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.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Start of School!

We started school on Monday! Despite what my dad thinks, I am actually excited to finally have a schedule and start classes. I am taking three Spanish classes: intro to literature, conversation, and spanish for business and a culture and civilization class that is required. I have two classes a day and they are an hour and a half each which isn't too bad, only Monday through Thursday. My classes so far have been pretty interesting. I am especially enjoying my culture and civilization class. It is interesting to learn about Spain's past and how they came to be what they are today. My classes are all in Spanish except my culture class.

This week we also went on a walking tour with the school. They took us to the Palacio and to Plaza Mayor. It was so beautiful and I definitely plan to return to go inside. The palace was modeled after Versailles. Our group has been so fun and it has been nice to meet so many new people since I really only knew two people going to Spain with me. Hopefully we will continue to meet more students in Madrid for the semester!

Tomorrow we are off to Segovia for the day. It is only about an hour away so we are leaving around 9 tomorrow and we get back at 7:30. I am excited to get to know another city. Segovia is known for its Roman aqueducts that still function today. The weather has been so awesome recently, almost too chilly to wear shorts in the morning! I am definitely not missing the hot weather and I am excited for Fall. It has been hard to not do any shopping because all that is out right now is sweaters and boots. Hopefully winter will come sooner than later.

I am excited for the weekend and to see what next week will bring!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Discoteca Part II

Last night the group ventured out to another discoteca. We decided to go to El Kapital, the most famous club in Spain. On our way in the metro, Allie and I met several Americans studying with USD and NYU. It is so crazy how many students we have met studying here. Once one of us hears someone speaking English we immediately go over to them and ask them where they are from. It is nice to know that is easy to meet all of these kids and we can expand our group. Some of the people in my group from SMU have other students living with them as well. Its been really cool to meet people from around the US.

El Kapital has seven floors and each floor has its own theme. The first floor is techno with crazy dancers on stage and a huge dance floor. The rest of the floors vary from rap to a Bacardi Floor to the roof top deck on top. We of course had to visit each floor and check them all out. We soon found that the first floor was our favorite. The music was so loud and during certain parts of the songs, a huge, crazy, cold blast of white smoke would shoot down over the dance floor. The build up for the smoke was amazing and fresh air was a great way to stay from getting too tired. I don't think I have ever had so much fun. We stayed until the club closed at 6:00 and caught the metro home because it starts running again at 6. That is the latest I have ever stayed out and I wasn't even that tired when we got home. It was an amazing night. This is the first floor of El Kapital.

We slept until about 1:30 and then headed to Plaza de Santana to meet some girls visiting from London where they are studying abroad. We had our first paella and walked to El Parque de Ritero for some gelato and to see the sights. The park is so gorgeous and it is nice to just find a shady spot to relax.

Our madre is back in town now, she went to visit her daughter for one night and for a celebration. I am so excited because Dorothy Shain is coming tomorrow. She is my sorority sister and one of my very good friends who is doing semester at sea and they are stopping in Spain for a week! I can't wait to show her around and catch up!

My feet once again hate me even though I wore flats last night because there is always so much glass on the dance floor. At the clubs, they give you really nice glasses to drink out of and then people just drop them on the floor and they of course shatter. It is not a very good system and it's kind of dangerous. Overall, last night was amazing and crazy and I can't wait until next weekend to do it all again! :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Discoteca: 1, Curry:0

Allie and I are currently sitting in our "siesta room" which is actually our TV room just for us and I am soaking my feet in freezing water because last night we went out to the discoteca and my feet have finally given up on me. We met up with thegroup in Plaza Mayor to have a couple drinks before the club, Joy, opened. We ended up taking a few wrong turns thanks to some bad directions so it took us about an hour of walking to get there. We left there and walked to Joy which was the coolest place I think I have ever been. It was three floors of dancing and bars along with a stage for the VIP tables. The atmosphere was amazing and we danced until 5 in the morning. We met lots of people including a big group of Scottish guys who were there on a bachelor party. While dancing the night away in heels, I got stepped on numerous times causing half of my toe nail to fall off and then a piece of glass stabbed my foot. When we got home around 5:30, my shoe and foot was covered in blood. Bad news bears.

