Luck of the Irish

This weekend in Ireland was perfect. It was the first time I wasn’t ready to come home to Madrid by the end of the trip. Two and a half days was nowhere near enough time. However, if you would’ve asked me at 5:30 on Thursday night if I was going to be enjoying Ireland that weekend I would’ve said no. Jess and I agreed, someone upstairs loves us and we were meant to be in Ireland. 

I got out of class at 4:30 on Thursday. Jess was going to meet me at the metro stop by the dance studio so we could go to the airport together. She was running a few minutes late, so I didn’t see her waiting when I got out and panicked. I walked around the area looking for her for 20 min hoping to run into her. When she was nowhere in site, I decided to walk back to school to look for her there. At this point it was 4:50pm and [we thought] our plane left at 5:55. I was obviously worrying that we weren’t going to make it in time as we rushed through the metro. We were 4 stops from the airport when Jess looked at me and said, “Oh no, I’m not sure if I should tell you this. Don’t cry. But the gates to our place close at 5:25.” I nervously asked her what time it was. “5.25.” If I wasn’t freaking out before, I was now. A few choice words slipped and the second that metro stopped we ran for our lives towards terminal 1, which happened to be the farthest away. Our luck. I’ve never run so fast in my life. Carrying my huge backpack didn’t make it any easier. Let me set the scene. I had come straight from Latin Rhythms so I was already pretty sweaty when we got to the airport. Running through the terminals we sweat through every layer of clothes we were wearing and our hair looked like we just got out of a swimming pool. Jess was wearing her Spanish pants with her liquids, passport, and other things in her pockets. The weight pulled her pants down and she was running with her pants halfway down. We were a hot mess and a half. In less than 5 minutes we made it to terminal 1, a feat in which I still can’t believe. We got to security and they wouldn’t let us through without getting our boarding passes stamped. They sent us away giving us directions in Spanish to the office to get the stamps. I was flustered, so my Spanish was a little rough and we struggled to find the correct location. We ran from one end of the airport to the other twice before we successfully had a stamp on our passes. After that I took off even faster than before. Jess’s sagging pants slowed her down, so I ran ahead hoping to tell them that we were still coming. At this time our plane left in 5 minutes. We sprinted back to security where we were visibly red, sweating, and panting. On the way Jess was jumping over people’s suitcases and small children. I may or may not have knocked over a barricade in the process. Hot messes. They let us through the line first because our situation was urgent. In our rush, we forgot to take our computers out of our bags before they were scanned so we had to get in line again. I had no time for these shenanigans. After the security check we didn’t waste time putting our computers away or our shoes and belts back on. We continued to run through the rest of the airport barefoot with belongings in hand. We arrived at the correct gate when we saw a huge line of about 70 people or so. I haphazardly asked someone in line if they were waiting for the flight to Dublin at 7:55 (I actually meant 5:55 but since it was 17:55 military time it got lost in translation). When they said no, Jess and I darted to the front of the line to talk to the airport worker. He spoke English (THANK GOD) so in my shortness of breath I managed to ask him if the plane to Dublin left yet. He told us not to worry; it was still there. In pure disbelief I said, “No, the flight that leaves at 5:55pm.” He again reassured me that the plane was delayed and it was sitting right outside the window. I’m just gonna go ahead and beatify that man. It was at this point that we threw our shoes, belts, computers, and backpacks on the floor and plopped down to cry. Tears of pure joy flew from my eyes. Jess was in hysterics, laughing and crying at the same time. We couldn’t believe our luck. We were making quite the scene. Everyone in line witnessed us racing to the gate and were now witnessing us crying on the floor. Needless to say, they were entertained. As we blew by them, one guy yelled, “Tienes prisa?” (Are you in a hurry?) Others just laughed at me for mixing up 17:55 with 7:55. We pulled ourselves together; put our computers away, and our belts and shoes on before doing the walk of shame to the back of the boarding line. When we sat down in the seats we couldn’t believe our luck. An hour prior to that we never thought we’d be on a plane to Dublin.

 3 hours later we landed in Ireland. It was unreal. We were ready to go to the hostel and crash. I turned to Jess (who had written down the directions) how we to get there. The look on her face was priceless. “I pulled a Molly.” She left the directions in a notebook at home. Our lives are such a joke. What was worse that neither of us could remember the exact name of the hostel. Was it Four Corners? Four Castles? We didn’t know. Halfway through our bus ride, Jess has an epiphany and remembers Four Courts. Thankfully the bus driver knew of it and was able to give us directions. This was our first interaction with the saintly Irish folk. Everyone is just so nice!! We settled into our hostel and started planning our weekend adventures.

