Croatia! Good company and an overdose of sun, breath-taking landscapes, blue skies/seas, and pizza. What a way to end my life here. We started our trip the way I started too many of my trips this year, with yet another 4 30am wake up. We arrived in Milan groggy, but passed our 5 hour layover drinking cappuccinos and eating focaccia, while watching the fabulous, fashionable Italians prancing around the airport. We arrived in Dubrovnik and explored the old city, feeling happy to be in such a gorgeous place. I’m having a hard time describing Dubrovnik, because it’s like no place I’d ever seen before. Surrounded by water and contained within thick ancient walls, the old city’s central promenade is almost all white marble, and full of cute little outdoor cafes and restaurants. Off the promenade there are tons of narrow alleyways the ascend up a bunch of steep stairs, leading to little plazas or homes. We weren’t feeling ambitious enough to tackle the many stairs in the city or a walk around the wall, and we barely managed to split an amazing four cheese pizza before we trekked back up the 364 stairs to our apartment to die for the night.
Just returned back to Madrid after two weeks of working at a summer camp, where myself and nine other monitors gave English classes, taught sports, and put on nightly shows for 144 Spanish children, ages 7-15. My group of twelve, made up of all the youngest kids, chose ‘The Champions’ as their name, and as a result I made them sing along to ‘We Are the Champions’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ every day to start and finish class. I don’t think they hated their daily five hours of classes as much as some of the kids, and I feel good about that.
Waah :( On Wednesday the time came to say goodbye to my little babies, and I’ve been feeling sad about it ever since. There is truly not a single one I don’t like, and I wish I could fast forward their lives 10 years and see how they turn out, because they are all such fantastic little humans now. They made me cards saying bye (except most of them read more like: ‘bey bey Alisa, for you, what is a great teacher’) and afterward one of my favorite boys tried for a bit to express himself in English before finally giving up and saying “Teacher Alyssa, por favor, no te vayas. Por favor.” Just about killed me. For you viewing pleasure I got a couple of videos of them, check ’em out, they’re the cutest.
Barca Barca Barca! What an amazing city. I’ve never been in a place with such attention to detail, I felt like everywhere I looked there was something interesting or beautiful that would catch my eye. I loved the contrast between the ancient Roman walls or Gothic cathedrals, and Gaudi’s entirely unique architecture found throughout the city. Plus, Barcelona is right on the coast so you have the ocean breezes and that ocean smell… really this might be my new favorite city in the world, it’s shame I only just discovered it now.
Copenhagen! I landed in my new favorite city Friday afternoon, to spend a welcome rainy weekend away from the stifling heat of Madrid. Upon my arrival we bought some supplies to make curry and set about playing King’s Cup (Danish rules are way better than American) to pass the time until Blanca arrived. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed, and by the time she landed around 1am we had played one too many games, and were all ready for bed. The next morning after a delicious breakfast of chocolate milk and an assortment of Danish pastries smothered in cheese and jam, it was time for my one day whirlwind tour. Our first stop, at the request of Blanca, was a visit to the Little Mermaid statue. On the metro ride, the homeless people that normally come with every major city were noticeably absent, and everything was just so clean and shiny and new. I also couldn’t help but notice how almost everyone was really actually stunning, working that whole blonde, tall, blue-eyed thing. Hardly seems fair to the rest of the world.
San Sebastian stole my heart, as so many warned me it would. Old colorful buildings, families and children happily frolicking about, fresh sea air, white sandy beaches with crystal blue water, all surrounded by lush green rolling hills. The definition of charming. My friend Jelissa and I arrived starving after a 6 hour bus ride from Madrid, and despite the offer from our nice hostel man to join him for a pintxo (Basque country’s version of tapas), we declined and went out in search of real food. We found a pizza place around the corner that did the trick, and while we initially were worried that 11 was too late for dinner, people were still streaming into the restaurant as we were paying the bill two hours later.
Cat Stevens has once again been my constant companion these past few weeks, what a babe.
So, I wanted to write a really great blog about my spring break trip to Turkey, especially after my last two half-hearted entries. But, upon my return to Spain, I journeyed to the coast to spend a rainy weekend in Alicante, and then had two jam-packed weeks in Madrid catching up with everything going on here, and now all of a sudden it’s time to head off to San Sebastian for another weekend getaway, which means that somehow it’s been a month since Turkey, and still no blog. How did that happen?
Bem-vindo a Porto! What a cute little city, a day and a half was just about the perfect amount of time to spend there. The town itself is verrryyy chiquito, bisected by a river that flows in from the ocean, with the city center on one side, and a lot of port wineries on the other. Even if Porto itself hadn’t been so darn charming, with narrow cobblestone streets winding up it’s many hills, lots of parks with blooming trees/ flowers, and brightly colored tile facades on the buildings, I still would have loved it solely because I am always happier just being near the ocean.
I like being here. As the time continues flying by, I’m starting to realize that I’m going to be pretty sad to leave Madrid. Funny things happen here that I wouldn’t get to experience back home. For example, my lovely Mom sent me some peanut butter as an Easter present, and I was shocked when my roommate Valerio told me he had never tried it. I immediately made him some toast and spread some on, watching eagerly as he took his first bite. His reaction wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for, if anything he looked slightly disappointed. When I asked him what he thought, he told me “Well, it tastes just like a peanut… Except creamy.” I’m still not sure what he was expecting…
Vincent: You know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
Vincent: It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same sh-t over there that they got here, but it’s just- it’s just there it’s a little different.
Vincent: Alright, well you can walk into a movie theater in Amsterdam and buy a beer. And I don’t mean just like in no paper cup, I’m talking about a glass of beer. And in Paris, you can buy a beer at McDonald’s. And you know what they call a, uh, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?
Vincent: Nah, man, they got the metric system, they wouldn’t know what the f-ck a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: What do they call it?
Vincent: They call it a “Royale with Cheese.”
Jules: “Royale with Cheese.”
Vincent: Thats right.
Jules: What do they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: A Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it “Le Big Mac.”
Finally saw Pulp Fiction for Movie Monday last night, it might now be my new favorite, and this quote is so fitting, considering where I spent my weekend.