Blog

Yala!!!!

This is my blog REVIVAL

Ah! Long time, no see. I am so excited to be blogging again! What’s the occasion you may ask? Well, I have just returned from a crazy, amazing adventure and am feeling ~inspired~! I went on Birthright which is a 10 day trip to Israel which is pretty cool in of itself but it gets better- this trip costs about $3,000 per person but all expenses are paid aka it’s free!!! Pretty incredible, right? Through donors and donations, this has been made possible for 18 years and many more to come. After 10 wonderful days in the Holy Land, my travels took me to Europe (more specifically- Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Santorini)! I know this all sounds too good to be true and you are probably thinking it can’t possibly get any better than this. But wait, it does. My best friend and partner in crime did it all with me. So yeah, life is pretty good right now!

My goals for this trip were the following:

  1. Smile always
  2. Be as open as possible
  3. Get out of your comfort zone!
  4. Be present and live in the moment
  5. Learn, learn, and learn

Birthright was overwhelming incredible, eye-opening, and special. It is totally deserving of a blog post. I am going to try to keep it concise and hit the highlights which is more difficult than it sounds. So please, bear with me.

There are many ways to experience Birthright which is available to all people with a Jewish background between the ages of 18 to 26. I chose to go with Shorashim which is a provider that puts a great emphasis on experiencing Israel with of Israelis. Most, if not all, trips include the introduction to IDF soldiers. However, Shorashim is special because the soldiers are included on the trip from start to finish- they are completely immersed in the group of Americans and travel through Israel with us. This changed and enhanced my experience more than I can begin to describe.

36594187_10215644356089339_2504479916599279616_o

Highlight #1: My group – Shorashim Bus 350 – was made up of 43 young American adults and 7 Israeli soldiers. We were guided by two women who are passionate about Israel (one who happened to be training to be a rabbi) and one Israeli tour guide. I feel so lucky that I was a part of this group because these people absolutely made the experience for me. I had low expectations but knew I would be okay regardless because I had my best friend. I was completely blown away by all the amazing people I met. I formed some really special friendships with both Americans and Israelis. I spent 10 days laughing and crying harder than I had in a very long time. Together, we made so many memories that I will never forget.

IMG_0517

Highlight #2: As I mentioned, Israeli soldiers were with us the whole time and made Bus 350 what it was. 1 of our 7 soldier friends was not Jewish. This is very uncommon as the nature of Birthright surrounds Judaism. His name was Hamzi and he was a Druze. This is a faith that I had never heard of as I am confident many of you haven’t either. Well I will try to inform you with my new, limited knowledge. Druze are an Arab people who reside in the Middle East  and practice a form of faith. They believe in past lives and that your soul always lives on. They believe that when one passes away, their soul will continue on in someone new. And because of this belief, they do not fear death. Druze are also unique in that they have always viewed men and women as equals. They do not permit divorce nor do they permit conversion from the religion. Their religious practices are very secretive so there was much that they could not reveal to us but everything we did learn was eye-opening for all of us.

IMG_0172.jpg

Hamzi and his family invited our group of 50 people to their village and to their house. This was honestly one of the most incredible experiences of my life to date. We arrived to their Druze Village called Yirka which is in the north of the country. When we got to their lovely home, we were so warmly greeted by a feast. When I say a feast, I mean a literal feast. There was SO much food that they could’ve fed the entire village. We were overwhelmed by their generosity and uncomfortably full. The family members that were confident in their English abilities explained to us about the Druze people. We sat there in awe of the people and the food and their beautiful home and this experience as a whole. They were so proud to share their history and their home with us. And to top it off, Hamzi’s little niece who is an aspiring popstar performed a song for us. It was her proudest moment and her family was beaming. Many of us (obviously including me) were overcome with emotions and found ourselves crying. I will never forget our time in Yirka!

IMG_9493.jpeg

Highlight #3: Shabbat at the Western Wall and everything about Jerusalem

This was something that I had been anxiously waiting for before we even arrived in Israel. Honestly, experiencing Shabbat at the Western Wall is something I had always heard and learned about but I never imagined it ever being a reality for me. For those of you that haven’t had the chance yet to visit the Western Wall, let me explain what it is like. The wall is divided into two sections: one for men and one for women. The section for men is twice the size of the section for women. But not only the size is different- the experience is different. The men are singing and praying all together. It sounds so joyful. In stark contrast, the women are almost all crying. They appear burdened and heavy. It is silent on this side apart from the audible sobs of the praying women heaving their bodies on to the wall. I was totally shocked, especially after I found myself feeling the same type of inexplicable sorrow and heaviness as my hand touched the wall. I tucked my envelope filled with many prayers into the wall, shed a tear, rejoined my group and felt a sense of inexplicable relief.IMG_0215

The group reunited at a new section of the wall that is the egalitarian section some ways away from the main area. It is the area underneath the white in the photograph. IMG_0223.jpgI mentioned that one of the trip leaders was a rabbi in-training so she led us in a few songs. We were all hugging, swaying and crying as we sang songs about peace. As this was going on, overhead you could hear the Muslims praying on the other side of the wall. This hit me hard and I can still tap into this haunted feeling. It felt so metaphorical that we were praying and singing and living as their prayers loudly hung above. It is also bone-chilling to think that these peoples are both praying at this one wall and that is the only thing separating them. All we can do is pray and hope for peace. I am not sure how to put words to the thoughts and feelings that were running through my head at this moment but I wanted to share this to see if it would resonate with any of you.

IMG_0219As for Jerusalem – the city just feels special. Again, this is almost impossible to explain. I felt as though I had been there before. This may sound totally ridiculous but if you have ever experienced that feeling, you know exactly what I mean. If not, I hope that one day, you do. Jerusalem, I will be back again.

Highlight #4: Masada and the Dead Sea are also deserving of a feature on this post. We woke up at 3:30am and hiked Masada in the dark so that we could see the sunrise at the top. The hike itself was hard as s**t which no one told me. I quickly figured that out on my own. The sunrise was magical. And there is no one that I would have rather experienced that with than my 49 new friends.

