Category Archives: food

Falling for France.

Parlez vous francais? I don’t but now I sure wish that I did.

I just got back from a life changing vacation in Paris. Now I know what you are thinking, how can 48 hours in one city really change your life? But when you go on a trip just because it seems like the right thing to do and come back reconfiguring the direction you’re taking just to live in that city someday, I’d say that that’s pretty life altering.

Such is the case with Paris, France. I know the story goes that most people go for a visit and fall in love, but I just did not buy into it. The truth is, I was only there for two days and thus so may have been blinded to the downfalls of the city, but for now, that is ok by me.

We got there on Thursday night and had hopes of sitting on the lawn of the gardens in front of the Eiffel Tower whilst sipping wine and watching the light show. That is until the train we were on to get to the city from the airport stopped at one station a few stops away from our destination, and then started to head in a direct path back to the airport (after we had already been on the train for about 45 minutes). In the end, our traveling time from Madrid to Paris ended up spanning 6 hours instead of 3 and we had to make a change of plans.

After we checked in to our two star hotel (livin’ in the lap of luxury), we took to the streets of Rue Cler to find any sort of food. That’s when we realized we weren’t in Spain anymore where meals are taken at 10, and so at 11:30, most places had already been shut down for the night. We managed to find one place that seemed happy to take our money despite the fact most of the chairs were already placed on the table and there was no one else looking to get a meal at that time. Since it was almost midnight at this point, breakfast sounded wonderful (but let’s be serious, when does breakfast not sound wonderful) and I got a cheese omelet that was accompanied with a salad and French fries. We decided to try the Apple Tartin which is a French pastry but I can’t say that I was the biggest fan. That we save for the crepes…

We then went back to our hotel which was actually in a really nice area, only about a fifteen minute walk to the Eiffel Tower, and really quiet. The only problem was that we were paying for a room with two twin beds for two people… And there were five of us. However, we busted out some James Bond stealthiness and managed to get by both nights without suspicion.

The next day we woke up, put our best walking shoes on, and embarked for the day, ready to see as much of the city as possible. We first took a cruise down the Seine River that was a perfect way to get us situated and show us the major sights. I remember taking this exact cruise when I came in the 8th grade but I know I appreciated it much more this time around.

 

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Jessie, Alessandro, Taylor and me on the cruise!

 

Then, we walked to the Notre Dame, with a stop along the way for some refreshing glace at a famous Parisian ice cream shop.

 

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Taylor and Jessie taking it all in...

 

In the 8th grade I also elected to go shopping over the Lourve (priorities, people!) so thought that I better go this time around. It is also free after 6 on Fridays which is nice, but it also makes for a madhouse. The Lourve itself can be a landmark, less alone all the artistic masterpieces that reside inside. There is no way you could ever cover everything (and still be in a good mood by the end of it) and since it was late already, we decided to see what we wanted to see and peace. We first went to Napoleon’s Compartments, then to the Mona Lisa and Venus statue.

When I first walked up to the Mona Lisa, I laughed. Now, I do feel bad for laughing at one of the most famous paintings in the world, but really, it’s underwhelming.

 

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Presenting... The Mona LIsa.

 

After the museum, we walked up the Champs d’Elysses to the Arc du Triomphe, grabbing some crepes along the way. The city really lights up after dark (I guess that’s why they call it the City of Lights?) and I loved the feeling you get with everyone hustling and bustling about.

Alessandro, Me, and Jessie in front of the Arc du Triomphe!

Then, we headed back to the Eiffel Tower for one of the light shows they do every hour on the hour. To say that we were exhausted after that is an understatement, and we all squeezed into our twin beds and went to bed!

 

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One of the hundreds of pictures I now have of the Eiffel Tower.

 

The next day, Taylor and Jessie had an early flight, and Alessandro was leaving on a train back to Switzerland, leaving me and Pat in France until our 7am flight on Sunday. Not going to lie, I was antsy with excitement and could not wait to spend another day in France. I woke up to a text message from my Dad telling me to go to Versailles if I can and it was nice outside. I looked out the window, and with blue skies aplenty, hopped on the metro for Versailles with my good friend Rick Steves in my bag to tell me what exactly to do in this city.

