Category Archives: nightlife

Tis the Season!

So I think it can be said that Christmas is officially upon us. Being in Madrid, it was hard once the Christmas decorations started to be put up because I felt like something was missing… That something was Thanksgiving! Since they do not have the holiday to mark what I consider to be the official beginning of the Christmas season, they kind of haphazardly start decorating window fronts, changing shopping bag designs, and selling Christmas treats. But I knew that I had to hold off on jamming out to Christmas carols until the end of Thanksgiving.

The day started out just like any other normal Thanksgiving… With the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade! Sure it does not rival watching it on the big screen and we did not get to actually begin watching it until 4PM, but I got to see Dora and Snoopy in all their glory and that is all that matters!

After “slaving” away in the kitchen we ended up with this spread. In the mix is roasted chicken, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, bread, olives, corn, and gravy! We had some friends come over to hang out before they had a dinner at 9PM hosted by the university but it was me, Kelly, and Taylor who took to conquering all this food… and conquering it we did!

The meal was followed by a cookie dough and ice cream dessert combo and many hours of Glee! What a wonderful day…

As I mentioned earlier, my best friend Kelly came and visited from Vienna for the weekend and we had a wonderful time and I loved being able to show her around! After she tagged along for a field trip with my school at a local TV station, we paraded around the city with our other friend Colin who came up to Toledo for the day! We immersed ourselves in Spanish culture with calamari sandwiches, sangria, Retiro, and then Christmas lights!

Kelly and me in front of the big tree in Sol!

Now they first put up this tree about three weeks ago and finally on Friday night lit it up (talk about anticipation!) After, me and all my friends walked around the city to see all the other lights that were finally turned on! In one plaza, they put up another big tree, ice skating rink, store, and there were carolers!

The Madrid group taking in the X-mas spirit!

I am so happy the Christmas season has finally kicked off and cannot wait to go to Vienna next weekend and see all the markets (and Kelly, of course!) They put up a really big Christmas market in Plaza Mayor that I am eager to go check out… Two papers stand in between me and it though and I’m finding it harder and harder to keep up motivation!

Hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings!

 

 

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The City of Gaudi

I finally made it to Barcelona this past weekend to see what it has to offer. We left really late on Friday night so did not sightsee until we woke up on Saturday morning.

Lesson learned: Read between the lines. For starters, we flew on Ryanair into the Girona airport. When booking the flight, we did not realize that this airport was 90 minutes away from the actual city of Barcelona and that once we landed we had to take a bus (tacking on an extra 21 Euro) to get to the city and then take the metro to get to our hostel. Once you add in that extra fee, you find that it is probably the same price to take another airline to the actual airport in Barcelona, making the trip a lot shorter and a lot more convenient. This similar theme came up again when checking into our hostel. Although it was a great location and cheaper than the other hostels in the area, they don’t let you in on the fact that there is an extra charge if you want a sheet/blanket/towel. So again, once you add in that charge, the other hostels that most likely included these already would probably be nicer and the same price! No matter now, we made it through, but now I know to be more vigilant when booking such items!

But moving on to the actual weekend. We woke up on Saturday and started off walking down the main avenue of the city, Las Ramblas. As you walk down, they have stands selling lots of flowers and souvenirs, but also birds, reptiles, hamsters and the cutest bunnies!

It took all I had to resist.

 

My favorite thing we visited was definitely La Boqueria, a food market that is open everyday and absolute heaven. Christine and me could not resist the fresh squeezed juice that each stand offered, it was soooo good!

I got Mango Pineapple Orange!

These food markets are definitely going to be something I miss when I am stuck going into Publix where everything is already processed. It is just crazy seeing so much fresh fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, and cheese all under one roof. And the amount of people there is insane. My friends enjoyed crepes and I picked up some amazing dried mango and strawberries that were to die for. We went in the morning as it was an easy stop off Las Ramblas, but ended up going back for lunch and it too was amazing.

I want to go back.

