20 December 2008
But from Madrid, we went on to Paris. It was nice, but dreary. Saw the Pere Lachaise cemetery (Jim Morrison is there, plus Oscar Wilde, plus a bunch of other famous people). Had an omelette at a Jim Morrison themed cafe. Visited the Louvre- it was much better than I'd remembered, and I could appreciate more of it. Went through Notre Dame, St-Sulpice, St-Germain des Pres, all that good stuff, plus the Eiffel Tower (we could only see about half of it, though, because of all the fog). We actually took a couple of videos, but the wifi in this hotel is probably not going to allow me to upload them. It's blocked facebook and tuenti and I can't believe it's allowing me on here now.
Oh I need to add that the Madrid Metro system really puts Paris' to shame. I am already missing Spain so much.
From Paris we took a train out to St-Malo, which is a little coastal town that used to be big with pirates and explorers and stuff. The hotel there was nice, but it did not offer internet. Disappointing.
Thursday we took a bus up to Mont-St-Michel, which I'd loved before but wasn't quite as impressed by the second time. It's still really cool, and you should go visit it, but maybe when it's a little warmer. I don't have time to go into the history of it now but wikipedia should fill you in.
Friday we spent in St-Malo, walking around and seeing the beaches and stuff. The sun came out for the first time since we'd gotten to France, and it warmed up. Then we flew to London, and on to Dublin. And here we are now.
14 December 2008
Friday was also really, really busy. I came by her hotel that morning with some lunchy food to drop off, and then we went out towards Sol. I wanted to hit up a chocolateria that's kind of a big deal, but it wasn't open yet, which was a little weird. We got chocolate and churros at a Cafe y Te instead, and it wasn't bad.
Then I took her on a really random tour. From Sol I wanted to find Plaza de Espana, which I've gotten to before from there, but only with other people. I was pretty sure we were going in the right direction, though, but we ran into some things I didn't expect- like the Palace. So that was pretty cool. And then from there, you just hang a right, maybe detour through the Sabatini Gardens, and you're at Plaza de Espana.
From there we strolled down Calle de la Princesa to Arguelles and beyond to Moncloa, and I gave her a little tour of Parque del Oeste and my school. Then we took buses (because the view is better) to Retiro, and took a brief walk through there (it would take days to see all of that park). We walked back towards Sol, stopping to get a snack. I am happy to see that my mother is now just as obsessed with tortilla espanola as I am.
After that I had to leave her for a brief while so I could go to my program's goodbye lunch. They served us wine, and I think I am now officially the most tacky person in the world for ordering Fanta limon on the side and mixing the two so I could stand the taste (I don't think I will ever like plain wine, be it red, pink, or white).
The whole thing was a little sad. I'm really going to miss a lot of those people, especially our exceptional office staff. Angel was named our single favorite thing about IES, and Diego, the new guy in the office, was one of the people we most wished was single (I couldn't agree more).
Eventually I made it back to my mom so we could get into the Prado during its free hours (oh, if you're ever in Madrid, the Prado is free for everyone from 6-8 Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 5-8 on Sundays. It's all closed on Mondays). We'd allotted both Friday and Saturday nights for this, which is good, because we only got an hour. We were up on the top floor Friday night and saw mostly Titian stuff.
Yesterday, Saturday, was primarily spent packing. That was so hard! I think I went slowly because I didn't want to leave our perfect little apartment. Now that I don't live there anymore I can tell you more about its location. Well, the boy who lived in an apartment three floors below us said his senora told him their property value (for a tiny little apartment) was 1.2 million! I'm not sure if that's in euros or dollars, but that's kind of a big deal! She said it was in the Salamanca district, but other maps I've seen puts it in the Rios Rosas area. So who knows. Either way, it was in a very safe, very nice neighborhood, and I'm really going to miss it.
So then we hit up the Reina Sofia, which is the big contemporary art museum. I've been there before, and it was just as painful the second time. (Just so I don't get any more of these rabid Spanish commenters telling me to stop discriminating against their people, all modern art makes me feel this way.) Basically what I told my mom was that modern art, like surrealism and cubism, makes me want to break the paintings' frames, take the shards of glass, and stab my eyes out with them. Yes, that's an exaggeration, but you get the idea. We did find some rooms that we both liked, though, with stuff that looked like it was probably from around the turn of the century (when it turned from the 19th to the 20th, to clarify), painted with much more pleasant color schemes.
