OK So I’ve put this off long enough. I never summed up my blog, or my study abroad experience. Life has been crazy. There isn’t even time for a punny title *gasp*. So I didn’t even proof read. Whoops. Its a few days short of being 2 months back home in America. And how that time has FLOWN by! Only two more weeks of classes until spring break. 6 months ago today I was in Dublin just backpacking around. WHAT! Well…. Let me sum up my last few weeks in Madrid/Europe…. & excuse me while I hold back tears.
This weekend I went to Belgium- to stay in the capital city of Brussels, and take a day trip to the charming medieval city of Brugge. It was freezing but beautiful! In Belgium there are 3 main languages: French, Flemish, and German. Most places, however, had 4 signs. “Sortie, exit in flemish***, Ausgang, & Exit”. It was easy to get around with the amount of English used. The only time that I couldn’t find someone to speak English with me, I found someone Spanish, and that was just as good for the level of communication I needed to have!
The Christmas markets (and spirit!) were in full swing in both Brussels and Brugge!
Walking around Brussels you could get mulled wine (yes, my fav, again!), browse the markets, ice skate, look at the decorative lights, look at the Christmas trees, and eat- all while listening to the Christmas music being broadcasted throughout the city(please excuse the lack of parallelism in that sentence)! It was the perfect way to get into the Christmas mood. I didn’t dare to ice skate because 1. Walking is hard enough for me (clutz) 2. I don’t need injures 3. Europe/SLO would be hell with broken legs (oh lord now I’ve surely jinxed myself!). But it was cute to watch!
Now when you think Belgium- you think a few things:
Chocolate, waffles, beer, and fries.
Lets go through the tastey adventures I had this weekend:
Chocolate is chocolate, and I did find some good chocolate this weekend! But my favorite was a dark dark chocolate bark with whole hazelnuts in it! Very simple…. I liked the fancy flavored ones I tried but they are too sugary and sweet and make me feel kind of sick.
For starters, apparently a true belgian waffle is just the waffle with some sugar- the ones with all the delicious toppings are instead “tourist waffles”. I actually don’t really like waffles… I only liked the eggo ones (topped with apple sauce!) as a little kid- so this isn’t a “I’m trying to be healthy so no waffles for me”. I took two bites of waffles- the first one was really light and not bad, the second was denser and sweeter and made me feel kinda sick. Sorry to disappoint- everyone else said they were heaven on earth!
Wow I never have had such a variety of good beers! I usually don’t like darker/heavier beers very much, but they have a few selections that are both dark yet not heavy nor too bitter. It was great!
But my favorite of all favorites of the weekend was none other than…
Now apart from sweet potato fries I don’t really actively order fries anymore- unless I’m making them or a friend can’t finish theirs
But this weekend fries were my friends. My best friends. I had no idea that true Belgian fries are double fried- in none other than BEEF FAT! Which may freak out some people but for me it’s really exciting that it’s not vegetable oil (shudder). I was pumped and ordered them in excess. Plus one place had CURRY KETCHUP to dip them in… And well with my love affair with currywurst set in stone…. I was in heaven.
We did a walking tour of the city, which was fantastic! Our guide was French and hilarious. So naturally we saw the “manikin piss”- which is just about as disappointing as the little mermaid statue was in Copenhagen! I didn’t even take a photo… whoops.
But I did discover that seasons are a thing in other parts of the world (San Diegan problems…)
We also went to Atomium, which is a cool structure that was built for the 1958 world fair. It was pretty cool!
Then we went all through Europe in “little Europe”. It was actually really cool. Miniature versions of cities/places/famous sites in various European countries! A lot of them moved and played music too. Definitely worth the visit, even though I almost froze in the rain! If only it had been a few degrees colder and snowed!
Now I’m back in Madrid, where I have one more week of my program.<insert millions of tears as I stuff my face with as much tortilla, jamon, y sangria as I can>
Sigh. But I am very excited to see my family (and in a few weeks friends) who I do miss dearly! My brothers look more and more like men (freaky), both tower over me and one can even grow a beard! Wowza!
I’m sad to leave because of how amazing my time has been- it has nothing to do with not realizing how amazing home will be as well!
I can hardly believe that almost 4 months have gone by! How the heck am I going to pack…. Oye vey.
Now back to my siesta and Christmas music…
Hasta luego (o pronto… mas o menos..),
Yup. Great title.
