Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Decisions, Dreams and Degrees.

At any given point in my life, I am unsure about most things. I am only ever sure about two things: one being that I love books and two being that if I were stranded on an island and had to listen to one CD for the rest of my life, it would be Simple Plan's "No Pads, No Helmets...Just Balls." Don't ask me why, it's just something I used to think about when making my short treks between Roseville and Chico. That CD was always in my car - not necessarily in the CD player, but always in the car. (God, I am kind of glad I don't have a car here after thinking about what I used to think about on drives.)

I have a lot I want to accomplish in my short life. I have many ambitions. Will I accomplish all of them? Probably not. If I do, then I will be a hairdresser with a phlebotomy license working on a PhD in American literature while earning a bit extra by being a bartender. Also, I would work in publishing and be a literary agent. That seems quite unrealistic to me. Traveling is equally important to me and so I may just have to give up on one of those dreams. (It'll probably be the phlebotomy dream - I don't think I could ever take blood from a kid. Or a person whose vein was hard to find. Or anyone. Come to think of it, I think this was a dream I developed when trying to get over a fear of needles.)

I thought I'd share a few stories about when I realized my dreams and my way of living were important to me. 

There was a point - during the height of my phlebotomy dream (it's important, you'll see why) - when I wanted to drop out of college. I couldn't take it. I'd gotten nearly straight A's my first two semesters, just missing the mark in Philosophy with a B+. I'd set the standards high for myself. I was on the debate team. I went to a few weekly club meetings. I got inducted into my first honor society. I had started dating a new guy at an inopportune moment. But I wasn't happy. I was teetering on that edge of trying to make my own college life while holding onto my high school life. It wasn't working. I had a few falling outs with my high school friends. I started applying for transfers and actual jobs. I was looking into phlebotomy courses. There was a point during all of this that I actually ran away for a bit. My roommates from this time still joke about it to this day ("We didn't see Brittany for three weeks.") They think I was being quiet and coming in really late/leaving really early or something like that. I told one professor I was going. No, I wasn't gone for three weeks, but I was gone for more than a few days. It's not like my unhappiness was crippling - it only lasted about six weeks. Before those six weeks I was incredibly happy and after those six weeks were some of the best months of my life. 

I'd also recently gotten the doctor's approval to ditch my back brace making it a difficult transition from weird girl in a back brace to raging beauty (haha, not that that's true, but that's what you feel like when you no longer have device that's pressing your boobs down onto your rib cage). Let's just blame all of my life problems on my back brace. Not that it didn't bring about good things - my freshman GPA for example. And the guy I was dating at the time always joked about when he knew me in a backbrace. Still, he remembered my face when I showed up my sophomore year of college without it. Not really a great way to start a conversation though. "Oh, you were the girl in the back brace last year?"

At some point between the start of it and running away, I got offered a job. A full-time, permanent position (the only one I have ever been offered to this point in my life). I told two people: the aforementioned professor, the one who also knew I ran away. He told me to stay here and wait out my storm. The other person I told, not a professor, but a mentor of mine, told me to take it, comparing it to the end of the fifth season of "The Hills" (to this day I don't know what that means). I think those are the only two people I had told until I wrote this blog post. I didn't take the job. It was far away from home. I didn't transfer schools either. I decided to suffer through.

I am so glad I did. Like I said, the next few months became some of the best of my life. I learned a lot about myself. I opened myself to the possibility of grad school (which is still in my future!), I fell more in love with American literature, I did a lot of writing, I traveled a bit around the state of California, I met some great people. The most important thing was that I developed new dreams. At the time, I was dating a seemingly ambitious person who wanted to go on to get his PhD (I think he really awoke something within me and I think I stole his dream. I blame his current un-ambitiousness on my thievery!) I went from being a lost soul to narrowing my passions and the life path I wanted to take. For a long I time, I'd wanted to work in book publishing but never believed I could do it until that point in my life. (It's still a dream! If the opportunity arose, I would jump at it). 

But I had finally made a decision about what I wanted to do when I graduated. I was going to go into book publishing!