IMG_0570IMG_0530

The day only got better when we headed from Masada to the Dead Sea. We had been joking around that we were practicing floating beforehand because none of us expected for it be anything special. But boy were we wrong. I feel like I have written so much that I don’t have the words to explain so many different things about this trip but this is another situation where I am not sure how to describe what it was like. The ground was all salt. You could reach down and pick up rocks of pure salt. And floating was an incredible sensation. In the deeper areas, you could force yourself down and would bob right back up. It was almost difficult to keep your feet on the ground because you are just so buoyant. It is truly heartbreaking that the Dead Sea is dying but it was totally visible. I feel so lucky to have been!

img_0571.jpg

Highlight #5: The last night of the trip was spent celebrating the Birthright Mega Event. All of the Birthright groups in Jerusalem come and it is a huge celebration that happens once every summer. To be honest, we were all dreading this. It was a 6-hour event and sounded totally lame. But it turned out to be arguably the most fun I had the whole time. We were in an open-air arena and all of the sudden, a man resembling Israeli Ryan Seacrest took the stage. He announced the event and people went wild. Next flames were shooting out of the stage and the most famous singer in all of Israel right now performed her song that won a competition called Eurovision. The competition is a big deal and the song is AWESOME. It’s called I’m Not Your Toy and is all about girl power. I highly recommend looking it up.

IMG_0707.jpgWe were singing along, standing on our chairs and dancing our hearts out. One of the biggest Birthright donors spoke and then it turned into the best concert/rave I have ever been to. I felt like I was living the scene in the Lizzie McGuire Movie where she performs in the Colosseum. Dancers were appearing out of nowhere, lights were going crazy, the music was blaring. We didn’t spend hardly any time in our chairs because we were dancing and jumping the whole time. This was the most unexpected fun I have ever had and I was so lucky to share it with these people. I couldn’t imagine a better ending to our time together.

IMG_0310

Highlight #6: The food. If you know me at all, you know I appreciate good food. In fact, I basically live meal to meal. Food is important to me and let me tell you: Israeli food did not disappoint. The falafel, the hummus, the shawarma- the BEST I have ever had and will ever have. And don’t even get me started on the iced coffee. I am sad to say it but there is just no way that Sabra Hummus will cut it for me anymore.

Side note: Yes, I did feel safe. Really and truly.

And I am constantly praying for peace in the Middle East.

I could write about this trip for hours. I feel knowledgeable, worldly and connected after this experience. I know how lucky I am and did not take this trip for granted but I hope so badly that I get the chance to return one day.

I know this was rather lengthy so if you made it to the end, thank you so much for hanging in there. I hope you enjoyed!

Shalom ❤

Carlita Chicita

How is it already over????

WOW. That is only word that is coming to mind.I just finished my last final and am packing up my life into one suitcase. How is this semester over? I am overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions. Part of me cannot wait to go home and see my family and my friends and relax for the first time in four months. But another part of me is heartbroken because I don’t want to leave Spain. If you asked me how I was feeling about a week ago, I would have told you that I want to be home without hesitation. Finals were so hard and so much work. Morale was low. All I wanted to be was anywhere but here doing work and studying all day. And now that it is over, I can’t believe I ever felt like I wanted to be anywhere but here. Here is the greatest place in the world. I love Madrid. I am going to miss it everyday starting tomorrow.

img_4753

The emotions started this Sunday. Every Sunday and Wednesday, one of my favorite Spanish chain restaurants- Cien Montaditos- sells everything on the menu for 1 euro. EUROMANIA. My friends and I count down the days in between and act like it is a true holiday that happens twice a week. This Sunday was my last euromania. Nothing had felt real until that moment. Pathetic, I know. But so classic Carly. What can ya do?

 

The next time my emotions hit hard was my last American cross class at Holiday gym. This workout class, every Monday night and Wednesday night. It was very mucho so a part of my weekly routine. It was so rewarding and fun. Throughout the semester, we became regulars. The teacher loved me and my friends and loved to pick on us. It was awesome. The teacher is a manly man with a man bun who wears biker shorts far too frequently. At the end of class yesterday, he came up to me and started make fun of me. I told him that it was our last class and thanked him for everything. He was so bummed and asked us to take a photo- which obviously, we were thrilled about.

img_4761

The last life event that almost brought me to tears because I am going to miss Spain so badly is my favorite doorman- Ángel. Through thick and thin, this man has helped my roommate and I so much. From my earring falling down the sink, to a broken toilet, to my closet door getting stuck– he was there for it all. After his shift finished, he would change into a T-shirt and working pants, grab his tool box and come on up to 20 apt 5D. And every morning greeted me with a smile and said “!Hola guapa!” Since he has been so incredibly helpful, we decided to give him a little gift. We bought him some poinsettias and a Christmas card that apparently lit up and sang. It was nothing special just a little something to say thank you. He was so excited and appreciative, he gave both of us “besitos” – I am genuinely not sure how we could have made it through these 4 months without him.

There are a million reasons why it is going to be so hard to leave this place and this life. Here are a few reasons why!

Things I will miss…

Cien Montaditos, the shopping (Zara, Mango, Mulaya, Pull&Bear, Marypaz), American cross, walking everywhere, tinto de verano, parque oeste, freedom and independence, the metro, my chocolate bar from Día, flamenco, Spanish, Ángel, the Prado, my history class, tapas, my view from my apartment, the relaxed and slow lifestyle, not tipping, the amazing nightlife, cheap alcohol (and I am legal here!!!), traveling every weekend and SO much more!

And here are a few things that will make it just a little bit easier to say goodbye!                                 Things I will not miss…

Complutense and too much work, smoking, not being able to get my point across, the staring because I am foreign, Trump comments while they don’t have a government, constantly feeling sleep deprived, coming home at 8am from a night out, the time change, having to pay for water, relying on wifi, and being so far away from home, friends and family.

IMG_4769.JPG

I am so terribly sad to leave Madrid. I have been SO lucky to have had these 4 months to learn, grow and explore Europe! If I could do it again, I would in a heartbeat. This experience has made me want to travel and have even more adventures than I thought I wanted. This is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. Leaving tomorrow is going to be so hard, my heart fells heavy just thinking about it. Until then, I am going to enjoy every last minute in this beautiful city. A big group of my friends and I are going on the Navibus to see all the christmas lights around the city and then treating ourselves to a fancy dinner. We are going out with a bang! Thank you Madrid for 4 of the best months of my life. I will be back.

IMG_4701.JPG

I am homeward bound! The only thing standing in my way is 15 hours of travel! H-town, I am coming for you! See ya soon fam 🙂

 

 

Gratitude Post

Hi everyone! As you all know its that time of year again! The Holiday Season is upon us! And in the spirit of the holidays, I want to write a post dedicated to gratefulness.

Recently I have started a gratitude journal that I write in before I go to bed and I write about what I am grateful for – small things or big! So I am going to use my blog as my journal for the moment.

