Tag Archives: Spain

best week ever

After writing two posts this week, you’re probably wondering where this consistent blogging was during the majority of June and the first half of July.  Well, this post is here to answer exactly that question… or at least attempt to.

Two weeks ago, I had the best week ever.  In fact, it was so great that it made my amazing friend Jackie decide to stay to finish her senior year in Spain.  Even though I will miss her incredibly this fall, I’m glad she made the decision to stay because I know it’s what she really wanted and I know she’s going to have one million more of these best weeks ever in the year to come.  Congrats, Jack!

And I digress… anyway, here’s a photo list of all of the reasons why two weeks ago was the best week ever.  Hopefully I’ll get around to a blog post each about these events, but for now… I hope this will suffice.  Buen finde, amores:)

 

No hay dos sin tres. Spain makes history by winning the Eurocup final, having won the previous Eurocup and World Cup (& remember where I was all day before the game?)

Most successful Fourth of July picnic, celebrated at the picnic tables in Parque Oeste with many American and European friends.

Celebrating Nadine’s birthday with 6 for 3€ beers and then a picnic in the park the next day.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers Concert as part of Rock in Rio Madrid 2012. Life goal, check.

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NEU en Barcelona

When Jackie’s cousin Caroline and her boyfriend Brian were here visiting they had the opportunity to see Madrid, Sevilla and Barcelona all in one fellow swoop across the country.  Upon their return to Madrid after visiting both of the cities I loved hearing all of their thoughts about the two very different Spanish cultures they had seen.  Since I lived in Sevilla for a month (over two years ago now!) and had already been to Barcelona during the fall semester, it was really fun with all of us already being familiar with the cities themselves.

But when we got to the topic of La Sagrada Familia, Caroline and Brian stared at us with shock and awe when we told them we had rented bikes, and thus not wanted to spend time waiting in the long line to go inside.  We had been contemplating the idea of heading back to Barcelona during the summer to experience La Barceloneta and the beach anyway, so when they told us it was the most beautiful thing that had seen in their entire life, we were sold on going back again.

I bought tickets online to enter inside the Sagrada Familia and we completely avoided waiting in any lines at all, definitely worth it.  I highly recommend purchasing tickets online here, since you have a one hour window in which you can enter, with unlimited time inside.  I thought the outside was impressive, but since it’s still under construction you can’t take in all of its beauty just yet.  On the other hand, the inside of the cathedral is absolutely incredible.  From the stained glass to the intricate ceilings and beautiful stone work, not one detail was left out.

Other than that reservation, we had no other plans for the weekend.  Since we had already had the opportunity to explore la Boqueria, las Ramblas, Camp Nou, Parque Guelle and the Guadi houses during our previous visit to Barcelona in October, we had a lot more freedom this time around.  We spent two long days at the beach and two long nights out experiencing the wonderful nightlife of the city.

    

We spent the first night at Shoko, a typical club of la Barceloneta neighborhood, located right on the beach with a terrace and the option to escape from the club to relax on the beach, which I of course took advantage of.  Since it closed early for our Madrid standards (3:30am), we slowly made it back to our hostel by walking along the beach and going for a late night swim.  We spent Saturday night at a huge festival/party/I’m not even sure what to call it at El Poble Espanyol.  El Poble is a village built during the Barcelona Olympics to showcase the unique cultures, architectures and foods of the different regions of Spain.  We didn’t get to explore the whole village, but we did see the huge Plaza Mayor and the Andalucian neighbourhood, which really did remind me so much of the small winding streets of Sevilla.

We ate amazing seafood, like garlic shrimp and seafood & chicken paella, vinegar mussels and fresh calamari, only fitting as we were finally near the ocean.  Before getting on our train back to Madrid on Sunday night we also enjoyed sandwiches from Bo d B, recommended by a friend of a friend who had previously studied in Barcelona.  For American tourists the sandwiches are nothing special, but I assure you that after a year without access to anything remotely resembling a deli, Panera, bagel shop, etc. it was the best sandwich I’ve had in a while.  Study-abroad students in Barcelona, I highly suggest visiting this place!

