Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Madrid

· · · · · Mi año madrileño · · · · ·

Recently, se me ocurrió de que I don't often write about Madrid here even though the title of my blog is, "Dana Goes to Madrid!"  Para cerrar mi año en Madrid, he decidido que an appropriate way to say hasta luego (not adiós!) to the city would be to share my favorite things about Madrid.

Part I: My Favorite Attractions in Madrid

Part II: My Favorite Restaurants in Madrid

Part III: Little Things a las cuales nunca me voy a acostumbrar

Part IV: My Favorite Places to Shop in Madrid

Part V: Thank You

Part I: My Favorite Attractions in Madrid

Guernica by Picasso
By far, my favorite museum in Madrid is El Museo de la Reina Sofía.  I live directly across the street from it so I can go see Picasso´s Guernica anytime I want.  Guernica is an enormous painting, which Picasso created to portray the pain and destruction caused to the city of Guernica by the Spanish Civil War.  The museum houses many incredible, contemporary and surrealist works of art by Picasso, Dalí, Miró, and other artists.  I go to this museum so often that sometimes when I visit the permanent collection on the second floor and go around viewing my favorites of the museum, and I feel like I´m visiting friends.

Un mòn by Torroella

I especially like a series of three paintings by Dalí, which are hung next to each other.  They portray a pensive, collected serenity.  The one farthest to the left is of a girl looking out a window at the sea, the one in the middle is a girl with curly, brown hair; and the third is a semi-unflattering profile of Dalí´s sister in a purple outfit.  These always catch my attention since they are not surrealistic works, even though Dalí is famous for his surrealist obras.  Another of my favorite paintings in the Reina Sofía is "Un mòn" (Un mundo/A World) by Ángeles Santos Torroella, which shows the world as a cube.  On the cube, life passes as it normally would, but around the cube, there's a staircase leading to the sun.  Flying angel-characters take torches of flames from the sun at the top of the staircase, then fly around the cube to light the stars for nighttime.  On the staircase between the cube-world and the surrounding sky, rest a few female figures playing instruments and dancing.  Personally, I think the artist was trying to set the arts apart from the rest of the world by elevating them towards the sun.

Palacio de Cristal
One of the coolest parts about this museum is that it has two extension locations located within the Parque del Retiro.  The first, another of my favorite places to visit, is the Palacio de Cristal, otherwise known as the Crystal Palace, and the second is the Palacio de Velázquez.  Every six months or so, the Palacio de Cristal houses a different exhibit which somehow accentuates the building´s distinguishing feature, the fact that it´s made of glass and you can see straight through it.
Palacio de Cristal

When I arrived in August, the glass walls were dusted and messages about social progression and freedom were written in the dust.  A few months later, a miniature version of the palace was fit to sit just a few feet inside the glass walls, sort of like a coat and its fleece liner. The inner layer exhibited dark blue panels with grammar symbols all over them.  In June 2012, a new exhibit, which was composed of many small pieces of broken glass placed around metal structures, was installed in the Palacio de Cristal.
Palacio de Cristal
Of course, the Parque del Retiro is more than enough of an attraction by itself, even without mentioning the Palacio de Cristal.  On many afternoons, I take a walk through the Retiro, explore the forested paths, wander past fountains, stroll by the estanque to watch row boaters, and dodge the guys selling copies of purses and sunglasses.  The Retiro is always full of life; at any time of day, in any season, you will see children, young adults, middle-aged adults, and seniors relaxing taking in the sun, and enjoying the park.  The park is constantly filled with skateboarders,joggers, bikers, walkers, people walking dogs, people sitting on benches, tourists, and police cars.  It's really special to have enough free time this year to be able to wander at will through the Retiro and get lost in my thoughts, take pictures of the trees (always green, always with leaves), and look for paths I haven´t walked through without worrying about what time it is.

Parque del Retiro
Parque del Retiro

Once in a while, I rent a rowboat and join the rowers out in the estanque going around in circles and taking pictures of myself pretending to know how to row a rowboat.
Rowing at the Retiro
Photo Credit: Ben
El ángel caído
One other interesting feature of the Retiro is that there´s a sculpture of Lucifer in it.  As I´ve been told, it´s the only sculpture which references el diablo in Madrid.  The easiest way to find this sculpture, which is at the top of the middle of a fountain, is to enter the Retiro through the Puerta del Ángel Caído, and walk towards the center of the park.