First and foremost, I am so grateful for family. This time of year reminds everyone how special and lucky and blessed we are to have people who love us unconditionally. Without my family, I don’t know what I would do or who I would be. I call them daily and think about them every minute: family means the world to me. In fact, I am so extra lucky because just last week my mom and my sister came to visit me in Madrid. They flew across the Atlantic just spend a few days with me. I  know what you are thinking- I am the luckiest. We spent the week in Madrid shopping and eating and seeing the sights- but mostly, shopping. We then took a train to Barcelona for the weekend and continued to shop, eat and sight see. It was the best! Extra bonus: I didn’t have to spend my thanksgiving without my family for the first time which was something that I was dreading. Although not everyone was there, it was still a great Thanksgiving filled with Spanish traditions like sucklings pigs and thoughts of family and Zara.

img_4030img_6970img_4092Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 12.36.34 PM.png

Unfortunately, on this very day, my Bubbie passed. Even though I wish so badly we could have all been together for Bubbie, I know that Bubbie would have been so happy that the three of us were together and thinking of her every moment. We cried because we missed her already and then we burst out in laughter thinking about how hilarious she was. I am so incredibly grateful for the 20 years I got to spend with my Bubbie and for all the knowledge and life lessons and yiddish words she taught me. When I think about her, the biggest smile stretches across my face and I am so grateful for that. She left the world a better place and the people she loved will never forget how amazing she was. Bubbie was one of my blog’s biggest fans and I can only imagine how many people she would be showing this post! Family is the biggest blessing.

img_1109img_3295dsc_0575

Second, I am so grateful for all my friendships – both new and old. Being abroad has really shown me who cares and who is willing to go the extra mile for me and vice versa me for them. I have the best friends spread out all of the world and I couldn’t feel luckier. They make my days better and my smile brighter. Just a simple message from one of them makes me happier than they will ever know.

img_1061

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-12-26-44-pm
my abroad squad

Third, I am SO grateful and feel SO lucky every day that I get to wake up in Madrid, Spain. This has been an opportunity of a lifetime. I feel so fortunate- not every kid gets to live abroad for 4 months to learn and have fun! This city is so amazing and every day I love it more! I have grown, learned, and explored. The best part is my journey isn’t over!

I am grateful for travel. This weekend marks my last trip of the semester. I am going to Amsterdam and then onto Switzerland: Geneva and Interlaken. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that it is going to be unbelievable.

I am grateful for laughter and silly conversations but also for the deep and meaningful conversations that I run into every now and then.

img_2840

I am grateful for chocolate. I don’t feel like I need to elaborate on this one :p

Grateful for Tulane because I have something so great to go back to making this transition and reentry easier. I have so many new opportunities awaiting me back at school including a new minor, a position on Panhellenic executive board, a new job , and a new house!!

Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 12.32.21 PM.png

I am grateful I started this blog. It has brought me so much joy and I hope that you all enjoy it too. It is such a fun and easy outlet. I will be so grateful to look back on this years from now. Maybe I will even continue to blog when I get back to Tulane?

All in all, life is good. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!! It’s the best time of the year! Christmas lights, hot chocolate, Elf the movie, and so much more! Enjoy and be grateful! 🙂

Image-1.jpg

This time for Africa!

I am writing this blog entry on a bus back from Africa. Yes, that is right- I spent the weekend in Africa! So I guess that means dreams can come true. Ever since the 7th grade, it has always been my dream to go to Africa. Well my real dream is to go to Ghana and volunteer at an orphanage. I made PowerPoints attempting to convince my parents to let me go to Ghana and have spent way too much time and had way too many conversations on this topic – I have even been given the name Ghana Girl who is Gonna Go to Ghana and yet, my parents have not budged. So for now, this weekend in Morocco was as close as I have come to living out my dream. And I was not let down.

img_3620

With all the chaos happening in the United States and the many questions and reminders in Spain, my friends and I decided there was no better time to get away from everything and run off to Africa! Not a bad idea, right?

Our African adventure began on Thursday night- we loaded the bus with blankets and pillows in hand and got as comfortable as we could be knowing that we were about to drive through the night. The next 11 hours on the bus were not miserable but I wouldn’t say they were pleasant. Finally, we arrived in Tarifa, Spain which is where we boarded a ferry that took us across the Gibraltar Strait. Finally, we arrived in Tangier, Morocco on Friday morning! Can you even believe it? I sure couldn’t. I was in absolute shock for the entirety of the weekend. It felt like I was living in a dream.

Friday was spent in Tangier and due to my lack of quality sleep, it was kind of a blur. We got off the ferry and drove around the town to get situated then checked into our hotel. I haven’t stayed in a hotel in so long so that felt lovely. We stayed at the Atlas Hotel which was located right on the beach and overlooked the Gibraltar Strait. Minus the lingering odd smell that roamed the hallways (just Africa things?), it was pretty nice! We dropped our bags, grabbed a bite to eat and then our adventure began. We drove to the beach where there were camels awaiting our arrival. I was SO excited but also extremely nervous to ride a camel. Of course, I ended up loving it and having the fastest camel of all the camels. I was literally trotting and holding on for dear life. The photos are hilarious. Next we visited Hercules Cave where he was rumored to live during some point in his life. Then we went into the old town and explored the Moroccan markets. We visited an herb shop and got to test and buy some of the products like Moroccan oil and rose water which I was so into. We then visited a weaver and saw how they make scarfs, bags, etc. It was amazing! After this, we were allotted free time to explore Tangier on our own and this marked my first real culture shock and panic attack of abroad. We were walking through the markets and every person that saw us would say something misogynistic or catcall us like “Hey spice girls, do you want to marry me?” or “Do you want to stay in Morocco forever? I can do that for you” because Morocco is still behind and women have no rights. Men were shouting at us left and right and also the venders were desperate. They approach you and start bargaining with you before you can even look up to see what they are selling- so aggressive, pushy and sad that they are that desperate for money. The women were wondering the streets with their heads and bodies completely covered and some with just their eyes showing. I was absolutely overwhelmed. I felt surrounded and couldn’t hear myself thinking because they were all shouting at us and bargaining in my ear nonstop. After this, I decided to stay as low key as possible and never take advantage of free time in Tangier again. I am glad I had this experience because it was eye-opening and nothing like anything I had ever seen before. Morocco felt much more like the Middle East than it did Africa. Something I had never seen before was the outfits the men wore. They were loose dresses made of wool with a pointy hood. Another notable thing that I witnessed in Morocco was the daily 5 times prayer that happened- Call to Prayer. A bell would sound and everyone would stop what they were doing to pray. I had never witnessed this before but found it to be very powerful. The Islamic culture was so very prevalent and slightly frightening.

