Monday, May 31, 2010

Jack and Isaac visit Spain!

As I mentioned earlier, my brother Jack and his friend Isaac came to visit me and see some of Spain! They arrived two weeks ago and spent most of their first week touring around Madrid and some of the surrounding cities like El Escorial. They went to tour around Real Madrid's stadium, Bernabeau and really enjoyed how much everyone here cares so much about futbol. They were also around for the finals of the Champions League in futbol which was here in Madrid. The game was between Byer from Germany and Inter from Italy and the city was mobbed with fans! During the day they were all over the center of the city and really raucous, we even saw a big fight. We watched the game in a local bar and although it was not a very interesting game the atmosphere was really fun. The next day we went to play disc golf with the frisbee team which although very pollen-y was a whole lot of fun! On Monday, Jack, Isaac and I went to Toledo which is about an hour outside of Madrid. We were lucky in that we had a beautiful day and we arrived a little outside of the center of the the city. The city was up on a hill so we had quite a hike to get up there but it was well worth it. The city was absolutely beautiful with a lot of medieval style architecture and winding streets. We stopped to see the cathedral first which is usually in the center of every city in Spain so low and behold there was a tourist office right next to it hahaha. After taking some pictures of the cathedral we moved on to find some lunch and go see the Alcazar which was unfortunately closed for construction. Then we went to see one of the most famous work's of El Greco called "El Entierro del Senor de Orgaz" which was painted onto the wall of the church of San Tome. Luckily we were stuck behind a tour group as we entered the church that happened to be in english so we got to listen in about the painting! Then we walked to a bridge that led out of the city and took some more pictures. Tired after a long day of walking we headed back home to Madrid. Jack and Isaac went on to visit Barcelona during the week and then I headed there for La Liga Campeonato de Espana (aka The Spanish Championship League for Ultimate frisbee) for Open and Women. I will write more about the results later...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Field Trip at the Farm and Salamanca

View of the Salamanca Cathedral from "La Celestina" garden.

Hello lovely readers! Sorry I haven't been posting lately, but my brother Jack and his friend Isaac been here and so I have been busy showing them around! Well in the last week I went to an educational farm for two days with my school! The farm was about an hour outside of Madrid and we left from school early Thursday morning. We drove to the farm which was in the mountains and run by a group of counselors. It was nice because we got to hang out with the kids but we didn't have to run any activities. We definitely got the VIP treatment at the farm with our own decorated apartment and a private dining room!! The kids got to do lots of activities like zipline, rock climbing, and orienteering. They had a total blast and although I really wanted to participate in the activities they were made for children so I couldn't go!! I was bummed but I was happy the kids got to have so much fun. We spent Thursday night at the farm too which was really fun because it was like one big sleepover for the kids. We got up on Friday morning and went on a 3 hour hike which sounds fun but with 80 kids it was a little difficult. After about 20 minutes they were all telling me they were tired and asking what time lunch was hahaha. But we made it to the top of a small mountain to overlook the town and the mountains. It was a great view! Then we hiked back down, ate a well earned lunch and packed up to go home. The kids were happy but really excited to be back with their families. After resting from the farm, I left Saturday morning for a one day frisbee tournament in Salamanca. Salamanca is about 2 hours north of Madrid and is the university town in Spain. Every month in the spring, a team from Spain organizes a one or two day tournament so Spanish teams can meet every month to play. All the tournaments are called Copa Ancha Castilla or CAC for short. The team in Salamanca hosted this one and 8 teams came. Because we had so many people sign up Quijotes sent 2 teams. We mixed the teams between the regular players and the newer players. It was a lot of fun!

Sadly though the way the organizers made the tournament both of our teams were put in the same group. We had to play each other in the first game guaranteeing that one of the teams would eliminate the other from the possibility of going to the finals. Unfortunately, my team was the one that lost so we couldn't make it to the final game. We played hard though and ended up coming in 3rd place! Since the tournament was only one day our team decided to stay the night and tour the city the next day. At night we went out for the Salamanca version of tapas called pinchos. You ordered a beer and they gave you your choice of a delicious tapa! Mmmmmmmmm tapaaaaaaaas. On Sunday we woke up to see the center of the city. We saw the cathedral and then moved on to the university. The university has a famous facade that is ornately decorated and hidden in the decorations is a frog which is the symbol of Salamanca. The legend has it that you have to find the frog in order to be able to enter into the university. I tried for about 10 minutes and it was impossible! We walked to see the Plaza Mayor which is the main meeting point of the city. Then we went to visit the garden of the famous Spanish play "La Celestina", where the two main lovers met. The town was really beautiful and I had a fabulous time. My brother, Isaac and I went to Toledo today so I will update about that soon!

