Category Archives: excursions

Grand Voyage to Ikea.

La Mallorquina is a Madrid staple located in the heart of Sol. It serves the best chocolate napolitana’s in the country and is always bustling with people. When I heard that my British friend James had never tried one of these amazing pastries, I immediately forced him to go with me after our class last Tuesday. More than pleased with his purchase (it is literally the best way to spend 1 Euro in Madrid) he decided that, in return,  he would take me to Ikea the next week for lunch. Yes, that Ikea.

I have always heard of Ikea but never been to an actual store since they are not around in Miami or Colorado. I was actually talking about the store earlier this month with my friend from Duke who was appalled that I had never had their meatballs.

So me and James made a trek to the nearest Ikea that took a little over an hour to get to after we left class today. The mall it is located in was well worth the trip, less alone the chance to experience my very first Ikea store. It was pretty much located in the middle of no where in what looks like to be a developing area. But the mall, called La Gavia, was amazing and had just about every single store imaginable and felt both clean and modern. We only spent time in the Ikea store but whenever I get the shopping bug, I am definitely going back here!

I was starving by the time we got there, so we bought a very cheap but delicious lunch that was accompanied with Lingonberry juice which is apparently a Swedish specialty. Although Ikea is apparently famous for it’s meatballs (I learned that it serves 40,319,365 individual meatballs a year!), I was not intrigued and instead got some sort of salmon wrap and a drink for only 2.50! What a deal.

James referred to Ikea as “Sweden’s best import” and informed me that his entire house, as well as every other house located in England, is outfitted in items solely from Ikea. I loved wandering the store and could not help but wish that I had an Ikea near me to outfit my future room and home!

I am now proud to say that I have experienced Ikea and now have a catalog placed by my bedside, just like James said everyone in Britain does!

 

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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.

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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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Lovin’ on Lisbon

Just got home from Portugal! It’s weird how I can say that so nonchalantly seeing as I was in a completely different country and it only took 50 minutes to get there. Anyways, a group of 8 of us went to Lisbon for the weekend. I got there bright and early on Friday and we left Sunday morning. Although it was a quick trip, it was definitely enough time to see what we needed to see.

I got there at seven in the morning (Travel Tip: Do NOT book flights that leave at before seven in the morning). Although I am glad that I got to spend the day exploring the city, the whole leave the house at 3:45am to take a taxi to the airport because the metro isn’t running is not ideal. In return, I ran the whole day on an hour of sleep but thankfully, the excitement of being in a new place kept me going!

So the night before I did lots of Lisbon research to decide how I wanted to spend my day since the rest of the group was not arriving until four in the afternoon. When I first got there, I grabbed a map and set foot for the bus that would take me into the heart of the city. I decided to go as far south as possible and work my way up. I first saw the Se Cathedral.

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Then while wondering I ran into Castelo de Sao Tome. I knew that this was something I needed to see so waited for it to open and then waltzed around the castle for about an hour. It was so neat and had the best view of the city from the top.

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After, I proceeded to get lost on some side streets but knew I just needed to keep walking north. It was pretty hot so an escape to a museum sounded nice. I went to Gulbekian Museum which was a private art collection. Turns out it was free that day which was a pleasant surprise and I walked around looking at all the different art. It was a pretty standard museum but it also had a garden outside that was really pretty.

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After, I was hungry so sat down at a café and tried to prolong my break as long as possible but that can be hard to do while traveling alone. By this point, I was exhausted and so decided to just go to the airport and wait there for my travel companions. I ended up waiting a couple hours and it was nice just to relax but I was definitely anxious for them to get there! Once they did, we made our way to our hostel. It was definitely so much nicer than I imagined hostels to be. She greeted us with Toblerone, they had breakfast everyday, a lounge with a big screen, movies and videogames, free Internet and the beds were rather comfy! We also had a 10-person room and since there were 8 of us, we all stayed together and it was like a giant sleepover. We all took time to refresh ourselves and get ready for dinner. We went to a place recommended by the hostel with Portuguese food that was AMAZING. I had read that Portuguese bread is really good, and it really was. I got a fish and rice dish that was so flavorful and spicy, I could have ate it all day!

