Monthly Archives: November 2011

bromas españoles

If you’ve ever lived in a foreign country and/or learned a foreign language, you understand how hard it is to make jokes that natives actually think are funny.  Especially for me!  If you know me well, you know I don’t tell the best jokes in English to begin with, even though I crack up at every single one.  So, what I am about to say might very well blow your mind.  You might want to take a seat…

I made a joke today!  In Spanish!  AND… the hairdresser laughed!  Yes, I did go get my hair done today, actually for the first time since I’ve been here (don’t tell Ron & Paul!).  But the thing is, I was just worried that it would get messed up and never look the same since Ron has been doing a fabulous job of it since I was sixteen… Okay, you can tell them that part, haha.

ANYWAY, the point of this entire post is this joke, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be a little less funny after all of the hype.  Oh well, here we go (remember it was all in Spanish) …

Hair dresser: You’re so tall! [as he lowers my chair for the third time.]

Me: I could sit on the floor if that would be better?

HAHA.  I know you’re probably not laughing, but really, I promise you, the hairdresser thought it was so funny.  Besides making a Spaniard laugh today I also got a 34 euro haircut (roots, highlights, wash, condition, & blow dry); and my first call for a co-op interview!!  More details to come about that one.  Hope you’re all enjoying your day as much as I am mine!

 

Ciao, amores:)

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londres, te amo

For the first time in the past three months, I’ve visited a new city that I think I like better than Madrid.  Don’t get me wrong, I love living in Madrid.  There’s so much history, so many museums, great weather, great people, and a great lifestyle.  What I mean is that I could actually picture myself living in London for an extended period of time.  It reminds me of New York City in some way, while it still has a rich European history.

Though I know it’s not that interesting to read the play by play of my life, you have to read this one because I assure you will be falling out of your desk chair laughing!  Thursday night we caught the 5:30pm EasyJet flight from Madrid Barajas to London Gatwick.  I had previously purchased EasyBus tickets from Gatwick to Brompton Road, Central London for the bus that left at 7:25pm.  I knew we would be cutting it close, but we wanted to make it to Esme’s grandfather’s house for Thanksgiving dinner as soon as possible.

Here’s the great part:  EasyJet told us we had to check Dan’s suitcase when we got on the plane because it was full, but we knew we wouldn’t make it if we had to go to Baggage Claim, so Dan ripped the ticket off as soon as we got past the gate, hahaha.  Then, we walked off the plane at 6:55pm.  From there, Dan and I ran through the terminal and down the stairs, not knowing how far nor to exactly where we were running.  We speed walked down the moving sidewalks and get to Customs.  We scribbled our landing cards with information about ourselves, where we’re staying, etc. and got into the Border Patrol line in just a few minutes.  At this point, the bus was leaving in 12 minutes.  There were about 10 people ahead of us and ONE person at the non-EU/EEA Customs counter.  Yay for American passports…  Anyway, with less than 10 minutes remaining, all of a sudden five more employees showed up, and the line went by in an instant.  After explaining to the kind man that when I wrote “4” under length of my trip, I really meant 4 days, Dan and I ran up the stairs, around the corner, out the main entrance, and down to the bottom floor of the parking garage to get on the EasyBus with one minute to spare. After a round of high fives (with just ourselves), a British music selection by Dan, and a few other confusing mishaps regarding buses, pounds, and maps, we finally made it to Eric’s to eat the remains of the Thanksgiving feast and chat with everyone over desserts.

I know that was super long, but I hope it had you laughing at the ridiculousness of my life, though it all ended well.  The rest of our trip was much more relaxed.  We got day bus passes for Friday and Saturday which let us see the city from a great height (double decker buses!) and take in all the sites rather quickly.  I would definitely suggest doing this if you’d like to see London in just a few days, as we did.  Even though we had the wonderful Miss Esme Blegvad as our tour guide, I’m sure you could get by with a bus map and a tourist map of the city just fine.

Friday, we walked around and saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, and London’s Chinatown after taking a bus to that side of the city.  We also had sandwiches and tea on the steps in Trafalgar Square, where the Royal Portrait Gallery is, and explored the Food Hall, Pet Kingdom, Tea Room, Prosecco Bar, and a stairwell that cost 10,000 pounds at Harrod’s, the greatest department store in the world… that’s just my personal opinion.

  

Saturday, Dan and I headed over to Notting Hill for a traditional English breakfast at Mike’s Cafe and to check out the Portobello Road vintage markets and shops.  Even though it was so busy, we had a great time and I even got to try on a 120 pound (as in the money, not weight…) fox fur hat, which was awesome!!  Esme came to meet us then and we headed over to the Top Shop flagship store on Oxford Street, which was INSANE.  Normally I am so overwhelmed by the flagships stores, like on Broadway in New York, but I actually managed to purchase a shirt and a super cute dress that I can’t wait to wear.  Then, we watched some footy (read: English soccer) in a great pub called The King’s Arms, picked up two kilos of various Cadbury chocolate bars, Twining’s Tea, and true fish & chips and headed home to Esme’s house.

