Sevilla metro stop in Madrid
Thought I’d throw up a quick note and picture for my readers who know me from my Strath Haven days, and who will undoubtedly also recognize my special guest above, none other than the phenomenal Caroline Malamut.
This past weekend, Caroline visited Sevilla with her friend, Erin, who I had never met but found to be quite encantadora. I went to pick them up at the airport on Friday night and Caroline and I ran barreling into a hug, all but screaming our heads off. It was so wonderful seeing Caroline, because I haven’t seen anyone I know from home other than my mom, for five months. It was very surreal to be sitting in a restaurant in Sevilla eating tapas and talking about Strath Haven and our friends from home and the water treatment plant. (Yes, mom, even Caroline and I talk about that jodido thing.) If anything, I’m amazed that Erin managed to listen to us for two days without going crazy.
More to the point…Caroline and Erin only had the weekend for their trip, a side excursion from their study abroad in London. So they were in Sevilla for all of 40 hours in total. They had not come with any previous plans, but were just relying on me as a guide.
I’d say I did pretty well for myself, although I will say that my experience with my dad gave me lots of valuable insights for my second experience as Guía Turística de Sevilla. After picking Caroline and Erin up at the airport, we had a traditional Spanish dinner involving Rioja (red wine), caña de lomo, manchego cheese, tortilla de patatas con salmorejo, and chicken in mustard sauce. They really liked it, which allowed me a huge sigh of relief.
Saturday turned out to be quite a marathon. We visited the Reales Alcazares (the Muslim/Christian palace and gardens), where I almost got run over by a peacock. We snacked on Cien Montaditos. We visited the Cathedral and climbed the Giralda. We looked in stores on the Calle Tetuan and Sierpes and in the Corte Ingles. We had churros and chocolate in a small bar near my house. We sat and watched the sunset by the river. We had dinner at Dos de Mayo. And then we went to a flamenco show at the Carboneria.
I spent the whole day sweating over whether they were interested in what we were doing, if they liked the food, if they were getting exhausted (because I think we walked about 6 miles that day). But they seemed to genuinely like everything and I was super happy. Not only were they enchanted by the Alcazar and the Cathedral, but they absolutely fell for the churros y chocolate and they seemed to really enjoy Dos de Mayo. To explain, Dos de Mayo is a restaurant near my house which is exquisite, and as such is almost always packed with people. Despite the constant overcrowding, the staff is super professional and efficient, and eating there really is an experience. We got there right when they were opening and there were already several groups waiting outside. As Erin observed, “You know it’s good when there are little old Spanish ladies banging on the door.” I felt proud to be able to bring them to a very good place that was definitely off the beaten path of most tourists, and was happy that they really enjoyed everything we had there (espinacas con garbanzo, pan con pata negro y salmorejo, croquetas de bacalao, solomillo a la mostaza). In fact, that night, Erin retracted something she had said to me the previous night about not eating pork. Apparently, she just hadn’t ever had pork she liked before, but then she had Spanish pork. I answed, “Si, los españoles comen muy bien.” The whole day left me echo polvo as they say here, but it was one of the best days I’ve had in Sevilla.
Sunday we only had a bit of time before they had to get on the airport bus (and we were still exhausted from Saturday), but we popped over to the Plaza de España and marvelled over it, as well as the Parque Maria Luisa and the Spanish ducks. Then we sat down for some more churros across the street from the University (and these were the best churros I’ve ever had — so the fact that they’re across the street from the University means I will aprovechar). Caroline and Erin were thanking me profusely for my tour guiding when Erin told me that, in reality, she wouldn’t have put Spain on her travel list (and if she had it would have been Barcelona — which is only kinda Spain) and that she probably wouldn’t have been in Sevilla if Caroline hadn’t wanted to visit me. But, she said, she had been pleasantly surprised by her visit — it seemed that the maravilla that is Sevilla really did enchant her, and Caroline as well. And that made me happier than any mountain of churros, or the really good salmorejo bread from Dos de Mayo, ever could.