….. Sorry, I can’t help that I fall in love with the places I live….
BUT SO TRUE. In all honesty, if I didn’t have San Diego and San Luis Obispo to return to (some of the most amazing places in the world, trust me I’ve got some places to compare them against), I would not want to come home! I really really do love Madrid, and am so happy that I had made the decision to study here. I think it is going to be hard going back home- I get back the night of December 30th, and leave for SLO Jan 2, with classes starting on the 5th. That is quite the quick turnaround. I do miss my friends and family at home, so it will be nice to see them all, but I just have fallen in love with my time here!
But I am so lucky to have called all these places my home (Parents– don’t worry I know Madrid and SLO are/were just temporary homes and that my real home is in San Diego with you, I wouldn’t dare think otherwise….haha)
This weekend I opted to stay in Madrid, as I realize I have limited time left here (insert tears). This weekend was also Thanksgiving back at home, and inside my apartment! A few of us who were still here decided to make dinner. We had mashed potatoes, veggies, chicken, turkey(CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?), bread, cake, tarts, ice cream, and some snacks! It was delicious! I cooked some dessert and veggiezzz!
I made apple pie type tarts (the filling was 100% organic and only used honey as a sweetener)- and then made myself one with grain free crust out of coconut flour 🙂
My grandma, Tita sent me a little package last weekend filled with old photos, drawings, and other little thanksgiving things. It warmed my heart… trust me, if anyone can make you feel loved and missed, its your grandma.
My friend Luke from CCHS/ Cal Poly came to Madrid from Berlin this weekend to visit and spent Thanksgiving with us as well. It was great to see him- he is the nicest guy! It was also Anouk’s first thanksgiving (she isn’t American).
On Friday I walked around the city with some friends… only to find out that the city was decked out with lights and Christmas flare, as well as with Black Friday deals (?!!). All of the sale, but with sleeping in, and no crazy eyes in sight. The city was so alive, despite it having been raining.
Some other weekend events included trying my first Chocolate and Churros (ugh I hate that I loved it haha!)
Heading inside the Temple of Debod, finally, and going to the most wonderful place…..
El Museo Arqueologico Nacional!!!!! It was a FANTASTIC museum, I think I’m in love. I almost got through the first floor in two hours, that’s some progress, right? Sorry that I am a sucker for evolution, hominids, and displays on Neandertals…..!
I also went to the best Spanish tortilla place with Luke and Mitch, called “Meson de la tortilla”. (Spoiler, tortilla in Spain is not even remotely the same thing as the tortilla you think of in the US)
Sunday Luke, Mitch and I got some really good brunch down the road from the apartment building, I would have taken a picture but I was starving and gobbled it all up before I had a chance. I will be returning there….. (Eggs benedict with bacon and avocado, hot sauce, and mimosas made with freshly squeezed OJ? Can’t say no to that! Favorites!).
Today it was back to school! I decided to take a photo of my breakfast (no they are not cookies, they have no sweetener, they are grain free beet & cacao breakfast scone type thing-a-ma-jiggers made with coconut flour, topped with gogi berries and later eaten with coconut cream and coconut oil…mmmm)
And here is my metro stop for school, in all its glory. Because why not?
I have also officially began playing Christmas music! The only thing really missing is seeing my family or smelling the pine from a tree to really make it feel like the holiday season!
This coming weekend is my final trip before leaving Madrid (to travel with my family to Italy). I am heading to Brussels, in Belgium! I am excited for some amazing chocolate and fruit flavored beer! I know the waffles are a thing, and although I don’t really have a thing for waffles, I suppose I will give one a bite!
Oh also, it is currently the month of December? How. Somebody please explain, thanks.
This weekend (my second to last traveling weekend while in Spain) I went to Barcelona with my program. It is is Cataluñya and is the second largest city in Spain. It was beautiful, with all the amazing art and architecture, and water. Thanks to being a city on the sea (woo continentality), the temperatures were much more moderate than they have been lately in Madrid. Weather was pretty nice!
We walked around the city, including the famous street of las ramblas. There I tried turron (typical Spanish Christmas candy) and went to the market. Cheap fresh fruit and all kinds of meats were sold there! I saw skinned goats heads, cow tongues, and all other parts of animals. A little strange to look at, but hey I’m glad people are using more of the animal!
