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so over the past few weeks, chris and i have become pretty close to a certain group of spanish kids, and they are so wonderful. these are the kids we can honestly say are "friends" and not just kids here hanging with us cuz we're here. There's alejandra, daniella, blanca, bea, ana, susanna, and a bunch of other girls. hahah siempre chicas.... chris and i are closest with alejandra, daniella, and blanca (whom my buddy sirus calls blancO because its funny..she gets real mad....), but they are all super sweet and way awesome to be around. we've been planning road trips and my next visit to spain and all sorts of stuff. anyways, i thought i should give them an entry becuase they are making my stay here super exciting and completely amazing. It's going to be so hard saying goodbye....
so far we've all gone to Supersonic, which is pretty much my favorite bar to go to. its a rock bar and they play pretty good music and its just overall awesome haha. last week we all went and hung out in Parque del Retiro. We've been to a hookah bar too and a few other places.
Also, there's vanesa and bea and monica and rita. they're all really sweet too. okay so we've got two groups. all of which are increbidle. i love them all. here's some pictures of the new crew [and for the record, i didnt take any of these pictures...im theiving them mwhahahahha!!!!]....


wow, i finally have a chance to write.....i've been so busy lately. and kind of lazy. it happens.

so last week, I went exploring through madrid and found the Parque del Oeste. It was freaking huge and really cool to just wander around. it made me realize how big madrid really is. this park was really different to typical parks. it had a real urban feel and there was graffiti everywhere. it wasn't too inviting and it was in the weirdest place. it was like they ran out of room for a park and built it around crowded streets and a train channel. anyways, here are some photos.

I've heard about there being a random Egyptian temple somewhere in Madrid, and as soon as i got out of the Parque del Oeste, i stumbled upon it. completely random, but it was a great find. I took a few pictures from the outside but i didnt have enough time to go inside. So, the following morning, Lorena, Tanner, and I went and explored an egyptian temple...in madrid...pretty random, i know, but i guess spain helped egypt out with something and they donated it to them back in 1968.

and then we had play time....


Yesterday was HALLOWEEN!!!! and its been raining here for the past few days so it was really dreary and the setting was pretty much perfect for a fun halloween night. You'd be surprised how many people out here actually get dressed up and go out! i didnt realize it was so big here. Every club, bar, discoteca, all of them had costume contests, discounts on drinks, and people were dressing up EVERYWHERE you looked. it was pretty great. So as for my night, Chris, Tristan and I first went over to these girls house whom we met through a friend last week at the discoteca called LOW. The three girls were dressed as the ghostbusters. pretty hilarious. Then we just wandered around Tribunal, going from bar to bar and it was a ton of fun. Tribunal is probably my favorite area of madrid because a/ its super close to my residencia b/ its got the coolest stores (such as this clothing store called PUTO AMO, and a ton of music and record stores, and local bookstores) c/ the bars are the coolest, such as Nueva Vision which is the sickest punk rock bar d/ its right next to fuencarral where all the punx and kids like me go and shop e/ its right next to the gay district so there are rainbowed colored flags everywhere, its really a cool place to see. So anywaays, we saw tons of different costumes and we just wandered around from place to place. Oh, and all of this was conducted in spanish because all of our friends dont speak english. it was absolutely wonderful. i wasnt expecting too much at the beginning of the night but it turned out to be really fun. I dressed up as a mortician. I wore an all black suit and put dark eye pencil on so i looked dead. it was pretty creepy. Tristan said i was Sketch and that i was freaking him out. Lorena said so too. but all in all, halloweens here are way more fun than in the states :]

the images dont do me any justice to how creepy i really looked...

spanish ghostbusters!

