Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This past weekend was the best yet in Madrid. Friday we went on a hike in Cercedilla which is a town about an hour away by train. It's in the same direction as Segovia (where we went a couple weeks ago) so we passed El Valle de los Caidos (The Valley of the Fallen) again where Franco is buried...along with a HUGE 500 foot cross (not exaggerating...I had to google it when I got home) which marks the spot. When we got to Cercedilla our teacher, Montes, warned us that what usually happens is we take another train to the top of the mountain and then hike down. But of course with our luck, we had to do it the hard way. So we hiked up the mountain...and as if it wasn't hard enough while sweating through my layers, there was also ice on the ground. So I was overheating and slipping up a mountain. Great combination. Needless to stay it was a struggle, but it was a hilarious trip and the view was completely worth it. Where we stopped was called La Mirador de la Reina (Lookout Point of the Queen).

Just had to get an LITP photo
I wanted to stay there for the whole day but couldn't...because we had to get back to Madrid for the tapas crawl!! Yes, after a long day of hiking, what do you want to do? Eat of course. So what better way to celebrate hiking for 5 hours than with tapas and drinks?! It was GREAT. We went to four places and met some hilarious Spanish guys. It was so refreshing just to talk to people in Spanish who weren't our teachers or host families. Even though we will never see them again it was so fun! First stop was el Museo de Jamon, where we passed around plates of cheese and different slices of ham and of course una copa de vino tinto (red wine). Next we went to La Casa del Abuelo for more wine, bread, and little shrimp in hot oil, which is called gambas al ajillo. Delish! Even just dipping the bread in the oil was great. Third stop (the best!!) was at Las Bravas. We got patatas bravas which are potatoes that have been rubbed dry and deep fried, kind of like chunky little steak fries, topped with brava sauce which is sooooo good. It's got a kick to it and goes sooo well with the potatoes. Then we also got tortilla espanola (topped with MORE brava sauce) which is like an omlette but thicker. Finally we ended in El Tronco, where we spent more time chatting than actually eating because what did we get? Pigs ear. I tried it but let's just say it's not my favorite....very chewy.
Can you tell I'm loving life?
Then as if the weekend couldn't get any better...we met Carmen's three year old granddaughter for the first time, Iytanna. SHE IS SO PRECIOUS! At first she was so shy and didn't speak, but once she warmed up to us it was great! She put our hair in "kikis" (pony tails) and literally brushed out hair for the whole night. I fell in love. Especially when we started playing hide and seek and she chose the same place to hide three times in a row. Such a cutie. Oh other plus...Carmen's family came over Sunday for lunch so we got the left overs for dinner!!! (Not sarcasm) Paella. Mmmm with shrimp and chicken and other things that were just tasty. GREAT weekend and pretty great week also. I got pretty good grades on my midterms and can't wait for this weekend because Alyssa's parents get here tomorrow!!! Todo es perfecto.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A couple new things in my life: nutella and strawberries, nutella and rice cakes, nutella and toast, nutella and spoon. Are you noticing a trend? I think I might be addicted, but it's weird because it's not like I've never had it before now. It doesn't help that since now I'm also addicted to all food (meaning dessert) blogs 80% of items are made with nutella. Did I ever mention that we aren't allowed to use the kitchen here? Well yes, some girl tried to make COFFEE and burned down the kitchen so she ruined it all for the rest of us. And Carm prooobably wouldn't bend the rules for us anyway so I just have to wait until May to test out these amazing recipes I've been finding, which I've been writing down in a notebook so I don't forget them. Parents: prepare to let me take over the kitchen for at least my first week home. You won't regret it.
Now as far as my life in's great! The days are beautiful, Bruno is kind of bratty but children will be children, and the first week of midterms is over! I don't know that I passed with flying colors... but I can feel good grades coming my way. I STILL have the mindset that I can't fail because I'm abroad so hopefully that will become a reality. We will find out next week.