We walked around the city, including the famous street of las Ramblas. There I tried turron (typical Spanish Christmas candy) and went to the market. Cheap fresh fruit and all kinds of meats were sold there! I saw skinned goats heads, cow tongues, and all other parts of animals. A little strange to look at, but hey I’m glad people are using more of the animal!
While in Barcelona I saw a lot of Gaudí. I saw a few Gaudí houses as well as Park Güell and la Sagrada Familia. His architecture is beautiful, colorful, and seems alive. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t use straight lines.
Park Güell was gorgeous and also had some amazing views of the city
People played amazing music and sold handicrafts at the top, which made me just love it more. The whole area around Park Güell really reminded me of when I was in Ecuador and Peru (briefly) I couldn’t really tell you why, maybe it was because it appeared mountainous and was green.
This weekend I also went to the oldest bar in Barcelona, it being 140 years old. Incredible!
The Sagrada Familia was also incredible. Such a beautiful building…. and it isn’t even finished yet!
I wish I could have gone to mass here, it was so beautiful and unique! I don’t believe Gaudi used straight lines. My friend pointed out a quote in a book I have that mentions Gaudi…. it says that he said something along the lines of “my client can wait”… meaning God has all the time in the world. He knew that the construction of this building would outlive his own life…! Now that is crazy.
I loved being able to put my toes in the sand this weekend and see a bunch of greenery, but I must say I am happy to return to Madrid. Barcelona is truly an international city, but it doesn’t feel all that Spanish. People speak Catalan, Castilian(like in Madrid), and English. Everyone knew English and it was everywhere. I am really glad I chose to study in Madrid!
This week is the week of thanksgiving, and the only part of the thanksgiving tradition I won’t be missing is the long, traffic-ridden drive down from SLO to SD. My first thanksgiving away. At least they don’t celebrate it here, so it doesn’t really seem like it’s happening.
No big family gathering, copious amounts of food, football, leftovers, games, Black Friday, or family outings to get a Christmas tree. But I will be with some of my other American friends! Thursday night we had an incredibly fun picnic at sunset in Parque Oeste (with meat, cheese, jam, bread, fruit, chocolate, wine…. The works), which I’m hoping we can do again this Thursday in celebration of Turkey Day! Although I’m not home, I’m still feeling beyond thankful!
There are venders out now who are selling roasted sweet potatoes and roasted chestnuts (over an open fire, that’s right) all over Madrid. Super cheap, delicious, fresh, and there is a guy only a few minutes walk away from my apartment. My type of “fast food”!!
I only have a few more weeks left living in Madrid. And just over a month left in Europe. It’s starting to hit me. I am so so so so so so so so so so so so so so sad that I have to leave and leave my friends. Happy to see my friends & family and do some things that I love at home (eat amazing food, go to hot yoga, go to the beach, get cheap avocados)… But still sad to leave this experience behind. Thank goodness I will be at school with some of my new friends from Cal Poly that I met abroad! I am also taking 3 major courses (2 geography, 1 anthropology) and a minor(biology) course, so that is something to look forward to!
Crazy that I have been here already three months yet only three months. Insane. Well I am exhausted. Bedtime!
Ps. I watched (finished) the movie frozen for the first time on the train back from Barcelona… In Spanish of course. Cuteeee!
I am always using horribly cheesy rhymes & puns, wow I am annoying. Hey- at least you are only reading them!
So last weekend I went to London. London was the first place in Europe I had ever been, I went there on a post highschool graduation Euro trip. Because of this, I had originally not planned on going to London or the UK, butttttt ONE OF MY FAVORITE BANDS HAD A SHOW…. and temptation to go got the best of me. One of the best days of my life resulted. Totally worth it.
To start off the weekend, our “easyjet” (excuse me easy?!) flight was delayed two hours. So Jackie, Mitch, and I just sat in the airport and waited. We ended up meeting some Americans, one of which goes to LMU in LA, small world!
We finally get to London, but the next bus to our hostel doesn’t come for another hour. Then we wandered in the dark hoping to happen upon our hostel from the bus stop without a map. We made it, but at 3am. This weekend we were those people. The hostel mates that come in way too late, every single night. -But in our defense we really tried not to!-
In the morning Jackie and I went into London, walked around, and got on a hop on, hop off tour bus. We rode it for a while and then decided to get off and grab a snack. Guess who was waiting to get onto the bus? Ellie, Sami, and Danielle. What are the chances. We meant to meet up with them later, but there they were!