Tristan and I

Tanner [roomie] and Monica

here are some pictures i took two days ago, right before the rain started. it got super cold here and cloudy, so i decided i'd go wander around parque del retiro on a miserable day when i had some free time....

and here is some picture from santander, but i edited and it looks sick and i thought i'd share :]

Photos from Reina Sofia


sam and sarah.

glass elevators!

some building by the museum! haha pretty rad though

some famous art thing in front of the museum

view from the elevator

Estacion Atocha

Photos [El Escorial and Madrid]

El Escorial!!!! [i'd post photos from the inside but i wasnt allowed to take pictures there]

adventures through madrid.......

and here's a picture of mi mejor amiga Vanessa in my dorm

here's the group [left to right: lauren, lucia, bea, la hostia, vanessa, chris]
Friday night we went out to a hookah bar with a ton of the spanish kids. It was pretty fun and they taught me some more catchy spanish frases. always good to know....I went with Chris and lorena. well, they were the only americans in the group of like 11. 

From there we met up with Bea and Lauren and Lucia in Plaza de Espana, but the cops showed up and kicked everyone out. Every weekend night, all the plazas in spain have whats called a Botellon, which technically means "pre-game" in english. So everyone just hangs out and drinks and drinks and hangs out. its really a cool thing to see because there are people EVERYWHERE! and plaza de Espana is pretty huge.  I actually saw one of the cops take some kids drink and then i watched him finish it! pretty classic move by the spanish cops. The cops here are way relaxed. they really dont care about too much. they just didnt want all of us hanging out there. they just told all 300+ of us to leave. no big deal. So we followed Bea and met up with some of her spanish friends and we went to a discoteca that was free for some reason....the disco was pretty lame i thought. i hated the music and all the kids seemed like they were either seniors in high skool or just getting out of high skool....but overall it was an alright night. the worst part was waking up 3 hours later to go to El Escorial.

El escorial was so incredible!!!!!! it was sooooooooo beautiful and huge and the history inside was epic!!! i loved it. so far its been my favorite excursion we've been on. We took a 2 hour long tour through it with the funniest tour guide! this guy was like 70 but he was really funny. and he didnt speak too much english. i mean he got by but some of the stuff he said made all of us really crack up. Some of the stuff that he told us though was so crazy, like the fact that El escorial is in the shape of a grill because San Lorenzo, who the building is sort of named after, was burned to death on a grill! and El escorail has a logo and its the shape of a grill and it was sewn into all the fancy chairs and painted into some of the decore around the palace! its pretty morbid but hilairous! El escorial covers 9 acres! so its huge....i even got to go into this basement chamber where they had all the bodies of former kings and queens from the 1500's!!!!! its an intricately decorated room, all laid out in marble and gold (of course) and there are stacks of these super fancy caskets. and each had the name of one of the kings or queens on it. it was so sick.

After the tour we went outside to the Garden (or Jardin as we say here in spain). it was so pretty. and everything is finally turnign into fall. so it was like the best time to see this place. it was really great.  the drive was only an hour long so we left at like 2 in the afternoon. 

When we got home, i went and explored through madrid. it was pretty rad cuz i finally photographed some stuff that ive been meaning to.  Then that night, saturday night, i went out with chris and some spanish girls to a bar we went to like 2 or 3 weeks ago called Supersonic. Its the coolest place. They play rock music, drinks are really cheap, and overall, the dancing and the environment are excellent. a lot of bars around here play crappy music, so its nice to have a place to go where they play bands such as the Clash. Way rad.  We got home at 3:30-ish.

I got up this morning at like 10 and i went to the art museum Reina Sofia (FINALLY!) I went with sam and sarah and we were there for like 2 and a half hours or more and we only saw 2 of the 4 or 5 floors! the place was huge! but I finally saw LA GUERNICA by PICASSO! i seriously about died. i wanted to cry hahaha. ive never been so overwhelmed by a piece of art before in my entire life. It was the best thing EVER!!!! they had one room with tons of picassos sketches and ideas for the real thing and then you enter the next room and this painting is something like 24X36 feet. so its massive. and it was just the best thing ever!!!! especially since ive written papers on it and given a speech about it. POR FIN! (finally!).  There was a ton of Dali in there too, and Miro, and Picasso, and Braques. It was pretty rad. and the best part was that it was free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! all the museums in madrid are free on sundays. But afterwards, i went to the gift shop and i got this card that saws La Guernica Existe. Yo Lo He Visto.  which means Guernica does Exist. I've seen it.  i thougt it was pretty funny and its proof that ive been there! finally! since its my favorite painting ever!