One the rare days when I don´t feel like walking through the Retiro, I walk the other direction, away from Atocha, toward the tiny, trickling Manzanares River and the Puente de la Arganzuela, a modern bridge that I think looks like a cracked, silver noodle from the outside.  I think Madrid´s climate is probably too dry to have an actual river, but the Manzanares is cute.  The bridge, on the other hand, is amazing.  It probably looks more like a silver spring than a noodle, but I like food similes.  The bridge was featured during the Semana de la Arquitectura, so I went to check it out and really enjoyed it!

Puente de la Arganzuela
Back to Atocha, you can find the Atocha Station where the metro, cercanías, and the AVE stop.  I´ve taken all three of these trains.  You would take the metro to get around the city (though it´s totally walkable), cercanías to go a bit farther (for example, to the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), and the AVE, or high speed train, to get to Barcelona, Córdoba, Sevilla, and other places in Spain.  In 2004, Al-Quaeda bombed Atocha Station, likely because it is the central train station in Madrid.  Since then, the station has been rebuilt, and now shows off a tropical micro-climate garden inside the main lobby.  At the front of the micro-climate, visitors can look into a small pond and watch the multitude of turtles crawl around, or stroll over the book fair that´s usually there.
Atocha Renfe / Atocha Station

About a ten minute walk from Atocha, passing the Retiro, you can find the Real Jardín Botánico, where if you go in the right season, you can find some beautiful flowers.  I have been twice, both times when it was just a bit too cold, and about half the garden was in bloom.

Tulips at el Real Jardín Botánico
Close to the Real Jardín Botánico, is the Museo del Prado, arguably Spain's most famous art museum.  My favorite painting to visit in the Museo del Prado is Diego Velasquez's Las Meninas.  Aside from the Infanta Margarita´s enormous dress, the painting has so many interesting components, like the portraits of the Infanta Margarita´s parents in the reflection in a mirror behind her, and Velásquez´s self portrait of himself painting to the left of the Infanta Margarita.  I always think the meninas helping her are a bit odd looking.  Around Madrid, there are many renditions of Las Meninas.  A version of the painting was done in graffiti on the gate  outside a tourist shop near Cibeles.  Another version of the painting came about in December when El Corte Inglés set up an advertisement with models in their clothes posing like the characters in the painting.  The advertisement was appropriately titled, "Shopping is an Art."  Picasso also did an exhaustive study of Las Meninas, and the paintings from it are on display in the Museu Picasso...but that's in Barcelona.

Palacio de Cibeles at Night
From Atocha, I frequently walk past the Museo del Prado, past the Retiro, past Cibeles, and towards the Puerta del Sol, the center of Madrid.  In Sol, you can find throngs of people, tons of clothings stores, shoe stores, and of course, a few Corte Inglés buildings.
I´ve written about El Corte Inglés before, but I´d just like to mention once again that it´s like an enhanced department store.  The name, "El Corte Inglés," literally means "the English Cut," but I´ve never been able to figure out why they call it that.  At this lovely, upscale store, they sell everything.  Typically, you can find El Corte Inglés as a series of buildings - one for electronics, one for clothes, shoes, makeup, and jewelry; one for groceries; one for a travel agency; one for books; and more.  Sometimes they combine themes.  I´ve heard they sell real estate too.  And they have a post office.  They do not sell stethoscopes, but they do sell peanut butter!  That said, I prefer to import my peanut butter by personal courier.  (Thank you to Mom, Dad, and Samara!)

Puerta del Sol
Palacio Real de Madrid

When my peanut butter couriers arrive, I always make sure to take them on a walk around the Palacio Real, the royal palace, and then back through the Plaza Mayor and the Mercado de San Miguel.  The Palacio Real is unbelieveably luxurious.  Instead of wallpaper, the walls are covered in velvet.  Sculptures, chandeliers, gold, more gold, you get the idea.  The Plaza Mayor is a huge square with touristy restaurants and cafés, and a cute Christmas Market in December.  On a daily basis in the Plaza Mayor, you can see a bunch of street performers including guys who throw weird neon things up into the sky, and three heads on a table, the psychedelic goat, and a few other bizarre things.  The crowded Mercado San Miguel is just around the corner from the Plaza Mayor, and it's a great place to stop for a quick snack, try some tapas, or take pictures of food.
Plaza Mayor

