Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bailar! Bailar!

I have learned so much from my time here in Spain.  One of those things is learning to leave my comfort zone.  Anyone who knows me knows one important factor about me, I absolutely can't dance.  I am the awkward girl in the corner that just bobs her head and hopes that nobody notices.  I love going to dances and formals though, just not the whole dancing myself part.  This is one thing that is SLOWLY changing here in Spain.

This is largely in part due to my friends, especially a few of the students from Brazil that I am friends with.  They are constantly telling me  "ahora aprender" or learn now!  One night at the bars my roommate, who is also from Brazil, was trying to get me to "dance like girls from Brazil" and to "move my hips like this!"  Well.......ummmm.  Doesn't work like that for Desirae.  Nonetheless, they kept persisting and kept attempting to teach me.  I tried.  Let's just say there's plenty of room for improvement.  My friend, Travis, bluntly told me that it was obvious to everyone that I can't dance that night at the bar. 

I can handle line dances and the good ole' pretzel (swing dancing), but the dancing here in Spain is much different.  The dancing here is not like dancing in Nebraska, to say the least.  It's kind've more like salsa dancing.  I guess it could be described as more "sensual".

But again, anyone who knows me knows that that is not me at all!  But this is one of the many reasons that I came to Spain.  I wanted to leave my comfort zone and try new things.  I wanted experiences and adventure.  I am learning so much and doing so many things here that I would normally not do, especially back home in Nebraska!  And dancing is just one of them.  Just wait,  when it's time for me to leave in July I'll be the best dancer ever :)

 My friends Lina (Lithuania), Carly (New Orleans), and I ready for a night at the discoteca, Morengo.
Some of my friends and I at the popular shots bar, Chupiteria.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Four leaf clovers, Guiness pints, and the Atlantic!

Hey all!  Ok, so my promise was not really that good.  I've just realized that in the past 3 months I have really slacked on this blog.  I am really going to try updating more often.  I also realized that in 3 months I have only journaled twice.  Ooops.  I really need to get my act together with these two things! 

The newest adventure in my life was my trip to Ireland!  I left Wednesday March 16th and returned home on Monday March 21st.  Words cannot even describe how much I loved Ireland.  I was just overwhelmed with how beautiful the country is, how sincere the people are, and how amazing the food and beverages were!  Not to mention, how CRAZY the St. Patrick's festival was!  And most importantly, they had DR. PEPPER. I was saved.

Wednesday night we arrived in Dublin and after over 12 hours of traveling, we decided to take it easy and just go to a pub and have a quick dinner and something to drink.  I had my first pint of Guiness here!  (Dublin is famous for the Guiness brewery).  Not my favorite, but it was a must do on the list.

Thursday we woke up extremely early to watch the parade.  It was insane!  It was completely packed.  Kids sat on lightpoles and the tops of trees!  People were on the roofs of buildings, on tops of telephone booths, and peering out windows.  The parade itself was a lot of fun.  I would describe it more as a parade of street performers and actors rather than floats like we're used to in America.  After that we ventured to the carnival where we rode a few rides.  Then, we walked along the river all the way to the port where there was a huge ferris wheel.  When we got close, we realized it wasn't really a ferris wheel.  It was the eye of Dublin, where after paying a fee you rode for 15 minutes and it was like a tour of Dublin from the sky!  It was sooooo neat.  Unfortunately, it was dark so it was difficult to see everything the commentator was talking about.  Nonetheless, it was beautiful all lit up at night!  After our hike to the eye, we went back for dinner in a pub and then went to another pub to celebrate St. Patty's.  I will never ever EVER be able to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the United States without thinking about that day.

The next day we toured the Guiness brewery and went on a pub crawl.  The Guiness brewery was so cool.  I learned quite a bit about the process of brewing beer, along with the history of Guiness.  I even learned that the Guiness Book of World Records was created by the founder of Guiness.  Apparantly, he was in a pub where a dispute about the fastest bird in the world inspired him to create a book of facts to help bartenders with simillar discussions.  Crazy, huh?  The pub crawl was a lot of fun as well.  Our tour guide took us away from the touristy spots and to the pubs where all the locals go.  It was so laid-back, and there was live music at each pub we went to!

The next day I left Dublin and went to Galway, where one of my professors from my home university is on sabbatical for a year.  Three other girls from my home university are spending their spring break visiting her as well.  It was amazing to see friends from back home!  Galway was extraordinarily gorgeous.  I even got to see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time! (Only had to go to Ireland to do it haha.)  We walked around Galway all day and ate in local pubs.  I absolutely loved Galway, but loved seeing my friends even more.  It was hard to say goodbye, but I was anxious to return home to Spain, too.

Ireland was my first taste of traveling outside of Spain.  And I was instantly hooked.  I am just yearing to go to another country and experience another culture!  The next on the list is London, Rome, Florence, and Venice for spring break in about a month.  But before then I am traveling to Sevilla and Barcelona in the next couple of weeks. CAN'T WAIT!

 Katelyn and I with our first pints of Guiness in Ireland.

