Vagabonding through Europe

Things have been going pretty well in Madrid and contrary to what my Uncle Todd might think..my classes are not a joke and I do have homework.  I’m currently taking a break from writing a human interest piece on adapting to Spanish nightlife for my feature writing class.

I figured I’d make my procrastination productive and fill you all in on our travel plans for the semester!

Our first trip is this weekend (February 3-6) to Amsterdam:
Home of the Van Gogh museum, Anne Frank house, and of course the famous Heineken museum!
February 18-23:
Visiting family in Brighton and friends in London!
Spending my mid-winter break meeting my new baby cousins: Lucy and the twins Rosie and Davina.
March 10-13:
Mandatory field trip to the Canary Islands with my Earth Science class
Ocean front hotel w/pool.
Visiting volcanoes, lava flows, underwater volcanic caverns..
Did I mention hotel on the beach?! (Ok so this class might be kind of a joke)
March 17-20:
Dublin, Ireland for St. Patty’s Day!!!  Meeting up with a bunch of friends, including some who are studying in Galway on the other side of Ireland..possible day trip??
April 8-10:
Morocco!!!!!! The hostel we’re staying at used to be a palace which is pretty cool!
Beach, shopping, and camel rides..jealous?
April 15-23:
Mis padres make the journey to Espana. First we head to Barcelona for a few days.
Then we go to Sevilla, because it’s the Semana Santa or “Holy Week” before Easter and Sevilla is famous for its festivals and celebrations.  Then it’s back to Madrid to tour my home away from home!
Other tentative trips include:
Italy at some point to visit friends who are studying there, but we have yet to coordinate schedules.
-Also random day trips such as Toledo and other cities close to Madrid.

Tapas y bebidas leches!

Tapas is a really popular way to experience Spanish food, and personally my favorite.  You can order a bunch of small portions and sample all kinds of different dishes, instead of having to decide on just one entree.  Most restaurants have a specific tapas menu, while there are some places such as Lateral that basically only serve tapas.  Lateral has a bunch of locations around Madrid and is really cool and hip.  Yesterday we went for a more authentic tapas place, a little hole in the wall cafe.  It was delicious, as was their sangria:

Last night we went to a bar called El Chapandaz more commonly known as “Cave Bar”.  It actually looks and feels like a cave..pretty cool! They’re famous for their “bebidas leches” which literally translate milk drinks, which I know doesn’t sound too appetizing! Don’t ask what’s in it, just drink and enjoy..they’re actually pretty good and massive. Probably the best part El Chapandaz is that the milk comes out of “stalactites” hanging from the ceiling above the bar:

El Museo del Prado

Today we visited El Prado, one of many famous museums in Madrid.  Students can visit the museum’s permanent collections Tuesday-Saturday from 6-8pm and Sunday from 5-8pm free of charge.  So as broke young students traveling abroad, we took full advantage!

Unfortunately no photography is allowed inside of the museum, but some of the famous artists and pieces we saw were:

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Boch

Las Meninas by Velázquez

The Third of May by Goya

and many many more! Such a great experience and amazing to see all of these famous works in person.  The next museo on our list is the Reina Sofia, which houses a large collection of both Dali and Picasso.

Parque del Retiro

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Retiro is a beautiful park located in the heart of Madrid, near all the museums and the Palacio de Deportes, or the sports stadium.  There is a pond where you can rent row boats for 3 euros an hour, and plenty of places to just hang out with friends, relax, read a book, etc.  Also on Sunday mornings there is a huge flee market where people sell everything from jewelry and scarves to food.  My roommate Irene and I wandered aimlessly for hours exploring the park and watching street performers such as the bubble maker pictured above.

Fashion Trend: Shorts&Tights

One of the first major fashion trends I noticed after arriving in Madrid was the shorts and tights combo.  Most popular seems to be wearing dark tights under denim shorts.  At first I wasn’t too sure how I felt about the style. But after seeing it a lot and thinking about it I’ve decided I don’t mind it as a cute casual look.  That said, I have seen girls wearing little booty shorts, tights, and thigh high patent leather boots, and it looks trashy and cheap.  When done right the look can be sophisticated and youthful:

VIVA ESPANA

I have officially landed in Madrid, Spain my new home for the next four months.  Exhausted, disheveled, and laden with way too much luggage, I made my way out of the airport yesterday morning.  Even though it was almost 9am local time, it was barely light outside as I approached the line of cabs.  Maybe I was being super naive, but I kind of thought most people would speak or at least understand a little bit of Spanish..I was wrong.  I got in a cab, managed to tell him the address of my new home, and then looked out the window like a little lost puppy.

I pulled up in front of the apartment, paid the cab (way overtipping the driver because apparently they don’t tip here?), and struggled yet again to stack my luggage and take the elevator up to the 7th floor.  After squeezing myself, two extra large suitcases, a rolling carry-on, and a tote bag into an elevator smaller than a port-o-potty, I got out only to be confronted by a tiny little Spanish woman who is my “Senora” for the next 4 months. Surprise Again! She speaks and understands NO English..not even a little.

I’m scared.