Friday, 30 July 2010

It's the end!

Wow, how time flies!
These last few days have been pretty regular, but some great things have happened. On Thursday all the cousins came to the Abuela's for a picnic and swim fun time. There were 8 of us in total, and It was really fun. The two older girl cousins were the ones I was closest with and I gave them each a card and one I also gave a friendship ancklet and the other I gave 1 US dollar. Then to be fair I also gave their little brother a US Dollar and it was SO cute how he treasured that bill. He even said, in english, "It's my first dollar!" to the Abuela! The whole day all the cousins were speaking in little bits of English here and there. I thought it was so sweet, because I remember when I first got here, all the parents would be like, "practice your english with Julia! Speak English!" But all the cousins would completely refuse. But now, they all happily chirp out things like, "I want more meat!" and stuff! I have positively impacted so many Spanish people! Woo! Then the oldest girl, Sofia, handed me a present. It was so cute... A card that all the cousins signed and in a long box was a big beautiful yellow Spanish fan with flowers painted on it. It was so perfect because everywhere in Spain they sell fans, but I would never get one for myself. But this one was so special because I knew the Abuela picked it out for me to match this one dress I have, and it is just perfectly simple and classic... It reminds me so much of the abuela, and what a great trinket to bring home to remind me of Spain!! I just was so touched!
I was further touched when the Abuela pulled me aside later that day because she wanted to show me lots of things around the house. She showed me certificates of achievement of various family members, trinkets they had collected from various vacations, and tons and tons of photographs of family members ranging from great great grandparents to baby pictures of all the people who I knew! It was so cool to see some of the family's background and also I felt very loved by the Abuela that she wanted to let me into her life like that!
Today as we were leaving the abuela's for the last time, she told me to keep in touch, send her photos, and more, and I definitely plan on doing that!! Then my family and Kaja's went to meet up at Escorial, a monastery palace thing near Madrid. On the way I gave Carmen and Rafa their gifts... A puzzle, a box of candies, each a hand drawn card that was SO cute with a US dollar and one of each coin taped inside, and a little hair clip for Carmen and a toy airplane for rafa! They loved their gifts, except Carmen was jealous of Rafa's plane for a while haha. Then Maica and Rafa surprised me with a present of some really really pretty earrings that I LOVE! It was a lovely gift exchange!
It turned out that Escorial closed before we got there, so we could only see the outside, but it was still cool. The area was also a really nice place. We all got drinks and then walked around for a bit before having a really traditional Spanish Tapas meal at a restaurant. Boy, is it easier to try things when you aren't the one paying! We had tons of spanish dishes, chorizo, fried spanish hot peppers, muscles, fried shrimp rolls, calamari, patatas bravas, and more. A lot of the food was things I would not normally eat, but I tried everything, including an octopus dish that was TERRIBLE, and it was really interesting. Maica even bragged to Kaja's Au-Pairents that I always try everything, because Kaja the vegetarian doesnt, obviously! I was proud to have become more adventurous! Doesn't mean I'm eating vegetables at home mom!
Anyways, then I had to say bye to Kaja and her family, which was sad even if im seeing Kaja again really soon. On the ride home Rafa fell asleep on me, which was cute.
Now I'm packing up to to to the CONUS babyyyy!
Also today after hanging out at the Abuela's for the

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The beginning of the saddest and most happy week ever.