Anyways, I'm gonna end on a fun note with a little countdown of all the great things to come:
8 days until Alyssa's parents come
23 days until St. Patty's weekend in London
36 days until we head out to Paris (plus other undetermined places) for spring break
49 days until my parents come
57 days until the trip to Andalusia
64 days until our trip to Portugal
79 days until home!!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Today is beautiful. It's in the 40-50's and it's sunny which just makes life a little happier. In the spring at cuse once it becomes 40 degrees everyone believes it's summer so people wear shorts and the frats play music and it just makes you instantly happy. I'm having a case of that today. SO Alyssa and I decided to take advantage of the day and go on a run (yes this is the first time I've exercised in almost two months so it wasn't very impressive...but we did last for half an hour). And boy did we need to get out. Carmen hasn't been our biggest fan this past week and I don't think we've been hers either. This morning I woke up and said good morning but she was cooking so I didn't want to get in her way so I just went back to my room for an hour and waited to eat breakfast..but when I made my toast and coffee she asked me what I was doing and why I was in my bed. Well sorry that it's 10 am and I'm politely waiting for you to be done in your tiny kitchen also waiting for Alyssa to wake up. What would you like me to be doing? So we went on the run and now we are showering and going back out for a picnic and to explore Plaza de Espana. Speaking of explore, yesterday we went with the school on a trip to Segovia. Talk about beautiful. Once again it reminded me of Girona. Ahhh Girona. Our first stop in Spain! That was SO long ago. In Segovia we visited the famous aqueduct, the Alcazar castle (amazing) and just walked around, enjoyed the day (and of course the food). Took us a while but we finally stumbled upon this bakery that apparently everyone else found too (because it was the only place open at 2:30 pm in Segovia) that had the most amazing looking pastries. We got chocolate covered palmeras. YUM I wish I had a picture but I ate it too fast..Gotta go now cause I need to get clean so we can enjoy our picnic in Parque Oeste. Fav place to waste/enjoy time. Hasta luego!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

This week went way faster than I thought it would and next week are our first set of tests for the semester which I'm not exactly looking forward to. I should be studying but it is only Thursday so I have time (just kidding mom I'll hit the books after this post!..)
Also, tomorrow we are going to Segovia! The school planned the trip and all we have to do is show up at 9 am and bring money for lunch. I'm really excited and it'll be nice to get out of the house for a whole day. After Mare Nostrum I was so ready to be settled and not travel at all for a while but now I'm done being settled. I can't wait for the weekend trips. Some other weekend is a trip to Toledo and then Alyssa and I want to go to Portugal in April and there's a trip to Andalusia... and in exactly a month I'll be heading to London for St. Patty's day! I can't wait. Speaking of which I need to buy some green...But back to Segovia, it's gonna be great to explore a new place again.
I'm off to Bruno's in about an hour (at least I hope...Maria hasn't called yet) and then I think me and Alyssa are going to take a little run when I get home. Great way to end the week.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Since Carmen's been nagging us about getting out of the house (which we have been doing! but she's always gone so she never notices) we went on quite the exploration today. First el Rastro which is a flea market spread throughout what feels like a mile of different streets. It was huge. And very crowded. It kind of reminded me of the flea market that we go to every year on the cape, but much less organized. There were some beautiful tapestries and hand bags that I would definitely like to spend more time checking out on another date (as well as some soccer jerseys). But that's another story. For lunch we went to El Tigre, a tapas restaurant near Chueca. SO GOOD and so well priced! (Apparently the rest of Madrid thought so too because it was crowded there also) There were four of us so we got two big cups of sangria and two plates of tapas which came out to 3 euro each (not bad at all!). The sangria was really good and we got croquettes (nom), bread with what we think was pork on it and patatas bravas (which is a staple here). Definitely a great lunch! Better than what I've been having every weekday...ham and cheese on wheat bread, granola bar and piece of fruit. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad by any means but it's nice to liven it up a little bit now and again. Then after lunch we walked to Gran Via which is near Sol and lots of shopping. It was very hard to walk past the ice cream shop we came across but I just tell myself money and calories and I manage to keep walking. Surprisingly, even though I don't think I've been eating particularly healthy here, the lack of snacking and smaller breakfast and lunch (as well has more walking) has made me feel like I'm losing some weight. Even dad told me today on skype "Spain is agreeing with you" which was nice to hear!! Speaking of dad, I got to skype with a whole lot of great people today...Dibs and Rach who were in Schine with Jglow and Teen...always a stellar group and then my ENTIRE family. No I am not kidding. Ellen, mom, dad, Edwin, grandma and Vera all made appearances today. The only one we were missing was Aunt Cindy but her reason is totally fine (she finally moved back into her house!!! Once again, that's another story). But yes, overall it is great to see familiar faces and actually hear their voices instead of just imagining them while I read an email or facebook message. I miss them so much! Now off to bed before the school week begins. Oye.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

