Friday, October 8, 2010


I know I haven't blogged in a LONG time but I have been out of town! This past Tuesday we headed off on a school trip to a region of Spain called Adalucía which included Cordoba, Sevilla, and Granada. We left Madrid early on Tuesday morning at 8:30 and headed on our bus to Cordoba first on a 5 hour bus ride. Most of us slept along the way since we left so early and I played a little solitaire on my phone to pass the time. We arrived in Cordoba about 2:30pm and it was hot hot hot. Coming from Madrid where it has been in the 50s we were a little shocked. We had a little free time at first so we went andhad some helado since we had already eaten lunch in the bus. Cordoba was so pretty and I remembered some of it from when I went with my parents when I was younger, however, it was snowing then! We visited the Mezquita (mosque)/Cathedral. It was converted into a cathedral after the moors were kicked out so it was really interesting to see the differing architectures inside the one building. I loved the architecture because I studied a lot of it in an art history class my freshman year. Outside there is a gorgeous lemon tree garden with waterways where they used to wash their feet. I got in trouble with the guard when I picked one of the lemons haha opps!Here is a picture of Cordoba from across the river and then architecture inside the Mezquita:

After about four hours in Cordoba we hopped back in the bus and headed for Sevilla! We arrived around 7:30pm and I was feeling pretty car sick when we got there. Luckily, we stayed in a four star hotel which was really nice. We had the rest of the day off so we lounged around the hotel and got ready to go out. We ended up in a plaza where everyone "botellons" which means they buy bottles of wine or liquor and drink outside. I love the Spanish life. We ended up meeting about six guys from Wake Forest who were studying there and they showed us around. At one bar we got a playing card and you had to find your match and got a free drink and hat! They also had free sangria until midnight so we took advantage of that as well!
We woke up the next morning a little hun g over but ready to see Sevilla! We first headed to the Alcazar which had a really pretty garden and moorish and arabic details on the inside. We then headed to the gorgeous cathedral in the center of the city. It is the second biggest in the world after the Vatican. We all hiked up to the top of the tower (31 floors) to see the view. I have to say it was a little disappointing because it was hard to see over the fence they have up there so you don't fall off but it was a nice work out going all the way up and all the way down.
We were treated to a big lunch by the program at a nice restaurant by our hotel. We ate so much that we all went back to the hotel afterwards and took a long food coma. We woke up just in time to get ready and go to a Flamenco show that night! I loved it! It was in a really private setting and there were only about 50 people in the audience so it was a really cool experience. It lasted about an hour and then we all grabbed dinner and walked around before heading in to the hotel for an early night.

We had to wake up the next morning and be packed and ready to go by 8:50am. We all jumped back on the bus to head to Granada, our last stop. By now it's Thursday if you are following along. The bus ride there was another four hours so we slept and watched "It's Complicated" with Meryl Streep, one of my favorite movies. The time flew by pretty fast because we were in Granada around 3:30. After checking in to another four star hotel, we headed out to explore and find some lunch. I definitely think Granada is one of my favorite cities in Spain. It has the prettiest views and the streets are small and its easy to get lost exploring. We met back with the group to go to yes, another church. This one was pretty exciting because it is where the catholic king and queen are buried, Isabella and Ferdenand along with their children, Manuel, Juana "La Loca", and her husband Felipe "El hermoso." We have been learning a lot about their family and the history of Spain so it was really interesting to see where they were buried. It made it all surreal. Our teacher then took us on a 20 minute up-hill hike to the most gorgeous view I've seen. It was a view of the Alhambra and the surrounding mountains and houses. It was so pretty because the sun was beginning to set behind it. The hike was definitely worth it this time haha. We then wandered around the gypsy market and saw a lot of cool things from all the Indian influences including a lot of hooka places and shops. We had dinner in the hotel with the group (a buffet...surprise in Spain) and then bought some boxes, yes I said boxes Dad, of wine. This is what happens when you are on a budget in Spain. I hate to say it, but it wasn't that bad. However the next morning was definitely a rough one. We had to wake up early to go to the Alhambra and check out of our hotel.