Oct. 24th, 2008

since santander, not too much has happened. I found a really great cafe in this area so thats good. i plan on going back sometime this weekend. Tanner and I went shopping in FuenCarral, which, according to the spanish kids is where the "wierdos" dress. They were making fun of my clothing style (cuz you all know im strange in that department) and they kept asking me if i shopped at fuencarral. and this was before i was too aware of Fuencarral and i said no, and i asked them why they'd say that. they said it was because i dressed....different. hahaha. so i told them i dressed unique. and they said i look the prince of england....which is no bueno. they keep calling me principe. its kinda funny. and i know they dont mean for it to be really mean, they're just being silly. One girl, who is a flamenco dancer told me i have the perfect legs for a ballerina.  why im posting this embarassing stuff here, i have no idea!!!!!!! anyways, tanner and i hit up fuencarral, and the spanish kids were right, the shops there are so sick. they sell all the stuff i like to wear. tanner bought a coat. its some sort of a german army jacket. everyone hates it but he loves it! he keeps getting in arguements about it, its pretty hilarious. 
Tanner invited me and a few other kids here to go out wiht his other friends on wednesday night.  We went to an irish pub. i hate the irish pubs. its so dumb for us to go into bars where its just foreigners, the bar tenders all speak english and the atmosphere just sucks! i love the spanish bars, like Nueva Vision, its a punk rock bar! they have clash posters and ramones posters and sex pistols posters and they play punk music and all the bartenders are punk and rad and you can only find that type of a bar here in madrid! but i still had a good time at the american...i mean irish bar.
I took my Spanish Philosophy final yesterday. it wasnt too bad...but lets see if you could handle this. I had to write a paper on the differences in culture and philosophy between the Ancient ages and the Medieval era. In Spanish mind you! it was pretty difficult, but atleast i got to use my notes. hopefully i pass!!!! thats my entire grade, that one paper. These additional classes that ive been taking dont take attendance and they only last 3 weeks, so its all down to the final. hopefully i did good enough to pass. i dont know when i find out but we'll see.
Tomorrow we are going to El Escorial which is some big to do.  here's an email i recieved from my prgram director about it....

El Escorial is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum and school. It is located about 45 km (28 miles) northwest of Madrid in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

Philip II of Spain, reacting to the Protestant Reformation sweeping through Europe during the sixteenth century, devoted much of his lengthy reign (1556-1598) and much of his seemingly inexhaustible supply of New World gold to stemming the Protestant tide. His protracted efforts were, in the long run, partly successful. However, the same counter-reformational impulse had a much more benign expression, thirty years earlier, in Philip's decision to build the complex at El Escorial.

Philip engaged the Spanish architect, Juan Bautista de Toledo, to be his collaborator in the design of El Escorial. Juan Bautista had spent the greater part of his career in Rome, where he had worked on the basilica of St. Peter's, and in Naples, where he had served the king's viceroy, whose recommendation brought him to the king's attention. Philip appointed him architect-royal in 1559, and together they designed El Escorial as a monument to Spain's role as a center of the Christian world.

On November 2, 1984, UNESCO declared The Royal Site of San Lorenzo of El Escorial a World Heritage Site.

The floor plan of the building is in the form of a gridiron. The traditional belief is that this design was chosen in honor of St. Lawrence, who, in the third century AD, was martyred by being roasted to death on a grill.

In fact, however, the origin of the building's layout is quite controversial. The grill-like shape, which did not fully emerge until Herrera eliminated from the original conception the six interior towers of the facade, was, by no means, unique to El Escorial

Situated next to the main altar of the Basilica, the residence of King Philip II is made up of a series of austerely decorated rooms. It features a window from which the king could observe Mass from his bed when incapacitated by the gout that afflicted him.

sounds pretty rad! ive seen pictures and its some gigantic castle looking thing. im pretty stoked to see it.
On saturday night, i think a bunch of spanish kids are going out to a local favorite, SuperSonic. Its a pretty small bar but they play really good music and its really a good time. And on sunday, a ton of us are going to a park for some sort of extranvaganza. Of course this is with the spanish kids so when they were making plans for sunday, i kinda lost some of what they were trying to say is going on. but ill let you know  what happens!