I’m pretty sure the desk workers hated us for the mass amount of questions we bombarded them with. We knew that we wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle. And we couldn’t pass up walking around Dublin as well. Unfortunately, doing all of this in the 2.5 days we had wasn’t super doable. We decided to take a train ourselves to Blarney Castle, a 3-hour ride, and a day trip guided tour to the cliffs. With our plans set, exhausted, we crashed for the night.

Our motto of the trip: We’ll sleep next semester. So at 6am we were up bright and early to board the train to Cork to visit Blarney Castle. It was a 3 hour train ride away so we used that time to catch up on our sleep. After the train we had to take 2 more shorter bus rides to get to the castle grounds. I’m surprised that we didn’t get lost during this trek. The castle was AWESOME. We climbed through caves, dungeons, and walked through gardens in addition to trekking up to the top of the castle. The stairs to the top were a little scary. The stairwell was super narrow and there was even a rope to hang on to because they were so steep. It took us about 20 minutes to get to the top, including stopping in all of the side rooms. The view was gorgeous. It was green for miles. The safety regulations are nowhere near as strict here in Europe. There were lots of little crevices/holes that anyone could easily slip on and fall. We could get right up on the edge of the top of the castle. It was invigorating. After climbing all the stairs we were rewarded with the Blarney Stone. I bent over backwards, threw my head down and gave the rock a good smooch. They took pictures for us but charged 10 euros for them so we passed on that. It was a cool experience because you legit have to stick your head down a hole in the top of the castle while holding onto 2 bars to kiss it. So worth it. With our new luck from the stone, we headed back down to explore the grounds. It was a lot bigger than I expected. We could’ve spent all day walking around the area. We spent the last few hours exploring caves, walking in the gardens, and learning about all the little nature attractions. There were wishing stairs, witch’s stone, and things of that sort that all come with a legend behind them. As it got closer to our train’s departure time, we stopped at a cute little café for lunch before hopping on the bus back to the train station. Once again, we were on time and everything went smoothly. I think we’ll look back on this trip and realize that this was the turning point of the semester. It’s horrible that it took us this long and such a frightening experience, but I don’t think we’ll be late for anything for a while. We’ve had enough of that.

We once again slept on the train ride home so that we could rest up enough to enjoy the Temple Bar neighborhood that night. We walked around the area for a little while before deciding which bar we wanted to go in. We ended up choosing one with live Irish music. We sat down and ordered our first Guinnesses and was it fabulous. I’d have to say it’s one of the best alcoholic beverages I’ve ever had.  Loved it. Jessica was trying to get me to talk to some boys there before a man walked up and starting with us. Leave it to us to attract the only Spaniards in the bar. Turns out he was from Madrid. So we had a nice little chat and he complimented me on my Spanish accent. Needless to say my night was made. When he left Jessica was still trying to get me to talk to some Irish boys. Eventually the group of guys we had our eye on came over to us and told me I had a nice smile. I was flattered and we started chatting with them. Unfortunately he wasn’t a true Irishman. He was originally from England and moved to Dublin a year ago. We stayed a while and talked with him and his friends before we needed to head home and actually get some sleep. But before we left, he asked me for my phone number so we could meet up tomorrow for another drink. Jess and I struggled to remember how to use the area code/+ on our ancient pre-T9 phones before we successfully exchanged numbers. He was slightly drunk at this time so we weren’t actually expecting a call the next day. I went home a pretty happy girl. Gave my number to a boy and was complimented on my Spanish accent. Successful night.