(don't forget to read the portugal weekend post before this one! I'm just separating out the two posts, even though they are being written on the same day)This week is certainly very emotional. I feel so happy to be almost home after being away from my family for the LONGEST TIME EVER IN MY LIFE but I also feel like I am about to leave two of my cousins without knowing when I will ever see them again! It is a little heartbreaking. I have also been like a leaky faucet... getting teary at every left and right!!
Monday was the best day ever...
Carmen and Rafa and I had so much fun... They are super annoying sometimes but I just love them like crazy and even when they start fighting and practically biting each other I think it is so cute. We played about a million games of dominoes, my new favorite game, and then started lining them up to knock them down. Rafita is a huge clutz and kept knocking it all down before we had finished. At first I was frustrated because I actually wanted to finish it, but then I realized that if I was patient he actually might be able to work on his clumsiness. About a million attempts later, he finally was able to stack them all up and he was totally stoked for when we got to "officially" knock them down again!
The other really fun activity we did was making paper boxes. I would have Carmen and Rafa color on blank paper and then I would fold them up into little boxes! It was so much fun and by the end Rafita could even almost fold them up himself! Now they each have about a thousand little paper boxes. Carmen *treasures* the boxes and keeps all her little keepsakes in them! So cute!!
Lastly I decided to make a really pretty one for the housekeeper, Laura, who has helped me so much with the kids and has treated me like a granddaughter. Inside I tucked a note thanking her for her help! I gave it to her and she loved it! It was really pretty if I do say so myself... decorated with colored pencils and stuff!
In the pool we also had a ton of fun, gosh I love those two.
Then in the afternoon Kaja and I went to Madrid, in the Gay quarter. There we went into tons of cool shops before deciding to look for dinner. We ended up walking for like 2 hours trying to find a place we wanted to eat... all around Madrid!!
Then home, where I was so tired (It was like 1 AM) that I didn't have time to write the blog post!

Then came today, which was actually THE BEST DAY EVER!!!
It started out with any other day, except I was legit crying in the car ride to the abuela's house thinking about how much I was going to miss my lil Spanish family. But I hid it well under my sunglasses. Then at the house we just chilled, having fun, making boxes, watching spanish tv. I helped Rafita with some of his summer english work, which was fun because I caught several errors that the teachers made in the workbook, which the abuela got a kick out of. After the pool I lay down in the sun and Carmen lay on top of me for a nap, then started lining up all her toy horses on my stomach as I lay down. Then I would fake sneeze and they would all fall down and she thought it was hilarious.
While the Abuela was out grocery shopping, Rafita helped me with spelling and grammar as I made a card thanking the abuelos. On the front it said, "Muchas Gracias" and was decorated with flowers and designs and colored pencils and stuff. Then on the inside I wrote a note, in spanish, translated as, "My Spanish Grandparents, Thank you so much for your help and for teaching me a lot of Spanish. I will miss you both so much! Rafa helped me write this, Much love, Julia" Then I drew a cartoony Torro (A bull) with a Spanish flag in one hand and an American flag in the other. The Abuela loved it so much, every time that she looked at the cartoon Bull she started laughing. But then she got to business showing me all the grammatical errors I made!! Hahahaha. She is such a warm and wonderful Spanish Grandma, I will misssss her!!! The abuelo liked it too!
While the abuelo was driving me to the bus stop, I was telling him about how sad I was to be leaving, how I would miss Carmen and Rafita, and how I wanted them to come to Boston some day. He surprised me by saying, as If I was stupid for not knowing, that I *must* come back some time, next summer or another time. I felt so warm and happy inside, because it just felt good that they wanted me to come back! I basically started crying again then haha! No one had ever said anything to me about if I was doing a good job or whatever, so it felt good.
I went to Kaja's for a bit but then decided I wanted to get home and squeeze in some more time with my little Spanish ninos and went home early. I immediately went to the neighborhood pool where they were swimming. I hopped in and then for the next hour Carmen, Rafita, and one of their friends just climbed all over me in the pool non-stop while Maica and Rafa watched, nervous that I was minutes away from drowning due to the weight of the children dragging me down. Somehow I made it through, and it was just one of the most fun afternoons ever with them!!
We all ate dinner together. Maica was explaining to the kids that I was leaving on Saturday. Carmen and Rafa looked at her wide-eyed, asking why I had to leave... It broke. my. heart! I can't believe I only have three more days with them.
After dinner Rafita and I played some wii tennis and then I retired to write up about the best two days ever!!
I am soooo emotional, I don't know how I can say goodbye without becoming dehydrated from the huge amount of water that will be leaving my eyes. I was making a list today of all the things I would miss about Spain and it went on for several pages in my little notebook!!
But I am really excited to get home! I also am excited because on Friday afternoon Kaja's family and my family are all going to a cool castle/ monastery place together and then to dinner! Should be really fun!!
Hope these next few days are as good as the last two!!!
xoxo Julia

Portugal Post!

