Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Saturday night a couple friends and I went to a little party at a really nice flat in the city.
Somehow we managed to get up on Sunday and venture out to the train station. We bought tickets to Cercadilla which is out towards the mountains in search of snow. Well we hit the jackpot. I was so giddy, like a little kid when I saw the first trace of it. But it was only a preview of what was to come.....
P.S. 6 more days till I leave for Italy!!! What did you ask Santa to bring you for Christmas??
Monday, December 8, 2008
She did not know we had planned any of this and after we went to see the movie "Body of Lies" we took her on the metro where I blind folded her and told her we were taking her to a "surprise restaurant" for her last dinner out with us girls.
It was really fun and she was a great sport and stayed blind folded all the way from the metro, on the street and all the way to Jessies apartment where everyone was waiting to surprise her. What a success :)
This Saturday we went to a city called Chincon, 45km southeast of Madrid. It is an elegant little town, with a fifteenth-century castle and a famous Plaza Mayor. Not really much else to say about it...just look at the pics :)
After Chincon we came back to Madrid and saw 007 Quantum of Solace. Which was a great action film...but I was lost on the plot. In Madrid they are pretty festive for the holidays. I saw many people wearing red Christmas hats and reindeer hats. They also decorate the streets with lights. Unlike the States where we mostly decorate the buildings and trees, they string lights over the streets and have other beautiful decorations.
Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! I miss all the wonderful things about home and Christmas. The list is long but here are a few things I miss: Christmas lights on houses, the Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes, eggnog, Ugly Sweater Christmas parties, the Salvation Army bell ringers(believe it or not), Santa hats, Christmas movies on TV, crowded malls(I know I am strange), Santa Clause, winter ice skating, christmas music, my Moms and Grandmas cookies and candies and most of all family and friends to share the holidays with! Thank goodness I will be in Italy, otherwise I would be sitting around feeling very homesick. XOXO
Monday, November 24, 2008
What a fun weekend. I am so happy we were able to get away for a whole weekend and not just a day. Salamanca was so much fun and full of young people since it is a University town. The night life was spectacular as well which was the main reason we visited. Our youth hostel was a bit farther away from the city center than we thought but luckily was right on the bus line. I was impressed with the hostel. It was nice, clean, comfortable and cheap. I paid 14 Euros!
There were six of us Au Pairs. We hopped on the train Saturday at 11 and arrived in Salamanca around 2 in the afternoon. After walking around the city and having lunch we ventured to our hostel where we could drop of our bags, rest and freshen up. Then off to have dinner and go out on the town. We had a great time and met some people from Belgium who had studied in Salamanca the year before, so they were able to show us around and take us to the bars with the best deals.
Salamanca is also famous for "la rana de suerte", the lucky frog. As you enter the entrance to Salamanca University (Universidad Civil) you'll see the enormous facade dominated by the Catholic Monarchs in the center and all kinds of floral designs and skulls around them.
But can you spot the frog?
It is said that if you can spot the frog without any help you'll enjoy good luck and will marry within a year. (Too bad I had help finding the frog ha!)
So with Thanksgiving coming up, (which is obviously not celebrated here in Spain) I have decided to make a green bean casserole and a pumpkin pie for my host family. I am excited to have some good ol' American food! My friends and I are also having our own Thanksgiving dinner Saturday night at our friends apartment. We will each make a bring something. American food here I come!!!
Oh and some great news! The kids(especially Julia) have taken a great liking to me. Mar, my host Mom says that when she picks the kids up in the evening they are always asking about me, telling her they love me and want to see me. All of the sudden I am getting hugs a kisses in abundance. It's a great feeling and makes my job ten times easier! I actually am quite happy here now, but I am counting the days down until Italy!
Monday, November 17, 2008
This weekend I visited Ávila which is located slightly NW of Madrid. It was about an hour and twenty minutes by train. The cool thing about Ávila is the fortress wall surrounding the city. These protective walls were built in the 12th century. Extending for 2,500 meters (8202 ft.) and encircling the old town, the massive walls are punctuated by ninety, heavily fortified stone towers. The things I have been seeing in all the places I have visited I thought only existed in fairy tales and movies. But behold, this weekend I was walking on a stone fortress wall!
We also visited a very cute restaurant located right near a small river where we had Zumo de uvas(grapejuice that was yellow and VERY good!) and free tapas.
Then when it was time to head back to Madrid we ended up catching the wrong train(but on the right route) and we had to sit in the corridor of the train! UGH! But we made if to Madrid in one piece.
Sunday we visited two Au Pair friends who live about 40 mins outside of Madrid by train. It is a town called Alcala de Henares and it is a University town. There were many young people and many Spanish families who also had come to visit for the day. I don't have pictures uploaded yet but will post them as soon as I do. Another really cool thing were the numerous Storks who had HUGE nests settled up top of the old buildings. They were everywhere and very beautiful.