img_3625img_3667img_4764img_3710

That night we went to a traditional Moroccan dinner. It was a 4 course meal of traditional foods: vegetable soup with cinnamon, lamb kabobs, couscous with chicken, and then some Moroccan dessert that was like a glazed beignet and mint tea. This wasn’t just dinner- it was dinner with a show! There was a Moroccan band in the restaurant playing traditional music throughout the whole meal. There was a violinist, drummer, tambourine player, and guitarist and they were situated right in front of me which if you know me at all, you know I was loving it and dancing the whole meal cheering them on. It was the perfect end to my day and I went to bed happy, full and exhausted.img_3712img_3714The next day we went to explore the Blue City which is 2 hours outside of Tangier. This bus ride was actually really enjoyable because Morocco is so green and hilly and beautiful which I did not know before this trip. So I looked out the window and took in all that I could see and then we arrived in the Blue City. The Blue City was maybe one of the most amazing cities I have ever visited. It was so quaint, beautiful and precious. The name truly says it all. Here we wondered and explored the markets and streets all day long. It felt much more comfortable and peaceful than Tangier. I was never afraid but rather in awe. Every corner we turned was more mesmerizing than the last. They were selling flowy pants, paintings of the Blue City, leather purses, tapestries, scarfs, and so much more. It was amazing! We were all posing in front of the beautiful blue doors on every street and the most interesting thing about these doors to me is that they are the doors to someone’s home. How amazing to come home to that every day?! The people here lived simple but happy lives. The women cleaned and cooked and the favorite activity was to go to do laundry because it was in the middle of the town and it was a time for them to gossip and chat with the other women. The men work in the stores and restaurants and the children go to school 6 days a week. The simple beauty of this city was nothing like I have ever seen before.img_3759img_3770img_3848img_3766img_3763img_3352img_3787img_3854

Today, we woke up, got breakfast and started on our long journey back to Madrid. However, we ran into a dilemma. Our program did not account for the foot race that was happening this morning in Tangier in our travel time. So we ended up having to walk along side of the race with our suitcases from our hotel to the ferry. This was the most hilarious experience. I laughed the whole mile and a half. When we neared the finish line of the race, there were hundreds of people surrounding us honking their horns and cheering. It felt like there was a goodbye parade happening for us, so naturally, being me- I rolled with it! We were shouting “Thank you Morocco! We love you Morocco!” having the time of our lives. It was the most unreal experience. Words cannot describe it.

I had no idea what to expect of Morocco but I can guarantee that I was not expecting anything at all that resembled reality. I was totally shocked by its beauty, its people, its culture and more. Morocco- you blew me away and were everything that I was not expecting.

And now, I am writing after taking an hour ferry ride and about to have finished my 11 hour bus ride. I could not be happier to be returning to Madrid but this was a trip of a lifetime. I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity and cultural experience. One day (soon)- I will be back, Africa!

School: The reason I am here…right?

On this cold and rainy Saturday in Madrid, I am bundled up under my covers watching rom-coms. In between Notting Hill and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, I decided I should do something semi-productive and write a blog post! This post is dedicated to the Complutense Universidad de Madrid- my Spanish university. This is a rather peculiar place and thought I should share some of its unique qualities and compare it to what I am used to back in the States.

Simply stated: Spanish school is weird.

85,000 students are enrolled at Complutense. How unbelievable is that?! SO. MANY. STUDENTS. And little ol’ me is now one of the many. Complutense is divided into facultades which are essentially just buildings with their own specialty/major. I study in Facultad B- the history, geography and philosophy building. It is so unattractive and covered in graffiti. This school is extremely progressive and the students love to vocalize their opinions.

And on that note, protests are a big thing. Just last week, I witnessed my first one at the Complutense. There were posters all over the building announcing the protest so it was a known thing and it was anticipated. My program directors and professors advised that we all avoid campus and skip class that day because protests get violent. Students use force and fire apparently? This was just so bizarre and difficult to comprehend but it is all true. This protest was against new education laws that were implemented in lower and high schools. Although college students were not at all effected, they still felt the need to fight for what they thought was right and protest!

The next notable feature of Complutense is the cafeteria. It is so different. The first time I attempted to obtain food, I struggled. So basically, they have machines where you place your order and pay, then with the receipt from this machine you stand in a crowd and push your way to the front to hand the lady your receipt. I know it doesn’t sound odd, but it feels odd. It just adds another step and ends up saving no time at all. Classic Spain. Also, they serve hot coffee in plastic cups… what is the logic there? I burn my hand and my cup melts if I don’t chug my coffee. Lastly, no one cleans up after themselves or throws their trash away in the cafeteria. When they finish, they just up and leave. The cafeteria has so many trashcans but no one seems to notice… There is an employee whose job is to throw away people’s trash and wipe down the tables.

Okay, so in Spain, they smoke like A LOT. And at all times of the day. And in any place. Everyone rolls their own cigarettes which is interesting in itself. But, they are all so addicted they can’t go more than an hour without smoking. When I get to school in the morning at 8:15 am, the bottom floor of the building reeks of smoke and is filled with students smoking inside the building near the door, but still. It is so early I can hardly make myself eat breakfast and they are already smoking?! And then after that, at any given moment, you can find many people smoking in the school. The box literally reads “SMOKING KILLS”- I just don’t understand…

Now for printing. Printing is an ordeal at the Complutense. Some places in the facultad require that you bring your own paper to print. Other places just charge you by page. But no matter where you are printing, you have to bring your flash drive. Everyone has a flash drive on them at all times. Some people have really cute and fashionable flash drives: it is like an accessory here. “Oh, my flash drive is Pucci…”

These people are NOT at all concerned with sanitation. They sneeze and cough and don’t cover their mouths. But worse than that, absolutely NO ONE washes their hands after using the restroom. Every single time I see (which is everyday), I am caught off guard. It is such a small yet simple task. Please, I beg of you.. Wash your hands people!!!!!

Each facultad has their own library. Yesterday, I ventured into my library to do some research and have never felt so incompetent in my life. They do not use the dewey decimal system. Instead, they organize their libraries by topic but within each topic, by author. Such a struggle. Once I realized this, I was a little bit more capable of finding the book I was looking for. I found it on the online catalog and asked someone how I could find it in the stacks. They explained to me that I had to petition to see the book by logging in online and typing in my name, passport number and the book. Still not sure why this had to happen but it did. And then after I petitioned, I had to wait an hour for my petition to go through and for my designated hour to pick up my book. I left with a ginormous book and a headache. Still not sure how to use the library but I can guarantee I am not going back there… except to return this book I checked out…

Quick little side note: everyone exclusively uses blue ink pens and notebooks filled with graph paper…

Lastly, every morning, I wake up and get all cute and stylish for class which is something I don’t usually do at Tulane, but in Spain, it is a must. Each morning when I enter the building, I think to myself “why do I even bother?” My facultad is filled with weird, ugly, alternative people with horrible sense of style. Such a shame. But thus far, it hasn’t stopped me from looking cute everyday. I wake up and look good for me and no one else… especially not the other Complutense students.

