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Sunday, February 27, 2011


Thursday Night, I decided to head to Valencia for the weekend.

Arrived by high-speed train (the Ave) at 1:30, and checked into Home Youth Hostel. Pictures on the facebook.

Walked around Valencia Friday afternoon...down through the park, to the City of Arts and Sciences, through the marina, and up to the beach. Total of ~8 miles.

In the park, there were orange trees. They had the flavor of oranges, but the acidity of lemons.

There was also a large play structure in the form of Gulliver from Gulliver's Travels. There were slides down this hair, and the kids play on his face. If I were seven, it would have been pretty dope.

Farther down the park was the City of Arts and Sciences. Sweet architecture:

After taking a few photos at CAS, I pulled out my compass, and headed east toward the Med sea. Got to the marina, piers and the beach a while later. Pretty cool waterfront...check out the pictures on facebook.

Took the metro back to the Hostel that night, and started talking to some really interesting people including a Concord Carlisle Class of 2000 alum (small world) named Manuel, and a girl named Ellen from San Diego.

Manuel was a social worker, but was laid off, and is using his unemployment to backpack around Europe. He doesn't buy a lot of food, just beer and train tickets. Really nice guy. He's off to Granada, and then to Morocco.

Ellen majored in English and Spanish at Loyola Marymount, and has been living and teaching English in Malaga (Spain) for the past year and half. Super fun girl.

While talking with Manuel and Ellen, into the Hostel walked Becca (from IES Madrid).

There was also another girl, whose name I forget...she was a little off.

So that night, with Manuel, Ellen, off girl, and off girl's friends who were staying at another hostel, we went to a cheap dinner of Falafel wraps (which were good, but I should be eating Spanish food). Off girl had a friend who had found oranges in her Hostel Locker, and was twirling them around in socks. At first we said, okay, that's your thing, whatever, but after we talked to her for a bit, we realized that she was even more off than off girl.

Manuel had a train to catch, and/so Ellen and I walked back without the off girls.

The other guys staying in my hostel room were getting ready for their friend's wedding the following day. They went to bed at 4:30, and at 7:30, one of them started snoring like a foghorn, so I got up, walked over to his bed, picked it up and shook it enough that so he stopped, and went back to sleep.

The next night, there was only one other woman in my room, and I slept quite well, except for some loud french girls at about 3am. I couldn't remember how to say "please be quiet" in french (at least at that point I couldn't), so I walked out of my room, said "shhh, s'il vous plait," and went back to bed. That seemed to work. I guess hostel rooms are pretty hit or miss. The hostel was nice though...good people.

Saturday, with Ellen, Becca, and Becca's two friends, we went to the Aquarium, and Hemisferic (IMAX). The Aquarium was pretty hyped up, as it's the biggest in Europe, but to be honest, it was pretty lame. I really don't like animals in cages/pens. Whales don't belong in tanks, unless they're being rehabilitated etc. It was all "here are these animals for your viewing pleasure," which isn't cool. All of it made me regret paying to get in/supporting all of that crap. The IMAX movie was about the Hubble Space Telescope, which was super was narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, and at one point space travel was contrasted with rollerskating down Massachusetts Avenue during rush hour, which I appreciated. I may have been one of the few people in the theater to understand the reference.

Saturday for dinner, Ellen and I sat down at a pretty legit Spanish restaurant. It wasn't expensive, and the food was...great. We ate a dish of potatoes, eggs, and bacon, a few Montaditos (appetizers on bread (small half sandwiches)) consisting of different types of ham and bacon, and one with a quail egg on top, which were ridiculous, and a some sort of chicken sandwich on really great bread. The waiter was hilarious...he was our age, and spat a bunch of game, so we spat game back. Good times. American bacon has NOTHING on Spanish bacon.

After dinner, we got some pretty HQ ice cream. I mixed chocolate and raspberry (not mixed like blender-mixed, but you get what I mean), and Ellen got banana and mint. The banana was the best.

