A Travellerspoint blog

To run with the bulls or not to run with the bulls....

After resting most of the day :P I packed for out trip to J's grandparent's house in Cebolla (a village about an hour north of Madrid). Wow, it's incredible how different one place can be from another only a short drive away. This was definitely a low-key type of place. Even C and J were doing their best to not hype it up saying "you really don't even have to come, it's not special at all." :) But, in all honesty when else am I going to have the chance to visit a real Spanish village with a big Spanish family? Not in my near future, so I said why not?! I'm glad I did.

If you could imagine a typical "old Spanish house", this place would come to mind. Picture large doors that are opened by a key that resembles that of an ancient castle. (I snuck a pic and attached it below). I was greeted by J's whole family, the siblings I met in Murcia plus his parents and another sister. C refers to J's mom as the "mother hen". She prepared the entire dinner by herself and after the children ate, we set a new table for us adults and began to eat. First was a small serving of vegetables with oil, followed by a salad made up of tuna, tomatoes, olives, onions, etc., which is a typical "country Spanish dish." We all talked and laughed, I tried my best to speak in Spanish, which I am improving day by day, but once they get going speaking amongst each other I get pretty lost.

After dinner, they asked me if I wanted to accompany them to the village festival. Apparently every village in Spain holds a festival one weekend (usually in the summer). Cebolla's festival was not until September, and so it is common for people to hop around to their neighboring town's "fiesta" throughout the summer. Anyway I said most definitely and got changed and we were on our way. C was the designated driver :( but she wasn't too bummed. She's the type to dance like nobody's watching-even without alcohol. ;)

I didn't really know what to expect, and it was definitely a new experience. There were vendors selling everything from jewelry to handbags to children's toys. Food trucks also filled the street. There were go karts and a carousel. There was a deli with a large group of teens hanging out outside. The fam informed me that the kids all get alcohol from here, get drunk, and then wander to the stage area later on. Everyone (especially the teenage girls) were dressed to the nines, some even rockin stilettos. It's interesting because here it is sooooo different from what I'm used to back home. We can go out anytime and options are endless, plus we have the greatest city in the world at our fingertips. Here, it is a village! A small town with 1 supermarket, 1 bar, 1 post office.... You get the idea. So this festival is actually the highlight of the summer for its residents.

We walked to the main square, which has a bar and tables set up, as well as a large stage for the night's performances. We walked through the crowd and made our way to the bar. Here, I was introduced to more of J's family members. When J asked me what I wanted to drink I paused to consider my response. I wasn't really in the mood for beer and I wasn't about to ask for a mojito or a margarita (it was a pub for cryin out loud) so I said I'll have a vodka tonic. J seemed very confused. Not as confused as the bartender. Apparently "gin and tonic" is quite common here, and "vodka orange" too, but vodka con tonica??? I'm not sure what he said but he had to clarify a few times. Anyway.... I got my vodka tonic and was then ready to enjoy the festival. Spanish singers graced the stage, first beginning with some 70's American music, followed by today's popular Spanish tunes. I continued to practice my Spanish with the fam and enjoyed listening to the entertainment. At about 4/4:30 a.m we decided to call it a night. We went to a French fry vendor and ordered some patatas fritas before heading to the car.
The place was still packed when we were leaving, and there were actually some people just arriving. I was told that most people stay at the festival all night and the most daring (a.k.a most intoxicated ;) ) run with the bulls at about 7 a.m. J told me him and his friends have done that a few times in their younger days haha. Is it crazy that the thought of trying this "real Spanish experience" actually entered my mind? Well, I quickly came to my senses. :D I read the news way too much and have read about way too many horror stories to be involved in that. Though it still sounds really damn exciting!

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Posted by meg elizabeth 17:00 Comments (1)

Another Successful Stroll...

