When Your Flatmate Turns 21…

…It’s a pretty big deal.  And that’s why I just spent the weekend in England at Lauren’s house to celebrate 21 years of awesomeness with her family and friends.

It started early morning on Friday.  I took a 45 minute bus, a 40 minute metro, waited at the airport for 2 hours, a 2 hour and 15 minute flight to Manchester, a realization that my plane landed at 12:20 but I had bought my train ticket for 11:30 (rookie mistake), and a 2 hour train ride to Leeds where Lauren and her mom picked me up and we made the 20 minute drive to Wakefield.  Phew.

And what better way to start the weekend than to beautify ourselves by getting our eyebrows done?  So Lauren and I went to the woman she and her mom had been going to for awhile and I began sweating immediately.  Let’s just say my eyebrow pain tolerance is incredibly low, so when I found out she would be threading them? Cue freak out.  My only experience with threading was earlier in the week when Lauren and I went to get pedicures in VdlC and they threaded our toe hairs ūüėā.  And if my little toe hairs could barely handle the pain, I couldn’t imagine what my baby eyebrows would think.  Well, the baby eyebrows didn’t like it either.  After some threading, waxing, and plucking (geesh, was I growing a forest up there??), I looked in the mirror and…

WTF?!?!

My eyebrows were BLACK.  The woman had colored them in, and since my eyebrows are normally very light blonde, the sheer contrast was intense.  The color, paired with the shape, made me look angry AF.  I had a minor panic moment, but after a couple days they have lightened a bit, and I have to say, it’s nice having 2 eyebrows of the same color now.

After that, I got to experience my first English pub with Lauren, her parents, and her aunt.  But then, something even more iconic: I tried my first fish and chips!  The fam taught me about all the sauces and whatnot that you can put on the fish and chips: curry sauce, salt and vinegar, brown sauce, red sauce (ketchup), and pea sauce, which I learned the hard way isn’t called pea sauce but rather “mushy peas.”  Who knew?  But it was delicious!  Later that night, we went and picked up Lauren’s friend, Jack, from the airport.  Lauren and I even made a welcome sign for him based on one of our favorite Spanish songs here!

Despacitoūüé∂

Then, Saturday was the big day!  We all slept in and then went on a walk with Lauren’s aunt’s neighbor’s dog.  In the evening we all got ready and then people started coming over for some drinks before dinner!  Several people came to surprise Lauren, which was really sweet.  Among some of the cool people I met were Lauren’s friends Patrick, Charlotte, Charlie, and Chris.  They were people I’d heard so much about but hadn’t met yet, so it was great to finally get a chance to spend time with some of the important people in Lauren’s life.  When drinks were finished, Lauren’s parents rented a bus to take everyone over to dinner which was at a place called 3 Acres.  It. Was. INCREDIBLE.  We had our own private room and had a 3 course dinner…what’s better than that?!  I got pea risotto, then chicken and mashed potatoes, and finally some amazing banana bread, which Chris couldn’t finish, so I graciously ate the rest of his too ūüėā.  Lauren’s dad made a really sweet speech, and overall it was just a really good time talking, laughing, and of course, eating.

Course 1

Course 2

Unfortunately, the food had to run out at some point, so the bus took Lauren, me, Jack, Patrick, Chris, and Charlie to Leeds to go out for the night.  We started at Viaduct, which was a really cool gay bar!  Then we made our way over to Rev’s, where they have a bunch of different flavors of vodka, including black cherry, bubble gum, watermelon, peanut butter and jelly, and birthday cake to name a few.  We also got kicked out because Charlie was so tired that she fell asleep on one of the couches upstairs and the bouncer thought she was drunk and made us take her outside ūüėā.  When the rain started, it was our cue to leave, so Lauren, Jack, and I got an Uber to McDonald’s (to which Lauren’s mom would eventually say, “We had that amazing 3 course meal and then you went and got McDonald’s?!”).  Turns out English McDonald’s have banana milkshakes and I of course couldn’t pass up that opportunity.  We finally made it home and were in bed by around 5:30 am and we slept until about noon because the next big event was happening that day!

As if a 3 course meal wasn’t enough for the weekend, Lauren’s parents hosted a cookout at their house on Sunday.  More people came over to celebrate Lauren, and we ate all kinds of things (shout out to Cate for the bomb.com food and to Patrick for the amazing burgers and sausages!).  We were even lucky enough to have good weather, so we were able to stay outside the whole time!

Before long, everyone had gone and the busy weekend came to an end.  I packed up and decided to get a couple hours of sleep before Patrick took me to the Leeds train station at 1:15 am to begin my journey home.  By the time I was back home it, was 12:30 pm Madrid time, and I’m wiped!  Lauren will be back in a few hours and it’s back to school tomorrow.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Lauren, Cate, and Patrick for welcoming me into their home this weekend.  It was an honor to help celebrate Lauren’s birthday, and it was so nice to have a home away from home since I haven’t been home since the beginning of January (I even accidentally called Cate “mom” while I was there ūüėā).

In other news…
-Last weekend, Minorka, Sof√≠a, Nicole, and her roomie Christy went to Casa del Campo, a giant park in Madrid, to go to the Parque de Atracciones.  It was a neat little theme park with a couple roller coasters and other rides.  It was really fun, but we realized we were way too old because we were all feeling dizzy and nauseous after the rides.

-Mother’s day was yesterday and I was really sad not being able to help celebrate with my mama and grandma and aunt and everyone, but HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the mothers out there who have one of the most difficult jobs in the world – thank you for all you do!

-Also, ELAINE COMES TOMORROW!!!  I’m meeting up with her after school, and I can’t wait to spend the week with her in Madrid and Barcelona!  Stay tuned for that!

My “Gran” Vacation and a Conglomeration of Other Events.

Happy last day of February, and happy birthday to all you leap year babies out there! ¬†Can you believe this month is almost over? ¬†Well, it just means we’re that much closer to Spring. ¬†Hooray!

I’ve got a long update today, but luckily there are plenty of humorous stories sprinkled in here and there, so hopefully they will get you through. ¬†Well, here goes nothing.

