Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself: My first days in Sevilla

Buenos Días! I’m writing this while sitting outside of Café de Indias, a coffee shop, on a wonderful Sunday morning (early afternoon) in Sevilla. It’s hard to write with a beautiful croissant and caramel coffee staring at me. If you haven’t already figured it out, I love it here. This is my third full day in Sevilla, and though there have been some difficult parts, it has been everything I have expected, and more.

El Parque de Buen Retiro en Madrid

So let’s start with my trip, grab a café con leche and get comfortable!

The Crystal Palace
We left for the airport around 1pm on Wednesday (American time) and after stopping at Panera (I didn’t get anything because the padres didn’t tell me not to eat lunch, and I wanted to eat on American time) and Dunkin (necessary-iced caramel with cream and sugar) we were off. The drive was pretty uneventful except for some traffic, having to stop a couple of times, and some discussions about how I had to come back and finish my degree. 

Un Jardin en el Parque
We got to JFK about 2.5 hours before my flight and checked my bag (YAYY not overweight!!). We said our goodbyes and I immediately felt an overwhelming sense of “lol what am I even doing?” Security was the same old-same old. I always pack my carry on so that I can get to everything I need to take out easily, but it still ends up being super flustering. Once I was through security I went and found dinner (#overpricedairportfood) and then got comfortable. I started reading “The Martian”, and before I knew it, it was time to board the plane. Luckily I was in group one, so I didn’t have to carry around my ridiculously heavy backpack for too long. Luckily I also got to sit in the very last seat on the plane (yayy discount tickets!), which also happened to be on the aisle (which I don’t like). We sat on the plane for a whole hour, which I barely noticed due to the fact that I couldn’t put my book down.  When we finally did take off, our ETA was only 10 minutes later than originally planned…what kind of magic is that? The Iberia website wouldn’t let me change my meal so I had a nice second dinner consisting of a slice of cheese, a roll, and an apple pastry.  If you know me at all, you know that I can’t sleep on planes. Thankfully, “The Martian” was SO GOOD that I didn’t even notice the hours flying by. And then I finished it. At that point we still had 2.5-3 hours left and I didn’t know what to do with myself. The lady next to me kept doing that thing where you’re awake and then you fall asleep and then your head falls to the side and you wake up suddenly. I had a heart attack every time, so that kept me pretty busy. I mostly just sat there and journaled until the magic 1.5 hours till landing came around and we got breakfast. I had a blueberry muffin and coffee. Very yummy.  After going through border control, taking the metro to the main terminal 4 (I landed in the satellite terminal), checking my carry-on into “left luggage”, and hopping on an express bus, I was in downtown Madrid!
Since I had a 12 hour layover, I decided to spend a couple of hours in the city. I went to El Parque de Buen Retiro and saw the crystal Palace (which unfortunately was closed). I also walked through a feria de libros-a bunch of outdoor book sellers. You’d be proud of me because I didn’t even buy any. I walked a lot, and after just two hours my feet were killing me. So after walking around the Prado, a church and 75% of the way to Puerta del Sol, it was back to the bus station for me.
I have to say, wearing boots with heels and overstuffing my backpack were probably not my best choices, but in reality I didn’t really see any other options for getting everything I needed to Spain. My wait in the airport was awful. I was tired, sore, couldn’t get on the wifi, etc. I was happy to get on my plane. I flew Iberia Express which is the new budget wing (lol puns) of Iberia. It was really nice and I think I’m going to fly with them this year when I travel. I landed and got my bags by about 11:30pm, met my host mom and roommate and I was on my way to downtown Sevilla.
Book Market in Madrid, it was a whole street long

The first night was pretty overwhelming, but I was so tired that it didn’t really faze me.  We had to get up early the next morning and I was glad to get to sleep. Friday morning I woke up, showered (but couldn’t figure out how to get hot water), and had breakfast-café, zumo de naranja (OJ), and cereal. Then our host mother walked us to the JYS office. It was really cute to see the senoras walking all of us to school; it was like we were kids going to our first day of kindergarten. They were all chatting with each other and seemed so proud! The morning was an information session at the university (it’s amazing) that included a much needed coffee break. My first café con leche was also amazing. I sat with a few girls and we talked about the usual (name/school/major), it feels like I’m a freshman all over again!