This morning, I checked out the Miguelete Tower and Catedral de Valencia. The tower gives you a pan view of Valencia, which was nice.

More about food:

Friday afternoon, on my way from the train station to the hostel, I stopped at a fruteria (fruit store), and bought three clementines, four strawberries, and an orange for 1.35 euro. Great lunch. Best fruit I've ever had.

After checking in to the Hostel, I got a 3 euro plate of paella, which was dec. Maybe I haven't had awesome paella yet, but it just seems like spices rice with different kinds of meat and vegetables in it.

Saturday morning, we went to the Mercat Central (Central Market), and I bought a carton of strawberries, pastries, and horchata. I love horchata. It's a Mexican almond/soymilk drink. It's so good. Check FB for pictures of everything. The strawberries were unreal...this whole "fresh organic fruit as the norm" deal is great. Food in Spain is definitely a plus. If City Market is Idylwilde on crack, this market was City Market on crack ("on crack" meaning the "I like this" factor is magnified).

Friday, February 25, 2011

I bought a compass, and I love it.

This is a longish post, but it’s mildly interesting.

Wednesday, I wasted a good amount of time trying to figure out what I wanted to do this weekend. I thought about going back to San Sebastian to try surfing (they don’t rent kayaks there…), but there was a great chance that even with a wetsuit, I would end up being mildly cold and not having fun after a short(er) amount of time. The water is about 50deg, which isn’t super cold, but it’s cold. The air is about 60. I’d also already been to San Sebastian, so I decided on Valencia. I tried booking a ticket for this morning, but RailEurope wouldn’t let me because it was too close to the departure date, and I couldn’t call them with my phone, so I biked down to the train station day of (today), and bought a ticket. I woke up at 7, to try and catch the 8:40 train, but it was full, so I’m on the 11:40. I’m currently sitting in a random hotel lobby (looking official), outside the train station. I have two more hours, but I have a good amount of reading to do, and there is a Movistar store (phone) right outside, which opens at 9.

Okay, so yesterday was a beautiful day. After class, I hopped on my bike, and rode down Calle Princesa, got my fauxhawk chopped off at the Spanish version of Supercuts (I don’t want to spend 30 euro on a haircut right now), ordered five textbooks for my Spanish Language Usage for Business class (I volunteered/was chosen to do so), bought a compass (continued after next two paragraphs)…

I bought a compass at Corte Ingles. It’s probably the second most useful thing I’ve bought so far, next to my bike. I literally have to look at a map once, find the general direction in which I want to go, and then go. I no longer have to ask for directions 4-8 times to find something…maybe once if I’m right next to my destination, and feeling blind. I literally just take the thing out of my pocket, and go west…or east…or north. I never go south, because that phrase has negative connotations. I heard somewhere that most males find their way based on orientation/general direction, while females find their way based on landmarks…totally applies to me. At UVM, if I don’t know where I am (I know my way around now, but in September of 2009 etc.), I just find look at the lake, which runs north to south, and head in the direction I want to go.
My compass is far more useful than my phone. I believe it’s been four weeks (at least) since I last successfully contacted someone with it. I don’t have any minutes left, and Movistar won’t let me put money on it via internet, or via phone. I haven’t gone to the phone store yet to try and do so…who knows why. I don’t use my phone that much anyway, even in the U.S. If you know me at home, you know how painfully true that is. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend Movistar if anyone wanted to finagle a phone in Europe. In fact, I would dis-recommend them. I would advise the whole world to avoid them. Go with Vodafone. I know nothing about Vodafone, save the fact that I like the name.

…and went to find a different pool. Corte Ingles is Spain’s only large business. It’s a department store/supermarket/hardware/furniture/bookstore/etc. that sells everything. It’s like Walmart, except it isn’t the destroyer of worlds as far as small business is concerned, because it isn’t any less expensive than the individual stores, and actually sells good stuff. The compass was in the camping section. Nearby were crampons, ice axes, sleeping bags, cams, webbing, fishing gear, and other sweet stuff you’d find at OGE (outdoor gear exchange (Burlington)) or EMS.

