Madrid, Lisbon, Sierra de Gredos, El Boalo!

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Hello all!

First off…. a sincere apology.. (mostly to my parents who are probably the only ones who care) for not updating my blog for almost a month.. Hopefully this massive post will make up for it 🙂 I have been caught up in midterms (which lasted two weeks) and then got immediately slammed with some heavy projects, essays, and presentations. I kept doing activities and taking more pictures and everything kept adding up and it was too overwhelming to even start compiling until this past weekend! I seriously CANNOT believe the sheer amount of work I have here… Though I am learning so much each and everyday. I actually FEEL more knowledgeable, educated, and informed about Spanish culture, Latin American history, current events, Spanish films, and just things in general! This is truly an invaluable learning experience.. and though it has been surprisingly really difficult to balance the traveling, studying, planning, exploring Madrid, BLOGGING, and more, I could not feel more lucky to be spending my semester here. I have A LOT of pictures in store for you all in this post.. PAINFULLY narrowed down from over 2,000 (yes, I know, I take a lot of pictures.) So I hope you enjoy!

DISCLAIMERS: 1. Since I’ve done so many things since my last post I’m going to jump around a bit so bear with me. 2. The reason for the varying photo quality is because some are taken on my phone and some on my professional camera. 3. Because of the hundreds of picture on this post it kept deleting as I was writing it.. so this is my 3rd time redoing it! Please disregard any typos 🙂 4.The reason why most of the pictures that I am in are blurry is because people can’t focus a camera or take a picture. I miss my fellow film majors 🙂

Alright! These few photos were taken during my exciting adventures with my Madrid Cosmopolitan City class. It has become one of my favorite classes and I really look forward to our 3 and a half hour excursions around the city each week. I get to see so many beautiful parts of Madrid I would never visit otherwise.

Taken from the charming Banco de España/Plaza de Cibeles area, a zone beautified by the Austrias rulers in the 17th century (mostly Felipe the IV of Spain).

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The wonderful Professor Caballer and some of our class after making a quick pit stop at a potato and churros factory. We couldn’t resist purchasing a bag of freshly made crispy potato chips. They were delicious!

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I have see so many film sets while here in Madrid!! IT MAKES ME MISS CHAPMAN SO MUCH! I always go up to them and ask what they’re working on. This particular set was for a commercial for a leading telephone company in Spain. They had lots and lots of extras.

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steadicam lovin’!

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Just a typical restaurant front with a beautiful mosaic pattern.

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Plaza Mayor, one of the main historical squares of Madrid. Has been reconstructed many times. Markets, parades, bullfights, soccer games, and public executions (during the Spanish Inquisition) have all been held here throughout the years. Nowadays its a major tourist attraction, and cafes and shops border the plaza. All of the little balconies are private residences.

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Statue of Felipe III

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Every Sunday, “El Rastro” (Europe’s Biggest Flea Market!) is held in Madrid. Hundreds of vendors line the streets and the kiosks go on for MILES! It was incredibly overwhelming. They sell EVERYTHING, from leather goods to kitchen appliances to shoes, clothing, and jewelry, tapestries, paintings, and sculptures all for very cheap! I managed to find some cute little crescent moon studs (shout out to my Gamma Phi sisters!). I plan on returning soon and purchasing one of the adorable leather backpacks. I only snapped one picture because the area is understandably a MAJOR pickpocketing hot spot!

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I have been eating some delicious food as always while here in Madrid. Here are some of the standouts.

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The best and fluffiest tortilla of my life, with goat cheese and caramelized onions, with a sweet tangy tomato sauce on the side.

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Yummy croissant french toast at “Vips” American-style diner slash grocery store… A very popular chain here that also sells lots of products from the states. They have a very cheap brunch and its definitely a Suffolk favorite.

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Spain’s Chipotle! BUT BETTER. Delicious chicken burrito from a cute little chic burrito bar near my apartment called “La Tierra.” Another Suffolk favorite (they have a great happy hour with margaritas and beer). I go here after class often.

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Some of Eva’s cooking. Salad and vegetable lasagna.

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These next shots were surreptitiously taken in the San Antonio de la Florida Church. We visited the beautiful famous Goya fresco with my art history class. We spend the sessions staring up at the ceiling and analyzing the work. Each of us were assigned a certain part of the fresco and we presented our analysis at the end of class.

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Next up, my first night at the famous KAPITAL!!! Madrid’s famous 7-story club, each floor playing a different genre of music. We stayed out all night until the metro opened back up at 6am.

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Having some fun while waiting for the metro!

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The off-limits ladies of the apartment 😉

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Post-Kapital metro ride at 6am after a long night of partying…

These next pictures are from “Carnival(e)” weekend. Celebrated in predominantly Catholic countries, Carnival marks the start of the Lent season and is a festive celebration with fireworks, parades, and costumes. It is less popular in Madrid and more intensely celebrated in certain parts of Spain like Cadiz or Valencia, but we still got to some incredible fireworks set to music in the beautiful Plaza de Cibeles.

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watch this 7 second video I took to get an idea of the incredible fireworks!   —>

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Afterwards, Katelyn and I decided to escape the cold and grab something to eat.

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The owner of the restaurant took a liking to us at gave us some delicious little dessert shots on the house.

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Turkey lasagna and raspberry cheesecake.

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The next night Katelyn and I continued our culinary exploration and decided to try the famous “Cien Montaditos” chain. The name translates to: “100 little sandwiches,” referring to their MASSIVE menu of… over 100 mini sandwiches! A Spaniard favorite, this little Panera-style restaurant has some irresistible deals every Sunday and Wednesday: Everything on the menu for only 1 EURO! They are well known for their “Tinto Verano” a deliciously refreshing wine spritzer similar to sangria.

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All of this food for 6 euros each!

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Katelyn and I were very satisfied.

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We came home to this beautiful sunset. Taken from the window of my apartment.

