The Bad Days: Stories You Didn’t Hear from Spain

Wow what a depressing title. Am I going through a goth phase? Stay tuned to find out…… Of course not, my sister did enough for the two of us (love you Sara).

No, I wanted to share some things with you. Life is hard, and strange, and also magnificent. I’m a story teller here, sharing my life and travels, and sometimes recipes (Sorry for that, I’m getting on it I cross my heart hope to die swear to you I’ll get some recipes up once I move into my apartment). I’ve shared a lot of my amazing experiences through my writing and instagram and whatever other social media. That’s the thing though, I shared the amazing, good stuff. I joked around about being stuck in the airport and all the misadventures, but life is obviously more than falling for a Mexican rugby player or finishing a book next to a palace in Spain. Don’t get me wrong; I’m so lucky and my life was dope when I was abroad. I’ll always remember my time in Spain fondly, but I can present myself to you all and to social media as if the bad days never happened.

So, here are some memories from Spain I thought maybe you’d like to hear. They’re sort of sad and funny and maybe will make you feel a little less envious, but also more aware of what traveling actually entails. It’s not all sunsets and sangria and shit.

  1.  I spent my first night in Salamanca in my room, not talking to my host family except for my “mom’s” grand daughter, Chloe. This little girl ordered me around and made me do weird exercises she must have learned in class. Chloe then proceeded to draw all over the only paper I had brought for class. COOL. I ended up crying that night in bed because I missed Madrid (not even missing home, sorry guys).
  2. *This is a bit more personal but get over it. You can handle it if you’re not a middle school boy* I ran out of tampons my first day of class in Salamanca.  SOOO I had to ask my host father to take me to the pharmacy without telling him what the hell I needed. I get in there, and in front of two grown men I had to try to explain what the fuck a tampon was because I didn’t know the word for tampon in Spanish. The two of them looked at me like I had two heads, until they finally realized what I needed. The guy at the pharmacy actually kept looking at me like a freak, as he was super offended and told me to go to a woman’s pharmacy. Super embarrassed, I was red all over and had to go to two other stores with my host father. P.S. just in case you ever need to know, the word for tampon in Spanish is “tampone” fml
  3. When I was in Granada in the south of Spain, I was walking down the street by myself and this old woman came up to me. She handed me a rosemary sprig and told me it was “un regalo” meaning “a gift.” I was like ok…. thanks and tried to leave. Before I could, she read my palm in Spanish while smiling at me with nearly no teeth. When she was done, I turned to leave and she grabbed my wrist and told me “pagame” , pay me! All I could think was “what the hell is going on, I’m a broke college student even in Spain.” She told me I owed her five euro. A car came down the road in between us. I saw my chance to break free. Just kidding! She proceeded to chase me down the street while screaming at me. Moral of the story everyone, don’t fucking take rosemary from old women in Spain.
  4. what is up with my face here what am I doing

    I went to Alhambra by myself and there were a ton of couples and groups of people. Me being me, I didn’t think much of it until I wanted to take pictures of myself in cool places. I  looked like the most miserable selfie taker in the world; perpetually single and taking terrible photos. If I was given the option to for the day, I would have rented a stand-in boyfriend despite the fact that I’m a strong independent woman. Even the guards asked me if I was by myself, and took pity on me when they found out I was just a little American girl wandering around in one of the most beautiful and romantic places in the world. Still cool af though. Also, my phone died halfway through my time there, so I had to hide in the bathroom after I found an outlet to charge it. I pretended to do my mascara for a good twenty minutes so I could stay in there.

