Monday, February 22, 2010


A recap of my week: 4 exams. I finished my last exam around 2:00 pm, made it home by 2:20 pm, threw a bunch of stuff in my super nerdy (handy) backpack grabbed my bag of bocadillos (sandwiches on good loaves of bread) and headed to the bus station across the street from our house for our 4:00 pm, 6 hour bus ride to Madrid. (Side note: Fina made us 3 HUGE bocadillos, gave us 4 good books ((the kind with chocolate in the middle)), a pesar, a banana, and a juicebox. I guess she´s off and on about the rationing.)
Once on the bus, Kelly and I got to sit shotgun with a convenient little table in front of us. The other 10 people were scattered throughout the bus without leg room or little tables. Suckers. After the 6 hour bus ride, with a 20 minute stop half way through, we arrived in Madrid around 10:30 pm. We grabbed our bags from beneath the bus, jumped into 4 taxis, and after a 20 euro taxi ride, we finally arrived at our humble abode for the weekend, a spacious (hah) 5 bedroom apartment complete with kitchen the size of a closet, 2 bathrooms, cozy living room stocked with thousands (i mean THOUSANDS) of trinkets, and a large rooftop terrace furnished with outdoor shower and table & chairs.

Me, Kelly, Heidi, Lauren, and Megan claimed the cool sunroom converted into sleeping quarters that was off of the terrace. It was like summer camp all over again, even though my parents never let me go to summer and it was winter outside. It was like winter camp. Once settled into our rooms and our bocadillos eaten up, we started to pop bottles. We left the apartment and went to some random little bar down the street named Moby Dick Club (no it´s not a gay bar, I asked). We played it cas (casual) and made it an early night, arriving home around 3:30 am. Then went straight to bed because we had many touristy things to do the next day!

(that's Megan and me)

We were woken up around 10:30 pm (just kidding it was am), to a delicious breakfast consisting of a toasted piece of bread, a fried egg, and a piece of tomato. I´ll take it. Probably 20 hours later (because it´s hard to coordinate 12 people ) we left the apartment, jumped on the metro and were ready to hit up some some sights. Our first stop was at the Puerta del Sol which is like the center of Madrid, a huge plaza. It was neat. Next, we trekked on over to the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), which is where the King and Queen used to live, but have since moved and it is now used occasionally for functions. We were able to tour 25 out of the 3,000 rooms. Everything was incredibly intricate and elaborate. It was royaly cool. Ha. We made a stop in the gardens that were off of the palace and snapped some shots. Then, decided it was time to head to Plaza Mayor. On the way, Heidi and I spotted a candy store in this huge all glass market called Mercado de San Miguel. Because we have an addiction to cookies, we had to make a quick stop, little did we know it would turn into the coolest stop EVA. Once, inside we ooh´d and ahh´d like it was nothing we had seen before, because it wasn´t like anything we had seen before. The lame pictures I took don´t do it justice. The building was scattered with booth upon booth, each selling something different. Every direction something new to try. There were duelces (sweets), olivey type things, quesos (cheeses), frutas (fruits), mermeladas (marmelade), pescados (fishes), caviar, pastas, croquetas, jamones. I would go back to Madrid just for that market. That´s a strong statement, but totes (totally) true. After an hour everyone left, but me, Heidi, and Kelly stayed for more or less another another 2 hours. That´s how cool it was. A combination of the welcoming atmosphere, the spanish crowd, and the amazing food is what kept us there for that long.
A list of things that we comsumed:
1. Galletas
2. Sangria
3. Queso
4. Pizza
5. Empanada
6. Sangria
7. Mermeladas
8. Frutas
9. Caviar
10. Sangria
11. Croqueta
12. Chocolate musse
...And we spent around 25 euro...each. All worth it. No doubt.
We finally were able to pull ourselves away from what we considered heaven to go eat dinner. We weren´t hungry at all though. The group sat down for dinner around 10:00 pm and feasted on a spaghetti type dish with potatas. After dinner, we readied ourselves for what was a crazy night at Kapital, the supa (super) hip, must go to discoteca in Madrid. Arriving at Kapital around midnight, the lined stretched down the street and around the building. The line went fast and so did our money, having to pay an 18 euro cover charge, although it did include 1 free drink. All 7 stories, yes I said 7, of the club were packed! After exploring some of the floors we nestled in on the first & coolest floor. On stage, there were 3 dancers (male & female) covered in what seemed to be olive oil, wearing skimpy outfits, and dancing awkwardly slowly and off beat to the raging techno music. Also, on the first floor you´d be dancing and suddenly you´d hear a low rumble every 20 minutes... it was the cold air cannon about to blast everyone. It was like the moment was frozen in time and everything went hazy and you were pounded with freezing air (which actually was really refreshing). That was our DTF (Down To Fiesta) night which ended early the next morning with a nocilla & galleta binge.

