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 >:(

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Strange Dancers and Swimmmmming

Past two days have been very fun! Everything with Carmen and Rafita has been pretty regular, I really have so much fun with those two. They are happy for me to just tickle them for hours or give them little "treasure hunt" back massages. Yesterday Rafita started calling me "Julita" and today Carmen without blinking an eye said in perfect english, "Where is the ball Julia?" I felt so accomplished!! Rafita got mad at me for swimming during their tennis lesson and I was confused until I realized that he wanted me to stay during the lesson and watch him play! Awww. I'm still swimming anyways though haha! Now whenever he argues with me I ask him, Hey Rafa, who's the Boss? And the answer is ME! Mwahaha.
Alsooo Kaja and I love swimming and sunbathing at the big pool near her house, it is really amazing when it's hot out!
Today Kaja and I went into Madrid to reserve our tickets for the coming weekend. We were planing on going to San Sebastian, a small un-touristy hot spot that has beautiful beaches, trendy stores, and what we have heard is the best food, ever. However, the train was all booked up! Instead we are going to Pamplona! It's after the bulls festival, so it won't be as totally crazy and crowded, but still it's a great city and I am really excited!
It is so strange that I only have like two weeks of Madrid time left... it seems like just a few days ago Kaja and I were trying to think of things to occupy our time with... now we are worried we won't be able to see everything we want to! This place really feels familiar to me now... I recognize streets and know my way around the city better than I know my way around Boston! Similarly, I could tell you a bunch of the Spanish soccer players (Puyol, Iniesta, Villa, Torres) but I don't know ANY USA players! Ah! I also need to get a Spain shirt/ soccer jersey before I leave!!
Anyways, after Kaja and I got our Pamplona tickets, we decided to try to go to the Reina Sophia museum (the last time we were going to go it was closed) so we went there but instead of going in there were a bunch of dancers practicing routines on the plaza outside, so we sat and started watching. We ended up sitting there watching these dancers for like 2 hours! After they were practicing they did a legit show with music and stuff and it was so cool!! To top off the evening, we stopped and got Maoz falafel on our way back home. Delicious.
Anyways, I gotta get to sleeeep!
Miss everyone!
xoxo Julita. (by the way, it is pronounced Jew-leet-ah)

Monday, 12 July 2010


Hey all!
Just got the email... I got accepted into the Commonwealth Honor's program at UMass! YAYyy! I feel so accomplished!
Dr. Julia, P.H.D. Champion of Life, Hausman


WHAT A GREAT WEEKEND!!!!! One of the most amazing trips of my life in addition to witnessing the great triumph of Spain in the World Cup... It was an amazing time!!
First, Granada.
We took the train, four hours, to Granada. We arrived at about 10 or something, and then got confused as to how to get to our Hostel. It was late and I was worried about the Hostel's front desk closing before we got there, so we took a cab. The cab ride was pretty short, but totally cool to see the city at night. It turned off the main road and went down the skinniest road possible, not even slowing down as it squeezed past people walking! I can't believe that no one got hit!!
The hostel, White Nest, was really really pretty, but unfortunately a little dull... not much socializing going on. Kaja and I checked in and put down our stuff before heading out to try to get dinner. We settled on a really nice restaurant with tables outside on a quiet street. I got a jamon y queso y tomate bocadilla and Kaja got a rice and vegetable dish. We also got some really yummy mojitos (Getting a little bored of the Sangria). We learned that in Grenada, you get a free tapa with any drink you order! It's just the way of the area! Cool stuff.
After dinner we decided to go to sleep because it was pretty late and we wanted to be nice and energized for the next day!
The next day, we woke up at 8:30. We had a reservation to go visit the Alhambra at 1:30 (unfortunately one of the hottest moments of the day) but before that Kaja said we had something to do at 10. AND she wouldn't tell me what it was!! She said we had a 10 o' clock appointment and try as I might to get her to reveal what the surprise was, she wouldn't say. She did however tell me the address so that I could get us there with my expert map skills.
Where we ended up was just about the most amazing place, ever. I just can't even begin to explain the excitement and extatic-ness that I was feeling. Imagine that you have just begun the day and already it is over 100 degrees, you are sweating, tired, and sticky. Then you arrive here.
Where Kaja took me was an ancient Arab bath house. She has made reservations for us to spend 2 hours in the bath house, with a 30 minute massage each!!!! AMAZING!!!
The bath house immediately smelled all spicey... like cinnamon and orange and lavender. It was decorated beautifully, with candles and sheets hanging everywhere. We entered the changing room first and Kaja also surprised me by pulling my bathing suit out of her bag (She had secretly stowed it so that I would have one!! She thought of everything!!). We got changed and then entered the bath area. It was so so amazing, I wish we had been allowed to take pictures. It was all dark with candles and low ceilings with star shaped lights in the ceiling. The smell was incredible. There were also only two other people in there with us, meaning it was extremely relaxing and quiet. There were three baths. The first one was the cold one. It was about the size of a hot tub, and the nice cool water felt AMAZING on our hot bodies. The second bath was the hot one. It was long and shallow, only about 1.5 feet deep. The ceiling was also highest in there. Lying down in the hot water was just incredible... relaxing, soothing, and cozy. Last there was the medium temperature one. This one was the deepest, about 4 feet deep, with columns running from the ceiling down through the pool. There was also tea that you could drink, really sweet and tasty tea that wasn't too hot. Lastly there was a big room with a huge hot stone in it that you could lie down on, with a ray of sunshine flowing in and illuminating the stone. INCREDIBLE!!
About halfway through the time in the baths we got called to our massages. They were, as expected, absolutely awesome. Then they had nice warm dark showers with soap and shampoo that we could go into to to clean off the oil. When we left we were refreshed and smelled all spicy! Just absolutely one of the coolest and most relaxing, fun, awesome times of my life!!
After the baths we rushed back to the hostel to drop off our wet suits and then rushed to the Alhmabra!! The Alhambra was up a HUGE hill. The walk was really pretty, but SWELTERING! We also kept getting lost... there were very few signs telling you where to go to pick up your tickets and stuff. We finally got our tickets and JUST made it to the palace tour for our time slot. However, we didn't have enough time to get the audio guides, which we had been planning on getting! We were pretty disappointed that we didn't get the chance to buy them, but even without them, the Alhambra speaks for itself in terms of beauty and awesomeness. The palace was full of amazing walls and arches. There were also lots of fountains and little aqueducts of water running through the gardens and palace. People constantly were dipping their hands, feet, and even heads into the fountains, trying to escape the heat! It was funny. After our tour of the palace we left the Alhambra to get lunch and then went back to see more! We saw the gardens, the alcazar, and another really cool building that I didn't know quite what it was (audio guide would have been helpful there!)
What I love the most about visiting these places is that I just know I will remember them for the rest of my life! The Alhambra is one of those places!
After the Alhmabra we were totally beat as well as HOT and hungry. We went walking to find some ice cream and do some shopping! We got ice cream at some place and went into at least a million tourist shops. The tourist shops in Grenada were pretty different from those in the other cities we visited because there was tons of Moroccan and arab influence. There were lots of hookahs and arab cloths for sale, as well as cool boxes and pottery! When we got back to the hostel it was getting to be dinner time, but we didn't feel like spending the money at a restaurant so instead we walked to a grocery store and got pasta, tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, green beans, and garlic, for flavor. All together it was a little under 4 Euros!! Bargain mea1!! At the hostel we cooked it all up and it was absolutely delicious! Then we showered and got all dressed up to go out.
Only problem was, we were both completely tired. We almost decided to go to sleep right then and there... our legs were so soar and we were on our way to pass out! Then we decided to just go out for a little bit of a walk before bed. We walked past a hookah bar, where inside there were a bunch of people who looked about our age. They waved to us to come in, and after a bit of thinking, we decided to join them!
The hookah bar was SO much fun! The people were all ages 18-25, and everyone was so nice and funny! There were two other girls from Canada, Jack from England, Brett from New Jersey, some other dude from New York, and a middle eastern guy (everyone called him Shank) who currently lives in LA. We all hung out in the hookah bar, joking, laughing, smoking hookah and drinking tea! The man who owned the bar kept coming over and bringing us arab costumes to put on! It was so funny!
Then everyone decided to go to some bars and Kaja and I decided to join them!!
We did a lot of walking trying to find a bar that we liked, popped in a few for little bits, before we ended up at this one bar. There was flamenco music playing, a pool table, and lots of fun people!
It was really fun making friends and having a night out with people that you knew you would never ever see again! As the bar was closing, some Englishmen asked Kaja and I if we wanted to go to an after party with them at the Villa they had rented. It was a big intriguing... the idea of going to a villa in Spain, but there was NO way that we would go to some people's home that we didn't even know, this late at night! Instead we walked home, saying goodbye to all our hookah bar friends. The two girls actually decided to go to the villa with the English guys... I hope they ended up alright!
We got home at around 4:30 AM and fell right asleep!
In the morning I woke up at about 10:30, we had to leave the hostel by 11! We got some juice at a smoothie place and I got some toast for breakfast. Then we went to the caves!
There are a bunch of people, some gypsies, that live in these caves in the mountains near Granada! Kaja and I walked around the cave area a little and looked at the caves. It was fascinating to think that there are people that live in caves! However, it was really really hot so we didn't stay for long.
We walked around a lot on Sunday, most things were closed, so we just took our time exploring. We did see a cool church and the cathedral though.
For lunch I got a ham omelet and for desert Kaja and I went to this natural yogurt place that was INCREDIBLE! The frozen yogurt was the sour kind and you could put any toppings on it that you wanted, I got this hazelnut chocolate sauce with crunchys in mine and it was awesome.
We left early to walk to our train. As we were walking I decided to look quickly and see what time exactly the train was leaving, and it was a good thing I did because it was leaving an HOUR before we thought! We rushed and made it with my expert map reading skills with 15 minutes to spare!!
On the train ride home all we could think about was how nervous we were for the final soccer game. Unfortunately, we had booked our tickets before we knew that Spain's final would be at the EXACT same time!
As the train neared Madrid, we looked out the window. Everything was quiet, but it was almost 11, so we assumed the game would be over already! We both were sure that Spain had lost and that was why there was no commotion at all.
When we got to the station, we started walking and then saw a huge crowd around a tv in the station. We then realized that the game was still going on!! We RAN to the crowd and watched as Iniesta scored that AMAZING goal and everyone went nuts! There were people crying and screaming, security guards who were supposed to be working were crying and jumping and hugging, everyone was so excited and happy!!!
Yay Espana! It was their first victory and I think they really deserve it... they didn't play dirty like Holland and they have so much heart and spirit!! Rafita and Carmen are so happy and it is soooo cute!
Today was also really fun because we got to sleep in and stay at the house alone instead of going to the abuelas! We swam at the pool, ate lunch, and had a really chill day in the heat together! Love those kids!
Also, photos coming now to facebook!
Miss everyone, only 3 weeks left!

