Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"The Cobra"

For my next entry, I'd like to tell you a funny story about social interaction we experienced in Spain. My roommate Caitlin tells it better. Enjoy:  
Spain, especially Madrid, is famous for its discotecas. Madrid is after all one of the party capitals of the world. The biggest discoteca: Kapital, with 7 floors and each floor plays a different genre of music. If you stay on the first floor you get to experience the “wind guster,” a machine that generates large gusts of wind at the height of the techno beat. You know in the rap videos, where they roll up to the fancy clubs and there are bouncers in black suits with earpieces acting like they’re the secret service while ushering in women in mini skirts and ten-inch heels? I always wondered if those places actually existed; they do, and most of them are in Spain. There are hundreds of them, maybe thousands. After we had visited a few of them, we asked our Spanish roommate what the deal was with the social etiquette in the discotecas; we just didn’t get it. This is the breakdown he gave us:
“Well, it’s all about the cobra.”
Us: “The cobra? What?”
“Yeah, all guys fear the cobra, you know, when a guy goes to kiss a girl and she moves her head back like a cobra while looking at him like, I don’t think so” “You don’t do the cobra? What do you do if I guy tries to kiss you?”
Us: “Oh, well, guys don’t typically try to kiss you if they don’t think you’re interested…” 
 “But if he doesn’t try to kiss you, then how does he know you are or aren’t interested?”
Us: “Well, if you’re talking with him, depending on the conversation he could tell if you are interested.”
Look of confusion…Well, if some guy does try to kiss you and you don’t want to kiss him, what do you do?”
Us: “Well, I guess we would give him the cheek.”
“The cheek?! If you give him the cheek he thinks, alright I got the cheek, I got a chance! No, the girl does the cobra. Then the guy has the option to respond with the bear.”
Us: “The bear?”
“Yeah, the bear, like a bear hug. Then the girl can respond with the kangaroo.” (Demonstrated with both hands and foot pushing away bear hug.)
 This is actually a true story. And we actually could have used these moves out. Now you are prepared for a visit to a discoteca in Madrid. Have fun and be ready! :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fútbol Mania

  Spain is home to, well, some of the world’s best soccer teams. You might have heard of our home team, Real Madrid. Crowds flood in from all over the city to the sacred Santiago Bernabeu stadium. This monstrous stadium holds 85,454 of some of the world’s loudest and most faithful futbol followers. Every gameday, the Real fans in my classrooms would sport their Cristiano and Casillas* jerseys. All the Barca (Barcelona) kids would give them a hard time about how they’ve beaten Real multiple times in this year’s  “El Clásico” matchups. -àFor more info about “El Clásico” click here:     The students would ask me if I liked Real Madrid or Barca, and when I always responded Real, half the class would cheer and the other gave me dirty looks. Easy way to make enemies in Spain- be a Barca fan in Madrid or vice versa.  So as I am very team spirited, of course I had to check out the action in the Bernabeu. Here are some shots.
     *Cristiano Ronaldo #7, Iker Casillas goalkeeper

                                             Watch this video of Real Madrid almost scoring! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Carnival in Cadiz

  In February, Spain celebrates its big Carnival season before Lent. Similar to our Mardi Gras, it is common to dress up in costume and participate in general merry-making. The two biggest celebrations in the country are on the Canary Islands and in Cadiz, the southern port town in Andulucia. Several years back, I spent a summer study abroad in Cadiz and fell in love with the city. It is a small peninsula city with white buildings, palm trees, cutesy parks and plazas, and of course, the beach. That summer we had all our favorite spots and knew the shortcuts to everywhere. So we figured Carnival would be the perfect occasion to make a return visit.
   We arrived on Friday afternoon and had the chance to wander around the city before all the action started the next day. It was eerily quiet compared to Madrid, but I assured Caitlin that's just how it is in Cadiz; small, tranquil, until tomorrow at least. We had been told that people come into Cadiz by train during the day, party all night, and go back on the train the next day to avoid the cost of a night in a hotel. And they weren't kidding. These people straight roll off the train, completely decked out in  costume with nothing to their person except some money and probably alcohol. Masses made their way into the old part of the city to start the celebrations.
   Another interesting thing about these costumes is that everyone dresses up in groups. And the more outrageous or clever the outfit, the better. The most popular costumes we saw this year were chickens, babies, and Pippy Longstockings. But we saw it all. For entertainment, groups of singers pass through the streets, performing comical song routines. At night there is a big sing-off between the finalist groups, many of which have been preparing months in advance. Pretty much the whole celebration is one big outdoor drinking party, which the Spanish call "botellon". No open container laws here- just don't get too rowdy (aka break or steal anything). But the next day is a family friendly parade down the main street that anyone can join, so there's fun for kiddies too. And for people like us who appreciate quality people watching.
   I was sad to leave Cadiz, but glad to be a part of this big cultural experience in one of my favorite places. Until next time....
Good to be back! Arrgg.
Based off the popular reality tv show, 'Farmers Looking for Spouses'

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Roma Roma

   Following the return our celebration of the New Year, we headed off to the Eternal City to spend a few days before starting back at school. I think pictures can better describe our trip so here you go:
Trevi Fountain

Spanish steps
Eating the most delicious gelado known to man at Gioletti
Roman Capitol Hill
Roman Colosseum
Caesar... duh
Vatican City
Inside St. Peter's Cathedral- amazing!
We had to eat pizza of course!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Happy New Year!!