Part II: My Favorite Restaurants in Madrid

Since 2009, my favorite place to eat in Madrid has been Lateral, a tapas restaurant on C/ Fuencarral, what I consider to be Madrid´s Newbury Street.  By chance, I wandered into Lateral with Katie and Sima one Friday or Saturday night.  We were pretty hungry and discouraged by our previous, not-so-great selection of restaurants.  Then, we ordered a bunch of amazing and relatively cheap tapas with a glass of tinto de verano, and life got better!  My favorite tapa at Lateral is the solomillo con brie fundido, a small chunk of beef served over melted brie on a little piece of pan tostado.  I'm also a fan of their solomillo con cebolla confitada, tortilla de patatas, y berenjenas con salmorejo.  Para el postre, a veces pido los crepes rellenos de dulce de leche.  Since the four mini crepes are so sweet, I like to share the dish with at least one other person.  This is probably my favorite place to order tinto de verano too.

Berenjenas con salmorejo
In March of 2012, I happened onto this lovely little tapas bar called, La Soberbia.  I was strolling around the Puerta del Sol with my dad, and we were hungry and decided to have dinner here.  The word "la soberbia" means "obesity" in English, and the theme of the tapas bar is "the seven deadly sins".
La Soberbia
I suppose eating here is Madrid´s equivalent of eating at Zaftigs near Coolidge Corner in Boston (ok, it´s in Brookline).  La Soberbia was really a lucky find because the food is good, the atmosphere feels really Spanish (whatever that means exactly), and the staff is very friendly.  Whenever a customer walks in, all the servers shout, "¡Hola, buenas!"  My favorite thing to order at La Soberbia is a plate of albondigas de ternera and a bowl of salmorejo to share.  Their chorizo is also pretty tasty, and a glass of tinto de verano never hurts.  When you finish eating and leave, they all shout, "¡Gracias, hasta luego!"

Left: salmorejo, Right: pan tostado con chorizo
Casa Luciano
A third place I like to eat in Madrid is called Casa Luciano.  I think of it like the Spanish version of Buffalo´s (at home).  Both restaurants have enormous menus from an unexpected variety of cultures.  The Spanish version has everything from sandwiches to ravioli to paella valenciana.

Another place I have eaten a few times is a mesón called Cruzcampo.  It´s right next to where I live, which I like because it´s convenient.  The first time I ate there, I wasn't a huge fan, but I think I just ordered the wrong thing.  Their patatas bravas and tosta de pisto manchego are particularly flavorful.  The potatoes are just picante enough to tingle, and the pisto has a lot of vegetables, so it makes me feel like I´m eating something healthy.  The place is small and cozy, and the service is quick, which is nice when you´re really hungry.

Though I sometimes go to Starbucks here, I prefer to go to a café called Faborit instead when possible.  Outfitted in neon green, orange, and purple, Faborit offers WiFi and an assortment of coffee and tea.  Their juices are really nice too.  Faborit is the first place I ever ate in Spain when I arrived in 2009.  There's a Faborit right next to the Hotel Regina on c/ Alcalá, and I ordered a smoothie during orientation after buying an adorable, little pre-paid vodafone cell at el Corte Inglés.

Inside Faborit at 24, Paseo del Prado
I don´t always eat out.  In fact, I mostly eat in, which brings up the question of grocery shopping in Madrid.  I mainly buy food at Mercadona, Día, and Carrefour, supermercados that are relatively close to my apartment.  Grocery shopping in Spain is different from home.  In a Spanish grocery store, you find unrefrigerated milk in a box, instant paella, legs of pork, gazpacho to go, and fish that still have eyes and teeth.  You also find pasta, cereal, fruit, and cosas así, but those are less exciting to write about.  They also have pancakes, but they call them Tortitas Americanas.
Gazpacho to Go
Legs of Pork
Milk in a Box

Pancakes..."Tortitas americanas"

It seems that one thing I miss the most when I leave a place, aside from the people I leave behind, is the food.  In each city I have lived in, I have favorite restaurants and favorite dishes.  I´m really glad Elvi, Rosalia, and Rosa taught me how to cook some Spanish foods, and hope that I'll be able to make them as well as they do.  It may take some practice - especially to flip the tortilla!

Part III: Little Things a las cuales nunca me voy a acostumbrar

The lovely view from my window...
One thing I will never call normal in the context of my life is using a clothesline to dry my clothes instead of a dryer.  To this day, I´m nervous about dropping my favorite t-shirt into the terraza of the people who live on the ground floor.  I still accidentally wash all my pajamas in the same load, and then realize that they´re not going to dry in time for me to wear them to bed that night.  Though I do think seeing my clothes hanging on a clothesline is somewhat humorous, you´ll never, ever catch me hanging underwear on it.  Sorry Spain, but those just don´t belong outside.

