Archive | July, 2011

Sevilla

27 Jul

The weekend of July 8th-10th I went down to Sevilla (apparently is Seville in English but did not know that until Tony rudely corrected me) to stay with Yiannis and Lolo and meet up with Kerry and Maura again. I planned on leaving work early that friday to get to Sevilla at 8 pm. But when I went to the bus station, the earliest I could get in was midnight. So I went back to apartment to “work from home” and finally 4 hours later than planned got on my bus. It was a tough decision taking the bus, because the train is 2 hours and 80€ while bus is 6 hours and 20€. I opted to save a lot more money and be uncomfortable.

Anyways so I got into Sevilla a little past midnight and Yiannis, Kerry and Maura all picked me up at the bus station. Apparently I missed out on Lolo’s month earthly birthday party earlier that night, which was kinda sad, and meant he wouldn’t be joining us that night. It was a whole 10 minute walk back to his apartment (I love how walkable everything is here!) and then headed out for the night. Yiannis took us to his favorite place, which of course was an american bar called “Tex Mex”. Sadly, they were not serving food anymore and despite there being a huge awesome banner that said “BEER PONG!” they were also not hosting beer pong. So instead we just each did a shot of jäger (weird, it’s become a drink of choice…) and headed to Triana which is the neighborhood Yiannis lives in. On our way Maura and I realized we were starving, and the only place opened at like 2:30 was the McExpress window and the 1€ menu. So we got like a million burger, chicken burgers and sets of fries. After than we finally made it to the other side of the river and there were lots of fun little bars to pop in and out of. We eventually got bored and headed home, where Yiannis and I were more than excited to watch some episodes of How I Met Your Mother. I am truly an addict. When Maura fell asleep during an episode we decided it was time for bed. Yiannis was the biggest gentleman in the world and gave me his own bed and the girls his dad’s bed, while he slept on the couch. I was super tired and almost crashed immediately but Yiannis came in to say good night to us all saying “Goodnight bitchez”. I grumbled goodnight and actually don’t remember if he made me say it or if I just did by choice but I ended with “Goodnight Mr. Pimp”. It was all in good fun and became a fairly entertaining inside joke (a new english term I taught Yiannis!).

Yiannis let us all sleep in the next day, which was super nice, and then we headed out to be tourists!

Maura, me and Kerry on the Purte de Triana (bridge of Tirana, actually named Puente Isabel II) on our way to the main parts of town.

This is the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza - the bull fighting stadium of Sevilla! It was really cool to hear Yiannis talk about the bull fighting. As he put it, the toreros are the Spanish equivalent of Brett Favre or Peyton Manning (Yiannis happens to be a huge NFL fan). Tourists frequent the events, but mostly it is locals. Many people buy season tickets and there is an annual poster that always has a list of which toreros will be win (like a better version of the ugly NFL schedule we had in our suite this year).

The Torro de Oro - Gold Tower. This gorgeous little fortress is right on the side of the main road. It served as a prison and also protected precious metals in the top of it.

La Catedral - The Sevilla Cathedral. Thanks to wikipedia I now know it is the largest gothic cathedral in the world, and the third largest church in the world. When it was built (16th century) it was the first to surpass the Hagia Sophia, which if you paid attention in middle school history that should mean something. It is one of the many buildings I have seen in Spain that was worked on or built by the muslims and then taken over by the Catholics. It makes for some AWESOME architecture.

The Giralda - the largest of the former minarets and now bell tower of the Cathedral. You can go to the top, which we did, using the 34 steep ramps that were in place so horses could also go to the top.

A view of Sevilla from the Giralda! Also Yiannis' Tex Mex restaurant is right down that street.

 

Kerry, me and Maura at the top with the city behind us.

After la Catedral and wandering around the streets we started our route home. We stopped and got more of my favorite spanish drink Tinto de Verano. We also met up with Lolo and one of Kerry’s friends from a previous trip to Sevilla. I taught the group how to play slap cup and then after a couple unsuccessful tries we went to a flamenco bar with actual flamenco going on. It wasn’t the type of flamenco I really remembered because it was just a woman singing (not dressed up, and sitting) next to a man on his guitar. There was a stage for them in the bar, but instead they sat along the bench the rest of the bar sat along. So complete strangers just came and sat right next to them while they played. Kerry and Yiannis were really into it, but Maura and I decided we were fully cultured enough to enjoy it. It was really cool though just to see how much everyone in the bar was into it. No one was talking, just really enjoying in the singing and playing. I did really like it when the man played his guitar and sang at the same time. Male flamenco singing is really impressive. I suppose even if Maura and I didn’t fully “get it” it was still a cool and very necessary Spanish experience.

