Thursday, October 20, 2011

Porque la vida es como te la tomas...

I realize that it has been quite some time since I wrote my last post, but it has also been quite some time since my life has felt any sense of "normal." I think that probably has to do with the fact that I just moved to another country, but I digress.

La Calle Gran Via

These first couple of weeks in Spain have been quite the whirlwind. My very first weekend, in Madrid, consisted of an "orientation" and meeting heaps of new people that I soon learned I would probably never see again. Although, we did have a good time. We went to visit the Museum of Reina Sofia, which was jam packed with modern and crazy art, including some cubism and an entire floor devoted to Pablo Picasso. We also found ourselves wandering around around the Plaza del Sol and sampling more than one pitcher of Sangria. But, we only had a short time in Madrid and then quickly moved on to Logroño.

Statue in Plaza del Sol                                                    Plaza de España

Street signs are a little more creative here...

Roundabout in Madrid 

Cathedral in front of El Prado

The bus ride from Madrid to Logroño is four hours long, after which started the real fun! We all had to find places to live, apply for our foreign ID numbers, get bank accounts, and apply for insurance. Now that we have that taken care of, I now have to sort out things at my school. We have been working there for three weeks now and we still don't have a fixed schedule. We also won't have a fixed schedule for a couple more weeks. The kids are fun to work with though. Typical teenagers- they don't change no matter what country you are in!

I have been having a lot of fun getting to know Logroño though. One of the things La Rioja is known for is their wine. If you pick up a Spanish bottle of wine in the US, odds are that it is from La Rioja. I'm permanently spoiled with amazingly delicious, cheap wine. One of the biggest things that Logroño is known for is the old town area (Casca Antigua) where bar after bar can be found. Each bar specializes in a different kind of pintxo (pronounced peencho), (known elsewhere in Spain as tapas) and you can easily get a full meal by trying out several different pinxos in one night. Another "downfall" is that you can get a glass of wine to go with your pinxos for  € 0.60.

I also have moved into a fabulous piso (flat) with three other auxiliares. We all speak English, so unfortunately I won't be getting the Spanish speaking practice that I need, but I'm trying really hard to learn elsewhere. I am taking a class in Castellano twice a week and also participating in a free intercambio where we speak half of the time in English and half of the time in Spanish. I'm also getting a lot of exposure by speaking with the teachers at my school in Spanish. That might be the most difficult, but they can always translate it for me when I give them the blank stare. I feel like an idiot sometimes; people keep telling me I need to be patient with myself, but it's not really one of my best qualities. Haha.

Things in Spain that I might never get used to:

  1. Everyone smokes. I was in a bank yesterday and there was a sign that said "No Smoking." Who smokes in a bank??
  2. Dogs. They are everywhere. Rarely ever leashed, and not always friendly. You may be sitting in a bar enjoying a pintxo and a little dog comes running up begging for scraps with no owner in sight!
  3. Siesta. I like the idea of a siesta, taking a nap in the middle of the day; sometimes I really need it. But when the whole town closes down in between 2 and 5 pm, it's really weird.
  4. The schedule. People get up and go to work at normal times of the day, but don't eat lunch until about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Then there's siesta, and then the afternoon starts at around 6 pm. Dinner isn't even until 9 or 10 most nights! This means that children are out late into the night. You will even see babies out at the bars at 12 or 1!
  5. Cheap wine. Most of the bottles of wine I buy here would be worth $20-$30 in the states. Even the cheap "Jovens" would be at least a $13 bottle. It's continually amazing to me that I could spend about $7 on a bottle of wine and it tastes better than anything I've had in the states. And if it doesn't taste good, just add some Coke (we call it a Calimocho).
  6. The work ethic. If I thought Korea was insane, Spain is also insane but in a completely opposite way. Productivity is a relative term here. The phrase "productivity" is Spain is unheard of. A teacher told a friend of mine that he had 3 hours free today; so she might get her finalized timetable. Remember, we have been here for 3 weeeks already. She did not get her timetable today.

That is all I can think of for now. I will leave you with pictures of Logroño and my flat:

                                                                     "it's not morning without coffee"

                       Looking into old town

                           La Fuente Murrieta                                             A marker for El Camino de Santiago
                                                                                                    (A pilgrimage across Spain)

                                                                                              Calle Portales 

                                                                                     The Cathedral in old town

Outside of old town heading over the river

Bridge across the river

Romanesque Bridge

La Calle Laurel- Pincho Central

Me, Kiburi, Brian, and Claire

These tiles are all over in the bars. This one says: "If you're drinking to forget, pay before you start"

My Bedroom                                             The Living Room

My Bathroom                 Other bathroom                        The kitchen

Terrace 1                                               Terrace 2                Private pool and outdoor space


  1. Not that my thoughts count since I'm with you every day but I love this!!!!! *besos*

  2. These pictures are great! Did you take them all?
    Hang in there, be patient and practice as much as you can. It sounds like you are doing everything you can to improve your spanish and I'm proud of you!

  3. It's beautiful. Glad you are having fun! When can I come visit? : )