Weekend trip in Lisboa, Portugal= best weekend trip eeeever. The place was SO beautiful, amazing, different, and just plain FUN!
The trip started out poorly, with the flight being delayed 2 hours! But once we got on, it was pretty smooth sailing! I slept on the plane ride which was really good because I was TIRED!
Oh- almost forgot... there was one other hicup. Kaja's bank card wouldn't work in Portugal! It was very frustrating for her, because even though I was happy to lend her as much as she needed, she didn't want to depend on me.
Anyways, we got in at about 9:30 and took an airport shuttle into the middle of town, then walked to our hostel.
This weekend we stayed at the Black and White hostel, a really funky artsy hostel with SUPER nice staff and cool rooms! The beds were comfy, the location was prime, and in the morning they served a breakfast with eggs and sausages! WOW best hostel!!
After we got in, we changed into some smashing outfits and went out for dinner! We ended up eating at a little cheap but delicious Indian food place!
We rushed through dinner though because we wanted to make the "pub crawl" that started at 11:15. We ended up not even being able to find the meeting spot for the bar tour though, so instead we decided to walk around Bairro Alto, which is like, the coolest bar scene ever. It is a huge hill/ mountain on one side of Lisboa that is just packed with all kinds of bars, restaurants, clubs, and people drinking and socializing! The streets are like a huge bar scene, if you just walk down them you will meet tons of people! We walked around for a long time, taking in the scene and also stopping at some cool outdoor clubs that were playing techno music. Then we headed home pretty early so as to get rested up for the next day.
Saturday was BEACH DAY!!! I was STOKED because we had not been to any beaches yet in the whole trip and I LOVE the beach! Let me assure everyone, Portugal did not disappoint beach-wise. We took the metro down to the coast first, then a train all the way to Cascais (pronounced Kish-Cay-ish). The area felt just like a Portugese P-town, with little tourist shops and boutiques along with tons and tons of restaurants! Behind the shops were lots of little beaches that were all packed!! It was SO hot, but SO nice!! We picked a spot near the water so that we could swim while still keeping an eye on our bags. We tanned for like 20 minutes then went in the water, repeating until we were ready for lunch. The water was FREEZING!!! You would have expected it to be warm because of how sweltering it was, but instead it felt colder than even Cape Cod water because of the shock of changing temperatures. I still loooooved it though. I was especially fond of the smells of Cascais, salty mixed with the smell of the restaurants food! Amazing.
After we had enough sun and water, we went to a little hamburger place for lunch. We sat by an open window high up overlooking an amazing spread of ocean, beach, and cool rocks that people jumped off. It was fun!
Next Kaja and I decided to do some shopping! First we went to a atm to try Kaja's card again, and it WORKED! It was very exciting!! Her parents I guess had called Bank of America and worked it all out! We went around and found some seriously cool shops. I got Kaja and I matching wooden elephant Keychains and then we both got matching necklaces from an artist flea- market thing that was in the area.
After lots of shopping we got dessert. I got a cup of vanilla ice cream and a diet coke to compose a Diet-Coke-float which is. The. Best. Dessert. Ever. when you are vacationing on the beach in hot humid Portugal.
Finally it was time to head home. We were running a little on the late side for what we had planned for the rest of the evening, but then I remembered that I had forgotten to re-set my watch back an hour, so in fact we had plenty of time! (This happened over and over again throughout the weekend!!)
While waiting for the train I was eating some skittles. Then these three Brazilian guys near us came over and started joking around and asking for some skittles. They were really nice and so I shared my fruity snacks with them and they hung out with Kaja and I on the train back home. They wanted us to go to Bairro Alto with them then, but Kaja and I wanted to get back to the hostel and clean up so we declined!
Back at the hostel we got all pretty and then walked to Bairro Alto for dinner. We ate at a little restaurant in Bairro Alto, shared a pizza and each got some Tapas. I love Tapas because it's like getting one little appetizer for yourself... instead of ordering a huge plate of something for the whole table. I also got a Martini, to try, and I am a huge Martini fan! Shaken, not stirred, of course. Just kidding. (Side note... it is going to SUCK coming back to not being able to drink in bars and restaurants in the USA... The drinking age is so stupid. :( )
We then went to the meeting spot for the pub crawl (This time we knew where it was!) and then went touring the pubs!!
It was a really fun night! We made friends with the people on the tour, who were pretty cool. The best part is that while we were walking between two bars, we ran into one of the Brazilian guys from the train, Regis! He was the one who spoke the best English, and was the nicest too! We then met up with him at a really sweet bar/ dance club that played great music and was filled with locals. Regis danced with Kaja and I and tried to teach us how to dance Portuguese style but the twists and turns were definitely a challenge! Kaja and I want to take Salsa dance classes back at UMass... if they have them!
We got home around 4:30 AM and sleeeeept after all that dancing!!
In the morning we hung around with the girls in our room. They were two 23ish girls from London who were SO funny and nice to us! We ate breakfast with them and they showed Kaja how to make delicious instant coffee! They also had great stories about how they survived traveling without money for food!
Then we checked out of the hostel and did some sightseeing... we saw the Castelo de sao jorge, the monasterio los jeronimos, and got DELICIOUS Portugese pastries that were like little flakey cupcakes filled with creamy kugel sauce and covered in cinnamon and sugar!
Finally it was time to go. We headed to the airport and ate some delicious airport food for dinner. This time the flight was only delayed by 30 minutes!
After the wonderful weekend, I was ready for a wonderful last week in Madrid. And so far, it has been just that (Spoiler!!) I'm going to write another post now about this week, the saddest and most happy week ever.
xoxo Julia