We finally made it home around 3 or something like that, but the other girls had to wake up at like 5:30 to get a cab for their super early train to Granada. There was some mild drama including Maura and Lolo but because of the extra bodies Kerry, Maura and I ended up all sharing the dad’s bed. In the Sevillan summer this proved to be a very sweaty experience, but got better for me when they left at whatever ridiculous hour. It was sad saying good bye to them because I had such a good time for two weekends, so hopefully I’ll be able to visit them both at school in washington at some point.

When Yiannis and I finally got up at 11 or 12, I still had a few hours to go see things. We took Lolo to the bus top and then headed to see some last sites. We saw the “green” city department, many buildings from the University, City Hall, the old super expensive 5-star hotel and other random things. But my favorite was, unsurprisingly, this one:

The Plaza de España (or as pronounced in Sevillan Spanish Platha d'epaña). It is a totally gorgeous building/plaza and although covered in Tourists there are also many official offices in it. Yiannis had to come here for university and license type things. Imagine if our DMVs looked like this...

Much like the monument in DC that has towers for all of the states, the Plaza de España has little pictures and maps for all of the provinces of Spain. There is also a zoomed in map of Sevilla and this is Yiannis showing off right where his apartment is. I don't know if you'll be able to tell but it's in a great location! (The oval by his back hand is The Plaza de España, his left foot is on the Cathedral and one of the yellow dots between his hand and the Plaza is the Torre de Oro.)

The last thing I had to get a picture of were the locks on the Puente de Triana. The bridge was SO covered in them that police had to come and clip them all off for fear of too much weight. But the idea is that couples come, write their names on a lock, lock it to the bridge and then throw the key in the water signifying their love is forever. It's a really cute idea and there are still a fair number of locks.

Sevilla is a very old and cute seeming city. It was fun just to walk around and listen to Yiannis spew random facts about every single building. Prada studied abroad his this last semester which I’m not sure I would want to do. It’s a little small but I’m sure that has its appeal too. Definitely worth a weekend trip though and it made it better to go stay with locals 🙂

 

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Addendum to Las Discotecas

18 Jul

Jaquelene, Sasha, me and two other vandy kids at the Cave bar!

Dancing up on the poles!

SO glad Sasha captured all of these. The ENTIRE group outside of Kapital! Jaquelene and Sasha are to the left of me, our two french friends to the right and everyone else is more vanderbilt kids!

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Sevilla and London should be coming shortly!

4th of July

7 Jul

Although I am one of the most american people you have ever met your life, I do not really go crazy on the 4th. Also I feel like I should say that 95% of the awesome people in my heritage are on my dad’s side, but on the 4th I should celebrate the one on my mom’s side, Josiah Bartlett, signer of the declaration of independence. Anyways it has come to my attention that because I have been at summer national for fencing the previous 7 years, I have now spent NINE 4th of Julys in 9 different cities. Well actually that’s mildly incorrect because 2 nationals were in Atlanta. The point is, I’m always fencing or am going to fence soon on the 4th. All my friend in high school spend the 4th together at each others beach houses. I have always missed out.

I actually forgot that I would have friends with me in Madrid on the 4th. My plan was to make an american flag cake and share it/joke about it with my Colombian and Indian flatmates. However my friend Kerry (year below me at OES) and her friend Maura from college were staying with me on the night of the 3rd and 4th. And thus bloomed my plan for a crazy 4th. It turns out Prada also had 2 boys staying with him the 3rd-5th.

During our 2 hour lunch break on Monday Prada and I planned the night. He bought burger and hot dog makings. I bought cake and cocktail makings.

After work (haha no day off!) I headed home. The Reina Sofia museum was free in the late afternoons on Mondays so the girls and I had planned to go before festivities. We had barely talked to the two boys at all but I offered them to come with us. Prada didn’t want to come, so the 5 of us headed out. The boys names are Lolo and Yiannis and it gets quite complicated when we all try to communicate. Lolo speaks french the best and then can carry on in spanish but not at high speeds. Yiannis conveniently speaks spanish, french and english. Kerry and I speak spanish and english (and I mean my french is in really great shape). And poor Maura only speaks English. So on the 40 minute walk over it was mostly the 3 of us in english and the 2 of them in french.

