Monthly Archives: September 2011

la comida de espana

Quesos

Jamones

Carnes (yes, those are brains you see)

I’ve been meaning to write a post for a while about buying groceries in Spain.  For a moment, erase the idea of $200 grocery receipts for carts filled with one million different varieties of anything you can imagine.

Here, most people buy food everyday or every other day.  It is so cheap, I hardly ever spend more than 15 euro for fruits, vegetables, cheeses, bread, lunch meats, and a few other random things.  For example, I bought two eggplants yesterday for 54 cents, freshly baked baguettes are never more that one euro, and a package of six boneless porkshops was three euro.

Also, there are a million different option of where to buy your groceries.  Corte Ingles is the most expensive, but it’s also open the most, and you can find anything there!!  Then there are a number of small grocery stores that carry most everything you could need: Dia, Simply, Carrefour, etc.  Lastly, there are the fresh markets.  There are fruit stands on everyother block in Madrid; I’m not sure why.  They get the fruit delivered each morning, and it is truly delicious.  All of the fruits taste like real fruits (imagine that!) and they actually go bad within a few days because they’re not covered in pesticides and artificial gross things.  (Here’s the farmers’ market-going part of me coming out…)  Anyway, there are also meat and cheese markets to go to, but I haven’t really explored those yet.

However, I have just discovered a gem just one block from my apartment: one of the Mercados de Madrid.  You walk down the stairs and there are numerous fruit stands, jamonerias, cheese stands, meat markets, and fresh seafood markets.  Everything is completely fresh; the market is open everyday until 2pm, which allows Spainards to shop during the morning until lunch time for whatever they need for the next day or two.  I had a little bit of a field day running around looking at all of the different cheeses, meats, and fresh vegetables.   Hope you’re having just as much fun at Stop & Shop!

Salud al fin de semana, amores:)

Los resultados: endive salad with fresh blue cheese, tomatoes, and apples

& homemade calamari by Dan!

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el resumen del Oktoberfest

In case you have neither the time nor the interest in reading about my take on Oktoberfest below, please enjoy these two videos put together by my friend, Trent!  His camera has a setting that takes a three second video everytime he takes a picture.  He utilized this awesome setting to put these together.  Enjoy!

DAY ONE 23/9/2011

DAY TWO 24/9/2011

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willkommen in deutschland

    

After the outrageousness of this past weekend, I hope you can all forgive me for just getting the time to sit down and write about it all.  You guessed it, we were in Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest!!

Despite the absurd number of one-liter, higher than normal alcohol-containing, delicious, German beers I drank this weekend, Oktoberfest was nothing less than a wonderful adventure.  Okay, to be perfectly honest I only had five and a half beers all weekend, but trust me… that was PLENTY.  Anyway, let’s take it from the beginning…

After hanging out with some friends from class until late into the night at el Templo, I slept for a few hours before meeting up to get to the airport by 6am for our 7:30am flight.  Then, Gabby and I spent our morning sleeping, eating croissants, and trying to pick out who in the airport was definitely on their way to Oktoberfest.  Upon arrival in Munich, we took the craziest metro I have ever seen to the camp site we would be staying in for the remainder of the weekend and quickly made our way to the festival, thus comensing the insanity of Oktoberfest with 15 of your closest friends.

Oktoberfest is full of tradition as it is technically a festival for the city of Munich.  Most Germans dress in a lederhosen (for men) or dirndl (for women).  I really wanted to buy one to wear during the festival and just to have, but we didn’t even have time to go into the city center, and the outfits aren’t really available for purchase at the festival itself.  Regardless, it was cool to see all of the different dresses, ranging from traditional floor-length fall colors to short neon ones.  They also serve traditional food in all of the beer tents.

I’m going to have to digress for a second…  For those of you not very knowledgeable in the happenings of Oktoberfest (as I was last week), there are many (sorry for being ambiguous… somewhere around ten) large beer tents.  These consist of the beer halls (indoors) and the beer gardens (outside).  To order a beer, you have to be sitting at a table.  To be sitting at a table, you pretty much have to be drinking a beer.