The main reason we went was to see La Guernica, which is a really big deal. They've given it its own room. And they have postcards in the gift shop which say 'The Guernica exists- I have seen it!'
Then it was back to the Prado, where we saw pretty much everything else I wanted to show her. I gave her a chronological tour of the Spanish monarchs from the Carlos V of the Habsburg family through Fernando VII (one of the Bourbons, I think?). Then we dashed around in the last ten minutes trying to see Fra Angelico's Annunciation (look it up, it's beautiful), Hieronymous Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, and all of that famous stuff. It was so hard to fit everything I've learned into 3 hours at the Prado, considering I'd spent 20 or 30 something hours in there with my class.
We chilled out at the hotel last night and made guac. Now: on to the Rastro!
11 December 2008
07 December 2008
28 November 2008
Between my two theatre classes, I'm going to plays every week. Last week it was Don Juan: El Burlador de Sevilla. I think you all probably know what that's about. What you may not know is that in Spain they are big fans of gratuitous nudity. It was a scarring experience. Then it started to get really, really boring, though, and I started to fall asleep in my seat. I would not recommend it.
Tuesday night we had a sort of Thanksgiving dinner set up for us at the Hard Rock Cafe by IES. First course was a sweet pumpkin soup, which was very, very good, and then for the second course, everyone else had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, with a little bit of 'cranberry' on the side. I got a veggie burger with a really good salad on the side instead. I asked my waiter if I could maybe get some cranberries too and he was like simultaneously shocked and amused by that, but gradually he regained his composure and said he would do what he could.
So I was eating my veggie burger, sort of picking at it because the cheese on it was a little overwhelming, and it was a lot of food, and I turned to the girl next to me to complain that Sebastian had forgotten about my cranberries.
"You spoke too soon," she told me.
"What are you talking about?" I asked her.
She nodded to my plate. There, right in front of me, was my cranberry sauce! It had not been there a second before. So if you come to the Hard Rock Cafe, heads up, because their waiters are a little sneaky. I know it doesn't seem like a big deal, but it seriously blew my mind. Like I looked up and looked back down, and it just appeared. And I was sitting with my back to a pillar, so Sebastian had to do some serious maneuvering. And he spoke both English and Spanish fluently. Amazing.
Oh but it was not actual cranberry sauce, because I guess they don't have bogs in this country. Instead it was some other fruit of the forest in a red sauce. It wasn't tart like a cranberry but it was still really good.
Dessert course: apple cobbler. There was so much going on in that cobbler- apples, flaky crust, ricotta or some sort of filling, pecan topping crust thing, vanilla bean ice cream. . . wow. I did not even come close to finishing it. It was just too much food.
I mentioned the other night that I was going to a baile de mascaras. I was wrong though; that was the name of the play: Baile de Mascaras. And it was really pretty great. It was sort of a retelling of the Spanish War of Independence as viewed by a mental patient who sees other mental patients doing interpretive dance. So you had Napoleon, Ferdinand VII, and Goya all dancing around on stage, in a mix of ballet, flamenco, and modern styles. I really, really enjoyed it, and I think I'm going to kick Bodas de sangre to the curb and take my mom to Baile de mascaras instead.
So that's what's going on with me! Right now I am waiting in my hostel lobby to check in but I think I will just leave my stuff here and get something to eat or go exploring or something. Later!
26 November 2008
So I know everyone on my mom's side of the family is over at Grandmom's tonight for Thanksgiving and I wanted to make a little video to say hey! I had planned to shoot it at the Prado before class but, silly me, I was running late as always. So I just shot the video in my room, looking like a slob. At least you can't really see what my room looks like right now. Sorry if I sort of ramble on. I do that sometimes, in both Spanish and English. I hope the sound is okay- I tried to record myself doing my famous dance to Miley Cyrus' 'See You Again' and it was cutting in and out.
HAHA! Now that the video has uploaded I can see my face and it looks like I'm crying. I promise I'm not crying; that's actually the face I make when I'm happy. I actually look like that guy who yells, "Leave Britney alone!" but it's not like that at all.