Pajama Day
A couple weeks ago, we celebrated our 100th day of school with Pajama Day! ¬†The kids (and teachers) were so excited. ¬†Everyone wore pajamas (there was quite an assortment), and in many classes, we got to read books and do some fun activities. ¬†I even got to share my favorite children’s book,¬†Dragons Love Tacos with my kiddos and they loved it. ¬†I was also surprised that many of my kids had never tried tacos before (blasphemy!), but we got to learn some new English words, like¬†spicy and¬†mild. ¬†It was a lot of fun, but of course, very exhausting as all special days at school are.ūüėĶ

Vacation to Gran Canaria
Thank goodness for long weekends, because we needed one after Pajama Day. ¬†So, Selena and I headed off to the Canary Islands for some relaxation! ¬†Everything went without a hitch…until we arrived. ¬†After landing at the airport, we had to take a bus to get to our hostel. ¬†Well not being familiar with the public transportation system there, you can imagine there would be some snafus. ¬†So we’re sitting in the bus, right? ¬†We’re both on our phones trying to figure out we needed to go next, when suddenly we looked up and saw that there was¬†nobody left on the bus. ¬†So we laughed at ourselves for being so unobservant and then grabbed our things to get off…only to realize the driver was also gone and had¬†locked us on the bus.¬†ūüėÖ ¬†Crap. ¬†There were people outside laughing at us until finally the bus driver came back to let us off. ¬†Then we had to sprint over to the next bus we had to catch. ¬†What a great first impression we made in Gran Canaria.

But at least the island made a good first impression on us, because the weather was¬†beautiful. ¬†It was sunny and in the 70s, so we took advantage of that and hit the beach right away. ¬†It felt amazing to lay out in the sun and feel the sand between our toes and the waves crashing over our feet, even though it was super cold. ¬†The highlight was the thong-clad self proclaimed “Professional Beach Boy,” aka an older man that was a little¬†too friendly and decided to try to make conversation with us even though we were clearly wanting to be left in peace. ¬†Oh well. ¬†The things you see on the beach. ¬†And of course, even after applying sunscreen multiple times, I still got burnt ūüėí.

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After that, we went back to our hippy dippy hostel to check in. We were sharing a room with these 2 guys, but we didn’t introduce ourselves right away because it sounded like they were speaking another language. ¬†So Selena and I referred to them as “the German guys.” ¬†That is, until about a day later, we made the realization that they had actually been speaking English the whole time and were actually from Glasgow¬†ūüėāūüėāūüėā. ¬†Their accents had been so strong, they didn’t even sound like English. ¬†I think I need to get my ears checked.

That night, we headed to the Mercado del Puerto for dinner because we saw that one of the stalls had fish tacos and strawberry mojitos! ¬†Yum! ¬†So the waiter brings out the fish tacos…but all we see on the plate is chunks of fish, some cabbage salad, and potatoes. ¬†He left and Selena and I looked at each other. ¬†We agreed he must be going back to get the tortillas. ¬†But he came back empty handed. ¬†So then he had to explain to us that fish tacos are just a style of cooking fish there, not tacos like you think about in Mexico. ¬†We were laughing and were a little disappointed in the “false” advertising, but we enjoyed the meal all the same. ¬†We ended the night listening to a Brazilian band play along the beach and got some rest to prepare for the next day’s hike.

We started off the morning with a delicious breakfast and some fresh orange juice, only to find out that Selena’s debit card had gone missing! ¬†We retraced our steps, but to no avail. ¬†Luckily, she remained calm and cancelled her card before anyone could use it. ¬†But then we had to catch 3 buses to get to the starting point of our hike. ¬†We got some incredibly helpful advice from a kind man who worked at the local museum/tourist center (which was in a cave!), and we headed on our way.

The hike was beautiful! ¬†We had perfect weather and enjoyed walking past several different cave neighborhoods and fields and mountains and little bodies of water called presas. ¬†Despite having very specific directions and a map, we constantly felt lost and second guessed ourselves every step of the way. ¬†Once, we almost took a path that lead straight uphill until we decided we had better be completely certain we had to take that path before starting it. ¬†Luckily, we didn’t! ¬†We saved ourselves about an hour of unnecessary climbing because of it!

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We made one stop along the way at a little bar called Marcelino’s where we got a beer and some chicken wings. ¬†It was just what we needed to refuel for the continuation of our journey. ¬†So we continued walking…and walking…and walking…oh, and did I mention walking? ¬†Our feet were hurting, our knees were hurting, the clouds were rolling in, and it started sprinkling on us. ¬†Suddenly, this dad with his kids in a stroller came running down a hill with the mom following close behind – the first people¬†we had seen in awhile! ¬†Selena asked them how much farther, and the dad warned us to be careful and stay along the road, because just a week ago, two German girls were hiking and a tree fell and one of them lost a leg! ¬†We thought,¬†Oh crap, what have we gotten ourselves into?¬† The family said they would take us down the mountain, except with the kids in the car, we wouldn’t fit. ¬†We thanked them anyway and continued walking. ¬†But then, they shoved the kids in the backseat with the dad and told Selena and I to squish in the front. ¬†Woohoo! ¬†The took us partway down the mountain and we thanked them for doing that, because we were exhausted!

After continuing walking for awhile, we came to an abandoned bottle factory, which was so creepy and cool! ¬†There were smashed crates and bottle caps¬†everywhere. ¬†We also passed an abandoned hotel, all in the middle of nowhere! ¬†No wonder they went out of business… ¬†But again, we were tired, so the next time a car came by, we stuck our thumbs out, and luckily a guy stopped for us! ¬†He was exactly who you’d expect to pick up hitchhikers…he was an older dude with a VW van and a dream catcher hanging from his rear-view mirror¬†ūüėā. ¬†He was very friendly and took us to the bottom of the mountain to the bus stop. ¬†When we were about to get on the bus, these adolescent girls jumped the line, so these 2 Spanish grandmas started yelling at them that Selena and I were at the bus stop first and should therefore get on the bus (guagua) first. ¬†And those rude girls continued on the bus anyway! ¬†Youths these days¬†ūüėí.

Later that night, we checked out the Carnaval celebrations!  Carnaval is basically a giant party celebrating before the start of Lent, and it is taken very seriously in Spain.  People dress up in costumes and drink and party for about a month, or even more!  In Las Palmas, they had a giant stage where large groups of people sang satirical songs about the government.  There were also a ton of people meandering about in their costumes (lots of men dressed up as sexy nurses) and consuming alcohol and dancing to the music.  Selena and I made it a point to find the coolest costumes and take selfies with those people!  It was hilarious.

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The next two days were more beach days to relax our aching muscles from the hike.  We drank lots of sangria and laid out, and I even got a quick massage from a lady wandering around the beach offering them. Hey, treat yoself, am I right??   We even went to this hippy dippy bar where they had people playing live, and it was really neat to see!

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and we had to return back to work the next day.  Bummer.  But overall it was a great time with a great travel partner!