After the session a few of us went to go inquire about cell phones at Orange and then we went home for lunch. The food here has been amazing, and I’m so lucky that my senora is accepting of the fact that I’m a vegetarian. I met my host siblings, Beatriz (16), Alfonso (18), and Esperanza (21). They’re hilarious! I’ve also met Esperanza’s boyfriend, he’s great too. Also it took me about 24 hours to realize that when someone leans in to hug you, they don’t want to hug you. They want to “dos besos” you, which means the two cheek kisses. #lifelessons

Going out on Friday night has been my biggest adventure so far. After getting drinks on Calle Betis (tinto de Verano-not as good as I thought), a HUGE group of us decided to go to el Centro. I really hated being with such a large group of Americans so I decided to head back to the house. LOL. I got so lost. I walked around for over an hour, having no idea where I was. I was as far away from the river as Las Setas (2.5 miles from home) and as close as La Hotel Inglaterra (about a 25 minute walk) without being able to figure out where the river was at all, I live on the other side. Luckily, 1. Sevilla is very safe at night 2. I got to practice asking for directions and 3. After 2 hours I hailed my first taxi. I was super tired but I’m also super cheap, so I only took the taxi to the bridge and walked to the apartment in Los Remedios. It was frustrating but that’s what I get for being stubborn and what a great way to get to know a city! Being a traveler = always up for an adventure!

Saturday was rough. Luckily our break included café and pastries! (see instagram). It was a pretty gloomy day so I sat around a lot. I did go on a walk around 8pm to this cute croissant place and got a mini crème filled croissant-so good. I also had a great conversation with my host parents at dinner and watched a bit of the Spain-Slovakia soccer game-qualifying for the European Cup next year. It’s interesting how sometimes I struggle with understanding any Spanish (lunch) and sometimes I can talk for days (dinner). It’s also frustrating how nervous I get when trying to speak, I can think of what I’m going to say in my head but then when I go to say it I stumble over the words. I didn’t go out last night because I was tired (read: lazy). I ended up Skyping the family and researching a trip to Lisboa (Lisbon, Portugal-I def always thought that it was Libson hahaha) in a couple of weeks (Thanks for the info Calee!)
La Iglesia

This morning I went to my first Spanish mass at La Parroquia de Nuestra Senora del Buen Aire. It was good, but I wish that I had a print out with all of the prayers and responses in Spanish so that I could follow along. It was a pretty church though with a beautiful Mary. They really do love their Marys, especially in this neighborhood! Almost every street is “Calle Virgen de…” It’s very pretty I do have to say.

So that brings me up to here, sitting still (an hour later) at this cute café, almost done with my croissant and cafe. I still can’t believe that this is my actual life now, it’s so amazing to think that I’m actually (finally) here!

Nuestra Senora del Buen Aire
Other observations: changing my eating schedule isn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but maybe I’m just still on American time. If you’re blonde you stick out, luckily my severe case of “resting bitch face” has been very helpful in getting creepy men to stay away (yayyy, I knew there was a plus side!). The salsa tomate that my senora makes is EVERYTHING. Pan (bread) does not go on your plate, it stays on the table. Spanish kids are beautiful, especially the ones with the dirty blonde hair and brown eyes. Actually, people here in general are super beautiful, or maybe that’s just due to the lack of yoga pants and other “lounge clothes”. When they say you walk a lot, they mean it. I've been averaging like 3 hours a day. The slow pace of life is good for your mental health-I know I haven’t started classes yet but I haven’t been stressed about anything (well maybe for a little bit when I was lost, but not much)-“No pasa nada” is a way of life. I have no idea how I’ll ever leave.
Well, my food is gone and I can’t get on the wifi so I guess this is my signal to pay la cuenta, head back to the apartment, add some pictures, and get this post online for y’all.


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