Thursday, July 8, 2010

Halaaaaa Españaaaaa!

Here's a picture of some of the crowd outside of Bernabeu (Real Madrid's stadium) where I went to watch the game tonight.  There are big screens of the game all around the outside of the stadium, and it was just jam-packed with fans.  I'll put up pics I took tomorrow... the one up above I snatched from a news site.

The people just went wild though.  After the game, everyone from Bernabeu left via this main street in the city, Castellana.  A couple cars were trying to get through... and some of the fans would just jump on the cars in front, run across the top of the vehicle and jump off in back.  They'd go 3-4 people at a time.  And of course, the people pounded on the busses that tried to make their way through the crowd.  Singing and pounding in the metro trains...  Endless honking and chants ALL over the city.  When I finally made it back to my apartment, which is now waaay on the east end of the city, all the cars out driving were honking as they went (still).

Viva España!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

finde: orgullo gay + conciertos + el partido + sol = perfecto

This weekend was the gay pride weekend in Madrid.  Thursday night I went out with some friends in Chueca, the gay district, and had a blast.

Friday night my friend Dani's band had a show:


Laura y yo
El grupo

Yesterday afternoon was the gay pride parade - TONS of fun and TONS of people:

I left the parade at 8 to meet up with some friends in Sol to watch the game.  And what a great win it was -- the city went crazy.

Only happy faces after the game

After the game we grabbed a bite to eat, then headed to Plaza de España where we stumbled upon a Kylie Minogue concert - part of the orgullo gay festival.

 Kylie Minogue concert in Plaza de España

Those are usually streets...

Mutriku: the huelga strikes again

The trip up north was nice and relaxing; we rented an apartment in Mutriku, a little town 40 minutes west of San Sebastian.  They say San Sebastian has the most beautiful beaches in Spain.

For those who don't know, San Sebastian is the upper east corner of Spain, part of the autonomous community of País Vasco (Basque country).  This is where the terrorist group ETA is from, made up of Basque nationalists and separatists.  Although only a small percentage of Basques support the violence and such of ETA, it was clear that week that we weren't in Madrid anymore...  

We arrived Thursday evening, while Spain was playing in the world cup.  Ibon, from whom we were renting the apartment, came and picked us up from the bus stop.  My friend Jimmy, anxious to get to the apartment and watch the second half of the game, asked him how we were doing.  Ibon asks us, "What game?"  Jimmy, completely surprised, tells him: dude... Spain... your country...
And the man tells us "we're basque", as to imply not Spanish, just Basque. Alrighty then.

The view from our apartment balcony

 One fish, two fish

Green, green, green

Playing in the sand

We spent lots of time under the sun.

One particular afternoon, Izzy tells me that a group of younger girls (age 9-12 I'd estimate) were staring at her.  I got up to look, and sure enough, these girls were blatantly staring at Iz and whispering to each other.  Then a boy comes up to Izzy and says: "You look Hannah Montana".  Izzy and I cracked up... those girls had thought Izzy was Hannah Montana!

And after that first boy initiated contact, Izzy was instantly surrounded by 15 little kids, shooting her questions left and right about her life.  Then one kid wanted to jump into the water with Izzy, so she did it and the kids were chanting "Is-a-belle! Is-a-belle!"  It was hilarious.

Izzy with her fans

Our plan for Tuesday, our last full day of the trip, was to spend the day in San Sebastian.  We got ourselves out of bed earlier than the previous days and head to the bus stop.  We wait. And wait. And wait.  Half an hour later, we decide the bus isn't coming.  I ask what day it is, and someone tells me it's the 29th, I remember seeing signs all over town with that number on them:

Bottom left in orange: "Huelga general"

We take a stroll through town to find the tourism office, to see if there are any other busses to San Sebastian.  Tourist office: closed.  There's a sign saying that the office is closed due to the strike, but that it will be opened tomorrow.  So we realize we're "stuck" in Mutriku for the day (can't complain about being stuck in a goregous little town on the ocean...).

Venture around to try and find food.  The only grocery store in town: closed.  Every single bar: closed.

We somehow managed with the remains of extra ingredientes from previous meals...

Then on Wednesday we had a little under two hours in San Sebastian between busses, so we ate at a nice restaraunt there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

san sebast

Headed to san sebastian this morning; i'll be there and w/o internet for a week. (fyi if people email me between now and then...)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Un día de despedidas

This morning I went to the airport with Asad; he headed back to the states today.

Asad reorganizes his suitcase

After some studying, I met up in Retiro Park to say goodbye to my friend Melonie; she heads back home to Germany tomorrow.

Melonie and I

Then tonight I had my last English class with Pablo.