Carnaval at School
So of course, since¬†Carnaval is such a big deal, we had to celebrate at school! ¬†Our school’s theme was¬†Los Opuestos, aka Opposites. ¬†Each grade level had a different set of opposites, such as cops vs. robbers or black chess pieces vs. white chess pieces or villains vs. heroes. ¬†The auxiliares decided to go as jocks vs. geeks, and it was¬†hilarious. ¬†We spent most of the day helping to set up the decorations around the school for when the parents came to see the costume parades. ¬†Plus, we danced around like maniacs in the process, and I even sang “Stacey’s Mom” for karaoke in front of my devoted 6th grade fans¬†ūüėú. ¬†Some of the 6th graders even challenged me to a dance off, and at the end of the parade, some of the boys asked if they could talk to me via¬†WhatsApp¬†ūüėā. ¬†I was like, uhh, you’re students and I’m a teacher, so that probably isn’t the best idea. ¬†But hey, I was flattered¬†ūüėā.

Jocks vs. geeks

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Hike #2
Since the weather is¬†finally getting warmer, Nicole, her roommate, and I went on a really cool hike to¬†Las Cascadas del Hervidero. ¬†It was about a 13k walk and it was really pretty, especially the waterfalls we saw at the end. ¬†It was a really great day, until I started feeling like I was about to pass out because…

Tonsillitis
I spent Saturday night and all day Sunday in bed with a terrible headache, back ache, and sore throat. ¬†I was dizzy and had the chills too. ¬†I figured it was just one of those 24 hour flu bugs, but I woke up Monday morning and felt even worse! ¬†I could barely swallow, and I knew I had to go to the doctor. ¬†Problem was, I didn’t know how. I tried calling one doctor, and they hung up. ¬†Tried calling another, and couldn’t understand the options in Spanish. ¬†Tried calling and English-speaking one in Madrid, but they didn’t really speak English, so as I’m trying to explain my insurance to them in Spanish, they told me I had to call a different ¬†number. ¬†So I called that number and they said the original number I called was wrong, so here’s a new number. ¬†I was like, screw it, I don’t want to go into Madrid when I’m feeling this bad anyway. ¬†So I texted Anah√≠ and she said I should go to the emergency room (I knew it would be too expensive) or there was a private clinic in the next town over where I’d have to pay 100 euros (also too expensive). ¬†I decided to call the 2nd one again, only to find out they had closed for the afternoon. ¬†So I waited another hour (and spent most of the hour crying and wishing for my mom and feeling miserable because it was just too complicated) and called again to make an appointment for another hour later. ¬†Finally, after about 4 hours of trying to figure things out, I made it to the doctor. ¬†He took one look at my throat and shook his head, it was that bad. ¬†Tonsillitis, he told me. ¬†He prescribed me some antibiotics and told me to take lots of ibuprofen. ¬†And finally, after all that, I’m feeling so much better and was able to go to school today, even though I’m still taking it easy this evening. ¬†It was rough, and I did have a break down, but I was pretty proud of myself for being able to do it all in Spanish. ¬†See dad? ¬†My Spanish¬†is improving¬†ūüėú.

Google Test
I had been in the process of taking a Google Educator course online to teach me how to use Google applications in the classroom. ¬†I took the exam online last night and passed! ¬†I am now a Google Certified Educator Level 1! ¬†Woohoo! ¬†I hope my future school has a plethora of technology to use, because I’m excited to incorporate my newfound knowledge in my class!

Wow. ¬†That was a lot of things…sorry for the long post. ¬†I need to work on that…

Shoutout Corner!

Mom: My mama just started her new job at State Farm!  Wish her luck during training this week!
Yashas and Kourtney:
Thanks to you two for listening to me whine and complain all weekend about how sick I am.
Lauren:
 My awesome roomie entered my quarantined sick room without hesitation this weekend to bring me water and homemade mac and cheese. Dedication!

Countdown Corner!

My birthday: 12 days!
Trip to Valencia: 17 days!
Grandparents and Kourt come to Spain: 19 days!

So many exciting things coming! ¬†I can’t wait!

Also, check out my friend Sam’s account of a Sunday afternoon we spent together on her blog:¬†http://teach-english-abroad-blog-spain.ciee.org/2017/02/around-town-now-featuring-rain.html

When Stepping in Dog Poop is Good Luck & Other Stories from the Week.

If the title is any indication, this post is gonna be a doozy.  So strap in and prepare yourself for one wild ride as I recount all the disgusting, messy, and entertaining events of the week.

Dog Poop is Good Luck
It was Friday morning. ¬†I awoke with excitement; just one more day of school until the weekend! My students even have a delightful song for Fridays: “Friday, Friday, it’s my favorite day. ¬†The weekend is coming, and so I can play, play, play!!!” ¬†So there I was, chipper and prancing down the sidewalk (okay, not really) with Lauren on our way to school.

But then it happened.

I looked down and saw the brown mess squished on the bottom of my foot.

“NOOOOO!!!” I yelled in my head.

“NOOOOO!!!” I yelled out loud. ¬† Normally I am so careful about looking at the sidewalk when I walk to school because dog owners in this town just leave their dog poop everywhere, including the middle of the sidewalk. ¬†(Have I ever mentioned that Lauren and I once counted 15 piles of dog poop on the sidewalk on our 20 minute walk to school one day?) ¬†But today, I slipped up, and my moment of weakness lead to a shoe covered in poop. ¬†Greaaaaaat. ¬†So I tried wiping it off on the sidewalk. ¬†And then on a ledge. ¬†And then in a puddle. ¬†And then in the grass. ¬†And then in a fountain. ¬†I got most of it off, but it was still there. ¬†I recounted this tale to Anah√≠ when I got to school, and she asked me, “Well, was it your right foot or your left foot?” ¬†I told her left, and she told me that’s good luck in Spain! ¬†And then one of my students proceeded to tell me how it’s true because one time she stepped in dog poop and then won the lottery of a whole 8 euros. ¬†I don’t know about you, girl, but I’d rather be 8 euros poorer than deal with dog crap on the bottom of my foot.

Crazy Week at School
As if they aren’t always crazy, this week was especially insane. ¬†It started with the fact that Anah√≠ and I were just told that our kiddos have to take the Trinity exam, which is an exam in which they have to talk about a topic for 5 minutes and then have to answer questions for 5 minutes…in English. ¬†Many schools knew their kids would be taking this exam from the beginning of the school year, but we had been told ours wouldn’t. ¬†Until this week. ¬†So of course, being the type A people Anah√≠ and I are, we had a minor stress freakout before we made a plan for how to proceed with teaching them all they need to know before the exam. ¬†We’re still nervous, but feeling a little more confident now that we have a plan.

Another crazy thing from this week? ¬†The art teacher decided it would be a good idea for the kids to paint…with food. ¬†Oh boy, I thought to myself. ¬†This is gonna be bad.