Thursday, 8 July 2010


WOooooo SPAIN is in the FINALS for the world cup, for the first time in history!!! As you can imagine, it is a really exciting time to be here!!
SOOooo yesterday was a very volatile day with extreme highs and lows. Only one low, but it was a total total bummer.
The day was fun because I just totally love Carman and Rafa, they make me so happy every day and I think I make them happy too! They are also totally entertaining and funny! It's great because I actually enjoy spending the day with them! I love every time that they say, "Julia Look!" and they want to show me something like a snail or what they have been coloring. Rafita also has taken to calling me "House- man" because he learned that it was my last name and finds it amusing. And it is AMAZING how much of what I say they understand, not to mention the fragmented heavily-accented English phrases they keep surprising me with every once in a while! They are totally learning!
Yesterday at their tennis lesson I swam some laps in the really really nice pool. One of Annie's kids broke his leg the day before, so unfortunately she won't be at the tennis lessons anymore, but on the bright side I can just swim on my own! Then I walked back with Carmen and Rafita and we went swimming again at the Abuelas.
Afterwards I went to Kaja's. We then went swimming AGAIN at her house, but it's been so hot lately that you need to hop in the water a bunch of times a day otherwise you feel sweltering!! At about 5:30 we caught a bus to Madrid to make our train ticket reservations for Grenada and also because we wanted to watch the Semi-finals in some bar there. That's where the bad thing happened.
Some background: I purchased the Youth Abono, a 38 Euro pass that lets you ride the busses and metro as much as you want. A few times the heat had melted it so the machines could no longer read it, but each time I just got someone at the metro to print me a new one. But the night before I had actually lost the little coupon that comes with the abono. I still had the pass, just not the thing that you stick in the machine. I figured they could print me out a new one again. Instead, they told me that if you lose the little stub, you have to buy a completely NEW one!! I was so pissed!! I already payed for this month and I didn't want to pay again! After lots of arguing and even trying to convince a few of the people to print a new one for me, I gave in. The amount I have to use the metros and busses makes it still worth it to get the abono, so I bought another stinkin ticket. It really put me in a foul mood though, because that is a lot of money to just be gone in the blink of an eye.
Luckily the funk didn't last too long. We got our tickets reserved for Grenada and then we walked around Madrid until we found a bar that we liked for watching the game.
We got some pizza for dinner at the bar as well as some Servesas. It was actually really funny... The game was against Germany (I hope some of you watched! If not, I hope some of you watch the final on Sunday and root for ESPANA!!) and Kaja and I didn't think to wear yellow and red the way everyone else was. People were giving us strange and wary looks and then the bartender came over and asked us where we were from. We said Estados Unidos, to which she looked relieved. We then realized that people thought we were German! After that we cheered extra loud for Spain so there would be no confusion/ mob attacks! The title of this blog post is what I can remember of a chant they did in the Bar.
Anyways, Spain scored an amazing goal on a corner kick with a header right swoosh into the net! The bar went CRAZY!! It was really fun to watch.
On the bus ride home too, the streets were filled with excited Spaniards. People kept walking in front of the bus holding the spanish flag up until the bus driver honked the horn in support. It was so fun!
Then today was about the same. It was considerably rainy looking out, but it was a fun day! Rafita was being especially loving and cute, huging me all over the place. Then I went to Kaja's for a momentito before I came home early just to get some rest! I need to get more sleep tonight, and Grenada tomorrow!! I AM SO EXCITED!!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Another excellant day Woo

Today was pretty average but lotsa fun!
Went to the Abuela's house as per usual. Today was extra fun, there were no fights with Rafita and Carmen and I totally love those two, I feel like they are just like my lil Spanish cousins! Their new favorite activity to do with me is to name animals, then I divide up a piece of paper into boxes and draw a cartoony animal in each one. I want to take a picture of them because they are all totally cute drawings, if I do say so myself! Then they color them in. It's really fun!
Today they also had their tennis lesson so I swam in the pool with Annie. She is so nice! We had a really nice time!!
Then we walked home and before I knew it I was done and waiting for the bus! I met Kaja today in madrid, we were supposed to go to the train station and reserve our Grenada tickets, but of course, something went wrong... this time I forgot to bring my Eurail pass so I couldn't even reserve a ticket! SO we are going back tomorrow.
We left the train station and went walking around. We realized we were pretty near the Reina Sofia, the modern art museum, but once we had walked there we saw that it was closed on Tuesdays (our luck) so instead we went into the Starbucks nearby because it was HOT (40 Celsius!!) and I got a frappuccino. Then we were just so tired from the sun that we just sat in Starbucks for like an hour, chatting and drawing and stuff. Finally we got up the strength to go somewhere, so we walked to the nearby Botanical gardens. They were so much fun! All kinds of pretty flowers, exotic green plants, bonzai trees, and a big greenhouse filled with cactus! Lots of fun!
Kaja and I always just have a great time walking around parks, and this one was no exception. Maybe it was the blaring sunshine, maybe it was the strange plants, but soon into our romp around the garden we for some reason started talking in whiney british accents, and didn't break character once for the entire few hours we were there. It was extremely goofy, but fit the situation perfectly.
Then we walked to Sol and got falafel for dinner, of course. I then got another book to read because i'm almost done with the one I'm currently reading and I don't want to be bookless!! I took a bus home and just got in at 11, pretty late, pretty tired, ready for SLEEEEEEP!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Monday Sunnyday

