WOW. To say the least this is FLYING by. It’s already tuesday of my third week here, and with everything that’s happening, I’ve barely had time to type up my happenings. I want to write a post later covering the differences in attitudes between Europeans and Americans, but first, I need to fill in the blogosphere on what I’ve been galavanting around doing.
After morning classes and a much needed siesta, my group had our excursion in Lavapéis, a neighborhood (barrio, in Spanish) in Madrid that’s known mostly for an area of immigrants. This is where my old host family was from, smack dab in the middle of the area. Lavapéis is an area where you can get all sorts of food, especially Indian. But mostly, its an area of people from all of the world. We saw an old Tabacco factory, other churches and stuff, and a historic cinema (which me, being a film nerd) totally geeked out over. After what felt like a lifetime of walking down old cobblestone streets, we all parted ways with plans. I went over to Walk to Wok, a stir fry to go restaurant with Kayla, Matt, Allen, and Rachel. I know, I ate Chinese food in Madrid, but I regret nothing. Finally something other than ham and cheese. After that, we headed over to Círculo de Bellas Artes, and the 360 rooftop bar on top to meet our friends. A majority of the pals from Auburn were there, and it was quite fun let me tell you. We sipped on strawberry mojitos and sangria, while taking pictures of the beautiful Madrid skyline of city scape and mountains far in the distance. We went home early, as early classes and hot days started to take a toll on my body.
Today, I made the mistake of taking the siesta too far. But after class naps were much needed today. After all that, we ate a tapa type dinner in our host apartment. Then, my roommates and I met up with our friend Sidney in Retiro. We hung out with the sounds of the city night, and then headed over to Sol to see the happenings of a Wednesday night. We ended up at Dubliners, of all places, which is the place I’ve heard the most Spanish in Spain. It was quite the fun night out, and as it was late, I ran to catch the last metro so I could sneak in some sleep before class.
When you study abroad, you almost forget you are actually STUDYING. Today, I felt quite sick but I had a final exam the next day so I dragged myself to class and got through it. After a siesta that helped me feel like a new person, I found a cute cafe near Aton Martín called el Infinito. I had a cappuccino and a coca-cola (because its just that much better here), and studied with my friend for our first final exam. Even though it was studying, it was quite enjoyable to sit in a cafe in the middle of Spain. Hey, no complaining here. As the cafe closed and we still had a bit of studying to do and hunger to find a solution to, we headed on over to Mcdonalds. I wonder why the Mcdonalds here are a million times nicer than the US, for goodness sake, the have a macroon bar and ordering tablets?? USA catch up?
Today is the day!!!! After class, we headed home to nap and pack before we took the metro all the way to the Madrid airport. We eventually boarded our plane, that once we were on we were delayed about an hour (that’s what you get on budget airlines, right?) but eventually we took off towards the Green Isle. It was quite the rough flight, and I wouldn’t be lying if I didn’t start praying out of pure terror when we were on that flight. About 2 hours later, we landed in a very cold (FINALLY) Dublin! It was after midnight, and we were extremely sleepy. After taking a taxi to our hotel, we went to sleep in anticipation for taking on Dublin. (BUT PSA I forgot they drive on the other side of the road in Ireland, it was quite confusing)
After a few hours of struggling to figure out the public transportation, we finally hopped on the bus to city centre. As we started to get closer to downtown, I instantly fell in love with this city. Our first stop was the touristy center of Dublin, the Guinness Museum. 5 floors of learning the history of this brew was quite fascinating actually, as it pretty much sustains the Irish economy (something like 2/3 of the barely in Ireland is bought by Guinness). After some history lessons, we learned how to properly taste Guinness in the tasting room after smelling the vapors and ingredients that make up the beer. The advertisement floor was very interesting, to be honest. As Guinness really puts a lot of effort in their advertisements and philosophy, which I appreciate a whole lot. A quote we read was “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” which clearly she doesn’t. After making our way up to the gravity bar, we were poured our included pint of Guinness, and viewed the skyline of Dublin, Ireland. After we saw the 360 view that was crowded with tourists, we headed to a bar on where there was an Irish band playing. I finally felt like I was in Ireland, and I was living for it. It was cold, and I loved it. After Guinness, we walked about 30 minutes to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was huge and beautiful! Then, we ventured over to St. Stephen’s Green. We took our Kinder Bueno bars and water and sat by the water, with the sound of seagulls and it was lovely. We then walked on over to Grafton Street, a famous pedestrian street in Dublin known for it’s shopping and street musicians. By street musicians I don’t mean someone messing around with a keyboard I mean everything from a full scale band, to the future Ed Sheehan in the streets. We then let ourselves get lost in city centre and I fell more in love with Dublin. We then, of all places in Ireland, got Italian food. The pizza filled my heart as the rain fell on the beautiful city outside the window of our restaurant. With more walking around in the city, we discovered a street covered in Irish flags and aligned with pubs. So many stores were so preciously designed and had bright flowers above their windows. We ended our day in the city centre by walking to the River Liffey and Ha’Penny and let me tell you, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The off and on rain showers that Dublin has finally quit, and the sun was setting. There was a pink sky reflecting on the river under this bridge, as well walked along it and got even more immersed in Dublin. It may sound silly, but I didn’t expect to love this city so much. We took the bus back, after a full day, and passed out for an even longer day the next.