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MY FAVORITE CHOCOLATE IN SPAIN! Bueno bars ❤ So addicting.. Hazelnut cream filled crispy morsels of heaven.

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My butterscotch cream filled doughnut from, not Dunkin’ Donuts, but Dunkin’ “COFFEE.” Basically the same thing.. just a marketing strategy I’d assume.

These next shots are from the gorgeous and GIGANTIC Retiro Park. The green luscious center of the city is filled with breathtaking sculptures, monuments, galleries, and fountains and takes up most of Madrid, stretching many miles. Street performers, rollerbladers, and little street vendors fill the walkways on the weekends. We passed through here in one of my Madrid classes and learned about the park’s history. Retiro and its gardens was owned by the Royal family until it was given to the public in 1767.

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The famous “Estanque de Retiro,” a huge landmark statue made of marble and bronze honoring Alfonso XII. If you’re feeling extra touristy, you can rent a little row boat or find a quite spot to have a picnic in the park.

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Puerta de Alcala, arch built under the rule of Carlos III, both sides were separate projects and completed at different times.

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Alright, FINALLY! My unforgettable trip to Lisbon, Portugal. Me and 50 other Suffolk students hopped on an 8 hour overnight bus at midnight on a Thursday to travel to this wonderful city. This was the extra Suffolk-sponspored trip that I chose out of 4 options to go on in addition to Sevilla. I’m embarrassed to say that before my trip to Portugal, I really couldn’t vividly picture or associate anything in my mind with the country.. Not only did I not know any Portuguese.. but I knew absolutely nothing ABOUT the Portuguese people! I was eager to explore and learn about the fascinating history of this country that holds the title of having the oldest established European borders. Portugal is a lively country with pulsating cities, animated festivals, and a fervent passion for soccer. Lisboa, the sun-drenched, castle-dotted, cosmopolitan capital was the PERFECT destination to spend 3 lovely days.

Portugal reached great heights as a superpower during the Golden Age of Vasco da Gama’s maritime discoveries (the influence of the sea is prevalent throughout the entire country), but hit some serious lows after succumbing to the Moors, Spanish, and finally French powers. These extremes of fortune have contributed to the Portuguese concept of “saudade,” a yearning for people, places, and times that are gone. It’s an idea that is expressed most accurately in the beautifully expressive and heart-wrenchingly passionate musical style “fado.” (Flamenco is as important to the Spanish as Fado is to the Portuguese). From the incredible landscapes, art, and architecture, Portugal has something to offer everyone who travels there, including a sense of saudade when it’s time to leave, which I DEFINITELY felt..

My first views of Portugal. These are some shots I quickly snapped out of a moving bus at sunrise as we were crossing the bridges and driving into Lisbon.

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We got off the bus, dropped our stuff at the hotel, had a DELICIOUS breakfast (surprisingly some of the best croissants I have ever had… And I’ve tried many-a-croissant!) and had a FULL jam-packed day of touring and exploring. We started with a walking tour of the city center. We had a very informative and interesting tour guide.

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my cute squinty friend Kateyln

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the famous Pastel de Nata, Portuguese sweet egg custard pastries. We get to try them later on in the trip 😀

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The Santa Justa Lift (affectionately referred to as the “Eiffel Tower of Portugal”) is an elevator that connects the lower streets of Baixa with upper Carmo Square. Big tourist attraction.

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Many of the buildings are covered in these beautiful unique mosaic tiles. Our tour guide said they were once a symbol of wealth as they were used as insulation material to protect against the heat and humidity in the summer months. Now everyone covers their homes in such tiles to preserve the historical charm.

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the whole city is lined with cobblestone streets.

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my apologies for the awkward framing, but the entire right side is covered in scaffolding!

After lots of walking we stopped for some lunch! We went to this nice restaurant on the water a tried a Portuguese specialty: COD! There is a saying in Portugal that there are 365 ways to prepare the fish, 1 for each day of the year!

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mine was delicious, which is saying a lot coming from me as I am very picky about my fish…

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This is the beautiful Jeronimos Monastery. Located near the shore, is one of most prominent monuments built in the Manueline-style (Portuguese Late Gothic) of architecture in Lisbon. 

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nautical elements and different animal sculptures and motifs are hidden in the arches

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gorgeous high-vaulted ceilings and gothic arches

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beautiful two-story square cloister 

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chapman greek life photo!

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inside the monastery

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Jenna-sized door!

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My friend Mandi who goes to Chapman 🙂

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That bridge in the background looks a little familiar.. doesn’t it??

The 25 de Abril Bridge is the Golden Gate Bridge’s twin sister! It’s a suspension bridge connecting the capital city of Lisbon to the municipality of Almada on the left bank of the Tejo river. Awkward that I live in California and haven’t been to San Fran to see the Golden Gate bridge yet… but I’ve seen her sister in PORTUGAL.

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The beautiful Tower of Belem.

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Tower of Belem at sunset

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I can now say that I’ve touched the other side of the Atlantic!!!!! 😀 From Florida to Portugal!

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We ascended the very narrow very windy interior staircase of tower and saw some beautiful views

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So cute.. yet so sad.. freezing little chihuahua in a hoodie holding a tip jar!! animal cruelty!

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After a beautiful sunset, we took a short walk to Pasteis de Belem, Portugal’s most famous pastry shop since 1837. They are known for their little egg custard pastry cups. Apparently the puff pastry is made by hand by three main chefs who, upon initiation, must take a secret oath and sign a contract in order to safeguard its almost 200-year-old recipe.

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You are supposed to coat them by sprinkling on some cinnamon and sugar

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which my sweet tooth and I of course made sure to do very thoroughly.

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They were delicious and cooked to perfection!  We also had some thick hot chocolate with our desserts. I actually preferred the Portuguese hot chocolate to Spain’s. Sweeter and thinner 🙂

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That night we went to a tradition Fado Club restaurant for a truly delicious dinner. We had crispy bread and a yummy traditional tapas spread for appetizers followed by spinach potato soup, mushroom chicken marsala, hand cut crispy potato fries, and lots of fruit and strong Portuguese coffee for dessert. Dinner would be interrupted every 45 minutes for a private Fado performance. The music was so captivating and passionate. It was such a pleasure to watch listen to.

