Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Galicia Trip // Santiago

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I met back up with my friends again in Santiago. Santiago is a beautiful city, but after the cliffs of A Coruña and the hospitality of Lugo, it lacked that spark of magic. It reminded me very much of a northern version of Sevilla with its narrow winding streets. We spent what was left of the day wandering around and enjoying a stroll around the city. We stopped in the Pilgrim museum to learn a bit more about the Camino de Santiago and how it began. The next day we walked along the rooftop of the Cathedral of Santiago. Since I'm all about a bird's eye view of cities, I had a blast wandering around the top of the cathedral. After lunch we headed to a park and wandered from one breathtaking view of the city to another. Our hostel happened to be half hostel, half restaurante so we ate dinner there and packed up to head back to the madness of Semana Santa in Sevilla the next day. Before we went to the airport we made a very important stop at the supermarket to buy Tarta de Santiago, which is a sweet almond cake. It has made for many a good desert here in casa de Maddie. photo batch_IMG_1608.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1614.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1629.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1642.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1636.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1623.jpg
I'm really not one for spontaneous traveling, but I'm very happy I jumped on board this trip to Galicia with my friends. As much as I love, Sevilla sometimes I think I am better suited to the climate and personality of northern Spain. After Sevilla, I would love to live in the north to get to know that part of Spain better.
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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Galicia Trip // Lugo

The way Lugo came about can only be described as fate. As my friends were planning their trip to Asturias I chose to forgo that leg of the journey because it was a lot of travel time and seemed quite expensive. I thought I would visit a small town near Santiago and then meet with my friends there. As I was warning my mother that I would be spending two nights traveling on my own she told me about how one of her acquaintances in Savannah, GA had family in Galicia. Her acquaintance had already let her cousin know that I might call and my mother passed on her phone number. I still have issues speaking Spanish over the phone, but this opportunity was too well timed to pass up. One quick phone conversation later and I was all set to spend two nights in the small city of Lugo.
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The second I got of the bus I was thrown into the beautiful everyday life of Lugo. We went to my host's mother's house which turned out to be a mini farm. They grow and raise all of their own food. My lunch consisted of chicken raised in the backyard, potatoes from the garden and the classic Galician dish of octopus (store bought). I kept exclaiming over the food and life style but they told me having a small plot of land and growing your own food was normal here. Where can I sign up? Next, my host took me on a tour outside of Lugo's city center. We saw an old Roman bridge and Roman baths. Then we met one of her friends for a drink and walk along the river. Everyone was so welcoming and I felt very taken care of. After, we headed to my host's apartment for a quick dinner and then I settled down with a good book.
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Fun fact: Lugo has the only complete Roman wall in the world. The classics nerd in me was very excited by this. On my second day there I walked around the whole thing. It is a popular destination for walkers and runners, as well as the odd tourist. After that I went back to the mini farm for a delicious lunch of home grown asparagus and rice. I saw where my host works as an architect and then wandered around the city center. I took the opportunity to do a little shopping, then headed to the cathedral. I met with my host for dinner and then we watched one of the Easter processions. It was quite tame compared to Sevilla. It wasn't crowded at all and the whole procession was over in about ten minutes. The next day I said good bye to my dream farm and to my host's wonderful family. What started out as a vague plan to travel alone became the highlight of my trip to Galicia.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Galicia Trip // A Coruña

I left my plans for Spring break kind of up in the air until the last minute. Maybe I would stay in Sevilla, maybe head to Valencia, or Galicia. Listening to my gut, I bought tickets with two other friends to Galicia. Our plan was to visit A Coruña and Santiago de la Compostela. My two other friends were making a pit stop in Asturias and would head to Lugo to visit a family friend. I knew very little about Galicia, but based on my trip to Santander, I knew I liked the North and wanted to see more of it. We flew into the A Coruña airport and the day we spent there was a dream. I would move there in a heartbeat.  photo batch_IMG_1376.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1401.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1413.jpg photo batch_IMG_1418.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1424.jpg
We started out in Plaza de Maria Pita and then headed to the coast. We took in the astounding scenery and snapped an absurd amount of pictures. We spent quite a lot of time in a small park right on the cliffs. Runners were going all around the park and I was quite jealous. I mean, running along the river in Sevilla is always a special experience, but imagine running past scenery like this every day. After getting our fill of the ocean, we went over to the Tower of Hercules which was right by the park.
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We climbed up the top of the tower and, as you can see from my hair, it was WINDY. I'm all about cityscapes so I enjoyed seeing what A Coruña looked like from high up. Next came lunch. We left tapas behind and dove into the land of pinxos and fresh seafood. I ordered baked codfish with a garlic sauce, tomatoes and potatoes. There was very little conversation during lunch as we were all pretty fixated on our food. You just can't get food like that in Sevilla. Topped off by house wine and a brownie from heaven, we were in a food coma of contentment. We ended our day with a walk around the city center, an obligatory visit to the beach and a walk along the marina. Dinner consisted of a large ration of octopus (Galicia is known for its octopus) and the glorious realization that Cruz Campo is not the beer of choice here. Estrella Galicia is served in Galicia and it is a million steps up from Cruz Campo.  photo batch_IMG_1488.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1485.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1491.jpg  photo batch_IMG_1506.jpg

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What I'm Reading // Austenland Series