Saturday was yet another early morning. We were up by 6am to get ready and meet our tour bus for the Cliffs of Moher at 7. This was a little bit shorter ride than the Castle, but still a 2.5-hour trip. This time we had a tour guide who told us tidbits about everything we were passing. We drove through Galway while our guide pointed out all the attractions, occasionally hopping on/off the bus for photo ops. Before we got to the Cliffs of Moher, we made a pit stop at some much smaller cliffs. I was amazed at these ones so I couldn’t wait until we saw the real deal. I loved that we could get right up to the edge. It was quite the experience to just sit and dangle my feet of the edge of the cliffs. So unreal and invigorating. The next stop was lunch. We ate at another cute café for lunch. With our stomachs full we were off to the Cliffs of Moher. Our tour guide advised us to go up on the right side of the cliffs first because it had a much better view and was the easier climb of the 2. So we followed his suggestion and made the trek. What we weren’t prepared for was the railing that kept us from the edge. My heart sank a little. I was worried that the whole thing was going to be like that. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. On the left side we had to jump over a barricade to get to the edge, but it was so worth it. I got to sit on the ledge and dangle my feet. I couldn’t have been happier sitting there. No picture could do that view justice. It was phenomenal standing there and looking out. If Jess and I hadn’t been with a tour on a time limit, we would’ve sat there all day. I had such a blast walking along the edge. A couple of people walking by told me and Jess to step back because we were making them nervous. It was just so incredible. I never wanted to leave. What made it even better was the perfect weather we had. Both days the sun was out and there were hardly any clouds. It hadn’t even rained at this point. I was shocked that we’d spent 2 days in Ireland without using a raincoat. An hour and a half later our tour guide dragged us from the cliffs to continue with the day. We stopped at a few points of interest on our way home, but nothing could compare with the cliffs. We rolled into Dublin around 9:30pm. Since we’d been up since 6, we just headed back to the hostel.

We got back to our hostel to meet some new roommates. I was a little nervous when the bathroom was covered in hair dye. I walked into the room and one of the guys asked me if I was at the pub crawl last night. When I told him no, he was confused because thought I looked familiar. Not thinking anything of it, I continued with my activities. Jessica walked in later and the 4 of us got to talking. The 2 boys started with the casual ‘where are you from’ and we did the same.  Small world: turns out they were juniors from SLU-Missouri who are studying in Geneva, Switzerland and visiting Ireland. Even smaller world: one of them is friends with Rachael. Turns out I also had a class with him and had mutual friends with the other guy. It was too weird.

 Once again, we didn’t waste anytime on Sunday.  Our flight left at 5:05pm so we were under a little bit of a time crunch. We still wanted to do see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, do the Guinness tour, and the Jameson Whiskey tour; all before 2:30pm. Before the sun was fully up, we were admiring St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We weren’t able to go inside due to mass services, but it was fantastic looking from the outside. From there we went straight to drinking. Like true Irishwoman, we were ready to do the Guinness tour at 9:30am. You bet we were there early too. 45 minutes actually. Like I said, I think this was a turning point for us and we won’t ever be late again. The tour was pretty neat. We saw how it was made, how they use the different ingredients, and even learned how to pour the perfect pint. After we enjoyed our Guinness, we were off to the Jameson whiskey tour. Jess’s dad is a huge fan, so we had to go so that she could get something for him. The tour was a lot different that Guinness. It was guided and much shorter. At the end of the tour, the guide picked 8 people to be whiskey taste testers and I got to be one!! First they made us try the Jameson whiskey, which is supposed to be the best because it’s triple distilled. Then we had either bourbon or a Scotch whiskey (double distilled) I can’t remember followed by the good ol’ American Jack Daniels (single distilled). It was obvious that the Jameson triple distilled was the best. Hands down. After all my tasting, I got a nice little certificate showing off my skills.  We then got lunch before heading back to the hostel to get our luggage and catch a bus to the airport.

We successfully made it through the airport before our flight left. Seriously we’ve turned over a new leaf. I can’t believe how much we got done in the 2.5 days we had in Ireland. I’m pretty proud of us. And other than our mishap in the beginning, everything went perfectly. I couldn’t ask for a better weekend.

I was sitting at school today thinking to myself, “Did this weekend really just happen.” I have to remind myself, “I’m in Madrid.” And I’m getting to travel all over Europe. I can’t believe how awesome my life is here. This truly is the semester of a lifetime. Each day I think about how hard it’s going to be to go home. There is never a dull or boring moment here. Everything is an adventure. 

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It’s the Little Things

Now that we’ve hit our halfway mark, I’ve started to think of all the little things that I love about my daily life in Madrid that I’m going to miss in the states. For starters, I’ve grown quite fond of the metro. The need for a car doesn’t exist. The metro literally goes everywhere and we’re about a 5 minute walk from the nearest stop. It’s all too convenient. 

I love SLU-Madrid too, or SLUM as I’ve been told it’s often called. The courtyard where everyone sits is just so cute and the weather is almost always perfect for sitting outside. I love that I can sit out in the courtyard and hear 4 different conversations in 4 different languages. I will say that I sometimes miss the occasional 300+ people lecture when I could fall asleep without being noticed, but I’ll pay the price if it means I can stay in Europe. I love Latin Rhythms. I’m getting college credit for dancing and having a blast. In class on Thursday we’re having a workshop on dips and finales for tango. And Tuesday we’re starting to learn choreography for the show. It’s the best. 