Woke up this morning... very tired... I definitely need to get more sleep! But how can I when I have a blog to write!!?
Abuela's was really fun today... the older cousin (Sofia) was there. I haven't mentioned the cousins much, but Sofia is around quite a bit. She is 16 and a total sweetheart. She is my friend on facebook and even fb chatted me one day (in spanish haha). It's always nice having her around because she plays with the kids with me in addition to telling them do things so I don't have to! :)
We played a ball game as well as some coloring games. I also taught them tic tac toe, because apparently that doesn't exist in Spain. Also they LOVE the "Where's Spot" book I got them, I think I read it maybe 20 times over the course of today!
We also took a field trip during the day to the supermarket which was nice because we got out of the house for a bit!
Then it was time for some swimming (It is HOT here!!) and then I took the bus to Kaja's!
At Kaja's we walked to a nearby big swimming pool where we swam some laps before sun tanning. I also have been reading my book which is a pretty stupid boy meets girl book, but is long so I am entertained without the book ending too quickly! Getting close though... I need to learn to read slower!
After Kaja's I took a bus home and got back at about 9:30, had some Tapas-like dinner with Rafa Sr and Maica of mini toasts, cheese, and ham. It was yummy! We also watched some spanish tv show and I understood a lot of it! Woo! That was today... I've got to take a shower!
xoxo Julia
P.s. Grenada this weekend FINALLY (Kaja and I are buying the tix tomorrow for SURE!)
P.p.s. Grenada this weekend is supposed to be 38 degrees Celsius... that's over 100 F... WOW.
P.p.p.s. I was having trouble uploading my pics on Facebook, but they are up now! Not a lot, but still. :)

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Kaja Appreciation Post/ The day we almost went to Segovia/ Failed weekend Plans/ AMERICA

Sometimes the best weekends are ones where everything goes not as planned!
On Friday, Kaja and I planned on spending the night going to bars and clubs in Madrid, to experience the night life. After hanging with the kids all day, I went to Kaja's and, since Madrid night life doesn't start until very late, we just chilled around. Kaja's housekeeper, Gaby, offered to teach us to make Tortilla de Patatas, which is SO yummy. It's like an omelet with onions and potatoes, cooked up in a huge amount of oil... good times. It also is a really really traditional Spanish food that you will eat in any Spanish household... basically if you are a housekeeper/ maid/ helper it is a requirement that you can make it.
So we helped her make it and it was really fun because we learned some about Gaby, who I find fascinating. She is originally from Albania, I think, and she moved here two years ago, knowing zero spanish. I think her life is pretty sad, from what I've picked up she has a husband that she hates and who doesn't work, meaning Gaby works all day with two jobs and no rest. She gets paid like, nothing, to clean Kaja's house every day, take care of the kids when Kaja is off work, and do anything else that Kaja's parents want, like cook. She comes from a first job, eats food on the bus ride to Kaja's around 1:30, and then doesn't rest or eat again until 8:30ish when she takes another bus home. Wow. She is really really thin (probably from the no eating) and has the worst teeth I think I've ever seen (really huge gums, Kaja think's they are fake teeth) and she looks like she is in her 40's but Kaja says that she is in her 20's!!!
Anyways, we talked to Gaby in Spanish while we learned. Unfortunately, I think that the cooking oil gave me a really bad headache. She also barely cooked the eggs, which I think contributed to the result of the evening.
Kaja and I got all primped up to go to Madrid. We put on nice clothing, did our hair, and put on lots of fun makeup (but not too much haha). We got on the Bus (now that I have the Abono, I really love riding the bus and metro because I never have to pay again!!!). The bus ride was fine, even though I still had my headache, but once we got to the metro things started going downhill...
The metro is on strike so only 50% of the trains are running. This means you have to wait a long time to get on a train and when you do it is PACKED! I started feeling really hot and icky, maybe because of the heat, the claustrophobia, or, most likely, from eating the undercooked eggs. I had a really bad stomach ache and felt like I was going to be sick!
Kaja Appreciation part... Kaja was so amazing! I felt so terrible because I just felt really really sick, but I totally ruined our night! Instead of dancing up a storm we turned around on the metro and then waited for over an hour for the night bus to take us home. Kaja was with me the whole way, comforting me, getting me a bottle of water, distracting me from my nausea so I didn't vom, and making me not feel guilty for messing up the night! When we got home I went right to bed and slept for 11 hours, and in the morning I felt better!!
The plan for Saturday was to go to the Mercedillo, which is like a flea market. But it closes at 2, and since Kaja and I slept in/ didn't move fast in the morning, we kinda missed our opportunity to go there! Instead we decided to do some shopping in madrid! We went to Calle Serrano, which is like the Michigan Avenue of Madrid in terms of shopping. It was so much fun, although we didn't have much time. I got a cute shirt/ dress thing and a book to read. We didn't have much time though because both of us had to babysit for our families that night. Before we left though we grabbed a late lunch/early dinner at Maoz.
Maoz is like, the most delicious thing everrrr. Its vegetarian falafel, which I never would have thought to get, but a while ago I was with Kaja when she got one and it looked so good that this time I had to get one! The falafel is fresh and yummy and there is a huge buffet of things you can put on it! I got mine with this yummy stir-fried onion stuff and some fried cauliflower. It was delicious.
Babysitting for Rafa and Carmen was OK. It was fun to hang out with them, but they really do not listen to what I say so getting them to do anything is always a fight... It was a fight to get them into their pajamas, a fight to get Rafita to stop his video games, a fight to get Carmen to brush her teeth, and worst of all, a huge fight to get them to go to sleep!!! (Although that might just be every night... as I write this I can hear Rafa Sr trying to get them to go to sleep... and it's nearly midnight!!) Finally, after splitting them up and rubbing Carmen's back for about 20 minutes, I got them to bed before 11, which actually is pretty decent haha!
Then I hung out eating popcorn and watching Kill Bill in Spanish, which was pretty rad.
The next day's plan was to go to Segovia for the day! Of course, in true Kaja and Julia fashion, we didn't get to the train station in time to get the tickets to the early train, and we could have taken a later train but we would have only had three hours in Segovia. SO instead we decided to take advantage of a full day in Madrid with zero time limits!! It was actually SO much fun... I am really glad that Segovia didn't work out because we had never really done a whole lot of tourism in Madrid until today!
We hopped back on the metro and first went to the Jardines del Palacio Real. They were kinda cool, pretty, a good amount of Peacocks, but nothing that amazing. Still a nice walk!
Then we walked around the Garden to the Muralla Arabe, which is a cool Arab garden/ wall place. We continued to the Cathedral of Madrid, which was a really cool and more modern Cathedral. Lastly, we went to the Palacio Real which was a very royal and decked out palace. It totally looked the most palace-y of all the palaces that I've seen since being in Europe (Versailles still wins in terms of Palace-y gardens, but the interior of this one was better). The ceilings were high and every surface and nook and cranny was so luxurious and golden and just really really cool. Every room had a different vibe and theme. I really liked this palace!
Next Kaja and I went searching for a lunch place! We found a perfect little place, Gino's, where we got some nice pizza and, of course, Sangria! We toasted to the 4th of July!
I just want to take a moment to say that I really love America. I feel so blessed to be from the USA and I am proud to be an American... I think that being out of the country has increased my patriotism significantly!!
Anyyyyways, after our lunch we went SHOPPING CRAZY!! We went in to so many stores... I can't even recall half of them! I got a shirt, some cool earrings, and some souvenirs. I also got the book, Where's Spot, for Carmen and Rafa because the books that I brought from home for them to read are really too difficult for them. This book has more pictures, bigger words, and I think will be more helpful to them than the more advanced books! Plus they can keep it! Yayyy.
After the tons of shopping, Kaja and I got some Ben and Jerrys then headed home! I got back and ate some food while watching a movie with Rafa Sr. and Maica! That's it for the weekend! And it's late, I should get to bed oy!
xoxoxo and Happy 4th, independence rocks.
P.S. I am putting a bunch of photos on facebook from today's adventures! SO GLAD I FINALLY HAVE A CAMERA!!
p.p.s. A little more Kaja appreciation... I love how even though the weekend didn't go at all how we had planned, (and they rarely do) Kaja and I just rolled with the punches and had so much fun! We just take advantage of everything that happens to us and live spontaneously! Its such a good time and I couldn't ask for a better Spain travel partner!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Julia is BACK!