Then everything bit me in the ass. It was just about a year after my six bad weeks of college. I was still dating the same guy but I was trying my hardest to break up with him. (When you are just leaving your teens, it's really hard to break up with someone in their mid 20s who is prone to crying whenever he thinks the two of you have a problem). One day, we were talking about the future and I was trying to make it clear that he didn't really have a part in it (while being subtle, of course). I told him that I was going to go live in New York City for a few years after college to pursue publishing and then maybe move to London and just be on the go during my younger years. (I still want to do that. I want to travel and move and go). 

His response? It was something like "But that's not part of the plan. You are supposed to go and get your phlebotomy certificate and stay in one place. I want to travel, but I have to have a place to go back to. I can't be a nomad." 

I hadn't talked about being a phlebotomist for at least a year by this point. Maybe even since before we had started dating (we'd known each other longer). He'd planned my life for me based on the eighteen-year-old he had met nearly two years before. The girl he'd met had been a shy, good student who had almost no social life because of an accident that had landed her in a back brace. No one wants to hang out with a girl in a back brace. Even in the grown world of college. She was long gone. 

"We want different things," I said.
"So, what happens how?"

I never talked to him again after I left his apartment one night not too far down the road from that conversation. Except once, in a text message a week later to say it was over (I was barely 20...). He continued to call and text me for the next six months to alternate between telling me he hated me and that he wanted me back.

Something about the fact that he had decided my life for me disgusted me. I wanted to make decisions for myself and be ambitious and go for things in life.

So, then I got my college degree. I moved to Europe. For myself and for my own dreams.

I waited out my storm and my life has been a fantastic range of experiences ever since. I think part of that is because I developed a much more positive outlook and decided to see things as experiences. Not a lot of things at my age are important enough to be devastating. 

And somehow after all of that, I ended up back in Roseville, not following my dreams. I went back and read my blog. There is only one thing to do now and that is go pursue something I love.

Let's just blame my newly found positive demeanor on this quote:

"We must leave this dreadful place to-morrow and go searching for sunshine." - Beatrice from Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise

Monday, June 30, 2014

Leaving and Starting Over


Even though I am leaving on a bit of a bitter note, I can't even pretend for a second that I didn't learn anything about myself or have some great experiences. So, I need to talk about some things I learned. If you have a problem with anything I post, go read the section on ethnocentrism in my first post.

A big thing I learned was how little language has to do with communication. Language has nothing to do with communication. Yes, it's easier to express certain things, like sarcasm and feeling, in your own language, through words, but it's not important. Even to this bookworm, who is always romanced by poetic sentences and dreams. People who I haven't been able to converse with have left an impact on me. Like the girl at Starbucks that always says "Que tal, Brittany?" and "Gracias, guapa!" We haven't said much else to each other, but she has been a friend. And then there is the lady who gave me a bandaid on the metro. That was sweet. And, of course, there are always the sleazy men who yell "Hola guapa" while I am walking down Gran Via. With no makeup. And sweatpants. Ah Spain. 

Another thing I learned was how important it is to be comfortable in your own skin. Americans aren't. Americans place too much emphasis on body and what you look like and fitting in, Although I have never been one for fashion and march by the beat of my own drum (I have style, but it's my style. Not Vogue style), I feel the pressures of this. Here, it is like that with clothing. I mean, I have to dress nice to go to the grocery store or else I will get weird looks (and hola guapa'd at). But certain things make me realize that it's important to be comfortable and, if you are, no one cares. I'm not so worried about my body type here. I'm not worried about my tattoos showing or that my arms aren't as toned as I would like them. I simply am myself. 

The most important thing I learned was to feel without care; to let myself be emotional. I've always been an emotional person, though I have always been good at hiding those emotions and expressing them in my poetry. But, really, if that episode from Glee is going to make you cry, then go ahead and cry. Tell the people you care about that you care about them or it will blow up in your face. Tell your friends that you miss them. Be open about feelings. This is something I am still working on, but it is a lesson I have learned. 