I love that I can just go people watch/shop in a plaza full of people after school. And I love that people are out in the streets no matter what and how there are street vendors on every corner who pick up their blankets of merchandise when a cop car comes. 

I love the “Hola chicas” we get from Alfonso when we walk in the house. And I love the occasional wine that padre brings us without madre’s knowledge. 

There’s just so much to love about Madrid and being abroad. The US has a lot to live up to when I come back. 

Here are some pics of the park across the street from our apartment. Yesterday Rachael and I just decided to walk around it for a bit before going home after school. We stopped and swung on the swings for a while. 

This is the life. 

My Weekend with Ignatius

It’s been almost a week since I last blogged…here goes nothing. 

This weekend I wasn’t worrying about directions, what attractions to see, missing a flight, or paying for food. This weekend was all about Ignatius of Loyola. However, there wasn’t going to be much relaxing until my talk was written. I knew it was going to be a late night, but I didn’t think I’d be pulling my first all-nighter of the semester writing a speech for a retreat. Rachael promised me she’d stay up and help me since I was so nervous but around 3:30am she passed out. Can’t say I blame her; it’s all I wanted to do. 5:30am rolled around and I wrapped it up, set my alarm for an hour later, and conked out for a short-lived nap. 

My alarm rang way too early. Rachael and I were headed out the door before the sun was even up to meet the bus at SLU. Shockingly, we were the first ones there! Guess there’s a first time for everything. You bet I passed out the second I hit that bus seat. 6 hours later I woke up in Azpeitzia, Spain. Our day began with a introduction to the retreat center and a tour of the Holy House. It’s a medieval tower where Ignatius was born, recovered from the infamous cannon ball to the knee, and later converted to Christianity. These are the things you hear about being at a Jesuit University, but to see them in person was unreal. Our night continued with one of the fanciest retreat meals I’ve ever eaten. At lunch and dinner there was a bottle of wine at every table and we were fed 3 course meals each time. Shortly after dinner we all crashed. 

7:30am wake up call came a lot earlier than expected. There wasn’t a second to waste, our agenda was pretty packed. We ate breakfast, had morning prayer, and listened to some talks before we ventured into the city to visit the church where Ignacio was baptized, la Capilla de La Magdalena. We also got to celebrate mass here. Spain really loves there churches because after that we toured the San Sebastián church. 

We got a break from tours to explore the area on our own. It was raining the entire time we were there so not many people ventured outside. Rachael and I fought through the rain and soaked up the fabulous views of the mountains. We were literally right up there with the clouds in the most northern part of Spain. It was gorgeous. I couldn’t get enough of my surroundings. Pictures don’t do it justice. With all the rain comes the greenest landscape. Pure beauty. On our journey around Loyola we came across some sheep. We also found some donkeys. Unlike the sheep, the donkeys came right up to us and let us pet them!!! We named them Sprinkles and Sunshine. They were a blast. By the time we left Sunshine and Sprinkles we were soaked to the bone and were ready to go back to the retreat center for a talk and Reconciliation. 

Now I was starting to sweat. After Reconciliation I had to give my talk. When I walked to the front of the room I was shaking like no other. Telling almost 35 strangers about my personal struggles and ideas was quite a large leap out of my comfort zone. But as I said in my speech, “When I stepped onto the plane to Madrid, I told myself I was not only going to leave the country, but also my comfort zone. So here I am, standing in front of you all 4,426 miles from it.” The topic of my talk was “Jesus: God’s Covenant to Us”. That seemed like a pretty dry subject to talk about for 10 minutes, so I swayed a bit from it and reflected on a prayer from Thomas Merton. It goes:

“GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Despite my lack of eye contact with the audience, people complimented me on my bravery to give a speech throughout the rest of the weekend. It was invigorating. I can’t say I enjoyed standing up and reading it, but the feeling afterwards was phenomenal. In our small groups after my talk a guy stood up and gave me props for stepping out of my comfort zone and sharing my speech. I couldn’t have been more flattered. Hearing people’s reactions to my thoughts/story was eye opening. It’s definitely something I’d consider doing again for sure. 

The retreat was at its climax. We were fed another 3 course meal before touring yet another church. This time it was the Basilica de Loyola. I didn’t have many expectations at this point; we’d seen so many churches. Our Jesuit tour guide, Javier blew me away. We were sitting in the Basilica in the dark when Javier started playing music. With each new song a different part of the Basilica lit up. Near the end, vibrant music played and the entire church was full of light. It was something to see. As if we weren’t impressed enough with the Basilica, Javier took us up to the balconies to walk around. We were literally walking around the domes of the church. I had one of those awe struck abroad moments. I was thinking to myself, “Who else gets a chance like this?” I’m living a once in a life time opportunity and I’m so thankful for this experience.

