Monday, June 18, 2012

No blog love

Ok I'm going to be straight with you. I've kind of totally ignored this blog. I'm sorry, I have been finishing up the school year, winning frisbee tournaments, and getting ready to lead a summer camp in 2 weeks (yikes!). And Spain is playing the Eurocup sooooooo yeah it might be a while before my next post. But it will come, I promise! Stay tuned.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Castillo hunting in Castilla y Leon

When the novio suggested driving through Valladolid to drink wine and see castles before we went to a communion, I jumped at the offer. A weekend away from Madrid (that doesn't involve a frisbee) was just what the doctor ordered. I knew I would need some relaxation and wine drinking to prepare me for the massive quantity of familia I was about to meet on Sunday. 


The novio and I picked up our rental Minicooper (haha) on Friday and drove northward to Valladolid. Our first stop was Coca a small town between Madrid and Valladolid with surprise, surprise a castle. We stopped to take pictures, dar una vuelta (take a walk), and have a drink.


We stopped for the night in Pe├▒afiel a small town in the heart of the famous wine region Ribera del Duero. As we drove in, the impressive castle stood at the top a hill looking ominously over the city. 




In the morning we awoke to a rainy and cloudy day. The castle looked gloomy as we walked up to take the tour and check out the wine museum. I was excited to try some of the wines that Ribera del Duero offered and do a wine tasting with a sommelier. I will admit that I love drinking wine but I know nothing about it. 

Wine Museum

After a quick tour of the castle we headed down to try four regional wines. As the sommelier explained how to evaluate a wine through sight, smell, and taste, Alberto and I did our best to not look too tonto when she asked us what aromas we detected. 
Penafiel
The oldest Plaza Mayor in Spain!!!


Next we moved onto Medina del Campo which had another castle (are you sensing a trend here?) We passed on the 2 hour tour and walked around to take some pictures. 

We moved on to our penultimate town of the day Simancas that had a wait for it....a castle! But my favorite part was the historic bridge crossing over the rio Duero
Simancas



To finish up our trip through Vallodolid, we stopped for the night in Tordesillas to check out their claim to fame, the Treaty of Tordesillas. The treaty established a line dividing Spain and Portugal for colonization purposes. 
Isabel la Catolica overlooking the city
Although its not the most well know region in Spain, Valladolid is an amazing province to spend a relaxing weekend drinking wine and seeing castles. What could be better?

Have you every been to Valladolid? What were your thoughts? Any recommended sites?

Friday, May 11, 2012

San Isidro: Madrid's Holiday

Although I won't have a holiday this year (thanks to not working in the city), Madrid will be celebrating its annual fiestas, San Isidro on May 15. Its not the most well known celebrations in Spain in comparison to San Fermines in Pamplona and Las Fallas in Valencia, but if you live in Madrid it's definitely worth checking out! Here are some ideas for ways to celebrate:


1. Eat the traditional pastry rosquillas: This pastry, similar to a doughnut, comes in 2 forms tontas (silly) and listas (smart). The tontas are plain while the listas are covered in a sugary glaze. Yum!


2. Go see a bullfight: Although people ask me about them all the time, I've actually never seen a bullfight. They just don't really appeal to me, but maybe this year I'll change that. The bullfighting season officially starts during the fiestas. 


3. Peruse Spanish goodies at the Pradera: In the main grounds of the San Isidro celebrations roam around women and men dressed as chulapos and chulapas. There are lots of stalls to buy food as well as live music. Many people go to spend the day, see the Santo Hermitage, and eat rosquillas!
Chulapos y chulapas
La Pradera: Madrid's party grounds
4. Protest in Puerta del Sol: Madrid's holiday also coincides with the one year anniversary of 15 M, a massive protest over the lack of jobs and general frustration about the economy here in Spain. Thousands of people took over Puerta de Sol (Madrid's center) and camped there for months. 15 M inspired many similar protests and camp outs all over Spain. 

Felices Fiestas!






Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pobre Spain

When I saw my blogger friend Kaley's facebook post on the announcement of Spain's Olympic attire, I excitedly clicked to see what traje the athletes would be wearing in the opening ceremonies. My mouth dropped in shock and slight horror when I saw the picture. 

Whaaaaaaaaat? Ok lets address the first glaring problem...these are pretty much hideous. In my opinion, Spanish people dress quite well and (also in my opinion) these uniforms are tacky and look cheap. I mean you are presenting your country's best athletes to the entire world, shouldn't they look good? These just don't make cut and the material looks kind of like something you would see at the Sunday market El Rastro in Madrid. Yikes. 


