Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Last day in Salamanca

Kind of feel like I am in the twilight zone.  I cannot believe how fast this semester has gone and that I will be heading back home tomorrow after 3 and half months in Spain.  Definitely a bittersweet moment.  I am so anxious to see my family and friends, but I will miss Salamanca, my host family as well as the friends that I have made here.  I will miss passing time between classes at one of the numerous little tapas bars or just sitting in the Plaza Mayor.  I can honestly say that choosing to come here, choosing to study abroad was one of the best decisions that I have made in my life to date.  I have learned so much, not just with respect to the language or the culture, but about myself.  I have grown up in many ways and have a renewed appreciation for all that I have.  I would tell anyone to take the opportunity if it presents itself.  It's not easy, but it is SO worth it in the end.  I won't lie and say that I enjoyed every moment.  I won't lie and say that there wasn't days that I hated being here or hated everything about Spain.  That's what people fail to tell you.  Not everyday is perfect.  You get homesick.  You miss your "norm."  But the majority of days, you sit and think "WOW this is such an amazing experience, I am so happy that I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and just went for it."  It probably sounds cliche, but studying abroad truly is one of those things that you will never forget in your life.

Family's Trip to Spain

Started this a couple weeks ago and finally finished it….

Mom, Dad and Conner arrived safe and sound on Saturday afternoon (April 27th).  Started off the trip on a high note….not. Again as is almost customary for my time here in Spain, my plans cannot go smoothly.  Took the train to Madrid to meet the family when they arrived at the airport and made it with about 20 minutes to spare before their plan landed.  I looked at the arrivals board and it said that there was only one flight arriving in from London (btw the family traveled from NY to London and then to Madrid) and it would be landing in terminal 1.  So I anxiously waited at the gate, fully prepared to jump up and down and wave like and idiot when I saw them.  When they didn’t walk out of the gate at the expected time, I didn’t panic.  I figured that they just must be held up getting their luggage or passing through customs.  However, slowly the minutes ticked away and before I knew it an hour had passed.  As my parents did not bring a cell-phone with them, I had no way of contacting them.  I really was unsure of what to do, so I kept waiting for a few more minutes, thinking that if they had landed and were already out of the gate and could not find me, my mom would have called me on a pay phone.  That’s when I received a call from an unknown number.  The call had ended before I could fish the phone out of my pocket.  I called the number back and it was the personal cell-phone of a woman that worked the information booth in terminal 4, telling me that the family was there and waiting for me (the only terminal at the airport that I could not walk to, but rather needed to take a shuttle bus).  When I arrived at the terminal, I spotted my dad right away (there are VERY few tall Spaniards so he stuck out like a sore thumb).  Well let’s suffice it to say that my dad and brother were a little tense when I walked up.  My dad was worried sick about me because I am generally very punctual and he thought something had happened to me, but also pissed at my mom for not giving me the specific flight number so that I would have known that I had found the wrong flight on the arrival board.  Conner was equally stressed, rambling on about debating whether or not to call the Embassy and report me missing.  My mom however, walked up laughing a little and gave me a big hug.  After hearing all of my previous travel drama, we both kind of figured something like this might happen.  Finally reunited, we headed with the driver to the hotel.  No more excitement for the day Thank God.  We checked into the hotel without issue, relaxed for a little and grabbed some dinner.  We went to bed early, falling asleep while watching the Real Madrid versus F.C. Barcelona game.

The next morning (Sunday) we were scheduled to take one of those double-decker tour buses around the city.  We got up and ate breakfast and then headed to the Plaza Mayor to get our tickets.  On our way, we walked along side the full marathon that was taking place through the streets.  It was a really cool experience and there were people lining the entire roped-off course, chanting and cheering.  Luckily there was a brief break in runners so we dashed across the street into the plaza.  After we got our tickets, we grabbed some coffee at one of the little cafes and waited until it was time for the tour to start.  The tour was awesome.  We got an almost 3 hour tour, while also being able to soak up the sun on the upper level.  Mom took a ton of pictures and we just relaxed and took it all in.

So I would be remise if I did not mention one of the best parts of the entire trip, the FOOD! Oh my god AWESOME! First of all, I can not describe how awesome it was to not only choose what I wanted to eat, but also eat when I wanted and how much I wanted.  Although my host mother is a great cook (despite her food-pushing ways), I wanted foods from home.  Basically I wanted Italian.  Caprese salads (tomato, mozzarella, basil), pasta in various forms, chicken Parmesan, bread with oils, it was just so YUMMY!  Not to mention steak and delicious salads and veggies.  I was in heaven.  One thing that was not tasty however was the pizza we ordered one night.  NEVER eat Telepizza’s Four Cheese pizza, it’s DISGUSTING…seriously. That’s all I am going to say about that, as I am trying to block that meal from my memory.  We did have some traditional Spanish tapas a few times as well and the family really enjoyed them; Tortilla, Calamari, Croquetas, Iberico ham and Manchego cheese.  I will admit that I will miss them a lot when I leave.