 

 

We continued our walk down until we got to the port and beach. It was stunning and made me wonder what it would be like to live here in the summer. I definitely think I could do it.

The group on the beach!

 

We then went to Park Guell a large park full of Gaudi architecture and sculptures.

Christine and me at the entrance of the park!

After, we went to La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral started by Gaudi that I have studied since middle school, and it was breathtaking to see it in real life. What makes it so special is that fact that it is still not complete, even though they have been working on it since 1883 it is still not expected to be done for another quarter-century.

So amazing

 

Later, we went to the Magic Fountains for a show. It was absolutely stunning and unlike anything that I have ever seen before. For about 20 minutes, these fountains change colors and shapes to recognizable classical music. I felt like I was on a Disney ride the entire time.

After we grabbed dinner and managed to make it out for a very little bit. One of the places we went to was called Dow Jones. They had screens around the bar with the prices of the drinks. As the popularity of a drink went up or down, so did the price. It was unique and made for a fun game but what was most exciting was when the stock market crashed, and people rushed to the bar to get the lowest prices.

The screen showing the prices

 

To say that we fit in well more than a days worth of sightseeing is an understatement and probably a mistake seeing that by the end of the day we were exhausted. Not to mention, the next day we woke up and were unsure of what to do.

We went and saw two of Gaudi’s famous houses- Casa Batillo and Casa Mira and then went to Barcelona’s Cathedral.

Casa Batillo at night because it looked cooler then

We walked in on a mass that was interesting to see since I have not yet experienced a Spanish mass. Some churches close to the public during mass but this did not which I think made for a bit of distraction. Instead of it being quiet, you have tourists wandering around and snapping pictures. To me, it seems like it would ruin the ambiance, but so it goes.

 

After the mass starting around noon, people gathered in the plaza in front of the church for a dance. This happens every Sunday and Saturday evening and it was quite a sight!

Nothing like a good dance after mass...

The dance is called sardana and can go on for up to two hours! They say that they let tourists participate, but after watching one Asian lady try to break in, I can attest that they are a little picky about who can join in their festivities. I felt bad for the woman but will admit it was a bit funny watching her go around the circle and trying to join hands with the Catalonians.

 

The prevalence of Catalan was not as severe as I thought it might be, and I found that I could get along just fine speaking Castellano and English. In fact, I think most people talked to me in English even when I would try to speak Castellano because they are so accustomed to tourists. My friend who is currently studying in Barcelona said this too, as she is frustrated with not being able to improve her Spanish. So overall, while I did like Barcelona, I am happy to be living in Madrid!

After a long trip home, I am back in the city and cannot believe that it is the last week of November. While the thought of not being home for Thanksgiving truly saddens me, I am lucky that Kelly is coming to visit for the weekend and so I will get a little taste of home!

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Intercambio-ing

I apologize it has been so long since I have written. Not that I think any of you are that offended, but I also do not like when I forget to write because although nothing life changing occurs, I am learning new things everyday that I would love to share! But it seems like these weeks keep flying by and before I know it, it’s the weekend and I am off again. Since my parents have left, things have been pretty mellow. Halloween was nothing special on my end but I was surprised by all of the costumes that I saw in Madrid. Coming here, everyone talked about how they really did not celebrate the candy-grabbing holiday in Europe, but I am here to tell you naysayers that it is alive and growing in popularity every year. The biggest difference between the European and American costume bonanza is made most distinct in examining in the objective of the costume. Whilst American college girls view it as an excuse to wear the least amount of clothing as possible and boys seek the easiest costume to store as much as alcohol as possible, Spanish youth look for the most striking and scary costumes. We’re talking about fake blood running down the face and devil horn galore. Anyways, I would still see the holiday as a very American tradition, but we may see some competition from our European counterparts in the near future…