 

 

Eataly

Hello! It’s me again! Sorry I haven’t posted in so long, I just like to keep my fans on their toes. Like when will the next post be? No one knows…. JK I have just been super busy. I had midterms, papers, and far too much schoolwork over the last few weeks. Isn’t my semester abroad supposed to be a joke? Well, it’s not.

Rather than blab about non-fun things like school, I want to brag about my last trip to the one and only FLORENCE! I just spent the last 5 days in Italy!!! How lucky am I? As you can tell by the many exclamation points used above, I absolutely loved it! Most of my trips have been confined to the weekend- we leave Friday afternoon and come back Sunday afternoon. But this trip was extra special. We left Friday afternoon and returned to Madrid Wednesday morning just in time to go to our weekly class in the Prado.

When I was going into the 8th grade, I went on a 3-week Europe trip with my school and best friends. We visited so many places but only spent 1 day on average in each destination. One of the many stops on this trip was Florence. I kid you not, we spent maybe 10 hours there and then left for Rome, but ever since, I have been saying that Florence is my favorite city in the world. This week just reinforced my naive opinion and solidified Florence as my #1.

I went on this Italian journey with 4 friends from my program who all go to Tulane. We rented an air b n b, book our flights and were on our way. We had literally been talking about this trip for 2 months and the anticipation was killing us.

On Friday, we arrived in Florence around 4pm, dropped our bags off at the air b n b and started exploring the city. We wandered the streets, stumbled upon the Duomo, went to the Magnum Bar and each customized one to our liking. Mine was chocolate ice cream, tipped in milk chocolate, topped with dried strawberries, caramel popcorn and brownie bites, and finally, drizzled with dark chocolate to complete my masterpiece. Classic Carly, am I right?! It really was as amazing as it sounds. After we sufficiently stuffed our faces, we walked and walked and walked until we were ready for our next meal. Because when in Italy!! Next to our air b n b is one of the locals favorite pizza places- Gusta Pizza. It was a dive with the line out the door. You order, pay and then fight for a seat while waiting for your food. With a group as big as 5 people, we were able to bully out another group and get a table rather quickly. Gusta Pizza is known for making their pizzas in the shape of a heart, so naturally we all ordered heart shaped pizzas because who wouldn’t? I ordered a Margarita pizza with pesto and was definitely feeling the love in the air when it was placed in front of me. This was easily one of the best pizzas I have ever had in my entire life and it was only 4.50 euros. Unbelievable. Oh the things I would do to be able to eat this again… We decided to go to bed with full bellies in preparation for the days ahead.

img_2899img_2920

Saturday was spent doing all the musts in Florence. We climbed the duomo, had AMAZING paninis from Pino’s (again, I would highly recommend), saw THE David, ate Italian gelato, splurged on a leather jacket, and watched the sunset at Piazza Michaelangelo with wine and a friend from Tulane that we ran into. We ended the day at Acqua al 2 and again feasted on some amazing Italian food. It is hard to say what my favorite part of the day was but it was pretty special watching the sunset over the city of Florence with some people who I really love. Hard to beat if you ask me.

img_2926

img_2962
At the top of the Duomo!!

 

 

 

img_3005
Friends!!! Olivia, Elsa, Harlie, Pat, and Mallory

img_3003img_3098

img_3132
Posing on a stranger’s motorcycle

Sunday was a busy day for us. We booked a day trip to Pisa and Cinque Terre through Italy on a Budget Tours. We started at 7am and arrived back in Florence at 8pm. We loved our tour guide, Alessandro, maybe a little too much by the end of the day. He was so great, knowledgable, laid-back and fun! Our first stop was Pisa. We spent 2 hours here posing like fools with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which was intended to be a bell tower. We visited the cathedral, and lastly we strolled through Camposanto (the cemetery). Interestingly enough, the cemetery was the initial reason for creating this famous plaza – piazza dei miracoli – that is now known for the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

IMG_3159.jpg

IMG_3190.jpg

After Pisa, we trained to Cinque Terre and visited 3 of the 5 towns: Riomaggoire, Vernazza, and Manarola. Cinque Terre was as breathtaking as everyone says. It was so quaint, colorful, lively and absolutely gorgeous. At Riomaggoire, we ate at a focaccia while taking in the views. At Vernazza, we climbed to the top of the tower to see the town at a panoramic view and then ate gelato by the marina. Lastly, Manarola was all about that famous, stunning photo that comes to mind when you think of Cinque Terre.  

img_3253

img_3239
Vernazza
IMG_3346.jpg
Manarola

Once we were completely in awe of our surroundings and couldn’t take anymore, we trained back to Florence. Said goodbye to all of our new friends we made on the tour and went straight to dinner. We ate at Zaza’s and I had tagiliatelli with truffle — swoon.

Monday was dedicated to all things wine. We did a wine tour through the same company and to our surprise, with the same lovely, handsome tour guide. This tour consisted of three stops in the Chianti region of Tuscany. First, we visited a family vineyard, Tenuta Torciano, for a wine tasting class. This Italian family was lively, hilarious and extremely entertaining. I learned so much considering I usually drink the cheapest wine I can find whether it is in a box or a bottle- I don’t mind. The vineyard was gorgeous and the room that we had class in was set up beautifully with flowers hanging from the ceiling. We tasted 6 different wines- from white to red to dessert wine. We also sampled their truffle oil, balsamic oil, olive oil, and pepper oil. After this visit, you could say we were all feeling ourselves haha. Next we toured Pietraserena, which is a vineyard owned by an Italian couple. They showed us everything from the barrels, to the vineyard, to the machinery, but most importantly, the final product. Here we tasted 3 more wines while enjoying the view from their terrace. Lastly, we stopped in San Gimignano for one of the world’s best gelato at Dondoli’s. This could’ve been the wine talking, but it was unbelievable and exactly what I needed. When we returned to Florence, we were all hung over and exhausted at 5pm. Happy Halloween 😉 we decided that this was the definition of adulting- spending Halloween learning how to be wine snobs. I wouldn’t complain if this is how I Halloween from here on out.

img_3372img_3380img_3436img_6478

And as if my day wasn’t good enough, I got to end it by having dinner with my lifelong friend Maddie from Denver and her mom Amy. I was so happy. I got to reunite with one of my best friends in one of the best cities in the world. I know what you are thinking- I am the luckiest. And I totally agree. img_3491