On Monday, the family and I took the train (for 2 ½ hours) to visit Salamanca.  We actually saw my brother’s girlfriend’s doppelganger on the train (shout out to How I Met Your Mother!) and we totally creepily took a picture of her.  Well anyway, it was awesome to show my family around the city.  I took them to see my school as well as the house that I have been living in.  I also got the opportunity to introduce my family to my host family.  It was so cool that they got to meet and spend a little time together despite the language barrier lol.  I definitely had to be on top of my game that day, switching back and forth between Spanish and English. 

On our last day in Madrid, Tuesday, my mom and I woke up early and went to the Prado museum and the Botanical gardens.  It was nice to spend some one on one time with her as well as see all of the artwork that I did not have the time to see during my last trip to Spain.  We spent more than 2 hours looking at different artwork and then made our way over to the gardens.  Mom was in her glory and she was once again snapping away with the camera.  After we headed back to the hotel to get my dad and brother.  We passed the rest of the day doing a little shopping and then had a early dinner and headed to bed.

Wednesday was a travel day.  We took the bullet train to Barcelona for the second half of our vacation.  The bullet train got us to Barcelona in about 3 hours and the regular train would have taken about 8.  Needless to say we all supported mom’s travel decision.  Conner and I passed the time watching Little Fockers.  Much like our first day in Madrid, we settled into the hotel and relaxed for a little bit.  The hotel in Barcelona was AMAZING!  It had a beautiful rooftop terrace with a pool, 2 restaurants, a lobby bar, and of course other important things like SUPER comfy beds J  Oh and it was located on the Saks Fifth Avenue of Barceloina.  There was everthing from Lacoste to Coach to Tiffany & Co. We asked the concierge for tapas bar recommendations and he sent us to this great little place.  The food was so good, we ended up going back.

On Thursday we took a bus tour of the city.  It was an equally good time and the weather was great.  We got the opportunity to take a tour of the 1998 Olympic Stadium and got to see the beautiful harbor.

Unfortunately Friday was rainy and because it was Good Friday everything was closed.  We took the day to just catch up and enjoy being together.  Lucky for us, Saturday was as sunny as Friday was rainy.  It was also an important holiday; the day of the books and roses.  The streets were filled with vendors and my dad bought both my mom and I flowers.  We decided to walk back down to the harbor and visit the aquarium as well as grab a drink overlooking the water.

Sunday came tooooo quickly.  I was sad to see my family go home and have debated begging them to take me with them lol.  Of course there was a little drama with my boarding pass, but it was obtained nonetheless and all of us made it safely back to our destinations.  It was overall a really incredible week and it was great to have shared the experience with my family.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Real Madrid 4 Tottenham 0

Had another fabulous night with the girls :) Siobhan, Alexa, Daryl, Stephanie and I went to watch the Real Madrid versus Tottenham game at an Irish pub called St. Patrick's Museum.  The pub was below street level and had lots of stone work and built-in benches and such...it had a lot of character and I definitely think we will be making another trip there in the foreseeable future.  It was really cool to watch the game in the presence of other Spaniards.  Its hilarious but also inspiring to see how into the game they get.  Picture how intense Americans get during March Madness as a comparison.

After the game Siobhan, Alexa and I went to a little Mexican restaurant near the pub.  I had a delicious chicken burrito.  Not the best Mexican food I have ever had, but not bad at all.  Oh and my family will understand this.....the restaurant was automatically better because it lacked a certain person wearing leather chaps and playing the guitar ;) The only problem I had with the restaurant was that I did not see margaritas on the menu...lame, but I survived.

Absolutely beautiful out again today.  I don't know if its the great weather we have been having or the fact that it has really set in that in just a few short weeks I will be leaving Salamanca to return home, but I am really branching out and filling my social calendar lol.  Siobhan and I spend every minute we can outside of the house, walking the streets, stopping for coffee.....embracing any piece of the Spanish culture that we can find.  It may have taken me 10 weeks to really find my grove here, but I am having the time of my life!