Another thing I probably wouldn´t get used to, even if I were to spend twenty years here, is the lack of personal space.  I´m not talking about people standing way to close to me when they talk.  What I am referencing is the habit people seem to have of crashing into you instead of walking around you.  I truly will never understand why people can´t just step an extra few inches to the side and go all the way around you instead of constantly knocking your purse and brushing shoulders.  Two people cannot share the same physical space at the exact same time.  That's not a new concept.

Another aspect of the absence of personal space is that after crashing into you, or even just when walking past you, it is apparently socially acceptable to put your hand on someone´s shoulder or back here.  Even if you don't know them.  I´m not a fan of this.  I´m just one of those people who needs an incredibly large amount of personal space, and as a result, I usually jump away when I sense that someone is going to do that.  They don´t mean to freak people out - it's normal here.  Just not normal for me.

One other personal space issue I've been dying to write about all year: The traditional greeting with dos besos.  Whenever you meet someone, see someone you haven´t seen for a while, or leave a group, every single person there will give you dos besos, one on each cheek.  Even if there are like twenty people.  Some people like this and think it´s a pleasant, friendly greeting.  Honestly, especially if I'm in a large group, it makes me want to wash my face tan pronto como pueda.

View from the Palacio de Cibeles
One last thing I may never get used to here is the slow walking speed adopted by nearly everyone.  I am admittedly very biased about this since I´m American (stereotyped accurately as a fast walker) and have spent the past several years in large cities where people walk very quickly.  I like walking quickly because you get to where you´re going faster.  For me, it just seems inefficient to meander around if you have somewhere to be.  Years ago, I learned to walk extra quickly in high school, where we were given nine short minutes to make an epic hike, with an enormous backpack, from one building to the other.  With this type of background, I just get really impatient when I'm stuck in a group of slow walkers.  But it´s more than that.  Nearly everyday, I see a wall of abuelas, linked arm in arm, inching their way down the street.  With four of them at a time, you simply cannot get around them because they fill the entire sidewalk.  While these "walls" are sort of endearing, they´re also hard to get around if you´re in a hurry.  They hardly move.  It's unreal.  Even young people walk slowly here.  And middle-aged people.  In general, me parece que life is relaxed and taken at a slower pace.

I don´t like to complain since I realize I´m super-lucky to be living here this year.  These five things, to which I still have not become accustomed, are not just complaints.  They´re little differences that highlight some cultural differences between home and Madrid.  These five little differences, which stand out as large differences to me, continually remind me that I'm away from home while teaching me about Spanish life.

Part IV: My Favorite Places to Shop in Madrid

Sale at El Corte Inglés
If you know me, you know how much I love to shop.  A few weeks ago, some lady stopped me on the street by the Parque del Retiro and asked me about shopping in Madrid.  Upon hearing my accent, she assumed I was French (For some reason I get that a lot here.) and exclaimed, "You're not from here so you
don´t know where the stores are.  You just don´t know."  Please lady, if there´s one thing I know about Madrid, it´s where to shop.

My favorite place to shop in Madrid is at Desigual.  Of their several locations around Madrid, I prefer to shop in the Plaza de Callao store because it has six floors of clothing, and the top floor is an outlet.  Desigual has some of the most creative, funky, colorful, patterned pieces I´ve seen anywhere.  Wearing their clothes is like wearing a fully accessorized outfit, except that you don't have to add the accessories because the clothes already have so much going on in their designs.  Desigual has a variety of different fabrics and styles to chose from, so there's always more to look for.  Back in 2009, I spotted this store and their lovely peacoats, (the most decorated coat I had ever seen), and knew immediately that I was going to love the store.  It took until 2011 though for me to buy my first Desigual shirt, which I now wear all the time.  Some pieces are pricey and some are more reasonable.  If you become a fan of Desigual's facebook page, you get information about their "Friends Nights" discounts (20% off).  The outlet has nearly everything marked at 30% off.
Desigual Outlet
C/Fuencarral and Gran Vía are two intersecting streets full of stores, so naturally, I live walking distance from there.  The intersection is also close to the Plaza de Callao.  I consider c/ Fuencarral to be Madrid's version of Boston's Newbury Street because it has a range of fun-to-explore stores (Adolfo Dominguez, Levi's, Desigual, Skunkfunk, Fossil, Pimkie, Mango, a store that looks like Rugby but isn't, etc.) along with the occasional heladería.  On Gran Vía, I enjoy browsing the bizarre, ever-changing collections in H&M.  The H&M on c/Gran Vía is probably the most glorified H&M I have ever seen - it has a marble staircase and an enormous chandelier, behind which, they sell neon accessories, metallic leggings, sky-high heels, odd vests, and other eyebrow-raising pieces.  It´s worth walking into H&M just for the shock value.  They also have plainer items, though those are usually hidden in the back.  I can always count on H&M to have a new scarf in stock.