    super awkward girl
  5. This story is sort of scary and I highly recommend ladies that when you are in any foreign country, be careful. I was at my hostel in Madrid, not Sungate One of course, but another one. The guy who was sleeping in the bunk bed above me came down after I had gotten back from a bar crawl. He was also quite drunk, and tried to grab me and kiss me once he heard me speaking. I pushed him away firmly and told him to go the fuck to bed. He realized I was American and said to me “I’ve never been with an American” and all I could think so say was “Well you’re not fucking going to are you?” It was scary, and I should have told management, but I was drunk and there were others in the room so if I yelled for help I would have gotten it. The next morning he apologized, but it was probably the worst day I had in Spain because of him.
  6. I realize I haven’t yet written about Barcelona, but that’s probably because I didn’t do much there. I got to go on a few adventures. For the most part though, I was in my room writing papers. On the fourth of July, I literally spent the entire night reading for class the next day. I think the real kicker though was having the laundry machine break down while my clothes were in it. I paid two euro to use the washer, only for it to not drain OR rinse the soap out of my clothes. I had to rinse each article of clothing individually and hang them all up. A maid at the student housing unit told me the dryer actually worked, so I took all my lovely five hundred articles of clothing and stuffed them into a …. BROKEN DRYER only to take them out and hang them all up again. I hated Barcelona for a couple of days honestly after that.
  7. My final story, which I fully intend to write more about, happened in Tres Cantos. I went out with a group of guy friends, one of which I’m very close with (Javier). The club we went to cost fifteen euro, that was some bullshit, but whatever. I started dancing after getting a drink, and everything was going really well…. until I tried dancing with one of the guys. One thing to know about dancing with a guy in Spain is that it means you’re interested in JUST them. You don’t dance with someone unless you like them. My American ignorance was shining when the guy went in and tried to stick his tongue down my throat. I pulled away and nearly ran out of the club. He ended up sitting down for the rest of the night, super upset. Javier explained it all to me. “Don’t dance unless you WANT them.” Oh god, that’s so intense. I didn’t end up dancing again, or going out for the rest of my time in Spain.

There are definitely more stories to share, and more depressing or weird things I could share with you. I personally believe if you can’t take the good with the bad, don’t travel. This is life; it’s not like you can simply escape everything in a beautiful place. I learned that really quickly, but I would still go back, still continue seeing the world.

The pile of bad things I just shared take nothing away from my immense pile of good things I share with you and keep for myself.

 

Granada : Alhambra, Tapas, and the World Being Smaller than it Seems

I’m broke. Really, I don’t have money to be traveling around Europe, or even Spain for that matter but guess who has her middle finger up to reason? (It’s me guys. I think that’s an obvious rhetorical question).

As you know, I’m studying abroad in Spain for the summer, spending most of my days in the beautiful city of Salamanca getting drinks the size of my head for four euros and dancing the night away… oh and doing TONS of homework. Fortunately I only have class Tuesday through Thursday, with some weekends open for travel. I had a free weekend at the end of June. Nearly peed myself with excitement; I was planning on going to Porto, Portugal. There is this beautiful bookstore J.K Rowling was inspired by when writing the Harry Potter books. God, that would have been cool right? You know what’s not cool though? The amount of money it cost to go. I waited till the last minute to get a bus ticket; it was just not happening.

Meanwhile, my friends studying abroad were making extravagant plans for Rome and Paris. A small glimmer of a thought crossed my mind that maybe I should just stay. Although I love being barracha (drunk) and dancing with guapos (you can look this one up) in the discotecas in Salamanca, it’s not fun going by myself. Also, if it hasn’t become apparent yet because you’re just not paying attention to my long ass blog posts, I really like to travel to new places, make friends, and eat amazing food.

There was a simple solution to this. I kept my middle finger up to my bank account, called an Australian I met in Madrid (the cute one, yes), and followed his advice all the way down south. Granada was the place to be apparently. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it in the first place; I deserve to be shunned as a lover of cheap and good food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After arriving and walking about forty minutes, a little pathway to Morocco stood in front of me. The street was bustling with shop keepers, selling bags, hookahs, dried fruits, and pants that looked more comfortable and hippie than anything I’ve ever seen in my life (Yes, I did buy a pair). A bit confused, I walked up the street looking for my hostel. Mid way through, I turned down a corridor and finally, made it. By recommendation, I booked Oasis Backpackers Hostel for my long weekend free of homework (I’m just on a roll with the jokes here huh?), full of alcohol and amazing comida. It was a cute little place with a bar, kitchen, and nice rooftop. I wouldn’t say it’s THE place to stay but it was good for the price and it was close to everything.

JUST A TIP: I will say, in general, if you stay alone at a hostel and want to make friends, a bar crawl can be worth it but I recommend focusing on meeting people at dinner if the hostel serves free dinner or, in this case at Oasis, paella for five euros. I think it’s better to meet at dinner and go out together instead of paying a lot for a bar crawl. That’s just me though (I got ripped off at another hostel, still salty).

