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alta velocidad española.

21 Jun

Ah, the AVE. “Es una maravilla!” proclaimed Carmelo, my loveable and ever-opinionated doorman. I’ll be the judge of that, I thought. My aunt and I decided to travel to and from Barcelona via AVE, or Spain’s high-speed train, mostly due to convenience and luxury. It’s not cheap: We could have both flown to and from Barcelona for the price of one round-trip journey on the AVE, but the AVE is less of a hassle, a lot nicer, and a cool experience.

mi billete.

  • easy check-in. Once you have a ticket, the check-in and boarding process is a cinch. You only need to arrive at the station 15 minutes before departure, pass through a complete and utter joke of a security check-point, and board the train up until 2 minutes before departure. There are no delays…in fact on Friday, we were set to leave at 11:30 and took off at 11:28. Yess.

el tren.

sweet.

  • pretty stations. Madrid’s Atocha station is a pretty cool sight to behold, even if you’re not traveling via AVE or Renfe! The station itself has a pretty brick motif inside, as well a green-house type garden in the center. Also in the station is an intricate memorial to the victims of the terrorist attack in Madrid, which occurred on an Atocha-bound train, on the 11th of March, 2004.

atocha.

  • onboard amenities. While the AVE doesn’t have wifi on-board just yet (or at least it didn’t for us), they provide passengers with a movie, super plush seats, and a dining car (the food wasn’t half bad, and not as pricey as airplane food, in my opinion). We also go fast – upwards of 250 km/hr and get to pass by some pretty Spanish cities and picturesque country-side.
  • time-saving. The journey takes 3.25 hours, and since the AVE runs city-center to city-center, travelers don’t have to worry about getting into the city from a far away airport or off-the-beaten-path bus station.

All in all, I’d say Carmelo was right, the AVE is a “maravilla” and I’d definitely recommend traveling this way, at least for a Barcelona to/from Madrid jaunt.

Have you ever traveled by high-speed train? Where? What was your experience like? 

semana santa (in review).

27 Apr

My apologies for a huge hiatus in posts – last week was Semana Santa (Holy Week) and we got 11 uninterrupted days off from work for travel, relaxation, and…prayer? So maybe I didn’t partake in that last one, but here’s some things I managed to get done:

  • show one of my best friends from my sorority in college, Krisse, around Madrid. We checked off a lot of the classic to-dos: visits to Parque del Buen Retiro, Museo del Prado, copious amounts of tapas and sangria, churros on chocolate, and visits to Zara and Mango, claro.
  • spent some time in Palma de Mallorca, Arenal, and Valldemossa on the island of Mallorca. Win.
  • headed back to my favorite city in the world, Barcelona. My obsession is back, and it’s bad.
I’ll be back in blog-mode this coming week for sure and will have more detailed accounts of my trip and other recent goings-on, but until then, here are some of my favorite photos from the last two weeks. (Oh, and many of these photos were taken by Krisse on her DSLR camera which is now quickly shaping up to be the #1 thing on my “things I’ll buy when I have money” list).

plaza de oriente, madrid.

krisse and alia in valldemossa, mallorca.

cathedral in palma de mallorca.

mediterranean sea, mallorca, islas baleares

gaudí and ANTM.

no words.

lily allyn gordon and i celebrating Dia de Sant Jordi in the best place on earth.

fun facts.

17 Mar

Sometimes I forget that I live in a foreign country.

I´ve been here almost 6 whole months, and I´m basically adjusted to all of the oddities of Spain. I know doing anything will take forever, to pick up odds and ends at a ¨Chino¨ shop even though the politically incorrect nature of that word still irks me, and I see ¨regulars¨ on my morning work commute Monday through Thursday.

Here are some things I´ve adjusted to, but will definitely seem abnormal to most:

·Boxed milk. This one struck me as bizarre when I studied abroad in Barcelona in 2009. Milk is sold unrefrigerated at supermarkets, in boxes. Needless to say you refrigerate it once it is opened, but before that it is stored in a cabinet or wherever, warm. Weird, but fine.
·Gypsies. My mom used to tell me that the word ¨gypsy¨ was derogatory, but I always thought gypsies were fictional – like Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I never realized that word is used to classify Romanian immigrants, and it is not a pleasant term at all. Teachers will use ¨he is a gypsy¨ to explain why one student is slower than the rest. In a newspaper article I read this morning, a band of ¨gitanas¨ were arrested for violence against women. The racism in Spain is something that still catches me off guard.
·Free press. The most widely read newspapers in Spain are those that are handed out free on the metro. I try to grab one each day – either 20 Minutes, ADN, or Qué to catch up on world and local news. The quality of the reporting is pretty good, and I like the fact that they provide essential worlds news as well as more local items for Madrileños (a new section of metro line 2 opened at 15:00 yesterday, for example). It´s a blend of the New York Times and The Acorn, and it´s free.
·Less smoke. On January 2, a law was passed outlawing smoke in bars and clubs in Spain. While I don´t necessarily realize the lack of smoke while I am out, the fact I don´t come home from dinner or a night out reeking of cigarettes is a major plus for this country. And people assume everyone in Europe smokes…
· Spanish slang. I´ve picked up some great terms besides just ¨joder.¨I learned that an operación gamba is the Spanish equivalent of a ¨butter face¨ and that me jode… is the equivalent for ¨it sucks.¨

What is the weirdest thing about Spain that you´ve encountered?

to clarify.

