Entering November: Rock concerts, Ancient Mosques, and Hot Dogs for Breakfast
It is now November, and somehow I have been officially abroad for two months now.
Even though I’ve been on Spanish soil for quite some time, I have felt like I haven’t truly started my journey here.
Most of my feelings of being slightly unsettled stem from my previous inability to travel due to apartment troubles. But finally, I have started my weekend getaways and am excited for the adventures still to come. This past weekend I traveled with my friend Z on a girl's’ trip to Cordoba and Sevilla in the south of Spain.
But before we temporarily escaped the freezing weather in Madrid, I had some fun in my own city.
Two Saturdays ago, a few of my roommates and I went to a rock concert here in Madrid to see a band whose lead singer used to live in our apartment. I’ve heard stories about her and her bandmates hanging out in our living room, smoking every day while writing new music. For all I know they could be the origin of the bed bugs, but I will say the concert was so fun.
It was at a cool venue in the center of Sol, complete with tons of neon lights and an underground atmosphere. It was a nice night of escapism, though my ears were ringing most of the following day. Part of me hopes if I keep doing open mics and meeting musicians maybe I’ll create some performance opportunities of my own…so I’m manifesting that starting now.
On Tuesday night I was supposed to go to the musicians open mic I was invited to the previous week. I dragged Z there only to discover it had been canceled that night, so we headed to federal cafe (an amazing Australian brunch-themed spot) where I had the saddest salad of my life.
Lesson learned: If you want a burger, just order the damn burger. Anyone who smiles while eating Kale, is a liar.
Snapshot of the World
This week I also went to a really cool photo exhibit, called WorldPress Photo. It featured a display of prize winning photos taken by worldwide photojournalists, highlighting major events from the last year or so. While the images and stories were incredible, the overall tone was quite sad—but I guess that’s how the real world is, you know? It’s not all rainbow-filled snapchat filters and wine Wednesdays.
That being said, I think it’s so important to pay attention to everything happening in the world around you, and I continually find it eye-opening to learn about the harsh realities people face everyday. It really is this endless list that puts things into real perspective on the days I spend half an hour trying to brainstorm an instagram caption. It is one of the reasons why I love the field of political risk and international relations, because the only real way to start making changes is to educate yourself and think about the small steps you can take to try to make the world a better place.
If I could end up in a career encouraging foreign directed investment in developing economies in South America or around the globe, I’d be very content.
Another remarkable experience happened for me this past week when I finally returned to one of my favorite little bookstores in Madrid called Desperate Literature. It’s a tiny place with a huge collection of great authors and even some first editions costing more than 3000 euros. Walking around I noticed a book with a familiar title standing out on the shelf, Los Detectives Salvajes, which I recognized as The Wild Detectives, the name of my favorite bookstore and bar in Dallas. It was named after this very book and founded by two Spaniards who moved to the states.
Of course, me being me and looking for meaning in everything, I bought it and am challenging myself to read it as my first book entirely in Spanish.
I also picked up a poetry book by Singer-songwriter and Poet, Leonard Cohen. I now have bought four books in Spain, and I know my collection will continue to grow. Basically I can’t leave Spain, because I already have started building a bookshelf.
Now for the trip you’ve been waiting for…
Forewarning- My mind likes to jump around a lot, and I don’t want to bore you all with a play by play of every single thing we did each day. Instead I will highlight some of the special, funny, and impressionable moments.
First Class- Getting that Bread
Due to Z and I’s killer ability to procrastinate, we ended up having to book first class train tickets to Cordoba. This led to us getting a full lunch, complete with lots of bread and cake.
Air B N Bamboozled-
We ended up booking two Air BNBs this trip due to once again our ability to procrastinate and run out of hostel options. sigh—will we ever learn? Probably not.
Our first Air BNB was so nice. The aesthetics were on point, and we even jokingly toasted to the beginning of our weekend with the free muffins and water in our room. The hosts were a cute Spanish couple that said ‘Hola Guapa’ (Hi Beautiful) each morning like little makeshift parents.