Shoes for Sale on C/Montera
Also near this intersection, you can find Zara, Sfera, and Cortefiel.  I consider these to be classic, Spanish stores.  Typically, I like most of what I see in these stores, though I don´t think their styles really mesh with mine.  I´ve never actually bought anything in these stores, but I think that if I were to spend more time here, I would.  After all, you can´t wear Desigual everyday.  The super-patterny designs would lose their contrast to the rest of the wardrobe.  A few years ago, when Zara opened a store on Newbury Street in Boston, I went to check it out and was surprised to find that nearly every item they sold was the color of oatmeal, slightly more pink, or slightly more green.  I´m happy to see that the Zara stores in Madrid sell clothes in a variety of colors.

Would you believe that in all of Spain there is no Gap?

More Shoes on c/ Montera
El barrio de Salamanca has some lovely shopping (Massimo Dutti, Pepe Jeans London, etc.).  It´s more upscale than some other areas.  The stores are more spatious, the prices are higher, the quality is nice, but many of the people are kind of....well...if you aren´t dressed nicely, (i.e. doing the American thing and wearing sweats), much of the Salamanca crew tends to openly stare at you with distrust and distaste.  Their shoes are their status symbols.  I love to shop and I love shoes, but I´m not pretentious about it.  I like many of the stores in Salamanca, but I prefer to shop at their other locations, which I find odd since I'm no stranger to (window) shopping at places like the Champs Élysées, the Magnificent Mile, Brompton Road, and Newbury Street.

Massimo Dutti is actually an Italian store, but I first shopped at it in Madrid near the Argüelles metro stop back in 2009.  Their clothes are beautiful and soft and kind of fabulous.  That season, everyone was wearing long sweaters with tied belts that looked like a more formal version of a robe.  So, wanting to be in fashion in Madrid, I of course bought one in navy blue and wore it paired with a white, collared shirt from "un chino" to the fiesta de fin de curso.  It went great with Mom´s brown boots and my Rugby jeans.  I haven´t shopped there much this year,  but I think I might stop by before leaving Madrid next week...and after I buy an extra suitcase...


Sub-section of Part II: Los chinos

Wondering what "un chino" refers to here?  I write this with every intention of balancing being politically correct with explaining the concept as it is here.  (I´ve been wanting to write about these all year!)  In Madrid, they have stores known as chinos, on nearly every block of the city.  As a noun, un chino literally means "a Chinese (person)" in English.  In Madrid, most people who live here call these shops chinos because the people who work in them are nearly always Asian.  In every one of these stores I´ve ever been in, all the people working there have been Asian, so there´s some truth to this impolite naming (impolite according to an American perspective).
Addys is a clothing chino near my apartment.
To be clear though, I have no idea if the employees are specifically Chinese.  In 2009, I first learned about these shops when my friend, Katie, asked where to buy something and was told to go to un chino.  As you can imagine, she was rather amused and confused by this, and couldn´t wait to find out what a "Chinese shop" was.  To be polite, we tried referring to the shops as alimentaciones, or tiendas de ropa barata, based on what they sold, or simply by using the name of the individual store.  The result was that no one knew what we were talking about.  After a few confusing seconds of conversation, the person would inevitably say, "Oh, you mean the Chinese shop."

People have actually been wearing these.
There are three types of chinos (I'm talking about shops, not people.).  The first sells cheap clothes, shoes, and accessories.  Often, the quality isn´t great, but sometimes you get lucky and find a nice cape or t-shirt.  Each location sells almost exactly the same merchandise, and they have every piece in a variety of colors.  Naturally, I have a favorite clothing chino - Modelisa on c/ Montera.  I stop in frequently to see what´s there, though I almost never buy anything.  I got a nice scarf there in 2009.  Lately,
they´ve been selling tons of items with printed American flags all over them, pleather coats, and absurdly tall boots.  I´m convinced that this is one of the places (along with Oasis) where the "lovely ladies" who hang around c/Montera get their boots and tiny clothes.  The other chino that I´ve become a fan of is called Addys, and it´s on the Ronda de Atocha, near the Museo de la Reina Sofía and my apartment.  It´s a very tiny shop with a huge selection of shirts, pleather jackets, wide shoes, colorful watches, and pretty nice sweaters in winter.  I always look in their window when walking from the metro (Atocha) to my building.