We got up a bit later that day, due to the late night. For breakfast we were treated with pancakes, potatas, y strawberries. We ate outside on the terrace because it was a beautiful day, exchanged stories about the night before and reminisced about the 7 story playground (Kapital). It was muy bien. Right after breakfast, Kelly and I peaced out and got a head start on that day´s sightseeing. We took the metro to Banco del Espana where the BUSIEST INTERSECTION IN MADRID IS LOCATED. It was o u t o f c o n t r o l. (Side Note: There were rusted metal warrior statues and a boat located in Plaza Nueva in Sevilla that symbolized people from Africa coming into Spain illegally or something? I´m not sure. But one day they magically disappeared and no one had any idea where they had gone.) So, we were walking around by the intersection and stumbled upon THE SAME METAL STATUES. They moved to Madrid! Crazy. Anyways, Kelly and I kept walking and went to el Parque del Retiro. It´s this HUGE park with mazey kind of gardens, a lake, and bunch of cafes and street performers surrounding a quaint, little lake with row boaters. We bought some gummies and were enjoying the scenery by the lake when a creepy old man approached us. He had a combover that started from the very back of his head up to the front and it was super gelled down, mismatched buttons on his shirt, and a strange limp. He started talking to us and I pretended like I didn´t understand what he was saying so he´d leave, but he didn´t. We chatted it up with him for awhile, but were then saved by some American boys who are stuyding in Madrid who watched the whole thing go down. They cut in and took over the conversation. Thank goooooodness. It was funny. We then met up with the whole group and went to el museo de Reína Sofía. There are two glass elevators and this is a picture looking up from the bottom. It was a must see contemporary art museum. The main attraction is the "Guernica" by Picasso. Floors 2-4 were neat, but I really like the first floor. The group left to make dinner while Kelly and I explored the 1st floor. It was super obscure contemporary art. The kind that when you look at it you second guess yourself and look for the actual piece of art because those pieces of wood thrown in the corner could never be the exhibit until you look at the sign next to it and it´s entitled "Wood Pile". No lie. Among the strangest things I saw there were exhibts entitled "Storage" which consisted of wood painted different colors stacked in a corner, "Wall" which was a white wall, and "Circualtion" which was a network of plastic piping linked together with water being pumped through it (I´m positive it was an actual exhibit not just plumbing work being done). Also we had the pleasure of watching a "film" called Sprial Jetty by Robert Smithson. S t r a n g e. It was several 1 minute clips put together of the most bizaare things like, dinosaur skeletons at a museum in black/red light, water dripping, the view from the back of a car as it was driving down a road. Think of the most random thing and it was in there. So Kelly and I sat and watched that film for awhile.. I´m not certain why, but it was intriguing, until we got kicked out because the museum was closing. As we proceeded to exit the museum we saw IT. A 2 story white trailer parked out with bumping music and a plethora of people. We had to go check it out, how could you pass it up? This sign was outside of the trailor.. I think it explains how obscure this place was...By the way it was like a temporary/moving art exhibit, not just some creepy trailer we walked into. So we go inside and it´s super comtemporary inside with clean lines, stacked selves with uniform books, and bright lights. We weren´t actually sure what it was at first and were completeley confused. I spotted a staircase and suggested we take a gander at the 2nd floor. Because the staircase was the size of a baby, only 1 person could use it at a time. After waiting for a crowd of 20 to pass (i was so confused as to how that many people fit up there), we took the stairs, which didn´t have a railing (omg), and arrived to the top. Here, there were long desks that stretched the length of the trailer with large hardcover books that were filled with blank pages that people were writing on, the walls were decked out with the most random pictures ever of people and objects. We then spotted the balconies and went outside. After a couple of pictures and exchanges of confusion we decided it had been enough contemporary for 1 night, so we went back downstairs. Once there, we were greeted by a hipster woman carrying a wooden board with 4 drinks on it, she offered 1 to each of us, so we took them! Sipped our gin & tonics, perused the unsualalities (i just made up that word) and peaced out. It was the strangest/coolest thing ever, truly a ball. I´m so happy we stayed when everyone left. Later, we walked around and ventured into a little spanish bar and ordered a glass of wine and ate a piece of cheese on bread. Yum. We then went home, got ready, ate dinner around 12:00 am (as in MIDNIGHT, hahaa), and tried to decide what we wanted to do that night. The majority of the group wanted to go to Joy which was a discoteca similar to Kapital, but not as cool. I most def didn´t want to do that. Everyone knows I can´t keep a beat and I have no rhythm therefore, I hate dancing. Kelly found a popular Pijo (a name given to the preppy Spaniards who wear pastel Ralph Lauren sweaters with striped button ups underneath, you get the point) Bar and she was told by her friend who studied there last semester that the gay neighborhood bars are always a good time. So we mapped out our stops for the pijo and gay bars and thought we´d be on our way. Well on our way out the door, Lauren (one of the girls we were with) and I realized we didn´t have our IDs so we ran back upstairs and got them while Megan and Nick waited for us. We ended up missing the metro so we took a taxi to Joy to meet up with everyone else. The 4 of us got there way before everyone so we stopped at a near by bar to use the bathroom. As soon as we walked in, some young locals immediately said "Giddies están aquí, Giddies están aquí" (a giddy is the name given to americans who are studying abroad in spain). It was really funny. Anyways, we left that bar, met everyone outside of Joy, but weren´t sure if we wanted to go. We (me, Kelly, Megan, and Nick) took a taxi to the Gay Barrio (neighborhood), but at that point it was like 2:30 am and all of the bars were closing so we took a taxi back home. It was a bit of a bust, but oh well.

