After trying to find enough time to go a little bit farther than France or Italy (not that they aren´t awesome) I got to go to Berlin and Prague for Semana Santa this year. Coming off a really good frisbee tournament (we came in 3rd place) I was excited for some much needed vacation. I had heard lots of good things about both cities and I was excited to find out about them for myself. First up was Prague and it was just as charming as everyone said it would be. And they had the best thing I have ever found in a European city....A BAGEL SHOP!!! Like with real American bagels, cream cheese, and unlimited refills on coffee. I was on cloud nine. Of course there were some other good things too: Beautiful architecture everywhere we went.
A charming castle
Beer gardens overlooking the city
And great company (my teammates Lauren and Chelsi). What more could a girl ask for?
After having an relaxing time in Prague (and eating as many bagels as I possibly could) my friend Chelsi and I hopped on the bus back to Berlin. Although from first site Berlin didn´t seem as quintesentially European as other cities (in that thousands of years old architecture kind of way) I was intrigued by the history and counter-culture there. And it did not disappoint! As a total history nerd, the city's history was fascinating. In order to get my bearings I went on a tour around the major monuments of the city. Because of the bombings during WWII there weren't as many old buildings in beautiful Baroque or Gothic style. However, there was however the most amazing graffiti I have every seen. And not just in one place, but all over the city. I have come to the conclusion that graffiti can either be strikingly beautiful or a total eyesore but in Berlin it was exceptional. After taking a tour to learn the history and important monuments of the city on Saturday, Chelsi and I rented bikes on Sunday to see more of the underground parts of the city. We biked all over the city and got to see another side of Berlin. From the East Side Gallery which is the longest part of the wall that remains and has now turned into a museum of graffiti artists from all over the world. It was my favorite part of Berlin. From the pictures you can understand why right?
I also visited a concentration camp outside of Berlin which was an incrediably moving and intense experience. One of the things that struck me most about Berlin was the openess that they exhibited about the sins of their past. We are all well aware of the terrible crimes committed in Germany but in Berlin they are put front and center. The memorial to the Jews killed in WWII was placed in the center of Berlin for the government, Berliners, and visitors to see. I thought that was pretty remarkable for a country that has such darks parts in their history to put them on display. It made me wonder if the U.S. would do the same about some of the less finer parts of our history. What do you think?
Currently I am counting down the hours to spriiiiing break 2011, known here in Spain as Semana Santa. Easter is really late this year and I have been looking forward to my vacation for a loooooooooong time! This year I am going to Berlin and to Prague. I am super excited about eating lots of currywurst and other delicious things (and drinking lots of delicious beer) thanks to my friend Kit's post about German cuisine. I have been pining to go to Eastern Europe but haven't made it yet so I am super excited!
P.S. I'm going to another frisbee tournament too...but you weren't surprised by that were you?
Spring has finally come to Madrid! Although the weather has been a little topsy turvy (one day raining the next day beautiful) it seems that we are finally having some nice weather in Madrid. There are lots of things I'll be looking forward to about spring here. The nice weather is clearly the best part about spring. It's not too hot and perfect for doing lots of things outside. Picnic-ing, going to the park, playing frisbee, having cañas while people watching, and generally being in good mood because its nice outside. And the mack daddy of all good spring happenings in Madrid... color and patterns return to Spanish stores!!!! Yes, after months of suffering through every shade of brown, gray, black, white, and tan I can finally see bright colors and fun patterns in Zara, Bershka and my other favorite tiendas. Hooray! As a loyal follower of What Not to Wear one of my biggest complaints about Spanish fashion is the lack of color or pattern. Haven't they learned anything from Stacey and Clinton??
Although I think I would love spring in just about any part of the world, it does really make me miss spring Chapel Hill. The lazy days on the quad, sweet tea, the azaleas blooming around the Old Well, the perfume-like smell of honeysuckle, I could go on and on. But spring in Chapel Hill will have to wait one more year because I have decided to stay one more year here in the great land of Espain!
In honor of my frisbee team's annual tournament, La Abuela (the grandma) I'm going to talk about certain things your grandmother says (and you know it's not true) but all Spaniards still seem to believe. Most of them have to do with the cold:
1. If you are in the cold, you will catch a cold- No, you won't catch a cold because its a bacterial virus you'll catch it because you aren't wearing 5000 layers when the temperature is below65 degrees. Even on really warm days like today when it was about 75 degrees, none of the children were allowed to go outside in short sleeves. I don't know why but Spaniards seem to be extremely paranoid of the cold. Once on a cool day, I went outside for one minute to walk some of the kids to the playground and I didn't have my coat on. The teacher I was with ordered me back inside to get my coat even though I was only going out for ONE minute!
2. Following the cold theme here are other things you can't do when it is the slightest bit chilly here (chilly according to spanish standards)- you must never leave the house with wet hair, or without a scarf, and have your feet completely covered. Only boots or sneakers til May folks.
3. Eating- My roommate Allison has more experience with this one but when she lived in Sevilla her señora would never let her shower after dinner. Her señora said that someone in her family had a heart attack while showering after dinner so therefore it was forbidden. Also certain foods must be eaten at certain times. Eggs are never eaten as a breakfast food but a sandwich is perfectly acceptable. If you eat foods at weird times it will immediately be commented upon, the Spaniards are very blunt.
4. Olive oil- Consuming gallons of oil is extremely healthy. Hmmm Spain, while your olive oil is delicious and has health benefits I'm pretty sure going through a liter a week is pretty fattening. Also frying things in olive oil does not make them more healthy.
To sum up, grandma does know a lot of things, but take it with grain of salt.