After stopping at Plaza del Sol (Corte Ingles), I pulled out my compass, and went west toward Casa de Campo. All over Madrid, there are municipal pool/sports centers, but only a few of them have indoor pools. The closest one is ~2 miles away, which is ~8 minutes by bike. It’s on the south side of Casa de Campo. I’m on the east side, so to get there from San Agustin, I ride through the park, which is pretty nice. Ten uses of the municipal pool cost 29.80, and ten uses of the university pool cost 37.50. I don’t know what the deal with doubling is (if I want to swim twice in one day); there’s probably a 49% chance I could convince them to let me in without paying twice. The people who work at the rec pool are about 4.6 times nicer than those at the Complu Pool, and I’m allowed to use fins. There’s also a gym at the pool, with a squat bar. Mostly positives…it was super crowded when I went though, and I’m inclined to think that it doesn’t let up too frequently. The Complutense pool is crowded too, but only when I study first, and then swim. If I swim in the middle of the day, I usually have my own lane.
There is a law in Madrid that says that outdoor pools can’t open until May 29th, which is probably one of the stupidest laws I’ve ever encountered. Gotta love bureaucracy. If you Google Earth Madrid, you can see ~20 longcourse pools, that aren’t open, even if it’s 80+ degrees.
The Casa de Campo pool is right next to an artificial lake with a HUGE fountain in the middle of it. I took some photos (they’re on the facebook), then biked back, and went to fencing.

Fencing was good…better Thursday night than Wednesday. After fencing, I went to EcoCentro for dinner (the vegetarian buffet). It was better last time, but it was still pretty decent. After buying more bread (spelt bread this time), I rode back to Moncloa, to find 752+ bikes riding down the street. It turns out that the last Thursday of every month, all of the cyclists get together, and mess up the flow of traffic by riding down the streets of the city, to make it very clear to city of Madrid that they want bike lanes. Needless to say, I joined in, rode for about a half hour, and then went back to San Agustin. Even in large cities full of uptight, high-maintenance and superficial people, good people exist. Very good people exist. I talked to a bunch of guys and gals about what they were doing and why, and told them about the Naked Bike Ride at UVM, which they liked. One guy was designing a high-speed train for Oregon/The West Coast. The last Thursday in March, the 31st I leave for Paris, but my flight is way before the bikeride. April looks good though…calendar is marked. I’ll bring a camera next time.

In Spanish, the word "owl" is separated into two different words for two different types of owl. Great horned owl type owls are "buhos," whereas barn owl type owls are "lechuzas." Snowy owls and are also lechuzas, even though they appear to be somewhere in between a lechuza and a buho.

Oh, and I finished Harry Potter a while ago...I have The Chamber of Secrets (second book) in Spanish, but right now I'm reading the Notebook (in Spanish of course), and a few other books for school.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why tonight was better than last night.

Last night was okay at best. Carlos and his two friends and I went out to dinner at "hollywoord," which is kind of like TGI Fridays, only a lot better. I had a burger with brie, raisins, and raspberry jam on the side...I wanted to try something new, and it ended up being legit. We then took an illegal taxi (unregistered) to a house party which was really nice. Carlos´ friend Tomas threw down with a bunch of people from their university...met some cool guys and girls. After that party, we took the same illegal taxi to a nightclub called HIT, which was honestly awful. We each paid 22 euros to get in (Carlos convinced me it was worth it), but it was full of 17 and 18 year old children. Lots of annoying girls and stupid males trying to fight each other. Kapital is exceedingly better.

Tonight was awesome...I swam for a while, then decided that I was going to find EcoCentro again, except by way of the pool, in the dark, in the rain.

I biked around in the rain for a while, found a map, asked for directions a few times, but finally found it. I actually really loved getting there though (that whole rain concept again). EcoCentro, in addition to being a wonderful natural bread-grain-soap-insense-peanutbutter-book store, is also a vegetarian restaurant/buffet.