My first night there was disappointingly quiet, but I had to go to bed early anyway. I had to wake up the next morning at 5am and the reason was ALHAMBRA. As a lover of architecture, history, and all things odd and artistic, I was super pumped to go to this beautiful ancient city within a city. I bought tickets through my hostel a week before heading to Granada (this is absolutely necessary, it’s sold out months in advance) for a specific entry date. Only the universe understands why I chose such an early entry date, but I was permitted into the Nasrid Palaces at 8am, but I had to be there a half hour early. Soooo I woke up super early, showered and dressed, then started my journey to Alhambra. It took me a half hour to walk, or rather hike, up the scenic winding roads and through the gardens. I got lost three times, but with no money to take a taxi. When I finally arrived my heart sank and then nearly dropped out of my chest as I read the sheet of paper I got from the hostel to redeem my ticket; I needed my passport. I had forgotten my passport.

“THE ONE THING YOU NEEDED, YOU HAD ONE JOB MEGAN!”

I freaked the fuck out to say the least. Called my mom, mind you it’s 1am back home. “Mom please please pleaseeee can you send me a photo of a photocopy of my passport?” and of course, my birthgiver (that’s what I call her) saved my entire life. Got up to the window to claim my ticket, a little nervous still that it wouldn’t work. If you’re from the United States, you know how much of a hardass some people can be about IDs. “Oh that’s fine, any form of ID is fine” …. you’re fucking kidding me. I spent nearly half an hour on the brink of crying, calling home and telling my friends I loved them and my life is over for you to tell me I could have just chilled and handed you my student ID WHAT.

A wave of anger and relief simultaneously washed over me as I entered through the gates and on my walk to the palace. My mouth immediately dropped when I walked into the first room, and it was just the beginning. Every single wall was covered in Arabic scripture. The ceilings were tall and intricately cut to look like heaven was directly above where you stood. Tiles and stones ran along the bottom of walls as if waves of color followed you with each turn. My first thought was “this is absolutely remarkable, 11th century? I would stay here forever if I could,” and then came the “wow how much human suffering had to be thrown at this place to make this happen” train of thought that I couldn’t ignore after thinking about how intricate even the smallest section of one wall, in one room, in this huge palace was.

And then there were the gardens, nearly a destination of their own. I couldn’t help but take pictures of every tree and every flower, every view overlooking the city I hoped to never leave. Since I was by myself, all my pictures were either awkward selfies or landscapes. The guards noticed I was by myself and congratulated me on being independent and adventurous, and all in Spanish. All those tinder dates with Spaniards were paying off I guess!

 

 

 

 

ANYWAYS….
Not to change the subject but I sincerely hope you know what tapas are. If you don’t, I also sincerely hope you’re nowhere near me when I find out. I don’t know how I lived before Granada, but my life was a lie. It was like taking the red pill (yeah that’s a Matrix reference and it’s totally appropriate for this situation). Admittedly, it’s not my fault that the rest of the world has not gotten on board with the idea that you should basically be rewarded for buying a glass of wine with free food. I REALLY like this rewards program though, and it’s all throughout Granada. Tapas are little dishes of food you can get, almost like a sampling of delicious things in moderation. I laughed a little bit when typing that because moderation is the exact opposite description for my tapas experience. In my mind, I had to have all or nothing, and I sure as hell got it all.

Tapas bars are everywhere, with varying types of dishes in each location. There was so much to try, so many glasses of wine to drink, and so little money to be spent. I managed to make my way to three noteworthy places that I wanted to name drop just in case you’re ever in the area:

  • Bodegas Castaneda – the wine was a-mazing, the tapas were divine, and there was no where to sit in this bustling little restaurant within walking distance from my hostel. I highly recommend getting here as soon as you can, and staying as long as possible. Just don’t make it obvious you’re American. One con to this place is that you don’t get to choose what you want as your tapa, but HEY free food, who’s complaining?
  • La Riviera – Always packed and for a decent reason. This bar was a staple for tapas and good drinks. I wouldn’t say it was the best place I’ve ever been, but I spent two nights here with good food and even better company. Oh, and there’s tons of English speakers here so if you’re feeling homesick, drop by.
  • Bar Poe – THE BEST TAPAS. I was missing spicy food a lot; picante in Spain is NOT picante to me. This little bar was my remedy. Surrounded by young travelers, the solo bartender in the middle of the island counter had us all covered, in whatever language we spoke. Tintos de verano (wine spritzers, sooo good) went around the table along with dishes like Pollo en salsa Thailandés (Thai Chicken), or Portuguese Salt Cod. I could not recommend a better place to be.

Tapas were not my sole form of sustenance though.  Paella was a must, along with nuts and dried fruits I bought in the beautiful merchant streets right next to Oasis. I also had some bomb falafel and split a chicken shawarma with a guy I met at the hostel. Speaking of which, I haven’t explained how small of a world we live in.