I hope you enjoy it! Love you all! Later!
25 November 2008
Let's see, not last Friday but the one before IES went to Toledo by bus. It's only about 45 minutes out of Madrid. One of the interesting things about Toledo is that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have all been prominent there throughout its history.
We pulled into town around 10 and our bus driver dropped us off in an alley. There was a minor incident as we exited because one of the girls had been wearing her seatbelt (Angel insists) and then when she unbuckled it and it rolled up, it took the hem of her shirt with it. In short, she was trapped. Two of us stayed to help her while the bus driver tried to kick us off the bus because we didn't know how to explain the situation. I feel like it probably takes a very specialized vocabulary to communicate to a Spanish bus driver that your friend is trapped because her shirt is stuck in a seatbelt.
Finally she ripped herself free and we walked into town. There a few of us got the marzipans that the city is famous for (overrated!) and then IES regrouped and we headed to the cathedral.
Okay, this cathedral is the real deal. They've got just about everything you could want in a Gothic cathedral. As usual, we did a tour, and the tour guide was all like, "What do you notice most about this cathedral?" and I casually raised my hand and answered, "The light," like I'd done it a hundred times (and it's beginning to feel like I have) even though what really struck me was all the space inside.
They say that the cathedral is built on a spot where the Blessed Virgin descended and handed off a garment or something. There are many murals and paintings and reliefs within the cathedral depicting the event, and there's also, within a small, dimly lit glass case, the stone upon which her holy feet stood.
There was a massive mural of St. Christopher. Points to me for being the only one in my tour group who recognized him- other people thought it was Jesus, but why would Jesus be carrying a haloed figure on one shoulder while lacking one himself? Seriously classmates, up your game.
And then there were gilded chapels radiating around the head of the church (I can't remember what the English term is but in Spanish they call it the head, and I'm sure you can imagine that it's the head on the cross). There was some really beautiful artwork here, like gilt sculptures and more depictions of the Virgin descending from Heaven.
It was really one of the more beautiful cathedrals I've ever been inside. The Spanish Gothic style generally doesn't impress me as much as the French style, but they were definitely trying in this case. They even had a tiny little rose window.
After that it was on to the Synagogue del Transito, a converted synagogue which now serves as a Jewish museum. The main hall was pretty beautiful, with tile and carved wood, and pillars. Up where the women would have originally prayed was wear the museum was, and it had a lot of really interesting things, like old Torahs, the pointers (I'm not sure what a lot of these things are called in English or Hebrew, but I sort of learned some of them in Spanish), shofars, and old ceremonial outfits worn by Berber Jews in their desert weddings and such.
Then we headed to a certain church- I don't remember the name. It is the location of El Greco's masterpiece 'Burial of the Count of Orgaz.' It's a huge painting, probably like 15 feet tall, and it's even more amazing in person. I don't know how much you may know about it, but it really is pretty famous, and many consider it to be El Greco's masterpiece. It was very, very beautiful.
Next we visited the Monastery of St. John of the Kings. This was also very cool but we were starting to get worn out. Thankfully they gave us free time after this.
By this time it was around 2, and we went out for lunch in little grupos. The two girls I was with both wanted to eat, fortunately. After that, though, we wanted to go crazy with souvenirs.
However, we weren't counting on siesta. Almost everything was closed from 2 to 5 there, and unfortunately, we had to be gone before 5. I would have liked to have looked a little longer at different shops, but I'm nevertheless pretty proud of the gifts I bought.
I have to apologize because I fell asleep multiple times while writing this! I know my syntax is probably also off but that's just because I'm so exhausted. So please excuse me.
23 November 2008
I don't know how big of a deal this was in the US, but the paper was the first mention of it I'd seen. Because the article I was reading was in Italian, I didn't quite get all of it, but I could see that the article quoted Berlusconi as having said basically that Obama was young, handsome, and bronzed ('abbronzato' or something like that).
