Monday, January 30, 2012

Day two in Madrid

I realize that updating my blog almost every day versus every week is a little excessive, but I am mainly doing this, so that I can remember what I did each day.  In other words, if you have better things to do than read about my "adventures" daily, I completely understand.  Feel free to skim.  Also, I am sure that once school starts I won't have that many things to talk about, so I might update less.  Who the hell knows at this point.

Monday, January 30th

Today started with breakfast in the hotel lobby restaurant, and it was alright.  They had these mini pancakes things, and I had some coffee cake and kiwi - the kiwi was delicious.

We walked to El Palacio Real (The Royal Palace of Madrid) and toured the royal buildings, including the palace itself, its armory, and adjacent pharmacy (the guy made a big deal about the pharmacy, which I thought was a bit odd).  All of the rooms in the palace were very ornate, as most were either decorated in baroque or neoclassic styles.  My favorite part of the tour was when our guide brought us to a room that housed Stradivarius string instruments.  Since she was speaking entirely in Spanish, I couldn't always follow everything that she said, but I did hear the word "Stradivarius," and I almost jumped up and down in excitement (I didn't, don't worry).  And the funny thing was that no one else even seemed to care.  I was the only music nerd apparently.  Boo.  Well, I was overjoyed.  But because I just didn't want to believe that these instruments right in front of me behind the glass had been hand crafted by Antonio Stradivari, I asked the guide to be sure.  I said (lol), "¿Perdon, dijo que los instrumentos son de Stradivarius? [Excuse me, did you say that the instruments are Stradivarius'?]  And she said, "¡Sí, sí!"  And also told me that the palace was very fortunate to have them.  When I told her that I was studying music she also asked me if I played an instrument :)  It was just so awesome.

Afterwards me and two other girls got lunch at a cafe, but the food wasn't very good.  I had a "sandwich" that consisted of dry bread, lettuce, tomato, slices of hard-boiled eggs, and mushy, yellow, canned, gross asparagus.  Seriously, the asparagus looked and felt like slimy, pale human fingers.  I picked those off and pushed the hard-boiled eggs to the side, but since there wasn't any sauce, it was a pretty gross sandwich.

In other news, my roommate, Nicole, found out that we can safely drink the tap water (we thought we couldn't), so now I don't have to sparingly drink water to save money (1.50 euro for a small bottle will get ridiculous).  I am very happy about this.

Tonight was probably the most fun night so far because me and four other girls, including Nicole, went to dinner together.  After walking around we found a place that had a deal: sangria, gazpacho, and paella for about 15 euros.  Besides the gazpacho (it isn't terrible, but it was hard for me to get over the cold temperature), everything was amazing.  I could literally drink an entire pitcher of sangria - but I won't.  And since three of us ordered vegetable paella, they brought it out in a huge, flat, round paella pan, and it was so amazingly rich and delicious.  One girl, Laura, described it as mac and cheese with vegetables with love, or something like that.  If you aren't familiar with paella, it is a kind of stew with rice and a yellowish, creamy sauce with cooked vegetables (perfectly cooked, I might add).  It doesn't sound very interesting, but the flavor is ridiculous!  I love it now.  It also comes with meat, if you want. You don't want that, trust me ;)

Then we found the famous churro restaurant that we had seen yesterday, and we split some orders of churros with hot chocolate.  The hot chocolate is more like warm chocolate pudding mixed with fudge.  If you ever have the chance to go to Spain, make sure you eat some churros!  Yum, yum.

Even though I am still homesick, I was very fortunate to have found some people to hang out with - it really helped me take my mind off of missing home.  Nicole, if you are reading this, I just want to thank you for including me and inviting me places - I really appreciate it, roomie :)

Until next time, peeps..

Bienvenidos a España..sort of.

Since I am new to the world of blogging, I'll keep my first post short-ish.  As many of you know, I did not want to go to Spain for an entire semester by myself.  I was honestly terrified - I still am, actually - but I am trying to make the best of this once in a lifetime experience..maybe.  Ok, I am lying.  I really don't want to be here at all.  Call me an idiot, but I would give anything to be back at Concordia with John and all of my friends.

Saturday, January 28th - Sunday, January 29th

On the flight from Milwaukee to Chicago, I sat next to a gentleman, who is from Texas but lives in Kenosha; his parents are both Mexican, so he could speak Spanish, which was an interesting coincidence.  However, he swore like a crazy man and didn't shut up the entire way (taxi, take off, actual flight, landing, taxi).  I think he said his name was Leo, but that might not be right.  Anyways, although he was very friendly, he got progressively more annoying.  He even invited me to get a drink with him after we landed, and I was thinking to myself, "wow, this is getting slightly creepy," so I politely declined.

Then, while I was waiting at my gate to fly from Chicago to Madrid, I was reading my API packet of information when a girl came over to me and asked if I was going to Spain.  We came to realize that there were about eight or so of us from API on the flight to Madrid, so it was nice to have some people to talk to.  The flight went by fast because I fell asleep after dinner and woke up an hour before we landed, so I got about nine hours of sleep.  I normally can't sleep on planes, so I was very fortunate.

Once we finally maneuvered our way through the Madrid airport and got our luggage, we had to wait about two hours to get picked up by API at 11:00 am.  Waiting became the theme of this day.  We waited at the airport.  We waited on the bus for twenty minutes.  And then some of us had to wait for almost an hour for our hotel rooms to be cleaned.  I didn't know waiting and doing nothing could be so tiring.  It is.

I met one of my housemates, Nicole, took a nap, met my other housemate, Abbie, and then went to an orientation meeting, which was followed by a walk around the plazas by our hotel and dinner.  I took pictures of my dinner - they are on facebook if anyone wants to see.  Yum..fried vegetables (said with a sarcastic tone).  No, it really was ok, but I had to eat a lot of bread to fill myself up.