So, I went to Granada on my own. I was a solo traveler, a lone wolf. I didn’t realize how boring that can be. Besides seeing Alhambra, there was really not much more to be done other than go to the mountains (which I couldn’t do because I’m an idiot and forgot my sneakers). Seriously, no one to talk to or go out with. I love it though because it forces me to make friends and be sociable in dead awkward silence; that’s how I met Heather.

Oasis Backpackers Hostel had a gorgeous rooftop that overlooked the city and I spent a lot of my time up there. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same exact idea as me to take a seat up there and chain smoke cigarettes in dead silence. My second night there, I was charging my phone, looking up at the stars and, again, enveloped in dead silence and tobacco smoke. There was a girl on the couch across the rooftop from me and a young looking kid sitting in a chair off to the side of her. Heather wasn’t smoking, rather sitting on her phone and pretending none of us existed, just like everyone else there was doing. I was incredibly bored, and annoyed at the silence so I finally said something.

“Do you speak English?” Her head popped up and smiled. “Yeah I’m from the US!” she replied. Bingo. I was a little excited, after speaking only Spanish all day I thought I could use a break. I asked her where she was from. Maryland. “Nooooo way,” I yelled much louder than I thought I had. Of course, she picked up on the fact that I was, indeed, also a Marylander. Turns out, she’s from the same city as me, and went to high school right down the road from mine. We could have easily met at home, yet Heather and I were destined to meet thousands of miles away from it.

Her story was much more interesting than mine; a love story that brought her to Ireland and then all around Europe. She met her boyfriend, an Irish rugby player (wow her and I have similar tastes don’t we?), a year or two ago and they had been talking ever since. The long distance relationship just wasn’t going to cut it anymore! So she moved to Ireland to attend grad school for Computer Science. This girl was living the dream, traveling around Europe with the guy she dreamed of being with. I was lucky enough to bump into them in Granada.

Unfortunately though I wasn’t that lucky, as I didn’t get to see her for more than two days. The two of us parted ways with a smile and a wave goodbye. I had classes and she had an adventure to continue. I follow her on Instagram and I don’t think I could be anymore jealous, but also happy for her.

Maybe someday I’ll be that lucky 🙂

Salamanca: The Youngest Oldest City and A Love Story

I honestly can’t focus while typing this; it’s been difficult switching between English and Spanish so I’ve just been incredibly lazy and ignored everything in English that’s unnecessary (aka writing for my beloved blog, sorry everyone). Plus, I just keep playing Despacito over and over again, so of course I’m not going to get anything done.

Really though, I’ve had so much homework, including readings and papers in Spanish. “You’re not actually studying though are you?” my friends would jokingly say to me.  LOL STUDY ABROAD is actually study abroad believe it or not. Thank the goddess Venus herself for saving my soul and giving me friends in Spain from an exchange I did when I was sixteen in Tres Cantos (more on this later). I don’t know if I would have learned anything without them this trip.

They weren’t in Salamanca with me unfortunately.  Instead, I had the most amazing group of chicas (and chico) from University of Maryland with me. For four weeks, the lot of us enjoyed everything the “Youngest Oldest City” had to offer.

Now what the hell does that mean? Youngest Oldest City? Are you losing your ability to speak English now?

Super glad you’re curious and also to the point. So let me explain some things and see if you can piece it together:

  1. Salamanca is a city in the Castile and León region, about two hours away from Madrid
  2. It was founded in the 1100s (before the United States was a thing or even an idea)
  3. The Universidad de Salamanca is a thing. Next year, it’ll be 800 years old
  4. People still go to this school…. so what type of people attend a university usually?

Bingo. This incredibly old city is full of college students, and it’s a beautifully dangerous mixture. Along with all the landmarks, including libraries with globes that don’t include North America (because it wasn’t found yet, holy shit) and cathedrals towering over the city in marvelous fashion, there are bars with drinks as big as my head and discotecas (dance clubs) that close as the sun rises. During the day, we were cultured students studying at one of the oldest universities in Europe, and by night, Americanas with burning desires to dance, practice our Spanish, and drink Aguas de Valencia. And that’s how the love story comes in.

But first I want to clarify; there’s so much more to this city than that. From the charming cafes and tapas restaurants, to the beautiful river, and the perfect Spanish of the Salamantinos, I couldn’t have asked for a better city to live in.  I loved my host family, despite all the goddamn potatoes they gave me on a daily basis.