Apparently this was a big deal because by saying this, Berlusconi suggested that a black man couldn't become president, or that the American people wouldn't elect anyone with skin that was more than tan. When I read American articles on the quote later, especially editorials, they seemed to portray the Italian people as supporting Berlusconi, but the article that I read listed other offensive or insensitve quotes he'd made. I sort of got the impression that the Italian people, or at least the more fairly liberal media, are rolling their eyes at Berlusconi and saying, "Not again," to themseleves.
I don't know, I just thought it was interesting. I still have the paper and will probably cut out the article.
I've got so much I've been meaning to write about- I hope I get around to some of it today.
17 November 2008
I have for you another example of how weird and over-confident Spanish men are. So while I'm walking back to my apartment, limping slightly, I hear someone laying on a car horn next to me. I turn and there are two boys in the car, waving at me. Silly me- I thought they needed directions, so I went over to talk to them.
Clearly they were just coming back from a night out- their car reeked of alcohol. They asked me if I was out for a run this early, I said yes. They asked where I was from, I said the US. They told me I was very guapa for an American girl (I'm still trying to figure out if that was a compliment or not), but that I should go running in the daytime to get some sun.
Then they told me that an American girl and a Spanish boy make a good pair, and asked me if I agreed. I said sure, and then made a graceful exit.
I continued on down the street and crossed at a red light. While I was limping across, I heard another horn and looked to my left. There, in a tiny little car and a bad sweater, was a man making kissy faces at me. I looked at him for a moment, never slowing, and when I reached the other sidewalk I just looked up and shouted, "What is wrong with this country?!"
16 November 2008
This was the view of the street right next to my hostel in Venice! Note the cocky gondolier and his distinctive swagger. Fascinating!
(I didn't notice this at the time, but there appears to be a lot of shouting going on so you may want to turn your volume down before playing. Enjoy!)
There I was, waiting around in the vicinity of the ticket counters, at 2 am. Plenty of other travellers had had the same idea, and all around me were people watching movies on iPods, listening to music, and napping. I tried to make use of my time by finishing up a few unsent postcards I'd found lying around my room and by watching some clips on my camcorder. There are some hilarious moments on there of me and Cousin Sam dancing around at Easter, and of Gracie teaching Emmy how to feel empathy for other dogs. It was nice.
After that it was more of the waiting game. I desperately wanted to set up my laptop near a supposed wifi hotspot near my gate, but Vodafone, in a moment of genius, had neglected to supply us with any outlets. I really needed that internet too, because I realized I had totally forgotten to write down the address or directions to my hostel. I even considered calling home to have someone check it for me, but ultimately I didn't do anything but wait for my flight. I just about fell asleep too.
I decided to explore the city a little. I hadn't had much to eat all day, so the first thing I did was hit up a pizzeria I'd seen on the way to my hostel. I got a slice with artichoke, pepper, and mushroom on it, and ate it out of a piece of paper. It was great.
14 November 2008
Then after that I need to post about Toledo, which we just visited yesterday through our program. It was also pretty cool but a lot smaller than I'd expected.
So now you've got all that to look forward too (if I ever get around to it). My weekend is pretty empty, though, so it should happen soon.
I miss you all!
10 November 2008
Two Thursdays ago, the theater classes went out to a performance of Bodas de sangre, a classic play by Federico Garcia Lorca. The production we saw was fairly stylized, but very entertaining. I would certainly recommend it, and am looking at ticket info for when my mom comes to visit.
On Tuesday, our ceramics class had a field trip which pretty much got me out of class all day, except for Prado class. We went to two museums sort of in my general area which I will have to remember to take Mom to when she comes. They were both very small museums, but they had a lot of high-quality art. They were both also very cold, unfortunately. Did I mention that this has been the coldest October/November ever recorded in Madrid? No joke.
Tuesday night was an extremely exciting night, with the elections and all. I guess there were all night watch parties around Madrid. Whatever people say about Obama, the world really is excited for him to be president. He represents hope and positive change to people who don't even know anything about his platform. Most of all, he is not Bush, or anything like Bush, and that is enough for them. There were even 'Goodbye George Bush' parties on Wednesday night, with free entrance and drinks for Americans. I would have maybe gone if I hadn't needed to write a large paper and if I didn't have a 9 am on Thursday mornings.