Some funny things I have thought of about my life in Madrid:
1) I have not paid a bill in almost two months! (Because I don't have any:)
2) I have not driven a car in almost two months! (walking a lot!)
3) I don't have to balance my checkbook every week because I have not been using my saved money! (yay!) Which has also saved me a lot of stress!
In conclusion: less stress and less hustle and bustle!
Great things I know I need to appreciate while I am here! :)
Monday, November 10, 2008
This weekend was a great adventure and we didn't even leave the city. I think I had the most fun this weekend than any other. It was spent with my friends exploring new things Madrid has to offer.
Friday night my friend Leah and I were craving a little American culture, so what better way to satisfy our craving than to go to The Hard Rock Cafe! We arrived there around 9:30pm and there was a 1hr20min wait. No Problem! We ventured to another restaurant to grab a drink and appetizer then went back.
The Hard Rock was so fun(and loud!). I love music and they were playing all the top 40 hits with music videos on all the TV's. I ordered a veggie burger with a salad. We were so happy because sitting on the table were French's mustard and Heinz ketchup...and the best thing yet, they had ranch salad dressing! An example of little things taken for granted in the states!
Saturday I slept in, YAY!! I met with my friend Anne-Mari and we went to Casa de Campo. The Casa de Campo is a large urban park situated west of central Madrid. It was formerly a royal hunting estate.
From the city side we took the gondola over to the park. It was a beautiful day, perfect for great views! My friend Anne-Mari had three free tickets to the Parque de Atracciones(amusement park). So our friend Tina met us there where we relived our childhood. We went on a big roller coaster, the ferris wheel, another kiddie ride and even shared Algodon de azucar(cotton candy). I have not laughed so hard in such a long time. I think its important to let go and be a kid again!
That night I met with some other girlfriends and we hit the town, venturing with my friend Dee who lives here in Madrid. We had a great time and as usual, my Spanish got better with every beverage(or so I think it did!).
Sunday we had a picnic at Retiro park. It was such a beautiful weekend and I could not believe we were able to have a picnic in November!
Now of coarse I am suffering from the Monday blues! But soon it will be the weekend again, thank GOD!
Monday, November 3, 2008
This weekend was great. I live for the weekends when I can escape and frolic with my fellow Au Pairs :) We have so much fun together and it is amazing how we all get along so well.
Saturday we all got up bright and early to meet and catch an 8:50 am train to Ceunca. Cuenca is 100 miles east of Madrid. It was a 2-1/2 hour train ride. Cuenca is more famously known as the Eagles Nest due to its position - atop a hill. The city is separated by a mysteriously large rock where the Huecar and Jucar Rivers meet.
Originally resided by the Arabs, this provincial city is divided into two obvious parts - the modern and the old part. Obviously, the modern part of Cuenca includes new residences, apartments and tower blocks. On the other hand, the old part is considered one of the most magnificent cities of Spain.
When we exited the train station we were put into the modern part of the city and we were all thinking "this is it? We can see this stuff in Madrid!". But thankfully we found a tourism booth and the guy gave a us a map and directed us to the "old" part of Cuenca.
We all agreed that so far Cuenca is our favorite place. It sits up high so the views are amazing! There are "hanging houses" that are built right on top of the cliff, like an extension. Amazing but I don't know if I would want to live in one!
Sunday I met with (ready for this?) My Grandfathers neighbors granddaughter. The day before I left for Spain I attended my Grandparents 50Th wedding anniversary where I met their neighbor Tom. He found out I was going to Madrid and insisted I contact his granddaughter who lives in Madrid. Her father is Toms son. So yesterday I met Lola and we went shopping, had lunch and spent the whole afternoon walking around the city. It was great and we got a long very well. It's exciting to have Spanish friends. I practiced my Spanish with her a bit but we mostly spoke English.
All in all a great weekend!
They are fun most of the time but like any children they have their moments. Julia is 4 and can be very loving and can also be a little mean to her brother. Pepe is two and a half and like most kids his age he is very busy! They both WHINE a lot!! I am used to parents not allowing their children to whine but here they let them. It really attacks my eardrums!! But they also have moments where you wanna grab them and kiss them! They love to be tickled and have the cutest laughs. There are more good moments than not!
My schedule with the kids is like this:
8am- Wake up Julia, take her to the living room and put on a cartoon for her. That way she is distracted and wont protest what clothes I put on her. Then I give her a bottle(yes she still drinks milk from a bottle) with milk and some ground cereal mixture and a touch of Nesquik chocolate mix.
8:30- Off she goes with her father and I am left with a screaming Pepe "Papi, Papi!!!"
He calms down quickly thankfully.
8:30-1pm- Pepe and I hang out. Depending on the weather we either get outside, go to the park, play with toys inside or watch Thomas the Train, his favorite.
I am free from 1pm till about 7:30.
7:30-9-Bath(every other night) and help the parents feed them dinner.
