I am not going to lie, since I have been in Madrid I have been watching more football than ever before. That’s because along with my Hurricanes (who had a rather rough season) and the couple Steelers games that I have been able to catch, I have become an active follower of Real Madrid. Sure you can knock me for following the “Yankees of soccer,” but it’s not my fault they are the best.
When we first came here, my roommates and I made it a quick point to find a local bar to be our go-to spot to watch games but sometimes (like last weekend), UM and Real Madrid played at the same time so I ended up watching both at once at a friend’s apartment.And it turns out I have some pretty cool friends who choose to take me places. Last week I got invited to go to a Real Madrid basketball game. It’s kind of confusing with both sports teams playing by the same name but it also adds some solidarity to the city which I like. So unlike everyone in the US deprived of some basketball action, I got to see a game with even some American players on the team:It was definitely different from American basketball. The game seemed a bit slower, the entire environment wasn’t as “flashy” as I’d consider American arenas to be, and the periods were only ten minutes each. Regardless, people got into it and I still had a good time watching…
But I have to admit, I was really excited when another friend offered me a ticket to the Real Madrid football game this past Tuesday. When I studied abroad here, I got to go to one game and we were high above in the nose bleeds:This time, however, we were a lot closer and it was a lot easier to follow and get in on the action. The team we were playing was not so great so when we left (ten minutes early) the score was 6-0 and we were playing our B-team the whole time. By the end, the other team managed to score two goals but I didn’t see that part.Now that the Hurricanes are done for the season, it seems as if Real Madrid may be my last hope for sports redemption. The team is doing better this year than in the recent past and a big contender for some championships which I am hoping comes to fruition because there’s nothing that will get Spaniards celebrating more than a football victory.
Thanksgiving has always held a special place in my heart. Every year we pack up the car and drive to the tiny ski town of Red River, New Mexico where my grandparents live. The day usually involves waking up early to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, skiing for a couple hours, and of course, lots of cooking and eating. I especially cherish the time I spend bonding with my grandma over preparing fruit salad, warming up bread, and setting the table. Every year is more or less the same and every year is absolutely perfect. For that reason, it’s hard to be away from home on this holiday. 2009 marked the first time I have ever been apart from my family on this holiday when I studied in Madrid. Me and a few close friends made do with what we had and it wasn’t bad. This time around, I wanted to make it even better.
I started preparations a week earlier and made trips to The American Store and Taste of America, the two shops here where they sell overpriced imports from the US to nostalgic expats like myself. There, I snagged cranberry sauce, jellied cranberry, gravy mix and ordered a pumpkin pie to pick up Wednesday. As much as I wish I could have made one from scratch, at the end of the day, we had too many other things to prepare! Our group consisted of four girls and three guys so we put the boys in charge of the drinks and snacks, while the women handled the cooking. We ended up making mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and bought a roasted turkey. Since all of us worked during the day we didn’t have time to prepare a turkey ourselves and to be honest, I didn’t want to go through the labor. With a little help from my best friends at The Food Network, we ended up with a delicious feast. Of course, it’s nice to take time regularly to reflect on what you’re thankful for, but in this fast paced world it’s easy to forget. That’s why I’m thankful (not to be cliche) for this holiday to bring to light all the great things I have going for me. I have an amazingly supportive family that is never anything but encouraging and loving, the best friends who are always there to help, listen, and have fun with me, and a myriad of opportunities at my feet. Walking the streets of Madrid, I often think “What did I do to deserve the chance to be here?” And I know it’s because of everyone in my life. So to you, I say thanks!
I cannot believe how much time has passed since I last blogged. With aims of not boring you with every mundane detail of my life, I sometimes forget to say anything at all. Since I last wrote of Halloween festivities, a few members of Anna’s family came in which made for a full apartment but very enjoyable weekend. On one of the nights they were here we made our return to the Prado for the first (and certainly not last) time. Afterwards, I had the most authentic Madrid dinner to date consisting of oxtail stew, rabbit with escargot, lamb and fish with prawns. It was delicious.
Rabbits and snails anyone?
Once they jetted off to Valencia, I experienced my first full week of school in awhile, ripe with two private classes, meetings, and rambunctious children that left me pretty exhausted by the end of it all. Overall, the week actually went by pretty fast and soon enough it was the weekend again and we (or should I say Anna) had another visitor. She’s making me feel rather unpopular so if any of you have even the tiniest inkling to visit Spain, I’m telling you there is no better time than now. Just sayin’…
Ahead of me is another full week of school, a Yelp event tomorrow night, and whatever else presents itself along the way. At the beginning of this post I did say that I wanted to avoid boring you with mundane details about my life and since I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I just did, I will leave you with five more or less interesting recent observations:
- I heard that recently in the U.S. a petition to put graphic pictures on cigarette boxes was struck down. Here, they do that and on one side is this message while the other has a picture of a tumor, cancerous cells, or something of the like. The one on this box was a little too graphic to post but this sentence basically lets the smoker know smoking endangers your health and the health of those around you. Can’t say it dissuades many people from smoking still.
- Walking to work the other day I came across these poles outfitted in yarn. I think it’s cool someone took the time to do something like that for no real reason:
- While studying abroad my coffee-hating self fell in love with café con leche but these days I’m all about the cortado, it’s tinier, less-milky cousin.
- You always hear about how young adults in Spain live with their parents until they are 30 and now that I actually have friends in their mid-twenties doing this, you realize just how prevalent it is. On the plus side you don’t have to worry about paying for rent and plenty of food is included but you can imagine some grievances. This trend is even more pervasive these days seeing as unemployment is at an all time high- a whopping 21.5 percent. Have I mentioned Spain is in the midst of a severe economic crisis?
- Finally, Podcasts are wonderful. They’ve become my saving grace as far as entertainment goes on my long bus ride. Every day I download the most recent Today Show (first hour) and NBC Nightly News to watch, while NPR’s weekly “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” current events quiz show is so funny. I also have an instructional German Podcast to help me brush up on my German but I’m not going to lie, that one can sometimes put me to sleep. Let me know if you have any other suggestions!
So we have arrived to Day 5 of yet again another long weekend devoid of school duties. Not to brag but my life is anything but tedious these days. To tell the truth, sometimes I get jealous hearing friends complain about studying for tests and being bogged down by work but in the end, I know I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.
This weekend has consisted of lots of sleep, an intercambio or two, watching the Steelers game, celebrating Halloween and one thing I’m most proud of: discovering a new market.
On Saturday night I met up with my friend Carl and his group to go to El Tigre. When one of his friends needed to take out cash, we went on a difficult search for an ATM (I swear they are everywhere here until you really need one and then they seem to vanish). It ended up being fine though because while wandering, we ran into el Mercado de San Anton, a newly remodeled old market I have never even heard of. I knew that I needed to visit ASAP so yesterday me and Anna took a midday excursion.
It’s very similar to el Mercado de San Miguel but multiple stories, less crowded, and it has it’s own restaurant. After exploring we decided to sit down for a bite. She had a Greek salad while I feasted on hummus served alongside some warm pita. Hummus isn’t sold in grocery stores here like it is in the states so I was definitely craving it.
All in all it was a really cool place that I am looking forward to going back to. Afterwards we watched Captain American and hit the streets as Indians for Halloween. You can catch some pics below.