    Madrilenos have a very special way of celebrating the New Year. You push your way into the busiest plaza in the center of downtown (Sol) and, as the bell tower strikes midnight, you eat a grape for each of the 12 chimes. So essentially, 12 grapes in 12 seconds. If you complete this task, you get good luck for the year. Should you fail.... mala suerte. Everyone brings their own set of grapes and mini champagne to kick off the new year. Seedless grapes are sold in cans for easy consumption; these people know the drill. Locals show up in neon wigs and crazy hats ready to celebrate in the streets. HAPPY 2012!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Navidad in Spain

   Instead of going home for Christmas, my family came to Spain to see me! It was really neat to experience Christmas in another country.  I walked them around the city center to see the Christmas lights that were up on display. Typical of our family vacations, we were going, going, going. I wasn’t kidding when I warned them that we would do a lot of walking. I mean, if you’re only here for a few days, you have to see it all! For Christmas dinner, we baked at my friend Amanda’s house. 
   For Christmas day, we rented a car and drove north to the city of Vielha, in the Pyrenees mountains. Getting there was a series of unfortunate events  which began with the fact that we could not put the manual car in reverse. As the office was closed that day, we were forced to only go or park in places we could get out of without reverse. We had trouble finding the hotel in Vielha and tried a random street, only to realize it led uphill and we had no way to turn around except to start up one part of the street and then let ourselves roll a little backwards in a cul-de-sac . I hopped out to ask a woman how to get to the hotel, and unbeknownst to me, my phone fell out. After stressfully making it back down the hill, I realized it was gone and we had to go back up there to get it. When we found it, they screen was broken. Great. So now we couldn’t call the hotel or anyone the rest of our trip. (Also, trying to replace a phone was a task, but that’s another long, boring story.)
  But we got there and Joel and I went skiing the next day in Baquiera-Beret. The views from the top of the slopes were incredible and the snow was so thick! I soon came to see that our intermediate slopes were like their easy runs. I’m glad for all the practice I’ve done back home because this place was not for beginners! From there we drove to Barcelona and did all the touristy things. We stayed in an apartment near the Ramblas. And for my third time in this city, it still confirmed to me that I am more of a Madrid girl. It’s a great place, but Madrid is where it’s at. Just saying… All in all though, we had a great time in Barcelona and we parted ways at the airport: they were heading back stateside, I was going back to Madrid for New Year’s Eve!
 Christmas tree up in Sol
 City Hall 
 Typical Spanish meal: eggs, potatoes, and bread
 City's biggest Nativity scene
 Joel is too tall for the Metro

 Las Ramblas, Barcelona

 Sagrada Familia
View from Parc Güell

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Christmas Markets in Germany

  Here are some pictures from our trip to Munich right before Christmas. We stayed with our roommate from Munich and went to all the famous Christmas markets!


Residenz- former palace of Bavarian monarchs.
English Garden

Markets everywhere!

Trying beer at the famous Hofbrauhaus.

Nymphenburg Palace
Staying warm with  Gluhwien (hot mulled wine) at the Tollwood Festival, the location of the Oktoberfest.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

If there's a line in Spain, get in it!

. Spanish people love a good line. Seriously. It's common knowledge that you never eat a place unless it's full of people inside. My German roommate, informed us about this phenomenon because she had studied a semester here before. According to her, if they see a line, they just get in it. "It must be good!" And that's proved to be exactly true. Everywhere we go, we see the lines. When we're in the airport, people line up a good hour before boarding the plane. The only people sitting around looking confused are the Americans (and probably the Germans too). It's not like you're going to get on any faster, especially if you already have your seats assigned.
  The best line story we witnessed was a few weeks ago, outside an Abercrombie and Fitch store. Caitlin and I saw this massively long line and could not make out what it was for. There was no visible sign marking any kind of big event. We could hear music coming from inside the building and there were bouncers at the door. We thought it might be a discoteca (as people commonly stand in long lines for discotecas), but it was way too early for that. We asked some guy what the story was and he informed us that this was the line for the Abercrombie and Fitch store. Well is the king inside or was everything for free?? Nope, he informed us. Nothing special. It just opened recently, last April....  April?!? Oh well, I guess patience is a virtrue. We didn't dare say that there are three A&F stores in the Alpharetta mall alone.

 Check out this one from a Comic Convention:
The infamous Abercrombie video:

The last one is from Sol before the big Christmas lottery.