The Second Air BNB was equally surprising but in a different way.
We arrived to meet our host, and upon entering our room in Sevilla, my eyes instantly widened.
After the host left for the living room, Z turned to me and goes…yeah I probably should’ve mentioned the murals. Of course we ended up having a photo shoot with our new friends, and made a pact to really stop procrastinating when planning future travel arrangements.
Other highlights of the trip include:
Being Underprepared for the cold (Literally I have ZERO faith in the weather app). You think I would have learned after the hail-pocalypse I experienced in Amsterdam in Spring 2017. This led to some intense teeth chattering, but at least it kind of sorta mimicked the rhythm of the flamenco clapping?
Having the same uber driver two times in one day. He picked us up from the train station and dropped us off at home after one too many glasses of vino Tinto. Francisco Javier, if you’re reading this, thank you for loving us at our best and worst. He’s at the top of my list currently for the most dependable men.
Drinking peach juice out of wine glasses on a terrace like the classy broad I am. Pinkies out always.
Finding a hidden gem of a restaurant only to be taken to the top floor to the uber expensive part of the establishment. I opened the menu, laughed to Z and politely tried to explain that, ‘we didn’t understand the original question’ when they asked us about seating. We headed back down a spiral staircase to the casual dining section in slight shame—only to drown said shame in a pile of tapas and more Vino Tinto.
ALSO—At least at this restaurant, removing the shrimp waste (the tiny black strip down their backs) before frying them is not a thing. I had to explain this to Z who as a science major schooled me in the fact that shrimp waste is literally just ocean plants, and ‘what did I think shrimp could possibly eat?’ Still not sure how I feel about shrimp waste tbh.
Ordering sausage and eggs at a breakfast spot recommended by a culture trip article, only to be served actual hot dog links instead of sausage. Only slightly gagging as I type this. I mean this is Spain…the country lives off of pork and they gave us Oscar Meyer along side scrambled eggs. Can’t say I will eat a hot dog before 11 am ever again.
Spotting ‘Sensual Pleasure' tea on the shelf at the same bakery and feeling utterly confused and curious.
Eating way too many chocolate croissants. I may hate flaky people, but theres something reliable and consistent about flaky pastries.
Visiting the Mezquita in Cordoba and reigniting my inner art history fan girl. I found this carving of a musician playing a wind instrument juxtaposed next to a Bose speaker and couldn’t help but marvel in the irony. The little carving had no idea what was to come down the road.
Mattress Surfing through the streets of Sevilla. (see picture below)
My face serum accidentally bleaching the pillow case at the second Air BNB. I’m a monster…sorry Joaquin. You’re a gem.
Visiting the very beautiful, tile-filled Plaza de España in Sevilla, and managing to not get run over by the numerous horse carriages or step in their waste.
Realizing that although beautiful, horses and said waste smell really bad !
Sending video recordings of me embracing American stereotypes to all of Z’s university friends from Holland. How does one say cents in Euros? Euro Cents? Cent Euros?
Accidentally walking into a mob of people awaiting a parade on our way to dinner—except we had no idea what the mob was for. It felt like Black Friday shopping without the reward of a cheap flat screen.
Eating a grilled piece of lettuce with a steak knife. I learned either I am very weak or I have underestimated the strength of modern lettuce. GMOs maybe?
Being offered complementary sherry in test tubes.
Surviving a five hour blah blah car ride back to Madrid. Blah Blah car is essentially a carpooling app, like uber but for long distances. Although Z has assured me of her self defense skills from Kickboxing classes, we thankfully did not need them. Benito was a lovely driver, and even offered us some of his Tex-Mex flavored Doritos.
Southern hospitality is a thing in Spain too guys.
Related note, Harley Davidson restaurants exist in Spain and are quite the popular joint. Not the nicest restrooms however.
Arriving back in Madrid, and finally attaining the comfortable quaint feeling of being home. I’ve moved around a lot in life, and I have always had this restless energy—never quite feeling truly rooted. I will say Madrid is a place where I’ve just always felt at home. No matter where I stray or for how long, I always end up back here.