Today, I decided to get a little lost again. They always say the best nights are those that are spontaneous. I would definitely categorize this one as such. I took the train to Gran Via and walked along the famous street called Fuencarrall. It was very crowded, but a nice place to take a stroll, while checking out the many trendy shops. Then I turned a corner and simply began to wander, hoping to stumble across a fun area. I found my way to Sol, but continued walking in a new direction. I began to feel very lost and felt better when I saw a large street map. I was looking for that "YOU ARE HERE" icon that I'm used to viewing on maps back home, but failed to locate it. I don't know how it wasn't there, but it wasn't lol. So I had no idea where I was, where I was headed, but I actually had no feeling of nervousness or anxiety. Perhaps because I come from a place like nyc where i know I will always come across a subway station to get me home, and I know I need to be careful and alert EVERYWHERE, especially areas that feel sketchy. Any who, once I passed a sex shop and a strip club on the same street, I knew I probably wasn't in the best area. :O So I just continued walking..... And suddenly found myself in front of the Reina Sofia museum. Then I came across a street with many bars/restaurants with outdoor seating that filled the street. The sun was still shining, even at 8:30 p.m and I decided to stop in a bar that advertised its "wifi" so I could figure out where the hell I was and what I was doing, etc. I got in touch with another Aupair and decided to meet at Dubliners, a place known for its friendly atmosphere and English speaking crowd :D. I actually put in Google maps "my current location" as my starting point simply because I had NO clue what my current location was :). Luckily it was a short ride away (only 1 subway stop).
Though when I arrived at Dubliners, I have to admit I was originally disappointed with the service. I read on a Yelp that it's a great place with a friendly staff. The bartender I encountered was quite bitchy. But the owner was not and he gave us tickets for drink specials. So all was well. We did some bar hopping and ended the evening at a dance club called Kapital. I had no idea but apparently it's quite famous and one of the best in Madrid.
It's known for its 7 floors, with a great variety of music and see-through floors. Salud to a Buena Noche !

Posted by meg elizabeth 17:00 Comments (0)

Tapas Chyeaaaaaaa

I returned to my favorite Las Tablas bar (MÙÙS) today to sip on some Tinto Veranos and catch up on blogs. I love the free tapas that are given with every drink. Did I mention that every bar does that here?! But today had to have been the best. Usually I'm given a peanut mix or potato chips (which is fine-ny gives nada with drinks :P).
But today, the bartender gave me chicken strips drizzled with honey mustard and BBQ sauce, followed by gummy bears, followed by potato croquettes. Then, I was even given a free drink! Although tipping is not common here in Europe (unless you are overly impressed with a waiter's service at dinner), I thought a nice tip was appropriate today.

Here's all the tapas I've had at MÙÙS since I've been here:

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Posted by meg elizabeth 17:00 Comments (0)

Not all those who wander are lost ... Or are we? :P

Today I decided to go out and explore a new area of a Madrid. I heard great things about the neighborhood of La Latina. I didn't really research anything beforehand. I figured I'd get off the metro and just figure it out. Well I took the train to the La Latina station and made a left and began to walk... I walked ALOT and didn't seem to come across anything other than a few shops. After I passed another station, I needed to rest my feet. I went into a bar/restaurant that looked like a good spot for a drink and some tapas. I asked the bartender if he had any recommendations, just bearing in mind I don't like "carne". He recommended a salmon tartar dish. It was very tasty. I decided to head back to the metro. Before I got back on the train, I said why don't I just walk a little bit in the other direction. And when I did, I soon realized.... Ok so this is La Latina!!! Many shops, bars, restaurants, all leading to the main square. Here, there was a basketball match being held, but I could not really see anything because there were tall bleachers set up blocking any real view, plus a guard telling patrons they need a ticket to enter. The streets were buzzing with people. When I continued, I found myself in Sol, the city center. I have to admit, it felt good to find myself in familiar territory... Even better to have gotten a bit lost before stumbling upon it on my own. Sometimes you need to get lost in order to make new discoveries right?

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Posted by meg elizabeth 17:00 Comments (1)

Just a thought...

I feel as though I've been so caught up on blogging about my specific everyday experiences that I have failed to mention some key things:

First off, I think I am finally adjusted to "Spanish Time". Lunch is around 3 and dinner is around 10:30. Though I have experienced many dinners beginning as late as 11:30. (Even during the week!) We always feed the children first and then set a new dinner table for the adults.

Secondly, the siesta is very real. I didn't get my nickname Lazybones for nothin, I like my naps. It is almost a given that you will nap after lunch before your very late dinner followed by your very late night out. It's part of the culture! I love a country that not only doesn't judge frequent naps, but strongly encourages them!!!! :D

Also, I get along really well with my host family. Aside my girls being very good for me during the day, I have gained a real friendship with C and J. Especially C. She has been very open and understanding with me since the first day I met her. We talk a lot and laugh all the time. She is such a positive person. She is always happy and relaxed. She's a great mother who is always looking to spend time with her girls when she is not working. She reminds me a lot like my mom :D

Posted by meg elizabeth 17:00 Comments (2)

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