I enjoy my time with the kids but I have come to the realization that when I come back to Seattle it is time to find a new career. I feel my candle of patience burnt out a long time ago and I don't enjoy taking care of kids as much as I used to. Don't get me wrong, its a great job but after taking care of kids for over 15 yrs I feel in order to gain back a desire to have my own children I need to take a break!
So I will enjoy my time here with the kiddos knowing that they will be my last charges for a time to come. It is bittersweet I know.
Friday, October 31, 2008
I then began experiencing extreme mood swings and home sickness. One day I would be so happy and enthusiastic and the next I would feel empty and sad and long for the comforts of home.
But luckily that has all passed and I am looking positively forward to whats to come.
I have made quite a few new friends here. All from different countries as far as Montreal QC, Sweden, Finland, Germany, UK and of coarse America. We have taken advantage of each weekend and ventured away from the city to see other villages and monuments. I love the weekends!
So far I have visited El Escorial, Valle de los Caidos, Segovia, and many sites in Madrid. This weekend we are venturing out to Cuenca. It is to the east of Madrid and two and a half hours away by train! Bring it on!
P.S. Happy Halloween!
Monday, October 20, 2008
So...I need to get over that because I am in Spain for goodness sake!!! Enough of that. Let me tell you about Segovia!
Saturday, five of us went on the train to Segovia, a gorgeous ancient city.
It is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. The castle alone made me feel like I was in a fairy tale. Apparently it was this castle that inspired Walt Disney. Looking at the picture you will see what I mean. We toured the inside of the castle and also got to climb the tower to the top. It was 157 seven steps up a small stone spiral stair case.
Also posted are pictures of the Roman Aqueduct built over 2000 years ago and a picture of the Cathedral. It is awe inspiring!!
Yesterday my friend Anne and I went shopping for clothes. There is an H & M here which is mostly where I bought all my findings. Later that night we met a friend at and Irish bar called Dubliners. We ate dinner and watched American Football!! I was very excited :)
Also Friday night I finally got to try Spains famous Churros and Hot Chocolate at Chocolateria San Gines, rumored the best in Madrid!
I finally start some more Spanish classes tomorrow(Tuesday). The classes are Tuesday and Thursdays from 5-7 pm. I cannot wait to get started. I know it will be a big help...so much for all the Spanish I took in high school and college. I don't know what happened?!?!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
What have I accomplished in these two weeks? Let's see...
I have mastered the Metro system, signed up for Spanish classes that cost
more than I wanted to spend but will be worth it hopefully. I have made a few friends
and have had a couple social outings, I have adjusted to the time difference.
I am starting to get used to "Spain Spanish".(Much different from "Mexico Spanish") In fact yesterday someone called for Alvaro(the host Dad) and I was able to communicate and supply the caller with Alvaros mobile #. That felt pretty good I must say.
I am going to meet a guy named Gerardo who wants to do a language exchange. I am looking forward to
it because I definitely need the practice. Also tomorrow I am meeting with Choosas(Alvaros sister-in-law) brother, Ignacio, for an exchange. Hopefully these exchanges will give me a grasp on communicating without getting all nervous about it.
Today is my first day of actually feeling homesick. I thought I would not get like that but it could be the fact that I am home doing nothing and I am going to start my period in a few days, or maybe I am just missing home. Probably all of the above!
Tomorrow is a national holiday here. I am not sure which one I will have to ask. But there is supposed to be a festival in the city. It may rain so we may not go, we'll see.
I just Skyped with my Mom and when Emily comes over in a bit I will Skype with the both of them. That will be good!
Off I go!
My first outing away from Madrid at El Escorial in San Lorenzo.
October 11, 2008 8:39am(Seattle time)Saturday Madrid Spain(5:39pm)
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sept 30th 10ish am Frankfurt
Thank God the long haul is over. Ten hours on a plane is not fun especially when I cannot seem to fall asleep in the sitting position. I watched three movies: Made of Honor, Leatherheads and ...can't seem to remember the third. Must have been a good one!
I am craving a nice warm bed. This time change thing is going to be tricky at first. I was weird having breakfast served on the plane when in my head it's ten p.m. It didn't help that the lady sitting behind me couldn't stop talking and loud enough to let everyone know her business. I felt bad for the poor guy sitting next to her whom she kept blabbing to.
The girl sitting next to me reminded me of Emily because she twirled her hair for the duration on the whole flight! I am not kidding. She only got up once in the ten hours and the rest of the time she was reading a book and twirling away. Sometimes with two hands and only the hair on top of her head so her hands were elevated above her head the whole time. Talk about OCD!
So now I am sitting here in the airport and my flight does not leave for another three hours. My stomach has been bloated and I have had bad gas pains for a few hours now and I can guess it's from the Mexican food I had with Mom in Seattle.
So now what? I want to sleep but the Frankfurt airport has all hard floors, no carpet :(
I want to lie down!
It will be hell getting to Madrid on no sleep and having to be all chipper and such. I wonder if they would mind if I go to bed for the first few days! ha!