Later in the afternoon Mitch met up with the rest of us and we all had tea! It was delicious. There were scones with cream and jam- I haven’t had that in forever and they were heavenly! I had an organic (hehe) Matcha Green Tea latte…. perfection.
After tea we walked around London some more, and went to Harrods where everything was expensive but looked amazing.I didn’t realize that there was food there too, I had thought it was only clothing!
It was great to see some of my best friends from SLO again!
Sunday I went to the promised land…. Whole Foods! I didn’t realize they had stores in the UK! I got my first Kombucha in months, as well as some brussel sprouts, coconut water, raw bars, and paleo cookies. I was super excited!
Then Jackie and I walked around a REALLY cool neighborhood, but I don’t actually know what it was called. It was very hipster and punk, and had health food stores. I lovvveeeddd it!
Mitch then met up with us, and we all headed to the Portobello Market, as recommended by our Spanish teacher who had lived in London for a bit. Many cool things were being sold, as well as food! So good.
Then we headed on our way to BRIGHTON!
We got to Brighton just before sundown, then went to a get some food and drinks while waiting for the concert!
We could hardly wait for A Day To Remember to play.
THE CONCERT WAS INCREDIBLY AMAZING. Below are a few links from people recording the show!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzIzcFVLJO0 (this one has some language… warninggg)
My purse broke within the first minute of the first song, and I lost my sweater and one of my shoes (both separately for a minute), but I managed not to loose anything! Same with Jackie and Mitch… incredibly we recovered everything that had left us during the concert.
So basically Saturday was the best day ever… it started at midnight by going out with some of my best friends Cal Poly, then continued with getting whole foods in the morning, then with walking around the coolest neighborhood, then with an awesome market where I had the best sandwich, followed by a fun ride to beautiful Brighton, where I saw an amazing performance by a favorite band. Midnight to midnight. BEST DAY.
The only problem with this weekend was that our hostel was far away and buses didn’t run to it late… we tried multiple ways to get there but had to pay for taxis in the end. We were outside so long early in the morning on Sunday, I don’t think I’ve been that cold in a long, long, long time…. I was shaking… it wasn’t good (I was dressed for a hot indoor concert).
London was super duper expensive, my bank account cried, and I got a bunch of bruises from the concert, but it was worth every penny/each pence! I loved the UK, and I can see why so many people move there to work! (if only it was a little warmer…)
Now I am back in Madrid, and will be off to Barcelona this weekend!
Ps. I am still sore from Saturday.
Ps. Ps. Apparently Carter is now two inches taller than I am. He is still 13. Whoa.
This weekend I headed over to Prague (Praha in Czech) in the Czech Republic.
If I had to describe Prague it would be a mix of Bavarian Germany, Amsterdam (in the Netherlands), and Disneyland. Bavarian Germany because the Czech language sounds a bit like German (only to me of course), and the food/beer culture. Amsterdam due to the river and bridges, clean streets, and stores randomly filled with cannibas products. Disneyland due to the beautiful, quaint, & magical feeling, along with the cathedral/castle. The food is a lot of hearty meat/sausage dishes with sides of horseradish, pickles, sourkraught, mustard, potatoes, and the like to complement it. HOLY YUMM.
Ps. My brother Ernie just got into his first college (whoop!) and my grand little(yet another San Diegan!) just joined my “family” within my sorority! Congrats to Bubs and welcome Jenna! Xoxoxoxo
No, take it back. It cannot be november. I refuse to believe it. It makes me both happy (for the Holidays) and incredibly sad. I leave Europe December 30th, and that is is too soon. I don’t want to remind myself that I have to leave!!
So I won’t.
It’s been too long since I wrote my last blog! A lot has happened and I have been super busy! So this blog is kind of random, and incomplete…. sorry!
I have been to Sevilla, Salamanca, y Avila, celebrated Halloween, and seen a good amount of friends.
But before that I decided to start jotting down some random and candid thoughts that I get just walking around and living in Madrid! Here are some billet points I wrote on the go:
-everyone in Spain is sooo small. Short with short legs, short strides. I feel like a fast giant woman person.
-I can never talk to authority correctly here. I always say the Spanish word for homework instead of card. I must sound crazy.
-my Spanish teacher says people here dress for the correct season or month… Not the weather. Opposite from San Diego! Sweaters and boots appear anywhere below 65 and shorts and sandals above 70. Don’t ask me what we wear 65-70… It’s too confusing. The Spanish don’t like the gym most likely because they sweat all day melting in their weather inappropriate clothes… Haha
-I have two weekends left in Madrid… And one is the weekend after my program. Sadnessss and I am traveling too much…. I’m going to skip going to Portugal in favor of another weekend here.