Hey all!
Sorry I am getting a little Lazy about the blog, it's partially because I am lazy and partially because I really have very little time to write now with the new schedule!
So the new schedule is that at 8:15 Maica drives us all to the Abuela's house where we spend the day until around 3 when I am done for the day and someone drives me to a bus stop and the day is mine! But that means that it's harder to get back home early and since I have to wake up so early the next morning, I have been trying to go to sleep early, aka no blog :(
I like the new schedule! It's fun because I get to swim and play and we don't have a lot to do during the day so it's pretty chill. For this week and next week they have tennis lessons with some other kids which is fun because I get to swim in this really sweet pool during their lessons.
I also was originally unhappy with spending the day at the Abuela's because I thought that I would be alone with them, but it turns out to be handy. She is there to enforce my rules, to help me know what to do with them, to make us meals. And she doesn't hover around or anything so I can speak english to them and they respond well. The only problem is that so many people are always stopping in... cousins, aunts, uncles, the housecleaner Laura... and they all hang around speaking Spanish to Carmen and Rafa. I can't really keep up with their Spanish and its awkward for me to talk in English, so I am really quite useless at those times. It's fine with me, I just don't think that it's going to help Carmen and Rafita's Spanish!
Some stand out moments this week from playing with Rafa and Carmen:
- They found a big hole in the yard with tons of snails and played with them. I was totally grossed out... they kept picking up the snails and putting them on their bodies and by the end they were covered in snail slime!
- Carmen and Rafa are OBSESSED with sunscreen. It's handy because it's easy to get them to put it on, the trouble is getting them to stop! They keep putting out their hands for MORe MORE MORE and when I finally decide they have had enough, they fight and fight and cry and try to grab the sunscreen from me! It is crazy, but a little funny.
- I now have been recruited to make friendship bracelets for a number of the cousins, plus one that is red-yellow-red (the Spanish flag) for Rafita, because he is only allowed to wear a manly bracelet.

Now some of my afternoon activities with Kaja
-Monday we just hung around her house... but it was really frustrating because her mother didn't come back until late, leaving the housekeeper to tend to the kids, but the housekeeper kept coming up and asking Kaja to help her with the kids. Kaja felt bad because, its not the housekeeper's job, so she helped with the kids. But it showed us that if Kaja wants a break, she has to literally get out of the house and hide otherwise she is still going to have to work! Ah!
- Tuesday we just wandered around the nearby village of Bodilla, nothing interesting
- Weds we took a bus into Madrid, but the metro is all on strike so we couldn't go anywhere! We lay down in a grassy park and took a nap! Very nice. Then we walked around and shopped and had some dinner!
- Today I hung out with Kaja for a little bit, but then went home early and showered and relaxed. It was nice! Also then Carmen was watching this little sing-a-long video, and I started dancing with her... basically the cutest thing I have ever seen, I love that girly!

- Kaja and I have to change up our weekend plans AGAIN because EVERY hotel in Pamplona is completely booked because of the running of the bulls festivities. So instead, we are going probably to Portugal next weekend, then Grenada, then maaaybe Valencia! The third place is still being discussed, so we shall see.
- A problem with this month's schedule is that from Kaja's, the only way to get home is to take a bus to madrid and then transfer to another bus that takes me home. In total that trip costs 4 Euros and takes over 1.5 hours! It is sooo annoying buttt.....
- Today my Abono came in the mail! Now all transportation on busses, metro, and trains is already payed for!
Some pictures!!

On the trampoline...

Asleep in the car! CUTIES


Monday, 28 June 2010

BARCELONA photo album up!