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I took a few videos but of course, they don’t come close to doing the experience justice! Definitely worth a look though!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crzjHkdETDo female performer. watch in fullscreen and HD

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWl-ZdH6GUU charming male performer. watch in fullscreen and HD

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiSN7kjBveo audience participation!! so much fun!

The next morning we departed for Sintra, a beautiful and quaint little suburb of Lisbon. We had a very scary bus ride up some narrow roads and almost had a collision or two. This truck had to go backwards uphill to let our bus pass through.

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As we got higher and higher into the mountains, the air got more and more humid and misty.

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We arrived at the Pena Nacional Palace… and I felt like I was at Disney!! The picturesque colorful castle on top of the hill was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. The views from the towers were also unbelievable. We all had so much fun exploring the grounds and taking LOADS of pictures.

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Prom-posin’ with my friend Aisha

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this is my signature “I Love Portugal” pose.. I do it a a lot.. because…..

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I love Portugal 🙂

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After playing princess for a few hours, we walked around the adorable town and did a bit of shopping. There were some cool street vendors selling some beautifully crafted handmade leather jewelry. They were all so unique. I ended up buying the Portuguese leather tie-cuff with Cobra skin in the center. Its the one in the middle purple tube 4th down from the bottom. The man who sold them made each of them himself. When I tried to bargain him down a few euros more, the poor guy stressed to me how well made the leather was and showed me the callouses on his hands!!!! Ah I felt bad. Take the extra euros, poor cute old man! Just take em!

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Next we toured the Palacio National de Sintra:

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After the palace we had a few minutes of free time to talk around the town and decided to take the tour guides recommendation to try some of the local pastries of the village. We walked into this little shop well known for its Queijadas and Travesserios pastries. I of course tried both..

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This one is the queijada. A typical sweet cheese pastry.

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This one is the Travesserio.. an “almond and yolk log.” One of the best pastries I’ve ever had!! Wonderful flavor and texture. So delicious..

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Afterwards we hopped on a short bus ride to lunch…. I had my dessert beforehand as you can see.. which I prefer to do anyway so it was no big deal 😀 We had a big 3 course meal with lots.. and lots.. of wine.

As we walked through the door, the gave us a taste of Vinho do Porto! (port wine from the city Porto in Northern Portugal). The sweet red wine comes in many different varieties.. and we tried them all! We all thought it was strange when we walked in that they were serving us alcohol, because although legal, Suffolk sponsored trips do not usually PROVIDE it for us. We sit down at the table and there were TWO BOTTLES of wine per ever 4 people…. Needless to say, we had a very loud and long meal filled with delicious food, laughter, and story telling. Turns out the wine thing was a total miscommunication between Suffolk and the restaurant, but they were already uncorked when we got to the table so the trip advisors just told us to go easy on it and keep it a secret…. which we…. of course.. did…?

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DESSERT!

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After our wonderful lunch we got back on the bus and drove to Cabo da Roca! The most western point of Europe!! It was BEAUTIFUL. Quiet, misty, and ominous. We were instructed to be mindful of the wooden fences… considering everyone was quite tipsy after lunch.. Probably not the best idea to take us to a CLIFF after that meal!!

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the girls! had so much fun with all of them this trip.

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Then we went back to the hotel and had free time for the rest of the night. Mandi, Sydney and I went to get dinner at a local place:

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Traditional dessert pastry with sweet yolk sugar spread. I guess they’re big on yolk in Portugal.

Then we went out to a club called Luxe on the water and had a very fun and very late night.

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The next morning was cold,  gloomy, and rainy. Luckily we just did some quick walking around and had lunch before heading home.

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Inside we walked in on a few women from the choir practicing! The acoustics made it sound sou beautiful. Here’s a very short video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jcVclH7XfM

I was the only one prepared with my umbrella 😀 Thanks Mom for teaching me how to travel and pack!

Very content and bundled up.

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Saw this kitty in the window on our walk 🙂

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We found some wandering peacocks. Excuse all the pictures!

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Aisha and Nikole at lunch. Afterwards we got on a long bus ride back to Madrid!

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I will never forget my amazing trip to Lisbon, Portugal. I had such a wonderful time exploring this beautiful city and I hope to someday return to a different part of the country. Maybe Lagos or Porto. I will no doubt keep you all posted 😀

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Sunset from my window back in Madrid.

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The next two weeks I spent most of my time here… In the beautiful Reina Sofia Library. My apartment is a zoo so I have to get away for some peace and quite. The hours of the library aren’t too good so I have get to get there very early in the morning. I can thank this beautiful space for the 4 A’s I got on my midterms woohoo!! 😉 😀

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Saw this beautiful building while walking around Madrid the other day. Reminded me of the pictures I see of Barcelona!

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Was fortunate enough to see one of my favorite paintings during one of our art history outings! Degas’ ballerinas! I had to snap an illegal picture….. It was such a cool experience seeing it in person!

I also saw Picasso’s Guernica:

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THAT was really magnificent canvas to stand in front of. That is of course.. just a small piece of it.

Next up is my day trip to Sierra de Gredos. My friend Sydney told me about her Sociology class at Suffolk that was sponsoring a trip here. They had tons spots left on the bus they got so I decided to hope on board! So glad I did.

Sierra de Gredos is a beautiful  mountain range in the center of the Iberian Peninsula, located between Ávila, Cáceres, Madrid and Toledo. The part that we visited was 3 hours northwest of Madrid. Much of the area is part of a regional park. We first took a pit stop in the small town of San Martin:

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Though it doesn’t look like it, it was BITTER COLD (the coldest weather I have experienced in Spain) and the windchill was unbelievable. We went in this small historical church of San Martin to momentarily escape the cold. The church is said to have run out of funds before it was completed. It was supposed to be huge but is only 3 fairly small rooms. “Se acbo el oro antes que termino” is the phrase all the joking locals use to describe how:  the gold ran out before the construction was finished”

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There is a legend that says that the king dropped a tiny ivory statue of the Virgin Mary while hunting and it was found and hidden in the sacred church of saint martin. The Saint’s legend is that he cut his coat in half to save a poor freezing man.

