The last couple weeks I have been trying to put my life together. You know, that post-grad, “holy shit I have graduated and am moving from the comfort of going to school to actually having to figure out how all those years of learnings apply to some sort of job/career out there in the universe” feeling. Virtual high fives to all those who have figured it out right away. I have no idea how some of my classmates are all calm and collective about what they are doing. But hey, you did it. Props to you. You made that leap out of the plane and are free falling into real life. Thrilling.
But, hell I am petrified. After the past two years living in Spain, I have no clue on how to function properly back here in the U.S. of A, let alone as a full blown adult working full time and paying off those so-painful-I-cringe student loans. Can you cue “blah” mode? I’m pretty sure this is what they call reverse culture shock (or I am sure hoping thats what it is). I think I am going to rename it, “I just wanna go back” shock. To be honest, I am at a loss on how to “cure” this. All I know is that it really gives you an insecure feeling that makes you want to instantly run back to the good ol’ life. No wonder so many HR departments are now developing programs that help reintegrate their employees back into their own culture after spending an extended period of time abroad.
I am writing this as a way to get these emotions off my chest and to let others know that this disruptive transition does happen to more people than you think. Now is the time to take the next chapter in stride; wherever that may lead. Congratulations graduates! Time to put together all those developed skills and experiences you can call pieces of the puzzle in your life. Good luck.
Suckling pig, known as cochinillo, is a traditional Spanish dish that is robust with simplistic flavors. This is not a typical everyday meal. I was lucky enough to enjoy this delicious delacacy in the company of my friend SK, who was able to capture the moment and snap all these great shots of our dishes. (You can read her blog about her visit in Spain and other interesting posts at viva la sk.) Many cultures prepare similar dishes that incorporate spicy herbs and fruits; however, at Jose Maria, a traditional Segovian restaurant, they follow a recipe that uses basic ingredients such as water and salt. This simple recipe makes the sourcing of their primary resources, in this case the piglet, very important. They use the highest quality meat from local farmers in order to extrapolate the best flavors possible. Whatever their methods may be, I have to say, this meal was incredible. I almost had to take my belt off at the table in order to eat a bit more. The complimentary pacharán digestif was the perfect way to ease the stomach and top off the meal. If you are ever visiting Madrid and would like to take a day trip out to Segovia, I would highly recommend this restaurant. Just make sure you make a reservation ahead of time. You won’t be disappointed.
As an end the year, celebratory event my entire class attended a capea. For those of you who don’t know what capea is (I certainly did not when I first heard of it), capea is a party at a farm where you get to play with a couple baby bulls. Of course you also have a DJ, open bar, dancing, hookah and food. So there is plenty to do during the 8 hours of partying. For those of you who think “oh know baby bulls!?!?!” no worries…there was no harm done to the bulls. If anything it was the bull that did harm to the students. There were lots of bruises, a bit of blood, one bumped head and a broken wrist. However, I couldn’t of asked for a better way to finish off my university career here in Spain with such a typical Spanish event (lets be real, this type of party would scream lawsuit in the states).
It’s no hidden secret that Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in all of Europe as you can see here. One of my favorite places to go on a beautiful sunny day is Parc Güell in the Gràcia district. It is a gorgeous spot to bring a picnic lunch from Mercat de la Boqueria and enjoy the 360º views of the entire city. There are usually musicians playing some sort of instrument as you stroll from one end of the park to the other. The architecture designed by Antoni Gaudi is spectacular, well spectacular doesn’t even correctly describe or justify his work. The colors, lack of lines, and mosaic qualities are ones that will create many, many photographic opportunities. Wander around a bit and pay attention to detail in each aspect of the park. It’s a marvelous design bringing tranquility and peace, even with all the people visiting each day.
A little disclaimer about this post: this topic is controversial and may make some people uncomfortable or upset. Take it for what it is. I am not saying I agree with the concept of bull fighting but it is a part of traveling and discovering cultural traditions, whether you agree with them or not.
