Week Prior to Amsterdam

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

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

After a fun-filled week and weekend, I was curious to see what this week would bring. Monday was pretty routine. Lots of class, solid workout, and return home by about 8:30 for La Cena. I can't recall what it was exactly, but it was delicious as usual. I hung out in the room for a couple hours, realizing that I spend entirely too much time on the internet on a daily basis. I decided to start a self-intervention. Less time on the Internet and hanging out in the room. Perhaps I will hang out with Maruja and Pedro a little more or pick a book more often. 3 days in it's not working that great yet, but time will tell.

Tuesday [St. Patrick's Day], however, did bring some activity outside of the apartment. I woke up around 11:30 and went to the Ernest Shackleton exhibit that is located in the Real Botanical Gardens somewhat near Parque del Retiro. The exhibit features majestic photography of a man named Frank Hurley who accompanied Antarctic Explorer Ernest Shackleton on his voyage to reach the South Pole circa 1915. I had read a book chronicling this expedition in one my classes, which obviously fueled my interest in checking out the pictures. Thus, knowing the story really allowed me to enjoy the pictures, which for 1915 or so were pretty darn good. After the exhibit, the 2 girls and I went to a Pasteleria called Mallorqa (bakery more or less) that also featured little sandwiches, delicious chocolate sweets, pinchas (small, bite-sized portions) of tortilla or a type of meat, and some other things. This is a very well known place so I felt "accomplished" that I hit it up. Across the street as well was a BAGEL place (with some other delicious treats as well). I have not had a bagel in a long time obviously and was curious about the Madrid version. They were a bit smaller, but still tasty and wholesome without question with cream cheese. Dios mio, do I sound Jewish. Albeit Tuesday night should have been filled with St. Paddy's day festivities, I didn't actually do very much since it's obviously not that big of a deal here. Nevertheless, I met my friend Pat's parents and we had a beer at Seco Cinco but that was about it.  

On Wednesday, I played my 1st live game of basketball since I arrived in Spain. Fortunately, I got to play with some Spanish guys. At first, I played a kid named Pablo one-on-one. I started off hot getting out to a 6-2 lead. However, the 5 pieces of pizza or so I ate about 30 minutes prior to this game were not sitting pretty in my stomach. I also haven't played live ball in a while so I was getting a little tired as well. I powered through and ended up winning 15-13. After a brief rest, I then started playing 2-on-2 with Pablo and 2 other kids, but our different styles of play made it a challenge, especially due to the language barrier. The kid I played with was a righty whose jump shot released from the left side of his body. Gross. We played for a while, and I couldn't get my shot going whatsoever. I wanted my guy to pick and roll with me but he just wanted to hoist crappy jump shots. Whatever, we lost by about 2 and I had about had it for the day. Nevertheless, it was fun to play with some Spanish kids and get some Spanish bball lingo as well.

Wednesday Night was another 21st birthday for one of the members of our program. She decided to hit up a place called Mint, which was a pretty cool, relatively small "DiscoPub" in Chueca. For a Wednesday night, this place was pretty packed with a younger crowd (18-25 maybe) of Spaniards soaking up the night. We stayed there for a while; I had actually met up with 3 Miami of Ohio girls, one of which I met briefly when I was in Barcelona. They only stayed for a little bit but the WashU crew held it down pretty good for a while.

Thursday was a holiday here so I did not have class, thus I woke up late in the afternoon once again. Jon and I decided to hit up another random park called Parque del Caprichio. It was on the far outskirts of Madrid for sure. We got the metro and it seemed like the quietest place in Spain. No cars, hardly any people, nothing. We continued to walk into the park, which had some nice gardens, small ponds, and flowers. We relaxed there for about 2 hours or so, taking in some sun and recovering from the night before. It was a pretty enjoyable afternoon followed by an early diner since we were getting up early to go to Amsterdam the next day. However, I was so excited/non-tired that I only got a couple hours of sleep prior to our 7am flight for which we had to wake up at 5 am. Should be a fun trip...
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