Back to the story, the food is absolutely delicious!!  Some of the things that we tried were:

  • All different types of sausages!
  • Roasted chicken that was definitely the best chicken I’ve ever had in my entire life (Rina, it was even better than the brick chicken if you can believe that!!)
  • Real sauerkraut, and I didn’t even think I liked sauerkraut
  • Käsespätzle, a customary Bavarian dish similar to macaroni & cheese, which I plan on attempting to make myself!
  • Roasted cashews (think, NYC street vendors)
  • And of course, pretzels of all shapes, sizes, and flavors

There is also a huge carnival that is part of the festival, which was really cool to see. My favorite part of the entire weekend was riding the ferris wheel at night with Dan (twice!); it was so cool to see the entire festival of lights and people from so high above!  All in all, it was great to spend the weekend exploring a festival so foreign to us, yet so customary to so many other people.  We meet so many people from all over the world while we were there; it was great to share our stories with all different types of people!

Auf wiedersehen, loves:)

Prost!

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el templo de debod

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Unfortunately, as you may be able to tell from the above photos and/or title of this post, I didn’t make it to El Escorial on Saturday.  In fact, I stayed in bed nearly alll day (again) besides the 30 minutes I took to run to the farmacia and pick up some bread, chicken broth, and vegetables.  My sore throat had grown much worse over night, and if you know me well enough… you know that’s nothing to be surprised about.  Before I get in to the point of this post, however, I would like to point out the positive aspects of social health care as experienced by a poor college student:  the prescription that is currently healing me cost less than two euro (less than $3) for 40 pills.  Please excuse the interruption.

Fortunately, I did manage to make it out of the house for a few hours Saturday night to what is becoming one of my favorite spots in Madrid, El Templo de Debod.  El Templo, located between El Parque de Oeste and Plaza de Espana, was one of the four ancient temples gifted by Egypt to the countries that helped save them during the construction of a dam that threated their existance in 1968.  The other three are in New York City, Italy, and Holland.  (Disclosure: I knew none of this historical background until I read about it on Wikipedia.es before writing this post).

Anywaaay, el Templo is extremely popular at sunset, which makes me slightly more content with the fact that it was the highlight of my Saturday night, haha.  But really, it is beautiful and is definitely a must see for anyone visiting [me] in Madrid.  It is so beautiful that I also spent my Sunday afternoon there, having a picnic and relaxing with friends before the week began.

Hopefully, I’ll make it to El Escorial for a few hours the weekend after this coming one, as early Friday morning I leave for Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany!

Ciao,amores:)

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la primera semana de clases

After the confusion of the first day of classes, the rest of the week flew by very quickly.  We had most of our classes, but were unable to go to Operations or Mercantile Law since we still had our Immersion Language & Culture classes in the afternoon.  It was kind of frustrating to miss the first few days of those classes, but the Jefa de Estudios deemed our Immersion classes more important, so it was out of our control.

Comillas is the epitome of Spanish culture, as I see it.  It portrays itself as a traditional, Spanish Catholic university.  It’s very small, and the advisors, professors, and deans are there to answer any questions from international students (of which there are a lot!).  Behind the beautiful facade of inner courtyards, blue-tiled walls, and smartly dressed students, it is just as Spanish as ever.  All of the offices are closed from two to five, which is inconveniently the only break that we have during classes, as well… but everyone is at home for lunch and siesta.  Classes were cancelled on Wednesday from ten to three because of some welcoming ceremony that students were not required to attend.  I’m still confused about the point of that.  There is also a mild sense of confusion, at least among our classes, as our immersion classes were scheduled during the same time as our business classes during this first week.  But no pasa nada.  It has been a wonderful experience so far; we are certainly being immersed in the culture.

Last night, the E4U student group threw a Welcome Party at La Sal, a discoteca just a few blocks from my apartment.  The degree program that we are enrolled in is called E4 at ICADE, explaining the pun.  There were so many international students there; it was a lot of fun!  I think a large majority of the students in our year, as well as the students who stayed for the second year of the program were there.  I also found out that students from some European universities have the opportunity to do their exchange during the first two years of their studies, instead of the last two, which I thought was an interesting alternative.  I met quite a few people, but it wasn’t the ideal setting to be meeting anyone with the loud music and dim lighting.  Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun, and it was nice to see and talk to our classmates outside of school.

We’ll just say that I went to bed at slightly less than a reasonable hour, accounting for the fact that I had a Spanish quiz at 10am this morning.  Fortunately, my Spanish minor is already fulfilled, but I still wanted to take the quiz.  After waking up in virtually the middle of my sleep cycle, I swept through the quiz, bought fresh bread and cheese on my way home, and took a much-needed four-hour nap.

The afternoon was met with a Spanish take on grilled cheese and tomato soup (read: heaven).  Dan & I shared a bocadillo (fancy word for baguette sandwich) of three different cheeses and a bowl of salmorejo. That’s right, Spain has more to offer than just gazpacho in the cold tomato soup category.  In fact, I prefer salmorejo.  It’s simply made of blended tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and bread.  It sounds weird, but I tell you it is DELICIOUS!