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Isn’t this a pretty little castle…? It was in private hands until a few years ago when the town hall tried to buy it from a very strange character. He used to ride his horse to the bars and do all sorts of wacko things… His daughter finally inherited it and when they were doing restoration on it 10 years ago, they found the bodies of 23 young women who had gone to his many orgies.. and never came back….  I believe the castle is called Castillo Corocera.

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2,300 year old bull statues!

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Sydney trying to escape the FRIDIG WIND TUNNEL. I cannot explain to you how freezing cold this trip was.

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After another beautiful bus ride, we got to walk on the Roman Road! It was so windy though our Professor made us return to the bus shortly after some pictures.

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We got back in the bus and headed to lunch. The drive was GORGEOUS. Excuse the many boring landscape photos.

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Lunch in the mountains was ENORMOUS and delicious. We tried all sorts of typical foods of the mountainous region. We ordered tons of family style appetizers.

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These are NOT sweet potatoes! Some garlic and paprika yam mix.. Very delicious and interesting. Apparently in the mountains, they use paprika to season everything.

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As I was happily sipping my hot flavorful soup to warm up, the Professor and guide for the day asked me if I had tried the pig snout yet. I dropped my spoon… Looked at him… Asked politely if he was kidding…. and he said No.. that he had seen that I had gotten the snout! On the edge there! How fortunate!!!!

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Needless to say I then kindly offered my pig snout soup up to any other takers…

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The best most tender, flavorful veal I have ever tasted!!!

And the best, fluffiest croquettes EVER!!

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We tried a local dessert, “leche frito” which translates to fried milk…. The Spanish will fry anything! Very sweet and surprisingly tasty! Kinda like bread pudding texture.

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The last stop was in a very small town wayyy up in the mountains with less than 40 inhabitants. Our Professor has a SUMMER HOME there! (basically a tiny little cute rustic bungalow). We got to visit his house after some walking around:

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cutest old lady ever who was well over 100.. can we talk about how we were all FREEZING and she wasn’t even wearing a COAT?

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Sydney in the Professors little bungalow home.

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And that was my cold and beautiful day trip to Sierra de Gredos! Next up is my day trip to the small mountain town of El Boalo, for some good ole Spanish HORSEBACK RIDING!

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All bundled up in many layers! It was again, very cold, though the sun makes the pictures look warm and comfortable.

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Our cool guide Eugenio that I chatted with about Spanish film the whole time

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On this horseback ride, I saw some of the prettiest views I had ever seen in my entire life… Unfortunately while traversing the incredibly steep and snowy mountains on horse back with a camera lacking auto-focus, I wasn’t able to capture any of the unbelievable views. You’ll just have to take my word for it!

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this castle was taking on the bus ride back.

That weekend my friends from Sevilla were visiting and I got to see Jenny for dinner!!!

My friend Hannah from Chapman visited Madrid for the weekend from studying abroad in Ireland. I spent the day with her and my friend Matt. We went to Retiro Park and had a picnic, then had some sangria and saw the masterpieces at the Prado.

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Our picturesque spot:

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Matt kindly pretending to push me into the river

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The Glass Palace

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The Anunciation by Frangelico, a piece I studied in high school! We also saw Boschs Garden of Earthly Delights which was so cool!! The scale of the canvas was very impressive. Then we had some fruity sangria and some coffee!

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Well! Hope you enjoyed hearing about my past month in Spain! Next up is my trip from Morocco which I just came back from. Can’t wait to share my amazing pictures with you from that gorgeous country. On Thursday I head to Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza, and Valencia for my 10 day Spring Break! Stay tuned!

xoxo Besos y Abrazos!

❤ Jenna

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Fun Week in Madrid and Weekend Trip to GRANADA!

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These past 10 days have been filled with classes, museum visits, traveling, sight-seeing, clubbing, eating delicious food, and further adapting to la vida loca! Ill start with the boring stuff and touch on classes briefly.