Each country is usually associated with a particular symbol representative of the culture or lifestyle. France is commonly associated with the Eiffel Tower, Italy with gondolas, Germany with Oktoberfest, and Spain with bull fighting. This past weekend I attended a bull fight at the Plaza de Toros in Madrid. Yes, this is a controversial event both worldwide and within Spain. The arguments between it being a cultural tradition or animal cruelty can go on for hours. It is not uncommon to see protests right outside the plaza. Nevertheless, the plaza is usually close to full capacity and the prestige associated with the “art” of bullfighting is still celebrated by many Spaniards and visitors alike. I kept these photos as PG as possible due to the sensitiveness of this “tradition”. I apologize if these photos or topic offends anyone, but it is an event that still goes on commonly today. I see it as part of a traveling experience. Feel free to comment as you would like.
Filed under Events, Spain
Gardens are sanity providers for city dwellers. If I have said it once (like here and here), I will say it again. They give you a small break from the concrete worlds we have created (not that this is a bad thing). I am convinced city planners put these gardens evenly placed throughout to add some tranquility and a bit of connection with what should be our natural surroundings. I have been to many of Madrid’s parks and gardens for this reason. Here is a small preview of the botanical gardens located right next the the Prado Museum. If you are visiting for an extended period of time, stop by. Students get discounts too!
How many times have you gone to a bar and ordered traditional large brand names? Heinekin. Budweiser. Mahou. Maybe you feel a bit adventurous and you spice it up with a bit of Dos Equis. But really, thats boring. There are thousands of beers all over the world to try. People do actually specialize in beer as a living (how cool is that). Here are some guys who created a store/bar to share this passion. La Cerveteca in Barcelona is an environment created for the beer culture. There are beers from all over the world with crazy labels, distinct names, and an even more distinct taste. After a hot day in the Spanish sun, a cool refreshing beer around a large barrel-looking tabel is a great way to take a pause in the day. If drinking out of a large goblet shaped glass doesn’t make you feel like a king/queen, I don’t know what else will.
This past holiday weekend was spent in the lovely Barcelona. A gorgeous seaside city in the autonomy of Catalunya with gorgeous architecture, a delicious array of food and flourishing art/music, it is hard not to feel enamored by the charm and uniqueness of each barrio (neighborhood). My last visit in December consisted of tourist-like events such as visiting La Sagrada Familia, wandering La Rambla, drooling over all the food in Mercat de la Boqueria, trekking up to Parque Güell, etc. If it is your first visit, I recommend doing all of this. They are all necessary sites to see. However, I have found that this second trip to Barcelona was a lot more calm and enjoyable. Skateboarding by the beach, bike riding throughout the city, and stopping in quirky bars was ideal for a relaxing vacation. Here are a couple of snap shots of this long weekend. Hopefully you get the chance to enjoy this city as much as I have.
Filed under Spain, Travel
One perk I have luckily been able to stumble upon is a bit of travel within my job at the wine company. This past week I took a trip to the Rueda wine region in Segovia, Spain (to learn more about it, click here). Fortunately there was half a day to spare after all the required meetings. The afternoon was spent exploring a bit of the winery to learn all about the different vines, soil types, processing variations, and equipment. I highly recommend taking a tour of some sort of agricultural area at some point of your life whether it be a wine region in Europe or a coffee plantation in South America. The dedication put into cultivation is extremely interesting, especially if you have never lived in a rural area before. As you can see from these photos taken on my Blackberry, there is a bit of beauty to the fields, as basic and bare as they may seem.
Mercado de San Miguel, located in the heart of Madrid, is a great place to meet up with friends and enjoy some drinks and tapas. It is a mix of locals and tourists giving it a proper Spanish feel with a welcoming vibe for visitors. Food ranges from seafood to prepared tapas to desserts. There is a little something for every palate. My all time favorite is the cheese counter where you can order a platter with an array of cheese from around the world. Add a little wine from one of the many regions of Spain and you have a great snack with a vibrant atmosphere.