We got to the Alhambra around 10 and got ready for the three hour tour. This was my third time seeing the Alhambra so it wasn't the most exciting thing I have seen so far but I definitely enjoyed it! We were all exhausted afterwards and not looking forward to our 6 hour bus ride back to Madrid. We slept most of the way, stopped for lunch, watched "The Reader" with Kate Winslet (so good) and talked about our upcoming trip to Portugal!!! We are actually leaving in three hours for ANOTHER bus ride. We are leaving at 11:30pm so we will sleep the whole time in the bus for 8 hours...not going to be too much fun. However I am so excited to go to Lagos and Lisbon! I will update you on Tuesday when I get home!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

La Huelga

Today in Madrid is something called "La Huelga" or the strike. It is a day where Spanish people are legally allowed to strike and not go to work if they don't want to. It's a very strange concept for us Americans. It's basically a freebie day for everyone that has a job. Lots of people picket in the streets, especially in the streets. Most of the metros, buses, and taxis aren't running which makes it a little difficult to get around but overall Madrid seems the same. We still had class today despite the strike and everyone was able to make it to class on time. Lots of the stores are closed however along with grocery stores. I don't really understand la huelga because it seems really pointless to skip work for one day.
We finally planned our trip for next weekend which I am really excited about. On Tuesday we all leave with the school to go to the Adalucia which includes Seville, Granada, and Cordoba. We leave early Tuesday morning and get back to Madrid Friday night. It will be a quick trip but really fun to see everything in these cities. Then on Friday night some of us are going to Portugal! We are going with EuroVibe, a company that plans trips for students studying abroad. We are going to Lagos and Lisbon for 4 days! The trip also includes a booze cruise :) There will be other students studying in Madrid there too so it should be really fun to meet other American students. So far there are kids from Tulane and USC going. I can't wait!!!
Since tonight is still the Huelga we can't go out but tomorrow we are going back to Chapandez with the fish bowl drinks!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fish Bowls

What a great Saturday! Yesterday I FINALLY went shopping with Danielle, Kendall, and Eme on Calle Serrano, the big shopping street here in Madrid. First the four of us went to a delicious lunch and I had a cheeseburger! It was so nice to have some American food (not that I don't love Spanish food!). It was the grand opening of the street for the fall collections so the street was shut down to cars and there was music and dancers in the street. Madrid definitely knows how to celebrate. We walked into numerous shops and I bought a dress, top, and a headband, not too exciting but still very fun! We got the most delicious gelato while walking around, it has become part of our daily routine which I don't know if that is a good or bad thing. We ended up wandering around the streets just looking for shops and checking out the activities on Serrano. After shopping and walking around for five hours, I was exhausted. I walked home and passed out for about an hour before dinner. Loles did it big for dinner last night. We had our new favorite salad that she just started making and huevos rotos. This has become one of Allie and my favorite meals. It is two fried eggs over fresh french fries with ham. Yum. She was so happy that we were so excited!
We were pretty unmotivated to go out last night but since it was Saturday night we rallied and got ready. I did a little research and found a bar called Chapandez in an area we hadn't been before. It took two metro rides to get there and a little walking around trying to find it but finally we did! And it was so worth it! We walked in to a cave basically. The whole ceiling is jagged and shaped like we were in a deep cave. The specialty of the bar is fish bowl sized drinks. The four girls and I shared a 38 euro massive drink. It was so delicious and definitely worth it! Not too bad when you split it 5 ways! I will post pictures soon! While we were at the bar a guy approached me about doing an interview for their website about night life in Madrid! It was really exciting and it was fun to be interviewed in Spanish! He asked me the differences about Spanish and American night life and which one I preferred most--of course, Spain! He said it would be posted soon so hopefully I can find the link!
We danced until about 4 AM when the bar closed and headed home. Allie and I decided we were hungry so we wandered around our neighborhood to find something that was open at 5 AM! We stumbled upon a 24 hour 7-11 type store and bought some late night food. We walked home talking about how amazing Spain is and how much we are loving it here. Last night was definitely a success!
This morning I am still waiting for Allie to wake up (its noon) and hopefully we will head to Retiro park to do some homework and lay around! The weather here has been so amazing, its been cool and sunny all week! I can feel fall coming and it is making me so excited!

Friday, September 24, 2010


Today is Friday! Yay!! Unfortunately we had class today, usually we just have class Monday-Thursday but we had to make up a day so we had our Tuesday/Thursday classes today. However, it was a really good day at school! For my second class today, our teacher couldn't come so the director of the program, Maria, took just our class out for coffee and to the Sorolla Museum! It was such a great field trip. First we stopped and had cafe con leche and then we were off to the museum. This was by far one of my favorite places I have been so far. I loved the paintings by Sorolla and the museum is in his old house so it was really neat to see how and where he actually painted everything. I am familiar with some of his work and the museum was smaller so it was nice to be able to look at everything up close. My favorite painting is of his wife and eldest daughter strolling down the beach. I love the impressionistic look of it and the way he utilizes the light in each of his paintings. We got to spend our whole class period there today, an hour and a half so it was a really nice treat.