I´ve mentioned this before...normal food in Spain isn´t full of the chemicals and fake ingredients that we put in our food in the United´s a step down from U.S. Organic food. Organic food in Spain (comida biologica) is RIDICULOUS. It´s like U.S. Organic food on´s like eating the stuff we grow in our garden, and the cows we raise in our back yard (even though we don´t raise cows in our back yard, and I haven´t eaten Spanish organic beef yet).

So about EcoCentro´s food. You grap a compostable paper bowl (whatup Vermont?), fill it with different types of salad, fruit, vegetables etc. (pasta salad, couscous salad etc. included), weight it, and then eat it. They also have guac sandwiches, which I took full advantage of (hadn´t had avocado since I got to Spain), and vegan chocolate mouse (we like things like this). Hey, so I spent 14€ on dinner, but it was definitely worth it. I´ll be going back at least once a week. It´s pretty close to fencing, and the people there don´t judge you by what you´re wearing on your feet.

Biked back to San Agustin, and talked to Irene and Virginia about the U.S. for a while. They´re awesome...real people.

Things that I don´t like about Madrid.

I my opinion, Madrid is very superficial. There are a lot of fake people here. People judge you hardcore on what you´re wearing both on your feet, and on the rest of your body. It´s honestly ridiculous...the nicer the shoe I´m wearing, the more likely people are to talk to me. Going barefoot is out of the question, even just around the residence hall. If I were to do so, literally every single person would stop me and either ask "why are you barefoot?" or tell me to put shoes on. At UVM, I don´t even get one cares, and I love it. All of that being said, the people in San Agustin are very nice (at least when I´m wearing topsiders and a polo).

Laundry is done for us here, and they wash all of the clothes in hot water, which is super green. Everyone drops their clothes off in random plastic bags on friday, and gets them back in *different* *plastic* bags on monday. I drop my laundry off in my mesh bag, and bring it back to my room (room is 30 seconds from the laundry room) stacked in one hand, not in a plastic bag. Yesterday, three people stopped me and said "you should use a plastic bag." I told them that there was no plausible reason for me using a bag. I put my laundry back in my room, and returned to explain to them that plastic is made from oil, is horrible for the environment etc. FOREIGN concept to girl didn´t even know where plastic came from. They tried to tell me that the laundry ladies recycle them, but that´s BS. They don´t recycle anything here in the dorms.

So in Madrid, people like to conserve water and electricity, and drive fuel-efficient cars, but only because it saves money...they don´t give a damn about the planet. The lack of recycling here is driving me nuts. I never buy plastic bottles anyway, but when I see people throw them into the trash can without an alternative, it´s not pleasing.

I LOVERMONT. Nuff said.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

PB, J, B, and G.

Peanut Butter, Jelly, Bread (good bread) and Granola are the items that I bought at Ecocentro today. Eco centro is a sweet "biovegetariano" supermarket that is also a restaurant. Basically it´s a little bit closer to city market than anything I´ve found so far, with the exception of the individual bread stores. I couldn´t keep eating white toast and chocolate croissants for breakfast every morning. Don´t get me wrong, chocolate croissants are dope, but I can´t keep up this high GI nonsense. Breakfast tomorrow is going to rock my socks off. The lady at the checkout informed me that a lot of chinese markets sell peanut butter. Why she informed me of such (wouldn´t you want to promote your own store?), I do not know. I´m definitely a fan of Ecocentro, so I´ll keep going back anyway.

So I biked back to C.M. Agustin from fencing with a mesh swim bag full of the items listen above, and didn´t come close to killing anyone save myself. Smooth tile + rain + mountain bike tires luckily didn´t result in me eating it. I´ve been sick since Bilbao, but when I sleep for long periods of time, I end up feeling better. Funny how that works.