Wednesday night was eventful, though, because my Creative Writing class went out to the theater. We weren't seeing a play or a musical, we were seeing a 'spectacle,' according to our teacher. It was called Comeme el coco negro (accent on the first o) and it was sort of like a cabaret experience, with feathers and stick-ons and drag queens and huge headdresses and the like. But it was funny, not shady. You could show up any time between 8:30 and 9:30, but 9:30 was what was written on the tickets, and then about 15 minutes after that, the performers took their 'final' bow. We were told the performance was over and that it was time to go. For the next hour or hour and a half, the whole thing was sort of like a comedy act or maybe just a play performed as they were 'striking' the set, and we got to help them. We folded curtains and helped to transport the props outside via fireman-style bucket brigade. It was really, really funny. The cast was really funny, and really versatile, so you would start to realize that the little girl up there on stage was really an actress who had been running around in a leather outfit with a huge, Shakira-esque wig just a few moments before, and before that, she'd been at our row, speaking perfect English with an Essex accent. She was really surprised when we made conversation with her, and she asked us where we were from. When we said the US, she was like, "Oh wonderful! Congratulations on Obama then!"
They also gave us bocadillos, although they had meat in them, so I did not partake. All in all, I would highly recommend that spectacle.
Alright, that was the last week. Next up: weekend in Venice.
02 November 2008
30 October 2008
What were some of the sweet things we saw there. . . oh yeah, a 360 view of everything, a big huge monster carved over a doorway, lots of tiles, a forest that looked a lot like Narnia, that kind of thing. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the palace unfortunately. (Not that that stopped half the people in our group from totally ignoring our tour guide and trying.)
Then we regrouped to vis the Palacio Nacional de Sintra, which is quite a bit older than Pena, but less pretty. There were a lot of beautiful tiles inside of it, though. One of the rooms, the Magpie Room, is so called because the queen caught the king kissing one of her ladies-in-waiting, and to stop all the rumors, the king had the ceiling and walls of this entire room painted with magpies, one for each woman at court, and in their beaks they carry the motto "Por bem," or "for honor." I'm not really sure why the magpies though. . . did they have Heckle and Jeckle back in the 16th century?
In Spanish, the tilde is only used on the letter ñ, like in cumpleaños. In Portuguese, on the other hand, the tilde goes over vowels, but they still have an enye sound, indicated by the letters nh, as in the name of Brazilian soccer great Ronaldinho (pronounced ro-nal-DI-nyo).
For some silly reason, our guides thought it was necessary that we take the metro for two stops before walking a half hour up a big hill. This was silly because a) the distance that we travelled by metro takes approximately 6 or 7 minutes to walk, and b) it took probably about a half hour for everyone to buy these single-use metro tickets and figure out how to scan them. Anyway, we ended up seeing some really cool squares, then some sweet alley ways, then a few drug dealers, then an ancient Roman amphitheatre mid-excavation, and finally we got up to São Jorge Castle.
There were a lot of cats around Lisboa. Maybe they have a rat problem or something. It just seemed like everywhere I looked, there were fat cats sleeping or lazing about. They were pretty much oblivious to us- some of the cats were just sleeping out in the open, which I thought was a little unusual.
20 October 2008
Saturday night I went to a churchy sort of thing with an amiga. I liked it; the message for the week was about figuring out who Jesus was, which was nice because I would like to know more about Jesus. It was very intellectual; I think most of the message was taken from the Case for Christ which my friend told me is about an atheist who converts when he comes upon evidence for Jesus that he can't deny. At least I think that's what she said it was about. Anyway, it was interesting, and made even better by the fact that the man who was speaking was from somewhere in England. (The north? Maybe?)
On Sunday, those of us who had gone on the Salamanca trip were invited to a barbeque thrown by the boys we went with (their entire dorm, actually, but we didn't realize that). It was a huge party! They put glasses of sangria in our hands about as soon as we arrived and the cups were never empty but a few minutes before a first-year student was ordered to refill them. The whole thing reminded me a little of a frat party- the whole dorm sticks together, and they have their first year students do the sorts of things that pledges would do (pretty tame things generally, like get more sangria whenever asked and play drums and stuff like that).