So, all in all, the Sevilla in 40 hours tour was a success. Now I just need to find some more eager visitors, with lots of stamina and some cash to spare…
There is a line from Grey’s Anatomy that’s been in my mind a lot lately, as I’ve been running around a bit like a mad woman:
Time takes pleasure in kicking our asses.
As of Thursday, my first semester in Sevilla is over. Although I did no traveling in the last month and a half, the time has still flown. I’m struggling to pin down exactly what I did with all that time. It was a mix of things: enjoying Sevilla, working on school, and all the other odds and ends of life. The last two weeks or so has been crammed full of schoolwork, but now I’m done with finals (except for one in January) I’m busy getting ready for my winter break traveling. Mom is flying across the pond on Monday and we’ll be doing Dublin and Sligo for a week and then London for a week. I am ridiculously excited, since seeing both of these places is a dream come true, especially since England is so tied to Christmas in my mind.
So while the end of the week just meant no more finals-induced insomnia for me, it meant the end of the Sevilla experience for almost all of the Americans here with me. While seeing everyone going home from Christmas, and reading about everyone’s plans on Facebook has made me rather homesick, seeing everyone going has also once again reafirmed my decision to stay here for the whole year. Yes, Spain can be challenging, and yes, there are some things that I truly miss about home. But I am very happy to have another few months for travel, for meeting people and experiencing things in Spain, and to spend with my wonderful senora, Loli. Saying goodbye to the fall group hasn’t been terribly hard — I found most of the people on my program from NU to be as impossible to connect with as the people I’ve met at NU in the last two years. I did make two wonderful friends in my classes, Brianda and Anthony, who unfortunately I may not see again since they live and go to school in California and Washington.
The hardest part of this semester ending has definitely been saying goodbye to Suz. I don’t think Danielle had any idea of how close we would end up being when she said we would get along. Three weeks into the program, one of our professors said she thought we had known each other for years, and we’ve only bonded further since that. In all honesty, I don’t know how I would have survived this first semester without her. Having someone around who understands my lifestyle, who understands what my fandoms do for me and who understands all my nerdy freak outs made such a difference to me. Sure we may have our differences (and we had about 578 “we can’t be friends anymore” joking moments), but she has been a wonderful friend and travel companion and my life is going to be quite empty without her. She’s also just a truly amazing person, and I’m extremely thankful to have met her. Luckily, there shall be much fun in our future, when we are reunited for senior year at NU. (A senior year that I’m looking forward to a lot more after spending time with Suz and her boyfriend.)
Despite the absence of Suz, I am quite happy in Sevilla and I’m looking forward to the next few months. One of the things that makes me happy is just how settled I feel here. I truly feel very at home, and I’m now starting to worry about how it will feel to back to the US. I finally got my residency card the other day (which was a big victory after a bureaucratic nightmare), so now when I’m asked for an ID, I can pull out the same card that any other Spaniard has. I have a bus card and use the buses regularly (they’re very nice). I can converse with taxi drivers (this was a big problem at first). Generally speaking, I’ve learned the ropes of living in Sevilla for the most part, and I’m very proud of that. I go to class, I have an internship of sorts, I live a pretty normal life and it’s pretty wonderful.
I am feeling quite bad about neglecting this blog for the last month or so. Almost every day I think of something I would like to write about, but when I’m actually around my computer, I don’t have the time or inspiration to make it happen. I meant to write about my classes, because they’ve all been interesting experiences, but now I couldn’t possibly do them any justice. Perhaps next semester. I am very conscious of the fact that there has been a lot of not-Sevilla on my Sevilla blog, so I’m hoping next semester to get out more entries about Sevilla. Still, there will always been 10,000 things to say about Sevilla for every one thing that goes on the blog, so if you want to hear about it, hit me up on Skype/Facebook/email, or when I get home.
In looking forward to the next semester, my main hopes are to do several other trips around Europe and Spain, to continue to explore and enjoy Sevilla, and to meet some more Spaniards. I’m sure my plate will be plenty full, as I also have some pesky things for senior year and the summer to worry about. But hopefully I’ll be on here every once and a while to tell you about it.
In between my packing, I’m going to try to post some pictures on here of odds and ends, just to liven things up a bit.