Seriously though, a PSA to Spaniards: You need to eat more vegetables. For real, potatoes and tomatoes ain’t going to do it for you. Pan (bread) is not a vegetable and neither is vino. Get it together

*Maybe I’m just a little more than jealous, or I’m absolutely right*

Spain, don’t change. I love you.

That’s not my love story though. I’ve been in love for Spain longer than any guy in my life. No, this was new “love”. It all started with wanting to practice Spanish, and what better way to do that than, you guessed it (maybe not actually…) TINDER. I figured, what the hell. I need to speak Spanish with native speakers and una cita, a date out in the romantic cafes of Spain would be nice. Now, for the purpose of discreetness, and also so you can’t look these people up through my Facebook and tell them I wrote this story and laugh forever at my awkwardness, I’m not going to tell you their names. Instead, all you have to remember is there was a Puertorriqueño  and a Mexicano. What a start to this story, not even a Spaniard in sight.

More context is probably necessary about the setting. Salamanca, and other cities in Spain have these places called Plaza Mayores. Out of all that I have seen, Salamanca’s is by far the most beautiful. To Americans, it probably seems like some silly European crap; it’s just  an open square with restaurants and stores surrounding the opening. I absolutely love it though. People gather there to hang out or celebrate. When Real Madrid won right after I arrived in Spain, you better believe I was there.

I set up a date with the Puertorriqueño; we were to meet in Plaza Mayor near the elephant, an almost obscene sculpture who’s ass was pointed in the air and occasionally farted mist. I’m not giving you anymore context than that. So, I waited in front of the farting piece of art for my date, while my two other amigas were waiting at a bar nearby (I’m not stupid, I wasn’t going in alone). As I sat there waiting, I noticed to my right a fidgety guy, and wow was he cute. I could tell her kept looking over at me, maybe waiting for a date of him own. After about ten minutes of waiting, the cute guy, as you will come to know as the Mexicano, turned toward me, jumped over, and started talking to me. Just as he started, my date was walking towards me. All I could think was “Shit I’m so  awkward what do I do?” I kept talking to the Mexicano with the Puertorriqueño now to my left. It was an uncomfortable sandwich love affair. I finally said to the Mexicano “this is my date! but hey, you should come with us to meet my friends…”

The night went well. Aguas de Valencia and chupitos (shots) of tequila all around. The Mexicano informed us he had one night left in Salamanca, and that he was glad to have made friends with such amazing Americanas and a fellow brother (He may not have said amazing but I knew he was thinking it). My Puertorriqueño friend walked me home. I wasn’t feeling the amor after our date. To be honest, I prefered to meet without the help of the internet, no judgement to anyone who does. That’s exactly what I was doing right? But it was to practice my Spanish, not to fall in love.

Next night, I got on my black dress and Adidas; Ms. Steal Your Heart. Objectively, I looked quite good. Subjectively, I was looking like the best thing since sliced bread everyone. I was prepared for a night out with the girls. Listened to Kendrik Lamar on my walk to Plaza Mayor; trying to humble myself but I was having a good time. When I arrived, my friend informed me she invited the Mexicano to Plaza Mayor. Apparently, he was there for another night. Also apparently, she didn’t want to see him….

All I could think was “OKAY, no, not chill. Don’t stand someone up because you’re just not feeling it.” I saw him out of the corner of my eye and ran over. That night in plaza mayor there was a light show on the buildings. He was standing on the steps of the elephant where we first met, watching the lights show. His name burst from my mouth, followed by his immediate swivel towards me and a flashing smile appearing on his face. I bet it’s not hard to convince you I swooned immediately when he asked me if I wanted to get a beer, or rather a cerveza.

The two of us sat in a bar, drinking beers and talking about rugby (which he plays quite competitively), Rogue One, and Donald Trump. We left to look for the others girls and to head to another bar with the full intention of having an unreasonable, but seemingly reasonable at the time, number of Aguas de Valencia. No one appeared, and I was rather disappointed to miss my friends. The feeling disappeared after turning around from the bar to a kiss. Yep, I was smitten.

From bar to bar we went, then to a discoteca and another bar. We danced the night away, hand in hand. “I want to show you the most beautiful sights of Salamanca,” he told me. “Beautiful sights for a beautiful girl.” Kind of cheesy, I know. We walked through the lamp lit, winding streets of the Spanish city, holding hands as if this was so typical for us.