We started this day off with the intention of seeing the Kilimanham’s Gaol, an old jail that is used in several music videos and movies. However, one thing I learned about the Irish is that they are very lax when it comes to times, so while the website said you could pay a small fee and walk in whenever, we arrived to snooty security guards telling us to come back at 5pm and pay 15 euros, which we decided wasn’t worth it. You win some and lose some, right? Next we took the bus back to the heart of the city and walked to Trinity College. This beautiful campus was tourist filled, which makes me wonder about the students who actually go here. One of Trinity college’s most famous attractions is the Library long room. It was breathtaking and huge down this hallway of old texts. After we left the library tour, we walked around this gorgeous cobblestone campus. We ended up laying in the grass (well i was on a bench, because I’m allergic to everything), and just relaxed there while we soaked up this wonderful crisp weather and sunshine. This campus was coated in flowers, ivory, and history. After Trinity, we walked to The Brazen Head Bar, the oldest pub in Ireland. Being the tourists that we were, we all ordered Fish n Chips, which literally almost tastes like chicken here. But regardless, I’m a sucker for Fish N Chips and I’ve always wanted to try them from the UK. After an hour or so of taking in the chill vibes that the Brazen Head offered, we then walked back towards the Dublin Castle. I’m a budget traveler, so we took pictures inside the plaza of the castle, and outside of the castle, but by no means was I feeling a 15 euro tour of the inside. After acting like basic chicks from the US, we then kept walking towards to our next activity, the Irish Whiskey Museum. This was one of the coolest things we did. We got to learn about the history and issues of the nation that created this drink, and then at the end got to learn how to taste whiskeys all from new cheap to expensive 12 year old blends. After the 4 types of whiskey settled into our stomachs, we then walked around until we caught our bus to catch a nap at the hotel. We ended up planning our DIY pub crawl for the night before we headed down to the hotel lobby and made friends with an older Irish woman, Vanessa. She had obviously had a bit to drink, but she insisted on giving us advice, and her favorite, the baby guinness that we drank with her and her husband. She told us that the problem with America is we are too scared to say what we think, she told us to speak our minds and do what we want and be brutally honest and live a crazy life. This woman had lived in the US for most of the 90s and moved back to Ireland because the people here live a straightforward life. After the drunken wisdom of Vanessa, we headed to city centre for our DIY pub crawl. We hopped into the closest pub we saw, had one drink and talked, and then quickly headed off for Dame Street. We then went to our second pub, which was much quicker due to the fact that we were bored to pieces by some men from Denmark who decided it was necessary for us to hear all about their individual viking ancestry. As fast as we could, we headed to a highly recommend bar, The Mercantile. They played oldies and 2000s throwbacks and I had the greatest time. By far, one of my favorite bar/pubs on this planet. After that round, we found a burger joint on the corner, and then took a taxi back to the hotel.
We slept in longer than expected, but after we checked out of our hotel, we then headed to the city one more time. Fortunately, our professor allowed us to stay an extra day in Dublin, so we missed a day of class. We strolled Grafton street and the hidden gems of the city centre. I wish I could say I did a bunch of cool things this day, but its one of my favorite things to just walk the streets and take the city in. Dublin streets are some of the cutest and quaintest places on this planet. So after a bit of window shopping and taking in the locals around us, we headed back to the hotel to get our backs, and taxied to the airport. Eventually, we took back off to Madrid, and as a language student, i got the best compliment on the plane. The man next to me asked if I lived in Dublin for work or Madrid (this conversation took place in Spanish). I responded, neither, and explained I’m a student from the US in Madrid for the summer. He then told me he thought I’d been from Ireland or Spain and known spanish my whole life, as I SOUNDED LIKE I KNEW WHAT I WAS SAYING??!! Y’all immersion of a language works wonders because my self confidence in my Spanish was SOARING (get it? we were soaring through the sky?) Anyways, we finally got back to Madrid and took our lovely ole’ metro back to Pacifico and got to our apartment on calle de granada. I was sleepy, but Kayla and I walked to VIPS for a quick snack and drink, before we slept so good back in our home. Madrid finally felt homey, as I was excited to be back. But I realized that I could also live in Dublin, as I already want to go back someday.
Today, I began my new class. This class was much more difficult than the previous, but I still had my favorite professor, Eva. I was now in Spanish Literature and struggling. After those hours past, we came home to nap and the alarm rudely woke me up for our excursion to Malasaña. Once I was only a few minutes late, we briefly walked around and learned about the youthful rebellions in this neighborhood, and how it is now home to hipsters, thrift shops, and some of the coolest bars. After our tour, a group of us grabbed white sangria and food at the cutest little restaurant, Ojalá. Oh how I have missed mac and cheese, and guess what, I HAD MAC AND CHEESE IN SPAIN. It was lovely . After this snack, Kayla Maddie and I walked to another hipster ice cream sandwich shop, and had that, which I could barely eat. As we left Malasaña with plans to return to thrift, we traveled over to Gran Via to shoe shop. I finally got my Spanish platform sandals at ZapShop GOD BLESS. AND only for 19 Euros. Eventually, we headed home for a dinner we didn’t eat due to being full (whoops), and I’ve relaxed and written this blog since.
This next coming week and a half I have so much planned, in so little time, and BOY OH BOY I am excited. Sorry again for the plethora of information, but if you were bored enough to read this, you rock my world. Stay posted for my thrifting adventures, full day in Retiro, and so so much more.
Hasta Luego & xoxo-