We returned to Madrid sunburned and exhausted, but so content with the wonderful weekend we had just had.  What made it even better is that we met up with friends from Northeastern, some that we hadn’t seen since we left Boston last year.  It was great to see you guys and I hope you had a wonderful birthday celebration, Bridget!  Hope you all enjoyed your weekend.  Ciao, amores:)

{buenos días, barcelona}

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piscinas y barbacoas

Although we spent this past weekend on the beach in Barcelona (post to come about that later this week), we’ve had a pretty standard schedule every Sunday for the past few weeks now.  Its been so hot every weekend, that we’ve been forced out to one of our friends’ pools outside the city.  And of course, we can’t help but indulge in a hangover-induced, over-the-top, grilling feast while there.

The first week it was sausages, hamburgers and hot dogs at Dani’s house after being saved from the madness of the public pool.  After a few attempts to make it to the Canal Public Pool we finally made it through the hour-long waiting line just to get inside to the disappointment of a sunscreen flavored swimming pool.  Luckily for us, after a few short hours of tanning, Dani offered to come pick us up, and we spent the rest of the afternoon at his pool.

Next it was a more thought-out, pre-planned cook-out lunch and afternoon pool party before Spain’s Eurocup finale at Gabi’s house.  And the week after that it was an afternoon pool party followed by a Thai Curry dinner prepared by our friend Nadine.

  

Needless to say, we’ve been enjoying our weekends more than ever, making it crazy to think I only have a handful of weekends left in Madrid!!  Hope you guys have been escaping to the pool or beach during the crazy summer heat.  Plenty of posts to come this week!  Ciao, amores:)

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bruce springsteen en madrid

Hello readers, I’m so sorry for the delay in posting about the Bruce Springsteen concert I went to last weekend!  Unfortunately, the memory of my beloved MacBook is completely full (could it be the 10,000 pictures in my iPhoto?), and I was worried it would crash if I tried to upload anything else.  This blog post would just not do the concert justice, without some photos though!  I asked Dan to give us a short summary of the concert since he is such a big Bruce fan, so here you go…

Back in the early spring, my favorite musician Bruce Springsteen announced not only a new album, but a world tour that included our new home Madrid.  At first, I was quite hesitant and somewhat confused about the tour.  Just over a year ago, the rock n roll world lost an extremely important figure.  How could the E Street Band continue without the Big Man?  A body ceases to function when its heart stops pumping, right?  Yet, I overcame my doubts and knew that Bruce would find a way to continue on, at the very least, to honor the memory of the late Clarence Clemons.

Obviously, I gave in and bought tickets (read: thanks Teddy!) for Colette, Gabby and Kenny, who were all “Bruce virgins” as I like to call them.  How could you pass up an opportunity like Bruce in Madrid?  I have been lucky enough to have seen four concerts, although quite different ones (Seeger sessions, solo for Devils & Dust and Wrecking Ball Giants Stadium Tour), before the Madrid show.  Therefore, I was very excited to be able to share this experience with my friends.

  

As the date approached, I assumed we would witness lots of hard rocking music, but I also expected many tears and a feeling of emptiness in the band.  However, almost as if the stars aligned perfectly and Clarence’s soul was playing vicariously through the various members of the E Street Band, some new and some extremely familiar, Bruce was absolutely phenomenal and completely exceeded expectations.  Jake Clemons, Clarence’s nephew, was elected to fill in his uncle’s shoes on the saxophone, a feat well accomplished, but certainly not easy to fulfill.  As well, the crowd was extremely energetic, something that surprised me a lot.  Although they were unfamiliar with a handful of the songs, people were singing, dancing and clapping to the beat the whole show.  Believe it or not, this is the first time Santiago Bernabeu (Real Madrid’s soccer stadium) has had people on its feet!