It got a little better when we got to the museum. Like everyone else, we spent a good 20 minutes staring at this:

Picasso's Guernica

And I particularly liked this exhibit:

Us in the crazy room.

Sadly we only got like 50 minutes in the museum because it took a while to walk there, but we hurried home because we had a lot to look forward too.

As soon as we got home we followed good stereotypes – the boys cooked the meat and we worked on finishing the cake and the cocktails.

So, so, delicious.

HELL YEAH

Red, White and Blue Cocktails! With blue pop rock rims!

The idea was actually to have red pop rocks on the blue drink, but the “red” pop rocks, or Peta Zetas as they are known here, I bought were actually yellow. Also, I used Bitter Kas as my mixer for the red cocktails. OMG. ew. never have it. But the other two drinks were good, and we also had coke and some Tinto de Verano in the fridge. We filled up on burgers (and the boys had hot dogs too) and I kept mixing drinks for people. After dinner we did some cleaning up and busted out the cards.

We somehow decided Kings would be an appropriate game. The whole not-every-one-being-able-to-communicate thing got complicated fast. But luckily Yiannis was quick to translate for Lolo and Maura got good at telling me off whenever I diverted to spanish. It was ridiculous and probably one of the best games of Kings I have ever played. Lolo lost all four of the seven heaven. And three of the  8s turned up really early in the game so Prada, Maura, Yiannis and I were stuck drinking together for almost the whole game. Yiannis got question master for most of the game and I was just not on top of my game. He EASILY got me to answer his STUPID STUPID unimportant questions more than 30 times. But that also meant he made himself drink every time. Lolo instated the drink-with-your-non-dominant-hand rule which got him more times than anyone else. After we were sufficiently drunk we decided it was cake time. Nitish wanted some too so we all gathered in the kitchen. I made everyone stand around and say something they love about America before we could eat it. I really only remember that Yiannis thanked america for the hamburger. Regardless the cake turned out really well (I mean who doesn’t like cream cheese frosting).

After some cake spilling and attempted cleaning up, we headed out. I had made quite the plan for us (which ended up being completely pointless). First stop was Callejon de Serrano, a classy club popular among the IE crowd. We arrived, and as expected it was open, but there was NO ONE (like actually no one) in there. I was disappointed but said we should move on to club number two. However Yiannis wanted to stay, so we wandered in. The disco lights and music were going strong, with just the bartender there. Yiannis decided to look extremely cool and ordered 5 coke and rums. However, I don’t think (even though I tried to tell him) he realized how expensive drinks can get at clubs (even if no one is there). So the nice 45€ the bartender asked for kinda freaked him out. We all chipped in and then huddled around the cool comfy chairs in the back. We then stayed like an hour and played thumper (I was going to link to a youtube but they’re all really lame). Our bear, bunny and moose quickly got confused for each other, as did snake and electric eel.

Eventually we decided to leave, and walked to our next destination – Gabana. Nitish said it should be poppin and it was definitely supposed to be open. It was a nice half hour walk – we all split up into pairs and chatted along the way. But once we arrived, Gabana was actually closed! There were also 3 cabs that pulled up full of people who also wanted to party there. I knew some americans were going to be partying near Sol, the area where I was my first week in Madrid, so we took cabs there.

The girls and Lolo at the most famous statue in Puerta del Sol

This is a cool plaza and at night there are always people out advertising their clubs. One man told us to go to the Dubliners, an irish place I had actually been too before. The atmosphere was cool and drinks were cheap so we headed there. There were lots of americans there, who we didn’t really talk to much just yelled out GO AMERICA a lot.

We found a nice plastic flag in the bathroom, which then became a straw…

America doing what america does best.

The bar actually closed at 3 (LAME) so we wandered around for a while. Made friends in another little plaza. The finally around 4 decided to take cabs back home. It was another one of those great go-with-the-flow nights.

The boys actually live in Sevilla, and the girls are in Portugal at the moment but are headed to Sevilla for the weekend. And so I am also going down to join them. The dream team will be united again! Minus Prada haha. But yeah should be fun.

P.S. No, I did not just learn how to use links for the first time in this post.