And it was. ¬†The kids brought ketchup and mustard and Nutella and yogurt and whipped cream and toothpaste and berries and pickled beets and a whole assortment of other disgusting things that, when smeared across a paper, look like bodily fluids that could come out of any orifice. ¬†Not to mention the absolutely putrid smell that filled the air when these foods were all mixed together. ¬†I had to leave on a couple occasions because I just couldn’t handle it. ¬†It was¬†disgusting.

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The kids’ food paintings…

Bringing Diabetes to Spain
When I came back from Normal, I knew I’d want a taste of home, so I brought back all the necessary ingredients to make Puppy Chow! ¬†I finally got around to making it this week, which made me very happy. ¬†I then proceeded to introduce this crack-like food to Lauren (who loved it and hated me for it), the teachers at my school (who loved it and hated me for it), the family I tutor for (who loved it and hated me for it), and the girl I meet with to do Spanish lessons (who loved it and hated me for it). ¬†Even though they hated me (because it was so addicting and bad for you), I was happy to introduce them to it.

Intercambio
I’ve met up twice with a girl named Luc√≠a so I can practice Spanish and she can practice English, and it’s been great so far! ¬†She’s my age and lives nearby, so it’s not only convenient, but she’s also super nice and fun to talk to! ¬†We’ve taught each other a lot and agonize over the fact that some words just don’t translate between the languages. ¬†For example, in Spanish they use the word¬†pesado to describe someone or a situation that is annoying or mean. ¬†The literal translation is¬†heavy, but we would never say that in English! ¬†Also, Spanish has no word that means¬†commute, which is pretty interesting considering the concept exists here! ¬†I’m excited to continue learning and practicing with her.

Lauren’s Parents in Town
This week, Lauren’s parents visited and they were kind enough to invite me to hang out with them! ¬†They even made a traditional England Sunday roast dinner last night, which was absolutely delicious! ¬†They were so kind and I’m glad I got to spend time with them.

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Cuenca
Remember that bucket list from my last post?  I got to cross another thing off!  Both Minorka and I wanted to visit this small town about 2 hours away from Madrid, so we went ahead and did it, along with her roommate, Sofía!  We took a bus there and got to see the casas colgadas (hanging houses), walk across the Puente de San Pablo, walk around town, get a drink inside of an amazing cave bar, and took a tour inside a tunnel underground which we learned was used as a bunker to keep people safe from bombs during the Spanish Civil War.  All-in-all, it was a great little trip and the weather was fantastic!

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Casa colgada

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Into the cave/tunnel we go!


Sour Cream
So the other night, I wanted to make tacos, and we didn’t have any sour cream because it just doesn’t exist in this town. ¬†So we went to the Mexican restaurant (where we’re regulars!) in town to ask if they would sell us some sour cream. ¬†The woman working said she’d ask her boss and then text us. ¬†Later that night, she texted me and said we could buy some on Friday. ¬†We were kind of bummed not to have it with the tacos (which were still amazing, despite the lack of sour cream AND the fact that I had to make up my own taco seasoning), but we bought the carton on Friday and are now STOKED to eat it this week!

Well, that’s it for this week (and month for that matter). ¬†Have an awesome week and stay positive, despite the crazy events going on in the world right now. ¬†I’ll try to follow my own advice, but goodness knows it’s easier said than done!

Bring it On!

Remember in my last post how I was all sad and mopey because I had just returned to Spain from home and I was missing everybody and everything? ¬†Well, that feeling has nearly disappeared, thanks in part to the creation of my Madrid Six Month Bucket List! Now, of course I still miss my family and home, I’m not a savage. I’m just feeling a little more optimistic is all! ¬†But I digress.

After careful consideration of my first 3 months in Spain (read: after a quick moment of panic and FOMO), I realized I hadn’t been taking advantage of my time here as well as I should have. ¬†Enter Bucket List. ¬†“Hello,” said the Bucket List, “I am here to motivate you to spend your time better while here in Spain.”

Okay, okay, so my bucket list didn’t actually talk. ¬†But, it did motivate me to start using my time more wisely here, because I’m convinced that too much free time leads to the trap called Netflix. ¬†So this week, I already managed to cross 5 things off! ¬†And here they are:

Item 9: Go to the Templo de Debod

There is this beautiful temple in Madrid and I have had several recommendations to go, so I went with fellow auxiliar Selena and her adorable Husky, Perla!  Unfortunately, Perla was shunned from the Metro, so we had to walk a looooong time to get there and missed the sun setting over the temple.  Even though it was dark, the temple was all lit up and beautiful.  We then proceeded to consume all the calories we lost on our walk in the form of a milkshake from the Five Guys that just opened up here!  The chocolate/peanut butter combo was SO worth it.  So was the company and conversation :).

 

Item 11: Take a picture at Kilometer 0.

There is this marker in Sol called Kilometer 0 and is the point where Spain’s 6 national roads are measured from. I had walked by it so many times and had never actually gotten a picture!

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Item 14: Go to J & J Books and Coffee.

On Friday, some friends and I went to this cute little bookstore/bar/cafe for Quiz Night! ¬†We were on teams and had to answer questions in 4 categories: Name the Artist of the Painting, Name the Artist of the Song, Name the Country with This World Leader, and Finish the Pattern. ¬†It. Was. So. Difficult. ¬†Despite having trained for this by playing hours of Trivial Pursuit over break and challenging people to Quiz Up, I knew a total of 2 answers out of about 30. ¬†Luckily, Sam and Minorka on my team were killin’ it with their knowledge, and we ended up getting about 11 correct. ¬†Not too bad for amateurs!

Item 15: Go to San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

I had heard from multiple people that the monastery/royal palace in this little city was BEAUTIFUL, so I decided to take advantage of the virtually free transportation and its relatively close proximity and see it. ¬† I met up with Nicole (my friend from Purdue) and her roommate and we explored. ¬†And just like everyone said, it was beautiful!¬†¬†It was great spending time with¬†the girls and checking out a new area. ¬†I’m really glad we went.


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Item 16: Eat tapas at El Tigre.

This was another thing I had wanted to do for awhile! ¬†There’s this bar in Madrid called El Tigre where you can order a drink and get free tapas, and who wouldn’t love that? ¬†So after school on Thursday, Selena, Mike (the other auxiliar), and I headed into the city to enjoy ourselves. ¬†We went to both El Tigre and a similar bar called El Respiro. We got some beers and ate some delicious¬†tapas (patatas bravas, ham on bread, chorizo, croquetas, etc.) and had good conversation. ¬†It was a great time!