We woke up around 10:00 am in our cozy sunroom-bedroom to the sun shining in and the pitter patter of rain on our shafty roof. It was soothing. We had to be out of the apartment later that day at 12:30, so we had to quickly clean up, make breakfast, and come up with a game plan for the day (we were taking the 4:00 bus back to Sevilla). We had a tastey french toast breakfast with eggs. It was still raining a bit and we had to carry our huge backpacks around the city, very inconvenient. We made plans to go to the world famous Museo del Prado. Google it. It was really old, classical paintings, but one of those things you have to go to, to say you´ve been there, ya knoow? Anyways we ventured through the network of metros and finally made it to the Prado and had to wait in line for like 20 minutes in the rain with our heavy bags in order to get inside. Once there, we checked our bags and did a quick run through of the museum, only hitting up the really famous paintings. After seeing the boring (just kidding, it was cool) paintings in the Prado we hopped on the Metro and started our journey back to the bus station. Everything was going smoothly until the last stop. Right after we got off of the metro an older woman approached my roommate, Kelly, and was pointing at her purse saying watch your bag, and then pointed to some men speed walking away from us and said those men are dangerous. We all couldn´t make sense of what was happening until Kelly checked her purse and realized that her buckle was undone and a zipper was open. She immediately threw down her luggage and sprinted after the 3 guys. I quickly yelled for 2 of the boys who were with us to go help her. Then, I grabbed her luggage and my friend Lauren and I go to follow them. We make it up an escalator and are faced with 3 different possible ways they may have gone. We choose the way up to the street. Once at the top, we still don´t see anyone. Oh yea.. keep mind that it´s 3:45 and we have a 4:00 bus ticket. We have no idea where they went so we go back down the escalator. My heart was racing, neither of us had minutes on our phones so we couldn´t call either of the 3. The craziest scenerios were playing out in my head. Finally, after a couple of minutes, they appear at the top of the escalator. Their faces show disappointment. We come to find out that they chased the guy out of the Metro and onto the street where they lost him in the crowd! So, he got away with her wallet, but good news that she didn´t have any money in it, only 2 credit cards which she immediately cancelled and 3 forms of indentification. She still had her passport and camera. Lesson learned. And we made it to the bus in time, too. Crazy, crazy, crazy! We finally got home that night around 10:00 pm. We were soooo exhausted from the weekend and immediately went to sleep!