This past week was marred with new experiences beginning on Monday night when I had job training at a bar called Maloney’s. Now I know what you’re thinking… Why would I be getting a job when I have a month and a half left here and should be taking in the Spanish culture? Well the truth is, I did not realize it was job training until I got to the bar and the owner started showing us where the drinks are kept, how to clean the freezer, and the proper way to slice a lemon. Turns out, the owner needs bartenders to work during the week so thought that it would be a good night to show me and two friends the lay of the land in case a night comes where he was short on workers. Details aside, it was quite the night and I surprisingly learned a lot from how to make sangria to the proper way to fill a beer glass from a tap. He even called the next day to see if I could come in for work, but let’s just say that I am not that desperate for a job… Maybe something I will regret come Christmas time.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were all standard madrileño days, minus the Mexican restaurant me and Taylor visited Tuesday night for dinner to get quesadillas. Ironically, it was called Colorado Express and it did just the trick to satisfy my Mexican craving. Funnily enough, yesterday I was chatting with a friend who has found the sole Taco Bell in Madrid (and been there five times since) at a mall that is accessible on the metro, and I’m not going to lie, I think I am going to have to go within the next week. It’s not that I even like Taco Bell in the states, but it’s just one of those things that sounds like it would hit the spot right about now.

Visited Cave Bar on Tuesday with my friends from Brazil. I love hanging out with them because, while they speak Portuguese, English, and Spanish all pretty well, when we all hang out together, we only talk in Spanish. It’s a great way to practice and if all else fails and I cannot understand exactly what they’re trying to say, they can usually explain it in English. I had a similar experience in a bookstore yesterday when a French man started talking to me in Spanish and, although he spoke English as well, he said his Spanish was better than his English and, thus, wanted to talk to me in that! Then he went on to try to dissect how we define what language we speak better, whether it is “how we say beautiful things” or what. I went on to tell him, for me, it comes down to having the vocabulary to say what he refers to as “romantic and beautiful things.” Maybe not the wistful answer he was looking for, but I was not in the mood for his French banter.

Last night I went to my first Intercambio which are arranged by my school weekly. An intercambio is a function where students from the Spanish campus of my school and my program can meet up in the designated café/pub/etc. to talk and practice language. Most of the time, you end up talking in Spanish while they talk in English but that is the point of the night I guess? But my favorite part was when we made the transition from the café to a bar down the street to play the time-honored game, beer pong (or Beirut for all you Coloradans). This game is virtually unheard of in Spain, only known to bar owners trying to lure American frat-boys to buy jarra after jarra of cerveza to make some dinero (pitcher after pitcher of beer to make some money). Anyways, I ended up partnering up with my British friend (who also did not know of the game) and it ended up being a ton of fun. They loved the game and I really would not be surprised if you could find them back for another round tonight.

Speaking of my British friend, last night was “Bonfire Night” in Great Britain. Although he explained the meaning of the tradition to mean a million times, I still do not really get it and for the sake of not offending all my British readers (ok I don’t think I have British readers but maybe one day) I am not going to go into the history, but rather leave you with this picture. Apparently the bonfires are HUGE in Britain and they roast sausages and baked potatoes (YUM) while burning handmade figures of Guy Fawks. We basically did that too…

guyfawks

Our mini-bonfire

And here we are today. This next month and half is going to fly by. Every weekend I am busy except my final weekend, and am already thinking of planning a one-final-hurrah-trip (OFHT, for short) that weekend. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself (or my bank account) so we will have to wait and see! I am headed to Germany, Paris, Barcelona, and Vienna so there is still lots in store and more intercambio action to be had!

For those of you who do not know, my grandpa immigrated from Germany to Canada (and later ended up in the United States thanks to my wonderful grandma) when he was just a young lad. All of his immediate family still lives in some part of Germany and so I figured it would be interesting to go and visit them and get a little taste of German culture so that is where I am off to tomorrow. Not sure if my German vocabulary (mostly consisting of food names) is going to get me very far but we shall see. Gute nacht! (I think that means goodnight?!)

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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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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.

DSC00608

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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