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With this crazy heat all I want to do is sit and read, so I'm been going through books at an alarming rate. I ended up reading Austenland and Midnight in Austenland because of my intense dislike for all things Jane Austen. However as an English lit major, we have crossed paths from time to time. Also, who doesn't need some fluffy chic lit in their lives? It was the perfect vacation read while in Galicia. Without further ado, here is my list of thinks:

1. Reality vs. acting
2. Being a strong Regency woman vs. modern woman
3. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy
4. Rediscovery
5. Escape from reality
6. The movie was okay, but nothing like the book
7. I don't understand how these women can love Jane Austen this much
8. Regency love vs. modern love
9. Tradition
10. Letting go of the past
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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Renaissance Fair

One of my favorite places to hang out is La Alameda. If it was Milwaukee it would be the East Side. It's where all the young hipsters live and there's a bunch of fun, kitschy stores and restaurants. Right when Spring was starting to creep into Sevilla (and by Spring, I mean blazing heat) a Renaissance fair hit the main street of La Alameda. This wasn't the typical Bristol Renaissance fair like I'm used to, it was much smaller and had quite the Moroccan vibes. We ate our weight in kebabs and crepes and I managed to grabs some gifts for myself and friends and family.
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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Where's all the Fancy Beer?

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As any good Milwaukee native, I have developed a love for craft beer. Imagine my disappointment upon discovering that very little craft beer exists in Sevilla. Cruz Campo holds a monopoly on the majority of the beer business here. I would describe Cruz Campo as beer flavored water. It's...gross. It was disheartening not to receive a beer book along with my menu at restaurants. Here, you simply have to say, "beer please" and a nice cold glass of something that wishes it was beer gets placed in front of you.
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It took some time, but eventually I was able to discover the slowly (very slowly) emerging craft breweries in and around Sevilla. There are two tasting centers: Lupulópolis (which means hops city) and XXXII. There is also the Cervecería Internacional which is a bar that tends to overcharge for the glasses of beer. I have only been to the Cervecería Internacional and Lupulópolis, the latter I stumbled upon with a friend while wandering around the city center. Since then I have taken it upon myself to introduce as many people as possible to my new found favorite place to grab a drink. Lupulópolis carries exclusively Spanish craft beer. The other store (XXXII) carries a wider range of European beers at a higher price.
The first craft beer you should order is Domus I.P.A. I'm not a big I.P.A. fan, but this one blew my mind. The brewery is based in Toledo and I haven't tasted a beer of theirs that I haven't liked. I've found the people that I've talked to to be excited about the rising interest in craft beer in Sevilla. They are always excited to recommend their favorites and help me expand my Spanish beer vocabulary.  photo batch_IMG_1490.jpg

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What I'm Reading // The Ocean at the End of the Lane

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This book has been in the back of my mind for awhile. It had been a long time since I had read anything by Neil Gaiman. I read Neverwhere in high school, I enjoyed it, but I don't think I was ready for what Neil Gaiman likes to give to his readers. I was trepidatious as I started The Ocean at the End of the Lane, was I ready now? I don't know if anyone is ever truly ready for anything written by Neil Gaiman, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book and it had me thinking a lot. Here's my top ten list of thinks.

1. The image of being a grown up to children
2. The idea of death to children
3. Why is food always so yummy sounding in books?
4. How does Gaiman always make the fantastic seem so normal?
5. The female characters protecting the male protagonist
6. How reliable is the narrator anyway? These are his memories
7. What would it have been like if it had stayed as a short story?
8. I don't know how I feel about the villain in the book, is she just just one of many?
9. The fantasy world Gaiman created seemed bigger than what he revealed
10. The idea of wanting things

Monday, May 5, 2014

La Liga Central (a.k.a how frisbee works over here)

There are two leagues in Spain: the Catalunya League (any team on the east coast of Spain) and the Central League (everyone else). We play in the Central League. This doesn't mean that we can't play against teams in the Catalunya League. The majority of the tournaments in Spain are organized for any team that wants to come. The league tournaments are unique. They also don't represent all of the teams that exist in Spain. We don't play against every single team in central Spain at La Liga Central, it depends on who wants to make the trip and who can afford it. There were three tournaments in the league overall and I went to the last two.

La Liga #2: Feb. 1st
There was wind, rain, snow, hail and an unbearable amount of cold. When I look back at this tournament, I still don't know how I played. That being said, we came with intensity and a desire to win. There's hail? Fine, let's run some drills. You can't feel your hands? Maybe catching a disc will help that (it doesn't, it just hurts). With this mentality we came second in our pool, putting us in the higher pool for the next tournament. We came as a team with barely enough people to put on the field and left in a position to play for first place.

La Liga #3: March 15th
The weather was the opposite of last time. It was sunny and just beginning to get warm. This was the most intense tournament I have ever played with my team. We have a reputation for being the fun team. We like to make friends and we like to party, so sometimes we aren't taken as seriously. But our attitude for this Liga was different. Everyone was in the zone. We played harder and better than I'd ever seen, placing us in 2nd for the tournament and 3rd in the overall league. We were proud, but already looking forward to next year's Liga Central. We also partied harder than I'd ever seen before. Not only were we celebrating a win, but we were celebrating a team member's last tournament before moving faaaar away. Somehow the majority of us managed to be awake and ready for a fun little hat tournament the next day. I nearly died...nearly.