It seemed as if the palace was the most important sight so I went there with intentions to spend the three hours he deems necessary to take in it’s majesticness. But when I arrived, not only was it crowded, it cost 13.50 too much for my liking and instead of waiting in line to try to play the “18 and under card,” I took some pictures of the outside, and explored the gardens later on. I do not feel like I missed out on a thing.

 

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I just love this picture of the gates to Versailles

 

Instead, I took to the sidestreets and explored numerous shops, pastserries, and food stands to really soak up the feeling of the city. I absolutely loved everything about the feeling of Versailles and had the most wonderful meal at a small café near the main plaza. It was a salmon crepe and cidre that was made in France. Such a relaxing time to say the least.

 

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My favorite meal from France!

 

I headed back to Paris with hopes of making it to the Monmarttan which is the museum with all the Monet paintings (I LOVE Monet) but realized I would be rushing through by the time I got there, so instead, headed to the close Rodin Museum to see the Thinker and some of his other sculptures on display in a garden. Because it was windy outside, some of the gardens were closed, but that meant free entry, and after all, I really only had legitimate interest in seeing the Thinker, but the other sculptures were definitely interesting too.

 

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The Thinker

 

After, I wanted to go to the Sacre-Coeur church which apparently has beautiful views of the city but after exiting the metro, I realized that I was in a really cool neighborhood. It had a Soho-bohemian vibe with lots of cool boutiques, restaurants, and vintage stores that kept me entertained until I had to go meet up with Pat and his friend from home, Emily, for dinner!

She took us to this hole-in-the wall café where we had the BIGGEST salads that had lettuce, egg (they eat eggs with EVERYTHING), ham, potatoes, cheese, tomatoes, and I want to say that is it? It comes in a huge metal bowl that seems never ending, until you start to see the bottom of the bowl, and wonder how in the world that happened… We also had some sangria which was just as good as some that I have had in Spain. After, we could not resist dessert and I got the chocolate mousse that tasted just like brownie batter in mousse form. I was pretty sure there was no way I was going to make it out of the restaurant afterwards though due to a food coma. However, we rallied and headed for Emily’s friend’s apartment in another neighborhood. Eventually, Pat and me returned to the hotel to pick up our bags (which we just barely managed to claim due to the hotel closing up reception for the night) and caught a taxi to the airport. There, we “slept” from about 3:30-5:30 and were off in the air by 7am and I was back in my bed by 10am. Needless to say the time from about 3am-10am is a pretty big blur consisting of intermittent points of sleeping and being awake in the taxi, on the airport floor, on a chair at the check-in gate, on the plane, and on the metro home.

Funny schedule and not necessarily something I will ever want to repeat, but I am glad that I am safely typing this from my bed and not completely exhausted.

If you cannot tell, I am completely enamored by Paris and am dying to go back as soon as possible. I talked to my parents earlier today, telling them I want to switch out one of my classes next semester for French, they laughed, but I am not quite sure if they realize how serious I really am…

If anything, it will undoubtedly be added to my ever-expanding Bucket List that keeps growing by the day. For now, I shall finish my final imported French pastry and go to bed, dreaming of chocolate crepes and sidewalk cafes.

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Ode to Lindt.

Ok I am so sorry for the blog overload. But I have ate the best chocolate EVER and I must share.

chocWhen I told the Germans I wanted to bring some chocolate home with me, they told me Lindt was the best. I have had it before at Christmas time, but never a bar. This is the one that Brigitte suggested I get. Although it was expensive, it was going to be my luxury German chocolate and I only wanted the best.

With just one piece, I have died and gone to heaven. Seriously, go out and do all that you can to get your hands on some of this stuff!

Ok I promise I am done for the day!

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I know my sausages!

Another day has flown by in Germany and I cannot believe I am heading home in the morning. Today we drove up and down both sides of the Rhine River from Ingelheim to Koblenz. The original plan was to take a ferry on the actual river but since it was so cold, we decided to stick to a tour by car. As you drive along, you go through many villages that each have their own special castles and cathedrals. We got out to look at certain sights but there is so much to see, there is no way to stop at every one before nighttime. That is another thing about this area during November, it gets very dark by five o’clock so we had a lot to fit in before it got too hard to see!

I have never seen castles like these before and I find it so interesting how there are so many in such a short span. First, they were heavily used though the Middle Ages but most were destroyed since and then restored during other regimes.

