Santander (via squint)

Isla de Mouro

Getting to Santander from Santiago de Compostela without a car is a deep, deep struggle. It took me two BlaBlaCar voyages to get there, and a ten-hour bus ride to get back. If I didn’t have a friend awaiting me there, I probably would’ve shelved the trip for keeps. But wow, was it worth the pain.

After suffering through two months of rain, I arrived in Santander to skies a-blazing with sun. I was squinting like the (wet) hibernating bear I am. We spent a sizable chunk of the weekend outdoors, hiking along the coast, watching waves, and commandeering playgrounds from small children. And there was also some rabbit paella involved. Big ol’ stamp of approval from this girl.

Cheers,

MB

Faro de Cabo Mayor

Faro de Cabo Mayor

La Magdalena

This cannot be comfortable (La Magdalena)

The best Cantabrian company and paella a girl could ask for

The best Cantabrian company and paella a girl could ask for

Weeks {16-18} in review

Faro at Santander

Santander

I am in bed and suffering from some post-Carnaval stress to the system. My nose is dead to me. I may have just eaten spoiled yogurt but will never know because I can taste nothing. Dulling effects aside, Carnaval has been quite a grand affair. But let’s back up. In the past three weeks, I:

  • Royally ate pavement while running in the Alameda, much to the dismay of my hands, knees, and iPhone screen.
  • Got bullied by 5th graders
  • Inhaled a couple more rounds of pulpo
  • Attended an antique car show, lacking in all things MG
  • Saw Santander, a good friend, and the sun, all at the same time (yes, this is an achievement)
  • Celebrated a very merry Gal-entine’s Day with wine, strawberries/spoons dipped in chocolate, and…kombucha
  • Rang in Carnaval in a town that starts with an X
  • Got a new teaching gig
  • Ate pig face

So yes, things have been pretty busy around here. There’s a whole lot of visual that will make its way over here eventually.

Cheers my dears!

MB

Retro Galicia, Shell oil

Retro Galicia

Retro Galicia (car show in Santiago de Compostela)

Week {15} in review

A few blessed hours of sun at the Playa de Catedrales.

The perfect coffee spot to watch the rain: Hotel Costa Vella.

Rainbow

A half dozen “arco iris” (rainbow) sightings, including this one on my way to work.

Monte Pedroso

A run up Monte Pedroso (…I use the word “run” loosely).

Churrasco

Churrasco y patatas with the English profe.

Oh yeah…and this.

All day, every day:

This week’s biggest news is that I am drowning. It’s been raining for FIFTY-TWO DAYS. Did you get that? Fifty-two. Every day, Galicia wakes up and grumbles, “Today is going to be a bad day,” pulls the clouds over its head, and proceeds to cry. It is just.inconsolable. In the past week, the wind has also joined the fun, pushing the rain (and me) in all directions.

I am tired of being cold and I am tired of being wet. But Galicia compensates for its weepiness with incredible natural beauty, and for now, that is enough!

Stay dry!

MB

Week {14} in review

Boiro, Galicia.

Humans of Santiago.
Parque de la Alameda, Santiago de Compostela.

Parque de la Alameda, Santiago de Compostela.

“Risoterapia” (laughter therapy) with 2nd and 3rd graders.

A new café discovery: Pan e Chocolate, Santiago de Compostela.

New café discovery: Pan e Chocolate, Santiago de Compostela.

Don’t ask me where “Weeks 4-13” are…seek and ye will not find. We’re now running on 43 straight days of rain here in Galicia…not that I can complain from what I hear about the weather back home.  But I’m pretty sure I’m not leaving my bed today.

Peace, love, and lluvia,

MB

Meet Spanish Joe

I met Spanish Joe my first day in Spain, en route to Santiago. Fifteen out of seventeen hours of traveling complete, I needed coffee. So I ordered coffee. And this was the coffee I received:

The First Coffee

Scale: sugar packet is the same height as the cup.

I was appalled. This squatty little imposter was not fit to be called a cup of coffee. A shot of coffee, perhaps. To think: hundreds of years of innovation and progress had culminated in this, a veritable thimble of liquid!

Don’t get me wrong. Spanish coffee is cute. You want to admire its dimples, give it a lollipop, and pat it on the head. But.

You can’t wrap your hands around a thimble of coffee and let the warmth seep from your fingers  to your toes. You can’t nurse a thimble of coffee through two hours of history reading. Spanish coffee, in other words, goes against all my preconceived coffee-culture notions.

But.

Over time, I have grown fond of these little nuggets. They are a testament to quality over quantity. Each sip is rich and frothy, and because I have to ration my sips, I appreciate the richness and frothiness all the more. Furthermore, most coffee I’ve ordered is served with a fluffy croissant or a spongy slab of cake. (Which are busting with gluten and logically useless to me, but illogically make me happy.) If carbs and coffee can’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.

Upon returning to Spain from my winter travels, I found I missed my fun-sized caffeine. So I suppose what I’m trying to say is this: thank you, Spain, for three months of mouth-watering, irresistibly-photographable coffee. Here’s to many more.

– MB

(P.S. If you actually want a helpful guide for ordering coffee in Spain, check out Trevor’s guide. I, for one, always adhere to the café con leche.)

New year.

First meal of the New Year, as prepared by my lovely (temporary) Belgian family. They were determined to feed me as much real food as possible before I returned to my life of airport Snickers. Ah, the perils of gluten-free travel.