Sunday, 27 June 2010


Hola! Back from Barcelona and the night is still young! But actually I am probably going to go to sleep as soon as I can tonight because I am tiiiired!
Barcelona was SO fun, but also SO unsatisfying because there is just SO much to see and we did not have time to see it or do it all. I have decided, (Mother and Father, and anyone else who wants to come) that the next big family vacation should be to Barcelona. It is just such a fun place with some of the coolest things that I have ever seen (Gaudi stuff especially) But a day and a half was not enough... it would be like going to Paris and only having a day and a half... how could you choose what to see??? At least a day and half was better than none!!
SO we left Kaja's house around 2 ish on Friday. It was exactly the time when everyone in Spain goes to get lunch so the metro was PACKED and it was probably the most miserable environment I have ever had to suffer through. It was hot and stuffy, the air was wet and thick, there were people pressed up against us and they smelled. Meanwhile I was carrying my bags and hoping that no one was trying to pick pocket me! Ickkky. Kaja and I were basically crying by the time that we got out of the metro and sweat was pouring down my face... eww.
When we got to Puerta De Atocha (The train station) we first got our train tickets figured out. We both had bought Eurail passes, which is something you buy in America. I got a 6 day pass, which means that for a lump sum I get 6 days of travel on trains. The biggest problem with the Eurail is that you have to physically go to the train station and get your ticket at the station... to reserve costs extra money, but even to reserve you have to go to the station, not online or on the phone. This was nerve wracking because literally we had already booked a hostel but didn't have a guarantee that we would find a spot on a train to Barcelona! Luckily a train leaves for Barcelona about every hour so we had no trouble getting there!!
The train was also SO nice. Really comfy seats and some strange movie playing with Richard Gere and lots of dogs... didn't really follow it. Kaja and I got some lunch on the train that was pretty gross and then fell asleep for the rest of the ride!
The high speed train got us to Barcelona in about 2.5 hours, which is soo fast!
We unfortunately hadn't planned out how to get to the hostel from the train station, (rookie mistake) but after two metro trips and a phone call to the Hostel itself, we got there!
We were staying at the Yellow Nest Hostel and out of the three Hostel's I have stayed in thus far, this one was the best!! It was social and friendly, with a huge kitchen with lots of cooking supplies, a big room with couches, tvs, music, a terrace on the roof and the most comfy beds ever! Kaja and I checked into our room (we were staying in a 10 person all female room, which was really nice but unfortunately the door didnt lock unless you pushed it really hard, so our stuff was basically not protected) and then walked to a supermarket to get food for dinner. I got some tortellini and Kaja got a rice dish, and we got some vegetables to stir fry and, of course, some Don Simon Sangria, our favorite!
Then we went next door to a little fruit shop and got tons of fruit to eat over the weekend as well to put into our Sangria and it was SO cheap! Great buy!
We took our food back to the Hostel and cooked it up and ate on the terrace! The food was yummy and the Sangria was fantastic, with so much fruit cut up and put into it that it was closer to a fruit salad than Sangria. Yummy.
After a bit of eating a guy who worked at the hostel kicked us out of the Terrace because they close it every night so we went down to the big common room to finish up the meal. They had a big library of books to read, so I pulled out a book of Spanish poetry and opened it to a random page and started reading to Kaja and the subject of the poem could not have been more applicable to Kaja and my experience traveling in Spain. I wrote down the line that spoke to us so much:
"Vamos a la calle sin destino; Voy, Vas."
It means, "We go to the street without a destination; I go, you go." It is so perfect! It was also fun reading some Spanish Poetry and actually understanding the poems! I might like it better than english poetry...
Then we went to bed, or more appropriately, went into a COMA for the next ten hours! That bed was so comfortable that I did not even stir until the next morning! I love sleeping like that!
In the morning we ate some breakfast foods that we had bought the previous evening and then set off to see as much of Barcelona as we could!!
By the way, I LOVE getting suggestions of things to do from everyone so far they have all been GREAT!
First we went to La Familia Sagrada. As per recommendation of Gma Frona, we decided to get an Audio Guide, and it was a really good decision! La Familia Sagrada, for those who do not know, is basically Gaudi's final and biggest and best masterpiece, ever. It is so grand, amazing, and epic, that they are still building it, as per his instructions, and it isnt due to be finished for about 30 more years! It is a huge temple, for Jesus obviously, and even if you are not religious it is impossible not to feel some kind of holy presence in that temple. It is so strange, huge, and different form anything I have ever seen... just wow. The inside is huge and there are the most amazing beautiful stained glass windows you have ever seen. Gaudi is a genius. It is a personal goal to return to see it once it is completed, when I am like 50. I think it will be spectacular! I also find it so cool that I witnessed the making of something so huge, who's creation literally took centuries. I've always wondered what it was like to watch something like Notre Dam being created over hundreds of years, and now I know! The Audio guide was especially helpful because I would have never known about so many of the intricate details that Gaudi included. Literally every single thing about that temple was put there for a reason, to symbolize something, to tell some kind of a story, everything from the giant yet unique Jesus on a cross that was in the front to the number pillars in a certain area to the slants of the columns that turn the cathedral into a Forrest! AMAZING!
Next, because we hadn't quite gotten enough Gaudi, we went to the Parc Guell which was also designed by my new favorite artist! This park was, as the temple, incredible! It's hard to describe, but it is just a huge park with really cool paths, plants, and statues. It also has really great musicians playing every hundred meters or so and we even saw a Belly Dancer in one corner of the Park! We must have spent about 2 hours walking through the whole park... I didn't want to miss anything! Just amazing!! In the center there is this huge flat plaza, but if you continue and go under it, it is all supported by row after row of thick beautiful Pillars! it was just amazing to look at!
Next we decided to head to La Rambla, a famous touristy place for shopping and walking down. We got out of the metro a little before La Rambla so we could see two more Gaudi designed buildings. First there was Casa Mila, or La Padrera and then we walked by Casa Batllo. Both of them seemed SO cool, but each one was about 20 Euros to go into!! It was so expensive, but actually looking back, I wish we had gone in... even though we didn't have much time... They seem like they were so cool and I think it would have been worth the money. SO on our family vacation, we have to see the insides, from the pictures, they look UNREAL! That is what I love about Gaudi... everything is just so strange and different from anything you have ever seen. Everything! Even the window frames and the light fixtures are art that is completely unique and cool! ahh! Gaudi obsession!
Annnnyways I tearfully bid the Gaudi buildings goodbye and we went to La Rambla! Here is the thing about La Rambla... it is definitely a must for Barcelona, but it is also really really icky if you are a young female. Kaja and I luckily read up online about how to deal with La Rambla, but we still got accosted a bit. First of all, you must avoid all eye contact with the men, if they even catch your eye for a second they think you are flirting and bother you and call after you until you are out of earshot. Secondly, the pickpocketing is CRAZY so Kaja and I were very very careful about not letting our attention waiver from our bags in our arms for even a minute! Sketchy men aside, it was a cool place! There are so many people dressed in costumes on the sides of the roads who want money, they are really icky but its amusing to see them all. There are also artists, similar to the artisty place we went to in Paris, and vendors on the sides of the roads selling turtles, fish, birds, and more! The most annoying thing were every 10 meters or so there was another man trying to sell these little whistle things that you speak through and you sound like you have a high silly voice. This means that everywhere you walk they were these men yelling in those ear-piercing voices... ugg. We also stopped in La Boqueria, which Gma Frona also recommended, which is a huge huge huge market with all kinds of food. We walked around it for a bit, because it is certainly a site to see, but after passing several shops selling what looked like dead dogs for eating, we decided to leave! AH!
We walked down La Rambla and then across a boardwalk to a big mall in the middle of the Mediterranean called Maremagnum! We ate some delicious Tapas and, of course, Sangria, by the ocean at this little restaurant. It was really fun because there were these two men waiters that were being so friendly and silly with us, pretending they were in love with us, and saying that we were breaking their hearts when we left. They gave us a rose, it was cute.
Then we left and did some shopping!! I got a really cute dress at a great European store, Mango, and I also got some foot cream because my feet are grooooss.
Then we went got some ben and Jerry's ice cream and walked back up La Rambla.
We thought La Rambla was sketchy in the day, but it didn't even COMPARE to the sketch level at night! There were all the creepy people but now they were drunk so they were even more aggressive and icky! And the men who in the day had been selling the tweety whistles were now selling these things that glowed and shot up into the sky, so as you walked there were glow stick things falling all around you... actually a cool sight. There were also all kinds of cool activities going on that we wanted to watch. There were all these artists who make amazing space pictures using spray paint and a break dancing crew dancing in the streets! But when we were watching the break dancers this one guy was getting really close to Kaja and freaking her out so we had to leave, and that kind of thing kept happening! Ah! The absolute worst was when we were getting ready to get onto the metro... Kaja was digging in my bag to pull out her metro map or something and neither of us were very aware of what was happening in our surroundings. Suddenly I felt an arm snake around my waist and seeing Kaja's arms in front of me I freaked out and jumped back. A gross gross guy with a couple beers in his hands was the culprit and he was going to say something but I literally YELLED like they taught us in a self-defense seminar in 5th grade, "WOA! DO NOT TOUCH ME." Kaja thought my reaction was hilarious and started laughing and then we ran into the metro laughing the whole thing off so it was ok! We went back to the hostel and my legs were completely dead from walking ALL day long and Kaja was feeling pretty sick (I half think she got my Mono, uh oh!). We got back just in time to watch the US lose its soccer game... All the Americans at the hostel were really bummed and all the non-American's started cheering when we lost... awkward! Pretty soon after we just went to sleep, which was once again, glorious!
In the morning after some food, we went on the metro to the Gothic quarter of Barcelona. We did some roaming around and shopping as we made our way to the Church Santa Maria del mar. It was on this walk that the absolute grossest thing happened. We were looking into a shop window when I became vaguely aware that there was this old man behind us, a few feet back. He started coming closer and suddenly Kaja was like, "Julia lets go" in a panicky voice. I didn't think anything of it because we always have this reaction when we feel icky about a sketch Euro man, so I followed her but then she started freaking out even more as he started following us and we ducked into a nearby shop. Once inside, I was like, "was that man freaking you out?" Turns out, what I didn't see is that he has his PENIS hanging out of his PANTS!! WHAAT??? WHY??? EWWWW??!! Then Kaja and I had about a 10 minutes of just freaking out about how incredibly icky that was. I mean... really????
Anyways, after we eventually got over the total ickyness of that man, we shopped and I got some pretty earrings! yay! We also walked by the Picasso Museum, but didn't go inside. The Church Santa Maria was really cool, we sat and observed Mass for a few minutes. It was very different from many of the other churches we had seen because this one was much simpler... just a huge open space with columns and stone. It wasn't as crazy decorated as some of the other ones and I liked that it was just about the building and not about how many Jesus's we can fit on the wall and how many Gold things we can cover everything in!
After the church we just did a bit more wandering and went into all kinds of cool shops! It was a really relaxing day. We made our way back to la Rambla and found the Sandwhich shop that Gma Frona suggested, Cafe Viena! It was a great lunch spot, right in our budget (very small) and I got hot baguette with bacon, cheese, and onion (perfect for me!) and Kaja got a strange vegetarian wrap thing that looked strange to me but which she liked! Then it was about time to head to the train station so off we went back to Madrid!
Quick side note: the only bummer about the trip was that at no point did we get to do any beach! We really didn't have time because of all the things we wanted to see, but we didn't even manage to touch the Mediterranean, which KILLS me! Next time!!
I got home pretty early, around 8:30 PM. No one was home which was relaxing, so I got a head start on my Blog post for this weekend!
I miss everyone and thank you so much for all the suggestions and emails! I love them! I also hope everyone is ready for our HUGE family trip to Barcelona! You all have to bring me anyways if you go to Barcelona because my Spanish Skills are really good so I can tell all the creepy Spanish men to go away!
Also as far as next weekend, it is Rafa Sr's Birthday Party weekend, so Kaja and I have to stay and babysit our kids on Saturday night. That means that our plan is to check out the Madrid night scene on Friday night, go to the Mercadillo on Saturday morning, babysit Sat night, go to Segovia Sunday Morning, then watch a BULL FIGHT on Sunday night! Big weekend! Should be fun! Then the tentative plan for the rest of the summer is
-07/09/10 weekend in either Santiago with families or Pamplona for the Running of the bulls
-07/16/10 Grenada
-07/23/10 Lisboa, Portugal
-07/31/10 NEWTON!!!
I am really excited and MY how the time has flown by!!
xoxo Julia