               

This is probably going to be a busy school week, so if you don’t hear from me, please don’t get worried.  I’ll be working away, but relaxing by having great English tea and Cadbury chocolates while watching all of my favorite Christmas movies.

Pasate la semana bien, amores:)

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happy thanksgiving!

As I scramble to finish my homework and pack my bags (read: one piece of hand luggage thanks to RyanAir) before flying to London tomorrow, I really wish I could be driving down this road that screams New England fall.

Spain just doesn’t have the bright colors of Autumn leaves, especially since Madrid is located in the middle of the desert.  Thankfully, I’m heading to London with my boyfriend to spend Thanksgiving with close friends and their families, and hopefully we’ll get the chance to Skype with our families on the big day too.

Enjoy the Thanksgiving day parade, turkey, and all of the fixings, amores:)

I love and miss you all!

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feliz cumpleaños a gabby

This past weekend, I had the honor of celebrating the most-awaited birthday of the year, the twenty-first birthday of Miss Gabrielle Velasquez!  There’s a little back story to this one.  Last year, one by one all of our friends turned twenty-one, went to the bars in Boston for the “first time,” and had a celebrations with all of our friends.  Gabby sat back and relaxed, waiting until she reached the US legal drinking age while living in a country where the drinking age is 18 (…not that we’re complaining).  Even though it wasn’t as exciting to turn twenty one here in Spain, we decided that there’s no way we could have done anything half as fun in Boston.

Sidenote: ADRIENNE CICERO, my roommate from the legendary 69 Gainsborough Apartment 3, was here for the entire weekend, which automatically brightened everyone’s day.

Thursday night we had Spanish tortillas, pineapple shrimp salads, and spinach artichoke dip bread (don’t worry, recipe to come!) at Lauren’s before heading to Gabana, a posh nightclub that’s free for girls until 3am.  It was really fun and since we had all day to sleep the next day, we didn’t mind at all.

Friday was the big night, we were having a party at Lauren’s, then heading to Buddha Bar with everyone afterwards.  Since Gabby is the queen of champagne, I had a great idea, that a bunch of us girls buy her twenty-one bottles of champagne for her twenty-first birthday.  (See photo above!)

   

Unfortunately, there aren’t any pictures of Adrienne and I carrying twenty-one bottles down the hill to Lauren’s apartment, but you can trust me when I say, it was hilarious.

We tied a ribbon around each bottle and put one reason why we love her.  It turned out looking adorable, Gabby obviously loved it, and we had a great time putting the whole thing together.

After Funfetti cupcakes, we spent the night at Buddha Bar, which is now my favorite club in Madrid.  It’s outside of the city, about a 10euro cab ride, so I won’t be going very often, but it was still so fun.  There were musicians playing the trumpet, saxophone, and drums live to the music of the DJ.

Saturday was a lazy day of pancakes & bloody marys, touring around Madrid (going on 3 weeks in a row now), and Cien Montaditos.  And Sunday was a sad day of goodbyes to Kate and Adrienne who I’m not even sure when I’ll see again and homework.

How was your weekend?  I’d love to hear!

Ciao, amores:)

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risotto de calabaza y espinacas

This is a recipe I’ve made twice since I got to Spain, that I thought might interest some of you.  It’s super easy if you enjoy making risotto (as I do) and has a ton of flavor!!

Fun fact:  there is only one word to say pumpkin or butternut squash in spanish; it’s calabaza.  I had a discusion with my spanish roommate, Bea, about this and I came to the conclusion that they really don’t taste that much different once cooked and mixed in with everything.  I can still taste it a little but, but they really are almost exactly the same… do a blind taste test… see what you think!

Buen provecho, amores:)

  

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice(10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups fresh spinach

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken broth in a small covered sauce pan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

In a large sauté pan or pot melt the butter and saute the garlic and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes, spinach, and Parmesan cheese.  Mix well and serve.

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el fin de semana como una turista

Here’s the thing about blogging: when it comes down to it, it’s a hobby.  So when I have an eight page Spanish paper, an HR project, a group International Business paper, visitors to entertain, and some co-op applications to fill out, I really do want to blog.  I just have a few more important priorities.  I know, I’m just making excuses, but I hope you can forgive me for the two week long hiatus I just took.  I promise to update more regularly!

That being said, let’s dive in to the topic at hand.  I’ve been thinking for a while now about the perfect weekend in Madrid because of a study abroad student challenge I found on this website that I’ve briefly posted about before, here.  After touring the city two weekends in a row with family friends, friends, and friends’ family (… that’s not confusing), I think I’ve finally got it.  So here you have it, my weekend as a tourist in Madrid.