We met up at Colette’s apartment a few hours before the show and had some chips and white bean dip accompanied with beer.  Then, we proceeded to the wild streets that surround Bernabeu and enjoyed a beer with my co-worker Roger, who lives right by the stadium.  Bruce started the show at 9:30 p.m. (on a Sunday night, only in Spain!) with the crowd favorite “Badlands,” to which the 50,000+ in attendance went wild.  He then followed with “No Surrender,” “We Take Care of Our Own,” “Wrecking Ball” and “Death to My Hometown,” sharing a vintage Bruce song, as well as three songs off of his new album.

What followed next was a moment that was extremely beautiful and sorrowful.  Bruce began speaking to the crowd, surprisingly in somewhat broken, clearly rehearsed Spanish, while the band played the soulful rhythm to “My City of Ruins.”  He informed us about the significance of the song, which is about the decline and slow destruction of his so-called birthplace, Asbury Park, N.J.  He then began singing the song, which was a bit more upbeat than the studio version.  Yet, it was very bittersweet as Bruce paused in the middle of the song to famously introduce the E Street Band one by one and then asked us numerous times, “¿Estamos hechando de menos de alguien?,” which means, “Are we missing anybody?”  As the tears rolled down my face, I was blown away by this stunning rendition of a song that became famous in the wake of 9/11.  At the end of the song, Bruce started asking the crowd, “Can you feel the spirit?  Can you feel the spirit?  I can feel the spirit.  Can you feel it?”  This was followed by one of my favorite classics “Spirit of the Night,” which made me immediately wipe the tears from my face and jump for joy.  Almost eerily, I certainly felt that there was some sort of spirit in the air.

Bruce continued with “Be True” and then “Jack of All Trades,” where the whole crowd took out their cell phones and lit up the dark night, while Bruce promised revenge on the banking industry that he so very much loathes.  Next, we heard the booming “Youngstown,” “Murder Incorporated” and extremely surprising Born to Run song, “She’s the One.”  Bruce was then accompanied on stage by Southside Johnny, an old friend/band mate from the Asbury Park days for “Talk to Me.”

We were subsequently treated to Darkness on the Edge of Town outtake (recently released on The Promise) “Spanish Eyes”, played for the very first time live in concert.  Then, we listened to “Working on the Highway,” “Shackled & Drawn” and a fan sing-along “Waiting on a Sunny Day,” where Bruce brought a little Spanish boy on stage to barely successfully sing the chorus.  Bruce then played the rare “Apollo Medley,” that was filled with outstanding a cappella and dedications to soul music and a portion of “The Way You Do The Things You Do.”  Bruce then continued with “The River,” “Because the Night,” “My Love Will Not Let You Down,” “The Rising,” “We Are Alive” and an excellent performance of “Thunder Road.”

Clocking in at about three hours already, one could only expect the encore to be about 20 minutes at most.  Yet, what happens when you assume?!  As Colette, Ken, Gabby and I could barely stand anymore (meaning our feet hurt, not the music of course!), Bruce delighted us with the new song “Rocky Ground.”  What came next was quite possibly the most fantastic succession of songs in Bruce Springsteen history.  “Born in the U.S.A.” sent shivers down my spine, as the Spaniards surprisingly screamed along with him.  At the end of the song, I whisper to Colette, “Well, that’s a shame, odds are now he won’t play Born to Run…” as I heard that famous, melodic intro to one of the greatest rock songs ever written.  What did I say again about assuming?  Bruce then pretended to fall asleep on the stage, apparently exhausted, as Little Stevie Van Zant squeezed a sponge full of water all over his face two times to wake him up.  Next, Bruce enchanted us with the early Springsteen-era “Hungry Heart,” a song he rarely plays live.  We then were thrilled by “Dancing in the Dark,” to which Bruce pulled some fans out of the crowd to come dance on the stage Courtney Cox style.