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Barrrrrcelona tomorrow!

Ok, today has some good and some bad. Only one bad thing, but... well, you'll see.
1) Today at Kaja's I hung out with Kaja and her (some may call bratty) kid Sara who is now done with school. It was fun even though Sara was around, but I definitely felt bad for Kaja because sometimes I think having me around made Sara more disagreeable... although Kaja assures me that she is like that normally! Ah!
2) At school we picked up Rafa, Carmen, and one of Rafa's friends, Sergio. We went to Abuelo's house and immediately went swimming! I love swimming with the kids, we do all the fun things like race, handstands, the classic horsey, swimming through my legs, and of course, me throwing the kids into the pool like there's no tomorrow. Its a good time for everyone!
3) Once we left the pool, it was a little annoying because Rafa and Carmen both always want a minimum of three towels each so they can build a little poolside bed, complete with blanket, mattress, and pillow, but there are not enough towels for them to do it and for everyone else to get one! So I say no and they SCREAM! I don't care though, I want a towel!!
4) The bad thing was that Rafita peed his pants again whilst in the moment and playing games. I told the Abuela, mostly because I didn't want to deal with a pee-soaked 7 year old and she promptly went to him and started yelling at him and HITTING him! Then she took him into the bathroom and smacked him around some more! I could hear the slapping sounds and him SCREAMING through the door!! I was just shocked! I still dont really know what I should do in that situation... it's not like she damaged his internal organs or anything, but I come from an upbringing where it isn't cool to hit kids (THANKS MUM AND DAD) so I just couldn't comprehend that it was OK. But I am in a different culture and I didn't think it would be appropriate to intervene. I could tell Maica, but it was her mother that was doing the smacking so I don't know...
5) Abuse aside, I am really starting to like the grandparents! (Forgive the poor timing of that sentence...) They are so nice to me and I like that they don't step on my toes when I am hanging with the kids, but are always there to enforce my rulings! (Maica also said she would talk with Carmen and Rafa and let them know that they HAD to listen to what I said because we had been having some trouble with that). The abuela also always keeps me updated on all the USA athletes and athletic teams when they are playing on TV. It's really funny because half the time I dont even know who she is talking about, but since they are my country, she feels like she should let me know. (Speaking of USA sports, how bout that 12 hour tennis game?? And yes, I only know about it because of Abuela)
6) After the grandparents Rafa sr picked me and Carmen up and took us home... Carmen fell asleep in the car and didn't wake up again that night. We had dinner and that was it!

Additional things:
a. Right now there is an EPIC thunder/lightning/rain storm going on outside. Other than that the weather has been nearly perfect, super hot, sunny, and NIiiice.
b. My plan so far is to make a kahlua crumb apple pie for my family for the 4th of July... I am a little sad that I won't be in America for that one :(
c. My whole family and Kaja's whole family might take a joint four day weekend trip to Santiago on the weekend of July 10 because there is like some "Camino de Santiago" thing that is religious, where zillions of people from everywhere walk a path to Santiago. We would drive though! Anyways, its not definite but if it did happen, it would be SICK (as in awesome).
d. Tomorrow to Barcelonaaa! I am SO excited!!!
e. Monday starts the work morning and play evenings schedule! I hope it is fun and that the kids listen to me!

xoxoxoxo Julia
p.s. I already miss ELISE so much, she is going to camp on Sunday and this will be the longest time in my life that I have not seen her! We skyped tonight and I LOVE HER.
p.p.s. I think this will be the longest time i've gone without seeing my real parents too... true?

5 minute post!

I'm at Kaja's house and leaving for the Bus in 5 minutes, but I thought I'd just write a quick post... There isn't much going on different each day so the blogging has definitely slowed down...
Some fun things I've done:
- On Tuesday after the abuelo's, we went to Maica's friend Sara's house and played with water guns with Carmen, Rafa, and Sara's three ADORABLE boys and their Au pair, annie, who is also from boston. It was fun!
- Yesterday we swam for a long time in the pool and I had a really fun time with Carmen!
-Yesterday night I played a game with Carmen and Rafa where I try to get their feet while they are on their bed and when I grab their feet I then tickle them! They LAUGHED so hard and it was really fun!!

Maybe I'll write a bit more tonight if I have time.
Also on Friday Kaja and I are going to BARCELONA!!! There were no granada train spots available so we are saving that for later in the summer!
xoxo Julia

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Toledo at last! And the days after.