Starting Over

I wish jobs would be handed to me. I wish someone would come up to me and say "You are Brittany. You lived in Spain for a year. You used to be president of Sigma Tau Delta. You are a literature BAMF who can spin references like crazy. You can quote more Broadway songs than Idina Menzel. You make amazing margaritas. Here's a job for you." But it hasn't happened yet and there is a 97% chance that it won't (yes, I am that optimistic). 

All I know for sure is I don't want to go back to my hometown. I want to go to Oregon. Is that weird? I guess so. When I was a kid, I would beg my parents to move somewhere far away (they didn't...). As much as I love going home, I cannot stay there. I can already envision myself getting comfortable and settling down in Northern California and that is the most terrifying thing in the world. 

Right now, I am pushing for Ashland, which is also known as the land of almost no jobs unless you are an aspiring-actor-actress who is waitressing in your free time. Ya. It's weird, I know. Once upon a time, Chico was the place I walked into and felt like I belonged. Although Chico still feels that way from time to time, I experienced the same thing when I went to Ashland. I belong there. I love the beauty. 

Roseville and Chico don't hold much for me right now, I'm sorry to say. They scare me more than anything. And I just spent a year in a country where I don't speak the language. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Future

After many cups of coffee, bars of chocolate, glasses of wine, and walks through the park, I have decided I couldn't put writing this blog off any longer. I am leaving Spain. It is time for me to go back to the states and figure something out.

I will continue writing this blog, hopefully more frequently, about my life and my adventures in the work force. For right now, I am unsure, unemployed and the most lost I have ever been. It's the scariest, greatest thing I have ever done in my life. The past few weeks have been filled with many job searches, applications, tears, goodbyes, alcohol, and, of course, Broadway music.

My song list has looked something like this:

  1. "What Do You Do With A BA in English/It Sucks To Be Me" - Avenue Q 
  2. "I'm the Greatest Star" - Funny Girl - Glee Version (Lea Michele)
  3. "I See The Future" - The Fix  
  4. "I am Damaged" - Heathers
  5. "Sante Fe" - Rent
  6. "Confidence" - The Sound of Music
  7. "Without You" - Rent
  8. "Anything You Can Do" - Annie Get Your Gun
  9. "Dentist" - Little Shop of Horrors
  10. "Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch Is Dead" - Glee - Barbara Streisand version
  11. The entirety of The Book of Mormon soundtrack
  12. "I Have Confidence" - The Sound of Music
  13. "Til There Was You" - The Music Man - The Beatles version
And the job search will hopefully end with the classic: "Don't Rain On My Parade" - Funny Girl

So, as you can see from that list, it's been quite an emotional roller coaster of a few weeks, ranging from sadness, to optimism, to flat out funny. 

This will probably be the last post I write in Spain.

It has been a great year. In the memory of my first post, I will write my excitements/fears of going back home.

Five Things I Am Excited About:

1) Getting to see my friends and family! This is the longest I have ever been away from them and I miss each and every one of them each and every single day.

2) People smiling at you. I miss making eye contact with people and having them smile at you. People smiling will be a much welcome thing about home.

3) Food. Brussels Sprouts. Good margaritas. Goldfish. Homemade cookies. Chicken and dumplings. Panda Express.

4) Going to my favorite places. Like the theater. And Barnes and Noble.

5) Being in a place where I don't have to worry about leaving. I am legal in the states. And I don't have to have a job just for that. 

Bonus excitement: DRYERS! I hate hanging my clothes.

Five Things I am Nervous About:

1) Not having a job!!! I have never not had a job. I've thought about it. I have had some sort of job since I was 15 and a half. Or at least something lined up. This exciting and scary all at once. Job hunting is tough. This is where Brian's part in "It Sucks to Be Me" from Avenue Q comes in handy...

2) Driving. I don't want to drive. I've been spoiled with all of this walking. It's great to never have to think "I can't have another glass of wine because I have to drive." I am going to miss public transport. And I am not looking forward to the traffic.