Tuesday was our last day in Florence so we made the most of it and did everything that we wanted to do. We woke up and went to the Medici Palace. We were the only ones there so it was pretty special. Next, we went shopping and I treated myself to a beautiful black leather purse. What’s next? Food, of course. We ate at the Central Market which was fabulous. They had many booths with all different types of food but when in Italy, you have to eat pasta. So that’s what I did… again. But it was amazing and the cashier asked for my phone number. So that was fun! After we ate, we shopped again on the Ponte Vecchio because we are fancy 🙂 and then stopped in the Gucci Museum. I did not know what to expect of this museum but I was blown away. They have an amazing collection. My favorite room had 5 stunning ballgowns and a projector showing what celebrity wore which dress- Blake Lively was featured!! After Gucci, we decided it was a good idea to eat again.. why? I don’t know. We went to La Prosciutteria and shared a charcuterie board. Yet again, we were stuffed, and in awe of the food in this city. Our last activity in Florence was of course another meal. We ate at Osteria Santo Spirito and ordered their famous 4 cheese truffle gnocchi. It was UNBELIEVABLE. We left the restaurant so full that we were in physical pain. I wouldn’t have wanted to end this trip any other way. Our flight was Wednesday morning at 7am and that’s the end of this journey. I give this trip a 10/10!!!

img_3519img_3522img_3550img_3553img_3557

Sidenote- I joined a gym so there is no need to fret. Much love! Next post coming soon!!

Feelin Jew-ish

I have been meaning to write this post for awhile now. Today being Yom Kippur, it feels very appropriate that I finally sit down and put my thoughts into words.

Oddly enough, I have found myself learning, appreciating and embracing my Jewish faith more than I ever have before here in Spain… which is so odd considering this is an extremely Catholic country. Before I left for my semester abroad, I was nervous and slightly worried to be Jewish in Europe- more specifically, in Spain- and so was my family. I was advised over and over again to be safe and low-key in general because the world is a dangerous place right now but my family and friends emphasized to be extra safe because I am Jewish which is something you can only really understand if you too are Jewish.

The history of Jews in Spain is not great. Like in most places around the world, they weren’t a big fan of my people for awhile. In my Spanish history class, we learned about the Spanish Inquisition in depth; I find it fascinating and was especially interested in the role of the Jews (not a big a surprise- especially because I am the only Jew in the class). I found it so interesting and think you should all know about it too, so here it goes. Don’t worry, I’ll summarize and try my best to make a long story short.

So… The Jews arrived in Spain in the first century. They lived amongst everyone else very peacefully. They spoke Spanish and did all the Spanish things while praying in Hebrew at a synagogue. But other than that, they were just like every other Spaniard and there was no issue. Fast forward a little bit —In the 14th century, Spain was suffering from an economic crisis. The “pueblo” was starving, poor and miserable and they needed someone to blame their problem on. So obviously, the only logical scape goat was the Jews. They were wealthy and held positions of power, therefore they must be the reason of the economic crisis, right? Makes sense. Naturally, the people of the pueblo started murdering the Jews and for the first time in Spain’s history, it was dangerous to be Jewish. Many converted to Christianity in exchange for their lives. BUT even though they went through the process of converting, attended church weekly, etc., they were still Jews at heart and continued to believe and follow the Jewish faith in secrecy.

Ok now that you understand all of that- let’s talk about the Inquisition. The Catholic Monarchs – Isabel and Fernando – established the infamous Spanish Inquisition in 1478. What most people don’t know about the Inquisition is that it was only targeted people who were baptized. More specifically, people who were baptized and did not fully accept or follow the Catholic Church’s dogma also known as heresy. Make any sense why I gave you so much background info? Because now Jews who converted fall into this category. Hence the murdering and the exile that you have all heard about! Interesting, isn’t it?

Well the legacy of the Inquisition lives on and almost everyone in Spain is Catholic and those who aren’t are atheists. So being Jewish here is unique and frankly, kind of dangerous.

I have visited Toledo, Segovia, and Sevilla- all of which have beautiful and antique Jewish neighborhoods. I felt moved and I felt connected in each one. It sounds odd but there was just a way about it- a feeling. I felt comfortable and was dying to know the history and the stories that had happened there.

Today is Yom Kippur. I decided to attend services and went to one of the two synagogues in Madrid (not 100% sure about that number, but it is definitely one of very few, if not the only one)– Beth Yaacov Synagogue. Last night, a few friends and I went to Kol Nidre and had no idea what to expect. It was a small building that was guarded by 3 cop cars and many many men carrying legit machine guns. This startled me and I didn’t know what to think or feel. Should I feel safe that they are here or sad that this is necessary? Anyways, we went inside and were greeted in a rather harsh way because they were on high alert and worried about safety. Then we were told that the service will start soon to make ourselves comfortable. Everyone around us was speaking English because we were apparently attending the Ashkenazi service which they only have during the High Holy Days. The Sephardic service was upstairs and had a lot more people in it in comparison to the 30 people at my service. Overall, there were very few people at the synagogue especially considering that it was one of the only synagogues.

It was extremely conservative, maybe even orthodox? The women and men were separated. The men all were wearing kippahs AND tallits. The service was entirely in Hebrew. The rabbi/cantor had his back turned to us the whole time and was bowing continually for the entire duration of the service. How did he not get dizzy or faint? I don’t know. I could hardly follow along so I decided to focus on the beauty of the service and just listen.

For the past 3 years, there has always been a REALLY cute Jewish boy at services that I never see again. At Hillel, the past two years, this has happened and now here, it has also happened. I was sitting next to said cute boy’s mom and got all the info out of her. They were from Germany, he was my age, and he was studying here in Madrid! I was debating attending services the next day, but decided it would be worth it to go and see him again. Unfortunately, he didn’t show even though his mom said they would. The annual vanishing cute boy at High Holy Day services must be  one of His ways of punishing me. Maybe if I sin less this year, the cute boy at services next year won’t disappear.

The German boy and his mother didn’t make it but the service was still lovely: similar to the Kol Nidre, just even less people were in attendance. There is never a dull moment in my life so of course, something else noteworthy happened. My friend and I were leaving services and she was on her phone with snapchat open. The men at the door stopped us and started yelling “She’s filming!! Call the cops!!” We freaked out and did everything we could to prove to them that she wasn’t actually filming anything. They screamed and told us we weren’t respecting the sacred holiday and that we could not come back to this place. Another man came over to ease the situation and to console us. He explained that being Jewish in Spain is very dangerous and extremely difficult so they have to always be on high alert and don’t take little things like these lightly. We were terrified but more than that, I felt so sad. It is heartbreaking that this is their reality and that they have to be that cautious just to pray and celebrate their holidays. It shouldn’t be this way. They shouldn’t need machine guns and cop cars. I haven’t stopped thinking about this since it happened. My eyes have been opened and I will never forget this experience.

Side note: I spent this past weekend in Sevilla and had every intention of blogging about it because it was most definitely worthy of a blog post but I was feeling inspired and this post took its place. So just know- it happened and I loved it!