Overall, Madrid was great!! I had a really good time!! Well worth it!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Let's see..

Thursday was nothing out of the ordinary. We went to Plaza Alfalfa. There's a bunch of little semi-authentic spanish bars. There we had the hugest mojito's evaaa.

Also, Megan and I met a hippie with totally cool dreads. oh hey.

Friday, we woke up early and went to a Sevilla FC futbol (soccer) practice. We were told that after the practice the team would sign autographs and take pictures. Well, it was freezing, windy, and lightly sprinkling. We had been waiting outside for a good 45 minutes for the team to come outside and practice.

Walking to the field!
Waiting for the practice to start.

Growing impatient, a group of 4 of us went back inside to a little cafe near the practice field. As soon as we got inside th e players decided to come outside to practice. I thought I ordered toasted bread with some type of pepper spread, but to my dismay, it was a piece of bread with pate. Pate is pig liver spread. YUM. To say the least, I ate the toasted bread with only olive oil, which wasn't bad, I enjoyed it. Bread with olive/bread with soup is my new thang.

The rest of that day we slept and ended up staying in that night. I went on a job hunt for this summer. Let's hope I can find something so I don't have to return to the Island of hell. Just kidding, I had fun.
Saturday was spent looking for a costume for Carnaval. Before I came here I wish someone would've told me to bring a costume for their version of Halloween (or should I say Heroine?) Anyways, after spending too much time perusing the clearance rack at H&M (there's a lot of bizarre/over the top things there), my creativity kicked in and I decided to be a FLOWER GARDEN. I bought and bunch of flowers that clipped into my hair, then made it a big, curly mess, threw on a black dress, pink tights and a green jacket, and I was ready to go to CARNAVAL! waho.

I was a flower gardin, Heidi was Cat Woman, Kelly was a Ballerina, and Danielle was a Hippie.

The group of 10 of us who went to Cadiz. Plus some random Spanish girl on the right?

We hopped on the bus at 9:30, made it to Cadiz by 11:00, and enjoyed a crazy night of costume fun. It was very similar to Halloween on State Street in Madison. Everyone just kind of hung out and drank in the street. The real part of Carnaval is during the day when there's huge parades and family fun festivities. We were only able to go during the night when the crazies come out. Oh well. The down side of Cadiz... it was SOOOOOOO cold, dare I say FREEZING? I never grew accustomed to the cold, but once put on the back burner I had fun strolling the streets and checking out the different costumes. Most of the costumes were generic, like devils/angels, headbands with animals ears on them, or the good old Village People from the YMCA. Or they were just completely bizarre, couldn't tell what they were costumes.

We finally got on the bus around 4:00 am, and were back home by 5:30 am. Surprisingly, I only slept until 1:00 pm the next day. Good job Katie! Overall, Carnaval was fun. I'm glad I went. Would I go again? Probably not, but it was one of those things you have to experience once.