Las Discotecas

4 Jul

I have not been posting enough about the club scene in Madrid. The top clubs are open until 6 am on the weekends and most people do indeed stay until then. One thing I have found is that, especially because I am here on my own, my party habits have felt a lot like september of freshman year at Brown. Not because I’ve been drinking ridiculous amounts, but because I just kind of hop around hanging out with different groups. Both for my own sake and to hopefully entertain y’all I’ll do my best to recount my Friday night.

Jackson, the MIT fencer, had told me Thurday that his flat was throwing a bit of a despedida (going away party) for some flatmates on Friday. 3 other MIT kids lived there with him, but there were also some other random people who were there last time I was, so I assumed it was them. I had enjoyed the MIT kids company last time, so what I thought was going to go down was hang/say goodbye to the random people then party MIT style. A little after 10 Jackson fbooked and said they’d prolly be at his place hanging, drinking and what not for a while so I should come now. I threw on some make up and a cute top and took the metro down to Gran Via (his apartment is on one of the best metro stops and in the center of town). When I got let in I came into his apartment and Jackson turned to some girl and was like “we have another American!!” Jackson offered me his chair around a table covered in random drinks and a cake and said he had to go do something in his room. I sat down between the other American, Sasha, and a french girl. I quickly realized everyone else around the table was also french. Right as I got there Sasha had apparently spilled chocolate from the cake on her white tank top and asked me what she would do. For the first time EVER the tide to go pen in my purse was so clutch. I whipped it out and it actually cleared up her tank top extremely well! The frenchies were all very amazed by this. And so thanks to a tide to go pen the night of Sasha and Cory was born (note: Sasha is a rising senior at Vanderbilt).

We sat around the table for a while longer chatting with everyone. Most of the frenchies spoke english and Sasha and I even spoke a little french so we embarrassed ourselves a bit and then got ready to hang out. One of the french girls was kind of the focus of the night as she was leaving the next morning. Her plan was to go to a certain bar and then to Kapital, one of the most famous clubs in Madrid. Sasha and I were down with this plan so after we all watched Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night (not sure why) we headed out to the bars together. Although Jackson had been in his room the whole time I was chatting at the table and I had not seen any of the other MIT kids, he did come out to the bars with us.

We wandered to Chueca, Madrid’s gay district. It just so happens it was pride weekend in Madrid so the streets in this area were PACKED. We wandered into one bar that had huge cocktails for 8€, so Sasha and I split a Sex on the Beach. Half of our group was outside smoking and Sasha and I spotted two of the french boys sitting at a table sharing an equally large beer. We went and sat with them. They were François-Xavier and Lukas from Lyon (be more french, right?), ages 20 and 19 (matching Sasha and me haha) also here for an internship, but leaving in a week. After chatting with them and owning our Sex on the Beach we went outside to wander with the group and supposedly find another bar. Please recall the streets were super packed so we tried really hard to keep up with everyone. This whole time Sasha was also texting some Vanderbilt friends of her who were in town and wanted to see her that night. They also were planning on going to Kapital so we thought we’d meet up with them then. However as we wandered the streets some of the other frenchies and Jackson decided to call it a night. We ended up losing the one girl who the party was for (Sasha’s reason for being there in the first place). So Sasha, the 2 french boys and I decided we should head to meet up with the other Vanderbilt kids. We headed to the main street to find a cab. Sasha’s friends had told her the name and address of the place they were at, so even though they weren’t answering their phone, we decided to head there.

Which brings us here:

The Cave Bar - Chapandaz (google images)

This place was oddly tacky and AWESOME at the same time. It is also the only place I have been carded the whole time I’ve been in Madrid. Who knows if they actually bothered to figure out my wonderful Oregon license. Anyways we went in and proceeded to meet about a million Vanderbilt kids. Sasha didn’t even know most of them, but one was a sorority sister of hers and one of the guys she was good friends with. This guy, Cole, ordered us all tequila shots (complete with a passed around salt shaker and pieces of lemon for all). Thank you Brown Women’s Fencing for assuring I did not look like a n00b in this situation. Another girl there, Jaquelene, seemed pretty cool so her and I were chatting. Most of these Vanderbilt kids had been here since mid May for study abroad and were leaving within the week (Sasha has a tutoring job and had actually just gotten to Madrid). Jaquelene also said they had come to this bar a lot and it played a lot of old really fun music.

Jaquelene: One time we were here, they even played Mambo #5. It was so fun!