 Katelyn, Kirsten, and I waiting for the parade to start on St. Patrick's Day.

 One of the children on a light pole for a better view :)

 Dublin at night!

 Laurel, Heidi, Mishayla (friends from back home!) and I along the bay in Galway, Ireland.

 Me in front of the cathedral in Galway.

 Mishayla, Heidi, Rachel, Laurel, and me proudly representing Nebraska Wesleyan University in Galway.

One of the streets in Galway with pubs and stores.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Well now that it's officially been two weeks since my Madrid trip, I suppose I should finally get around to updating you all on the trip.  Sorry I've been so lazy with this, but I promise to get better at updates!
On February 17-20, 6 friends and I endured the 5 hour bus ride to Madrid for what we hoped was the Carnaval celebration.  Wrong.  Apparantly Carnaval is this weekend (March 4-6).  A bunch of websites and my current 2011 Spain travel book all said it was that weekend, but apparently they were wrong.  I should have known, because Carnaval is basically the Spanish version of Mardi Gras, which occurs right before Ash Wednesday.  Even though we were upset with the mix up, I am taking it as a blessing in disguise because I never would have done or seen any of the things that we did instead.

Thursday February 17:  Arrive in Madrid!  We had our first metro experience and then had to settle a hostel mix up.  The hostel we booked online was not the same hostel in Madrid.  The website's address and phone numbers did not match.  It was a mess at the time, but we found a decent hostel right down the block less than 2 doors away that had accommodations for all of us.  After settling in, we decided to venture out and eat dinner.  After a lot of disagreement and discusison, Burger King was the winner.  (Don't judge.)  After dinner, we at churros con chocolate, which is very famous in Spain.  We actually had churros from the most famous churro diner in Madrid.  They were good, but nothing to write home about in my opinion.  We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around in the Plaza Mayor and Plaza del Sol.  In the evening Carly (my friend from New Orleans) and I went to a bar and met a guy who actually was born in Peru, grew up in London, and now teaches English in China.  His family lives in Spain now, and he was making his way back to China.  It was a great evening, and he was absolutely fascinating to talk to!  We also met up with two guys from California, and one was even born in Nebraska! Needless to say, first night was a success!

Friday February 18:  Carly and I spent most of the day trying to track down Real Madrid futbol tickets.  It's been a dream of Carly's to see Real Madrid (2010 World Cup Champs) play live.  When we got the tickets, I thought Carly was going to pass out due to excitement.  We also visited the Palace, which was amazing!  So much detail went into every room that we saw.  The tour only allowed us to see about 20 rooms, but there are over 1,000 in the palace!  It was just incredible how much gold detail and artwork went into the rooms.  That night we ventured to a bar called Nebraska!  I told the waiter I was from Nebraska in the United States and he brought us free tappas (appetizers) with our wine!  We also went to an Irish Pub later with our friend from Austria, Alex whom Carly and I had met earlier in the day.  It was a lot of fun, and I think the bartender got a kick out of us.

Saturday February 19:  The morning was spent exploring the museum, Reina Sofia.  It was an art museum with a lot of Picasso's work as well as a few Salvador Dali's artwork.  The modern art was very interesting, and I really enjoyed seeing the Guernica in person.  The Guernica is a Picasso a very famous Picasso painting about Spain during WWII.  That night was the Real Madrid game.  I did not know what to expect, but I had soooooo much fun!  Grown men jumped up and hugged and sang when they scored, and the atmosphere was just great.  After the game, we randomly came upon where the players drive out to go home.  Fans lined the streets.  We decided to stay and take picures.  I was not prepared for what happened.  The players (in their matching new sports cars) would stop at the stop light and fans would flock the cars just to touch it and take pictures.  Girls seriously were crying, and little kids chased after the cars.  There was police and media and just chaos.  The futbol players here are treated like absolute Gods.  I have never seen anything like it before.  I was just amused by the entire thing. 

Sunday February 20:  2 other girls and I went to the open air market, but were only there for about a half hour before we were called back to the hostel.  Carly had gotten extremely sick and needed to go home as soon as possible.  We packed up our things and headed to the bus station.  Unfortunately, there was no way for us to change our tickets, so we waited in the bus station for four hours.  Not the most fun time of my life, but it was good to just sit down.  The weekend was just constant on the go and never really any down time.  I was very stupid and took only one pair of shoes; my flats nonetheless.  Lets just say they didn't survive the trip. 

Well I know this was a book, but my first official long stay trip was a complete success and jam-packed!  I know there was disappointment that we weren't there for Carnaval; however, we would have never gotten to go to the palace or the museum or the game if it had been.  We also got to sightsee a lot more than we would have.  I guess everything really does happen for a reason!  I think the entire group could agree, our Madrid trip was amazing, even if it did end with every single one of us getting the flu! :)

                                               Carly and I indulging in churros con chocolate.

                                                       The palace.  Wouldn't mind living here.

                                                             The Real Madrid Game!

                                             The group (minus Carly) in the Plaza de Mayor

                                                The only non-survivors of the weekend.