Thursday, 22 July 2010


I'm sooo excited to go to Portugal tomorrow, especially because it marks the final weekend trip in Europe this summer and I think it will be FANTASTIC! I am also really really really excited to come home, but really going to miss it here. It hasn't really hit me that I might not ever see these places again... this has been a once in a lifetime experience and it's not like I can just casually go back to Spain again, and if I did I would probably go to different places, SOooooo when I say goodbye, it's goodbye for good and that is scary. Hopefully I will get to see Carmen and Rafa again in the future, but who knows! Carmen might not even remember me!!
Anyways, some little things...
- I love love love playing with Carmen and Rafa in the swimming pool. Sometimes we play shark and I make a shark fin and say "Dun DUn DUn Dun dun DUN DUN DUN" as I close in on them and tickle them while making munching sounds. They laugh and it's always really fun until Rafa starts biting me for real (he actually does) and I have to change up the game. Carmen also now loves playing that I am her "surf board" where I lie down and she stands on my back while I swim. I like that one too except that sometimes I need to come up for air and she gets frustrated that my need for Oxygen gets in the way with her playing. But unfortunately I think this chlorine is kiiiilling my hair... I'll definitely have to do some hair therapy when I get home from Spain. Pool time is just such a must because of how hot it is!
- I'm going to try to get a book in Spanish, I think I am proficient enough in spanish to get through it! Only problem is it must be short so I can finish it because it is tiring reading in Spanish! Also I'd like something interesting. I might ask one of the cousins to let me borrow something.

That's all for now! I have to go take out my laundry and paaaack for LISBOA PORTUGAL!
Hasta Luego

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Lil bit o pamplona photos

I stuck up some pictures!!/album.php?aid=2039112&id=1244040696
Also when I was in the Abuela's house I found this gem:

Carmen and Rafa a few years ago!! I didn't stop laughing for like 15 minutes when I saw it... it is so utterly cute and also ridiculous... wow.