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One of the castles (you can get married here!)

One of my favorite towns we went through was Bacharach. It was had such cute buildings and shops.

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In love.

Our final destination was Koblenz, a big city like Mainz, at the end of the river. In Germany all shops are closed on Sundays except for a few special days. Luckily for us, there was a festival in Koblenz today so people were walking the streets and some shops were open. The main sight in the city is the Deutshe Eck, a HUGE monument that was one of the biggest statues I have ever seen.

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Look how small we are in comparison to the statue!

We then went up a hill to an old fort that gave us a view of the entire city.

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The Rhine River and Koblenz

On the other side of the river, we stopped in Rudesheimer for dinner. Earlier I saw a sausage cart that smelt wonderful and got me to thinking about Brautwurst and other sausages that I had eaten yet in Germany. Although I think Jennifer and Jana wanted pizza, I spoke my mind when asked and said I would like to have sausage (and sauerkraut) before I returned back to patatas bravas and tortilla overload in Spain. We ended up choosing one of the only two restaurants open in Rudesheimer that happened to have Brautwurst and pizza to please all involved.

When my food arrived, I was a bit put off by the puny size and unappetizing appearance of the two sausages on my plate but starting to eat without a complaint. For those who know me, I will eat pretty much anything but am very critical when it comes to good and bad food. I took a bite and although it tasted just about as good as it looked, I decided to continue eating it because it was still edible. After all, I am just an American girl, who I am to tell the German’s they served me a bad sausage?

But then, I gave Brigitte some of my sausage to try and that is when the tables turned. She started muttering in German with a disgusted look on her face and told me to stop eating (as a piece of sausage with sauerkraut was heading right for my mouth). Quicker than you can say “Gesundheit,” the waiter was at our table taking my plate away and I resorted to eating slices of Jana’s ham and mushroom pizza…

After our subpar meal we needed to cross back to the other side of the river and so took an auto-ferry to the other side. It was such a strange feeling going across a river on a boat while in a car that is turned off. Read that sentence again and try to imagine it. Really weird but I can now say that I was on the Rhine!

We then headed up a windy road that took us to a top of a hill overlooking Ingelsheim where Nicolai works at a restaurant. There we had cheese pretzels, homemade juice, and something new- hot wine that tasted like a hot cherry cider. It was made with cherry wine from cherries the restaurant owner grew himself, cinnamon, and something else that was untranslatable in English. It did just the job to warm me up and tasted so yummy too.

I leave tomorrow successfully addicted to water with gas, German gummy bears and homemade raspberry jam. This weekend has seriously flown by and I really hope that I can come back again with my family soon. Although my relatives here were so hospitable and welcoming, I think it would be an even better vacation with my grandma and grandpa along for the ride to make it that much more special.

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Ich bin satt. I am full.

My first full day in Germany has come and gone and I am completely exhausted. We began this morning with breakfast where I was thrilled to find out Germans value this first meal of the day just as much as I do! I ate my first sunny-side up egg (one of my favorite breakfast foods) since my arrival in Europe, followed by rolls with your choice (ok not your choice, my choice) of homemade jams, cheese, butter, honey, and, of course, nutella. We also had fruit, orange juice, coffee, and I am sure Brigitte would have jumped to comply with any other desire because she is just that nice. This was definitely a welcome break from the Spanish equivalent of “the most important meal of the day”- coffee and a croissant.

We then went to pick up her daughter, Jennifer, and then to meet her other daughter, Nicolai, who is also Jana and Laura’s mom, and son-in-law, Klaus, at the train station to head to the city of Mainz.

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Nicolai, Laura, Me and Jana on the way to Mainz

 

Once we got there, they showed me three different churches around the city, each possessing different Baroque, Gothic, and Romantic qualities. The churches in Germany are so different from any of the other European ones that I have visited. It is also nice because, unlike in Spain, here you do not have to pay to go into every single church. The first one we went to, St. Stephens, was my favorite because of the stained glass window art.

 

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Some of the stained glass near the altar

 

While walking to lunch, we ran into this food market, which I loved looking at. In Madrid, we have markets but not really outdoor food ones that remind me of the farmer’s markets at home!

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Makes me excited for Christmas markets!