Me: Oh yeahh clubs here seem to like bring back the old awesome american songs. I was at a place a couple weeks ago and they played Wannabe. I was pretty psyched haha.

And as if the DJ had heard us, the next song played was Mambo #5. Luckily since America (well our music at least) is so awesome that the frenchies knew this song (and all the other ones) so they had just as much fun as us. And believe it or not, I swear I’m not lying, the next song played was Wannabe. Jaquelene and I freaked out quite a bit both times haha. Cole got us all another round of Tequila shots and after Memories played (Lukas loves Kid Cudi) we decided to head towards Kapital. We ended up needing 3 cabs to get us all to Kapital (ridiculous) but I ended up in one with Sasha, Jaquelene and a girl named Lauren. Turns out Lauren is from Birmingham, lives about 5 minutes from Laney and Phoebe and when I mentioned that I fence it turns out a certain other alabama fencer went to the same high school as Lauren. It’s always fun to find out what a small world we live in.

Anyways after our cab and the other 2 arrived, we entered here:

Kapital main dance floor - from Map Magazine

Let me read some online descriptions of this club. From Frommer’s: “This is the most sprawling, labyrinthine, and multicultural disco in Madrid at the moment. Set within what was originally a theater, it has seven different levels, each sporting at least one bar and an ambience that’s often radically different from the one you just left on a previous floor. Voyeurs of any age can take heart — there’s a lot to see at the Kapital, with a mixed crowd that pursues whatever form of sexuality seems appropriate at the moment.”

From some site: “The nightclub Kapital is one of the most famous in Madrid. It has seven floors and three dance floors with different types of music. Located in the center of the city, it is claimed as one of the most modern clubs for its ambience as well as the music.”

Lol from Madrid.com: “Kapital is a very famous club in Madrid. A huge one: seven floors, a rooftop terrace and three dance floors. Always a party going on and even karaoke bars… Quite fun finally!”

Anyways this is a very famous club and was definitely full of a mix of people. We started out on the karaoke floor where me and the other girls sang what I’m sure was a wonderful rendition of Hips Don’t Lie. Afterwards we headed to the main dance floor. There are poles up on little stages that we spent some time dancing on. This is also a common scene:

Google images

There are huge cold smoke blowing machines on the main dance floor. In action:

It’s quite loud and mildly scary at first but then you get kinda used to it and start to appreciate it. Since it’s such a popular and famous club, a lot of american’s end up here. We met a group of all very similar looking NYC boys and danced with them for a while. I also danced with some of the Vanderbilt boys, who are quite polite haha. At some point I was just with Lauren and Jaquelene who were going to leave, which I was kind of down to leave too, but wanted to find Sasha first. Which is when Sasha and the rest of the crew wandered out of the main dance floor and said it was time to head upstairs! We all piled into an elevator and headed up to the 7th floor, which is the terrace floor. I don’t think we were there for that long (note: Sasha and I decided to go for the 2 drinks plus cover charge) but it was really cool. There were tons of couches and stuff so we just chilled until mr. security guard started ushering everyone back downstairs. Somehow the entire crew all ended up together and exited the club at 5:56 AM. A bunch of the Vanderbilt kids all said goodbye to each other (one of them had to be at the airport in an hour), the frenchies wrote down our name so they could find us facebook lol and then I helped Sasha find a cab. She’s actually living in a house quite far from downtown which makes things mildly inconvenient. Since the metro opens at 6 AM, the rest of the crew and I walked to the metro to use that to go home. I lived in the opposite direction of everyone so said my goodbyes to the massive group of Vanderbilt kids that I will probably never see again and headed to my train. I think I was falling asleep between metro stops, but I made it to Diego de Leon safely and crashed hard core when I got into the apartment.

Anyways, like I said, I mostly wrote down that story in such detail for myself. I tend to ramble quite a lot when I’m just typing away. But as you can see it’s quite the funny lifestyle when you don’t have a set group. I started out the night thinking I would just be with MIT kids, but instead spent the night with frenchies and then with Vanderbilt kids with no MIT kids at all. You just gotta go with the flow. Y’know?

Two New Meals

3 Jul

Meal 1:

Les crêpes!

With cheese and chicken! They may not be pretty but they were actually delicious.

and with nutella for dessert.

 

Meal 2 (made this one last night):

Oh hell yeah. Teriyaki type rice with chicken and egg rolls with dippin sauce.