Sunday, I spent the day at Glassy (the cafe with free wifi by my house). I ordred carmelized onions with goat cheese. m o s t d e l i c i o u s t h i n g e v e r.
Later that night right before dinner, Fina gave us back our laundry. She put it all in Kelly & Danielle's room and I grabbed my things and began to put them away in my room. Suddenly, their room breaks out into laughter and one of them yells to me, "Katie, come in here! Are these your underwear?" At this point, my minds racing, thinking the worse possible thing. poopstain? what? I walk into the room and see a large pair of black, control top panties dangling from Danielle's hand. Guess whose they were? FINA'S. hahahahahhahaha.
More news surrounding our food situation.
We woke up for breakfast this morning to find 2 pieces of toast, jam, tea, and no plate of cookies/muffins. Instead a plate with 1 crossiant each. cool.
Also, one time while Kelly and I were having lunch one of us set the oil on the table instead of the holder and Fina came in and yelled at us for it. Then, a couple days later during dinner, Heidi did the same thing without knowing Fina had previously yelled at us for it and once again Fina came in and saw the oil on the table and blew a fuse. I may be overexaggerating her yell, but it was a strong discipline. All of this happened like last week or so. Well, last night we came to sit down at the table for dinner and found a placemat under the oil/vinegar/salt/pepper holder. hahahah. oopsies.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What have I been up to this week?

Well it rained many days this week, which is not fun when you have to walk everywhere. But it wasn't that, just a couple light sprinkles. I much rather have the rain than the snow! oh hey!

I volunteered on Wednesday at one of the local schools for 2 hours in their English classes. I volunteer for an hour with a class who is 12-13 years old, and then with a class who is 17-18 years old. Currently, I am working on 2 powerpoints for the classes. For the 12-13 year olds, I am making a powerpoint about myself and life back in good old wisconsin, and for the 17-18 year olds I'm making a powerpoint about the different accents/customs/ways of life in the different regions of the US. I'm doing the 2nd powerpoint on this because I was explaining to them how there are different accents throughout the US and I may have impersonated someone from the South and they may have thought it was the funniest thing ever. Yea I know I'm really funny and cool.
During each class, I split up with a couple of students so they can practice their conversational english. During one of these sessions with the younger group, I was asking them about Carnaval here in Cadiz. In return one of the little girls preceeded to ask me, "Do you like heroine?" After being completely thrown off and the initial confusion passed. I realized she meant, "Do you like Halloween?" It was a funny mix up.
Also, I taught one of the 18 year old boys that the rapper 50 cent's name is pronounced Fitty Cent.

On Wednesday before dinner,my roommates and I took a taxi (it was raining still) to a Teteria, which is an Arabic Tea (& Hookah) Shop. Although we saved the Hookah for another time, we did drink Arabic tea and eat little Arabic pastries. It was really fun. We all sat on the ground on little pillows around a table and was each served tea in little pots. Danielle and I ordered tea with milk, which was so delicious. Kelly & Heidi ordered fruity teas. Ours were most def much better.

I came home today (Thursday) to find a sweet little package on my bed from JJKM&GM. THANKS EVERYONE :)

After tearing it open, Kelly suggested I lay next to everything sprawled out on my bed. In this picture I am falling off of my bed because there is a HUGE dip in it and I needed support from the way. Thanks Fina.

Also, today, our food begins to be rationed.

A bit background information & then the story...

We eat breakfast each morning at 7:30 and then come back to the house for lunch at 3:30! Thats like 8 hours without a meal. Crazy? I know! So at breakfast, us 4 roommates try to eat a lot so we aren't too hungry and have to spoil our lunch with snacks from the local grocery store, M.A.S. A usual breakfast consists of 2 pieces of toast with jam on them, a cup of tea, minature muffins, and galletas which are thin cracker/breakfast/cookies that taste really good dipped in tea. We began the semester off by having a package of muffins and cookies on the table. We would each have one muffin for breakfast and then 2 or 3 of us would take one as a snack during the day at school. Also, during breakfast we would usually go through a roll of galletas each morning because they're so tastey and we were hungry and we'd also bring some to school with us like the muffins. A couple weeks ago we were given the basic tea/toast/jam combo and a plate with a roll of cookies, but now only 4 muffins. So now we were only rationed 1 muffin each, but still had the luxury of unlimited galletas. Today, we roll up to the table for breakfast and find a the usual combo, but now a plate with 4 muffins and 4 piles of 5 galletas each. FIRST THE MUFFINS AND NOW THE GALLETAS. WHAT NEXT? We're using too much jam, so she's going to give us jam packets? Can I make a side note also... we saw the same exact cookies at the grocery store, guess how much they were... A 4 PACK FOR .95 EURO. Come on now, let's get real Fina.