On Friday Kaja and I went to Toledo! We took a high speed train that left at about 12:30 and were in Toledo by 1! When we got out of the train station, we could see Toledo ahead. Toledo is on a big hill, which meant very tired legs at the end of the weekend. We got free maps at a tourist info center place and then began our walk over the river and up the hill to the hostel! The initial walk was really fun, up windy roads and through a pretty park. In the park we stopped for a snack because the hostel didn't open until after 2. There was a homeless man near us and when we left the park Kaja left an orange on a bench for him, still don't know if he ever took it!
The hostel was SO nice! It was a little more expensive than the other one, but we had a private room with two beds, a big window with curtains, a bathroom with a shower that didn't flood the whole room, a closet, and a tv! We decided we liked the private room a lot, but at the same time missed the community feel of the joint room hostel, where you eat breakfast and make friends every morning.
After we had settled in our room we went out to explore Toledo! We decided to leave Kaja's map and just take mine because I was the map reader! Outside of our hostel was the Puerta Del Sol, a giant stone archway, very cool. We sat outside of it on a wall and looked at where we wanted to go. Just then, a gust of wind blew my map off the wall and onto the roof of the house below! So we decided to just get lost in Toledo and then try to find our way back later!
First thing we did was walk to the Plaza de Zocodover, which was a pretty happening place. There were people in costumes, paella restaurants, and lots and lots of Marzipan.
Toledo is famous for it's Marzipan and lots and lots of swords for some reason. I wanted to get a small box of Marzipan at some point, but wanted to wait till the second day and I had no interest in trying to get a sword through Logan Airport.
ANYways from the Plaza de Zocodover we walked up a street to the Alcazar of Toledo, which was unfortunately under renovations so we couldn't go inside. We did wander around it a bit though. Then we walked across the city looking for the big Cathedral of Toledo. After a bit of wandering we found it! It was cool, but after just seeing Notre Dam in Paris and the HUGE cathedral in Seville, I wasn't as in awe of this one. It was still really impressive though. Then Kaja and I just wandered the streets some more! The wandering was really fun because of all the narrow streets and endless sword shops! We suddenly came upon this little children's park with an AMAZING view of some cool round building that we didn't know what it was. The sun was just starting to go down and we were tired so we sat in the park, Kaja working on her friendship bracelet, and just chilled out for a good hour. Then a bunch of really dark clouds ominously rolled in and after taking some pictures of the clouds, we decided it was best to move on!
We walked down the hill towards the mysterious pretty building. Just as we got there, a wedding was getting out and a bunch of fireworks went off! Very cool. We people watched for a while and then I found a map on the ground near the building and decided it was time to go home. Using my crazy good sense of direction, we walked around the base of the hill towards our Hostel. It was about 7 at this point, still too early for dinner in spain, but we were HUNGRY! We were also SO tired so we thought we would head to the hostel and plan out what to do for dinner. JUST as we entered the hostel, those giant ominous clouds opened up and it started pouring! We were glad that we had just avoided the rain, but now we were trapped in the hostel with no food and very hungry! We looked Kaja's map and found an Italian restaurant not too far away that looked pretty good. After about and Hour the rain seemed to lighten up a bit, so we quickly left the hostel and braved through the drips to our food! We made it there alright, but our last map was soaked!
The restaurant was really good and when we left it was about 11 and we were ready for bed! On our way home we stopped by a little convenience store and got a carton of Don Simon sangria (The best one Euro can buy) and some cookies! At our hostel we made some friendship bracelets and watched a soccer game on the mini tv with our sangria until we fell asleep!
In the morning, we had to check out of the Hostel by noon, but we certainly took our time getting out. We got to the front desk at about 11:45, but luckily they said they would hold on to our bags at the front desk so we didn't have to lug them around all day!
This time we had Kaja's weather worn map to guide us! We sat down and circled all the places we wanted to go. First thing, we wanted to revisit Alcazar, now that we had the map. It was still closed, but the library attached was open so we went in. There was a line for the elevators so we decided to take the stairs. A million flights later, we came out into the library. It had a nice view, but other than that it was pretty un-interesting. We took the elevator down and in the elevator was this middle aged British couple that we talked to a bit.
We left and went out into the gardens behind Alcazar. They had an AMAZING view of the river that runs around the hill. We took some pictures!
We then walked back to the Plaza of Zocodover (today there was a man dressed up as Jack Sparrow the pirate...?) and down Calle Commercial which is like a big shopping street. We did some clothing shopping, but didn't buy anything except some postcards, stamps, and some souvenirs. Then we intended to find some other museums but got crazy lost because most of the streets aren't marked! I was really hungry, so we decided to try to find a lunch place, but we happened to be in a totally dead neighborhood. Just then we passed a little church monastery place, Santo Domingo, and Kaja said she remembered reading that this little inconspicuous Monestary in the middle of nowhere happened to sell the best marzipan in all of Toledo! We went inside and came to a door that was locked and in a dark hallway. We made out a sign that said "light," we pressed the button and the light turned on. Then there was another sign that we saw that said to ring the bell. We did. Nothing happened. We almost left but then we heard a voice from behind a small door on the wall. She was saying, "Open the door" in spanish. We opened the small door and there was a wooden spool turntable thing in the middle so you couldnt see through. The woman's voice on the other side asked us what we wanted. I asked for a box of marzipan and after a bit of shuffling, the wheel turned and out came a box of marzipan! The woman then said, "4.50 Euros" and I put down the money and re-turned the wheel. She then returned the wheel with my change, and I guess pulled on a chain to shut the wheel door! This Marzipan experience was the absolute strangest food purchasing experience of my life! We never saw who was on the other side of the door selling the marzipan in this dead empty monastery! The Marzipan was good though, although I decided I am not the biggest Marzipan fan.
Then we found where we were on the map and went towards the Cathedral again to try to find somewhere for lunch. On the way we passed the "Ancient instruments of Medieval Torture" museum... I decided we should go in... Dun DUN DUNNN.
The museum was really really disturbing. They had SO many torture devices there with really gory descriptions, but what I found most icky was the fact that they all had really been used at one time or another, on many people! Halfway through the exhibit I started feeling really lightheaded and had to sit down. I think it was a combo of the hungry, thirst, and horrifying exhibit, but I thought I was going to faint! Kaja was worried too, my face started sweating profusely and got all washed out. She fed me crackers and poured water into my mouth until I felt well enough to get back up. Then I insisted that we finish the exhibit before we left, because I wanted to get our money's worth, but we sped- finished it so as to get out as fast as we could!
Finally, after nearly losing it, we left and found a place for lunch. We sat down and then realized that the couple at the table next to us was the British couple from the elevator at the library!! We talked a bit, then they left. Kaja and I both got some Paella, after all we are in Spain! It was SO delicious, mine was Chicken, hers was vegetable (Kaja is a vegetarian) but my mouth was seriously burned after it!
After we were stuffed to pieces, we decided to find some of the museums that we originally set out for that day. We found the Casa del Greco, which holds many of El Greco's paintings as well as is his original home, but it was closed for renovations!
Then we went into the Iglesia de Santo Tome, which is a big church that has one of the most famous El Greco paintings. Then we went to a Synagogue! This was called Maria Blanca and was a gorgeous building that is now used as a gallery of many paintings depicting Jewish suffering and stuff.
By then Kaja and I were getting pretty tired of spending 3 Euros at every place we wanted to get into. We kept walking though and found the last place we had wanted to see, a big Monastery. It turned out to be the building that we had seen the previous day while sitting in the park! ANOTHER wedding was getting out so we sat down and people watched for a long time, because we loved looking at all the dresses and the bride! Then we walked back up the streets, got some ice cream, and walked back to the Plaza Zocodover. We sat down on a wall and rested, then looked to our right and guess who was sitting there?
THE BRITISH COUPLE! This was seriously strange, to run into the same couple at three different places! But, around then it was time to head back to the train station so we went down the hill, got our bags from the hostel, and walked to the train station! Then it was speedy train, metro, and by the time we were out of the Metro and walking to Kaja's it was almost 11 PM. We got to her house and after a little email checking and such, went to bed.
In the morning we uploaded the Facebook album of photos, available now on Kaja's facebook! Then after some breakfast we decided to go to Madrid for the day!
We took the metro to the Retiro Park again, because we loved that park! We sunbathed and worked on friendship bracelets for a few hours. Then we got up and went to the Prado Museum, which holds tons of fine art masterpieces. It was Sunday so we got in for free! We roamed around for a few hours before we got tired and went to go find some dinner.
We always have trouble finding dinner because Kaja wants good vegetarian food and I want good meaty food and neither of us want to spend a ton of money but also we don't want to starve! Normally we look for a supermarket to get some food, but then we found a vegetarian falafel place directly across from my favorite, McDonalds! Kaja got a big old falafel and I got a cheeseburger, but I must say, next time I am going for the falafel, it sure looked good!
Then we took the metro home, talked to Kaja's Au-parents for a while, and went to bed after watching last week's episode of True Blood!
The next day was Monday! I love sleeping over at Kaja's because then I can sleep in! After sleeping until 11 or so, Kaja and I biked to the nearby town of Bodilla del Monte to try, once again, to purchase our Abono passes for the metro/bus. We found a tabac, conveniently located with a photo taking place on one side and a photocopy place on the other! We got our pictures taken at the photo place, got our passports photocopied at the photocopy place, and filled out the form to get our Abonos! Now all that is left is for them to arrive in the mail in two weeks!! Finger's crossed that it works!
We then biked halfway back to Kaja's, stopped for a picnic lunch that we brought, and went the rest of the way home. It was then basically time for us to get our kids so I went to my bus stop.
There was a different bus driver than normal and I was a little disappointed that I didn't get a ride all the way down the street with the new guy! :(
Then we picked up the kids, they were really cute as they always are when I first see them after a weekend! At the Abuelo's house though it was a little tricky. They simply DO NOT listen to me when I tell them not to do things, I don't understand why! I do the same things that the abuelos and padres do, counting to three and getting very stern, but they just do not respect my authority! So when they both started climbing up this skinny tree bush thing and I told them to get down, it was a problem. They WOULD NOT come down, even when I physically tried to lift Carmen out of the tree she wouldn't get out, and started screamin! OY!
I then got the abuelo and he came out and promptly counted to three and they came right down, of course. He then told them they had to listen to what I said and the look on their face clearly said, "This is news to me!" Carmen and Rafa were like, "WHY???" Oh gosh.
Then Maica came and stayed for a bit while Carmen, Rafa, and I went swimming in the Abuelo's pool. After a wee dip we went back home. Maica said she was leaving for a half hour before the Spanish World cup game started, but I thought Rafa Sr was still there so I went into Carmen's room and didn't know where Rafita was. I helped Carmen with this tell-time game she has and tried to teach her how to tell time. Then we played with a little cash register she had. Then Rafita yelled something to us and we went into the living room. Turns out that Rafa Sr wasn't at home and the whole time that I had been with Carmen, Rafita had been watching TV and DOWNING a whole can of Pringles... oops. Actually I still don't know if Rafa Sr had been home, or gone that whole time, because minutes later he came in so he could have just stepped out for a bit. But I felt really guilty for not watching Rafita! Still, no one seemed to care that he went through the Pringles like that, so maybe its no problem!
Then we ate dinner and watched the World Cup, Spain won so everyone was happy!
Then I was done for the day, showered, skyped with mum and pop, and went to bed!!!
P.s. plan for this coming weekend is to go to Grenada! Also the kid's school gets out on Friday so starting next week is the different schedule! I'm excited to see how that works out!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Weekend post coming! Happy Father's day!