After, we went to a hotspot in the city center with a bunch of different bars and places to pop into. We were all pretty tired so called it an early night so we could have a productive day in the morning.

We started Saturday in Belem, a little neighborhood outside of the city center that you can take a tram to. There is a famous pastry shop there called Pasteis de Belem that specializes in just that. It was a warm vanilla custard tart that you add cinnamon and sugar to and eat! I wish I could have brought some home.

DSC00724After, we walked the boardwalk and saw the famous Tower of Belem and some other cool sights. Then, we took the tram back to the city, had a delicious lunch, and the girls wanted to also go to the castle I ventured through the day before. So while they did that, I explored the flea market that they have every Saturday. Getting there was an experience. While the man at the hostel said that it was right around the castle, as I started walking there I realized that was not the case. I kept asking people for directions (thankfully, most people speak English there) but kept feeling like I was going in the wrong direction. While getting directions from the owner of a shop, an old man (probably around 70) walks out waving his arms to follow him. I then proceed to walk him for about ten minutes. All the while, he keeps trying to talk to me in Portuguese (which I clearly don’t understand), while also throwing in some Spanish words so that I could maybe understand him. I was definitely relieved when we arrived at the market because the more we walked, the more worried I was that he did not understand where I wanted to go. There were so many people there selling all sorts of knick knacks, I didn’t have any cash on me or else I could probably have spent a little of money. Then we all reunited for some ice cream before we returned to the hostel to refresh ourselves for the rest of the evening.

We had, yet again, another wonderful meal at a restaurant situated on a steep walkway towards the same area we went to the night before. I had the chef’s special of the day which was an almost scramble of fish, potato, egg, and some other stuff. After, we walked around a little bit and ended up at a karaoke bar which provided solid entertainment for a little bit! Eventually, our walking all day caught up to us and we were not able to stay out for much longer.

Today, our flight was delayed three hours and we were so excited to hear we got a free lunch in exchange. Thinking that it was going to be really good (because we ran into a friend who got placed in a 5 star hotel the night before and a 60 euro breakfast from the same company for his cancelled flight) we were not that upset. However, the lunch was not good and we were all very antsy to get back to Madrid by the end of the day.

This was also my first experience with Portuguese which is a very interesting language to listen to. I read that it is the 6th most spoken language in the world which is fascinating to me. Although I could read most signs since it is very similar to Spanish, it still sounds nothing alike. We were all so relieved to get back to Madrid and hear Spanish again. But like I said before, thankfully, Lisbon is rather touristy and caters to all languages so it really was not too hard to get by!

So that was my weekend, definitely jam-packed but I am so happy that we made this trip. On the agenda for this week is the start of actual classes, then I head to Palma de Mallorca on Friday for the weekend.

I am rather sad about Madrid not getting the Olympic bid. They were so ready and it breaks my heart thinking about all the hope that they had but I presume Rio de Janeiro will be fine as well… Madrid 2020?

From the Olympic Rally the weekend before the decision was announced!

From the Olympic Rally the weekend before the decision was announced!

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Free week!

So good news is that I made it through my finals! Don’t know my grades on them but nevertheless, they are over! That also means that I have a week off before I start my normal classes on Tuesday. I have celebrated by wondering around and doing things like getting my nails done, exploring a English bookshop/cafe, eating sushi (FINALLY!), crepes, and going out!

Today we took a quick 30 minute train ride to Toledo to explore for the day. We ate lunch in the plaza then walked around for about 3 hours and saw the beautiful cathedral, museums, and other hidden treasures. They also are famous for their mazapan so of course we sampled some of that! It was sooo good. Toledo is such a beautiful little town and I love the cobblestoned alleyways.

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It was nice to get out of Madrid for the afternoon and explore a new city! I have to make this short because I have to leave for the airport in 4 hours to go to Lisbon, Portugal! I will be sure to write when I return!

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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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¡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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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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Filed under excursions, food, learning