I´ve been playing with my summer race/comp/training schedule. It´s looking really nice. If I can get everything in and stay healthy, good things will continue to happen. My fencing is really coming along´s crazy what happens when you incessantly practice the drills you learn in practice in competition, and get good at them. People don´t beat a lot in Epee over here, but they do fleche a good amount. I´m getting a lot better at fleching, and making people look stupid when they fleche at me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bilbao and San Sebastian

This past weekend, everyone from IES went on a trip to the Basque country, which is in the north of Spain.

Friday morning, we drove from Madrid to Bilbao and took a tour of the city. Bilbao is much more chill than Madrid. Seeing so many more dreadlocks and people dressed not like they're going out in NYC made me feel at home. Bilbao is right on the ocean, and there's a brackish river that runs through the entire city. Friday night was legit...we found a discotheque, but didn't even go in...just hung out outside and talked. It's too bad that some people need alcohol to be able to open up even just a tad. I end up having great conversations with people that are usually pretty reserved, but are hilarious (in a good, not obnoxious way) when they're out having fun. It does go both ways though...some people just get obnoxious. I guess it could be kind of like one period of a sine or cosine graph. First instance: starting at zero, the more people drink (horizontal axis), the more fun they get, but after a point, they just start becoming obnoxious, and their coolness factor goes negative. Once they start sobering up, they get back to zero (normal, not necessarily uncool). Cosine would represent someone who is really cool sober, but gets annoying when they're drunk. When they stop drinking (horizontal axis at half way), they start becoming interesting again.



Saturday in San Sebastian was dope. It was raining the whole day, and I loved it (see previous post). We took a tour of the city with Mario the tour guide (great guy). Favorite part by far was seeing the ocean, and the gorgeous waves (waves = kayak surfing). I'm considering going back for a weekend, since it's only $30 round trip on a bus. You can rent kayaks there too. Check Facebook for pictures. Lunch on Saturday was...yeah. Awesome. I love grass fed beef, nuff said.

Saturday night, back in Bilbao, we went out for pinchos (tapas (little appetizers at bars that cost about $1.50 each)). Soooo good. I had one (they're on toast/grilled french bread) with ham, cheese, a quail egg, peppers, and potato. Awesome. Ham in Spain is so much better than it is in the U.S.. I literally always thought that I didn't like ham until I started eating in here.

This morning we hit up Guggenheim Bilbao. It's a modern art museum, and it was super interesting. I like Andy Warhol's work the best. Lots of real social commentary...if a picture is worth one thousand words (I don't love that saying, but whatever), then a wall of really deep pictures just makes you think, and think, and think. Maybe I was just wiped for the Prado, but I think Guggenheim hit me better. I bought a Basque Cookbook there. I love Spanish food. If I can make it at home, this would be good.

Weather in Madrid

So my friend Kelsey and I have this sweet thing in common...we both really like rain. I don't understand why people let it bother them to such an extent. Sure being wet and cold isn't ideal, but 90% of the time, you get a little wet and then end up dry ~20 mins later.

In Madrid's winters and summers, it's very dry, and doesn't rain or snow very frequently. There are also neither wind nor clouds. It's also a large city. As a result of all of this, I sometimes feel like I'm living in a dream, i.e. no weather, very focused on one thing at a time, with a decent lack of the real natural world. In New England, or at least in Burlington, it rains a lot, and snows a lot, and the wind in the winter sucks the heat from your body. We always get sick of this, but now that it's gone, I kind of miss it. I enjoy feeling the rain on my face, and I find myself purposely wearing less clothing in the morning, just so I can feel the cold, and be affected by something other than the things that we humans have created. In essence, I like weather. Sure, beautiful summer days and bright blue skies are nice, but rain is good. Rain is real. This past weekend, on the ocean in San Sebastian, I had an amazing time. It was drizzling from the time we stepped off the bus, until the time we left.
Alright, haven't posted for a week.

I'll do three separate posts

Filling in on training:

Monday, went for a run in Casa de Campo in VFF. It felt awesome, but right at the end, my right calf (not soleus though) started complaining. I didn't think anything of it, and fenced on it afterward. Didn't feel good for most of this week, but I still swam with a pull buoy, and kept up with lifting.