-while trying to renew my monthly metro pass, the machine told me to put my card in the wrong slot, and ate it. Then a random lady helped me get the metro workers who helped me get my card out of the hungry machine. Another time I said “card” wrong… “The machine ate my hw”… A futuristic excuse?
-there is this adorable family with 5 kids… They are playing with a ball, tossing at each other, running around, crunching a bunch of gram crackers on the floor, standing on the chairs, crawling on the ground—all on the metro… Ahahhahaha
-there was a grown man sitting on the floor of a metro yesterday… The metro was pretty empty and had many seats open..why.
-confession: I turn off the sound for my headphones when there is live metro music… I usually love to listen to it!
Saw my childhood friend Noelle Fargo, it was amazing to see her! It was wonderful to see her after so much time. She is living in Sevilla now and studying there full time. She has a lot of similar health beliefs as I do, and she is amazing a creative cook! She has an amazing food instagram that everyone should follow! its @felizhealthyvida … go follow her for awesome yummy & healthy ideas!
I also saw my friend Halle who goes to SLO and worked with me as a receptionist at District 96 Salon downtown. We had the best time! I loved Sevilla and its charm… Only to find out afterwards that my great great great grandfather is from Sevilla! I had some great food and great company in Sevilla. I spoke to my cab drivers and had wonderful conversations- I even talked about evolution (that was hard since I know almost no words about it in español!).
Here are some amazing tapas Halle and I got in Sevilla, mmmmm!
People in Sevilla speak very quickly and shorten a lot of words. It is a very difficult Spanish to understand, the locals had to speak very slowly for me to understand. The first night in Sevilla i went out with a bunch of Cal Poly people, at the club I was touched and grabbed at and other inappropriate things. I was livid! I yelled at plenty of men. (Even in the past week in Madrid boys have been worse, my friends butt was slapped just walking around the city and I have been “kiss-noised” at multiple times. What gives?!) Halle and I also went to an international festival while in Sevilla… We got Colombian food &Cuban drinks while watching a free concert! I also purchased a wallet (much needed) that was made in Cuzco, Peru (one of my favorite places that I have been). Halle and I tried to go to mass at the Cathedral in Sevilla but messed up the mass times and missed it. We did catch a bit of the organ being played inside…. It was absolutely beautiful.
After I returned to Madrid I met my friend/ sorority sister Haley who came to visit Nicole and I in Madrid! It was so great to see her, we had a fun time walking around Madrid, going to retiro, tapas, and a nighttime rooftop bar that overlooks the city. She is studying in Prague in the Czech Republic so I will see her again this weekend!
I got a little bit sick this week, but felt good enough to go out for Halloween and make a bunch of paleo pumpkin baked goods! I was gothic for Halloween… So fun! Early the morning after my friends and I had to get on a bus to Salamanca! It was a struggle, but we made it!
Salamanca was beautiful! Great city, and wonderful architecture. My great uncle Nicki actually studied at the university there. I tried octopus while at dinner, it was actually pretty good, tentacle suckers and all. We took a bike tour around the city (in Spanish) and I understood most all of what the tourguide said, which was fantastic!
On the way back from Salamanca we stopped in the old town of Avila, which is a walled city. We had a short tour and ran into a guy making a video. You may have seen his videos before, he travels around the world filming people dancing to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. We learned a short bit of choreography and then danced! It was fun, reminded me of high school theater. I also tried some roasted Chestnuts (from an open fire aha). They tasted like potatoes.
Class registration is coming up, as well as my weekend trips to Prague (woo I get to see Ellie and Sami and girls in my sorority!!) and London, where I am seeing A Day To Remember in concert! Can’t wait!
In other news I relieved a little care package with fall/Halloween decorations from my grandma (Tita) last week. It was the best surprise EVER and made me so happy. Also I found out who my “grand little” in my sorority is! I am so incredibly excited, and I wish I could welcome her into our family personally. She doesn’t know who her big or grandbig is yet, she’ll find out next week! Waaa whoo!
Anyways time to go try and do homework and catch up on an episode of Bones, as per usual.
Hasty luego y besos,
Ps. Ill try to add photos as I get them (sorry haha)!