Again, don’t mind the title. I just liked the sound of it.
Metric-based Milestones (Oxymoron)
- Spain is the 10th country I have been to in my life.
- I’ve now been here 2 months = 60 days. That means I’ve now been awake for about 1,000 hours in Europe.
- This blog has just surpassed 1,000 total views and 10,000 words!
- Toledo was my 10th UN World Heritage Site that I’ve visited on study abroad.
Quote of the Week
“How are the Madrid beaches compared to, like, Barcelona?”– A clueless student on my tour in Madrid
Madrid is 360 km from Valencia, the nearest major city with a beach.
Someone obviously thought it was a bright idea to name metro stops in Madrid after other Spanish cities (I’ve walked past both Sevilla and Bilbao). So when you see a bus that is on it’s way to Sevilla, which one?
The Spaniards were nice enough to name their brand of Nestle Ice Cream after me and I have to say that it did me justice. MAXIBON!
Matt and Madrid
Matt Silver (a Princeton friend) joined me in Madrid for the weekend. All four years of my high school Spanish came rushing back to me…not really. Matt was a champ, single-handedly carrying all dialogue with third parties for both of us – he’s studying abroad here and taking classes in Spanish so he has it down a lot better than I do. I could follow some of what people said but then I’d reach a point every sentence wh
Madrid felt pretty similar to Manhattan (not that foreign). First of all, it’s a city. It’s filled with high-rise residences, restaurants on the first floor of every building, pretty buildings if you went looking for them, a flea market, and a big central park. I found that differences were rather the exception – notably a metro that’s runs trains every 4-10 minutes instead of 1-4 minutes, the language but some still spoke English, the siesta system where no one works ever and the pub crawls finally get to the club at 3:45a, taxes are included and there’s no tipping.
Matt and I did food right. We had so much Spanish bread that “pan” had to make it into the title somehow just because of the sheer quantity consumed. Other than that, taking into account last week in Mallorca and Sevilla as well, I’m just about done with ham and fish forever.
Just when I had about figured out the Spanish way of everybody always being late to everything, Matt and I strolled into the train station a few minutes after our departure time and low and behold the Spaniards decided that they would be late to everything except public transportation. We missed our train to Toledo so we had to rebook and got a late start.
The city of Toledo, which is known for being one of the only cities in the history of the world where Christianity, Judaism, and Islam coexisted within city walls and thrived with the diversity. But even the city of the city of Toledo was not expecting the Spanish Inquisition. So the synagogues – we visited Santa Maria la Blanca, which is the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing – have been churches for basically the last 700 years. So much for religious inclusion…On a random note, Toledo felt like Tzfat, Israel.
The coins here are maybe my least favorite part of study abroad. They’re just awful. I know some people like it, but they are wrong, every single one of them. We learned in middle school that the first forms of currency were metal coins (the Lydians?) and that the Chinese invented paper money as an alternative. What the textbooks fail to mention is the United Kingdom and the EU have reversed the progression of human history and innovation and have returned to coinage.
I always throw my change into two jars (GBP and EUR) and I finally counted it up. There’s about 80 USD in there. The problem is that it’s super heavy – like 10 weight pounds. Just bringing my coins with me to spend on my trips around Europe would make my bag go over the Ryanair weight limit. Who on earth would carry around kilos of metal in their pockets? In fact, if you take out the largest coins (a euro or a pound or up), I would pay all of the rest of my change just to have a system without them.
Within 20 years from now, the waste of lost change and the threat of theft won’t exist and all purchases will be electronic. Until then….I HATE CHANGE. Probably wouldn’t be a good political campaign slogan but I stand by it.
- 10,676 – Words written on this blog so far
- 10 – UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Westminster, Tower of London, Kew Gardens, Sintra, Tower of Belem, Stonehenge, Bath, Serra de Tramuntana, Sevilla Cathedral and Alcazar, Toledo)
- 7 – Personal phone numbers that I’ve used as my primary number on study abroad (+44 7598736659 [UK], +44 7404245455 [UK old], +1 310-809-2668 [USA], a +1 (661) number on Skype, +351 915-406-195 [Portugal], +34 602-695-139 [Spain old], +34 611-291-985 [Spain new])
- 6 – Football matches (Crystal Palace x2, West Ham, Tottenham, Sporting Lisbon, Arsenal)
- 6 – Airlines flown (United, British Airways x2, Ryan Air x3, Air New Zealand x2, airberlin, Easy Jet)
- 4 – Essential items forgotten at least once on trip (Earplugs, Razor, Eye mask, Flip flops, headache pills)
- 4 – Countries (UK, Portugal, USA [it counts], Spain)