What scares me is that we’re halfway done and I only have 59 days left here…WHAT. We’re making the most of the rest of our time here. This weekend we’re going to Ireland. The weekend after that: Italy. Then Geneva, Switzerland, Paris, London, and Germany. That leaves us with 2 more weekends in Spain. I can’t believe how fast time is flying by. 

Anyways, the night tour of the Basilica was the last thing on our agenda for Saturday. Sunday was another early morning. We got to have mass in the room where St. Ignatius recovered and converted to Christianity. It was incredible to be in the exact room, yet another awe struck abroad moment. After mass we had some time to reflect on the weekend before we boarded back onto the bus. Proud of their Jesuit traditions at SLU, we couldn’t drive home to Madrid without stopping at St. Francis Xavier’s castle. Two hours into the bus ride we pulled off the main road to explore the castle of Francis Xavier’s family. These sites have definitely given more meaning to the Jesuit surroundings I see at school in St. Louis such as St. Francis Xavier College Church. The castle was almost more of a museum than anything and hardly any of it was the same as it was back in the day which was a little disappointing. An hour or so later we were back on the bus again, but this time on our way home Madrid. 

I couldn’t have asked for a better, more relaxing weekend. It was full of new friends, new perspective, and new experiences. 

What a weekend. 

Classic

Yesterday started on the wrong foot and never seemed to get better. I woke up to an e-mail saying that my academic standing went from good to satisfactory (it’s all orgo’s fault), tripped in the middle of the street walking to school nearly getting hit by a car, and got my midterms back. I also failed horribly at responding in Spanish class and fell asleep in History which didn’t go unnoticed by the teacher. So I was really looking forward to a better day today. And a better day it was. 

Some friends wanted to try the Burrito Bar we went to this weekend and asked us to go with them. So Jess and I got up a little earlier than usual to grab lunch. What was great about it was that we were early! There’s a first time for everything! We ate our burritos/nachos and had a nice little time. Jess, Alex, and I didn’t have class for another 2 hours, so we hung back after everyone left and did some homework. 

Since I have to give a talk at the retreat on Saturday, I spent a lot of today reflecting/working on my speech. I sat outside on a cute little patio at school, put in my headphones, and went to work. When I had made significant progress, I headed home to get some homework done. I’ve been dreading doing my Spanish homework all day because I still haven’t recovered from the last 14-page story I had to read, none of it which I understood. As I began reading the story for tomorrow, I was understanding it much better than the previous one. I actually sped through it and even enjoyed it a little. Weird. 

Before madre and padre got home, it was Jess, Rachael, and I home alone when the door bell (from downstairs) rang. We didn’t know what to do, so we ignored it. In the next 15 minutes, it rang 3 more times. On the 3rd ring, we decided that we should probably answer it. Since I speak the most Spanish, I was voted to do the talking. I was struggling to comprehend what the man on the other line was saying, but I managed to tell him that María and Antonio weren’t home. The man continued to ask me if I was their daughter. It was kind of a compliment to think that my Spanish sounded good enough to make him believe that. I got quite a kick out of it. Since I didn’t understand what he was saying, I never fully responded and he ended up hanging up. We felt bad and decided to go downstairs to talk to him face to face. Turns out it was just the doorman relaying a message to madre and padre. He was confused on the phone because he didn’t understand how I was speaking Spanish yet had no idea what he was telling me. Story of my life. I’m a much better speaker than listener. That’s where Jessica comes in. She’s better at comprehending while I talk. We tag team like that.

Last night at dinner, madre told us that she made zucchini for dinner tonight. Yesterday really wasn’t my day. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to dinner, but after the first bite I realized it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. It turned out fine; maybe I am getting better at eating. After dinner we parted and went back to our rooms to finish up homework. Ten minutes later padre comes into mine and Rachael’s room with a bottle of wine and 3 glasses. He stayed and chatted for a bit after pouring a glass for me, Rachael, and Jessica. He has to be one of the most adorable people in the world. At least in all of Spain. Before leaving our room, he reminded us once again that we can’t tell madre. We had just started sipping our wine when he came back in with a bowl of potato chips. Seriously the cutest man ever. 