We were pretty hungry from the whole night of dancing so we raided our senora's fridge and finished off the lasagna we had for dinner. I hope she doesn't notice haha! We woke up around 1 this afternoon. It was definitely the most fun night here so far.

We headed to the Ritero Park this afternoon and met up with some people in our group for lunch by the lake. It was so relaxing and beautiful. Allie and I walked around for a little and then decided to head back home. At this point, my feet were dying. I don't know how I am going to do it again tonight but I will find a way. The Spanish night life is unbelievable and we never know what to expect each night. I can't believe I get to be here for four months and see these amazing places and go out to these incredible clubs every weekend. This semester is going to be nuts if every night was like last night. This is the lake that we sat next to in Ritero Park when we were having lunch.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Wednesday was the first real day of my program in Spain! Allie and I walked to the school today with our bags to go to Toledo. We live only about two blocks from the school so it is so convienent! Some kids live a 30 minute bus ride away so we definitely lucked out! Our host mom is so sweet and nice and we both love her so much! Yesterday during the afternoon we sat on her in-door porch and drank Tinto de Verano, the spanish wine drink with juice in it. It is so good and definitely my new favorite drink! I am loving the laziness of Spanish life so far. Yesterday Allie and I napped and read and just laid around for about 4 hours haha we were feeling pretty lazy but that's exactly what our madre did too!

We all met at the school at 9 this morning and had a brief introduction of rules and ways to stay safe. The school seems really chill and hopefully the classes will be pretty easy. I am taking three spanish classes and a required culture class that is in English. I am looking forward to seeing how classes go on Monday. The bus ride to Toledo was only about 45 minutes and we are staying at the sister school from our school in their dorms. We had lunch when we arrived and then we had about 3 hours of free time before our first lecture. Allie, William, and I set off to explore the city and ended up walking around for about two and a half hours just wandering the streets. It is so hot here and it was definitely a work out with the cobblestone streets and massive hills. I can't imagine living here and basically walking straight up hill or down hill every day. Allie and I bought some cheap bracelets and I bought a postcard and a shot glass to add to my collection.

We came back and rested for awhile until our "class" started at 4:30. Since it was just orientation, the classes were about things to help us adjust to Spanish life such as Spanish culture and living with our host families. They were kinda boring but helpful I guess. We just hung out the rest of the afternoon after that and got ready to go out. Since it was basically a torrential downpour outside, we weren't sure what there was going to be to do but we braved the rain and went out anyways. We found a cool bar that had tombs underneath it that you could see through the floorboards. It closed at 12 though since Toledo isn't a party city so that kinda put a damper on our first night out but it was really great to see and meet everyone in our group!

The next day was fun because we got to go on tours of the historical part of Toledo. We first went to the Mosque which was so gorgeous and then the Synagog. Toledo is very interesting because it is the only place in the world where the Moors, Jews, and Christians lived peacefully. We also got to see the church where El Greco's painting, The Burial of Santo Orgez, is hung in Santo Tome. I loved this part of the tour because I studied the painting in Art History last year so it was really surreal to see it in real life. Later in the afternoon after lunch, we saw the Cathedral. It was incredible. It took over 5 centuries to finish and it has been my favorite thing we saw so far. I think it is so cool that people in Spain or in Europe in general, have these churches as their churches they go every Sunday and people in America fly over the ocean to go see it. It would be so amazing to have a church like that in the United States.

That night we had our welcome dinner and the school gave us sangria which was a nice treat. The dinner was amazing and I think I had three plates haha. We all decided to go to a discoteca that night called El Circulo del Arte which was an old church that they converted into a club. It was so much fun. We stayed out until 4 in the morning dancing. We had to get up at 8 which was definitely rough though and drive back to Madrid.

Allie and spent the rest of the day walking around Madrid exploring for two hours and we are definitely going to have a little siesta now!