After way too much difficulty, communicating back and forth with chapman, and adding and dropping many courses, my class schedule is FINALLY all set. And it looks like I’ll be receiving chapman credit for definitely 3/4 of them! Maybe even 4/4. My classes are much harder than expected.. you always hear about the fun travel/party aspect about study abroad, but never the work! Three of my classes are taught in Spanish, which is a big added level of difficulty, and one is an art history class about Spanish Masters. So I am learning a lot about España y Latinoamérica, which is interesting, as I have never really taken any classes that were specifically geared towards those areas. The classes I am taking are:
Hispanic Culture Today
Madrid: A Cosmopolitan City
Advanced Spanish Composition and Conversation
Modernism and Spanish Masters.
Hispanic Culture today is taught by Professor Pedro Perez who strangely resembles actor Rowan Atkinson…
He is passionate and very intelligent, always keeping the class moving at a pretty fast pace and going on many tangents (Perdon, estudiantes, un parenthesis!! = his favorite sentence) but always somehow relating them back to the subject matter. This class is a really exciting challenge for me. Just about every Spanish class I have ever been in, I have kinda been at the top of the class and felt like it was a waste of time and that I was never going to learn anything. Definitely NOT the case here. Almost every student in the class is a native speaker, so for them it is just a history class taught in their first language! I am having to work harder but I know it will be very rewarding. Tuesdays and Thursdays I have 3 classes completely in Spanish all in a row… 9AM-5:30PM.. by the end of the day I am thinking in Spanish!
Madrid: A Cosmopolitan City: I have only been in this class for one session so far but I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. We spend three hours walking around Madrid each class, learning about the fascinating history and culture here. I always bring my camera and really enjoy listening to our cute little knowledgeable Professor Mercedes take us on a private tour of the city. She always interjects with great tips on good places to eat and little hidden gems of the area. I write them all down of course. This week she pointed out a fancy hotel called El Palacio that has wonderful free opera on Sundays in their gorgeous opulent sitting room where you can sit and order a little cafe con leche. Can’t wait to try all her recommendations. She also speaks very quickly and you really have to pay attention so as not to miss anything.
Advanced Spanish Composition and Conversation: This class it taught by the charming, passionate, and fashionable Professor Lurdes, in a tiny little cramped class room that looks like it was meant to be an office.. Despite the small quarters, the material and class is bearable (though we have TONS of reading and busy work) and I particularly look forward to our discussion sessions that happen once a month in a nearby cafe where she buys us a warm beverage and we all sit around a table and converse and laugh like old friends catching up. This is my least challenging class, though I think I can really benefit from it since there will be many compositions, and my writing and grammatical skills could definitely use polishing.
Modernism and Spanish Masters: Taught by the cute and kind Professor Angoso, every other session is at a museum that holds the works of art we are studying. We have already been to the Prado twice as we are spending lots of time on Goya and his works (the largest Goya exhibit in the world is at the Prado). Its a really meaningful experience to see the pieces of art you have studied, and its so fun to go to a museum with someone knowledgeable who can really tell you about what you’re looking at. We do our presentations in the museum, standing right in front of the actual pieces of art. I really enjoy it. And this is my one and only class on Mondays and Wednesdays so I can always stay in the GIANT museum after class gets out and walk around, or grab some evening sangria, coffee, or churros con chocolate with some classmates in the beautiful area around the Prado (very centrally located in Madrid).
All in all, classes are good! Since I only have class 4 days a week, those weekdays are really jam packed with lots of homework, reading, and taking the metro all over Madrid to meet for class in various neighborhoods of the city (since 2/4 classes of mine usually do not meet on campus) and then rushing back to school for my next class. I am always EXHAUSTED come Thursday night.
Now! For something a little more interesting.. FOOD! I have been eating very well here, Spanish cuisine is wonderful. The only thing is that there is LOTS of ham, which I am not too fond of… Jamón con queso, jamón curado, jamón serrano, bocadillo de jamón, sopa de jamón, JAMON JAMON JAMON. It is difficult living in Spain and not loving ham, as they slip it into everything. I do continue to try it once in a while, and in some forms I don’t mind it. Spaniards also LOVE their ketchup and LOVE their mayonnaise. The “ketchup” here is more like a thin barbecue sauce, very strange. If you want real ketchup, you have to search the label for Catsup Americano. There are certain stores here like “A Taste of the States” that sell American brands. It is very hard to find certain things here like Peanut Butter for example! Which is an issue for me! I eat it with apples as a snack almost every day. Other typical Spanish foods include paella, tons of seafood, LOTS of cheese, particularly manchego, lots of meats, particularly beef and ham, soups and stews, gazpacho de tomates, Croquettes (little fried mashed potato and ham fritters), tortilla de patatas (one of my favorites, basically a thick onion potato egg omelette sort of thing), oh and the “salads” here are just tomatoes, lettuce, and oil and vinegar. They don’t dress them with anything except a little olive oil, vinegar, and a pinch of salt. That’s taking some getting used to but I can deal, luckily I’m a salad lover. They do sell caesar dressing here in the stores, but thats the only one I’ve seen.
They also have lots of authentic Moroccan/Middle Eastern/Turkish/Lebanese/Mediterranean restaurants here.. Basically all Mediterranean food with a few specialty dishes that cross over. Lucky for me, I am all about that and have been enjoying lots of it here. Last week a bunch of us went to this wonderful Moroccan restaurant to watch one of the cool young faculty members of Suffolk, Cristina, belly dance! (there are a lot of fun young staff here, especially in the smaller positions, like all the front desk receptionists and librarians). It’s common for staff to hang out with students on weekends. Cristina was so good and it was such a fun time. She has been belly dancing for 10 years and also teaches it on the side. The decor of the restaurant was very elaborate and middle eastern. Lots of hookah pipes and Moroccan lamps and red and gold wall paintings. The food was DELICIOUS, my friend Angie and I split a flavorful moussaka and some tender chicken kabobs. The evening was so much fun. Here are some pictures:
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 A picture of Cristina dancing with our friend Peter, it was absolutely HILARIOUS. Watch this 20 second video of it!
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We then of course went out afterwards to a hip hop club nearby. They played all American music which was funny and reminded me of home.
These next few pictures are taken from the area around the Prado museum while I was walking there to meet with my art history class:
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A cool mini cathedral right behind the Prado
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My Chapman friend Katie and I waiting for our art history class to meet up outside the Goya Wing.
Alright so as I was saying, I have been eaten pretty well. Eva is a WONDERFUL cook and I always look forward to lunch! Here were some of my favorites this past week:
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Carne Picado (translates to “Chopped Meat”) with an egg on top. So amazingly tender and flavorful! She mixes in chopped olives and currents too.Image