3) Moving back in with my parents in my hometown. Thankfully I have the best parents. Even still, this is something that is quite difficult for a 23-year-old. It almost feels like I'm admitting "I can't make it on my own" even though I have been and I know I can and that has nothing to do with why I am moving in with them.

4) American Ignorance. Not that Spaniards are less ignorant, but being a foreigner opens eyes. I don't want to go back and have the damn NorCal conservatives rub off on me....

5) Okay, I know I said this one, but JOBS!!!!!!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post. Keep reading for my post-grad adventures.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

There's Really No Way To Reach Me, 'Cause I'm Already Gone...

If you are curious about the title, it comes from a song by The Fray titled Vienna that I absolutely love. And considering this blog post is about Vienna, it seemed very fitting. This post will also talk about airports and future plans.

But, first, I want to say that after a few complaints, I reread Love Story. I still stand by my opinion. First of all, Jenny Cavilleri wasn't even 21 when she married Oliver. He's mean to her and he hides the fact that she has cancer from her. SHE DIDN'T GET TO GO TO PARIS. She always wanted to see Paris. And, when she is dying, she tells Ollie something like "Screw Paris" but I know she doesn't mean it. He knows she doesn't mean it. But she keeps him from apologizing because "love means never having to say your sorry" and whatnot. 

Now, with that said, I did start bawling my eyes out in the Zurich airport when I reread this, but I think that's more because of how prevalent cancer is in my family than anything else. Cancer is stupid. That is one opinion that no one can even attempt to change my mind on. 

Okay, so, down to business....

Airports and Airplanes

1) The Madrid Airport - Terminals 1, 2, and 3 are awful things. They are depressing and have very little choices for food and such. Terminal 4 is a much better thing. I had a cronut in terminal 4 for crying out loud. At an airport. In terminal 2, I had coffee and a sandwich that cost me 9 euros, which I consider expensive for Madrid.

But my flight from Madrid terminal 2 to Zurich was awesome. My view from Madrid to Zurich was epic. Here is a view of what I am pretty sure is the Pyrenees mountains. You know those flights where you look out the window and all you can see are clouds? Well, that happened on this flight, except you could see the tips of mountains peeking into the clouds. It was incredible and it made me feel like the scene in The Great Gatsby when Jay Gatsby when he is describing all of his trips with Dan Cody to Nick Carraway.....not sure why, it just did.

I flew Swiss, so, chocolate and a pastry! They gave me a slice of lemon cake.

2) The Zurich Airport - I've been here many times now. It's pretty, but it's expensive. It is a very clean airport and that's nice. A coffee and a salad here cost me the equivalent of 17 US dollars, which was ridiculous. But necessary. 

My layover ended up being longer than expected on this trip because of storms and such, which led me to discover that when flights are worried about turbulance, they will not serve hot drinks. So, no coffee for me. Also, this flight gave me a bagel with a square of butter on the inside. Not quite as appetizing as the lemon cake, but, hey, free chocolate still.

3) The Vienna Airport - I didn't spend enough time here to have any real opinion on it, but I remember coffee being a reasonable price. 

The really nice thing about this place was that I was able to check into my flight from the train station in Vienna. I didn't have to deal with it at the airport. Convenient.

4) The Munich Airport - also known as my favorite airport that I have ever been in. First of all, they had an amazing stationary store. Second, they had FREE coffee. You read that right. Free coffee, tea, hot chocolate, beverages, etc. So, I had a lot of free coffee. Also, for 15 euros an hour, you could rent a little room with a bed and a desk that is in the middle of the terminal. My layover was short, but this would be a great place to be if you needed a short little nap while your devices charged on the desk. 

Both airlines I flew with to and from Vienna were great (Swiss and Lufthansa) and I would recommend them.


Vienna was an epic time. I went there to visit a friend that I hadn't seen since high school and to visit the beautiful city. It's great having friends in awesome cities. I owe a lot to this guy. I am very grateful both to have gotten to see Vienna and to have reconnected with someone I'm not sure I would have seen again otherwise. 

