Monday, September 30, 2013


A few months ago as I Google-searched things while I was supposed to be working, I started typing in some of my favorite musicians names to see if - by chance - any of them would be playing in Madrid. I had been searching for concerts in Madrid and nothing exciting or reasonably priced had come up. I typed in Jay Brannan, who just happened to be who I was listening to at work and I found out he was coming to Madrid on September 24th. I couldn't be more stoked.


Me and too much wine? Whoops....

Warm welcomes to Madrid from the artist himself!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spanish Apartments

What a crazy adventure this apartment search has been! There have been tons of frustrations, tears and chocolate, but all of that is finally over and I have an apartment.

So, how does this crazy story begin? Let me tell you.

I looked at one apartment on Monday that I really liked, but it was a bit expensive. Meanwhile, a friend of mine was looking at an apartment that was much cheaper. I looked at that one on Tuesday and really liked it. We made a plan to go back the next day with another friend and possibly sign the lease. Therefore, I gave up the apartment I saw on Monday. So, we go back to the apartment on Wednesday and we tell him we want to sign the contract. He brings it and we have the contract in our hands, but we don't have money for the deposit. We tell him that we will run to the bank and he tells us that tomorrow will be fine. So, we leave. Thursday, about an hour before we are supposed to meet with him to finalize everything, he texts my friend and says we can't meet today and he will call us later. Then, after a wild goose chase, we find out that they have rented the apartment to someone else. By this time, there is less than 48 hours until I'm homeless in Madrid. So, I go to Starbucks and start sending out mass emails through Idealista, Easypiso, Fotocasa, etc. Friday morning, my friend, Taylor, and I break down and go to MadridEasy and, let me tell you, I could not have been happier. They put us right at ease and we had seen, loved and finalized a contract on an apartment within three hours of walking into the office.

Here are some pics of my place! Enjoy!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Parques y Libros

Over the last few days, I have had the chance to fall in love with Retiro. I have also fallen in love with a few bookstores and a library (big surprise?). 

A fear I had about moving to the city was losing all of my greenery and shrubbery. I have never lived in what I define as a "city" and I consider myself a small-town girl for the most part. (My college town of 80,000 was too big for me! Needless to say, moving to a city was a big, crazy step for me.) For most of my life, I have been surrounded by trees and agriculture, but have seen pictures of places that are sparse in the plant department. Finding all of the parks and plants and trees and labyrinths in Madrid has changed my perception a little bit. The trees have even begun changing a little bit for the fall! I could not be more excited by all of the outdoor beauty in the parks around here!

So, Retiro. I have been there, discovering its many trees and its beauty, everyday for the past three days. It houses the Palacio de Cristal, which is an amazing sight, as well as a pretty creek and lots of trees. Reminds me of Bidwell, except with a crystal palace and alcohol... 

 ...I got a margarita... I'm such an American girl sometimes, it's not even funny. Me and my tequila.


Palacio de Cristal

Another fear I had about moving to another country was not being able to have easy access to bookstores. Actually, my fear was broader than that. I was mostly afraid of not being able to access old-fashioned, paper, bound books. They are literally my favorite thing in the world. Set me in a library for all of eternity and I will be happy! I have found that books (although not necessarily English books) seem to be easier to access than my hometowns in California. 

First of all, there seem to be librerías on a lot of street corners, like these ones:

I also bought a book in Spain for the first time (a week. I lasted a week.). I bought Ted Hughes' Gaudete. It has it in both English and Spanish, so, I can get my Ted Hughes fix while practicing my Spanish.

And, today, I found my first biblioteca.

EEEE!!! I FOUND THIS FITZGERALD COLLECTION AT THE LIBRARY! The sad thing is, I was able to translate all of the titles, not because I knew the words, but because I know Fitzgerald's work that well!!

Mansfield Park! In Spanish!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Youtube Ads in Spanish and Walks through Labyrinths

A lot of crazy things have happened over the last few days, so, I thought I would share. First, though, I thought I would share that while listening to some very American music (Little Big Town's "Boondocks" - don't judge) there were actually advertisements in Spanish. For some reason it didn't occur to me that this would happen, so, it was a bit of a shock when someone started talking in Spanish while I was trying to listen to a song about being raised in the American Boondocks. Just a laughable moment.