The second type of chino sells very overpriced snacks. These snacks stores are hardly ever closed, so they´re useful if you run out of food and it´s a Sunday, the day when all the grocery stores are closed.  The downside is that sometimes the food is stale because it has been sitting in the store for ages.  Technically, nearly everything is closed here on Sundays so people can go to church even though most people don´t actually go.  There is still an option here for part of each person´s taxes to be given to the Catholic Church.  It used to be mandatory, but now it´s optional.  Interesting custom, don´t you think?

The third type of chino is a bazaar, which sells random stuff - literally everything under the sun...or rather, revolving around the sun.  Garden supplies, potato chips, lamps, hardware, candles, light bulbs, containers, dishes, yarn, makeup, costumes, and who knows what else.  Usually everything is squished together on shelves or piled all over the place.  I think these stores are a less clean equivalent of Walgreens and Walmart because they sell so many different things.  They´re not an exact substitute, but they certainly have character. Going into a Chinese shop is like an adventure because you never know exactly what you´ll find.  It´s kind of fun.  I´ll always feel impolite and awkward calling these shops chinos, but I have to acknowledge that that naming is accepted here.  If I use any other name, then no one will understand me.  Don´t think I don´t try though.


El Rastro
El Rastro is one of the largest, if not the largest, markets in Europe.  Each Sunday from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm, the Rastro, a market of hundreds of vendors, appears in the streets of La Latina.  Here, you can browse, shop, take pictures, and buy things you´d find in a flea market, souvenirs, jewelry, and scarves.  Most things are pretty cheap (especially the scarves), so it's a great place to buy gifts for people back home...or yourself.  Since the crowd there is pretty intense, you really have to watch your pockets.  However, if you are vigilant, it's really not a problem.  They also sell underwear at this market.  I have always found that kind of strange.

El Rastro
I think it´s fitting to end this post with a shout out to el Corte Inglés, a grand department store that reaches into as many sectors of Spanish commerce as I can think of.  El Corte Inglés takes over street corners with gigantic buildings, or with several smaller buildings, organized by theme.  They sell designer clothes, regular clothes, Desigual's clothes, Sfera´s accessories, their own accessories, fascinators, watches, makeup, glasses, purses, and shoes (not narrow).  This part of the store has always reminded me of Nordstrom, except that Nordstrom sells narrow shoes.  Aside from clothes, El Corte Inglés has a travel agency, a grocery store, a Best Buy equivalent, a café, a bookstore, a post office, a real estate agency, and probably way more than that.  In winter, they decorate the Corte Inglés buildings with snowflake-shaped Christmas lights.  They even sell peanut butter.  El Corte Inglés has several locations around Madrid, but my favorite has always been their cluster of buildings in the city center, la Puerta del Sol.


Part V: Thank you!

I'd like to take a few moments to thank Boston University for sending me to Madrid to work as a part of the BU in Madrid team this year.  I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to join this team for the year and will really miss working here.  Here's a photo of the five of us from the fiesta de fin de curso en el otoño de 2011.

BU in Madrid 2011-2012: Pilar, me, Julie, Ray, Chloe, y Miky
Thank you to my visitors who came all the way from wherever they were to visit me.  Shout out to Mom, Dad, Lucia, Samara, Bill, and Ben!

Special thank you to my readers!  Over the year, (according to google), people in many different parts of the world have visited my blog: the USA, Spain, Canada, England, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, Turkey, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Uganda, Germany, Sweden, Argentina, Norway, Vietnam, France, the Netherlands, and Ireland.  I always hope that you enjoy the tales of my travels and laugh at my stories.  This summer, I´ll be blogging about my trips to Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, San Francisco, and Miami.  Happy reading, thanks again, and cheers!  ¡Hasta la próxima, Madrid!


  1. I love how incredibly descriptive your blog is, you have hit some of my favorite places in Madrid and have opened my eyes to new ones (specifically the food parts) :D I would love to reference your blog on our blog (which you are free to visit).

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. I'm so glad you're enjoying reading my travel blog! You are welcome to reference it on your blog. I really like how your blog has categories and tags listed on the side; it makes searching for topics like "el cine en Madrid" very quick and easy.

      Thanks for reading!