Preparations

Grilled cheese & tomato soup = bocadillo de queso y salmorejo

After a few more hours of sleep, I determined my ill-feeling was not completely the result of my immersion in the Spanish discoteca culture followed by an early morning culture & language immersion test.  Thus, I’ll be staying in tonight drinking tea, eating ice cream, reading, and taking a hot bath, with the hopes that I’ll feel better in the morning.  Tomorrow afternoon, some friends and I are heading to El Escorial, a must-see day trip for anyone visiting Madrid.  Look for a post on Sunday!

Buenas noches, amores:)

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“jitters” sobre el primer dia de escuela

After the confusion and excitement last Monday (the start of our language-intensive two-week immersion classes) you can imagine how I felt this morning!  Last week we arrived an hour earlier than needed and took a 45 minute 100 question Spanish language placement test that we didn’t need to take.  Even though the Jefe de Estudios only said “no pasa nada,” (a very Spanish phrase that literally means nothing happens, but is colloquially used to excuse any mishap) I was still hoping for this morning to go a little smoother.

I will absolutely never forget the feeling I had this morning walking to school.  It felt like kindergarten all over again, except my best friend wasn’t on the bus with me (hey yanya) and my mom wasn’t standing there taking a picture of me when I got to school… bitzy.

ANYWAY, my stomach was turning all over the place, but that was the height of the excitement.  We had a meeting with Paloma, the Jefe de Estudios where she presented the E4 degree program we’re in too us and the E4U (get the pun?) student group came to talk about events coming up that sound pretty exciting!  Hopefully I’ll get to go to those!!

Then we went to Spanish Language & Culture (just Americans and our new Irish friends), International Economic Theory (a two-hour class that lasted for literally 8 minutes), and Intensive Spanish (yay, Americans).  I am excited for tomorrow though because we’ll have five new classes with other international classmates.  Cross your fingers for making friends!!

Buenas noches, amores:)

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feliz cumple a jackie!

Sunday, September 11 was Jackie’s 22nd birthday!!  Even though we continuously made fun of her for being soooo old, we had a great night and day of celebrating!

Saturday night we cheers-ed while painting our nails at midnight before going to meet some friends for a botellon.  “Botellon-ing” is a fairly loose term that refers to the act of having a few drinks with friends generally outside before going to a more traditional nighttime destination (club, bar, etc.).  We met up at Parque del Oeste, which is very close to our apartments, to hang out for a few hours before going out to celebrate!

Our original plan had been to go to Buddha del Mar, which is in a suburb of Madrid, but we wound up at Coco, one of the many discotecas in Purta del Sol.  We ran into a promoter Dan had already met while walking to the club.  Since it was Jackie’s birthday he let us cut the line, which was awesome!  At 3am the lines are ridiculously long, especially in such a busy place as Puerta del Sol.  After dancing until 5am we decided it was time to go home and had planned to meet for a birthday picnic in Parque del Retiro around 2 or 3 in the afternoon on Sunday.

Well, after waking up at 2pm with no word from anyone else, I gathered the assumption that they were all still asleep.  Nevertheless, I started getting ready, reheating foods to bring to the picnic, and making sure all of our bases were covered for the day!

I guess I skipped a part…  my french friend Lauriane and I spent a good part of Saturday cooking and baking for the picnic!  Lauriane taught me how to make four different French dishes, which I am very excited to try out again.

  • Cake au samon: a light and fluffy bread with dill, tomatoes, and
    smoked salmon baked into it.
  • Shoux: for all intensive purposes, cheese puffs
  • Pastel de chocolate: very similar to a flourless chocolate torte (aka deliciously decadent)
  • Pastel de manzanas: an apple cake

 

And I digress… anyway, we served these four wonderful dishes on Sunday upon Jackie’s arrival (around 4:30).  It was great to relax in the park after a long weekend and just before our first day of school with old and new friends!

El Retiro is one of my favorite places in Madrid thus far… if it was closer to my apartment I think I would find time to go there everyday.  We had a great conversation with our new friends from France, Italy, and Germany about the different sounds that animals make in different countries… you can only imagine how silly it was!

We also finally got to see “el angel caido,” a statue of the devil in El Retiro.  It was comissioned by the mayor of Madrid a number of years ago and is still a popular tourist attraction.  We also found out that it is the place to be around sunset for rollerblading.

 


Happy birthday, Jackie! I hope you had a wonderful day:)

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