Lastly, or as Bruce claimed to be “uno más,” was my absolute favorite song in Bruce’s discography, “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.”  There is just no other song ever created like it.  Detailing the beginning of the E Street Band, this song is filled with a fun, catchy rhythm, as well as a horn section that blasts notes to create a warm, jazzy feeling that makes you want to dance the “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” something Bruce himself still has no idea what it is.  Yet, I knew what was coming next.  As Bruce proclaims for all the fans in the middle of the song, “Now, here is the important part,” after singing, “When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band,” which is usually followed by a powerful blast on Clarence’s sax.  The band stopped playing as images of Bruce and Clarence famously leaning on each other’s backs flashed across the screen.  As Bruce claimed in Clarence’s eulogy, the “towering fairy tale figure” was something of mysticism, the permanent resident of the Temple of Soul.  Again, the tears started pouring down my face, as I turned to see just about every other person, including my friends, crying as Bruce honored his best friend, sax player and the so-called Big Man, who was “too big to die.”  It was a beautiful, emotional dedication as Bruce concluded the song with his classic “booty-shakin, earth-quaking, love-making, record-breaking, legendary E Street Band.”  (Read Bruce’s eulogy here)  Yet, Bruce still wasn’t over.  He just absolutely refused to stop playing last night and for the second time in my life, I was overjoyed to witness “Twist and Shout,” to watch everybody dancing in the crowds as Southside Johnny came back out to assist.

At 63 years old, Bruce Springsteen accompanied by the E Street Band clocked in at just less than 4 hours.  According to Backstreets, we were blessed with the LONGEST E STREET BAND CONCERT EVER at 3 hours and 48 minutes.  They played 32 songs, spanning 12 studio albums, 3 cover songs, 1 B-side, 1 guest appearance and 3 newly infatuated Bruce fans.  The concert exceeded all expectations and will go down in my books as one of the greatest concerts I have ever been to (although I say that after every show, this is certainly applicable in this case).  Even though the Big Man was not there physically, he was certainly there spiritually, especially through his nephew who was a great addition to the band and even reminiscently shared center stage with Bruce a couple of times.  The stage was certainly missing a particular presence last night, but there was something in that stadium that drove Bruce to the brinks of self-destruction by playing such a lengthy show.  The Spaniards and us Americans were flattered to receive such a fabulous gift from easily the best live act to ever do it.  One can only imagine that he will be performing until the end of his days, when he will join Clarence in the Temple of Soul for eternity.  With some luck, I will hopefully be able to attend another Bruce concert in September in my home state of New Jersey, as long as Teddy’s American Express card still works!

As you can see, we had an absolutely fantastic time; thank you so much, Dan!  And thank you so much, Teddy for buying us the tickets:)  Hope everyone enjoyed their Fathers’ Day while we were at the concert!  More updates soon on this weekend and the heat wave we just embarked on this week!  Hasta luego, amores:)

 

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kathryn y trent, los chefs

kathryn y trent, los chefs

My two friends Kathryn & Trent hardly ever cooked in the US, so they took this move abroad as a chance to learn. They’ve been telling Dan and I that they wanted to cook for us ever since the fall, but we finally got around to it last week. They made a delicious baked cod with dill sauce, mashed potatoes and broccoli. Thanks so much for dinner, guys!!

PS. Have you ever seen this one minute brownie? We finished the meal off with it, topped with vanilla ice cream & strawberries.

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May 31, 2012 · 1:40 pm

el fin de semana


This past weekend was absolutely awesome.  Despite the on and off rainy weather, I had an all together great weekend in Madrid.  With only three months left and lots of travel plans between now and the end of August, I’m really trying to take advantage of every moment I have left here.

Friday afternoon I went to lunch with my co-worker Raquel; she lived in Miami for four years so we bonded over that connection to the US instantly.  Since then, we’ve started having English lunches every Friday, where we go out to lunch and only speak in English.  It’s really fun and I’m always happy to help people practice their English!  This week we went to an Italian chain restaurant that’s very popular in Spain, Gino’s.  I had the best pizza ever with roasted eggplant & zucchini, sundried tomatoes, pesto, mozzarella, tomato sauce and goat cheese.  It was so good I talked about it literally all weekend… Jackie thinks that pizza is what gave me all of my energy for the weekend haha.

