Thursday, 28 June 2012

Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain (20/06/12-27/06/12)

Hi there!
So I'm back from Spain and here's a day by day summary of what I did:
(I also made a lot of video's and so I'll spend the rest of this week making a collective video.)

Day 1: Wednesday 20th June, 2012
 It takes approximately 2 hours to get from London-Luton to Madrid-Barajas Airport. (The flights cost me around £80, as I booked just after Christmas).
First of all, at Luton Airport, during the security checks me sun cream got tested for something, maybe drugs? bombs? I don't really know what one can hide in sun cream, but it only took a minute, so wasn't an issue for me.
The Easy Jet flight was pretty crammed and I ended up sitting in the middle seat between a young (but older than me) Spanish man who lost his headphones at the beginning (he later found them between the plane and the seat, under the window) and an older British gentlemen who helped me put my suitcase in the overhead lockers. When looking out of the window, over Spain, I realised that unlike England (where everything is in a shade of green) Spain is in shades of yellow.

I was looking forward to several things from this trip:
- I hadn't seen Noemi in 9 months
- When learning about Spanish culture at GCSE, it had intrigued me
- Spanish clubs don't shut until 6am which is a big contrast to 3am in England
- When in Chester (looking at Universities), I had eaten Tapas and much enjoyed them (particularly good if you're picky and/or sharing with someone more adventurous and/or in a diverse, large group)

Noemi and her father met me at the airport, we got into a sweltering hot car (even for just a tube top and chinos) and drove for about 15 minutes to the sub-city Alcobendas - where Noemi lives. Once at the flat, third floor - no lift, I had a desperately needed cold glass of water and experiences some Spanish 'Big Bang Theory'. Noemi's mother, Yoli, brought us some Lemon Ice - apparently this is very Spanish - its basically lemon flavoured ice that you drink as it melts; very refreshing.

By this point, Noemi's friends (2 of which I had already met in the same place I'd met Noemi) came and we drove to a local 'Leisure Park' - a big building with no shops, but tonnes of restaurants and activities such as bowling. We had nacho style crisps and ice cold mixed drinks. The restaurants in Spain all spray water at you every so often, very strange concept for foreigners, but basically, the water evaporates and showers you in a little water-dust that cools you instantly - brilliant invention in my opinion! Helps to keep you cool while eat. To get back, we walked through a beautiful park with lots of tree's but little grass (more sand).

In Spain, one eats lunch at around 2pm and dinner around 10pm (Dad, you'd hate it :P). Dinner that night consisted of goats and sheep cheese, Spanish ham (way thinner than British), French-stick style bread, Olives, Gherkins and pickles mini onions. For me, this is one of my favourite style meals, there were also little bread sticks, tomato paste-stuff and Olive Oil. We had watermelon and melon for dessert, which was really juicy.

Day 2: Thursday 21st June, 2012
I woke up at 11.30am, had chocolate cereal and then had a much needed shower. (The nights are warmer than most British summer days). After some Spanish television, we went to pick up Noemi's sister, Aitana, from school for 1.30pm. She came around 10 minutes late, Noemi said this was normal, Aitana is always the last. All the little school girls had mini suitcases on wheels instead of bags, this is probably much better for the back then a rucksack or handbag, something England should think into.

As it gets too hot to do much around 3pm, after lunch (chips and a beef mix with pea's and carrots) most people have a nap, Siesta, so we watched My Best Friends Wedding before heading to the mall for 5.30pm. Another strange concept for me, the shops everywhere don't close until around 9pm and so you could shop from 9am to 9pm! Though no one has the energy for that.

Aitana enjoyed teaching me Spanish, and asking lots of simple English questions but not understanding the answers. She taught me:
Good Night = Buenas noches

Sister = Hermana
Medal = Medalla
Bread = Pan
You're welcome = Denada
Bin = Papelera
Thank you = Gracias
Tree = Arbol
And my personal favourite
You are crazy = Tu estas loca/loco

Day 3: Friday 22nd June, 2012
We got the train to Madrid and walked around the city until we went to a massive park to eat lunch (pre-made picnic). After lunch, we walked around the park for several hours and then went to a massive man-made lagoon inside the park and hired a row boat for 4.95 euros. It was a lot of fun, but Noemi steered us into a small waterfall by accident so we got quiet wet.

Killer fish in the Lagoon
After the boat ride, we had a nap in the shade and then met up with some of Noemi's friends. Alberto, Adrian and Maria came to join us and we walked around the park again, this time a different route.

Later, we walked into the center of Madrid and got Tapas! We had homemade meat balls (my request), Spanish Omlette, roast potatoes in spicy sauce and these croquettes with ham and cheese inside. I thought it tasted AMAZING especially the roast potatoes and surprisingly the omlette. The others however thought it wasn't great but only reasonably tasty, saying they had had better (we did eat at the cheapest Tapas place we could find).
Art Museum

Day 4: Saturday 23rd June, 2012
I got up at 9.20am, the earliest I had gotten up so far on this trip, and we went out to the local town by 10am. We had breakfast in a little Cafe with Noemi's mother, Yoli, and step-father, Santi. Breakfast was made up of two different fried pastries. They are called churros and porras and are very Spanish but I think I'd rather stick with a typical English Fry-up.

Churros and Porras
After breakfast, we went home and got changed into our bikini's but before going swimming, we had lunch at the Sports Center with about 30 other Spanish people. Aitana had had Basketball practice and apparently every two or so months they all get together (the team, the coaches and the parents) and have lunch together.  Spanish people, for lunch, typically eat 1 dish, then another then dessert. I had Noodle-Style-Paella (can't remember the name) then something like a Snitzel (German) that was a bit grey (so I was really hoping the whole time that it wasn't chicken) with chips. For desert we had banana ice cream. It had a yellow jelly layer that you could peel down like a banana revealing a vanilla ice cream center - very cool, but not that tasty.