My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE: Tortilla de Patatas. Not like what we think when we hear “tortilla” in the states. Very different from a mexican flour tortilla. This is a very common tapas made from egg, olive oil soaked potatoes, and onion. Served hot or cold, usually chopped into squares with toothpicks stuck in them for tapas tasting. Some variations put bacon and cheese in them.
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Another one of my Eva favorites, chicken with carrots in a sweet curry cream sauce.
ImageA recent amazing discovery of mine, a cafe chain here called Cafe&Te. A cute little cafe that has very fancy DELICIOUS coffee drinks, the feel of the place reminds me of Panera. They serve lots of Bailey’s hot chocolate and coffee and other fun things. Pictured above is my new obsession, Cafe Bora Bora. A layer of chocolate on the top, lots of coffee in the middle, and a thin level of condensed milk on the bottom…. Totally satisfies my sweet tooth. I found a Cafe&Te 5 minutes from my apartment….. Dangerous.Image
 Aha! One of my favorite Spanish desserts: Churros con Chocolate. You’ll notice unlike the churros in the states, they are not covered in cinnamon and sugar, but plain and come with a cup of Spanish “hot chocolate.” The hot chocolate here is THICK rich and molasses-like. People drink this. Its very heavy and has the same consistency of melted dark chocolate. You dunk the crispy fried dough sticks in there and sprinkle some powdered sugar on them! Then drink up whats left in your cup. This was my first churros con chocolate experience ^ My friend and I dipped into a Chocolateria across the street from the Prado after our art history class got out.
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Healthy Madrid glow…? Not so much. Very pale here, waiting for spring break to tan in the Canary Islands.
OKAY! FINALLY! MY TRIP TO GRANADA! I had an amazing time last weekend with my friend Angie. We booked a nice hostel and snagged some bus tickets and rode down 6 hours south to the historic city of Granada. The adorable town is filled with Christian and Moorish influence, and home to the magnificent Alhambra fortress/palace, the last stronghold of the Moorish kingdom in Spain. This city was absolutely beautiful. According to my trusty Spain travel book, there is an old saying: “Give him a coin, woman, for there is nothing worse in this life than to be blind in Granada.”
 And now, a picture of the delicious chocolate croissant I purchased at the rest stop on the way to the beautiful city I speak of……….
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When we arrived in Granada, it was a little gloomy and overcast. It didn’t matter because Day 2 was PERFECT, cool and sunny. I was actually thankful for the clouds and 101% humidity, it gave the quiet city a very ominous feeling, that when paired with all the green, reminded me of the pictures you see of Ireland.
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ImageOkay, after just an hour of exploring Granada on Day 1, this little grunge-muffin dirty puppy developed a little crush….. HE FOLLOWED ANGIE AND I AROUND THE ENTIRE CITY. For MILES and miles! Like, up mountains, through the entire city, waiting for us at cafes, into restaurants and around street corners, down shopping streets… All the locals came up to us to pet “our” grimy germ-infested dog. Angie and I called him Macchi(ato). We miss you little guy!
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Little Macchi waiting patiently for our next move…
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Views of the Alhambra Palace from a distance, we hiked up windy cobblestoned streets to the San Nicolas viewpoint, Macchi followed of course.

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Angie at the viewpoint at sunset.

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Beautiful Alhambra all lit up at night.
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 Angie and I met two funny Scottish women up here with heavy accents (they took this picture) and talked with them for a long time. We later ran into them again a few hours later at the bottom!!
On the way down from the viewpoint were Moroccan-style stores and streets, very colorful all selling traditional garb, and little teterias (authentic elaborate tea rooms)
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little authentic tea rooms line the streets of the Arab quarter.
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We stopped at a guidebook restaurant recommendation called Arrayanes, for some incredible traditional food. Angie speaks fluent Arabic (she is Egyptian) and I speak fluent Spanish, so we were all set for this trip. And she is very beautiful and ethnic looking so we often stirred quite a commotion while walking around the streets.. We made good friends with the lovely restaurant owner, Mostafa. He gave us great recommendations and even threw in some traditional Morrocan tea and dessert (probably because of Angie’s sweet-talking Arabic!)
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 My dinner, a traditional Morrocan dish called pastela (a curried chicken cinnamon pastry wrapped in filo-dough and sprinkled with candied peanuts and drizzled in a sweet sauce with oranges. Mom, you would’ve loved this.
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Angie got a lamb kabob
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 Our dessert: chocolate crepes with fresh cream and some hot Moroccan tea.
 Oh also for dinner we ordered this very fresh mint lemonade which was so refreshing and amazing. So full of food and filled with energy, we walked down from the Arab Albayzin quarter to do some more exploring.
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The next day was gorgeous. Here are some pictures.
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Day 2 we had reservations for the Alhambra. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.
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View from the breathtaking Generalife Gardens:
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PARADISE!
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 Inside Charles V’s Palace, impressive Renaissance building. Was originally designed to have a dome, but it was never finished, his son Phillip II abandoned it to build his own, massive palace (El Escorial).
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 gorgeous views
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After waiting in line for almost an hour, we finally entered Palacios Nazaries. The Royal Palace!
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The famous Courtyard of the Lions. Fountain is lined with 12 lions, and was a gift from a Jewish leader celebrating good relations with the sultan (Granada had a big Jewish community). Each lion represented the 12 tribes of Israel. During Moorish times, the fountain functioned as a clock, with a different lion spouting water at each hour. Conquering Christians disassembled the fountain to see how it worked, and its never worked since..
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After spending many hours at the Alhambra, we were starving and took another guidebook recommendation and ate at Bodegas Castandea. Angie got a delicious stuffed potato with spices peppers and fish flakes. (They have fish in everything in Granada since its so close to the coast). It had a wonderful flavor and a nice kick to it.
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 Knowing that Granada was famous for their seafood, I ordered some lightly fried fish. Wonderful.
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 For dessert, we went to a specialty chocolateria and had some AMAZING churros con chocolate. Granada style churros are different from Madrid. Lighter and crispier. We went to a place that was well known for their churros, and boy was that a good idea….. This time the chocolate was a little thinner and sweeter and it was to die for. Mom, again, you would have flipped for this. Each bite was heaven and it never got old. Angie and I STUFFED ourselves and were laughing the entire time about how much we were eating.
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 Leaving Granada 😦
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 View from our balcony the other way ^
Well, that was my fantastic yet short, 1-night trip to Granada and my most recent adventures in Madrid. Next trip currently planned is to Lisbon, Portugal in a few weeks. But who knows, I’m sure they’ll be an impromptu journey or two thrown in before then.
Though I’m having a wonderful time here, I am missing all my friends and family at home and in Cali dearly. I love hearing from you all and I hope you are enjoying my posts!
xoxo
   Jenna

