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Kind of shopping

25 Nov

I’ve been really good about not shopping so far. I wish I didn’t have to try not to shop, but right now I’d rather spend my money traveling. However, I did go to El Rastro to do a little Christmas shopping for my family.  El Rastro is like an open-air farmers’ market but with accessories, clothes and gifts instead of food. Prices are usually pretty reasonable and some of the things are really unique so I was able to do all of my Christmas shopping there!

There are some stores I am dying to spend money in, though! (Mango, Mulaya, Bershka, Top Shop, etc.) It looks like I will have to whether I actually wanted to or not. It’s still “Autumn” here and I am already in my warmest clothes, including the daily usage of gloves, which no true Spaniard has been spotted in yet. Apparently, when Winter really gets here it is going to be colder than North Carolina ever could be. I’ll at least try to hold out until the super sale in January. (It’s super because everything everywhere is on sale. There’s one in the summer, too, in case anyone wants to plan a trip around it 😉 )

XO

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Eat, Drink…Repeat

12 Nov

I LOVE to eat! And I enjoy drinking occasionally (aka on the weekends). Monday through Thursday I work and have to get up early, so I sometimes meet friends for dinner, drinks, or wine and tapas one or two of those nights, and I think a lot of Spanish people are more relaxed during the week, too (even though they still consume alcohol way more often then I would ever think to). The weekends are a different story.

A friend of mine from South America who has lived in Madrid before told me the first week I was here that everyone in Madrid hangs out in La Latina on Sundays. I asked why and what happened there every weekend and she said, “Eating and drinking. We just go there to do that all day. Then we go out.”

I had my own experience with one of these marathon feast-’til-you-go-out days last Saturday. Some Spanish friends invited a bunch or people over for lunch at noon. I didn’t get there until 4 p.m., but no worries because everyone was still eating and drinking. When I walked in, there was a huge spread of Australian and Spanish food and at least 8 open wine bottles and an empty case of beer. I ate my lunch, then everyone had coffee, then dessert was served all the while with more drinks. After dessert, liquor drinks were made for everyone and the Americans and Australians tried to teach circle of death to the Spanish people in Spanglish. It was great! Four or five hours after I arrived (so 8 or 9 hours after everyone else had started) we left for the bars. Needless to say, I was the second person to leave to go home. I don’t know if I can keep up with the Spaniards!

 

The dessert that marked the end of a 4-ish hour lunch and beginning of pre-gaming: rum soaked pineapple, custard with kiwi and whipped cream and chocolate liquor

 

This weekend was kicked off with even more delicious food. This morning (and by morning I mean noon, ha) some friends and I got together to make French toast for brunch.  It was so good…we used enough sugar and butter to make Paula Deen proud! And it reminded me of home 🙂

 

Making french toast and caramelizing bananas to go on top, YUM!

 

 

Our brunch included homemade syrup, bananas, whip cream and orange juice

 

After working out and relaxing, I think I will meet everyone for drinks and tapas…and then go out! Tough life, right?

XO

Buscas Trabaja?

12 Nov

“Buscas trabaja?”…that’s the question a random man asked my friends and I tonight while we were waiting to meet another friend at a metro stop. We were at the Opera house in a cute neighborhood off of Puerta del Sol. I wanted to sit down, but decided that I wouldn’t because real Spanish people hardly ever sit down as far as  I can tell. Instead, I leaned against the closest building and that’s when this man walked up.

For those who have not already put “buscas trabaja” into Google translator, it means “Are you looking for work?” Of course, my friends and I are here teaching English and all also teach private classes so we aren’t looking for anymore work. What a silly and random question, right? So, naturally, I answered this random man in English. “What?”

He responded, in perfectly clear English, “Are you looking for work?” We all answered no at the same time. After a pause my friend said, “Why do you ask?” To which this random man answered with a completely straight face and serious tone, “Because this is a whore house.”

OHHHHHHHHH…that kind of work.

Yes, I was leaning against the side of a whore house. (Did I mention that this cute neighborhood did happen to have a couple of brothels? We had already passed two by the time of this interaction and there was one across from the bar we ended up going to later.)

I think I said no 100 times in 1 second as I moved to the other side of the street. My two friends just kind of moved down the sidewalk and took a picture of the place. Since they were still close, the man tried coaxing one of them inside as a customer. (I guess he got the idea that work was out of the question.) The conversation went something like this:

Man: “You want to go in?”

Friend: “Oh, NO.”

M: “Why not?”

F: “I’m not looking for work…”

M: “Normal people come in too. Lots of Americans.”

F: “I’m not looking for a whore.”

M: “Normal people come in too…all the time, just to look.”

F: “No, thanks.”

Like I said before, prostitution is legal here. In fact, brothels are probably more likely to be more legal than the street. I know you’re dying to know why! Ha. Prostitution is only legal when you’re ‘registered’ and are paying taxes on the money you make. This is more likely in a place of business (whore house) than on the streets of Monterra and Fuencarral.

LMAO!