P.S. Siobhan and I have picked our next destination...........Paris, France!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just popping in quickly.  Had a fabulous weekend.  As you all know Friday was absolutely gorgeous weather and Siobhan and I made the most of it, spending much of our day hanging out in the Plaza Mayor. We did indeed buy ourselves some red wine (though we actually have yet to drink it lol) and watched Black Swan.  We were both literally speechless when the movie ended.  Excellent acting performance by Natalie Portman.

On Saturday we planned to go bike riding with Alexa, Stephanie, Amanda and Daryl.  Surprisingly (please note the sarcasm) Stephanie, Amanda and Daryl did not meet us at the allotted place and time so bike riding around Salamanca did not take place.  Siobhan, Alexa and I would have gone by ourselves, but unfortunately Stephanie and Amanda were the only two that knew where the biker rental was located.  Instead, the three of us walked around a quaint park near Alexa's house.  We just took our time walking around, enjoying the nice weather, and chitchatting.  We stopped and got ice cream after and sat people-watching in the Plaza afterwords.  An adorable little girl that could not have been more than 3 came over to play with us for about 15 minutes.  We all returned home for lunch, but then met backup for dinner at Cafe & Te.  I had a delicious crispy chicken sandwich!  We then walked back to the Plaza and grabbed a seat outside at one of the numerous cafes.  We grabbed coffee and continued laughing and reminiscing about our time thus far in Spain until about 11 pm.  It was a great night!

Quick pic in the park

Enjoying my ice cream!
Sunday was a lazy day, spent studying for an upcoming exam and relaxing a little.  Although Siobhan and I did take a break and watch Love and Other drugs.  Another awesome movie! I was laughing and crying throughout the entire thing lol.

Bonus of the weekend....I got to Skype with Amanda and Katherine! It was so nice to get to catch up with both of them and see their gorgeous faces :)


Just thought you would all like to know.....

10-Day Forecast for Salamanca, Spain

Friday, April 1, 2011

Did I seriously do that??

Quick post for you all.  So Siobhan and I decided to pull on our big girl pants last night and go out for a little fun with Daryl and Amanda.  We did not go out until 1 am and then did not make it back to our house until 4:30 am this morning! I can honestly say this was a first lol.  Had a great time with the girls and had the opportunity to see many friends and classmates throughout the night :) Needless to say Siobhan and I did not set an alarm and still had to drag ourselves out of bed at 11:45 am today.  However, the amazing weather in Salamanca today made it worth it.  We have cloudless, sunny skies and a high today of 77 degrees! Siobhan and I spent a couple hours sunbathing in the Plaza Mayor and.....I am already evenly sunburnt.  Not complaining though.  I will take sunburn over frostbite any day of the year.

Obviously I was pretty pumped about the nice weather and wanted to document it

Not really sure what the rest of the day will bring....perhaps some ice cream! Siobhan and I are thinking about throwing ourselves a party in our room tonight lol.  Some wine and cheese, as well as a movie (either Black Swan or Love and Other Drugs).


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just a general rundown...

Hello all!  Figured since I had some free time I would try to put up a quick post.  Not too too much going on here in Salamanca.  Siobhan and I are still pumping iron in the gym on a weekly basis and of course going to classes although begrudgingly sometimes lol.

After traveling for 3 weekends in a row, it was nice to just be in Salamanca and relax a little.  Siobhan and I did a little shopping on Friday and on Saturday headed to the gym and then spent the rest of the rainy afternoon snuggled in our beds reading.  Btw just finished Her Last Letter by Nancy C. Johnson.....highly recommend it :)  On Sunday the weather was much better and we decided to finally visit the new cathedral in Salamanca, after simply walking past it for 2 months.  We also went to Cafe & Te to grab some coffee and Skype with the family.  I tried the coffee with Bailey's Irish Cream liquor....it was fabulous :)

So far nothing big this week.  Siobhan and I have a coffee date with our friend Sara tomorrow, whom we met on our trip to Granada and Sevilla.  Have not had the chance to talk to her since we returned from the trip, so it will be great to catch up!  We are also planning to do a little more sight-seeing in Salamanca this weekend.  I am hoping to tour the old cathedral and visit the museum of art nouveau and art deco.  In addition we are looking into what else there is to do in the city in terms of live theater performances or concerts, etc.

Still thinking about planning another trip or two before our time abroad is up.  The options are Rome, Paris, and/or a city in Portugal.  I will keep you guys posted as we make arrangements.

Fun Fact for the Day:
Found out that the opening scenes from the American movie Vantage Point was filmed in La Plaza Mayor in Salamanca!

Thats all I have for you all right now.  Hopefully I will have more to share soon!