For lunch we went to our favorite pizza and pasta place. They have a menu of the day where you can order a salad, pizza or pasta, a dessert, and a drink for only 10E! Definitely a deal! There was a big group of us so it was really fun. Afterwards we headed home to nap and watch our Thursday night tv shows that we missed in the US.
Tonight is the TCU vs SMU game back in Dallas! We are bummed to be missing it but we are going to all dress in red and blue tonight and watch the game at a sports bar here! It will be our boulevard in Spain. It will be a big upset if SMU wins considering that TCU is currently ranked #4. It's a stretch but it could happen! The game doesn't start here until 2AM so we have a little while until it's time to watch it but we are determined to stay out and watch it. We also heard that SMU didn't have classes today since the game is on a school day which is pretty cool. I am excited for tonight and I hope the mustangs win!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Great Day!

Today was such a great day in Espana! After class, Allie and I went to grab lunch at a place called Quarter Time and we had a delicious, cheap lunch. It was just ham and cheese on a bagel but it was toasted so it was really flat, like a grilled cheese! Oh how I miss American food! And the best part is it was only 2.50E! Then with our group, we took a field trip to the Prado Museum! I have been before but not since I was younger so I don't really remember too much. My freshman year at SMU, I took an art history class on Spanish art so seeing some of the paintings I studied was really special. Our group went with one teacher who really knew what she was talking about. We all walked around the museum with nerdy headphones and she talked into a microphone so she didn't have to yell in the museum so we could all hear her. At one point, we lost her because she turned really fast and we all went straight and we could hear her talking and saying, "Donde estais?" (where are you all?) but we couldn't see or find her. It was pretty funny.
I really enjoyed seeing all the art by Velazquez and Greco. My favorite part was seeing "Las Meninas" by Velazquez. It is one of his most famous paintings and I have loved it since I studied it two years ago. I was impressed at how much information I remembered! We were there for about two hours which was a good amount of time and we got to see the most famous paintings that are there. After the Prado since we were already in a great area, Allie, Matt, and I decided to explore. We walked up to the Plaza de Santa Ana and had a beer and some tapas. We were really excited to find some German beer after our trip to Munich last weekend, we are now obsessed and I guess you could call us beer snobs now.
We decided to keep walking and find another place to stop. We ended up in Plaza Mayor where there was an Argentinan market going on. They had the coolest jewelry and clothes! It was a really cool and unexpected find! Then we walked a little and then tried to go to the oldest restaurant in the world that we have heard so much about! It was founded in 1725 and is famous for it's cuchinillo, the baby pig that we ate in Segovia. Unfortunately, it was closed so we ended up stumbling upon this indoor market. It was in a glass box basically that you could walk in and go to each stand. It was so amazing! They had everything: sushi, tapas, mexican food (such a treat in Spain!), wine, and even fresh hot-dogs! We were in heaven. We stayed there for about two and a ha;f hours just walking around even though it wasn't very big. We had a couple glasses of wine and A LOT of food. It was so cheap and fresh we couldn't help ourselves!
During the afternoons, Allie and I usually just sleep and catch up on our TV shows in the US that we are missing so this was a great adventure for us! It was nice to get out of the house and explore this amazing city we are living in. I love waking up everyday and knowing I am in Spain!
We were still so full that when we got home around 7:30, we immediately went to our "siesta room" (a small room with two couches and a tv just for me and Allie) and laid down haha. We were even too full to have dinner! Loles was very surprised considering we usually eat everything she serves us!
This weekend a lot of our group went to Munich so we are going to take it easy this weekend. Allie and I want to do a little shopping since I haven't bought ANY clothes yet. Very surprising, I know. It is starting to get cooler here so I can't wait to buy fall clothes and get ready for my favorite season! I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings in SPAIN! :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


On Friday, Allie and I left for Munich! We woke up very early Friday morning to catch our flight at 9 AM. Surprisingly we were able to figure out the metro system enough to take it to the airport to save money instead of taking a cab. We arrived in Munich around 11 and we were so excited! We breezed right through the airport since we were traveling within the European Union and grabbed a cab outside. The cabs in Germany are all Mercedes which was a nice surprise! It took about 20 minutes to get from the airport to our hostel. We drove on the Autobahn! It was so cool, we went about 200 km per hour! Wechecked into our hostel which wasn't in the best location, it was across the street from a real brothel so that was interesting. We decided to go into town to have lunch at the Hofbauhaus, the most famous beer garden (bar) in Germany! We drank liter beers and tried the wiener plate, the specialty of Germany. We also bought giant pretzels bigger than our faces. It was so fun to be in the atmosphere and see everyone having an amazing time drinking and dancing. You could definitely tell that everyone was getting excited for Oktoberfest which started the next day.

It was the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest so we knew we in for a great weekend. For the rest of the afternoon we explored Munich. It is such a cool city and there were so many people everywhere! It was so strange to see all the German language everywhere because I had absolutely NO idea what anything said! We couldn't even read the menus! A lot of the Germans spoke English but it was still difficult to navigate ourselves around the city and try to read the map. I have never been in a country where I didn't understand anything!