 

We had a wonderful lunch in Mainz at a German restaurant. I had the goulash (which I later found out was made with male deer) that was delicious and accompanied with red cabbage, which is one of my favorite German foods! The rest of the day was mostly spent walking around and shopping. Although I did not come out with anything besides a bag of gummy bears, they are the best gummy bears I have ever had.

I also saw so many advent calendars! The problem with traveling on the budget airlines though is that they are really cheap about carry-ons and strictly restrict you to one bag. Unfortunately, I have ZERO space in my backpack so for better or for worse, do not think I can bring anything more than a candy bar with me back to Spain. The saying, “Take only memories, leave only footprints,” has never rang so true.

The best advent calendar I saw though? This baby:

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KINDER!

 

 

For each day you get something from Kinder- some days it would even be a Kinder egg, me and my brother’s favorite European chocolate delight from when we were young. They also have calendars with gourmet gummies in them and one with really big pieces of expensive chocolate! It was amazing to me how many Christmas decorations are already up and it is only the beginning of November.

We went to Nicolai’s for dinner and had my absolute favorite German food, spaetzle! It was homemade by her and hit the spot. We also had pumpkin soup, which I have been craving since autumn arrived. I asked what else they make with pumpkin, assuming they at least had pumpkin pie or bread, but they said just soup! I think we have something new to introduce them to the next time they come to the states.

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The fam at the start of dinner!

 

We also had a kind of pork that is made specially in one of the close small villages. It was all absolutely delicious and finished off by a homemade tiramisu! If you have not noticed already, the Germans love to eat. Looking back on their visit to the United States, I am starting to think that there is no way they were not starving the entire time because we did not feed them nearly this much food in a day!

Some other things that I noted:

a)     My mom said this when she was visiting Spain, but I noticed it here in Germany to a larger extent: the lack of cell phones. Although everyone owns them, you do not see anyone walking around and talking on one, getting up from a meal to take a phone call, or even text messaging while sitting on a bench. I really think it illustrates to an even larger degree the importance of togetherness that the Europeans stress. I think it is something that Americans should definitely work on and something I am going to try to carry with me when I return, but who knows what will happen when the Blackberry returns.

b)    Whatever happened to having pictures in wallets? Laura opened her wallet today and had at least fifteen of her friend’s school pictures in it. It brought me back to the old days of wallet photos. Now, we just associate them with senior pictures, but I remember when my dad’s wallet was filled with our portraits to display to all of his friends. I always loved looking at them and showing them to my friends. My favorite was the picture of his entire family because I loved showing off the fact that I could name all my aunts and uncles (shouldn’t be quite an accomplish, but it took time!) Anyways, I think this is something we need to bring back.

c)     In Germany, you can order a beer or wine at a restaurant and buy cigarettes at 16. Get your driver’s permit at 17. License, entrance into clubs, and free reign of all types of alcohol at 18. In a way maybe it makes sense. You can start “experimenting” with the effects of alcohol early so that by the time you can drive, you know what’s good for you? Something interesting to think about.

Nicolai and Klaus were nice enough to buy me an English book about the area from Mainz to Koblenz of the Rhine River so I finally know where I am and what I am seeing. Tomorrow we are taking a tour of all the villages surrounding the river that are full of Medieval castles and unlike anything I have ever seen before. I better get to bed now so that I can enjoy a tasty breakfast even sooner!

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I don’t know you but I think you will be just fine.

I am finally in Germany and feel like it’s time to start blogging because it is going to be a very enlightening vacation. Stepping of the plane, I realized that a) I had no idea what my relative who I was meeting looked like b) I had no phone number and c) I was in a new foreign country where I knew none of the language. Luckily, after standing at the arrival door for what seemed like ages unsure of my next move, I heard my name and was greeted by a lovely woman who said, “I don’t know you but I think you will be just fine.” Maybe not the most comforting combination of words, but said while hugging, I was put at ease.

We got in the car and headed straight for the small village of Weiler where she lives. Before I left, people kept asking me “Where in Germany are you going?” and I always had to reply, “Honestly, I do not know.” What I did know was that I was landing in Frankfurt-Hahn and was to go from there. After talking more about Germany on the way over, I semi-grasped my whereabouts and can at least show you on the map the general locale of my journey:

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I stayed very close to the village of Bingen, labeled on the map!