10 Mar

This seems to confuse every student at my school…so to clear up any lingering doubts:

This is a chicken.

This is a kitchen.

And finally, this video has helped remedy this problem for some of the kids in the Infantil school.

una mezcla.

3 Mar

The last few days have basically featured me trying to get back into my normal routine. And while none of you care about my workouts or what I cooked for dinner, a few things worth mentioning have happened.

· On Tuesday, a 1st grader picked up two pencils and held an eraser between them, as if he were using chopsticks. He loudly proclaimed ¨Soy Chino. Atención, Soy Chino.¨ His buddy Alejandro proceeded to bow and make Chinese-music sounding noises. So funny.

· In another first grade class today, the teacher explained to me that some of the boys are trying to get girlfriends. While Pipe (a nickname for Felipe) confessed that he is in love with Lucia López, Guillermo denied any suggestions that he was once in love with the other Lucia in the class because she is ¨una mandana¨ (she is demanding).

· My Spanish obsession – the 100 tiny sandwiches and cheap beer place known as Cervecería 100 Montaditos opened up a location one block from my school. On Wednesdays, I will definitely be partaking in their everything-for-a-euro promotion. Owning.

·I am currently reading Jeffrey Toobin´s ¨Too Close to Call: The 36 Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election.¨ I´m about a third of the way through it – and the nuances and manipulative tactics that led to the final result are interesting and, in some ways, demoralizing.

·Current song obsession: Bruno Mars – Grenade. Yes, I realize I am late to that party.

· On tap for this fin de semana? The Real Madrid game tonight (against Málaga, gymming and running, checking out a new club/lounge, and trying to make a dent in this whole law school decision game. Joder.

catch-up.

19 Jan

It´s been awhile since I´ve posted on my blog, but that´s mostly because since my mom´s guest-blogging stint, nothing THAT exciting has really happened. Actually, that´s a lie, I´ve just been lazy. Here´s some fun facts from the last week:

– While my mom was visiting, she got sick of Spanish food and Basque pintxos…so we ended up going on an ethnic food tour of sorts. We managed to eat the following: Thai, Indian, Chinese, Turkish, Greek, Italian, North African, and of course, Spanish cuisines.

– The following happened in one of my classes of 5 year olds yesterday, after the whole class erupted in conversation about who was dating who in the class, and it was established that Paula has a ¨novio¨ (boyfriend) who goes to a different school.
Pablo: Mi novia es Paula.
Teacher: No, Paula has a boyfriend who goes to a different school!
Pablo: Si, pero ella va a casarse conmigo. (Yes, but she´s going to marry me).
Teacher: Haha, okay back to work, focus on the number 6.
(The lesson for the day was basically coloring the number 6 and the 6 ducks on the worksheet).
Pablo: ¿Necesitamos tener 6 novias? (We need to have 6 girlfriends?)
SO funny.

-I just finished reading Jay-Z´s autobiography, Decoded. I loved it, but feel like my next Kindle purchase should help me live up to my nerdy reputation a little bit more.

– Besides catching up on episodes of the best show ever (Jersey Shore – seriously this Monday´s was insanely good), my mom got me hooked on yet another legal drama, called The Good Wife.

– Speaking of legal drama, the ¨where am I going to go next year?¨ battle has begun. So far it´s looking like a Los Angeles vs. Bay Area show-down, yet again. I´ll keep you posted.

-I have been listening to this song on repeat for 2 weeks.

– My friends and I discovered a delicious tapas place by our house, as well as a legitimate bagel shop (shoppe?) we´ll literally go to every weekend until we leave in July. We also hit up a new discoteca that we might not be heading back to (expensive beer and tons of minors…not a good combo).

I hope everyone enjoyed my mom´s guest-posts! We had a great time on our trip and can successfully check 3 more Spanish cities off the proverbial Spain-travel bucket list.

Hasta la proxima…

the lingo lowdown (pt. II).

22 Dec

So even though I’m only supposed to speak English at the school I work at, I’m making an effort to try to speak more Spanish. I’ve found a couple of “intercambios” (language exchanges) to participate in, but I’ll save some of the finer moments of those for a later post…I’m getting ahead of myself. Earlier this year, I wrote about some of my favorite slang phrases and I’ve been here long enough (3 months today!) that I can officially say I’ve picked up some new favorite (Spanish) slang words:

  • joder. The great thing about this word is that it is literally all-encompassing. While it can be translated to mean “f*ck” in English, it is used MUCH more loosely and in varying forms. Some of the kids at the school get away with saying “joder” in its full form, while other frustrated kids down-grade it to what I presume to be the more kid-friendly versions of jopin and jolin. More than anything, though, people will say “jooooo” basically any time something doesn’t go their way. Popular americanized versions I’ve used have included “jo-effing-der” and “joder mi vida.”
  • toma. The literal translation is a command: “take” but it’s used to mean “take it” in a slightly derogatory way. If a child raises his hand and is called on, he might utter “toma!” as a way to brag to his classmates. I use it now and then, but probably won’t take the same approach with the word wherever I end up for law school.
  • resaca. Literal translation? Hangover. People have them here all of the time and talk about them freely. “No puedo ir porque tengo un gran resaca” is a common excuse.

Those are the three most salient ones right now – stay tuned for more favorites.