On sunday im going back to El Rastro for like an hour just so i can buy gifts for ALL of you back home. its my last chance to go because im out of town for the next 6 sundays so i dunno if ill get another chance to go.  And then im gonna hit up the Museo De La Reina Sofia and FINALLY see guernica. and if i have time, ill try to hit up the Prado on my way home, but i dont think ill have time. The best part is, is that all the museums in madrid are free on sundays. so ive got like 4 or 5 more museums ive got to hit up.

anyawys, im off to class.


Photos From Santander

  seal from the zoo

my roomie!!!

the beaches in santander


my new friends! (the americans...)


chris on the tour bus going around santander

more beaches of santander...

the group (again...just the americans)

our hotel, which was literally, right across the street from the beach

this is the king and queens summer palace

the group, agian...

la hostia!! claro que si!

im facing the penguins in this picture. the "zoo" was literally right there on the ocean

penguins in the zoo.


oh man do i have a lot to write. i would have written about the past few days sooner but the internet here has been working so badly that i havent been able to do anything. but im back! ha

So lets see......

skool is the same old same old. its pretty easy. theres not too much homework and the teachers are pretty nice. My oral teacher is way rad and wears a studded belt, and he's like 28. real fun guy. my "practicas de lengua" (language practice) class teacher is pretty cool too. shes really funny. but my other teachers are kind of boring. philosophy is really hard but the teacher is awesome so i keep going and i think ill do alright. its a lot of history more than philosophy so i really like it....or i like the 80% that im understanding.  Spanish is still hard for me to understand when its spoken, but i can read it and speak it perfectly.

So on friday, i had an hour or so gap inbetween classes, so my friends sarah and sam and i got on the metro and rode it back one station from the skool and got off in hopes to find a coffee shop to kill the time. we ended finding this really cool cafe called The Van Gogh Cafe. It was so awesome! there were van gogh paintings all over the place! i loved it! it was a real chill place and they had a non-smokers section which you never find so that was nice.

Then that night, i wasnt gonna do anything because we all had to be up saturday morning to go to santander for the weekend.  But of course, we still ended up going out.  But before we went out, Chris, Tristan and I wrote 4 songs in spanish hahaha. Chris just bought a new acoustic classical guitar and we've been talking about writing songs the entire trip and we finally did it. we recorded them on chris's laptop and these songs turned out to be hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!! i played guitar on three of the songs and chris played on one, and we all sing and its so funny cuz only tristan can actually sing. Chris and i wreeeeek.  But our band is callled Los Madrilenos and the spanish kids are gonna find it to be a riot. Our lyrics were never written down, we just spit them out as we recorded. they're hilarious. and yes, they're in spanihs, but unless you know the Coloquial de Espana (spanish slang), then you arent gonna understand.

Anyways.....We wandered around with some of our spanish friends (bea and monica) and of course chris and tristan and lorena came along. We went into one bar but it was all 30 year old people and all the music was straight from the 80's. So we left after like half an hour because we wanted somehting with people our age.  So we were walking around the streets of madrid, and friday nights are pretty fun, but saturday nights are usually better....but anyways, we went to Dohner Kabob cuz Tristan (chris's roommate) was hungry, and while we were just chillin' outside, some random girl comes up to us and asks us where something was, and the first thing we say to here is, "where are you from?" [in english mind you!!!!] cuz she had a total american accent. it was pretty funny....anyways, it turns out that she was originally from the area Chris lives in and they knew some of the same people...crazy small world. So we started talking with her and two of her other friends and we all decided to go bar hopping together cuz we all made great company together. By the end of the night we all exchanged numbers and such and i didnt get to bed till 5am....and i was up by 7 for the 5-6 hour bus ride to santander.  The best part was that when i got home, tanner still hadnt comeback from hanging out with his friends. so when i woke up at 7am, right as i was climbing out of bed, Tanner got home haha. crazy night he must have had.  But we took showers and packed and left, half asleep, and starving, to the right metro stop where our group was meeting.