By 4am it was time to say goodbye. It felt like the night was only just beginning, but I knew it was time to go. A final kiss and an “Hasta luego” were exchanged. I really do think I’ll see him again, wherever the road takes me though. Quite frustrating though isn’t it? But I’ve come to be comfortable with change and uncertainty. It’s one of the most difficult and beautiful parts of traveling. I wouldn’t trade it for the world

I knew it wasn’t love, not really. That was the night though I fell in love with Salamanca. Even after the boy was gone, I’d walk down those streets and picture what I wish the future could be for me; forever enjoying the dark and wondrous nights of such an old and beautiful town.

Of course I continued to enjoy the city with friends and on my own. All of us went for tapas and wine. There were surely many more nights of Aguas de Valencia, discotecas, staying out until the sunrises, and also helping to make sure incredibly inebriated people are alright. There were also days at the parks and pools, soaking up that Spanish sun and pretending like I wasn’t the whitest person within a five mile radius. There was time to explore and time to practice Spanish with impatient shop keepers. I felt like I was a child, finding all the sites only an adventurous and curious child could find. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I walked to class as if I had always lived there and always would. By the time I left, I was tempted to tell everyone “Soy de Salamanca! I’m from Salamanca!” and that was surely my joke to my friends in Madrid and Tres Cantos.

*Buzzwords to remember: Plaza Mayor, Agua de Valencia, Universidad de Salamanca, Discoteca?, Studying (actually), Pan and Vino  are not vegetables, Una Cita, Amor, Chupitos = shots*

Odd Thoughts: June 12th in Madrid

Have you ever been anywhere and felt immediately at home? For some people it’s in a best friend’s house or the library during finals week (just kidding, that’s just being surrounded by suffering). I recently had that sensation in Madrid this weekend, and on May 30th when I first arrived.

I’m a little bit of a romantic at times so I thought maybe it’s just the beautiful architecture or the antiquity of it all. All the monuments, gardens, and museums let you take a step back in time for even just a brief moment and enjoy something people did hundreds of years ago. Taking a walk at night is supposed to scare the crap out of me as a woman, right? (Still sort of did a little) But Madrid at night is so beautiful and strange at the same time. I could walk for hours, looking into the bustling cafes and bars. Watching the drunken Spaniards ramble on about politics and how Spain’s economy is going to shit.

After laughing to the point that I almost pissed myself today, I realized it wasn’t just the city. It’s the people. That feeling of belonging I get being in this city is because I’ve met so many amazing people, both from Spain and elsewhere. I laugh with them and have had amazing times but also it seems like they all give a shit about something; they all are real people with dreams and plans and interesting lives. I think, more or less, that’s literally everyone in the world right? Everyone has a story, and a life worth living. Not everyone gives a shit about something worth giving a shit about though. For the most part, they did. It was always something inspiring because to them, life is too short. What wonderful human beings honestly. Just sharing their lives and perspectives was enough to make me want to stay. I feel so welcome because they genuinely are welcoming me into a part of their lives, even for a day or two.

I think it also has to do with a common acceptance of the fact that people have different perspectives and live their lives the way they want to. People are more than meets the eye. Everyone has a story to be told. Again, I’m a romantic so what the fuck do I know? I just finished reading the book A Man Called Ove yesterday, crying my eyes out in the gardens next to the Palace here. I highly recommend it; the book had a lot to do with understanding there is much more to someone than what we first see.

Back to Madrid. Now, of course that’s not everyone. I’ve met people who nearly knocked me over on the street. I’ve been ripped off by bartenders and cheated by hostels, but I still truly believe for the most part that this city is just full of people worth knowing and getting to know.

And how could I not talk about the food?!?! That’s for later posts mis amores.

The culture though. The way people live their lives here is so much slower than the U.S (which sometimes has me nearly screaming obscenities at people walking as slow as possible when I’m trying to get somewhere). I love it though, and I think this is how I’d like to live my life. Maybe it’s because I’m always late everywhere I go, or maybe it’s because I can no longer see the point in racing through life without trying to enjoy every bit of it that I can.

Maybe it’s not Madrid that I love, but the new way of life I’ve discovered here with these amazing people. I think, more or less, it’s both.

I wish I could stay, but a story must end at the right time on the right note. So for now, hasta luego!
*BTW I almost pissed myself laughing because I came across my friend cutting his pizza with scissors. Think outside the box my friends.

Madrid: Sungate One Hostel & All the Sites to See

On Memorial Day in the U.S, I sat in the airport waiting for my flight, feeling incredibly stupid for not only mistaking the time of the flight but also for forgetting my adapter AND euros at home. In the end it didn’t really matter (it cost me quite a bit, don’t be like me). At that point, I was stressed out of my mind. My own fault; I packed literally three hours before my flight KNOWING I should have packed two days before.