In other news…

  • Lauren and I bought a vacuum. His name is Carlito and we love him.
  • I am now officially a regular at a restaurant! ¬†There is this little Mexican restaurant in VdlC called Pura Vida where Lauren, her friend Katie, and I have frequented. ¬†The last time we went, the server asked if I wanted any chipotle sauce because I always ask for it. ¬†SHE REMEMBERED ME AND WHAT I LIKED! I was (oddly) excited about that; I’ve never been a regular before!
  • I’ve been enjoying cooking for myself! ¬†Two new recipes I’ve tried out lately are a sweet potato/chicken/asparagus one pan meal and a loaded potato soup! Delicious!snapchat-1553686294.jpgsnapchat-1669461072.jpg

Random Corner:

Thankful for: The relatively warm weather we’ve been having here in Spain!
Enjoying:
The many phone calls I’ve had with my mom since I’ve been back.¬†
Excited for:
My grandparents and sister to come to Madrid in March!!!

Home Is Where My Heart Is.

And part of my heart will always be in Normal, Illinois.

I was extremely fortunate to spend the last two weeks in Normal, and it was exactly what I needed. ¬†Comfort, familiarity, and having my favorite people in the whole world around me…it was a feeling of contentment I hadn’t quite felt in awhile. ¬†It was heaven.

I got to see my parents, my sister, and Yashas, who spent the entire 2 weeks at my house. ¬†I loved seeing all my extended family, too. ¬† All my neighbors got together and I got to talk to and catch up with them. ¬†Jess and Elaine came to visit and I got to show them around good ole’ BloNo. ¬†It was a joy seeing and spending time with many high school friends as well. ¬†I played a lot of games, watched a lot of movies, and ate a lot food.¬† The past two days that I’ve been back in Spain, I’ve been thinking about how lucky I am to have such incredible people in my life and how much fun I had the last two weeks, and it makes me¬†so incredibly homesick.

Despite having a routine in Spain and much more free time than I ever had in the US, I never feel quite as relaxed as when I’m home. ¬†I’ve met amazing people, but it doesn’t compare to the relationships I’ve made with people back home for years and years and years. ¬†I know the next 6 months is going to be incredibly difficult. ¬†I’m going to miss people and home like crazy. ¬†I’m probably going to cry a lot, because hey, that’s what I do. ¬†I’m going to question myself and my decision to come to Spain. ¬†I’m going to wish over and over that I could be at my house, snuggling with my cats on the couch.

But.

I’m excited too. ¬†I’m looking forward to the new people I’ll meet, cultivating the current relationships I have, exploring the new places I’ll go to, improving my Spanish, and seeing how I’ll grow. ¬†I’m going to do my best to make the most of the next 6 months here, because I’ll be back to Normal soon enough. ūüėČ

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IIIIII’ll Be Home for Christmas

Ahh, can’t you just hear Bing Crosby crooning ¬†away now? ¬†Well, I can…because that’s the song currently playing on Spotify…ūüėČ.

But you can’t imagine just how excited I am, because guess what? ¬†According to the countdown app, it’s only 13 hours and 3 minutes until I board my flight back home for Christmas!!! ¬†I’M SO PUMPED!!! ¬†I can’t wait to hug my family, Yashas, my cats, sleep in my bed, use a clothes dryer, feel carpeting under my feet, eat mac ‘n cheese, and a whole assortment of other things that I’ve been missing oh so dearly the last 3 months.

But I barely had time to think about home this past week because of everything going on!

First, I have a new place of residence! ¬†I’m now living with Lauren, one of the assistants at my school. ¬†I moved into her apartment in Villanueva de la Ca√Īada with her earlier this week, and it’s been great! ¬†I’ve been enjoying living with her and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun the rest of our time here.

Second, our school had a Christmas program on Thursday, so we spent the week preparing for that!  Each grade performed a Christmas carol for the entire school/parents, and it was SO CUTE to watch all the kids in their Santa outfits and holiday hats singing and dancing.  I felt like a proud parent when I watched my 3rd and 4th graders perform!  Afterwards, all the teachers went out and had a couple drinks together.  I love my coworkers, and it was a good way to celebrate the end of a hectic week and the start of our vacation.

The assistants rockin’ it for Christmas

Third, it was one of the girl’s birthday that I tutor this week, so I was invited to her family birthday party! ¬†I got to hang out, eat snacks, and meet so many family members, with whom I got to practice my Spanish. ¬†It was really nice of them to invite me! The dad even said I was like family, which made my heart grow 3x its size, just like the Grinch’s. ¬†I really love working with that family and feel very fortunate to know them.

Fourth, Lauren, her friend Katie, and Clara (who lives in VdlC) went out in Villanueva de la Ca√Īada last weekend. ¬†We assumed it would be pretty cool, considering there is a university in town and college students like to go out, but we were pretty disappointed. ¬†The music was pretty bad and everyone looked like they were 16 years old, but we still had a good time together.

Okay, that’s all for now! ¬†I gotta go finish packing for home! ¬†Next stop: THE USA!!!¬†‚úąÔłŹ

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!¬†ūüéĄ Enjoy your time with family and friends this holiday season!

Milan, Italy and Bad Luck.

Did we walk under a ladder?  Pass by a black cat?  Open an umbrella indoors?  Break a mirror?

Honestly, probably all of the above and then some with all the bad luck we had on our trip to Milan this past weekend.  But no matter: we made the most of our time despite the trials and tribulations we encountered and ended up having an amazing trip!

The History
Minorka, Carolina, and I had been talking about going to Italy for awhile, and since plane tickets to Milan were the cheapest, we went for it!  But I tell ya, trying to coordinate flight times/prices with 3 people was a struggle and half.  That’s where the bad luck all started…once we were finally able to agree on a ticket, Caro and I couldn’t purchase them due to some computer glitch.  Thank goodness Minorka was able to get them for us!

The AirBnb
Our place was gorgeous.  It was a cute little apartment in the Navigli district of Milan where there were several restaurants and bars.  It was about a 25 minute walk from the center of the city, which wasn’t too bad.  Basically, the apartment was the poster child for IKEA from the chairs to the couch to the cups, but it was perfect for what we needed, and the shower was dope.  Plus, our host was super friendly, gave us recommendations for places to eat, and even left us a bottle of wine as a welcome gift!

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AirBnb welcome board!

The Sights
With only a few days in Milan, we had to pack a lot in!  The absolute best part was the Duomo di Milano, aka the Milan cathedral.  It was stunning!  The towering building had so many intricate details, both inside and out, which were very impressive.  We even got to go onto the terraces on top of the cathedral to get some amazing views and get a closer look at the architecture.  So beautiful!

We also went to 2 museums: Museo del Duomo and the Museo del Novecento.  The former had many sculptures and replicas of various aspects of the Duomo, while the latter was an art museum with contemporary pieces.  Both were interesting and neat to visit.