I’m so glad that today was better, but sad that almost another week has passed. Time needs to slow down! But I’m super excited/nervous for this weekend. Lots to look forward to. 

What a day. 

¿Cuánto cuesta?

I knew it was going to be a good day when we saw a baby kitten on our way to the metro and it let us pet it. Jess and I were more than tempted to bring it home and ask madre if we could keep it. When we were done playing with the kitten, we were finally off to El Rastro (the outdoor market). 

“How much does it cost?”-The most common phrase used at El Rastro. We decided to come back to El Rastro this weekend because there was so much left untouched from our last visit. We got up early this morning to beat the crowd. It was quite a success. Rachael and I got fanny packs for traveling; they’re pretty fabulous. I bought a few gifts and even got a leather jacket! T’was a good day. When we had covered all the ground we headed home for a much needed siesta. 

Dinner wasn’t quite the success that shopping was. For starters, I’m getting very sick of soup. We have some crazy soup almost every night. I don’t know if it’s the flavors that I’m hating or the large quantities madre gives us. Either way, it’s getting rough. A typical dinner lately has been soup (ranging from tomato to mushroom), meat (usually steak) and a pastry for dessert. At home a not a big steak fan, but when I finally take the last bite of soup, those steaks are some of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Tonight, not only did we get steak, but a whole tomato sliced up and doused with salt on the side. And yes, I managed to eat the whole thing. When the time came I was so ready for dessert. But we didn’t get a pastry tonight. Nope, just so rice milk/pudding. I thought I was doing so well with eating more foods, today that idea was crushed. Not only did madre make me eat a full tomato, she decides to tell us at dinner that in less than 2 weeks, we’ll have it our half way mark. WHAT?! Rule 1. of studying abroad: Never mention the day we have to leave. NEVER. I can’t even fathom leaving this continent. I’m in love. 

After dinner we retreated to our rooms to get some homework done. Jess and Rachael have all of their midterms this week, so the 2 of them went straight to work which forced me to get some things done. 

Next weekend I’ll be going on a retreat to the place where St. Ignatius of Loyola was born/converted to Christianity and developed the guidelines to Ignation Spirituality. I may also be giving a talk in front of everyone there so here’s to praying that I can reflect and write a good speech this week. 

What a day. 

Parks > Highways

Life is a Highway? Yeah right. In Madrid Life is a Park. What used to be an ugly highway separating 2 neighborhoods is now a gorgeous 6+ mile park that joins the 2 residential areas in the center of Madrid. Not only did Madrid create this fabulous park, but they rejuvenated the Manzanares River which runs along the park. 

Before we journeyed to the park, we caught wind of this amazing Chinese restaurant underneath Plaza de España that apparently all the locals go to and made a pit stop there. 

This is where Jessica parted from Rachael and I to go study for her midterms. So we went our separate ways on the metro and Rachael and I were headed to the Highway Park (Río Madrid). I couldn’t believe that something this awesome was once a highway. It was full of awesome, yet dangerous playgrounds, fountains, gardens, and people from bikers to dog walkers. We walked around for a bit before we stumbled on the first playground. How Spain thinks these playgrounds are safe is beyond me. They were literally rope courses, some even 10 feet up in the air. I was a little afraid of a few of them. We acted like 4 year olds as we climbed through the obstacles. At one point I was on a tight rope 10 feet above the ground and shaking like no other. The arm strength it required was phenomenal. I don’t know how these kids do it. We also found this see-saw on steroids. As we flew through the air on bungee cords I didn’t think I had ever laughed that hard. We’re really children at heart. When our muscles had had enough, we decided to cover more of the 6+ miles of the park. We stumbled upon this bike shop and walked in out of curiosity. Turns out they rented out tandem bikes. We were sold. So we hopped on a bicycle built for 2 and rode around the park dodging people left and right, off-roading when necessary. And we laughed the entire time. Rachael decided that she wanted to attempt driving in the front seat, so we quickly switched spots. One thing Rachael learned about herself today was that she cannot drive a tandem bike. We were having some major strugs. Everyone who saw us in the park got quite a laugh. I swear Madrid should pay us for the entertainment we provide for their city. We were a hot mess and having a blast. We rode around for an hour before our butts started to hurt and we decided to head back home. 

Today was just the perfect day. We got to sit outside in Plaza de España eating Chinese, ride around the highway park on a Tandem bike, and fall more in love with Madrid. 

What a day. 

Also, shout out to my real padre who turned 58 today!!!! (Yes, I realize the date says Oct. 14th but it’s just after midnight.) 