It's our third Saturday in Madrid and what better way to spend it than chilling out until 2 and then going on a walk, so I think that's what we are going to do. This weekend isn't even over and it's already the best one yet. Wednesday I won a free bottle of champagne at Orange what?? I never win anything and I didn't even enter to win it!!! I was just randomly chosen. So that was great, we got to sit in the "vip" section. Which just meant some couches and ikea tables but hey I'll take it!! (way better than the time Ellen's 21st birthday promoter promised vip and it was a dinky folding chair and rope..but what can you really expect from someplace called R-Bar). Then came Thursday and I had the best night ever! We've been going to this club called Joy most weekends but this was the best time by far because...Sean Paul was there!!!! I literally touched him and it was amazing. Gotta give props to Alyssa for spotting him from up on the second floor when we were people watching. And just in case you don't believe me, I can prove it.

Yeah, he can do without the mohawk but whatever it's still him!!! Closest I've ever gotten to one of my favorite artists (second is Immortal Technique, which let's be honest..seeing Immortal Technique was hands down a better time but still..SEAN PAUL). That's all for this weekend. Tuesday is Valentine's day and I want to buy something special for dessert because Carmen said it's her ex-husband's birthday and me and Alyssa are single so we need chocolate. I'll need to look up yummy bakeries. Shouldn't be too hard...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Finally I am posting those photos that I said I would put up a while ago (plus some recent churro crawl pics)....
On top of a castle in Peniscola where we just casually stopped for lunch on the way to Tarragona...most beautiful day of Mare Nostrum
Finally in Tarragona!! And it was beautiful...obviously

Now onto the churro crawl.......
A little blurry...but Alyssa lovin life

So as you can tell...the crawl was awesome. Churros are basically like long sticks of fried dough and you dunk them in the chocolate nomnomnom. We are cheap and trying not to gain 800 pounds so we shared them and it was the perfect amount. Also, we didn't realize that this was the same place we went to in Valencia. It's called Valor and we definitely need to come back (but not until we've hit all the other places (aka three because Alyssa found a fourth store!)).

Other recent things in life: Bid day was Sunday!!! I wish I could have been there so bad to yell and look like a fool and meet all the new girls. I've heard so many awesome things about them which just adds one more thing on my list of why I miss cuse. I'm so excited for Dibs, Heather, Casey and Sydney to be proud mamas, they're all gonna be amazing and raise them so well! I can't wait to hear stories. Also, today I went to babysit Bruno but he was feeling sick and didn't want to play so Maria said I should go pretty quickly into the visit. Poor baby! She tried to slip his medicine into some yogurt but he knew before she could give it to him so he wouldn't eat it for the longest. Funny how moms do the same things to get their kids to do stuff...I learned how to swallow pills by sticking them in cheese (of course...) and my mom has definitely mashed up medicine in my pudding or juice or something. So in the end I came back early. Also I'm recently obsessed with the show Pushing Daisies. It's mad old and only has two seasons but it's quirky and great and involves pie. Que mas...this week is our first normal week! No class on Friday, which I'm very excited about and this Wednesday my art class is taking its first trip to el Museo del Prado, which is also pretty exciting. Classes are good, the weather is good, and Sunday night we had cheeseburgers and went to TGIF (yes, they have TGIF in Madrid) to watch the superbowl, que americano. Overall, life is good!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Today kicks off the great churro crawl of 2012!!! Alyssa and I decided last night at dinner that one way we should get to know Madrid is to search for all the delicious chocolaterias that sell churros and hence began our best idea ever: a churro crawl. So, every Saturday (at least for the next three weeks because we only found three churro places online so far) we are going to try out the churros that Madrid has to offer! We are going to share a plate of chocolate con churros and a specialty drink. I can't wait!! Today we are going to Valor, I'll share the experience later.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Highlight of the week is that I got a job babysitting a little boy named Bruno for an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All we do is read books and play with toys and color and he speaks in spanish and I don't understand him and then I try to speak to him in spanish and he can kind of understand me...and we throw some english in there so he can start to learn it. It's a great relationship. Also every time I get to the house the entire family is there (mom, grandpa, both grandmas and his baby sister...and I give them all kisses hello, including Bruno!) I can already tell it's going to be the best part of my Tuesdays and Thursdays.