I was asleep luckily for most of the journey out there, but we did drive by some really pretty cities and mountains and landscapes. So i got to see a lot of spain along the way which was good. But by 2 or3 we finally made it and our hotel was literally right on the beach. Santander is the very northern tip of spain....just so you know.  As soon as we checked in, we all ran outside and went swimming in the ocean. It was so great.  The waves were a lot bigger than i expected and the water wasn't even that cold, and all of us were just living it up!!!  afterwards, we took a tour around the king and queens summer home, which is more like a castle that sits on the top of this hill that looks over the beaches of Santander. the view is spectacular.  But after that, we were free to do whatever we wanted. So we first went to the zoo, which was right in this park where the king and queens summer home was. There were seals and penguins and it overlooked the ocean. amazing.  then we continued along to the otherside and found a sort of bridge or stone dock that went out into the ocean and the water was crystal clear and we really wanted to go swimming, but at that point, we had all changed into our clothes. But we walked along the beach and chilled on the dock till sunset. it was amazing. 

Afterwards, we went to dinner at some mexican restaurant and the food was terrible and it was way over priced and we were still hungry afterwards which kind of ruined the start of a potentially good night, but it didnt improve too much. We went downtown and met up with some of the other kids in our group (I went to dinner with Chris, Lauren, Sirus, and Kristina and we thought we were meeting up with everyone else, but we just ran into Hannah, Andrea, Sam, and Sarah, which wasn't bad at all but we thougght Tanner, Angela and Sanna were with them all....and we all called them, but nobody was answering. But when we left the first bar, the three of them were sitting right outside! it was a crazy coincidence...so we all united hahaha). 

So here is my opinion of Santander. The architecture is amaizng, the beaches are gorgeous, and its a wonderful city to gaze at, but living there wouldnt be any fun.  The downtown saturday night life was a drag. it was a ton of highskoolers everywhere! and i mean EVERYWHERE! they were all getting dropped off in mini-vans by their parents in front of the one discoteca they had there. it was pretty funny actually, but really dissapointing for us. But we all just wandered around sort of aimlessly.  Chris and i met some guys that were 18 (or so they say) and they all wanted to speak to us in english, but they only knew the dirty stuff, so they got really annyoing and repetitive. And they were pretty mean to some of the girls...atleast i got to speak a little spanishh....but other than that, the night was kind of a bummer.

I got home around 2 i think and went straight to bed. I got up around 9, had a pretty decent breakfast, and then i took my last walk along the beach.

We left the hotel around 10:30 and we went to the Cuevas de Altamira (or the Caves of Altamira).  These caves were found in the late !800's and are supposed to be one of the greatest archaeological finds and one of the greatest anthropological sites in the world. I was pretty stoked, but it turned out to be kind of dissapointing. The real cave was closed and they had built an exact replica and they had a museum which was alright, and i appreciated it all, but it was boring and kind of lame to say that i went through a fake cave. but it was still worth the trip.

Then we went into this little town called Santilla or something like that, i dont really remember, but it was tiny but it was how i picture european towns to look. it was filled wihth cottages and little restaurants right in the greenest hills you've ever seen. It was a cool place. I took a lot of good pics there....we stayed there for like an hour and then we took off. The drive home was awful. I slept most of it, but it was really long. It was good to finally be back in Madrid....its strange how much Madrid feels like home now...it was almost sad to be away. eventhough santander was gorgeous.  

But we went to sleep pretty early last night cuz we were so stinking tired.  And that was my weekend!


Oct. 16th, 2008

I just ordered my tickets. I am now officially going to Lisbon, Portugal from November 8 - November 10; Rome, Italy from November 22 to November 24; and Barcelona from December 5 - December 7.  Be jealous. Be very jealous.

and in between all of these trips, we are going to Santander, Cuevas de Altamira, Paris, and Sevilla.

My life is amazing.

im gonna be broke.

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