Another Great Week in Madrid: March 10-15

Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
Trip End Jun 07, 2009

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

So I have basically had constant visitors for the past 2 weeks as my mom and brother, Eric Speigel and now childhood friend Jenny and her 2 friends Lindsay and Sarah decided to see what Madrid has to offer. Monday was routine for me, as my 6.5 hours of class obviously took up my time. Jenny went to a Flamenca show so I had just planned on seeing her the next day. As such, I woke up around noon and ended up meeting Jenny near Gran Via. We walked around that area, checking out Sol, Plaza Mayor, and Chueca. We actually ate in a delicious Mexican restaurant (forget the name) but we shared some nachos with guacamole, make-your-own cheese quesadillas, and chicken fajitas.

I went to class later that day, and planned to meet up with Jenny that evening. I met up with her as well as a few other high school friends and we went to a bar called Chocita Sueca where I had gone for my birthday-good place with cheaps drinks, relatively American atmosphere. We went there for a while, and Jenny wanted to go to a club, but I quickly discouraged her from that as a Tuesday night at a club is nothing to rave about (literally). Instead, we made our way to Cave Bar where I met up with Doogan, who was in great shape at the time, and some of his UF buddies. The Cave Bar literally looks like a cave inside and is a fun atmosphere, usually packed with half-Spanish, half-American crowds. We hung out there for a while and finally it was time to leave. Jenny and her friends all had to go to Sol and took a cab there. But that didn't too much for me as I had to get to Pacífico, which was much further away, and I didn't want to pay for another cab. As a result, I went to Doogan's place where I crashed in his roommate's bed (who was out of town) for a couple hours and took the metro home early in the morning before going to class. I would have been REALLY tired except for the coffee here is so strong that it's basically equivalent to popping a 54 mg Aderol prior to starting your day.

Albeit a short night of sleep, I made it through my 2 classes at school and went home to relax the rest of the day. After eating another delicious dinner, perhaps my favorite dish (rice, 2 fried eggs, and salsa brava (kinda of life tomato sauce-you mix it all together)), I was ready to go meet up with Jenny and others. We went to El Tigre, which is well-known bar here where college-aged kids go to get cheap drinks and free delicious tapas. We got some ham on a piece of bread with cheese, as well as some home fries (potatoes) with ketchup. Simple, but very good. After a couple hours there, I was once agained determined to take the bus home. I walked about 10 minutes from Sol to the Plaza, waited about another 10 minutes for the bus to leave, and another 15 on the bus before arrived home again at Játiva relatively late.

Thursday was a tough day to get through since I didn't take my Wake-The-%$#@-Coffee in the morning. I figured I could sit through my class without sleeping, but that was not the case. Throughout the 2 hours, I had my head on my hand, doing the dozing thing, where you can't even control your sinking head as it almost slams into the desk in front you. We watched a 4-minute video clip, but I couldn't tell you one thing that happened b/c I was practically asleep. We had a substitute teacher on this day, and she literally talked for 2 hours straight, giving us way too much information for our liking.

I made it through the class and took a bus to the other campus to meet Jacobo #2. I think I neglected to put this in my previous blog entry. Our program director told us that there was a student interested in doing an exchange program, I guess you could call it, where an American student meets with a Spanish student at our school here, and each get to respectively practice their English and Spanish. I was for sure interested especially since the kids name was also Jacobo. I almost felt compelled to do it simply because he had the same name as me. I met up with him once last week, and albeit a little awkward at times (silence ensued), we talked about cultural and linguistic differences between the U.S. and Spain, what he likes to do, study, etc; It seems like he is somewhat of an empollón (nerd) since he didn't really have any recommendations for me while in Madrid, nor did he like to get out whatsoever. He lives in the outskirts of the city, and probably has a long commute to school everyday. Regardless, at time he talked very fast, but I was able to get the gist of what he saying. Towards the end of our 40-minute conversation, he began to correct my Spanish, which I appreciated. We then proceeded to talk in English, and in all honesty, his English was pretty good. The accent (or lack thereof) almost too hard to not laugh off, but I bottled it up.  The second time around was much less awkward and definitely more enjoyable. I traveled to the other Carlos III campus to meet up with Jacobo #2. We each got a sandwich, and proceeded to talk for about an hour, conversations ranging from cultural differences once again, vulgar tabu words both in English and Spanish, and ways in which I could improve my Spanish. I was very appreciative once again to Jacobo and thanked him, and hoped to meet up with him again next week.

