Wow, what a whirlwind this weekend has been. I cannot even believe that it is only Sunday because when I think about what I did Thursday it seems so long ago. Well good news first, I got through my first tests. After both of my teachers gave us a speech about how the Spanish grading system is so much more difficult than the US one, I was so nervous and studied as much as I could. They let us know that no one ever can get an A and that a B-/C+ is a GREAT grade here, and don’t worry, American schools understand that. Little do they know, it is my GPA that does not understand that and I couldn’t care less what my professors think, but that is besides the point. I am in Spain and thus, school comes second (or third, or fourth, depending what else is in play).
So once those were out of the way, Thursday night I went to a theatre to go a Flamenco show. Last time I was in Spain we went to something by the same name in Sevilla, but this was a whole different ballgame. We were in a HUGE theater (big red curtain and all!) instead of a small little restaurant with a stage that was basically an aisle through all the tables. And this time, it was not just men and women dressed in polka dot dresses and suits with tassels. Here, the curtain rose and a lady and man started singing while a video played on a giant screen behind them. I realized quickly that this was not your stereotypical “flamenco” show. This was more of an actual dance production, involving flamenco and ballet styling. It lasted almost two hours and was comprised of 9 dancers and 12 musicians ranging from 3 singers to a cello player to a drummer. It was unlike anything I ever witnessed before. After, I noted how it was definitely something I am glad I experienced, but would much rather sit through a Broadway production for that long and at that price!
Friday I celebrated the birthday of a friend at her host mom’s apartment who was nice enough to invite all of her friends over for appetizers, alcohol, and cake! My favorite part was when we sang happy birthday, but not. Her “mom” led us in a rendition of a traditional Spanish birthday song. She also poured us each a glass of champagne and in the birthday girl’s glass went a ring. She then has to drink the champagne (without swallowing the ring in the process) and it is supposed to bring some sort of good luck! I love learning about all these little traditions.
The cake that we had was SO good and eating it was followed by dancing the Macarena in the cramped living room. Later that night, we went for churros and chocolate, something I had been missing out on since I got here! While I did enjoy them, I am certain that I can find a better chocolateria around here somewhere, even though this was the most famous one! Besides, I am not opposed to doing research when it comes to churros and chocolate if that is the sacrifice I have to make for when my mom comes and visits! I’m pretty sure she is more excited to try these than see me…
Saturday I slept in (finally!) and wandered to Sol to pick up a Real Madrid scarf. Afterwards, I tried a fried calamari sandwich which is something else Madrid is known for! It was SO good (and not good for you) and less than 2 Euro! That’s one thing that amazes me here. Even though the Euro is expensive to our dollar, things that are here are so cheap! You can get a good sandwich for less than 2 Euro at almost any restaurant and every time I go to the grocery store I am so surprised at how far 20 Euro can get you! Later, I needed to write postcards so went to this ice cream shop I had read about that is really close to me. It was very tasty and I finally got my postcards written!
Later that night was La Noche en Blanco. It is a big festival that happens once a year where the main street Gran Via closes down and decorated with beautiful lights, the Plaza Mayor is covered in white balloons, and all the museums, theaters, parks, art galleries, and music venues offer free things. My favorite part was how in four plazas they had big screens set up playing videos that were dance lessons. The plazas were packed with people all doing this dance while looking up at this screen.
Before, we all met at an Irish pub to watch the UF vs. Tennessee football game. I did not think that I would, but I actually miss watching a good ol’ game of pigskin every now and then, especially now that Miami is apparently doing good! While there, we also saw people eating some American fare, and I can tell you, I have never been craving a hamburger more in my life than I am right now. On the bright side, we went to a gelato place called El Cupido which was amazing. By far, the best gelato I have had since I have been here so that was a success!
But back to La Noche! While if I was a local, I am sure that I would pick a movie to go to or art gallery to peruse, but for us it was just fun to walk around and observe everything going on. Even while walking home, we randomly walked by an outdoor screen set-up showing some Japanese film. It was crazy to me how there were still little kids out at 2am, but such is the life of a madrileno!
And finally to today! My dad told me about la Vuelta de Espana that was ending here in Madrid today. It is like the Spanish version of the Tour de France and apparently there were some pretty big riders participating. I looked at the schedule and knew I would be cutting it close but decided to go wander towards the route this afternoon anyways. I went to a Plaza and plopped myself down to wait and see if any action would occur before I had to leave. Unfortunately, all I got to see was what looked to be the race for the younger people or maybe just testers for the course? Either way, it was cool to see bikers nevertheless, but I would have loved to see the actual race!
Nevertheless, it was all ok because tonight I had the Real Madrid game! We made sure to get there with plenty of time. The away team must come from relatively close to Madrid because they sure had A LOT of fans that were not scared to show their support throughout the entire game. We collectively sat at the top two rows of the GIANT stadium but it really was not too bad because at least we could watch the whole game!
It was definitely the nosebleed section, and for once in my life, my nose did bleed. It was such an amazing environment. Although you always here about how into soccer the Europeans are, until you are in a stadium with almost 100,000 fans can you really take it all in and truly understand their devotion to these teams. Thankfully, Madrid pulled it out 5-0. I say thankfully because although, yes I do live here and would want them to win, but also, I was wearing a scarf and was not in the mood to be heckled the whole way home.
The best goal came from Ronaldo, of course, when he headed the ball in off a corner kick. It was just classic.
Wow, so yes, this weekend was full of all sorts of experiences and I am absolutely exhausted. I do not have a full week ahead so I am sure I will have plenty of time for rest and recuperation!