Had a decent amount of work this week, so I guess it was beneficial to not be able to keep pushing. I'll fence tomorrow night to see how it feels.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Finished the swim workout (wasn't that bad actually...hit all of the intervals no problem (need to shorten them)), and went for a run right afterward.

When I'm going to double like that, I should probably take some time in between. At the beginning of my run, I felt like a ton of bricks. Once I warmed up a little bit, it was fine, but then my both of my soleuses (I think that's the plural) started hurting. The trails were super muddy, and I was wearing Newtons, which I've discovered are AWFUL (terrible) in the mud. They would get covered in mud, and just hold it, doubling their weight. Not a good time. I got halfway through my run, felt awful, and decided to walk a bit, kicking myself for not wearing my VFF or Evos. After a few minutes, took the Newtons and socks off, and ran back barefoot, through the mud. SO much better. The soleus pain went away completely, and even though holding shoes in your hands isn't always great, it is sometimes preferable to holding them on your feet.

I haven't decided if I'm going to go to the gym tonight, or tomorrow morning. It makes more sense to go tomorrow, but in my last post, I said that I was going to go today.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

So instead of going to Portugal this weekend, I stayed in Madrid and trained a good amount. My right foot doesn't feel like it's bruised anymore, which is good. I went for a run this morning after breakfast and some reading/studying, and it felt fine. I also bought more Nutella, jelly, clementines, and bread. Breakfast here consist of toast, chocolate croissants, and chocolate milk. Do I love all of those things? Yes. Are they pretty high GI? Yes. Would I love to find granola somewhere? Yes. Hopefully I can do so this coming week.

Friday night, I did two "days" worth of lift. Frontal area not including a lot of "push" (bench, incl bench, dips etc.) (Block 7, Day 1), and then Block 6, Day 4, which is a bunch of leg stuff:

Side Crunches x4 ways
Medball X-Chop (20 each way)

Saxon Bends 3x20 w/20kg
Dumbell Pullover 3x10 w/23kg in each
Wood Chop High to Low 3x2x10 30 kg
Wood Chop Low to High 3x2x10 25 kg
DB Pushups 3x20
DB Fly 3x20 13 kg
Wide DB Pushups 3x20

Hang Clean 5, 4, 4, 4 w/132
Back Squat 12, 10, 8, 6 w/132
-In order to back squat, I have to pop it up into front squat position, and then pop it over my head again onto my traps. I don't love this, but I'll get over it. I just can't go heavy with this...not that I go too heavy with squats anyway. My knees don't complain about it, but they tell me that they're skeptical of that activity.
DB Reverse Lunge 3x10 w/30kg in each
Bar Step-up 3x10e w/132
Romanian Deadlift 2x14 w/132
Jane Fonda Hip Stability Stuff

Before that, I swam my usual 1000 WU, and then did 10x100m on 2:00. I'm really bad at making myself do a lot in the pool. The mentioned "workout" is pretty pitiful, considering what I've made myself do in the past. If I write it beforehand, I'll do it all, just because I wrote it, but I really need to get on that.

After my run this morning, I are lunch, read/studied more, and then went to the pool again.

Tonight I read more Harry Potter in Spanish, and then finished a song that I started writing 11/9/09 but left alone for a while. It's super random, but I like it.

I was going to go out tonight, but that's not conducive to training. Tomorrow morning I'll go ~5 miles easy on trails at ~8:00 pace, eat, study, eat again, and then go to the pool.

400 WU
4x200 on 3:40
3x100 on 2:00
4x200 on 4:00
6x100 on 2:00
4x4x75 focusing on technique, DK off all of the turns, try to keep the 6 beat kick.
1-4 25 Drill (Single arm R, L, Skulling R, L)
5-8 swim
9-12 25 Drill (fingertip drag, Catch up, Fists, Quick Catch) 50 swim
13-16 25 Drill (Slow arm, Drag focus x 3) 50 Swim
2x4x100 on 2:00
6x50 on 1:00

5200m in total, I believe.