Another place we saw was the Castillo Sforzesco, which was this cool little castle.  While we didn’t go into any museums that were there, we did walk through it and even encountered a Christmas market while there.  It was pretty neat.

Besides that, we walked around in the center a bunch and checked out the high-end shops, from which we bought nothing because we spent all our money on food and gelato instead.

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Milan Duomo

The Food
Speaking of food…the irony of this trip is that we were in Italy and were hungry the entire time.  How does that even happen?  Surrounded by pizza and pasta and gelato, yet still hungry?  Well, first, Italians don’t believe in “breakfast.”  Breakfast to them is a croissant and coffee.  (But where are the eggs?  Where are the pancakes?)  Also, with our schedule of sightseeing, we weren’t always able to eat at the “normal” times.  But Italian restaurants are closed from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm, so if you’re hungry during that time?  Sorry.

But when we did eat, here are some of the things we had:

  • Pasta. Twice. I ate ravioli once and tortellini once.  Both were pretty good, but nothing spectacular.  I think I came with too high of expectations, lol.
  • Pizza.  This pizza from Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo was huge but by golly, we ate the whole thing. It was recommended by our host, and though we waited 2 hours for it, it was worth it.
  • Gelato.  I ate some every day, and we were there for 3 days, lolz.
  • Panzerotti.  This little calzone was such a nice snack on a cold day, but again, we had to wait in a line.
  • Beer.  We went to a bar near our AirBnb one night called La Fontanella where they serve you beer in quirky containers!  We chose a 3 liter giant tube…and drank the entire thing.

Okay, so I realize it doesn’t sound like we were ever hungry, but just tell that to the girls that scoured the pantry and fridge of the AirBnb and thought the corn flakes we found were heaven on Earth.

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The Bad Luck
Oh boy.  Even though these were all very minor issues, the fact that they all happened on one trip was very frustrating.  However, we kept positive attitudes the entire time and thankfully made it through!

  • Before we even left, Minorka had no water in her apartment because they were doing some repairs or something, so that was a great way to start off the trip.
  • We missed 2 buses from the airport to the city center when we landed because they were full and we weren’t aggressive enough to get on.  This meant we spent extra time in the cold. We also waited for 20 minutes and missed a tram once because we didn’t know you needed to buy tickets beforehand.  Then we ended up buying a 2 day tram pass and rode the tram a total of 2 times…smh.
  • Speaking of cold, it was cold in Milan.  We were not expecting it to be so bitter, but it was!  And with as much time as we spent outside, it was not pleasant.
  • Caro brought the wrong charging adapter for her phone; instead of the Europe adapter, she brought the China one ūüėā.
  • Caro got locked into a bathroom in the Novacento museum.  She also got shut into the tram doors one day because it was so crowded.
  • We waited for 2 hours for our pizza; we were told it was a one hour wait, so we walked around for a bit and came back 15 minutes early only to find that they had started calling people that were after us on the list.  By the time we got our food, it had been 2 hours, for freaking pizza.
  • The terrace at the Duomo was always closed because of ice, and nobody ever knew when it would open.  If we had a euro for every time someone told us, “It should be open in an hour…” we’d be rich.  Luckily we finally got to see it, but we wasted a lot of time waiting for it to open.
  • We tried to see the painting, The Last Supper, but the museum was sold out of tickets.
  • This one takes the cake: we were never allowed to eat gelato.  At one place, we sat at a table and the waiter asked us our order.  We told him, but he started explaining something to us in Italian, which of course we didn’t understand.  Then he found out Caro and Minorka speak Spanish, so he started explaining it in Spanish.  Except the girls had no idea what he said and we ended up even more confused.  So Caro and I went to the counter to ask if the waiter had actually taken our order or not.  But the girl at the counter didn’t speak English, so she called over a coworker.  We tried asking him, but he didn’t understand and called over another coworker.  So ultimately we had 3 people at the counter helping us, only to find out we were only allowed to eat cones at the table, not cups.  Cups were for the to-go gelato, apparently (???), so we all had to get cones even though Mino and Caro didn’t want that.  At another gelato place, I again wasn’t allowed to eat gelato there, so I sat there patiently while Caro and Mino drank their coffee.  When we left, I ordered my gelato but stumbled over the word stracciatella when ordering.  And you know what?  That a** hat of a gelato scooper wouldn’t give me the gelato until I could pronounce it correctly.  But did he pronounce it for me to help me out?  Nope.  He laughed at me as I stood there pointing and smiling like and idiot until Mino swooped in with her awesome pronunciation skills so I could actually eat my gelato.  Dear goodness, why is it so complicated?

So again, none of these were huge deals, but one thing after another made us question what was wrong with us.  It was an awesome trip, though, and Mino and Caro were great travel partners!

Also…

  • Time since I’ve been here: Happy 3 month Spainiversary to me today!
  • Time to home: According to my countdown app, 11 days and 13 hours until I board my plane for home.  I can’t wait!
  • I ENTERED A VIDEO CONTEST THOUGH CIEE! The contest was to upload a 1 minute video about your time in your country and the video with the most shares on Facebook gets to invite a friend to visit you FOR FREE! I entered the contest and would be ETERNALLY GRATEFUL if you could share the video (starting Dec. 15) because I really want my sister to come to Spain! So please keep an eye out!! THANK YOU!!!

Solo Trip 2: Granada.

SOLO TRIP ROUND TWO!!!  *Cue the alarms and flashing lights.*

That’s right! My second solo trip is under my belt, and I couldn’t be happier.  This weekend was absolutely phenomenal, so if you don’t mind me gushing about the wonders of Granada and why you should visit, please read on.

Saturday
I woke up early to catch the bus into Madrid (1 hour) to take the metro to the bus station (30 minutes) to take another bus to Granada (5 hours).  Except the first leg of the journey took way longer than usual, which meant I barely made the Granada bus on time.  As in, I ran through the bus station and was the last person on the bus before we left. I had about a minute to spare, but thank goodness I made it.  So after the long journey, I walked about 40 minutes to my hostel which is in the Albayz√≠n district of Granada.  The winding streets were beautiful (and confusing), and there were these neat little shops all around.  I spent a good amount of time wandering into these shops and checking out the wares that evening, but I also went to the Mirador de San Nicolas that night.  This little plaza has the best view of the outside of the Alhambra, and seeing it lit up at night was amazing.  Too bad my pictures didn’t turn out so well, but oh well!  I ended my first night with some delicious vegetable cous cous and a glass of wine at a restaurant near my hostel.  As much as I love traveling alone, I’m still trying to get used to the eating alone part!