Pamplona, Reina Sophia, and treading water... Abridged version

Hey all! So I resisted destroying my computer for not posting my long weekend post, but now I am feeling lazy and also dreading re-writing the whole long saga. SO I am going to give a "best of" telling, if you will, and that just means that I can tell you all more details about the trip when I talk to you in person!
- It wasnt the best time to go to Pamplona because it was about two days after the San Fermin festival (A two week fiesta of drinking and running with the bulls) so the whole town was totally drained and pretty empty because people like to go on vacations. Basically a handful of stores were closed and there were barely any other tourists. It was a blessing and a curse... less to do and lots of attractions closed, but also much more relaxing and pretty!
- Saw plaza de torros, a bunch of cool parks including the Ciudadela, the Japanese Garden Parks, and the half moon park. Also went to a big park that had a depression in the middle filled with goats, peacocks, deers, and other animals! So strange and cool.
- Hostel was really really nice, small and intimate, private rooms with flat screen tv's, towels included, candys on the pillows! On Saturday night Kaja and I grouped up with a bunch of people in the hostel and went out to bars and stuff.
- One of the guys we became friends with, Sam, was a 19 year old from Manchester who planned on being a poet when he got older. He was a really nice and goofy guy with a big afro of jewish hair, cool guy. Kaja and I walked home from the bars with him around 3 AM, him still holding on to a drink from the last bar. When he finished his drink he chucked the glass into the air, an action typical of Manchester I guess. He didn't notice that there was a police car right behind us! The policeman pulled up next to him and ARRESTED HIM! luckily Sam was very cooperative, the next morning he was back at the hostel. He said all they made him do was pay them 75 Euros! Still... it was so scary and I feel bad for him! When it happened Kaja and I just stood there dumbfounded, Spanish police are definitely very aggressive and scarrrry!
- Finding vegetarian food for Kaja in Pamplona was VERY difficult. For lunch one day we must have gone and looked at about 20 menus before we found food she could eat!!

ONNNN Monday
Kaja and I went to the Reina Sophia art museum! It was soooo cool, lots of Picasso and Dali, two very celebrated Spanish Artists. I wish I brought a pedometer to Spain though because I think we walked about 7 miles in that museum. Not to mention I have been quite curious as to how much we actually walk on our weekend trips... I think it is a LOT.

Kaja FINALLY came to Maica's house. It has been difficult for her to come here because every time we want to hang out, it is easier for me to go to her house on my way home or for us to meet in Madrid. Plus Kaja doesn't have an Abono so it costs her 8 Euros to get to Maica's and back. But since she hadn't ever seen the crib I was staying in, I convinced her to come at least once. It was fun! We went swimming in the neighborhood pool.
Kaja and I are very, very competitive, and it was BAD news when we started treading water and I commented that I could go all day and then Kaja challenged me to see who could last for longer. We started a timer on my watched and then just treaded water! I am very, very, very, confident in my swimming ability and literally think that I could tread water All day, so it was just about outlasting Kaja. The most difficult part was just that it was boring, not that it was strenuous. About 30 minutes in, Rafa sr, Maica, and Rafa and Carmen bounded into the swimming pool area. I felt bad because Carmen and Rafa wanted to play with me, but I was not going to lose haha! I explained that Kaja and I were competing to Maica and Rafa sr.
Finally, after 1 hour of treading water non-stop, Kaja got fed up and got out of the pool. I was sooo glad that it was finally over because I was totally bored, but I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have any trouble treading that long. I am just really stubborn. I wonder if I will feel it tomorrow! Also I'd like to make note that although I am a stronger swimmer than Kaja, if we competed in running, there is no chance I would even compare to her endurance. Hence, why we will never compete in running!!!
After swimming I walked Kaja to her bus stop (for once!!) and then had dinner with the fam! The end!!
Less than two weeks till I am HOME!!!
This weekend PORTUGAL!!!!!!
SOooo stoked, soooo tired, going to sleeeeep.
xoxox Julia

Monday, 19 July 2010


HEY I JUST FINISHED WRITING A LONG POST ABOUT THIS WEEKEND AND TODAY AND THEN IT DIDN'T SUCCESSFULLY POST AND ALL GOT DELETED!!! And I REALLY need to go to sleep and I am really frustrated that all my work disappeared. I'll try to write it again tomorrow, I am SO sorry :(. Ug I can't believe that just happened I am restraining myself from chucking my computer out the window right now.
Julia >:(