See, I can do sets like this if I write them, but I way too frequently scrub out and simply "go to the pool, just to keep my technique." It's things like this that I NEED to do if I want to get where I want to go.

After the swim:

Side Crunches x4 ways
Figure 4 (20 each side)
Ejs (windshield wipers)
Medball Upright Twists
DB Upright Bends

Saxon Bends x20
Reverse Dumbell Pullover x10
DB Lateral Incline Shoulder Raise x12
Shoulder Shrugs x12
Wide Pullups x8
Wide Supine Row followed by Superman x16, x70
Reverse DB Fly x10

For the shape I'm in right now (25 mpw next week), tomorrow is ~hard. Come may, I want to look back on this and laugh. Peace out. Sleep is indeed conducive to running.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fenced again last night...good stuff. I can't stand the warmup that everyone does though. We do static stretching together at the end as well, so I just fake it. Every time I do static stretching, I end up being considerably more sore than if I don't.

I bought my books today. 40€ in total. Pretty good compared to the books prices in the U.S. They are considerably smaller though.

Translated Powerthirst into Spanish tonight for the kids in my down. It went surprisingly well.

In the western hemisphere, we find eating insects strange, and unappetizing. In the east, it's a different story. I'm interested. How nutritious are they? Do they taste good enough?

I'm reading the first Harry Potter book in Spanish. It's something my generation grew up with, and that we all know to excess. I read the first book in third grade with my dad, and finished the seventh when I was 16, on a kayaking trip in Canada. I remember bringing the book down the rivers in my dry bag. It's quite enjoyable. I also don't really have to look words up, since I know the book so well.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Portugal -> London

Changed my flight from Lisbon this weekend to London on March 17th. Lisbon is cool, but I'd rather spend the money to go do England.

Itinerary, not in this order:

Tower of London
London Bridge
Buckingham Palace
Windsor Castle
Imperial War Museum
Big Ben
British Museum
London Eye
Westminster Abbey
Say hello to British staff if they're around?

This morning, walking down the sidewalk, I bumped into Esteban Munera, a camper from ~2004 I believe. He's also studying in Madrid. Small world, or do I know too many people?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Last night a bunch of San Agustin kids and I went to an Irish Bar, played some pool etc. Great people. This morning I had class until 1:20: Contemporary Latin American Novel, the Spanish language course that everyone takes, and Spain and the International Economic Organization. All three of them were great. The Econ guy speaks really fast, but I've been hanging with the young people, so my comprehension has gotten a lot better. I dropped Contemporary Spanish Film, and added "Spanish Economy and the EU Facing the Latin American Challenge," which is another Econ class. Now, after taking Money and banking this summer, I'll have an Econ minor. All five of my classes should count for Spanish as well, so I'm knocking off a bunch of requirements while I'm here.

Class ends at 1:20 on T/Th. The bank I needed to go to closes at 2:15, so I biked there hastily, and on the way blew my tube (bike tire). I deposited money in the IES Account for the Granada trip, and found a bike shop. It closes every day at 1:30, and re-opens at 4:30. I wasn't happy about that. Took the metro back, had lunch, studied a bunch, then took the metro back to where I locked my bike (outside the bike store), and get a new tube and tire (the tread was completely worn down). The guy there was really nice, and it only cost me 20€ for the tube and tire. The bike store is right next to the fencing club, so from 8-9 I did my thing there. They're we're nice, and there are lots of good people to fence. It's in an elementary/middle school gym (their normal club location is being renovated). After fencing, with my new tire, I ducked and weaved down the sidewalk, almost got hit by a car, but made it back to Moncloa in less time than I should have. People driving have literally no regard to pedestrians, HOWEVER, I figured out that people DO move out of the middle of the sidewalk (they should at least move to one side) if you just ride straight at them and make eye contact.

It turns out that I have to be 21 to rent a car in Lisbon. Pissed? Yep. It let me rent it online with "20" in the age box, but apparently they won't let me pick it up, so no windsurfing this weekend.