Friday night we hung out at Lauren’s for a little bit before going to Sol to meet up with the Germans.  Jackie’s sister Bridget was visiting with a friend, so we were hoping we’d find something fun to do!  As soon as we got to the bar, our friends informed us they were leaving to go to a club Gabana, that we can just say is not my favorite.  However, we went anyway, and I had a blast!  I even had to ask Lauren to stay half an hour longer with me, which has never happened!!

After a long, long sleep, I met up with Jackie, Gabby, Bridget & Madison at one of our favorite bar/restaurants, Bar Casa Paco.  We devoured pinchos of a few different types of Spanish tortilla; they serve a million different varieties that are all amazing!  When there was a break in the rain, we headed out to give the visitors a tour of the city.  We went through the normal tour route that we have all perfected by now, but my friend Trent did a great job of mapping out a similar one here if you’d like more details on it!

I took a crazy two hour siesta from 8 – 10 pm when I got home and then woke up and got ready to go out. We went over to an outdoor tent/bar/not sure how to describe it, which has 6€ buckets of 5 beers.  Once they started locking us in, we took cabs back to a bar Gabby’s roommate Ana had told us about that was actually one block from my apartment.  Since it was so close to home, we figured we would give it a try, since none of us were up for going to Kapital, where everyone usually takes their visitors.  This place was so cool!  It’s the sister bar of a pirate bar we went to a few weeks ago for our friend Joe’s birthday, and it was nearly as fun as that one!

After another long, long sleep, Dan and I had delicious homemade egg sandwiches before heading out to an Artisanal Beer and Food Festival in Casa de Campo, the huge park on the west side of the city where the Marathon Expo was.  There are ton of different outdoor areas for expositions it seems, so I’m hoping to find more things like this through out the summer!  We spent a few hours tasting Spanish and International beers, enjoying locally made chorizo on crusty baguettes and soaking up the sun with some of the guys.  I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend as well! Ciao, amores:)

  

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feliz san isidro

Tuesday was el Día de San Isidro, the patron saint of the city of Madrid, so for the whole first half of the week there were cultural events and parties all over the city.  Since we didn’t have to work on Tuesday, Monday night Dan and I met up with our friend Chrissy from Northeastern and a bunch of her friends for some beers in Sol and then walked over to Retiro to see the fireworks.  They shot them off of the statue on the back on the man made lake (where I rented a boat when my parents came to visit!).  Everything was lit up beautifully, and they even had music to go along with it.  Unfortunately, they only lasted 15 minutes, but it was still a lot of fun, especially since we all sat around in the park for a couple of hours after they ended.  The weather was finally warm and sunny this week, so it was great to finally be outside!

There was a huge festival in the San Isidro park all day on Tuesday, so we headed over there after lunch!  It’s located by the river on the west side of the city, where I haven’t really gotten to explore all that much yet.  It’s so beautiful though and I definitely plan on spending a few days this summer relaxing in the park along the river.  We relaxed in the shade most of the day, drinking ice cold tinto de verano, but as it got later we walked around the rest of the festival where they had carnival games (with a ham leg as the price!), awesome outdoor tent restaurants and lots of pottery and artesanal goods on display.  I also finally got to meet Kathryn’s boyfriend, which I was so excited about, and we hung out for most of the afternoon with them and some other friends too!  Dan and I went out for sushi afterwards and ended the night back at Retiro for the last night of the fireworks.

  

These types of cultural events are the things I always like to explore during our time here in Madrid.  It was really cool to see all of the Madrileños singing and dancing, and so many little boys and girls in the traditional Madrileño dress.  What a great way to spend a day off in the middle of the week!  Hope you guys enjoyed your week & weekend; an update on my weekend coming soon!  Ciao, amores:)

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