Wishing a happy and healthy New Year to you from Madrid! I am especially homesick and missing everyone a little more than usual today. Holidays aren’t the same without family! Love and miss you all so so much!

Granada

Another weekend = another trip!

I just got back from Granada, Spain!!! Granada is a town located in Andalusia, Spain which a southern region of the country. I was there for a little over 24 hours which is unfortunately how most of my trips from here on out will be but limited time didn’t stop me from doing and seeing everything that I wanted to in Granda. And let me tell you- it was beautiful.

After class on Friday, we took a Renfe train to Santa Ana which was 2 1/2 hours away and from there, took an hour long bus ride to Granada. The train was so nice that my friends and I walked on and walked off because we thought that our car was first class. To say the least, it was a relaxing, easy and pleasant ride. The bus was so quick that it felt like it almost didn’t even happen- also partially due to my exhaustion.

IMG_2301.jpg
Santa Ana- the place of the transportation switch

When we arrived in Granada, it was pitched black and dinnertime. So naturally our first stop was one of the best restaurants in Granada, according to Yelp- Bar Poë. It was a hole in the wall and packed with people. The owner was very friendly and sociable and he spoke perfect English. He served only tapas and drinks. We didn’t know this but in Granada, you order a drink and a tapa comes with it for free!! So this delicious meal was dirt cheap and some of the best tapas I have had yet. 10/10 would recommend. Once we finished eating, we ventured the city and stumbled upon our air b n b and went straight to bed.

 

IMG_2304.jpg

The next day, we woke up so early that we beat the sun. We didn’t buy tickets for the Alhambra but we were not about to leave Granada without visiting it. So we did what we had to do and got the tickets. We got to the Alhambra at 7:25 am and the line was already SO long- people had tents and had clearly camped out to ensure that they would get tickets. We stood in line, in the dark, in the cold and waited and waited but it was totally worth it because a little over an hour later, we all had tickets!!! The first people in line were so incredibly excited when they got their tickets that you would’ve thought they won a golden ticket to get into Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. But I can’t blame them- they did sleep outside to get that ticket and I was just as excited when we got our tickets. But at that time, the sun was still not completely shining, it was still cold and the Alhambra wasn’t open yet. So to pass the time, we decided to eat- naturally.

We ended up at Fútbol Cafe, which felt similar to Cafe Du Monde back in New Orleans. Instead of beignets, they specialize in churros and chocolate so you know I wasn’t complaining 🙂 We all ordered so much food and left feeling so content, full and warm.img_2311

On our way back to the Alhambra, we decided to walk through the Moorish neighborhood  -Albayzín. It was beautiful. We then journeyed back to the Alhambra and saw as much as of it as we could possibly see. It felt like a maze and it was also HUGE. You could easily spend a full week in there and still not have seen everything. But I feel like we saw a lot and learned a lot in the amount of time that we were there. We also took part in a little Moroccan photoshoot, which was ridiculous and hilarious- something I will never forget.

For those of you who have never heard of the Alhambra (cough cough- mom and dad and I am sure many more), it is an Arabic fortress and castle that housed the Moorish rulers until Isabel and Fernando conquered Granada. If you are at all interested, I highly recommend reading about it- google it!

img_233214522956_1284484421601704_848343415339265920_nimg_2365img_2400img_2403img_2411

We worked up an appetite after spending many hours wondering ande exploring the Alhambra. We went into the center of the city and found an amazing mediterranean restaurant. And I kid you not- it was the best mediterranean food I have ever had. We had chicken kabobs, hummus, tzatziki sauce, baba ganoush, Israeli salad, and so much more! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Once we were full and happy, we wondered the streets of Granada that were full of vendors in their booths- it was a mercado of sorts but it felt like we were in Morocco because of all of the Moorish influence that still exists in Granda today. People were selling tapestries, purses, lamps, clothes, spices, and SO much tea.

img_2426

After such a full day, we felt like we earned a nap. So we took a little siesta and then woke up and went back out exploring. We went tapas-ing and bounce from restaurant to restaurant ordering a drink and eating our free tapa while looking at the Alhambra lit up against the night sky. It was a pretty cool experience. Once we were full, we felt the need to do as the locals do and smoke hookah in a tetaría. Tea is one of my favorite things (second to chocolate) and so I ordered “mil flores” tea. I asked the waitress what it was like and she responded by saying there are a lot of flowers in it… a very literal response but I was sold. I loved every sip of it!img_2447

To finish off our time in Granada, I made a reservation for my friends and I at the Arabian baths. We got to spend an hour and a half in the baths and also had a 15 minute massage. I was in absolute heaven. They offered complimentary tea here too! It was the most relaxing and needed thing that we could’ve done for ourselves after all the traveling we have done and what we have put our bodies through. They advertised it as swimming in history which is exactly what it felt like. I think they were the original baths that were used 100s of years ago. The architecture and details were stunning. My favorite part was the massage- of course. I have been missing my reflexology outings with the fam back in Houston so this was as close as I could get to having a little piece of home. They rubbed my back for the full 15 minutes and lathered me in lavender oil. My back has been killing me because of how much I walk every day and I don’t really know why else- but it has. So this was absolutely perfect and then I was told to lay on a giant hot rock until I was ready to go back to the baths. I laid there for so long my friends thought that I was kicked out. I would do anything to do this again. I found out that there is another location here in Madrid so I will definitely be exploring that after midterms. All in all, Granada was amazing: quaint, friendly, homey town and I hope that I am lucky enough to return one day.

These aren’t my photos just wanted to show you what I was attempting to describe.

I love traveling within Spain. It is so much easier- no airport, no planes, I have cell service and data. And I want to finish this semester and be able to say I have seen a lot of Europe but more importantly, Spain. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am doing my best to take full advantage of it!

P.S. I apologize if this isn’t my best post. I am currently writing it from my bed because I have a double ear infection.

P.P.S Shana tova // happy new year

Sidetone: I noticed that I keep blogging about my trips and adventures outside of Madrid and wanted to say that I am going to change this. I love Madrid more and more every time I leave it. It makes me appreciate this new place I am calling home more. Unfortunately, I have been spending the week days recovering, relaxing and doing school things. It’s time for me to push through my exhaustion and explore this city more because there is so much to see and to do- I got to do it. Writing this down holds me accountable. So be on the lookout for a blog post starring Madrid soon.

Lisbehonest

¡Hola friends and family!

Wow! It has been awhile since I last blogged and I am sure you are all eagerly awaiting my next post 😉 well here it is!