We drove through the countryside and, although it was dark and a bit rainy, I felt at ease being out of the hustle and bustle of the city and, instead, in a peaceful and hilly atmosphere with windmill farms and changing leaves falling from maple trees. I am staying with my grandpa’s sister-in-law and she is absolutely wonderful. Although she says that her English is not very good, it really is not too bad at all and we were able to get along just fine for the evening.

When we got to her house, she showed me my room and bathroom (which is the nicest bathroom I have ever occupied) and the bed is the biggest I have slept in since I have been in Europe! It is a lot colder here than it is in Madrid but, thankfully, my new Northface is doing the trick and keeping me nice and toasty! While I unpacked, she made coffee and we sat down to homemade apple pie (with apples from her own garden!) at her dining table before going to pick up her granddaughters to spend the night.

Thankfully, I have met the girls before when they stayed at our house in Colorado two summers ago. They both play handball, which is one of the biggest sports here in Germany. I had watched videos of it being played before over the summer but was excited to see it in action when we picked them up from practice. It is like a combination of basketball and soccer with the usual point tally being in the 30s for one game.

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Jana, and team, playing some handball.

The girls were staying with us tonight since we are all touring together tomorrow and their parents were out for the evening. We all ate a nice chicken and vegetable dish that was scrumptious and a good break from the Spanish food I have been gorging myself on since my parent’s visit. I also had a glass of white wine from the region (where I am it’s wine country Germany and not the beerladen Oktoberfest Germany we have come to know and idolize). Hopefully there is more of that in store!

I feel like all of my most recent conversations have been centered around languages and today was no different. Jana is in 11th grade and studying German, English, Spanish AND French. It is crazy to me how someone can not only keep track of all of those languages at once, but that is just the way it is here since all of the languages are spoken in countries that are so close to one another! Thankfully, English is her second best language and so we were able to talk the whole night about school, holidays, Europe, and she even filled me on some current events happening in the United States that I was unaware of. She also told me that swine flu is starting to come to Germany and they are trying to assess whether or not it is really something to worry about. I told her she’d be fine and that my brother had it twice and is still standing, that seemed to put her kind of at ease?

Tomorrow we have lots of sightseeing to do so I am going to hit the sack but although I was really nervous coming here before, I am already sure that it is going to be a wonderful weekend and I am most excited to talk to my grandpa when I get home about all that I have seen and learned about his homeland!

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Lucky

Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting at Starbucks (per usual) reflecting on the past week with my family that flew by faster than you can say patatas. It feels like just yesterday I was picking them up at the airport (chocolate napolitanas in hand), anxious to spend a week showing off my temporary home. They were only here a week, but as I am sure they can attest to, we squeezed in a few weeks of activity… and food.

Dylan’s favorite find? Churros and chocolate. I only had it one time before they got here but now can successfully say I have sampled it at four different places and it really is crazy how each place tastes just a little bit different. Mom’s new jam? Tortilla española and pisto. And my dad really tried to embrace the Spanish culture, refusing to order cafe con leche at Starbucks like the rest of the family, and instead, heading to Pans & Co. next door like a “true” Spaniard.

I was the most antsy I have ever been in my life waiting for my family to get here. It is the first time we have had a week to spend together since I graduated from high school, and besides the few hours of class that got in the way on Tuesday, it really was like a normal fall break like I remember! I ate the best meals I have had in months, travelled to Sevilla, and enjoyed the time we all go to spend together sans cell phones, TV, and all those other silly distractions that interfere with togetherness at home.

In Madrid we spent time in Retiro, la Reina Sofia (art museum I wrote about before), el Museo de Prado, la Plaza Mayor, and they even got to meet my señora! We spent Tuesday and Wednesday night in Sevilla where we toured the amazing cathedral, Alcazar, bullfight musuem, intimate flamenco show and all the cute little side streets.

I could write for days about how great of a week it was but I am hoping my dad can guest blog it up with his description of the trip which would be both entertaining and give you his take on the whole experience. Here are some pictures that show you some quick highlights!

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Self time photo from the Rose Garden in Retiro

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Dylan and dad with one of the many gelatos we ate during the week!

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The fam with their calamari sandwiches

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Last night in la Puerta del Sol!

The last night, my mom said “You don’t know how lucky you are,” and the truth is, I think that I really, really do.

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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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Filed under arts, excursions, food, museums, nightlife