The atmosphere was a lot friendlier than at most American college parties I've been to. Although there were tubs and tubs full of sangria, and case after case of beer, I didn't see a single drinking game, and there was no one puking in the bushes when we left. It didn't seem like they were drinking to get drunk- everyone was genuinely enjoying each other's company, and the great afternoon weather. We danced, we laughed, we took a lot of silly pictures. I maybe had a little too much sangria, but my balance is horrible all the time, so really, who's to say? And you can't blame me, because this was really, really, really good sangria.
Usually in sangria you find red wine and some soda, like 7-Up or Fanta, at a rough ratio of 1 part wine to 2 parts soda (this according to the cooking class we took last week. You can also add sugar to taste, and then of course there are chunks of fruits.
Well, this sangria was a little different. They had both red wine and white wine, plus Fanta, plus a LOT of juice, and fruit pieces. I've asked one of the boys for the ingredients so I can dazzle you all when I get home (and after my birthday, naturally). I promise you'll love it.
We were the only four Americans at this party, and there were hundreds of people there, so it was a great opportunity to meet people and practice our Spanish. Apparently sangria improves my accent exponentially- one of the boys stopped me mid-sentence and exclaimed, "Your Spanish is better than mine!" That was maybe an exaggeration, but I really am starting to pick up the different sounds, and I'm trying to remember which words they use here instead of the South and Central American words I've been learning for years. My ra told me she's noticed a big improvement too.
The party had to end sometime (around 9, because it had started at 3) and it was back to midterm studying. (I know I only have the one test this week, but it's the Prado class, and that teacher can be brutal, as I've mentioned.) Our boys have promised to alert us as soon as they plan another party, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing them around campus (although with 100,000 students at the Complu, that may never happen). What a weekend!
18 October 2008
Classes went well this week; this next week is midterm week, but because I'm so artsy and am taking artsy classes, which are run by artsy people, who are notoriously non-conformist, I will only actually have one mid-term at the appointed time. All the rest have been put off, some indefinitely. I'm pretty sure Ceramics has no mid-term. Niiiiiice.
Took a cooking class on Monday. Am now expert at cooking tortilla, among other things. Hope you're all ready to be dazzled by newly-acquired skills over the holidays. You have 2 months to prepare.
Dropped music workshop. Mom was right, I'm not creative enough for that class.
Speaking of encouraging things my mum has said, allow me to present this conversation my mom and I had over AIM the other day:
Me: Yeah, so it looks like I will sending my jeans home soon, like I told you.
Mom: What, you are already tired of wearing them?
Me: No, I told you, they don't fit anymore. I am losing weight. I told you that.
Mom: You told me the scale there was broken.
Me: No, I told you what I weighed now, and you didn't believe me. You said the scale must be broken.
Mom: [no response]
So supportive! I still can't wait to talk to her though. Hope they figure out skype soon. . .
13 October 2008
The boys turned out to be really nice and really funny. By the time 8'o'clock rolled around, though, we were all ready to go. We loaded back onto the bus, but had to wait a while, because some of the guys had gone straight to the bars when we'd arrived and hadn't made their way back yet. When they did eventually find us, the guy who was maybe supposed to be one of the leaders took the bus microphone and made a speech in Spanish. At the end, he started talking in English: "American ladies. . . we hope you have good time today, even though the dwarf, and the rain. . ." (one of the Complutense boys was shorter than me, but he totally owned it).
Here is where my night began. One of my girls here had an invite from a Spanish boy she knows here (let's call him Spanish Boy) to a private party at a really popular club. He would be there with all his friends, and encouraged her to bring hers. That would be me. We were supposed to meet up with them at one, so we rushed home to get ready.
The club closed earlier than we'd expected- 4:30. The Metro wouldn't be open til 6, so Spanish Boy told us we could wait at his apartment nearby. That seemed totally reasonable, because it was both my friend and myself and Spanish Boy has been really nice. As we were walking there, I discovered that my cheap scarf had bled blue dye in pale streaks on my arms and shoulders and totally stained my hands. First order of business upon arriving at the apartment was to scrub that off.
10 October 2008
My Spanish music class was tough this week because the instructor thought it would be a good idea for us to have a jam session, and I had previously told him that my only prior music experience was on the piano (trumpet was not an option). How the heck do you jam on the piano?! That took me so far outside my comfort zone, and I have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea to take that class. We'll see what happens.