The best walking tour I’ve got

To pack a lot of sites into a few hours time, start off at the Argüelles metro stop, and head straight down Calle Marqués de Urquijo (side note – my friend Lauren lives here!).  You’ll hit Parque del Oeste, and further to the left, el Templo de Debod and Plaza de España.  All three are Madrid must-sees in my opinion.  After that you can head straight up Gran Via, cut over to Sol, Plaza Mayor, and el Mercado de San Miguel.  I took this walk with a few friends this weekend and then stopped for some tapas and ice cream once we got to San Miguel.  There are also a ton of restaurants with Menu del Días and great tapas on the street “Cava de San Miguel.”

      

El Museo Nacional del Prado

Two weekends ago when our family friend Carolyn was visiting from Sevilla, I decided to take her to the infamous Prado.  I still hadn’t been and thought it would be great for her to see some of the most famous artwork in Spain while here in Madrid.  The museum is also beautiful inside, and we definitely enjoyed ourselves.  I found a great guide to the museum from Fodor’s Travel Intelligence and took notes of the most important masterpieces to see.  Here’s the link, and here are my notes on what we had to see, but make sure to grab a map!

Room 12 – Intro to Velázquez (1599 – 1660)

  • “Las Hilandres”
  • “Las Meninas”
  • Then rooms 14 – 16
  • Make sure to see his portraits of the royale family’s jesters

South end first and second floors – Goya (1746 – 1828)

  • King Carlos IV
  • “The Family of Carlos IV”
  • “The Cloth Maja and Nude Maja”

Room 75 – large scale model of the Prado

  • Then rooms 60 – 63A

Floor 0 near the Goya Entrance – 15th & 16th century Flemish works

  • “Garden of Earthly Delights”
  • And a table in the center of the Seven Deadly Sins

Eats

Cien Montaditos is the best place in the entire world.  You can get a few mini sandwiches for around 1 euro each and a large jar of tinto de verano.  They’re all over the city, so if you’re interested just ask anyone!

A diamond in the rough as far as free foods go is Meson Boñar de Leon
Restaurante on Travesía de la Cruz Verde.  The beers are a little pricey at 4 euro each, but they’re cold and very big.  And they come with plenty of tapas.  I was just there yesterday afternoon with Gabby and her mom.  We each had two tinto de veranos, with which came a plate of bread, paella mixta and two Spanish tortillas, all for free!

Nightlife

I understand when you’re away for the weekend and just can’t bring yourself to go out drinking all night after walking around all day.  Conde Duque, which I just discovered last weekend is your cure.  We saw an awesome flamenco jazz concert of two guitars, a cello, a drum set, a singer, and some dancing at the end for 10 euro.  Though they’re in the middle of a Jazz Festival right now, there are ongoing events, concerts, and exhibitions there.  I recommend getting there early to check out the building, which contains a huge plaza, as well.  (We were rushing, so I wasn’t able to snap any photos!)

A great easy option is going to Puerta del Sol.  From about 9pm onward there are promoters in the streets and plazas of Sol begging you to come take free shots or reduced priced drinks.  It’s like happy hour, but normally free, and in about 150 bars at once.  Go enjoy, it’s amazing!

I promise to update more for the rest of the month because I already have things to look forward to: my roommate from Boston coming to visit, Gabby’s 21st birthday, a trip to see a great friend in London, and a homemade Thanksgiving feast.

Ciao, amores:)

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halloween en madrid

  

Happy belated All Saints Day, everyone!!  Yes, you heard me correctly.  Thanks to the wonderful traditionally-Catholic country in which I live, I had yesterday off because it was All Saints Day (AKA I could go out as late as I wanted on Halloween with absolutely no repercussions whatsoever)!  Spanish holidays are great for that, since I never see them coming until I flip a week or two ahead in my planner and realize we suddenly have a random week day off.

Since every supermarket, grocery store, bank, and convenience store in the city was closed, I had plenty of time to dwell on how to present my Halloween activities to you.  First off, I would like to explain what exactly Spanish Halloween is like.  There are no trick or treaters, children in costume, post-holiday candy discounts, or groups of girls all dressed in the same theme.  It’s all doctors, nurses, devils, school girls… really anything you can imagine… covered in blood.  I even asked my roommate Bea about it; to Spaniards, Halloween is about death, which I’m guessing stems from the traditions of All Saints Day, where everyone adorns the graves of their loved ones with flowers.  It’s funny to me how the same holiday can have such a different meaning depending on the country you are in.

Besides that nice culture lesson I had (and kindly shared with all of you), I celebrated Halloween in many ways similar to my American celebrations, though a bit more tame.  I carved pumpkins with friends (it was Kathryn’s Spanish roommate’s first time!), successfully made homemade caramel corn after burning one batch of caramel, a bag of popcorn, and an oven mitt, ate pumpkin seeds, and went out dressed as a skeleton with new and old friends!  All in all, it was lots of fun, though I’m certainly already planning my three nights of costumes for celebrating my last college Halloween next year in Boston!! (Wow, that sounds a little scary!)  Hope you had a happy Halloween!

Ciao, amores:)

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