Wow! I can’t believe it has been a full month since I stuffed my life into a suitcase (well 3) and moved overseas. In spite of what I thought to be very savvy packing, I finally caved and did some light shopping as my Cali clothes were no match against this Madrid winter. In doing so, I discovered that sales tax out here is 23%!!! But, unlike in the states, the tax is included on the ticketed price of the item so that you’re not caught off guard wondering how your 20 € shopping exception turned into a 2k € splurge when you get to the register LoL. Although the high taxes helped keep my spending at bay, I will say that another factor stifling my shopping desires is the fact that I have yet to figure out what all my European sizes are AND at the rate that I’m going, those sizes may change week-to-week lol. Look, I don’t understand how their bread taste amazing in just about any and EVERY form and I just can’t seem to get enough. I could eat bread, oil, and vinegar all day, everyday… and, well, so I have been.
And not that I couldn’t stand to gain a pound or 2(wenty), myself and a classmate of mine, who also enjoys running in colder climates has agreed to start hitting a few trails with me a couple of times a week at Parque de El Retiro, a park near our school with nice trails and amazing scenery. (Pictured below)
So, after being here for 4 weeks, I’m learning that living abroad for someone who loves to travel as much as I do can prove to be quite the conundrum for someone who equally enjoys sleeping as much as I do. Naturally I want to do everything, go everywhere and see and experience it all, while many of my dream destinations are in close proximity and easily accessible. On the other hand, traveling anywhere for any period can prove to be very exhausting. Factor in early mornings, late nights, and Houston we have a problem.
Nonetheless, I have been able manage thus far, with a few sacrifices here in there. A few weekends ago I visited Toledo, a neighboring city, which only took about 30 minutes by train. It was a lot of walking but very nice sights to see. I went on a Sunday, so it was less crowded as the city follows many catholic principles honoring the Sabbath. I used an app that I downloaded on my phone the night prior, to guide me through the city while providing information about the history of city and the buildings I passed along the way.
While there, both for breakfast and lunch, I had a Spanish Tortilla (also known as a Spanish omelet), a dish that has made its way to the top of my “favorite foods” category and subsequently, I was recently taught how to make it. The dish consists of thinly sliced pieces of fried potatoes. Combined with eggs, onion and other mix-ins and cooked to perfection via stovetop. (Here’s the one I made).
In exchange for being taught how to make Spanish Tortilla’s, I made hamburgers for the family as it has been on the top of their request list. In preparation for this I was surprised to find ground chicken and turkey to be non-existent out here. Additionally, the conversation the mom and I had on Honey Barbecue sauce alone was pure comedy as she had no former knowledge of its existence prior to me adding it to the shopping list.
Needless to say, the family was more than pleased with the outcome of their meal as evidenced by the amount of times they told me that I need to go on Master Chef. They even purchased a blank book that they entitled “Londi’s Amazing Recipes” where they’ve added a picutre of me and the dishes I’ve made thus far, along with the recipes for them. Talk about pressure for the weeks and months to come. Lol
This past weekend I visited Seville and Cordoba with a agency out here that organizes various day and weekend trips for international individuals. We traveled 7 hours by charter bus. They provided guided walking tours and optional activities for us to do while there. Since I was told that you can’t visit Seville without seeing a Flamenco show, I obliged and it was AMAZING! I am pretty sure I will be stomping around the house, doing my own variation of the show for the greater part of this up coming week. We stayed in Seville for a day and on the return trip we traveled to Cordoba before returning home both cities provided great sites to see.
My Spanish is coming along, as I’ve been able to speak it a lot more often while hanging out and engaging with more people. However, I will say that although I am amazed at my retention of vocabulary, I am frustrated with processing time. For example, on the way to Toledo, at the train station, I had to first stop and purchase my ticket. Knowing all the phrases to do so, I attempted to make my request, however, during this interaction I would either successfully say something in Spanish and the attendant would then respond so fast that I would not be able to initially comprehend her reply and before I could repeat and translate everything in my head, she would clarifiy for me in English or, even with prior knowledge of what I wanted to say, I would struggle to find the words fast enough and then grow self conscious as I fumbled through my phrases, and then give up prematurely and switch back to English. Not to meantion the way they tell time here is quite different which I was pre-warned about. They use the 24-hour clock when telling time (not the issues) but when relaying the time to someone, they use the 12 hour clock. So even thought the clock may read 14:00 they would still say 6p. If it’s 14:15 they’d say a quarter past 4. But say if its 4:37p to relay that, you would say that by rounding to the next hours and subtracting to the minute. So one would say it’s 5p minus 23. The other day someone approached me to ask for the time. Between transforming the time in my head from 24 hour to the 12 hour format, rounding up an hour, subtracting to minute and THEN still having to translate this information from my English thought process to deliver it in Spanish verbiage, it was a disaster to say the least, I didn’t even make it to the minute subtraction before I gave up and just showed her my watch Lol. But it’s all a work in progress I guess. Nonetheless, school is going well and I have been informed that I am ready to advance to the next level starting Monday. Which is exciting.
I know I have so much more to update you all on but I think I am going to call it quits for now, and hopefully, that’ll just mean another update will come sooner than later lol. One can only hope. Anywho adiós for now.
P.s. This post is 2 weeks late : ) (Initially written on Feb 13. 15, my 1 month mark.)