Vienna. Hands down one of the most outwardly beautiful cities that I have ever been to. Hands down the most beautiful library that I have ever seen. The library was at one point owned by the Hapsburgs (my favorite European dynasty) and I am just enchanted by it. Here's a picture:

Schönbrunn palace and the palace gardens were beautiful. I didn't actually go into the palace, but I went to the cafe at the palace and got to see strudel being made (and got to taste it of course). I was trying to wait for the rain to pass. Then I went to the gardens and they were so amazing!

Some things from the gardens:

The Neptune Fountain

A duplicate of a Roman Ruin

This Awesome Statue that unfortunately had no plaque (look at the woman's face. Doesn't it just make you want to write a poem?)

The Gloriette

Amazing Views of Vienna

It was by far one of the most beautiful gardens I had ever been in. Lots of fantastic statues and such. But my favorite statues of the day come from just outside the Hapsburg palace. I think these ones are just so worthy of poetry. The way the stone has settled adds so much character and expression to them, it just amazes me. Of course, my pictures can't do it justice.

They had some gorgeous cathedrals as well, including this one, St. Stephan's Cathedral:

I spent a lot of time just wandering the streets of Vienna as well. I found a street named Kollergasse, which was awesome. My grandmother's maiden name was Koller, so, I had to snap a photo of that one for all of my family in New York and Switzerland:

I got to wander through the Prader and the amusement park. I took a photo of the Riesenrad, the iconic Viennese Ferris Wheel:

I also got to ride the tallest amusement swing in the world and saw an amazing view of Vienna that way:

And, of course, I took a photo of the Hundertwasserhaus, the most photographed building in Austria (and one of the most unique buildings that I have seen):

Vienna was great and it is definitely worth a visit. I was also, surprisingly, underbudget for my trip, so, that was good. It's always good to have more money at the end of the weekend than you thought you would. 

Future Plans

I have officially booked a flight home to California for the summer. I will be spending two and a half months there, which I have mixed feelings about. But I have epic times planned and I am starting to get excited about that. I will return to Spain in September and hopefully write more blog posts than I do now, but who knows. I might try to write one or two while I am in California about reverse culture shock and whatot. 

So, look out and keep checking for new posts.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

For Jenny Cavilleri, a letter

You know, because I can write letters to fictitious people... Don't worry, it's about future travel plans...

Dear Jenny,

I am not sure that you got to live the life you wanted to and, at times, I think it is my personal responsibility to fix that and live for you.

Although I think you ended up happy and in love, I feel this pang of regret every time I think of how you must have felt at the end of your story. I think you did what you felt was right for you at the time, but I'd like to think you would have wanted more.

You see, when I thought about what I was going to do after graduation, I was in a situation similar to the time when you were about to graduate college. I was beautiful and brilliant. I loved Mozart and Bach. I loved the Beatles. And I loved a boy. But I had dreams that were bigger than that. The difference between you and me was I chose my dreams. 

You see, my plan was always to stay home. See Europe on some future trip. But something drew me to revisit your life. At the end of it, all I could think about was "Jenny never got to go to France. She never got to. She never achieved her dreams. AND SHE GRADUATED, LIKE, 4 YEARS AGO NOW." 

Sure, Oliver was a great guy in some aspects, but there were times when I felt like you weren't happy. You regretted your decision. He never did - he was head over heels for you - but you didn't feel quite the same way, did you?

One of the big reasons I came to Europe was because it upset me that you never had the chance to go. You missed out on your scholarship to study in France. You missed Europe.

Now that I am in Europe, I am starting to realize that I am missing out on things. And you are one of the women who taught me life was too short, so, I can't waste my time anymore. I can't miss out on Europe any more than I have. 

So, this weekend, I am going to Austria. Next, I am hopefully going to Italy. And the weekend after? I am going to France. For your sake. Because, Jenny, you never got to go to France. And that still upsets me to this day.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Poetry on the Brain

Alternate titles include: Nothing to do with Spain, Reminiscing, Ill-fated and Star-Crossed...

