Saturday, May 16, 2009

Paella de Despedida

This afternoon Patricia had us all over to her house for a Paella de Despedida. Her husband Jose made a giant paella and Patricia made a smaller one for people with allergies to seafood! It was so much food, but so delicious, and a great way to say goodbye to Madrid! But I am already thinking of how I can come back! There is a program through the Spanish Consulate where you can apply to be a Language and Cultural Assistant, so I might be looking into doing that next year after graduation... :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fiestas de San Isidro

Today is the Fiesta of San Isidro el Labrador, the patron saint of Madrid. All the madrileños were dressed in the traditional chulapo and chulapa costumes--even the little kids! So adorable! There was a carnival-type fair with lots of rides and attractions, dancing in parks and gardens around the city, joke-telling in the streets, theatrical performances, music and so much more! I just went to the carnival, which was incredible in itself! It is held in San Isidro Park, yes, there is an entire park devoted to this day! The park was filled with people picnicing, botelloning and just enjoying the beautiful day. It was so neat to see the traditional dress and I even got to take a picture with a chulapo couple!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Despedidas begin... :(

Today was my last day of finals, so now I am officially done "studying" abroad, now I can just have fun abroad! I am sooooo happy to be done! These last few days have been pretty stressful, trying to balance spending time with friends that I might not see again for a long time and studying...and sacrificing sleep! So it is such a weight off my shoulders to be done! Today, between my two finals, we had a Despedida Copa with all the students from the Course of Hispanic Studies and the professors. It was so nice to have a chance to talk to the professors and thank them for a wonderful semester (and of course the food and wine was great too!) Then, after my last exam Riccardo was waiting for me with a flower to celebrate the end of my exams! How sweet! Then we went together to the inaguration of the San Isidro festivities: a parade of Gigantes y cabezudos (giants and large-headed figures), it was short, but really cool! Then we headed to 100 Montiditos for euro drinks and mini-sandwiches! What a perfect day! :)

Kara, Sara and I with Mónica, our Lengua professor

Me and Fátima, my professor of Español Coloquial

San Isidro!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Carrera de la Mujer! A 6K run for cancer!

Today I ran the Carrera de la mujer, a 6 kilometer run to fight women's cancers. We were a little late registering for the run, so we didn't get a shirt, a backpack, or any of the goodies, but Gema gave me her shirt from last year, so at least I have something to remember it by! So I ran with Gema, my younger sister, Beatrice and her friend, and 15,000 other women! There were even men dressed up as women, with dresses and wigs! It was such a fun environment and all for a great cause! The princess of Spain was even there to start the race off! After 50 minutes of running, there was an aerobics festival where we did aerobics, latin dancing, and kickboxing! It was fun, but a little crowded with 15,000 of us! But it was a great experience, one of my best in Madrid!

Monday, May 4, 2009

¡Feliz cumpleaños Sara!

Today was Sara's 21st birthday, so her host mom invited all of us over to her house for a little dinner party! It was so nice! Normally we can't go over to eachother's houses because they are really small and it's one of the rules of the program that you're not supposed to, so it was so nice for her to host a party at her house! She made all kinds of great food and we had 3 desserts: a cake, arroz con leche, and brownies! It was so fun, but now I'm stuffed...and I have a paper to finish for tomorrow!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Día de la Madre

Today is Mother's Day here in Spain, so I after the Rastro this morning I bought a boquet of red daisies for Gema and I gave her a little card. When she was reading the card, she started tearing up a little bit, which made me start tearing up...all I know is that when I leave in a few weeks, it will be more than tearing up! I am going to cry so much! I love my family here, I really feel like Gema is a second mother to me and it's going to be hard to say goodbye. But at least I know that if (and when) I come back to Madrid, I have family here :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Puente de Mayo en Salamanca!

Yesderday was Labor Day here in Spain, so it's a three day weekend, the famous puente de mayo! I didn't want to take a big trip because EVERYONE in Madrid is traveling this weekend, so I thought a daytrip somewhere close to Madrid would be nice. Hannah, Sondee and I took a train to Salmanca, the great university city, in the comunidad autónoma of Castilla & León. Our train left at 11 am, so we got to Salamanca around was a lot farther than I was expecting!

Once we got there we headed for the Plaza Mayor, one of Spain's largest and grandest! All around the Plaza are arches with faces of kings, authors, and other famous people, and the Royal Pavillion on the east side is decorated with a bust of Felipe V, who built the square. We found the head of Cervantes! I really liked the Plaza Mayor because it really was a central meeting poing and the heart of Salamanca. There were tons of people sitting on the ground, eating lunch, talking, sun bathing, kids playing, it was so alive!
After Plaza Mayor, we were getting hungry, so we walked and found a little restaurant with tables on the sidewalk. Sondee and I ordered the plato tipico de Salamanca, huevos con farinato (two fried eggs, spicy beans and a breaded meat). It was pretty good, but so much food! After lunch, we headed to the Catedral Vieja and the Catedral Nueva. During a restoration of the catedral in 1993, one of the "creative" workers decided to put an astronaut along with a few other interesting characters on the side of the puerta principal. At the time, a lot of the citizens of Salamanca were not happy, but now it's funny.

After the Catedrals, we walked past the Casa de las Conchas, "House of Shells", a mansion of the knight Rodrigo Arias Maldonado. The golden stone scallop shells that cover the walls are a symbol of the Order of Santiago.

After the Casa de las Conchas, we took a tour of the Universidad Pontificia, the private university that we thought was the University of 4 euros and thirty minutes later, we left and found the real University, which was "en obras" and closed! But we saw the elaborate facade and the . This university was founded by Alfonso XI, of León in 1218, making it the oldest in Spain. Miguel de Unamuno studied there as well as Miguel de Cervantes, so it was really neat to see it, even if it was only the door! The building's façade is decorated with numerous figures, one of them being the famous ¨frog on a skull¨, which isn't easy to find as there are numerous small figures, but according to local tradition academic success is guaranteed if found, so I guess I will have luck for my finals in a few weeks! :)
After the University, as we were walking down to the Puente Romano, the Roman bridge across the Rio Tormes, built in the 1st century AD, we saw a wedding! It was absolutely gorgeous! I took a few pictures sneakily and decided that I want to have a wedding like this! :)

After the Puente Romano, we had to get back to catch the train! It was a short time, but I'm glad we went! We finally got to see the famous University and the Plaza Mayor!