SO Weekend is coming to a close and what a fantastic weekend it was! Friday and Saturday were spent in Toledo and today Kaja and I chilled out in Madrid!! I have so so much to write about but no time to write it so look forward to a massive post manana!
For Toledo pictures, visit Kaja's facebook:

Thursday, 17 June 2010

My Sock is Broken

Today was good!
Instead of driving with Maica and hiking to Kaja's house, Kaja and I decided to just meet in Madrid this morning. That meant I could sleep in until about 9 AM, which was NICE. Then I navigated the bus and metro and met Kaja in madrid! Amazingly we found each other once outside the metro without even pulling out and wasting our oh-so-precious pre-paid cellphone minutes! We had several goals for our morning in Madrid:
1) Purchase an Abono (a monthly bus/metro pass)
2) Buy some clothing
3) Eat at this vegetarian restaurant that Kaja had heard about
4) Visit this library place Kaja wanted to see.
5) Kaja also wanted to look into taking Spanish classes at this school and sign up or something.
We did not complete any of our goals!
We walked towards the Library place, but then I decided that we didn't have time to go inside if we wanted to hit up our other goals, so we turned around before actually getting there. Then we went to look for the Abono pass. The first Tabaca that we went to said they didn't sell them and directed us to a different Tabaca. In the second Tabaca we asked a man behind the counter for an Abono... he asked us if we had a photo of ourselves to put in the Abono, we didn't so we said no, he started to explain that we needed a photo and while he talked his mouth started drooling and foaming!! I am not even kidding! He had something seriously strange and wrong with his mouth going on, so Kaja and I basically booked it as fast as we could because it was SO unexpected. SO, Abono-fail until we can get a picture of us! We went to the Vegetarian restaurant, it was closed! We did a little shopping but found NOTHING! Finally, turns out the school Kaja wanted to look at didn't offer any Spanish classes!
Goals aside, we ended up eating at this nice Pizza place with outdoor seating. I actually got a pizza with ham on it, because I am oh-so-spanish! It was YUMMMMy. Also another funny thing, I got asked directions by people multiple times throughout the day! I have no clue why!
We took the Metro back, then it was about time for me to catch my bus so I went to my bus stop. AGAIN the bus driver was the creepy one. This time was especially awkward too because after a few stops, everyone had left except me and him... so he was like my personal driver... strange. But he was actually really nice because instead of dropping me off at the last stop, where i normally get off, he continued to drive me even farther so I didn't have to walk! Maybe we can become friends... ?
At the Abuelo's house I had fun with Rafa playing our same "Get the ball, throw the ball, come on" game, but Carmen was a bit more tricky... She wanted to ride on this little scooter thing she has, but she refused to put on her shoes. So I held on to it and wouldnt let her have it. She kept pulling on it, like she hadn't yet figured out that I am, in fact, a whole lot stronger than she is. She cried to abuela, but abuela agreed that she needed shoes. SO carmen put on shoes, I gave her the scooter, she scooted aproximately 1 meter away, and she kicked off her shoes. I took the scooter back! She put her shoes back on, but I wouldn't give her the scooter back because I had caught on to her strategy by then. She promptly went and told on me to abuela. Abuela came out to see what was wrong with the big bad au pair who wouldnt give the girl the scooter, but I explained with my spanish skills what really went down... I won in the end! HA HA! It was fine anyways because Carmen completely forgot her anger with me in about two seconds!
Maica took us home and then left me alone with the kids for the first time EVER! I like that the most because I don't feel like anyone is watching me, plus the kids actually listen to me because there is no one to run to and tell on me if they don't like what I am doing! We had fun, we went to the pool in the center of the little neighborhood. The water was FREEZING because it just opened and it wasn't that hot today. They waded in for about 3 minutes before they decided it was too cold, which was perfect because then I didn't have to fight an epic battle to get them Actually it was pretty funny... Carmen came out and was like, "PEE! PEE! PEE!" She had to pee... And we couldnt find the bathroom so she just squatted and peed in the grass in front of everyone else at the pool! ... I was speechless... this was definitely the first time I had encountered a situation like this. I didn't want to punish her, but I certainly didn't think it was an appropriate action! In the end I just ignored it because, hey, she had to pee and she is about the only person I have ever met that would opt to remove herself from the pool before letting it out.
We went back to the house and then they did some puzzles and played with my photobooth again. Rafa at one point was taking a video with it and I realized that he was saying, "puta" over and over again, which I was taught was a really bad Spanish word that means "Whore." Its things like this that are very difficult for an American Au Pair, because I just have no idea when he is saying a bad word and I don't feel comfortable assuming that he is being bad and chastising him! Later I asked Maica about it... I was right that he should not use that word, but there's not really much I can do. But he stupidly left video evidence of it on my computer, so if I ever need to blackmail him...
During dinner Maica and I talked for a long time in Spanish, about snow, boston, the differences between spanish and english, and more. It was a really good talk and I think my spanish has definitely improved! Then she told me that she thinks the Kids are learning a lot of english too! She said that Rafa is more shy when it comes to english, but Carmen is really picking it up! Last night apparently Carmen came up to her and said, "My sock is broken" and when Maica looked, there was a hole in Carmen's sock!! SO CUTE!! Then I made myself a bowl of chocolate ice cream with banana slices in it, delllicious.
Now I need to go take a shower and get myself packed up and ready for Toledo tomorrow! SO EXCITED!
Hasta Luego!