A Week of Exploring Madrid and a Snowy Hike to Cercedilla

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This is my SECOND blog post, to check out my first one, click on My First Days in Madrid on the right hand panel, or go to:

https://spainjenna.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/my-first-days-in-madrid-and-welcome-trip-to-seville/  🙂

 

Since I’ve gotten back from Seville, it’s been pretty laid back around here. We are continuing to firm up class schedules and since my classes are still constantly changing as I try to get my credits to accurately transfer back to Chapman, I only had 2 classes to attend last week, the ones I am sure I will be taking this semester. This past weekend I have gone on a gorgeous snowy hike to Cercedilla, gone out to some interesting spanish clubs, and had some great meals and desserts at traditional restaurants and cafes. I am going to post some pictures and describe each one. Once I get into a routine here, I promise my posts will not be so haphazard!! Just bear with me 🙂

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OUR FIRST FAMILY DINNER! All nine of us in one picture!! This never happens 😛

Starting from the left moving clockwise: Maria, Katelyn, Me, Dassi, Dione, Kelia, Grace, Luara, Angie 😀

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beautiful marketplace shopping area called Sol, lots of shops and cafes!

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Katelyn Angie and I at Sol ready for some shopping

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Going out to a club called Joy with the girls!

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Dassi looking like Asian Snookie and Luara

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These lovely ladies are all my roomies, except the girl kneeling in the front and the one all the way on the right.

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late night metro rides

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more metro fun

Inside the club Joy

The rest of the pictures are from the early morning mountain hike in Cercedilla which is in northern Spain! Many students were signed up but only 9 were brave enough to wake up at 9AM after a long night of clubbing.. Again on 3 hours of sleep, I decided it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss! So I hopped out of bed and took the metro by myself for the first time to the bus stop and met up with the hikers 🙂 Cercedilla is a quaint mountain town that at some points resembles Ireland! There was more and more snow on the ground as we ascended, but for some reason it wasn’t too freezing! I was dressed appropriately and was actually shedding layers as war got closer to the top. We were 2,000ft up! The hike was 5 hours and 9 miles long. The view was worth it! It wasn’t too difficult until the higher areas when the snow was getting high and slippery. We followed the old Roman road.

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Wild cows are very common in Cercedilla. Tourist sometimes mistake them for bulls and get scared! It was running across the road and almost got run over

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My first days in Madrid and Welcome trip to SEVILLE!

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Hola, mi familia y amigos!

I can’t believe an entire week has already gone by… I am already so comfortable here that it feels like I’ve been in Madrid for so long already. But when I think about all I there is to see and explore here, and all the places I’d like to visit and travel to, and I quickly remember I have been here for just a few wonderful, action-packed days!

I am planning on keeping this blog fairly casual and informal, writing as if I’m talking to you, and updating it when I feel I have interesting things to share and post about. I apologize for taking so long to post my first impressions, but it has been a very hectic week adjusting and unpacking. I am really going to try to write more frequently, because even though I seriously love hearing from you all, it’s overwhelming to answer the same questions 10 times a day and send the same pictures from my phone over and over again! This should be a good way to keep up with what I’m doing with my time here in Madrid.

Now! To start. You should know that the university I attend here is called Suffolk University Madrid Campus (SUMC). Suffolk is a small university in Boston, with a “campus” (one giant building) here in Madrid. There are about 150 students here this semester, about 35 from Chapman, and the rest from Suffolk Boston. Though a lot of them already know each other, it isn’t too clique-y and its not hard making friends. They offer mostly general education requirements here, but I am working towards fulfilling my Spanish Minor at Suffolk and am enrolled in mostly Spanish classes, or history of Spain classes that are taught in Spanish.

Today is actually going to be the first day of classes. I am still solidifying my schedule, but right now it looks like I’ll be taking:

Advanced Spanish Composition and Conversation

Hispanic Culture Today

Art History: Modernism and Spanish Masters

and Madrid: A Cosmopolitan City

Also, Suffolk Madrid doesn’t hold class on Friday, giving us more time to travel which is so nice. Anyway, more on that later after I attend my first classes. So each student is put into either a residence, apartment, or host family, many of the options co-ed. I was very fortunate to have been placed in the residence that holds the “best living situation at Suffolk” title! I am a 10 minute walk from campus in a large, gorgeous, 9-student apartment, living with 8 amazing girls. The space is comprised of 4 double rooms, 1 single room, 3 bathrooms, a big kitchen and beautiful dining/living room. A kind, Spanish woman Eva (Ehh-vah) visits the house multiple times a day to cook us meals, clean our rooms and bathrooms, and wash and iron our clothes. Yes, IRON! We are so lucky. Eva speaks no English, so I love practicing with her and striking up conversation whenever possible. She speaks INCREDIBLY fast.. even for me. She also SHOUTS at full volume for some reason… I think its because a lot of the girls in the house do not speak spanish and she thinks yelling will help us understand. She seems to be getting better though.. We told to her to speak at a lower volume and slower.. Some girls are a little intimated by her but she really is so sweet!

The girls I live with are all from Suffolk Boston. Their names are Dassi, Luara, Katelyn, Grace, Dione, Kelia, Maria, and Angie. Sounds like a motley crew, eh? It is!! Dassi, Luara, Kelia, and Maria have already been in Madrid for a semester. They are the helpful guides for me, Katelyn, Grace, Dione, and Angie. Our dynamic is wonderful. The apartment is always filled with laughter and chatter. I can’t wait to spend the semester with these girls. Oh, also, for some reason, they are all beautifully ETHNIC-looking in this apartment.. I am definitely the odd one out. Angie is Egyptian, Dassi and Maria are Asian/Puerto Rican, Luara and Dione are Brazilian, Grace is Dominican… Katelyn (Irish) and I are the only white gals. We are all getting along so well. Dassi and I share a room (the best and biggest one in the apartment with a pretty view!). Dassi is so nice and easy to live with and always smiling and laughing, we get along wonderfully. She is also surprisingly Jewish which is very funny and uncommon here, so we bond over that :D

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my bed and desk ^

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our giant armoire for closet space ^

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Some of my roommates and Eva in the middle. From left to right:

Grace, Me, Eva, Angie, Katelyn, and Luara.