Do you really expect anything else from me?

I was on my way to Frankfurt, Germany, then to Madrid,  Spain (my intended destination for 6 weeks wooooooo). So why Frankfurt first?? WELL I wanted to get the cheapest flight, and I thought:

Heyy, do you know what would be a great idea? Saving 100$! by sitting in an airport for 8+ hours in a country where you don’t speak the language and you can’t check your bags until right before the flight so it’s not like you can go anywhere or sleep or rest your mind and thoughts or anything…. great idea!

When I booked the flight I didn’t know it’d be that bad; oh how young and naive I was two months ago. The first flight was god awful physically, and a bit of a mental strain as I didn’t sleep AT ALL for a good seven hours. I totally had a good reason:  I sat next to a Canadian professor of music theory who was going to learn German intensively over the next 8 weeks; who I also instantly clicked with. We sat there drinking wine and enjoyed rambling on about Trump, the environment, the white savior complex, etc.. The conversation cost me my sleep, and therefore my sanity, for the next day and a half until I finally arrived in Madrid at 10:30 pm (22:30). It felt like I had just gone through finals week all over again.

I arrived at the airport and immediately jumped into a taxi after getting my overstuffed duffel bag (not a good choice, why would I pick a bag without wheels!). Again, no sleep to be had there. I chatted with the taxi driver in Spanish for maybe a minute; he insisted on speaking English, which I much appreciated. After nearly 24 hours of travel, I don’t think I was making any sense in English, let alone another language. We chatted about Madrid, the crazy accents across the country, Salamanca (where I’d be studying), and the FOOD. Tapas, paella, jamon, patatas; the stuff of dreams. My stomach yearned for food in the back of the cab after the last four airplane meals.

FINALLY I arrived at my hostel, Sungate One. I could not believe how in the middle of everything I was, right next to Puerta del Sol. I walked up to the door where a couple was sitting smoking. “You need a code, here let me help,” one of them said to me. Up the stairs I went with my big ass bags. It was about 11:30 pm by that time. Promptly upon arriving to the front desk, Christopher, a pretty fine looking guy at the hostel, welcomed me and immediately asked me if I’d like to go out tonight with everyone. “We’re leaving in five minutes, but we will wait for you! It’ll be a good time,” he said with utter confidence. How could I say no? “You can check in tomorrow, it’s no problem at all.” Chris (another chris? dos? yes) showed me to my room. (Btw, both chris’s were really cool. Everyone was just really cool.) I shed my bags and slipped into a cute outfit, fluffed my hair, and ran downstairs.

REMINDER: I hadn’t slept in over a day, nor had I eaten dinner or anything in the past 10 hours.

It seemed the entire hostel was going out, residents and workers (of course not all of them), our chaperones, but also party mates. Walking at night in Madrid is beautiful, even when you’re jet-lagged and slowly losing your sanity. The lot of us, maybe 16 people, made our way to this Irish bar about 8 minutes away. The bouncer came over, grabbed our wrists, and put a stamp on each; reduced drinks courtesy of Sungate One. I couldn’t believe my luck, but not because of the drinks.

You know when you meet people that are like you, and not necessarily similar in appearance but in intentions and values and etc. That happened! I love when that happens. Everyone I was with was SO friendly and actually wanted to talk and meet each other. It felt like home and in that moment, I knew I’d want to stay as long as I could.

So that night I spent a lot of time chatting with Americans from all over the country, Australians with thick but adorable accents (one who was super cute just in case you were wondering), Native Spaniards, Canadians, a Brazilian and a Turkish guy; oh, and this Chilean dude that I genuinely thought was French (still am not convinced, even when he speaks perfect Spanish). The first round of shots was free, and they just kept coming. After an interesting conversation about Brazilian rap and about an hour and a half of drinking, all of us poured out of the pub and ventured to a reggatone club.

All I can say is: what. an. experience.

I listened to a lot of reggatone when I was in Honduras so it wasn’t anything new in that sense. This place was comical, but honestly it was what you made of it. If you wanted to have fun and you like dancing like no one is watching, you’d love it. That’s exactly what I did. I danced with everyone I could, in every way I could. Get a few drinks in me and I’ll do the chicken dance and then fail at twerking in front of everyone; it doesn’t matter. Life’s not long enough to wait to have fun right? And everyone did the same honestly. I didn’t realize it then, but that was one of those nights that made Madrid for me.

