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).
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!
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.
Just a typical restaurant front with a beautiful mosaic pattern.
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.
Statue of Felipe III
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!
I have been eating some delicious food as always while here in Madrid. Here are some of the standouts.
The best and fluffiest tortilla of my life, with goat cheese and caramelized onions, with a sweet tangy tomato sauce on the side.
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.
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.
Some of Eva’s cooking. Salad and vegetable lasagna.
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.
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.
Having some fun while waiting for the metro!
The off-limits ladies of the apartment 😉
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.
watch this 7 second video I took to get an idea of the incredible fireworks! —>
Afterwards, Katelyn and I decided to escape the cold and grab something to eat.
The owner of the restaurant took a liking to us at gave us some delicious little dessert shots on the house.
Turkey lasagna and raspberry cheesecake.
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.
All of this food for 6 euros each!
Katelyn and I were very satisfied.
We came home to this beautiful sunset. Taken from the window of my apartment.
MY FAVORITE CHOCOLATE IN SPAIN! Bueno bars ❤ So addicting.. Hazelnut cream filled crispy morsels of heaven.
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.
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.
Puerta de Alcala, arch built under the rule of Carlos III, both sides were separate projects and completed at different times.
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.
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.
my cute squinty friend Kateyln
the famous Pastel de Nata, Portuguese sweet egg custard pastries. We get to try them later on in the trip 😀
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.
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.
the whole city is lined with cobblestone streets.
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!
mine was delicious, which is saying a lot coming from me as I am very picky about my fish…
gorgeous high-vaulted ceilings and gothic arches
chapman greek life photo!
inside the monastery
My friend Mandi who goes to Chapman 🙂
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.
The beautiful Tower of Belem.
Tower of Belem at sunset
I can now say that I’ve touched the other side of the Atlantic!!!!! 😀 From Florida to Portugal!
We ascended the very narrow very windy interior staircase of tower and saw some beautiful views
So cute.. yet so sad.. freezing little chihuahua in a hoodie holding a tip jar!! animal cruelty!
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.
You are supposed to coat them by sprinkling on some cinnamon and sugar
which my sweet tooth and I of course made sure to do very thoroughly.
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 🙂
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.
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.
As we got higher and higher into the mountains, the air got more and more humid and misty.
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.
Prom-posin’ with my friend Aisha
this is my signature “I Love Portugal” pose.. I do it a a lot.. because…..
I love Portugal 🙂
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!
Next we toured the Palacio National de Sintra:
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..
This one is the queijada. A typical sweet cheese pastry.
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..
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…?
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!!
the girls! had so much fun with all of them this trip.
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:
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.
The next morning was cold, gloomy, and rainy. Luckily we just did some quick walking around and had lunch before heading home.
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:
I was the only one prepared with my umbrella 😀 Thanks Mom for teaching me how to travel and pack!
Very content and bundled up.
Saw this kitty in the window on our walk 🙂
We found some wandering peacocks. Excuse all the pictures!
Aisha and Nikole at lunch. Afterwards we got on a long bus ride back to Madrid!
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 😀
Sunset from my window back in Madrid.
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!! 😉 😀
Saw this beautiful building while walking around Madrid the other day. Reminded me of the pictures I see of Barcelona!
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:
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:
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”
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.
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.
2,300 year old bull statues!
Sydney trying to escape the FRIDIG WIND TUNNEL. I cannot explain to you how freezing cold this trip was.
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.
We got back in the bus and headed to lunch. The drive was GORGEOUS. Excuse the many boring landscape photos.
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.
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.
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!!!!
Needless to say I then kindly offered my pig snout soup up to any other takers…
The best most tender, flavorful veal I have ever tasted!!!
And the best, fluffiest croquettes EVER!!
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.
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:
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?
Sydney in the Professors little bungalow home.
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!
All bundled up in many layers! It was again, very cold, though the sun makes the pictures look warm and comfortable.
Our cool guide Eugenio that I chatted with about Spanish film the whole time
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!
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.
Our picturesque spot:
Matt kindly pretending to push me into the river
The Glass Palace
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!
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!