And now I'm off to cram what I can in the next two hours before bed.  Exam tomorrow morning!

Monday, June 21, 2010

rebe's word notebook: huelga

huelga = strike

The university had a strike one day earlier in June, so all the exams that day got moved to the 21st.  Oh wait, that's today.

So since the beginning of June there's been new graffiti all over the university, referencing the "huelga general".  (When people are protesting something here -- which it seems the students are always doing -- along with the posters throughout the buildings, people spray paint on the sides of buildings, staircases, cement benches, everything.  It's the norm, but kind of a shame since the buildings are so old and historic.

The reason I'm sharing this word today is because we just found out there will be another huelga - this time by the metro, June 28, 29, and 30.  We don't know yet if the entire metro will be closed down, or if they'll leave a few lines running, but very likely the whole thing could be closed those three days. 

Well, I'm off to the library - exam is Wednesday morning. Eek.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last day volunteering

This past Monday was my last day volunteering at the center.  Asad came along as well to bid everyone farewell, as he heads back to the states next Tuesday.

Volunteers: Marina, Asad, and I

Teaching some maths = fun!

And a few more pics from a couple of weeks ago:

I'm especially going to miss this one

Sunday, June 13, 2010

rebe's word notebook: una mano de pintura

In English, you add another coat of paint.  In Spanish, it's mano (which also means hand).

How did I learn this?

I spent yesterday afternoon painting the new apartment.  I may not have mentioned it yet on the blog, but my roommate Gregorio bought a new apartment a month or two ago.  He plans to be moved in by June 30, but there's lots of work to be done first (painting, cleaning, installing appliances, moving in all the furniture, etc...).  His mom's been here living with us for at least 3 weeks now, and their daily routine is as follows:

When Gregorio gets home from work in the morning, the two head over to the new apartment where they pass the day working.  Around 6 or 7pm, depending on when Gregorio works that night, he drops off his mom at our apartment, grabs his work clothes, and is out the door.  Works all night, then repeat.  I don't know when this man sleeps.

The pink walls we're painting white

Gregorio's mother and I 

Ángel (so tall!)

Zulie, Ángel's girlfriend


2 more manos to go!

Friday, June 11, 2010


That Saturday we spent in Sevilla, and Sunday afternoon I caught a 7 hr bus back to Madrid.

Things we saw in Sevilla:

 Third largest church in the world

(We actually did some wedding crashing that afternoon and snuck into a wedding in the cathedral.  What can I say, I had never been to a Spanish wedding before - why not?)

(another gorgeous Moorish palace)

 Torre del oro

Plaza de España

Procession in the street
(Because corpus christi was Thursday)

Gran Granada

Last Thursday-Sunday I spent a long weekend out of Madrid, in Granada and then Sevilla.

I went with a German friend of mine, Melanie, whom I met in Lisboa back in February.  On Thursday morning we took a bus from Madrid to Granada.  Our hostel there (White nest hostel) was wonderful.  The whole middle was an open patio without a roof, and with a great view of la Alhambra from the top floor:

"Patio"/commons room with the compys

Our 8-bed dorm room 

View of la Alhambra from our floor

The whole town was gorgeous.  

I now understand why everyone says you must go to Granada to see la Alhambra (Moorish palace and fortress constructed during the 14th century).  Thursday evening we had tickets to go see la Alhambra.   It was also neat to see because we had studied the palaces in our art class from the curso intensivo we had back in September.  A few pictures:

Palacio Nazaries

Palacio Nazaries

Palacio de Carlos V

 Jardín de Generalife

Patio de Generalife

View of la Alhambra from Generalife

Later that night walking around town, we stumbled upon a free flamenco show.  Apparently we had picked a good time to go to Granada - there was a festival until Sunday, and that's why there was the flamenco show.  It was actually the first flamenco I'd seen in Spain, and I rather enjoyed it.


The next day we walked through Albaicín, an area of Granada with narrow winding streets displaying its Medieval Moorish past.  At the top of a hill, there was a great look-out point.  We could see la Alhambra with the snow-covered mountains in the background.

Mel and I spent at least two hours up at this site.  Lied under the sol...

That evening we went to a couple different places for cañas and tapas, since she and I don't usually go out for tapas in Madrid.
That night we stumbled upon another flamenco show in the same plaza as the night before, so we sat down and stayed until the end.  

The next morning we headed off to Sevilla.  Granada is now, without a doubt, somewhere in my top 5 favorite cities I have visited this year.  The whole town was gorgeous, stuck in the past.  Green, green, green, with beautiful aged stone.

(And as always, you can see more photos on my shutterfly site.)