Today is the day! All my stuff is packed and luckily I wasn’t charged for going 5lbs over the limit! We’re flying with TAP airlines to Lisbon, Portugal and then Malaga, Spain. Once we arrive tomorrow, we’ll have 4 days to find an apartment, figure out our residency renewal and do all the miscellaneous things like grocery shopping, setting up Internet and figuring out our first lesson plan for our kiddies. I can’t wait to start another year with Lenny and see where life takes us in this new adventure.
Finally! I’ve been here for 3 months and I’m dying to get back to Spain. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and the conveniences I missed while I was away in Spain but I am ready to go back.
Things I’ve missed while I’ve been in the States:
- Cañas and olives: Before I arrived to Spain, I would have sworn up and down that I loathed olives and olives hated me. But now I’m addicted to the green ones. And nothing goes better with olives than a nice glass of Cruzcampo.
- Modes of transportation: At $3.65 a gallon, I can’t afford to drive 30-60 minutes away to find entertainment on my limited budget. It was so much easier in Spain. If I’m bored, I can walk 10 minutes to the heart of the city or the nearest beach or park. If I wanted to go to another part of Malaga or another town, I’d hop on the bus or train and for less than €7, I could go about an hour away roundtrip. Amazing, isn’t it?
- People: Malagueños are super nice. They give crappy directions but they’re always willing to help you out. And I miss people watching especially when Lenny can look at a person and just know their life story.
- My job: Yes, I sorta dislike kids but MY kids are the cutest kids. Now that I have a little experience in teaching, I’m excited to go back and be a better teacher and teach them awesome English stuff. Plus, I totally miss making and spending monies!
- Travelling: I miss checking skyscanner, ryanair and easyjet for great travel deals. One of the great things about living in Spain is having the accessibility to explore the world so cheaply. Greece, Turkey and Egypt are on my to-do list this year.
- Cheap fresh fruit and veggies at the fruteria: Fruits and vegetables are SO cheap in Spain! I usually spend less than 15 euros for about 10 kilos of fruits and veggies. Also, there’s so much life and culture at the market. When I’m buying my things alongside the people who’ve lived in Malaga for decades, I feel like I really belong in the community.
- Walking anywhere: There’s something strangely therapeutic about walking to a destination (this coming from someone who hates walking). It helps me get some exercise and also calms my mind from the little things Spain does that irritate me.
- Not tipping: Maybe I’m just super stingy or I’d rather use that money to buy clothes, but I hate tipping. I never noticed how much we tipped in the USA until I returned. We tip for food, drinks, waxing, haircuts, etc. Even though I receive crappy customer service in Spain, I’m glad to return to my non-tipping ways.
- Clothes: Bershka, Mango, Pull and Bear, Zara, Stradivarius.
- Tapas: I’m a born snacker and the most brilliant thing for a snacker is tapas! Normally under 5€, it’s the perfect snack, light lunch or appetizer. Nothing’s better than going with a group of friends and getting different tapas to share.
“If the world were a single state, Istanbul would have been its capital.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
Istanbul is absolutely majestic. With its impressive history, this city me giddy with excitement to explore and explore I did.
The Grand Bazaar was one of my favorite sites. Colorful can’t even begin to describe this shopping wonder. Opened in 1461, it has over 4,000 shops. One can buy anything from hookahs, jewelry, souvenirs, ceramics, magic carpets or magic lamps. Never accept a person’s first price because you’re expected to haggle for the best price, often lowering the initial price to half. Unfortunately, all I could do is ogle and take pictures of the things I wanted considering all I brought was a backpack as luggage for 13 days of travelling. Make sure to give yourself 2-3 hours to sniff around because it’s enormous and worth getting lost.
Another cool site was an underground cistern practically in the center of Sultanahmet. A cistern is a fancy word to describe a reservoir that stores water. It was built by Emperor Justinian in 532 CE and it holds 335 marble pillars that supports the roof! The bottom is filled with water and is lit with orange-looking light that makes one believe there’s gold or hidden monsters lurking for their next meal. At the end of the walkway are two mysterious giant Medusa heads. No one knows why they were placed in the cistern. I like to think they were there to combat those hidden monsters lurking in the water. At the end of our little walking tour, Lenny and I did the super touristy thing and paid to take pictures in traditional Turkish clothes.
I think mosques are so beautiful and majestic. The exterior is just as impressing as the interior. The Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I, also known as the Blue Mosque, is right across the Hagia Sophia. Five times a day, you’ll hear this enchanting call to prayer being broadcasted from the speakers of the Blue Mosque. Only allowed to enter during the non-worship hours, you have to take your shoes off. Ladies, if you’re showing off your legs or shoulders, they’ll give you a wrap to cover yourselves. Inside, you’re greeted with enormous chandeliers and beautiful ceiling work. It’s free to enter and enjoy.
