Saturday, July 27, 2013

Adventures with Alyssa

On my first visit to Spain ever, I was accompanied by my good travel buddy Alyssa, so it was only appropriate that my last visitor to Spain before I left would also be Alyssa.

Barcelona, 2011
Maurach, 2010
Alyssa and I are a team. From eating weinerschnitzel to dancing in discotecas until sunrise to debating the limits of free speech, we're pretty much undefeatable. Our win streak continued as we conquered the heat of the Spanish summer.

After eating extremely and drinking well in Madrid, we decided that this desert city was too hot, rented a car and drove north in search of the sea. Our journey took us to San Sebastián, which just happens to have a sea!

Just for fun, we decided to take a day trip into France as well. Like I said, we're undefeatable.

We extended our stay in San Sebastián an extra night to catch the city's annual Jazz Festival. I got to see one of my favorite jazz-pop artists, Jamie Cullum perform on the beach and we caught a pretty cool afro-beat band as well.

That night, we met up with my buddy Mónica who is from San Sebastián and after hanging out on the beach with her friends, we hit a discoteca for a night of dancing before turning in.

Every time I see Alyssa, I realize how much I missed traveling with her. Here's to many more adventures in the future!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seen in Madrid #16 - Alizé

Through the window, you can see my friend Alizé studying in one of my summer study spaces, la Bicicleta.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Dear Best Weekends of My Life,

You've been replaced. Please meet London, July 2013 - one of the most fun times I've ever had.

The morning after my 4th of July BBQ, I boarded a plane to Heathrow and got myself to Shoreditch by metro just in time to catch dinner at the Feast. Considering I've NEVER been to London before, this was quite a feat. At the Feast, which is an intimidating name for a pretty great food festival, I met up with my wonderful host Thishani and some of her friends.

After drinks at a New Orleans-themed speakeasy in Shoreditch, we turned in for the night. Big plans awaited Thishani and me.

Saturday was warm, pleasant and sunny - something that Thish assured me was not common in London. Her assurances were confirmed as we passed by flocks of pale Englishmen (and Englishladies) desperately taking in as much sun as possible in London Fields on our way to Broadway Market. We lazily browsed Broadway Market, an outdoor market of sorts, trying a free sample here and perusing a box of vintage postcards there.

From market perusing, we jumped over to a picnic at Hampstead Heath, organized by another SAISer and Thish's old roommate Alix.

Thish and Alix: Lovely, or the loveliest?

The whole afternoon I got to catch up with various SAISers who are now located in London and generally enjoy the English sunshine.

I was already very satisfied with how things were going, but then Thish upped the ante yet again and took me that evening to a party thrown by her friend Riya. We only felt slightly underdressed in our picnic clothes when the door was opened and we spied a butler coming down the stairs with a tray of champagne. I met some really great people at Riya's party and we stayed until the wee hours of the morning after all the other guests had left, playing a game of charades and joking around with her parents.

This was all fine and good, but Thish couldn't stop with the awesomeness. The morning after we took a bus to the west side of the city to watch an annual cricket game hosted by Thish's uncle. Her uncle is a medical school professor and every year the school's cricket team plays a team of professors and alumni. The game is held on the fields of Dulwich College, a prestigious boarding school that sounds like it was taken out of the pages of a Roald Dahl book.

I had my first scone. They're great and now I understand why all the little animals in the Redwall books I read as a kid liked them so much.

We also watched Andy Murray win Wimbledon on a break between rounds (innings?). Sitting in the cricket clubhouse, eating crumpets and high-fiving British med students in full cricket gear while Andy Murray became the first (male) Brit in 77 years to win the Wimbledon championship was probably the most English thing I've ever done in my life. Well, Andy Murray isn't English, he's Scottish, so awkward things like this happened:

What a weekend! It continued into the week as my Aunt, Uncle and two cousins flew into town, allowing me to indulge my tourist side. Did I say eating crumpets and high-fiving cricket players was British? Maybe spending the day at the Tower of London and eating meat pies for dinner is even more so.

Greatness just continued to pile on. Moonlight walks through Trafalgar Square, running into my roommate from Spain in the middle of his cross-Europe bike trip and winning second place at a trivia night with him, sneaking a photo of my aunt and cousin getting a private blessing in Westminster Abbey, meeting extremely personable South American bike taxi drivers, red double-decker buses and Spanish smiles.

London, July 2013 - you're up there.

Seen in Madrid #15 - Energy Saving Screens (that waste energy)

These screens in the metro show how much energy is being saved now that the station has fluorescent lights. The graffiti says "Without this screen, they'd save more!"

Friday, July 5, 2013

Feliz Cumpleaños, Estados Unidos!

Summer has truly begun and the last of my American friends have packed up and headed to foreign shores.

Therefore, our last big party in the Dentista House served the double goal of introducing our Spanish friends to a good old American-style BBQ while at the same time sending off the last of my American friends with a bang.

The giant American flag that Nick had taped on the wall stopped looking out of place for one evening.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013