At 4pm (ish) we finally got to the pool side. I tanned myself for about 20 minutes before getting bored and jumping in the pool. When we got back, I really wanted a nap as we were going out that night but Spain were playing in the football match that night and from the reaction of the first goal (Noemi's parents screaming, clapping from out of the window, a cannon shot from somewhere in town and Aitana blowing hte vuvuzela)  I realised this wasn't going to happen. Instead I had a shower and slowly got ready (amazingly this actually woke me up).

At 11pm we walked to a big field where there was a stage and a bonfire and at about 12.30pm there were fireworks too. We then walked to a corner shop style store and bought the cheap version of fanta, some red wine and this juice which is a mix between Multi-vitamin Juice and Milk (it tastes sooooooo good). We also bought tall hard plastic cups and some ice (so so much more classy than a typical teenage night out in England).

Due to this night, I now have two new favourite alcoholic drinks:
Fanta with vodka and red wine with Muti-vitamin juice and milk (try it before you diss it)

 At about 3am and after 2 policemen came to ask us politely to move (apparently the Neighbors didn't want us 5 girls sitting on their park bench) we went to the 'disco'. First we went to one place as it was free entry with a free shot (a grey-ish blue drink that tasted like licorice) but after dancing to a few songs we realised the crowd were all significantly older than us so we moved on.

The next place, we stayed there until 6 am in the morning before leaving (Crazy compared to the typical 3am finish in England). I have no idea how I got the energy to dance for that long after swimming earlier that day but somehow I managed. I only knew about 3 of the songs that played that night, the rest were all Spanish and my feet swelled twice their normal size but I had a good night. :)

Day 5: Sunday 24th June, 2012
I slept from 6am till 1pm and then got ready to have lunch with the whole family - it was Noemi's grandfather's birthday. It took us about 20 minutes to walk to the restaurant, which in the heat, can seem like a decade. I think, that the meal I had that day, is the biggest I have ever had.  Here are pictures of what we had:

Starter to share 1: chips, bacon and egg
Starter to share 2: fish in batter prepared in vanilla with lemon
Starter to share 3: fish and lettuce
Main individual meal 1: pasta with a tomato and meat sauce

Main individual meal 2: chips with two tender beef balls in gravy
Desert choice: ice cream, cake or fruit
Noemi's grandparents were very sweet and nice, both petite. After lunch we walked back a shorter way and Noemi fell asleep on the sofa while I watched some Spanish TV.

Day 6: Monday 25th June, 2012
I slept until 12noon and then went with Noemi to pick up Aitana from school at 13.30. We had lunch (rice with tomato sauce) and then went swimming. Yet again I got bored of sunbathing and so still have no tan lines - oh well its only June! I spent a lot more time in the pool this time around as we had a ball so it was more fun.
Noemi and myself at the pool

We had ham pizza for dinner (the first time when eating here in Spain that I thought, the 'English version' is better) with various other left overs. At one point in the evening, I lay on Noemi's bed as she read and thought about how I would answer a particular Geography question when suddenly I realised - wait a moment - I've already done the exam! And hopefully I will never have to do it again. It was one of the best feelings ever, to know that you have finished everything you need to have done. After my epiphany we played scrabble until 1am in the morning and then went to sleep.

Day 7: Tuesday 26th June, 2012
I got up at 11.30am and we met Yoli in town where she bought herself a new bikini and myself a fan and Spanish mug. After that, we got drinks at a bar and got a plate of free Squid rings and Octopus tentacles (something I had never tried before). I didn't like the Squid but the Octopus was okay. 

We went to pick up Aitana from school and then went to Madrid, stopping off for a McDonalds lunch (they have quiet a different menu in Spain). We then walked around Madrid seeing many famous places including an Egyptian Temple. (more on this in the upcoming video)

Later, we had frozen yogurt with fruit and cereal. When we got home, my letter that I wrote to Noemi before my exams finally arrived. I packed that night, and decided to dress for Spain but change at the airport by adding tights and a jacket to my outfit as England was likely to be too cold for my Spanish attire.

That night we played a game where you roll a dice, which tells you a letter, and then you must answer several questions with words beginning with that letter, for example, 'things you find at the beach' or 'cold stuff'.

Day 8: Wednesday 27th June, 2012
I woke up naturally at 8am as I hadn't slept very deeply, perhaps knowing that I needed to get up early. At 9am we went to Yoli's work place (the Sports Center) and Noemi enrolled herself onto her second year at University.

Around 10.30am we walked to the shopping center and I bought a pair of lace shorts, a blue top and 2 necklaces, which left me with 12 euros. After shopping, we went back home via the bus and ate pasta with tomato sauce.

Noemi's father picked us up and drove us to the airport. I said goodbye to the two of them and then went through the airport departure security checks. Just like in Ireland, the magazines were ridiculously expensive, 7 euros for InStyle?! But I had 3 hours to kill and then a 2 hour flight with no book so I bought it anyway.

My hand-luggage only suitcase was taken to put into the holdall as there wasn't enough space on the EasyJet plane and I sat next to a Spanish mother who reminded me a lot of my German cousin, Marlene. As she was travelling with her 2 children, she was going to order a large amount of food from the attendants, but she couldn't speak a word of English. So, using my very minimal Spanish, some pointing and some pictures to managed to organise what she was going to order so that I could order for her. In return she kept insisting that she pay for my own food, so eventually I accepted, but refused her persistent encouragement to order more. Overall the flight took 1 hour and 50 minutes and was quiet funny and entertaining as far as flights go.


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