Later that night we met up with some of our friends studying abroad in Paris and I got to see Liz Archer! I was so happy to see her! We all went out to dinner together downtown in Munich and headed back to our hotels for a good night sleep for the big day ahead!

We woke up Saturday morning at 5:30AM to get ready to get in line. We were at the festival grounds by 7 and we definitely were not the first ones there! People had been standing in line since 5 that morning! Allie and her friend Erin made it into the tent where the mayor was tapping the first keg. Since it was the first day, beer isn't served until 12 when he opens the first keg. Since we were there so early, we walked around and bought more giant pretzels and saw all the different vendors. There was also a carnival behind all the tents. The tents are not actually tents. They are massive buildings decorated for each company of beer that are elaborate and amazing. Here is the inside of the one we sat in:
We ended up meeting up with even more SMU people that were in Munich! Some boys who are studying abroad in Copenhagen were also there. We sat in the tent all day drinking beer and dancing on the tables to the German band. It was definitely an amazing experience! I can't believe I actually got to be a part of this festival, something that is known around the world. I would go back in a minute. Our cab driver told us that during the 18 days of Oktoberfest, 6 million people pass through Munich!

After sleeping for a little after leaving, we had a quick dinner at McDonalds (why not?) and headed back to our hostel for some much needed sleep! We were at Oktoberfest from 7AM-6PM. It was a crazy day and I loved every minute of it! We headed back to Madrid the next day and we were exhausted. We all slept on the plane back home. I am so happy that I went to Oktoberfest and got to experience something so amazing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Segovia and the Weekend

On Friday, as I said in my last post, we went on a school excursion to Segovia. It was only about an hour bus ride there so most of us slept on the way there since we left at 8:45 from Madrid. The weather was pretty chilly which was nice since we were going to do a lot of walking. Allie and I decided to dress "American" because we knew we were going to be doing a lot of walking. We happily sported our t-shirts, nike shorts, and tennis shoes.
When we first arrived, we visited La Granja which was a palace for the king and queen of Spain. The gardens were really gorgeous and the palace was of course beautiful. La Granja is about 15 minutes outside of Segovia so we hopped back on the bus to continue our tour. Our first stop was to see the aqueducts. They were very impressive and I could not believe that they still work today. However, they aren't used because the city is too big and needs more water. They were built over 2,000 years ago by the Romans and are the last standing proof of the Romans in Spain. Next we all walked to Plaza Mayor of Segovia and broke off to have lunch. We have heard from our teachers that "la cuchinillo" is the specialty of Segovia. "La cuchinillo" is baby pig that they kill when it is about four months old and literally cook it whole after taking out the insides. When the plate arrived at our table, we could still see the eyeballs in the head. They then cut it with a plate and serve it to you. The meat was so tender and fresh it was definitely one of the best meals we have had here. Even though the concept was a little intimidating, it was so delicious, I would eat it again.
William, Allie, and I then went to get some helado (ice cream) and sat at an outside bar until we had to meet back up with the group. We ended up sitting there for awhile and soon enough, the group found us. It was a nice time for all of us to bond. I really like our group and we have all been having a really good time together.
We then walked across the city to see the Al Alcazar. It was a castle that actually burned down and they rebuilt it to look like Disney Land. I was not very impressed with this especially since not much of it was authentic. It was our fifth castle we have seen so they are all starting to blend together at this point. This one was neat because it had a lot of suits of amor and a tall tower that we walked to the top of. It had 155 steps going in a circle up this tiny staircase. The view from top was beautiful. By this time it was 5:30 and we were all pretty tired and ready to go home. I was happy that we didnt have to spend the night in Segovia because there wasn't really anything else to see. We had to walk back across town to get on our bus and everyone slept the whole way home. We got back to Madrid at 7pm, just in time to rest before dinner.
Our host mom, Loles is such a good cook, we always look forward to her meals. She made us thinly cooked chicken with half a potato with olive oil. YUM YUM YUM. We always have fruit for dessert which is nice and healthy! Since it was Friday night, we got ready to head out to the bars and to the discoteca. We got back around 5am and slept for the rest of the next day. We went back out Saturday night but I went in early because I was still so tired from Friday night. Allie ended up staying back out until 5 again, she is a champ.
Today, Sunday, I woke up early and went to El Rastro (the market) with three girls in my program while Allie slept. It is only open on Sundays from 11-3pm. I bought three scarves and a ring. We had to be careful because lots of people get pick-pocketed there. Everything was pretty cheap which was nice on our student budget. I brought Allie and I home lunch and we napped and watched Mad Men episodes. I love lazy Sundays, especially after a long weekend like we had.