Faith Restored

After last night’s situation at Kapital, my faith in Madrid has been restored thanks to a wonderful day today. We slept in a little and allowed ourselves to recover from last night before we headed to this new burrito bar near school for lunch. I walked up to order my food and the worker greeted me with a “hi”. Being so used to speaking Spanish, I responded, “Hola”. He shot back, “Oh, hola”. Turns out I don’t look very Spanish after all. He couldn’t have been more shocked that I actually spoke Spanish. I continued to order my food in Spanish just for kicks and giggles. These guys essentially wanted to bring Qdoba/Chipotle to Spain so they opened up this burrito bar. The environment was super chill and awesome. And they had a soda machine open to the public!!!!!!! First time we’ve seen anywhere in Europe. They just don’t believe in free refills here. Needless to say, we abused it. When our food babies were fully grown, Jess went home to get some homework done and Rachael and I went to Plaza Mayor to kill time before we needed to be back. We put down the map and got wonderfully lost, wandering in whichever direction we wanted because we had no agenda. The beautiful thing about Madrid is that you can find a metro station anywhere so it really never matters where you are; you can always get home. We walked into some cute shops and just soaked up the area. Sol/Plaza Mayor is my favorite place in Madrid. It has everything from street performers to restaurants. I ended up buying a pair of heels in this cute little shop to ensure that I would get into Kapital the next time we tried. 

We were still full from lunch when it was time to go home for dinner. We had asked madre if we could eat a little earlier than usual because we had planned on going to the Ice Bar and they were having some sort of show with the Northern Lights so you could experience it at actual temperatures. 

To everyone’s surprise, we made it to the Ice Bar in time. Jess and Rachael were a little shocked because tonight’s dinner was a rough and took me longer than usual to eat. And the proportion sizes madre gives us keep growing I swear. But we made it to the Ice Bar with just enough time to put on our parkas and see the Northern Lights show which actually turned out to be a pictures on a TV screen. It was a little disappointing, but still fabulous because we were hanging out in an igloo. We had a fantastic time sitting on ice furniture, taking pictures, and wearing parkas. But after an hour, our feet/legs were starting to get a little chilly. I mean, it was only -8 degrees in there. 

So we headed back home to just chill and watch a movie. I’d say that my faith in Madrid has been restored. We have lots of plans for tomorrow, there’s just so  much to do in Madrid! Ah I love it here!!! (Good thing my hate only lasted less than 24 hours.)

What a day. 

The First Time I Said I Hated Spain

Like I said before, we were going to celebrate the end of the week at Kapital, the 7 story club. We had printed off the flyer to get in for free and arrived at 12:20 hoping to get through the line by 1 to use our free voucher. The line was at least a block and a half long. There was no way we were going to make it in by 1, but we were willing to pay because this place has so much hype. We passed the time in the line practicing Latin Rhythms and chatting. An hour later we finally got to the door. Faster than we could even get our money out, a security guard shoved us out of the gate and away from the door telling us that we didn’t have the right shoes. I was mildly confused due to the fact that Jess and I were wearing stappy sandals and Rachael was wearing Toms. What confused and angered us even more was that we then watched a girl walk in with one strap sandals after us. 

When I’m angry my Spanish gets exponentially worse. Furious, I walked over to the security guard to ask what kind of shoes we needed to get in. His response? “Better ones.” Unsatisfied with that answer, I found another security guard to ask. He sent us to his other friend. I was getting the feeling that they didn’t like Americans and for the first time in Madrid, I felt like a minority. We were being persistent because we’ve been waiting for weeks now to go here and we weren’t through with trying because this place is so legendary. When I asked the 3rd security guard what kind of shoes we needed to get in I didn’t even get words. He merely pointed to his black, men’s dress shoes before turning his back to us. Livid, I had to walk away and recollect my thoughts before even attempting to ask another security guard. Everyone was blowing us off and I was not having it. I spoke Spanish to the guards so I wasn’t understanding their problem. 