XO

Idiosyncrasies

6 Nov

Monday through Thursday flew by easily this week so I must be getting used to my schedule (thank goodness!). There are, however, other little things about Spain that I am still getting used to…

  • Cheek-kissing vs hand-shaking. People probably think I am socially awkward since I always still stick out my hand for a shake. While I think it’s cute to kiss your friends on the cheek, it’s still a little weird to do it to strangers. (What if they’re dirty?!)
  • Crosswalks. In Madrid, the crosswalks are about 15-20 yards from the actual corner. This not only means that you have to walk down the street to cross, but also that if you don’t a car will probably hit you since they pull all the way up to the crosswalk before stopping for the red light.
  • Coca-Cola Light. It just isn’t good at all. Thankfully, there is always Coke Zero.
  • Lack of tall people. I’m still not used to people looking at my feet all the time. No, they aren’t looking at a cute pair of shoes I have on or noticing that I haven’t gotten a pedicure in months, they think I must be wearing 6 inch heels. Dear people on the metro and in the street, yes, I am just this tall.
  • Unrefrigerated dairy products. Milk and eggs are not refrigerated and I don’t know why. There is cold milk at the store that comes in a plastic container, but it comes at a price. There is boxed milk on the shelf that doesn’t expire for a year, and, naturally, I buy it because it’s cheaper despite the fact that it doesn’t taste exactly the same…

XO

Hi, November!

3 Nov

I can’t believe it’s already November! AND that the first week of November is almost over! Time has been flying by, but it also feels like I’ve been here awhile now.

I am sad to say that November was not rung in with an huge Halloween celebration the night before. (Of course, with the exception of my awesome trip to Salamanca on Friday!) In fact, Halloween was kind of a bust and didn’t even come close to Chapel Hill. I guess I was expecting too much. I was told that Halloween is a relatively new holiday here (people my age didn’t even know what it was when they were younger and still aren’t into it now), but I figured there would be way more parties on the 31st. All Saints Day on November 1st is a much bigger deal here (and kind of solemn), so I’m guessing that partly accounts for all the closed bars on Sunday night.

The people that were out did dressed up…a lot! For the most part, people from Madrid only dress as 4 things, all of which are actually scary (witch, vampire, zombie/ other type of dead person, devil). The American and English people here, though, reminded me of being on Franklin Street 🙂 There was a group of English people dressed as calvary men, some American girls I know were the characters from Alice in Wonderland, and I even saw a couple of decked out Star Wars characters. My favorite costume, though, was an American guy, 21 years old or less, who dressed as an abono de transportes (aka monthly metro pass). It was cheap and creative….cardboard and marker. Definitely something that would’ve been on Franklin Street!

XO

 

The abono with our abonos!

 

We Trust in What?!

24 Oct

I love Saturdays! They are always so much fun.

Yesterday some friends and I went to a Madrid Lions rugby match. We met a couple of guys on the team the first week we were here and have now made friends with most of them. The weather has been awesome here (so far it’s always sunny and warm in the afternoon and cool in the evening) so it was the perfect weekend thing to do. Plus rugby is slightly similar to football, which is one of the things from home I am definitely missing! The Lions won (yay!) and we met up with the team later to go out…which worked out much better than when we were supposed to go out with the basketball players after their game!

 

This picture sums up what mostly goes on during a rugby match. I'm still not sure of all of the rules.

 

Score Clip

After the match, one of my friends and I wanted to go to a free concert we had heard about and grab some dinner before meeting back up with the team to go out. We got to the venue and the band was singing in English, to my surprise, and was kind of bluegrass/rock, also to my surprise. The Europeans were really into the music, and I’m not going to lie, it was pretty good. The band included bongo drums and regular drums, guitar, someone shaking something, a tambourine and a harmonica. The harmonica player was killing it! We were starting to get into it, too, UNTIL…

 

We trust is WHAT?!

 

I know it’s a blurry picture and my flash clearly wasn’t on but yes, that sign says “In Hell We Trust”. If I thought the audience was into it before then I don’t know what to call what happened during this song. It started normal, people were dancing and it sounded similar to the other songs. Everyone knew the chorus to this one but I still couldn’t quite catch the words, until they pulled out this sign. I turned to my friend amazed, but she thought they were saying “In God we Trust”. Clearly she had yet to see the sign. The crowd and band went on to fervently chant the chorus for about 4 minutes.

I really wanted to believe that all of these Spanish people just didn’t know what they were saying and maybe the band just did cover songs in English, but they didn’t really get it either. Clearly I knew better, but I wanted to give these people the benefit of the doubt. Then I started to wonder what kind of free concert this was and what was really going on here. After it had officially got weird we left IMMEDIATELY. My friend and I looked at each other and both pointed in the direction of the exit at the same time.

Of course, I whipped out my camera to record some of the concert at one point, I think I managed to not record the song mentioned above, ha. (P.S. these videos open, right?)

XO

WTF Concert Clip

Festival for Many

13 Oct

Yesterday (10/12) was a national holiday in Spain, which is why I had a five-day weekend 🙂 I asked various Spanish people for about a week and a half what the holiday was for and never got a straight answer. People either shrugged and said “I don’t know or said they had “no interest celebrating the day that guy came and killed all my people.” (So sorry for asking!). Naturally, I had to Google to find the answer. It turns out there were several things being celebrated. First, yes, it was Columbus day (sorry again!). Second, it was “Dia de la Fiesta Nacional de España” or Day of the National Feast of Spain. Third, it was the the religious Feast Day of the Virgin of Pilar, and last but not least it was Armed Forces Day.

There was a parade and fly-over to celebrate the Armed Forces Day part of the holiday. Some friends and I tried to find and watch it (we tired a lot of things yesterday) but we barely missed end of it. I did, however, catch some of the fly-over and took some terrible video of it that I thought I would share. (I hope the link works…I had to put it in a powerpoint so let me know if it doesn’t!)

XO

flyover movie