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3rd floor terrace of my hostel

 

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The streets of the Albayzín

 

Sunday
On Sunday I slept in as best as I could (hostals are not the quietest places in the world), but then headed to Carmen de los M√°rtires, aka beautiful gardens nearby the Alhambra.  I mean wow.  Wandering through the different areas of these gardens was so peaceful and the views of the city were breathtaking.  I was so thankful for the fact that it was December and the fall colors on the trees were so well-preserved!  And even better?  I got to see wild peacocks and peahens roaming around!  They were absolutely gorgeous and they let me get pretty close to them without running/flying away.  I was so happy there!

After the gardens, I made my way back to the Mirador to get some pictures of the Alhambra during the day since my night pics were a little meh.  There was a little cafe/bar nearby too, with an outside terrace looking out over the Alhambra, so I treated myself to a nice glass of sangria and enjoyed the view.

In the afternoon, the hostel had a free walking tour, so I joined in on that.  We went to so many places!  We admired the street art by El Ni√Īo de las Pinturas, strolled through the gardens for a bit, walked up a ton of hills, and even went to Sacromonte, an area in Granada where people live in caves!  We got to go inside of one of the caves and have a drink there, and we also got to see the outside of some of the “squatter caves.”  We learned that it’s really cheap to live in the caves, especially because there’s no need for air conditioning or heat-it’s all natural!

Along the way, I got to know some cool people, including a guy from the US teaching English in Toledo and 3 girls from Australia who are backpacking in Europe.  So that night we all went to a tapas bar called Poe and enjoyed Granada’s tapa culture!  Granada is famous for having bars in which you can order a drink and get a free tapa, so we indulged. It was muy rico.

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View from the city after our walking tour

 

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Tapas at Poe


Monday
I tried so hard to be a good hostel roommate, and in doing so, I effed myself over.  Long story short, I tried to keep my phone near me Sunday night so my early Monday alarm wouldn’t wake everyone up (it takes awhile to get down off a bunk bed to shut an alarm off, especially if your name is Kasey).  However, because of this, my phone didn’t charge correctly and I therefore had no phone to take photos of the Alhambra.  Cue the tears and the mild panic.  I was distraught, until I remembered I had my GoPro to take pictures!  Problem solved!

So I set out early in the morning with my tourist map in hand (no phone=no Google Maps) and made my way to the ticket office to pick up my ticket for the Alhambra, the famous fortress/palace in Granada.

As soon as I stepped foot inside the grounds, my life changed.

I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life.  The intricate details and designs of the Nasrid Palaces were incredible.  The Alcazaba, the fortress part, was very impressive and had magnificent views.  I fell in love with the beauty of the Partal and the Generalife gardens.  The grandeur of it all was breathtaking, and I was captivated.  I truly hope that everyone I know will someday get the chance to visit…just make sure to buy your tickets in advance or you’ll have to wait in line at 6:00 am!

After spending a few hours at the Alhambra and eating a snack in the courtyard where there were a bunch of cats running around, I headed back to the hostel to charge my phone and prepare for my visit to Hammam Al Andalus, an Arab bathhouse.  These bathhouses were important to Muslims because to them, water is the symbol of purity.  Plus, these bathhouses provided the opportunity for socialization.  However, many were destroyed by Christians because they were seen as inappropriate.  This hammam is one of the first to be reopened after it closed in the 16th century.  It was a very interesting experience, but after a long day of walking around, I wanted to treat myself!  Here’s how it went down:

Upon entering and checking in, I was given little booties to cover my shoes.  I was shown to a changing room where I put on my bathing suit and put my things in a locker.  Then I entered the rooms with the baths.  There were 4 baths from what I can remember, each in different sectioned off areas.  One was very small and was the cold bath.  There was a long bath that was shallow and hot, as well as a smaller, deeper hot bath.  Then there was a very large and deep warm bath.  You’re supposed to go between these baths and sit and relax and enjoy yourself, which I had a little bit of a hard time doing, simply because I had no idea what the heck I was doing.  I tried to take my cue from everyone around me, but seeing as several of these people were couples who decided to engage in PDA, I just decided to do my own thing instead.  I went between the baths at my leisure, particularly enjoying the hot baths and spending minimal time in the cold bath because let’s be real, I’m not trying to pretend I had been on the Titanic and swimming around in freezing cold water.  I even tried the steam room but lasted a solid 45 seconds before I thought I couldn’t breathe anymore and made my escape.

After awhile, it was pretty relaxing.  The lights were all dimmed, there were candles everywhere, and soft music was playing.  Plus the bathhouse itself was beautiful architecturally.  But then, the main event: the massage!  I splurged for the 30 minute one (treat yoself) and ohmygosh it was so relaxing.  I was so content and happy and I really didn’t want to leave after that.  But alas, all good things come to an end.

That night, several people from the hostel went on a tapas tour and we ate some more delicious food and enjoyed each other’s company.

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More tapas

Tuesday
I slept in a little on this day and then headed to the Granada cathedral and took a tour of that.  It was incredibly large and elaborate and beautiful.  I also wandered the streets a little before it was time to head back to the bus station.

Just like last time, I’m very happy with the way this solo trip turned out.

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Another piece of news: the teachers and auxiliares at my school all went to this fancy dinner at a restaurant called La Partida in Villanueva de la Ca√Īada last Friday and it was delicious!  I feel very fortunate to work with such amazing people.

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My coworkers! Thanks for sharing the photo, Anahí!

And now?  Now I’m gearing up for my trip to Milan, Italy with Minorka and Carolina!  Stay tuned!

Little Update (Mostly About Food).

Hello!  I figured I’d write a short little update now because I’ve got some big trips coming up and I’m sure I’ll want to write long-winded posts about them, so here goes!

Thanksgiving
Fun fact: Spain schools go harder for Thanksgiving than schools in the United States.  I guess in general, Spain schools just love celebrating holidays.

Last week was Thanksgiving, so of course we had to celebrate!  In third grade, we spent all week making pilgrims and the Mayflower and such.  In fourth grade, I got to lead a thankfulness activity and a silly Thanksgiving Would You Rather game. It was a lot of fun!

Anahí and I dressing up like Koo Koo Kangaroo to do a Thanksgiving dance!

Another way I celebrated Thanksgiving?  By getting together with Minorka, Caro, and Sam to eat pizza and apple pie and pumpkin bread.  It was no turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, or pumpkin pie, but hey, it was delicious food with great company.  We made the best with what we had!