As you can imagine, so much has happened in the last two weeks. Some of the highlights: I went to a Real Madrid game, visited La Reina Sofia which will be the fist of many more to come, bought a pair of platform shoes, went on a day trip to Segovia.

img_2021

But best of all, I spent this last weekend in Lisbon, Portugal! My good friend from Tulane, Mallory and I decided to spend  our weekend alone in Lisbon instead of joining the rest of the Tulane abroad community at Oktoberfest and I am SO glad we did this. 10/10 would recommend.

We left Madrid Thursday afternoon and arrived in Lisbon 1 hour later. I was sitting and staring out my window from up high in awe of the city’s beauty already and all I was thinking was that we arrived in paradise. We walked through the airport without a problem and no one checked our passports which we thought was very odd and slightly alarming. But apparently, that’s a thing in Europe. None of our friends have any new passport stamps besides the one from entering Madrid in August… which is a little disappointing but it’s okay because I know where I’ve been regardless.

IMG_2048 (1).jpg

After navigating the airport, we decided it made most sense for us to metro to our hostel. If we can do it in Madrid, we can do it anywhere… right? A man and his wife stopped us on our way down to the metro and handed us their fully loaded metro cards that were no longer of use to them saving us around 3 euros so as you can imagine, we were feeling good.

When we arrived to our hostel, I was so pleasantly surprised and very relieved to see how the nice facilities and the welcoming staff. This was my first hostel experience and it was a great one.

We settled in and decided to journey for good food because eating is something that Mallory and I are really good at… especially together. Lucky for us, Lisbon is known for its amazing cuisine scene specifically their sea food 🙂 We did some research and decided on el Mercado de Ribiera which happened to be 2 minutes away from our hostel. There were probably 30 booths, live music, and people from all over the world speaking every language imaginable. It was AMAZING. Words cannot describe. Mallory and I ordered sangria (of course), black risotto with scallops and a codfish burger.

IMG_2244.jpg
Ok I know this might not look appealing but it was easily the best risotto I have ever had. When we were eating this, a lady asked if she could take  a photo of it HAHA

After we stuffed our faces, we went back to our hostel and sat outside socializing with some of the other guests. We made two friends that had just spent the week at Oktoberfest and were relaxing in Lisbon before they returned to the states. We then sneakily climbed into our bunk beds and went to sleep without waking our hostel roommates.

Mallory and I spent the whole next day relaxing on the beach. We took a ferry and a bus to get there but it was so worth it. We laid out, talked, laughed, napped and ate- what more could a girl want? It was the perfect day.

After a long hard day at the beach (hehe jokes), we cleaned up and went to dinner. Yet again, we had some amazing seafood and left with smiles stretched across our faces and full tummies. To end the night, we joined a pub crawl that our hostel was putting on with our friends from the first night. It was my first pub crawl ever and I loved it! I met so many interesting and fun people and saw a completely new part of the city. I hope to do a pub crawl in as many cities as possible.

The next morning, Mallory and I had to move hostels because we could only book 2 nights at the Sunset Destination Hostel. So we packed our bags and moved to our new hostel which was so very clean and in the old town. It was a nice change of pace and completely new scenery. We dropped our bags, met up with our new friends and went to the flea market which is one of the biggest in all of Europe. They were selling everything from underwear to cork purses to antiques to toys. Shopping made us work up an appetite again- believe it or not -so we went to a little restaurant nearby. I had my first yummy salad since I got to Europe. It had goat cheese (which is my all time favorite), tomatoes, beets, nuts and more! Wish I could this salad everyday… I miss it already. Here it is in all its glory!!!! IMG_2162.jpg

Once our low blood sugar levels were brought back to normal, we visited the São Jorge Castle. It was unbelievable and had some of the most amazing views of the city.

In total, we walked about 12 miles this day. Lisbon is a very hilly city so the majority of those miles were uphill. It was exhausting, but so beautiful. They also have streetcars in Lisbon just like the ones in New Orleans which made me so happy to find a little piece of NOLA in Europe. Look at how cute their streetcars are. IMG_2131.jpg

After walking as much as we did, we thought it was a good idea to treat ourselves to fancy dinner so that’s exactly what we did. Mallory and I went on nice “date” to Cervejaria Ramiro and had some of the best seafood I have ever had in my life. Dad- you would have been in heaven! We ordered garlic shrimp, rosé, and crab which to our surprise was accompanied by two mallets. It was an experience to say the least. We laughed so hard and made a mess. A waiter came by after watching us struggle and suggested that we should whip the crab rather than hammer it. But by the end of the meal, we started to get the hang of it. Another notable event of the meal was that Mallory dropped our nice glass bottle of rosé on the ground and everyone in the room stopped and just stared at us. It was definitely a meal to remember!!

After the meal, we went to a rooftop bar that was on top of a parking lot. It was so cool and chic and obviously had amazing views. And before we knew it, we were on our second pub crawl. It was just as great as the first but I ran into a few minor issues. The first being that I was hit by a car while standing on the sidewalk. I am okay- no need to worry! But it was hilarious. I was completely taken off my feet and I have a little bruise on my left side to show for it. Second, I was pick pocketed. Apparently the Portuguese are famous for this and everyone seemed to know this except for me. They didn’t get much so that was lucky but man did I feel bad. All is well now! I have money and a new metro card! It was quite the night and definitely ended our trip with a bang. After this long eventful night, I was ready to go back to Madrid.

Lisbon, te amo.

Soy yo

My friends and family always laugh and make fun of me because I have a tendency to be “messy” they say. Throughout this week, I have come to the conclusion that maybe all along everyone has been right, that I do indeed lead a messy lifestyle. It’s just who I am.

Somehow, I have managed to lose my phone, drop my earring down the sink, buy a graph paper notebook (because apparently that’s what they use here?), get sick, book a flight for the wrong day, and miss the bus to school- all in the first week of classes! Can you believe it? I’m sure you can.

Lessons learned: I cannot have nice things, I need a babysitter at all times, this is just who I am.

In the midst of the all the madness that I created for myself, I accomplished a lot of exciting things and familiarized myself with the city that I am calling home.

  • rode the metro by myself (mom, dad, and grandparents- it’s safe! I promise)
  • made it to class on time and understood more than I was expecting too
  • went topless at my university’s pool — I’m just trying to do as the locals do!
  • grocery shopped and cleaned my clothes using a European laundry machine that is both a washer and dryer in one…
  • found my phone and got a Spanish phone number 🙂 hmu
  • went to el Rastro: a famous, local market in Madrid
  • visited the Royal Palace
  • dined at a rave and had an amazing meal that consisted of potatoes, bell peppers, jamón, and eggs – classic Spain

Even though so many things went wrong in this short amount of time, I still managed to have a blast and make the most of every day. Something I want to continue working on throughout this semester is not harping on the bad, but rather turning the bad into something good!

New life mantra: no bad days