Santiago Bernabéu

Sant

The day before class started, we checked into our hotel and had some time to explore the area. Gladys and I went to lunch across the street from our new hotel and had some tortas. The waiter quickly noticed that Spanish was not my first language and began speaking to me in Brazilian Portuguese (?). After, we met with a few classmates and visited a few places such as the Spanish National Library.

Spain

Beautiful building outside of our hotel

National Library

Nat Lib

Spanish National Library

 

First day of class and we got to visit the stadium of Real Madrid: Santiago Bernabéu. When we first arrived, there was a special event happening so we had a few hours to stall before coming back and getting tickets; unfortunately the tickets were first come first serve with no previous reservations… this place must be quite popular.

Santiago Bernabeu

Waiting outside of the stadium

In the meantime, a few of us decided to head back and visit a fruit market that we had seen the day before. I bought some cherries and a small fruit tray of mango, apple, kiwi, strawberry, and dragon fruit.

Fruit Market

Fruit Tray

Of course the fruit had a different taste being from a place that I am not used to. The apples and kiwi  tasted especially different from normal and not in a good way (makes sense for the apples, being from the apple state of Washington and such (; ). The mangoes, strawberries, and cherries on the other hand were incredible! This was also my first time trying dragon fruit. It tasted pretty plain, but fairly delicious. While adventuring around and trying fruit, we also went to a Starbucks and learned a few new things: First, Starbucks cards do not work in Spain. Second, iced coffee does not exist here either! The best they can do is provide a hot coffee and a cup of ice.

We headed back to the stadium where I witnessed an escalator pile up for the first time… not pretty. We headed to the top of the stadium and worked our way through the floors, from the museum to the locker room.

Real Madrid
IMG_3972

Throughout the tour there was a strong sense of pride. The trophy displays were dramatized, videos replayed Real Madrid victories and best moments in time, favorite players were highlighted. It was also extremely crowded and many visitors wore jerseys. By the end of the tour we were all exhausted and hungry. We still had another tour to go on: a walking tour of Madrid.

A storm hit during the second tour. It was raining, not like Seattle raindrops, but raining pennies. We finished the tour at a chocolateria for chocolate churros. Afterwards we headed to dinner and had paella; a Spanish favorite. This was my first time eating paella and certainly not my last.

IMG_3986

Tears and Tapas: Part 2

When Gladys and I woke up in the morning, we realized that we practically fasted by accident for 24 hours and started feasting on trail mix while we decided on breakfast. We ate at the hotel buffet and made plans to meet up with Jaynie and Amy, two other members of our group. The hotel shuttle went downtown and apparently dropped us off in the middle of nowhere. Gladys and I spent about an hour trying to figure out buses to get from middle of nowhere to middle of somewhere to meet Jaynie and Amy. To our surprise, the bus dropped us off in the middle of somewhere so we adventured around while we waited. We ended up at this beautiful palace. Pics.

Palacio Real de Madrid

Palacio Real de Madrid (inside fence)

We got slightly lost then made our way to Plaza Mayor. I had paella for the first time and it was bomb. It was a tapa which is a huge thing in spain… Very affordable and very delicious. I also had a fresa (strawberry) juice which is always my favorite. We met Jaynie and Amy and adventured around some more getting very lost and leading to naps in the park.

After the adventure, Gladys and I went to the grocery store to get some food for the hotel. As we exited, the streets were absolutely crowded. No one could move. Is this how it always is in Madrid?? Apparently there was a “special religious person”. Gladys and I made our way out of the human wall successfully and began our trek to where the hotel shuttle would pick us up.

It was a long walk, especially having to haul groceries, so we took the metro for the first time which was fairly easy to navigate. We then had about an hour and a half to wait for the shuttle. After many fancy dressed people walked by, wedding photos taken, and a discussion with a nice old man, we had about ten minutes for the shuttle to arrive so we kept our eyes peeled.

Puerta de Alcalá A popular place for wedding photos in Madrid, Spain. Also where Gladys and I waited 90 minutes for a disappearing shuttle

Puerta de Alcalá
A popular place for wedding photos in Madrid, Spain. Also where Gladys and I waited 90 minutes for a disappearing shuttle

A few minutes later and Gladys spotted the hotel shuttle. Leaving. It didn’t even go past us it just went to the other side and left without stopping! A little panicked, we decided to wait a bit to see if it came back. It passed on the other side of the roundabout. And never came back. We decided that our only choice was to hail a cab. We didn’t even know how to hail a cab! Gladys and I finally walked up to a cab that was parked at a stoplight. Then we realized another problem: we didn’t know where the hotel was. Fortunately, we had the phone number and the cab driver was kind enough to use his phone to call the hotel and ask for the address (even though we were being charged for that duration of time. Ugh).

The next day we decided to just stay back at the hotel and relax. We went to the pool, did some homework, and had much less stress.

received_10207131859320593

I’ve heard many things about studying abroad. For instance, it is a life changing experience that may change a person as well as his/her views. Also that a lot of stress may come with it on top of the amazing experiences. Either way, I’m really looking forward to the rest of this adventure… As long as there are a lot less tears and a lot more of those tapas.

 

Tears and Tapas: Part 1

I’ll be honest, when I am extremely exhausted AND hungry, I become rather “hangry” (but who doesn’t?). Take both of those and add being completely lost and not being able to speak the local language and well… Let’s just say its not fun.

That’s exactly what happened to me when I got off of the plane and to say the least, I wanted to find a corner and cry. Fortunately, I was traveling with another student in the program. And I was in luck… She speaks Spanish.

I’ve heard mixed things about having to know Spanish in Spain. Some say I’ll be fine with English and my limited knowledge of Spanish because they speak English there. Others say I’ll learn Spanish quickly because I will definitely need it. I would say that for the most part I would’ve been fine with my basic Spanish knowledge, however I would have been screwed if I were to handle the situation that Gladys and I were in solo.

th_quote-spanish

First of all, we couldn’t find the baggage claim even though the flight attendant gave directions in three languages. Those languages happened to be Spanish, Dutch, and what I assumed was French or German (those are nothing alike but please forgive me, I was half asleep at this point). We meandered around looking for our specific baggage claim but “Brussels” was nowhere to be found. We finally asked for help and were sent on a wild goose chase around the airport to “Lounge 6”.

We got to the lounge and there were sliding doors with human stick figures drawn on them and red X’s crossing them out. Well what can this possibly mean being the only possible entrance! No humans allowed? Limbs will be lost if you stand in the door? It ended up being the entrance and I still don’t know what the signs mean. When we finally found the “Brussels” baggage claim, it was closed. Awesome. We then had to head over to the “lost baggage” counter and finally found our bags. Now to find the shuttle.

We asked the tourist info for help on this one. He kept looking at me and talking as if I would understand him or something (nope). Turns out the hotel shuttle isn’t frequent and we have to call for it and ask someone to come. There was a payphone around the corner. Payphone. With coins. Coins that we did not have. Gladys and I spent about an hour (or what felt like an hour) trying to find different ways to find change since there were no currency converters around. We finally found a vending machine and got a Kit Kat and some coins. We waited even longer for the shuttle. When the shuttle finally dropped us off at a cute little hotel, we both showered and crashed at about 6pm. I was done with that day.