Thursday night was decent for the most part. First, we wandered out to Huertas, which supposedly has some good bars. However, on our way out there, Eric and I randomly encountered 2 of the Dutch girls we had met in Granada. Madrid is a city of 4 million inhabitants, and to find 2 Dutch girls that we met 2 months ago was pretty absurd if you ask me. We went to one Irish-esque (ish) pub for a little bit with them and had a beer. After that, we went out to Tribunal area to explore some other bars. I met up with Doogan at the metro stop, and he rolled with us for a few. We hit up a couple bars, the first one being very crowded and pretty uncomfortable. The next wasn't too bad, but the overall vibe for the night wasn't too high. It was nice to hit up a couple different bars, but not many people were looking to go too crazy, minus Doogan. 4 of us from Játiva (my apartment building) shared a cab back and called it a night by about 3am.

Friday morning was of course actually non-existent because I did not wake up until about 2:30pm. It's just SO nice that I don't have class on Friday so I take full advantage of the sleep I missed out on throughout the week. I got a little lunch from the 'Montaditos' place (Little Sandwiches) down the street, which was cheap, delicious, and convenient. A little bit after lunch, I decided to embrace the 65-70 degree, perfectly sunny weather that radiated throughout the city. Clad in shorts and a tank-top, I decided to take a run into Parque del Retiro. I took my usual route, only this time I absurdly encountered the 2 Dutch girls from yesterday in the park! We talked about how random it was that I saw them AGAIN, and we would perhaps meet up later.

That night, I met up with Doogan and met some of his friends at a hookah bar that went to UF. It proved to be a little crowded, but talked with some dude from Jamaica and then a couple guys with whom I played Jewish Geography (as well as Name That Jew From WashU as I call it). After only a little while there, Doogan and I took a cab to Sol and then went to a DiscoPub called Sol y Sombra. It was packed with an international crowd of American, Spanish, French, young and middle-aged people. I had been there a week prior but this time I found particularly more difficult to talk to Spanish people, mainly women, for whatever reason. Either I was struggling to say the right things in Spanish, or the Spanish women truly have disdain for American men. Either way, Doogan and I had a decent time, and I decided to go to San Jinés Chocolatería, which features Churros with a cup full of melted, sizzling, and oozing dark chocolate. Doog and I shared some churros at this famous establishment right in the heart of Sol. However, we did happen to catch a glimpse of one of my girl friends on the program, Alex Farber. As it turns out, she was chilling downstairs with many of the other Pi Phi girls from WashU who were visiting for the weekend. We caught up a little bit and shared some delicious warm churros with chocolate. I probably ate around 8 of them.  I eventually walked towards the Night Bus that took me close to home. However, I realized I that I did NOT have my keys with me. Not good...Luckily, the all-night security guard let me into the building. Even luckier, I called Millis and he answered on second call and he let me in the door. If he had not answered, I would had to ring the doorbell in the wee hours of the morning and that was the last thing I wanted to for the family and a dog who barks like a yelping Dachshund.

I woke up Saturday not wanting to break the lost-key news to Maruja. However, I got the courage to tell her, but she assured me it wasn't a big deal and handed me another set of keys. After that, we ate a delicious lunch of Lentils with Rice (and bread) and 2 pieces of lomo (different but delicious part of the pig) and French fries. After lunch, Millis and I ventured to Plaza de Espana and Parque del Oeste where we viewed the Temple Debod. This temple was shipped over from Egypt stone by stone in the 4th century. It now rests in this beautiful, smaller park that overlooks some of the Madrid countryside as well as the Palacio Real. I intended to do some reading in the park, but I read about 4 pages and then simply proceeded to fall asleep in the sun for about 2 hours. That's what I preferred anyway-to pass out, take in a little sun, and jam out to some to Widespread Panic on my iPod. I think that's much better than reading about Francisco Franco the horrible Spanish dictator that he was for almost 40 years.  But overall, it was an absolutely gorgeous day, radiating with sun and an overall happy atmosphere.

That night, Pat and I met up with the Dutch girls in Sol. We enjoyed some cheap pitchers of Sangria in a small, local bar in Sol.  After that, I met up with some high school friends again at  bar or two, and it was nice to see them and reminisce once again. We walked around aimlessly a little more, but eventually made our way to the Night Bus stop and safely made home in the wee hours of the morning. What a life.

I realize this blog entry is extensive since it covers a weeks worth of events. Hope it isn't too grueling to read or boring in terms of content. I'll post some pictures to keep your interest.

Loving life here in always...

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