First meal of the New Year, as prepared by my lovely (temporary) Belgian family. They were determined to feed me as much real food as possible before I returned to my life of airport Snickers. Ah, the perils of gluten-free travel.

I love traveling. But there is something so wonderful about coming home and sleeping in your own bed. Making French toast for breakfast and burning half of it. Drinking one – nay, two! – cups of Earl Grey, and tallying the blows to your bank account. It’s great to be back. And, well, Continue reading

Navidad news

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Plaza Cervantes, Santiago de Compostela

My stomach is shuddering at the Valencian orange and cup of coffee I have just consumed. Come at me, litmus test. (Sorry, that is not at all newsworthy. Just pressing at the moment.)

Anyways, I am writing from the airport in Madrid. A flight home, you might guess? To bask in the glow of family and friends and overplayed Christmas music and general revelry? Nay. This pauper cannot rationalize paying for a pricey ticket home, especially after having spent less than two months in Spain. So this is the first time I will be missing Christmas with my family, and it’s weird. I’m trying not to think about it. On the plus side, though, I’m spending winter break meandering through Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, and Belgium. So it could be worse 😉

A very feliz navidad to you! Until next year!
-MB

The Piso

Rúa San Pedro B&W.jpg

Rúa San Pedro, the lovely street a minute’s walk from my piso.

So last week I moved to Santiago, right? I found a cheap apartment with two nice female Spanish college students in the older (prettier) part of town. As it turns out, these three positive qualities (price, roommates, and location) have been overshadowed by the true heinousness of the apartment. After a week here, I have come to terms with my own stupidity in housing selection, and have come up with seven rules to keep from making the same mistakes again.

Do not select an apartment:

1. Because the roommates call you “chulo” (cool) for being American and that makes you feel warm and fuzzy because you don’t have friends yet.

2. If you have only toured the apartment at night. Those shadows in the corner/behind the desk/around the window might be are assuredly mold.

3. If you there are so many spots in the wall that it is hard to tell at a glance which ones are holes and which ones are mold.

4. If the hot water is powered by a gas tank that you have to manually switch on before you shower. On Sunday, you will run out and the landlord won’t be able to bring more until Tuesday because Spain, and the last time you showered will have been on Saturday, and you will have to start taking sponge baths seventy years prematurely.

5. If the apartment does not have heating, and also does not have the ability to both run a heater and charge a laptop at the same time.

6. If the statement “yes, we have wifi” is followed by an explanation that includes the words “descodificar” (to decode) and “de nuestro vecino” (our neighbor’s).

7. If you cannot bend over the sink to brush your teeth without entering the shower.

Having learned these seven very valuable lessons, I feel both ill and well-prepared to begin round two of apartment hunting. Wish me luck!

Week {3} in review

Week three brought lots of changes, the biggest of which was my move to Santiago de Compostela. Other things worth noting:

Escarabote

Port of Escarabote, Galicia

Obligatory coffee picture (La Tertulia, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia)

Playa Cabío

Playa Cabío at sunset (A Pobra, Galicia)

Favada asturiana, a traditional Asturian stew (as prepared by the English profe)

Preparing labels for art classes in English.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, as seen during my furious apartment hunting.

My students have taken to gifting me things…

Port of Escarabote

Here, the preferred method is to decapitate trees before they shed their leaves. Naked trees > leaves on the sidewalk, duh (Port of Escarabote, Galicia)

My two lovely Pobra roommates saw me off on my move to Santiago with a slice of cheesecake in a butter container. (Nauseating Bus, Galicia)

Two-week-iversary.

Today marks two weeks since I moved to Spain – can you believe it? Seeing as I’ve done a pretty poor job writing as I go, here are some highlights from my first 14 days as an expat.

IMG_0073

Sunrise in A Pobra do Caramiñal.

Lunch, as made by the English teacher: Spanish tortilla, salad, Albariño wine.

Lunch as made by the English teacher: salad,  Albariño wine, and Spanish tortilla.

Salad & prosciutto with cheese

Salad & prosciutto with cheese.

IMG_0085

Café con leche and churros.

PB&J on a rainy day

PB&J on a rainy day.

A Pobra, regularly.

A Pobra, regularly.

A Pobra, on a rare sunny day.

  • First Spanish word I learned: Escarabajo (as in the type of car I drive – a Beetle!).
  • First English phrase I taught my teacher: Couch potato.
  • Weather in Galicia: Really, really rainy (ahem.)
  • In a manner of speaking: There are two languages in Galicia – Castellano (standard Spanish) and Gallego (the regional language). Residents of Galicia are raised learning both languages. When I first got here, my Spanish was so rusty I couldn’t understand the difference between the two, because I understood nothing at all. Now…let’s be real, that still happens.
  • Weirdest food eaten: Octopus. Suckers and all. Suckas.
  • Beverages I know how to order: Café con leche and vino blanco. Es todo.
  • Peanut butter consumption: Moderate. Still on my second jar.
  • My school: Small but wonderful, with less than 200 students and less than 20 teachers. The kids have a terrifying amount of energy, and the teachers, a terrific amount of patience. My face hurts from smiling by the end of every day.

I really like it here so far. Big changes are on the way, though. This weekend, I am moving out of A Pobra (the little beach town I am in) and up to Santiago, a much larger city with a university. I will be living with two Spanish college students (!), and will definitely miss the two wonderful Americans I have been living with here in A Pobra. But Spanish must be learned!

Hasta luego,

MB