This UNESCO word heritage site is the famous Hagia Sophia. It was rebuilt by Emperor Justinian in 537 CE and was the center of Orthodox Christianity for 900 years until 1453. When the city was conquered by the Ottomans, Sultan Mehmed II converted it into a mosque and it became known as the grand mosque of the sultans. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was preserved into a museum and is now one of the coolest and most important monuments in the world. Inside, you can still see the Christian mosaics alongside the turkish treasures.
If you want some real Turkish food or nightlife, take the tram up to Taksim Square. This side of Istanbul is super modern and feels like a metropolitan city. Here you’ll find most of the nice hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and shopping centers. Fortunately for me, my friend Selim who I met when we both studied abroad in Florence, Italy, lives in Istanbul and insisted in taking Lenny and I out to eat. He treated us to real authentic Turkish food, helped us learn a couple of Turkish words and took us out for drinks (Be aware of the taxes on alcohol. A couple of drinks can get pretty expensive).
Here are some of my other favorite pictures from around Istanbul:
If you like an adventure and want to experience something unique and amazing, take a trip to Istanbul! Have any of you guys been to Istanbul? Or somewhere else in Turkey?
Up-coming and returning auxiliares: you are going love this!
- Are you looking for DVDs that you can use in your European dvd player?
- Need a bicycle or skateboard to get around town?
- Do you need to replace that camera that just died or drowned in the ocean?
- Did your hair straightener or blow dryer die?
- Need extra cash until the Junta pays you?
Go and check out Cash n’ Converters. It’s a pawn shop that sells great cheap second-hand items. I personally haven’t sold anything there but I’ve bought things from there. My apartment came with a sweet European dvd player but sadly without any dvds. Our Australian friend Morgan told us about Cash n’ Converters after buying a second-hand skateboard for 20 euros. We took a gander and found cheap things like guitars, jewelry, blow dryers, cameras, blenders, tricycles, etc! We found dvds 5 for 4 euros. And no, not the crappy ones but ones like The Wedding Singer, Maid in Manhattan and Disturbia. We saw digital cameras for about 30 euros and DSLRs for 2-300 euros. Blow dryers and straighteners were being sold for 10-20 euros, definitely cheaper than buying it from El Corte Ingles. So wherever you are auxiliares, just check out their website and get cheap stuff to fill up your apartment or make your life easier in Spain!
[After reading this, I just realized it sounds like a cheesy infomercial. But hey! At least I recognized it haha.]
2) You can’t get over how early bars & clubs shut back home – surely they’re shutting just as you should be going out?
3) You aren’t just surprised that the plumber/decorator has turned up on time, you’re surprised he turned up at all.
4) You’ve been part of a botellon.
5) You think it’s fine to comment on everyone´s appearance. And to openly stare at strangers.
6) Not giving every new acquaintance dos besos seems so rude.
7) You’re shocked by people getting their legs out at the first hint of sun – surely they should wait until at least late June?
8) On msn you sometimes type ‘jajaja’ instead of ‘hahaha’
9) You think the precious aceite is a vital part of every meal. And don’t understand how anyone could think olive oil on toast is weird.
10) You’re amazed when TV ad breaks last less than half an hour, especially right before the end of films.
11) You forget to say please when asking for things – you implied it in your tone of voice, right?
12) You love the phenomenon of giving ‘toques’ – but hate explaining it in English
14) You don’t see sunflower seeds as a healthy snack – they’re just what all the cool kids eat.
15) You know what a pijo is and how to spot one.
16) Every sentence you speak contains at least one of these words: ‘bueno,’ ‘coño,’ ‘vale,’ ‘venga,’ ‘pues nada’…
17) You know what ‘resaca’ means. And you probably had one at least once a week when you lived in Spain.
18) You know how to eat boquerones.
19) A bull’s head on the wall of a bar isn’t a talking point for you, it’s just a part of the decor.
20) You eat lunch after 2pm & would never even think of having your evening meal before 9.
21) You know that after 2pm there’s no point in going shopping, you might as well just have a siesta until 5 when the shops re-open.
22) If anyone insults your mother, they better watch out…
23) You know how to change a bombona. And if you don’t, you were either lazy or lucky enough to live somewhere nice.
24) It’s not rude to answer the intercom to your flat by asking ‘Quien?’ (or maybe that was just my flatmate…)
25) You don’t accept beer that’s anything less than ice-cold.
26) The fact that all the male (or female) members of a family have the same first name doesn’t surprise you.
27) The sound of mopeds in the background is the soundtrack to your life.
28) You know that the mullet didn’t just happen in the 80s. It is alive and well in Spain.
29) You know the difference between cojones and cajones, tener calor and estar caliente, bacalao and bakalao, pollo and polla, estar hecho polvo and echar un polvo…and maybe you learned the differences the hard way!
30) On a Sunday morning, you have breakfast before going to bed, not after you get up.
31) You don’t see anything wrong with having a couple of beers in the morning if you feel like it.
32) Floors in certain bars are an ideal dumping ground for your colillas, servilletas etc. Why use a bin?!
33) You see clapping as an art form, not just a way to express approval.
34) You know ensaladilla rusa has nothing to do with Russia.