But I will say one thing about my life in Spain. Some guy was angry that he missed the bus and threw a rock through the windshield, causing everyone on the bus (including me) to be late to work and fear for our lives for a minute. It was the craziest thing that has ever happened to me. 

Alright, so, today is the last day of National Poetry Month in America. THIS IS MY FAVORITE MONTH. And while I was sick, I decided to play "What is this document?" while getting rid of old Microsoft Word files. I don't get rid of anything in Word and have a slough of poems, short stories, character sketches, etc. So, basically, opening any document on Word is a trip down Memory Lane for me. 

I opened one document titled Milton Bradley Poems - poems about a crush I used to have. (I can't explain my mind or weird references). Now, I did a bit of research for this blog post. The nickname for this crush of mine came from the board game designer Milton Bradley. Before an hour ago, I didn't even know there was a baseball player with the same name. Also, before an hour ago, I didn't actually know anything about the game designer, so, I took the time to educate myself. 

He gained some success by printing advertising for Lincoln's campaign. He then created "The Checkered Game of Life," which was the springboard for the still popular "Game of Life." Back then, it looked something like this:

But with more squares. These days, there are spaces like "Get a Flat Tire. Lose a Turn." (I may be making that one up, I can't actually remember...) Back when Bradley invented it, there were bad vices and things on it such as gambling. I'm not sure how to play, but you had to collect 100 points in order to win the game. 

Enough about random history, let's get back to my Milton Bradley. Like I said, this was a boy I had a crush on and, therefore, the subject of a number of poems including a sestina, which I will share with you.

But, first, a bit of background on this crush. I sat next to this girl in one of my classes who knew him and one day she came to class and was like "I ran into [him] at the gym. And then he was talking about this really cool girl he'd met. And then I realized it was the girl I sat next to in English!!" Before that moment, the girl didn't even know I knew him. And to a teenage girl, the fact that a boy you think is cute talked about you at the gym is some of the most exciting news in the world. Him and I became sort of friends throughout the years, but nothing beyond casual flirtations and cute moments. 

This poem is for the Milton Bradley.

It's a sestina, in traditional sestina form and I have played around with it a little bit since I found it in the word document. Not the best, definitely feelings of a teenage girl (at this point in my life, I'm like, "Wow, looking back, I didn't think I felt so strongly...." ) but I like it and wanted to post a poem for National Poetry Month. 

Working title: Mercutio

We watched the sky for hours
as our hearts tempted fate
and we fell carelessly in love,
wandering through life
not knowing our watched stars
had pain in store for us.

We never meant to be an us.
in those first significant hours
we just sat in the light of the stars
thinking we were exempt from their fate.
Exempt from the human-ness of life
and safe from the pains of love.

But it turned into love.
And, horribly, turned to an "us"-
-a "we," ampersanded in life.
We whispered nothings to pass hours
and pretended not to be ill-fated
but rather crossed by stars.

My hand in yours watching stars
made me feel more wildly in love
wondering if meeting you was fate
wanting to be more of an "us"
watching for seconds, minutes, hours
wondering if I could be lucky in life.

But I wasn't lucky in life,
was I? Day broke and the stars  
faded, breaking my heart. Within hours
of my be-all, end-all love
I half-heartedly watched us
crumble and give up faith in fate.

Before you, I didn't believe in fate
but now I live a different life.
I hate that there won't be an us
as I sit and watch the stars,
alone, wondering about future love,
hoping next time for more than hours,

but if it's only hours aligned in my fate,
then I hope for more loves in this life
than stars that stretch the miles between us. 

Milton Bradley, if you are reading this and you know who you are, smile because you were such a good friend of mine. Even though we weren't close, you were always there for me, even when the going got rough. I used to love our conversations about obscure music and sharing earbuds with you to listen to music and just our conversations about everything. I also loved later when you used to ask "How is what's his name doing?" when you knew perfectly well what my then boyfriend's name was. I liked that a boy I was dating could make you jealous. Also, thanks for always keeping on my toes and calling me out on my bullshit. 

