s tables). They have famous quotes on the walls and a piano player who just plays nice music while you hang out. I really loved this place and will definitely go back.

Piano man providing some nice background music

Piano man providing some nice background music

Wednesday afternoon, I met up with a friend to go to el Museo de Traje, or Clothing Museum. Students get in free which was a pleasant surprise and we just walked around for about an hour. It was arranged from oldest to newest and was more or less a survey of the fashion from Spain. It was definitely interesting and from what I hear, changes frequently so I will probably return at some point or another! After, I decided to go exploring in the district Malasana, which I read had great boutique shopping. I went and ended up finding some of the cutest stores with tons of great handmade jewelry, clothing, and shoes. I even found three vintage stores that had some really cool clothes, as well. My big buy of the day? Hummus! It is virtually non-existent here but I found it at a prepared food place and just could not resist. I immediately went out and got some vegetables to go with it and lemme tell you, I am a happy camper!

What is better than Grease in English? GREASE IN SPANISH. And yes, we are talking Summer Nights, We Go Together, Hand Jive mania. My friends had an extra ticket for Thursday night that I eagerly accepted. It was one of the most entertaining things I have seen here and just made me laugh how they did all that they could to emulate the movie from outfits, hair, to dance moves. The cast was definitely talented and it was a very well put together production, just very very funny. I am happy I got to see at least one musical while I was here, and Grease was definitely interesting to see and compare the translations from English to Spanish. One glaring difference between their musical theater and ours is how they do not feel the need to be as conservative. For instance, there was one song where the boys were dancing in a towel only, and then the angels in Beauty School Dropout were basically wearing bikinis.

Also, after seeing three different shows here I have caught on to the trend that curtain calls are much longer than I am used to. It seems as if each person bows at least 5 times and you are expected to clap the ENTIRE time. This curtain call contained an encore and I almost felt like I was watching the entire show again. Regardless, it was so much fun!

I’m in a class here called Art in the Prado for which we have five visits to the Prado that count as class. We had our first one Friday and I was excited to finally get to the Prado. We have been studying El Greco so spent the two hours focusing on his paintings and it was definitely rewarding to see the paintings in real life that we have been analyzing in class. Next time, I definitely want to stick around the Prado after our class and see more but after I went and met up with Taylor for a picnic in Retiro that has been on our to-do list. The weather is still amazing here and it was so nice to relax and read in the outdoors. The trees are also all changing colors and it really made me feel like fall was coming! We also walked around the park because she had never been to it and this time, the Crystal Palace was open which was awesome because it was under renovation the last time I went. It was gorgeous inside and just a really cool structure.DSC00834

We also ran into the Fallen Angel statue, which is said to be the only statue of Lucifer in the world. It when he fell from heaven and just one of the many statues around the park!DSC00840

After, we went to the American Store that sells over-priced American goods like Peter Pan peanut butter and Funfetti frosting. Although I was not intrigued by any of the offerings, Pat was happy to see they had Ramen so picked up some of that. That night, Taylor and me went back to Malasana to go to a restaurant that I read had the best burgers in Madrid called Home. Even though it’s essentially a small burger bar where the menus come printed on brown paper bags, you have to make reservations but it is so worth it and definitely one of the best meals I have had here!

Salamanca is a city in Spain that is most famous for it’s Plaza Mayor and University of Salamanca. They also have two cathedrals, the Old Cathedral and New Cathedral that are gorgeous. It is a train ride away that takes two and a half hours so it is an easy day trip, although I hear that it is a lot of fun at night too since it is such a student-town. Taylor and me decided to go for Saturday afternoon since we had it free and both wanted to go while we were living here. We got in and began our sightseeing with the cathedrals, which were so large and pretty. After, we headed to the Plaza Mayor for lunch and to people watch. I absolutely loved their Plaza Mayor. It’s bigger than the one in Madrid and is infested with people, but unlike tourists that flood the one in Madrid, here, it is all locals just relaxing during the afternoon. We then went to the University for a quick tour and it was so cool! I cannot believe students actually attend the school because it just seems too historic and beautiful to be used for actual class. We walked around a little bit more, and ended up back at la Plaza Mayor where there were lots of parades going on. Overall, I loved Salamanca and could totally see why people would go there to study.

The Plaza Mayor of Salamanca

The Plaza Mayor of Salamanca

Today we went to a bullfight! It is the last one of the season so made sure that we got to it because I know I would have regretted studying abroad in Spain and never seeing a bullfight. I am not too sure I actually wrapped my head around what actually takes place during a bullfight, however. There are six bulls and three matadors that are the main players. They go one by one and each bull takes about 25 minutes to kill. They begin with men getting the bull riled up, then two men on horses take the first jabs at it with a spear, and then finally the matador comes to finish the job. Each round is different, depending on how upset the bull gets and how good the matador is at stabbing it. For instance, one bull died after only one stabbing, while another one took about three. All of it depends on the skill of the matador. One of the scariest moments of the fight was when one bull escaped the ring right in front of us. The man in front of me spilt his drink everywhere, and people started running for the door, scared that the bull was going to come to our section. I grabbed onto Taylor for dear life, and prayed that I would escape unscathed seeing as I am not quite sure I could avoid its horns as well as the matador. The whole idea of bullfighting is definitely disheartening when you think about the fact that so many bulls are killed weekly all around Spain for recreation. It is definitely hard to watch the first one, but by the end you get used to the blood and grunting coming from the bulls (whether or not that is a good thing, I’m not quite sure). However, tonight at dinner I talked with one of my senoras son-in-laws about the art and value of bullfights. To them, it is a symbol of life and truly an art form. There are very famous matadors (that can make 120,000 Euro per fight!) that are very skilled at the artistry of the fight to the point where spectators are moved to tears. Although we did not see any of that tonight, we definitely got a taste of an ancient tradition unlike anything I have ever seen.

DSC00865

So when I sat down to write this blog, I did not intend to describe each and every day but now that I have, I realized that it was a very productive week and I am absolutely exhausted! This week should be a lot calmer as I anxiously wait for my family to get here

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Silencio!

So I got one of the greatest texts of my life yesterday afternoon from my friend Anna telling me that they snagged me a ticket to see Casa de Bernarda Alba that night with their theater class! The group from Furman takes all of their classes together and since they have been in this theater class, they had a special field trip planned that I was quite jealous of. I’ve read and studied Casa de Bernarda Alba for multiple classes (including Advanced Acting where we attempted to do it in English!) and seeing it live felt like the perfect reward for all the time I have invested!

Teatro_Espanol0

So alas, I met up with the group that night and we journeyed to the theater. I pictured it to be pretty standard, but this was nothing of the sort. Instead of the huge auditorium we went to for the flamenco show, this complex was once an old slaughterhouse called el Matadero, giving it a very urban feel. Once we entered the theater, I was surprised yet again. It was almost in the round but instead, had a a long rectangle of a stage in the middle and then 10 steep rows on either side of the long rectangle. Basically, you were looking at the other half of the audience the whole time that was a mirror reflection of you. But it really wasn’t distracting because you were focusing what was going on on-stage the whole time. Hopefully that makes somewhat of sense.

Either way, it was SO cool to not only see a play, but to actually be familiar with it beforehand. Also, some of the actresses in it are really famous here in Spain so that was cool too. It was extremely well done and I won’t bore you with details, but it was a pleasure to enjoy!

Tomorrow I head out for Palma de Mallorca with my amiga Anna. We are planning on relaxing on the beach and exploring the island which should be a blast!

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