We dove back into the crowd, hoping to get a clear answer. Packed like sardines with everyone fighting to get to the door, Rachael and I were complaining about not getting in when this girl, speaking in Spanish, called us bitches for not speaking their language. Little did she know that I actually do speak their language and understood her. That was the last straw. Jessica saw how mad/upset I was and grabbed me saying, “We’re leaving.” By this time it was past 2am and no other bars/clubs allowed free entrance and we didn’t want to pay for a club that wasn’t Kapital. We made the decision to walk around Sol and see if we could find a free deal for a discoteca. We found a promoter as soon as we walked into Sol. He ended up giving us a wristband for free entrance because he liked Americans and dated a girl from Minnesota once. Turns out there is someone out there who likes us! So we headed to The Palace to boost our spirits. We downed our free drinks before heading to the dane floor. As usual, we broke out our Latin Rhythms moves. Not too long after a good-looking guy asked me to dance. I was flattered and having a good time until he asked me if I was German (I think that’s what he said at least) and when I said, “No” he just left. It was really upsetting because he was real cute. It didn’t take long before another guy came to dance. By the end of the night, all three of us had dance partners. It turned out not to be such a bad night after all. 

The best part about the situation was padre’s reaction when we told him what happened. Naturally madre and padre asked us how the legendary Kapital was. When we told them how we didn’t get in, padre’s overprotective parent instincts came in. He kept telling us that he didn’t understand why they wouldn’t let us in and that he’s never heard of any shoe rules. Under his breath he was mumbling about how he hated Kapital. Worried that it had ruined our night, he wondered if we had gone elsewhere afterwards. We told him that we did and he was happy that we didn’t give up saying, “Good for you.” He’s so adorable. 

One part of me wants to go to Kapital because it’s what we’ve been waiting for while another part of me doesn’t want to go back because of how poorly we were treated. We’ll see what happens. 

What a night.

Exams and Host Fam

This family gets cuter and cuter everyday I swear. I have the best host family a student could ask for.  A while back padre had given us a bottle of wine for being stupendous daughters. A couple of days ago, he gave us another one, telling us how good we were. As with the last bottle, he told us we have to keep it a secret from madre or else she will cut off his ear (like how bullfighters cut off the ear of the bulls they kill). I’m really loving this bond we have with padre. Two of Rachael’s friends lived here last semester so we asked them if padre ever did anything like this for them and they said no. Padre just loves us. I think it’s partly because we actually attempt to talk with him despite the fact that he doesn’t know English. 

Yesterday, Jessica won a pair of golf shoes at the driving range with SLU. She already has a pair at home and the new ones were too small for her anyways. She thought that she’d ask padre if he wanted them. She asked me to go with her in case she needed help translating. We walked into the living room where he was sitting and Jessica did most of the talking. She gave him the shoes and he tried them on, thinking they were a little too small. He checked the size and was shocked that they were his number. So he convinced himself that they would stretch after he wore them in. He couldn’t have been happier that she gave them to him. After numerous kisses on the cheek, he immediately had to go show madre his new shoes. He took me and Jess with him. After showing them off to her, he then had to go tell Alfonso, and again took us with him. The smile never left his face and he kept on saying thank you and kissing Jess on the cheek. Jess and I both went back to our rooms to study. Not even a half hour later, padre came into mine and Rachael’s room, still wearing the shoes. He was just showing them off again and telling us about how they were already stretching out. Then he marched over to Jess’s room to tell her how perfect they were and to thank her once again. I swear he didn’t take those shoes off the rest of the night. 

It’s good to know that I already get along with my in-laws once me and Alfonso get married. I just love this whole family. 

Every semester I feel like I deserve a congratulatoryt-shirt saying, “I Survived Midterms Week.” It’s no different in Madrid. My Spanish midterm this morning was a lot rougher than I anticipated. However, I was a little comforted by the fact that I wasn’t have any problem understand the Spanish or writing in Spanish, I just didn’t know the information  as in depth as I needed to. I’m really getting used to seeing Spanish everywhere and it’s helped me immensely with comprehending. All in all, I learned how to study for the next one and think it turned out decently. I walked straight out of Spanish to go take history. It was a long morning. I anticipated that history would be a lot harder than Spanish, especially since I studied twice as much for Spanish. The test was just one big essay. I felt super unprepared, but in the hour I had to write, I didn’t stop once. Once I got started I was on a roll. I honestly think that my blogging has improved my writing skills. I feel like I beasted that essay. Here’s to hoping my teacher thinks the same. 

As if taking 2 midterms back to back wasn’t tiring enough, I still had to go to Latin Rhythms. We learned a few new moves today. As tired as I was, I still had a blast. That class never ceases to entertain me. I’m surprised at how much I love it. I had to tango with the instructor today and I actually did it correctly. Felt pretty awesome. 

Now it’s nap time until dinner. Then it’s a night of celebration at Kapital, the 7 story discoteca where each floor is a different genre of music ranging from salsa to 80s. CANNOT WAIT. 

Here’s to another fabulous weekend in Madrid.

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