Then in Spanish class, I was trying to explain the difference between "gusta" and "gustan" (in Spanish) to other members of the class who didn't quite get what was going on. I made it all the way through, using only Spanish, and was actually able to explain it. Fifteen minutes later, I realized that I had mixed up "adjectives" and "verbs," so, there goes my English degree! For shame!

Another thing to laugh at happened in Plaza del Sol today. I heard these clearly American boys talking about Spanish stereotypes and I stopped to ask them (in my clearly American English) where they were from. Their response? The United States...
Ya, got that. Thanks. Me too... It turns out they were preps from North Jersey.

Yesterday, I found Labyrinths near the Palacio Real. My Aunt Suzanne loved Labyrinths while she was alive and I took an instant liking to them. It was perfect timing to. I recently lost my Uncle Ron, who had been married to my Aunt Suzanne, and his funeral is this coming weekend. I am sad that I can't celebrate his life with my family, but I feel better knowing I found a place where I can celebrate his life from Spain. This will be my new journal spot. I wrote a poem to go with it. I have decided to do something like UrbanSketchers with poetry since I have poor drawing skills and need to keep up with my writing. I will share it here, but keep in mind I haven't written in a while and it is a really really rough sketch of a poem (like before first round of a workshop rough).

Labyrinth near Royal Palace
Madrid, Spain
Sept 10, 2013

For Aunt Suzanne

heartstrings pulled forward
towards a future
towards you  
towards the past

the past

a place you wouldn't want me to be

but here I am
wishing I could share this sight

a garden
similar to yours

memories of a future
I have yet to encounter

I was meant to find this
I was meant to be in a place
when the pain of losing you 
grew stronger
with the loss of your husband

I was meant to be in a place
you would call


Monday, September 9, 2013

On Bettering My Spanish and Making Friends and On El Corte Inglés

On Bettering My Spanish and Making Foreign Friends

I have officially made it through a day using Spanish in most of my conversations with Spaniards. Ironically, the only place I found myself completely unsure of my basic skills was in a Starbucks (although I do have to give a shout out to Taylor for helping me buy stamps) where I spoke in English the entire time. To buy After Coffee Mints. Because I am utterly, disgustingly American like that. I have to say that I am getting much better even if I have only been here for a few days.

It also helps that I started Spanish class today. Although they put me into a basic class, I was happy to be back in a classroom setting. I immediately got to jump back into annoying girl who never shuts up and was able to lead a team to victory in Spanish Pictionary. Plus, I felt really great being in a classroom where I understood every single word that was being spoken - and it was all in Spanish. I have a great teacher, Fede, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and tomorrow I will get to meet Amelia.

After class, I got to meet up and grab lunch with some fellow classmates. I met one girl from Britain and one girl from Australia and brought them to lunch with a few people from my exchange program. It was awesome getting to talk with them about other cultures!

On El Corte Inglés

This store has everything! Literally it has everything I will ever need while I am in Spain. It can only be described as Macy's+Target+OfficeMax+Barnes&Noble+Safeway - and I didn't even make it to every level!!

Here are some pictures I snapped in the Market part of El Corte Inglés:

Translates to "monkfish," but couldn't resist sharing:

This ice cream made me laugh:

Yum, brains:

Fingers of Mozerella, anyone?:

Friday, September 6, 2013

First Impressions of Spain

Although I haven't even been here 48 hours and I am stuck in the American bubble, I have noticed a few things about Spain that I thought I would share.

1. The food! It's good, but they eat a lot! After being served this paella, we were served another pork dish. It was delicious, but no one at our table could hardly take a bite. The waiter came by and asked, "No gusto?," so, we tried to eat more. And then they brought dessert...

2. When you are with a group of Americans and they are all saying "Thank you" to the waitstaff and hotel folk and you answer with "gracias!" the waitstaff and hotel folk will automatically think you can understand Spanish and start rapid-firing it at you. Oops. 


3. The architecture. It's pretty. And different. For example, this is Madrid's royal palace.