The facade of the University in Salamanca. Can you spot the frog?

The wall of shells near the University.

At the end of the hike. We made it!!

Some of my students getting ready for rock climbing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

On holiday in sunny Mallorca

Us in front of the Palma Cathedral.
Because I'm an American teaching British english, I have started unconsciously starting using some of their vocabulary. Saying I'm "on holiday" rather than vacation is one of them. I got to put my british english skills to work this weekend when I went to Mallorca. Mallorca is one of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea (off the coast of Barcelona) and also one the hotspots for the English to go "on holiday". It was extremely strange to still be in Spain yet the majority of the shops, restaurants, and bars were owned and operated by English speakers! I don't think I spoke Spanish to anyone for the entire weekend, which was weird. However, Mallorca was absolutely gorgeous! The crystal blue beaches were surrounded by cliffs and mountains making for photo ops everywhere. We stayed about 20 minutes outside of the capital city Palma at a beach called Santa Ponca.

Tory, Allison, my friend Lauren from frisbee and I arrived at the Palma airport on Friday morning and took a bus to our hotel. Our hotel was kind of like the hotel in Dirty Dancing where they planned activities for the hotel guests during the day. However, it was like the hotel hadn't changed since about 1975 which was both hilarious and creepy. But hey it was 7 euros a night so I wasn't about to complain. We were active participants in the hotel activities doing everything from rifle shooting, to bingo and trivia. After we ate and got some groceries on Friday it was a little cloudy and cool for the beach so we decided to head into Palma to explore. I was surprised at how beautiful the city was, the buildings reminded me of Sevilla but less colorful. We got off the bus on the shore near the cathedral which was amazing and gothic like all Spanish cathedrals. After taking lots of pictures around the cathedral and the surrounding gardens we had a drink then explored the surrounding streets. We saw the Plaza Mayor and went into some of the jewelry shops because Mallorca is famous for their pearls. I didn't buy any pearls but Tory got a beautiful silver bracelet with the Palma city symbol on it. After we saw some of the city we walked along the coastline which was really beautiful. We got back to our hotel just in time to play trivia and were 2 points away from winning.

The next day we woke up to join the hotel staff leading rifle shooting hahaha. Well, it was actually a BB gun but it was really fun! I was really lucky the second round and hit the target so I ended up coming in second in the competition! After rifle shooting we packed some sandwiches and heading for the beach because it was really warm and sunny. We spent the whole day relaxing by the beach and enjoying the scenery. To cool off we walked back to the hotel pool which had a slide!! We couldn't resisted going down the slide a couple of times (more than the kids at the pool). Then we showered off, ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant and then hurried back to the hotel for bingo! I secretly think we are turning into 80 year old women. We were really close to winning but a 9 year old kid walked away with the 34 euro prize. We stuck around for another round of trivia but didn't do as well as the first time because it was on 80s and 90s songs in which you had to name the title and artist to get full points. After a great weekend we were really sad to leave Mallorca and go back to the real world. On top of that, hearing about more of the volcanic ash cloud everyone was secretly hoping our flight would be canceled and we would be forced to stay another day (bummer, I know). But, we made it safely back to Madrid where it was raining and cold. Coming up I will be doing a lot of traveling with frisbee tournaments and my brother Jack coming to visit me!!!

Testing out my rifling skills.

Santa Ponca Beach.

Tory, Allison, and Lauren in Palma.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April Showers really do bring May flowers!

Sorry I haven't been posting a whole lot lately but my life has been pretty routine these last two weeks so I don't feel like I have too much to write about. The most exciting thing is that it has been getting really warm here during the day (like 85 or so) and really sunny. When I have breaks in my schedule at school I try to go outside to read and enjoy the sun. The picture above is the walkway near my school when I was walking with some of the other teachers to get lunch on Friday. On the weekends we go to Parque Retiro and I try to go play pickup frisbee on Saturdays when I can. Also the local bar area near our neighborhood La Latina has been full of people on Sundays since its so nice, so we usually go there Sunday nights to have a beer. This weekend we got to meet one of our friends Carlos' nephews David and Yago. David is 3 years old and Yago is 1 and half. They were both sooooooo cute!!! We went with them to the park and played with them. It was kind of weird talking to little babies in Spanish but they were both so adorable I didn't mind! Next weekend I am going to Mallorca which is one of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. I am really excited to go to the beach again and there is supposedly a lot of biking around the city which should be awesome! Also yesterday was Dia de la Madre (translation Mother's Day) here in Spain even though it isn't until next weekend in the US. So lots of love to my mom who is the best mom ever!! Don't know how I would have made it through life without her! I love you mom!