"But- but we can mail it for you!" she exclaimed, like why would I consider any other alternative when that was clearly the best option that had ever been created.
What else is new. . . oh, I think I witnessed the self-destruction of a string quintet at Sol the other night. One of the violinists was out of tune or something and they just stopped right in the middle of the song, and he argued with the other violinist (I think) and then put his instrument away, and then they all kept arguing. The next night, they were only a string quartet.
08 October 2008
I really do love to wander. Sometimes I take long ways home. It makes me happy to have streets and routes memorized, and to think that, should I come back in 20 years or so, I might be able to find my way around as if I'd never left. Sol in particular is becoming more familiar to me, and I'm frequently asked how to get around the area by tourists.
There's a part of me that really wants to sing on a street corner for money one of these days. Oh, I know I'm a horrible singer, don't worry, but I feel like it would make my European adventure just a little more authentic. I'll let you know if anything comes of that whim.
I'm sorry, but I'm just too tired to write any more (I was up at 6:30 this morning to go running). I'm sure I'll have more to say tomorrow.
03 October 2008
This for instance. Evidence for how awesome the new Creative Writing teacher is. That first day when he came into class, he told us how he'd looked through the syllabus and was a little surprised by some of the things he'd seen. Our teacher had wanted to take us to an ancient bathhouse, from back when Spain was Muslim, and get massages so we could get inspired.
Enrique reenacted his reaction upon reading that, and then told us that maybe it wouldn't be so inspiring to see our teacher in swim trunks or a speedo or whatever it is that they wear here. "What's going to happen?" he asked. "Are we just going to start spouting poetry?" and then he began to recite in English, "Let us go then, you and I. . ." and I had to put my hand over my mouth because he said the first several lines of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot. I would never have expected to hear that here. A few days later he abruptly switched from Spanish to English to deliver the opening of Romeo and Juliet in a far deeper voice than the one he usually uses: "Two households, both alike in dignity. . ." It's just so strange to hear!
See, that wasn't anything epic. But this next bit is.
Okay so this afternoon I was feeling a little lazy, having sat around the apartment all day watching archived Red Sox games on mlb.tv and facebooking. I was a little sore from running last night and I thought a walk would be a good way to work that out. I hopped on a bus down to Sol to take pictures and check the pubs' schedules for Red Sox games.
Just before we pulled in to the final bus stop at the edge of Sol, I saw a couple of newlyweds and their wedding photographer. I thought it would make for an interesting picture, two tiny figures in black and white in front of the gargantuan buildings around Banco de España, so when the bus finally stopped, I walked back to try and catch them. I didn't take many pictures of them because the whole setup wasn't as picturesque as I'd hoped, so then I walked down to the Prado, which is nearby. Along the way, I got the finger from a homeless man (or was it a woman?) brushing his (or her?) teeth in a fountain.
Eventually I headed back to Sol, which is really the center of this town at night. It wasn't night yet, but the light was poor enough that I wasn't going to get any good candid pictures, so I put the camera away and just walked. No baseball tonight at Dubliners or O'Connell St, I found. To pass the time I walked through the plaza, listening to the street musicians.
To my surprise (and delight), I heard bagpipes! Of course I followed the sound, ending up in front of a guy in a kilt. I'm not sure the Spanish really appreciate bagpipe music, but I like to think I do. I stood there, listening to him, for probably a half hour. I saw a drunk man come up next to him and start clapping and stomping the beats to the songs, and then, horrifyingly, he began to sing. That was about when the piper decided to call it a night.
As he was putting away his pipes, I went to give him some money and asked him how often he plays in Sol. I expected to hear a Scottish or Irish accent, but he was Kiwi! You can find the most random people in Madrid, seriously.
Also, I stayed up too late the other night (this was before the Red Sox game, actually) and took the Jeopardy online test for the college tournament, and, despite my certainty that I'd absolutely crashed and burned, I got an e-mail today saying that I passed and have an appointment for the next round of tryouts on Sunday, November 2 at 11:30 am in Chicago. Now I just have to find a way to get there.