If the girl who sat next to me in that English class is reading this, come on, it's not like you didn't know. I'm pretty sure you and I have had conversations in which all we talked about is that the Milton Bradley was sooo hoooot, as teenage girls are known to do.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bed-ridden, Medicine-induced Blog Post, or, My Parent's Visit

Hey guys! I write to you from the land fo sinus infections/respiratory infections/bacteria. It's not that exciting here. My life hasn't been super exciting lately, which is a big reason for the lack of blog posts. All I have been doing for the past few weeks is listening to the "Book of Mormon" soundtrack (and "Rent," "Avenue Q," which segued into "Dreamgirls" and "Jersey Boys" and now I am on a 60s Motown (mostly The Temptations) and a Dusty Springfield, Lesley Gore, The Shangri-Las, women of the 60s kick). Although I did make a trip to Valenica - blog post to come - and, oh, ya, MY PARENTS VISITED. So, since my mind isn't at its greatest, this blog post will mostly be pictures of their visit and my brief (or wordy, probably wordy) explanations.

Templo de Debod - I may have another picture of this somewhere else in my blog. Sorry about that, I think this sight is absolutely marvelous and I took my parents here for the sunset. It was absolutely beautiful. Another day, my father and I went back and I took him inside the temple. It was quite interesting. If you are wondering, this temple is 2200 years old and was donated to Spain from Egypt because Spain helped efforts to preserve the temples in Nubia. It's been in Madrid since 1968.

Madrid's Palace (Palacio Real) - A marvelous building! I got to do this one with both my parents and they both enjoyed it. It might be one of my favorite tours I took while they were here. Mostly because there wasn't over 1100 paintings like in the monastery in El Escorial. I like art and have a modest appreciation of it, but 1100 is too much...

The Cathedral of Segovia - it actually has a much longer name than that, but, as it is Segovia's most famous cathedral, it does get called Catedral de Segovia. It has a bunch of beautiful chapels and a wonderful courtyard and the outside is lovely too.

A candid photo of my lovely parents outside of the Castle in Segovia. Aren't they cute?

And a posed photo of them - still a beautfiul couple, huh? With such beautiful kids...

And here is my mom and I outside the castle. Beautiful place, beautiful town, even after three visits. I cannot get enough of Segovia!!

Every time I go to Segovia, I have to get cochinilla - roast, suckling pig (sorry, Andrew). Mostly because whenever I go to Segovia, I usually go with someone who has never been before. They ususally give me a cut of meat rom the center and nothing that actually resembles a body part. As morbid as it makes me, I was quite excited to be served an arm... It was also some of the best cochinilla I have ever had - although I haven't had much....

The beautiful Avila. Almost the entire city has these walls around it. I don't quite know the correct history behind that, but I remember it being interesting, so, I encourage all of you to use a good search engine (I recommend google) and search the history. It was to protect them from enemies in medieval times, but I don't remember which enemies or who was ruling or anything. Beautiful place though.

Entrance to the walled part of the city. 

Another view of the walls. Just because they are so interesting and beautiful and history (even if I don't exactly know what that history is...).

Another photo of my parents inside the cathedral. My mother has a look of "if you are actually taking a picture of us right now, I'm going to kill you..." She (obviously) didn't though. I think my father was in the middle of asking me what I was doing.

The viewpoint from which you can see the entire walled part of the city.

Here is a "selfie" (ough, I hate that word, but I sure take enough of them) of my father and I on the Madrid City Bus Tour. My mother was unfortunately sick that day, but I promised her photos. And seeing that I already have quite a lot of Madrid, I took a photo of us for her instead.

Last, but not least....

We went to a restaurant fittingly titled "Van Gogh" to celebrate my sister's birthday. My sister couldn't be with us last week because of her stupid important movie industry job (which is really awesome and not stupid at all....Proud of you, Jess!), but it was still important to me that we did something for her birthday. So, we got carrot cake! Happy Birthday, Jess!!!

This post has been written while on a few anti-biotics and without spell-check. I apologize for the mistakes this may have caused.