As I was reading the article I found out that the company contracted to make these uniforms is an italian-russian company called Bosco. Hmmm that's strange. The article commented that most countries try to pick a designer from their country, you know for like national pride. What's the deal-io Spain? The article did not state a reason for why Spain did not choose a Spanish designer but the fashion community is not happy about it. And I have to say I agree with them. The Olympics is about having pride in your country and choosing a designer that isn't from there for the Olympics doesn't seem to show a whole lot of it. In this time of crisis, Spain should show that Spanish products and designers are valuable and that they take pride in them. Get in the spirit of the games Spain!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Solo-traveling: It's all Greek to me

I boarded the plane taking a deep breath. The group of four friends behind me were chattering excitedly about all the Greek food they wanted to try and their ferry schedule. I secretly envied them...what the hell was I thinking going on a week long trip alone??? Sure I had gone for a weekend in Belgium by myself but that was 3 days. This was a 6 day long vacation with a loooooot of me time. And you know how getting lost on the way to your hostel or not being able to find the metro is funny when your with friends well when you're alone it just seems stressful. But as I stepped off the plane in Athens I tried to view the whole thing as an adventure. I can do this I told myself, faking confidence I didn't feel as I strode toward the metro. 


I showed up to my hostel and the helpful receptionist told me I had a free drink at the hostel bar. While I was hesitant about going to a bar alone I decided to dive right in and see what happened. At 3 AM I was dancing like a loca at a club with my new found friends from the bar. This traveling alone thing might not be so bad after all. 

The next day I was up bright and early (with somewhat of a headache) to do a walking tour offered by our hostel. I made a conscious effort to talk to almost everyone who was on the tour and ended up meeting 2 girls to spend the rest of the day with. As I talked to more and more people the less weird it became, sometimes I forgot I was even traveling alone. As soon as I had met some people in Athens...it was off to Santorini!


I was a little worried when I got to my hostel in Santorini, there seemed to be no one around. I talked to the owners and they said this was the low season with less travelers and places open. Great...I thought, 4 days alone in one of the most romantic/beautiful places on earth. However, I tried to keep positive and tell myself that I would meet people. The first day I spent wandering around the capital of the islands, Fira. As I got back to my hostel I notice a group of students in the lounge. Cue my opening travel line "Sooooo where are y'all from?" Works like charm. I ended up going out for dinner and drinks with the group of Americans who went to college in Canada but were studying in Barcelona. So far so good in Santorini.


The next I woke up and decided I wanted to rent an ATV to see the island. That was the best part of traveling alone, I got to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. No consulting everyone in the group's opinion and being angry at the one person that doesn't want to eat at the restaurant you found or museum you want to see. It was great. I picked up my ATV and started driving to see the black beaches. Driving the ATV was probably oneof the most fun things I did on the trip. While driving along the island, I pulled over to take some pictures. Just as I had stopped 2 guys came roaring into the same area and rolled up to take pictures as well. As I asked them to take my picture, I struck up a conversation about where they were from (Canada) and found out they were headed to the Red Beach just like me. And so a travel friendship/ATV gang began. We missed the turn to go to the beach and headed to the light house instead, celebrating another beautiful sunset with a beer. 
The next 3 days I met up with my new friends Blake and Matt to go the Red Beach, try some of the local brew Yellow Donkey, visit the volcano and have some laughs. While I didn't even get their email or last names, they made my trip to Santorini really memorable in an unexpected way. I proved to myself that I could travel byself and have a great time, pushing myself to meet new people. In the end I realized how many people I had met by being alone, something I would have never done in a group of friends. Maybe I won't have a trip to look back on and laugh about with my friends, but I made my own memories and stories. Just for me. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Greece

Yassas y'all! (that's hello in Greek) Although CNN might tell you differently I had a great and relaxing trip to Athens and Santorini last week! I don't have time to write about it right now (school starts tomorrow eek!) but I'll put up some of my favorite pictures for now!
















Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spain goes on strike and I'm going...

On vacation! Tomorrow Spain will go from its usual slowness to a full stop with a general strike to protest the newly proposed budget. Spain's President, Mariano Rajoy, has proposed to cut the budget 40 billion euros this year. No wonder people aren't happy. However I am pretty excited because we finally have some vacation! Semana Santa starts Friday and I'm going to a place that's been on the top of my travel list for a while now. I'll give you some hints and maybe you can guess where I'm going!


I'll be eating the Mediterranean diet but it will look a little different.

I'll be surrounded by ancient history.
And I'll be viewing sunsets like this:
Can't wait!!!