So, that was the high drama situation of the day.

On a better note, I've spent the afternoon sitting at Glassy (our favorte cafe with free wifi (here it's pronounced wee-fee) it also has a plug inside which is handy when my computer has no more battery power) enjoying the atmosphere and sun at a comfortable 60 degrees. I hope everyone is enjoying the snow at home :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Weekend: February 5th-7th

Last weekend we went to Aracena for the day, which is about an hour north of Sevilla. The town was kind of creepy and not too exciting. All of the buildings were white and there were hardly any people in the streets except for old men. But we did see some cool things. We went to el museo de jamòn (soft j) (the ham museum), there were a lot of pictures of ham and even a video about the curation process, but no free samples (I wasn´t complaining though because the jamòn here is a bit different than in the States, by different I mean weird tasting..). Now, the really cool thing that I saw in Aracena.. THE CAVES! They may be the coolest thing I have seen IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. OMG. But really they were extremely interesting. We weren´t allowed to take pictures inside the caves because it would interrupt the stalactite-ing, ya know? Being the BA that I am, I snapped a shot. Oh hey.

The pueblos

A plaza that was abandoned. Somewhat sketchy
More pictures of the city

On the train ride up to the top of the mountain we were seriously like a foot from the edge of a huge cliff. one wrong move and it could've been deadly..

A nice picture of me on top of the mountain!

Totes took this picture illegally, but it´s the only one I took because I was too afraid of getting yelled at in Spanish.

This one is from the internet. But I totally walked where that railing is!

This is the mueso del jamon. These are just a few hams. Imagine walking into a little bar and the ceiling is lined with millions of these legs. it makes for a unique atmosphere

So, the next day a group of 8 of us rented 2 paddle boats and boated around the river for an hour. It was fun!

Later that day we came here. Plaza del Salvador. It's a super cool plaza right across from our school. It's kind of everyone who's anyone's hang out at night. If ya know what I mean.

Mas photos de mi casa y la ciudad

An interesting, unique feature of the city are the crosswalks. When it is safe to cross the street there is a sound played for the duration of the walking time that sounds like birds chirping!
Calle Arjona, where muh crib at.

These are located all over the city. They are self-serve bike rental statations. You are able to rent a bike for 30 minutes and can ride it anywhere in the city and once done, you can park it at any other rental station. They are a popular and inexpensive form of transportation here.

Our lovely blue bathroom. That is a bidet in the corner. No I don´t use it.
The lovely table where we eat everyday. Note the picture of the dog with the dead rabbit in it´s mouth above the radiator. Also, I would like to point out that the radiator is usually packed with our wet underwear/shirts/camis inbetween the slits. The table to the right is where we eat our meals. The table to the left is where Fina irons our underwear while we eat. Note the amount of seating available.

Hoarding proof. What did I say before about 10 chairs and millions of trinkets?

Fina´s dungeon. La cocina
This is the balcony that is off of the kitchen and the white window is my room. Now imagine my roommates and me sitting in our room one day and hearing a faint cry for help, ¨ayudame, ayudame..¨ We look out our window and here is our señora (Fina) locked out on the balcony with a broom in her hand about to tap on our window and crying for help! Now image that happening two days in a row! hahahah. Also, this is where our wet laundry is hung out to dry...she washed some things for me a couple weeks ago and I still haven´t gotten them back. I think it´s safe to say that I never will and that they probably fell. Thanks Fina babe.. you da best