I wasn’t thinking that the next morning with my grande resaca  (hangover). At least my surroundings were incredibly nice for the price I paid (about 22$ a night). I had my cozy little bed in a room with three other people. Each of us had a locker that also functioned as a nightstand. I dig the minimalist style. Walked to the bathroom to brush my teeth, take a long shower, and see the damage of the previous night. First of all: YESSSS the bathrooms were clean, the shower was actually hot, and the hairdryer worked (even worked well). Already off to a good start. I walked downstairs after getting dressed to have my morning ruined and made at the same time. Secondly: they make free breakfast churros and chocolate, sometimes crepes and pancakes. I overslept and missed them. UGHHHH “It’s fine, I’m fine, Everything is fine.” I was lying, very upset. Chris promised me I’d get it next time. God the people who work there were just so nice. It was alright; I was actually fine this time as I ended up going out to this amazing churro place right around the corner. That’s where my day of sight-seeing began.

“Don’t forget to write your name down for dinner if you want it!” someone yelled after me. Oh third: dinner is free, but it’s so good you’ll want to tip.

Totally isn’t my photo don’t sue me Sungate One I love you

Ok, I know you want to know the name of that churro place. It’s called Chocolateria San GinesHOLY SHIT was it good. Javier, an old friend of mine, and I split two of those beautifully fried desserts, dipping them in this thick melted chocolate for breakfast. *Just so you know, this is normal in Spain. We aren’t rebels (or at least we weren’t being cool kids there). He tried to get me to chug the rest of the chocolate when we were done. I would have gone into a diabetic coma.

The store was around the corner from the Palacio Real de Madrid. Quite a beautiful place to be, with gardens along the side that were small but still beautiful. Right next store is this grand cathedral known in English as the Almudena Cathedral. If everything is gold and extravagant for the most part you know you’re in a cathedral in Spain.

Palacio Real de Madrid
Almudena Cathedral
Javier thinks he’s cool

These are some of the most popular places to visit if you come to Madrid because they are not only beautiful, but Have a lot of interesting history behind them. You could definitely take a tour, but I recommend just finding a Spanaird and making them explain everything to you like I did! Haha totally feasible right?These weren’t even my favorite places though, besides Sungate One and churros because duh.

I truly think the best places to see in Madrid are as follows in no particular order because life doesn’t make sense anyway:

 

Templo de Debod
  1. The Templo de Debab – literally an Egyptian temple that was given to Spain as a gift from Egypt, really super cool. You come across it and you’re like what??? Why? How? Oh well,still cool! They built it brick by brick right there!
  2.  Parque del Retiro de Madrid – I laid and took a siesta (a long ass nice nap) here and watched the boats go by on the lake. It was honestly the most relaxed place, a little like a tame Central Park. I would come back to Madrid just to go here again honestly because also, #3 is in this park.
  3. Palacio de Cristal Madrid – it’s literally a glass palace like structure. Super beautiful and so full of light. When you’re there, it feels like you’re in a movie. Really. Super serious.
  4. The top floor bar of El Corte Ingles (this popular superstore, right next to Sungate One actually!) – You don’t even have to buy anything or get a drink. Just go! Javier knew that at the top of the store there was this beautiful view of Madrid. I thought I had seen the city, but not until I saw this. I would have really enjoyed some vino right then and there but I’m broke and life isn’t fair.

 

So those are some of the sights to see and places to be in Madrid. I personally think the best times I have are going out with friends at night, cooking with others, and just taking a walk and getting helado. I don’t think you have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a city like this.

Just do this:

  • Get a bed at Sungate One
  • Walk around the city
  • Get some churros and chocolate, helado, and some delicious ass tapas
  • Go to the top of every building you can and enjoy the views
  • Make plans for the night and don’t you dare come home before 1 am

My Summer in Spain

Hello all you lovely, freshly baked cupcakes!

If you don’t know me, you haven’t had the pleasure (or as some would call it, annoyance) of my non-stop gush of how excited I am to be spending this summer in Espana! I’ll be taking Spanish classes and finishing up my Spanish minor. If that doesn’t sound dope to you, IDK what will….

Anyway, I’ve actually already left. I’m typing this in another country AND YEAH THAT’S SUPER AWESOME TO ME. The people in the Frankfurt Airport probably think I’m a nutter.

As per request, I’m going to post about all the amazing food and cultural interests during my time here. I just hope my host family is ready for my help in the kitchen!

Ciao for now