As some of you already know, Spaniards live according to a schedule that is very different from what we are used to in the states. In general, meals are eaten much later and there is a period from 2-5pm where the shops and business shut down, and everyone goes home to rest and nap from a “siesta” period. This was and still is a challenge to get used to! Especially since I’ve been trying to get into a sleeping routine and adjust to the big time difference here. I always end up “napping” for many hours and then not falling asleep that night! Nightlife is a HUGE part of Madrid and Spanish culture, and an evening out on the town typically begins at midnight and ends around 6 or 7am… when the metro opens back up again. This is what is really taking some time adapting to, especially because I’ve never been one that was too keen on partying or clubbing. But there is a lot to see and I am all for true immersion to learn about this fascinating culture. So I’m sticking it out and joining my roomies whenever possible. The life of a true Madrileno is a tough one!

So when I arrived in Madrid, the first 4 days were spent frantically unpacking and getting organized while attending Suffolk Orientation. They mostly covered the basics of a normal college orientation and safety tips surrounding living in Madrid. They ended up spending OVER an hour on pickpocketing 101, complete with demonstations and cautionary tales. I knew it was a big deal here, but not to that extent. All the student ambassadors shared numerous personal stories. The techniques that are used and crazy and creative.. They warned us to tailor how much money you take with you to each outing, never walk around with more euros than you need on you. All the students who have been here for a few semesters kept seeming to chime in with more and more alarming anecdotes… They scared us so badly! We are all beyond paranoid now and clutch on to our purses constantly while walking around the city or entering the metro especially (a pick-pocket hot spot, along with Starbucks, any ATM, and Sol shopping area). Better safe than sorry. Kids have already gotten robbed here… Luckily for me, unlike most students who have a 30-50minute commute involving the metro each day, campus is just around the corner!

Right after orientation, just as I finally started to feel somewhat settled, we were whisked away to Seville for 4 days on a Welcome to Spain orientation trip. We took a high speed train called Renfe that was so comfortable. It was only two hours and the time flew by. I can’t believe how quick, easy, and comfortable it is to get around this country. I am looking forward to take full advantage of all this great public transportation this semester. Image

Katelyn and I on the Renfe.
The weather was perfect, sunny and cool, when we arrived in Seville, which is absolutely GORGEOUS. The historical town is quaint and so picturesque. Cute cafes and pretty orange trees line the windy cobblestone streets and the view from each corner you turn looks like it could be a post card. Our trip consisted of many walking tours, hikes, traditional tapas and meals, flamenco performances, and a bullfighting demonstration, with lots of clubbing and socializing at night, of course! I was able to spend my 20th birthday in this adorable place which was unforgettable and so special!
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on the rooftop of our hotel shortly after arriving in Seville
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view outside the door of our hotel
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Giraldo Tower in Barrio Santa Cruz seen on the walking tour we did first thing after we arrived
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Statue in the center of Barrio Santa Cruz
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view from the top of the Giraldo Tower, we climbed 34 floors! It was a ramp, not steps. The king made it this way so he could ascend the tower on horseback!
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part of the Spanish Cathedral
(did not take this picture) We spent lots of time exploring this giant painted wooden structure, located in the center of La Encarnacion square. Though it is officially named Metropol Parasol (Umbrella), the city affectionately refers to it as “Setas” de la Encarnación, or Mushrooms of the square. The architect had the idea of trees in mind when he created it. He liked the concept of having shade, but still having bits of natural light pouring through the leaves, which explains the look and feel he strove for here with the Setas. Our tour guide explained how, not only does this icon serve as a distinct landmark that people use to orientate themselves in the city, but it is a perfect symbol of Seville’s integrated charm that reminds us what a  forward moving place Spain is. What I loved about Seville in particular is the beautiful juxtaposition of everything historical and everything modern! It was so cool to explore and walk around a town with such rich culture and history seamlessly interwoven with sleek, forward modernism.
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from the top of the modern giant mushroom sculpture in the middle of the city. There are steps all the way up.
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Our group climbing the sculpture. There was also a giant fresh market place inside. Also, this was built atop Roman ruins that they preserved and encased in glass, you can walk through the ancient ruins and then climb this new modern sculpture.
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The ruins under the sculpture
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perfect mix of old and new Seville
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at the fresh market inside the sculpture…. the sold bunnies and birds completely intact… A LITTLE TOO FRESH FOR ME! all the girls were squealing and crying as we walked through…
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pig brains, anyone?
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care for some dead bunnies?
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the next day was my birthday! We were brought to Cortijo Dona Maria for a lovely tapas cocktail reception before an interesting bull fighting exhibition, dinner, and a traditional flamenco performance
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Me Luara and Katelyn with sangria and flamenco ladies before the bullfight
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My roommate Dassi and I at the reception
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pictures with the matadors
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delicious dulce de leche for dessert
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A quick stop at the beautiful Plaza De España.. I’ve always dreamed of visiting this exact spot, and I was finally able to do so on my 20th birthday
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you might recognize this place from a shot in the movie star wars episode 2! They shot here for 2 straight days so that the location could appear for 48 seconds in the film.
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Me with Sydney on the night of my birthday! She is a Chapman Gamma Phi :D
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After a late night of proper celebrating, and on TWO hours of sleep, I woke up to hike all day in the beautiful small town of Aracena.
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Our fun tour guide holding up a piece of CORK from a cork tree
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view from the top
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first appetizer course of lunch eaten from the top of the mountain. traditional tapas
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back walking around Seville now
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Visiting the Seville Alcazar, a name given to identify structures that are a combination between castles and cathedrals
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So that was my trip to Seville! I had a wonderful time but it was time to return back home to Madrid :)