Shopping Disaster
We also indulged in a little Black Friday shopping (on Saturday) and ate some delicious tacos for 1 euro each at a little place called Takos.  Amazing.  But funny story about this day: we are walking through the streets of Madrid in the pouring rain with our paper shopping bags when one of my bags completely separates from the handles and spews the contents all over the ground.  Laughing, I pick everything up and carry the bag by the bottom when my other bag begins ripping.  Caro has to shove some of my stuff into her bag, and Minorka tries to prevent anything from happening to her bags by holding them from the bottom.  But lo and behold, her bag splits too, and basically at one point all of our stuff is all over the ground and we are trying to gather it up and we are soaking wet and can’t help but laugh despite how frustrated, wet, and cold we are.  I tell you, it was quite hilarious.

Other Things

Corn: Since I hail from the Midwest, I feel like I am sort of an expert on corn on the cob. I’m pretty convinced I’ve tasted the best sweet corn in the world.  Hello, we have a Sweet Corn Festival in Normal… But Selena set out to prove me wrong.  She took us to this street stand where they roast corn on the cob and slather it with this red sauce called mojo pic√≥n.  Oh. My. Goodness.  That sauce on that corn was amazing.  I will definitely be going back.

wp-image-625289882jpg.jpgDinner with a Friend: The other day, a girl I met while traveling in Porto named Hind told me she would be in Madrid and asked to meet up.  She’s from Morocco and is studying in Portugal; how cool?!  We went to this amazing Thai restaurant and spent some time talking.  She is such a cool person and I’m really glad we got to spend some time together!

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Going Home: According to my countdown app: 22 days and 11 hours until I board my flight to come home for Christmas.  My excitement is more intense than that house in Normal that overdecorates for Christmas with weird Santa statues.

The Other Post I Promised.

Hey again, everyone! ¬†Just when you thought you wouldn’t have to read another post for awhile, I’m back at it to chronicle the events I skipped over in order to write this¬†post. ¬†Because the last one was so long, I’ll¬†try to keep this one short and sweet.

Toledo
A couple weekends ago, I went on a day trip to Toledo, Spain through a program called City Life Madrid. ¬†I was supposed to go with my friend Sam, but she was feeling pretty sick and couldn’t make it. ¬†So of course I was freaking out about going by myself (remember, this is before I gained confidence traveling solo from Porto). ¬†But there was no need to worry because I met 3 awesome chicas also on the trip and we had a great time! ¬†We enjoyed the tour exploring the ancient streets and admiring the architecture. ¬†It looked very medieval and has Christian, Muslim, and Jewish influences. ¬†We even rode the zipline, which was super fun, and the views were amazing!

 

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Tren de la Fresa & Aranjuez
The next adventure was going to Aranjuez on an old-fashioned train called the Tren de la Fresa!  Minorka and I enjoyed the ride by eating the strawberries (fresas) they gave us and then had a blast exploring the city of Aranjuez.  It. Was. Gorgeous.  We toured the royal gardens and even took a boat ride while sipping sangria.  The trees, fountains, flowers, and weather were all beautiful.  It was a lot of fun!

 

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Tren de la Fresa!

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Yummy!

 

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Hiking
Am I an¬†avid hiker, prepared with hiking boots, a walking stick, and a good understanding of trails? ¬†Heck no. ¬†So naturally, I decided to do a 16k hike with Minorka and her friend Carolina in Miraflores de la Sierra with a group ¬†called Hiking Madrid. ¬†It kicked our butts. ¬†There were steep areas with rocks, streams we had to cross, and cow poop to maneuver. ¬†But it was gorgeous! ¬†It was a lot of fun and we had a lot of laughs at how out of shape we were compared to the other hikers. ¬†The best part (besides the gorgeous views) was that we got peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, which I have been craving like nobody’s business. ¬†Leave it to me to think the best part was the food… ¬†We decided we really needed to get into hiking so we could have an excuse to buy legit hiking boots, because they’re pretty cheap here. ūüėČ

 

 

 

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Lol, had to take this pic because of the leaves!

Halloween
Ohhh man. ¬†You would not¬†believe how into Halloween the kids at my school are. ¬†Well, I guess just the school in general! ¬†The Friday before Halloween, the entire day was dedicated to Halloween activities. ¬†I’m talking spooky games, activities, and even a “horror tunnel” where the teachers dressed up and scared the students! ¬†All the kids had on their costumes and elaborate face makeup and were so excited all day! ¬†It was really cute. ¬†Plus, all the teachers dressed up as Ghostbusters characters, so I was the Stay Puft marshmallow monster! ¬†It was really fun and cute, but also¬†really exhausting, lol.

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Making Pumpkin Bread
Okay, if you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you know how much I miss the Fall and all that comes with it. ¬†My favorite Fall food is pumpkin bread, so I decided I had to make some. ¬†I bought some canned pumpkin, measuring devices, and baking soda (they don’t bake with baking soda in Spain?) at the Taste of America store (hallelujah for that store) and had my mom send me her delicious recipe. ¬†Well, I followed all the instructions as best as I could, but unfortunately…it did not turn out as expected. ¬†I don’t know if the oven temperature conversion was wrong when I did it online, but those stupid loaves charred on top and were a gooey mess on the inside. ¬†I was so upset and couldn’t help but tear up because I had been¬†so excited for a taste of home. ¬†However, determined to make the most of it, I cut off the top and managed to salvage the middle portion of the loaves. ¬†I brought it in to school so my fellow auxiliares could try it (they had never had it and always made fun of me for how much I talked about it) and they loved it! ¬†So even though it didn’t go as planned, it was still delicious. ¬†Even my host mom liked it!

Hanging with the Auxiliares
Okay, I can’t write another post without mentioning the awesome coworkers I have (mostly because Lauren has been dying to be mentioned in the blog, lol). ¬†Two of the ladies I’ve gotten closest with are Selena and Lauren. ¬†Selena is from Puerto Rico and is super cool and chill. ¬†She is a very “go with the flow” type person, which is the exact opposite of me, but we get along well. ¬†Lauren is from England and she and I make fun of each other’s accents and differences in our English, which gets hilarious sometimes. ¬†We’ve all hung out a few times outside of school, including going to Tapapi√©s, a food festival in the Lavapies area where the restaurants each have a tapa and you try to go to as many places as possible. ¬†I really enjoy spending time with them (and complaining about school with them!). ¬†I’m lucky to work with some cool people.

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Some delicious tapas

 

In other news, this last weekend was my youngest host sister’s birthday (she turned 6), so my host mom threw her a Little Red Riding Hood birthday party, and it was so cute! ¬†There were about 15 little girls dressed in red capes and hoods running around and the decorations were phenomenal. ¬†It was really cool to be a part of!

Alright, so that post was a little longer than I anticipated, but you can’t expect much else from me. ¬†I hope everyone has an amazing week and enjoys the last of the Fall weather before it gets too cold!