35) When you burst out laughing every time you see a Mitsubishi Pajero
36) You have friends named Jesus, Jose Maria, Maria Jose, Angel, maybe even Inmaculada Concepcion…
37) You know that ‘ahora’ doesn’t really mean now. Hasta ahora, ahora vuelvo…etc
38) When you make arrangements to meet friends at 3, the first person turns up at 3.15…if you’re lucky!
39) Central heating is most definitely a foreign concept. In winter, you just huddle around the heater under the table & pull the blanket up over your knees…and sleep with about 5 blankets on your bed!
40) Most women under 30 own a pair of those attractive ‘Aladdin’ style trousers with the crotch around the knees (you know what I mean!)
41) Aceite de oliva is ‘muy sano’, of course. So you help yourself to a bit more.
42) When women think that clear bra straps are in fact invisible.
43) When it’s totally normal for every kitchen to have a deep-fat fryer but no kettle.
44) Te cagas en la leche….
45) To avoid that cheap Eristoff vodka you have to ask for ‘un esmirnoff’
46) When you know what a guiri is / have been called one
47) When you add ‘super’ in front of any adjective for emphasis
48) When it’s completely normal for men and women to have at least one facial piercing
49) When you pay for something that’s, say, 8.50, you always ask, ‘Quieres el cincuenta?’
50) Blonde girls actually start to think their name is ‘rubia’
51) When you accept that paying with a 50 euro note is going to get you a dirty look if you’re buying something that costs less than 40 euros
52) If something is great, it’s ‘de puta madre’
53) You can eat up to 5 times a day – first breakfast, 2nd breakfast around 11.30, almuerzo, merienda, cena
54) You know the jingle for Los Cuarenta Principales…
55) If you see someone wearing a T-shirt with something written on it in English, you can almost guarantee it won’t make sense.
56) When you go into a bank/bakery etc, it’s standard practice to ask ‘Quien es la ultima?’
57) Who needs a dryer when you have a washing line outside the window of your apartment?
58) You know what ‘marcha’ and ‘juerga’ are. (Of course!)
59) You are more likely to call your friends tio/a, nena, chaval, macho or even tronco than their real name.
60) Love it or hate it, you can’t escape reggaeton.
I found this on Facebook and thought it was hilariously right! Thanks to http://www.pitoche.com/youknow.htm for sharing!
My last week of school consisted of little 6 and 7 years olds saying/asking me, “No te vayas seño!”, “Quedate en España” and “Regresa el proximo año?”. Basically, “Don’t leave teacher!”, “Stay in Spain” and “You return next year?”.
One adorable student even said I could live in his room for the summer. Laughing at his cuteness, I asked him in Spanish, “You and I living together in your room?”. Blushing, he sheepishly told me he would sleep on the couch. My heart melted at his sweetness.
My last day, between hugs and kisses on the cheek, I reassured each of my 6 classes that I’m definitely coming back for another year and that I’ll miss them tons. And I do miss them. I miss their genuineness, their innocence and their ability to make me angry one second and then have me laughing and smiling the next.
As a goodbye gift, my students made me farewell cards that had me laughing, smiling and pondering at some of their drawings. Here’s a collection of some of my favorites:
Holy crap was it easier to lose or maintain your weight in Spain! Of course there are yummy tapas, loads of drinking and obviously more drinking. But the great thing about eating and drinking in Spain was the ‘no guilt’. I never felt guilty for that extra caña or slice of tortilla española because I always had to walk everywhere. To go to my school, I walked 15 minutes to the train station, then another 5 minutes to my school in Benalmadena. Roundtrip that’s 40 minutes of walking just to work. Going to the grocery store, to the mall or to the bus station could be easily a 15-20 minute walk. On average, I’m pretty sure I walked at least 1.5 hours which was awesome!
Healthy food like fruits, vegetables and seafood are disgustingly amazingly cheaper in Spain. I lived about 10 minutes away from the Atarazanas market so every Friday (our days off from work), Lenny and I would go and buy kilos (1 kilo = 2.2 lbs) of mandarin oranges, granny smith apples, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, olives, etc. for less than 15 euros. We’d have enough fruits and veggies to last us a week and a half!
Now that I’m back in the states, my family’s making my favorite foods, I’m eating at my favorite restaurants, and unfortunately I’m not getting any exercise. The closest thing I can walk to is my Publix and that’s about a 20-40 minute walk in the awful Florida heat with views of passing cars. At least in Spain, I always had something beautiful to glance at while I walked.
My little sister and I have made a pact to lose/maintain our weight this summer. We decided to do something unconventional and funny. She found this Harry Potter workout on imgur.com and since we have all 8 movies, we decided to go for it! Today was our first day and we started with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. IT KICKED OUR ASSES.
We did: 110 crunches, 360 jumping jacks, 100 bicycle kicks, 25 pushups, 10 butt busters, 10 squats, 50 lunges.
It was pretty interesting. For now, we’re going to do the Harry Potter workout 3 times a week. Hopefully we lose some weight. If not, I’ll have to resort to walking through this heinous sauna heat we call Florida.