In Madrid, Everyone Drinks (14/100)

Old lady drinking beerI was getting lunch down the street from Universidad Antonio de Nebrija when I spied an elderly woman eating a sandwich and drinking an afternoon beer.

The best part was she looked like my Mexican grandma.

The Spanish propensity to drink at anytime of day will always fascinate me.

Read more about my Madrid adventures and that one time a Spanish dog peed on me.

Spiritual Graffiti in El Retiro (10/100)

god id big dios es grande

Dios es Grande – God is Big

All my friends were gone from Madrid and I was killing time in El Retiro until I could catch a bus to Lisbon.

There I stumbled upon a really interesting (and free!) museum, The Crystal Palace, and groups of Spaniards enjoying the park.

I was exploring part of the park that looked like a little horseshoe hub, when I found this spray painted on the back of the sign.

I’m not religious but there is something really beautiful about this. I think it unintentionally describes my philosophical ideolgy.


You have to love hidden graffiti gems. Check out some of my other street art finds:

Tourism Terrorism – Barcelona

Berlin Wall – Berlin

Mother Earth -Granada

Party on the Metro! (4/100)

Madrid Spain MetroI am in love with Madrid. I love that it’s acceptable to get breakfast at the bar;I love the alimentaciones on every block with their Spanish-Chinese shopkeepers; I love how blatant staring is normal and perpetual-smiling is odd; I love how Spanish women all wear exclusively flats and boots; I love eating outside; I even love the straightforward Spanish men.

I especially love the metro.

You can get anywhere on the metro and, as you can see, it’s clearly a blast. There’s a fairly solid chance that someone will try to pickpocket you, but it wouldn’t be Spain without a little disorder.

Read more about my thoughts on Madrid.

1/100 Crystal Palace – Madrid, Spain

Crystal Palace, Madrid, SpainOn my last day alone in Madrid, after all my friends had dispersed back to their respective homes and extended adventures, I wandered through Retiro Park.

There I found El Palacio de Cristal. This building of almost entirely steel and glass is a whimsical and airy building planted in the foliage of the park. It was originally built in 1887 to hold exotic plants and now houses temporary exhibits.

The exhibit on display in this utilizes your imagination and the surrounding trees to create an artistic space. The different colored circles come in pairs and are meant to create an illusion of columns that represent the tall trees outside the building.

How to get robbed in Spain: Part 1

Don’t zip your bag. You know, don’t even watch it. Just leave it willy-nilly all over the place because no one ever wants easy money. If you can’t tell this is sarcasm, please reevaluate your travel plans.

Traveling Ash’s Tip: Be very strategic with the purse you bring and the way you carry it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • A crossover is your best bet so no one can easily rip it off your shoulder.
  • Keep you bag slightly in front of you opposed to hanging loosely near your side or back.
  • Be conscientious of where your zippers are and how they can be accessed. You want to have the zipper pulley thingy (anyone know the real name?) towards you when it’s zipped closed. This way, assuming you’re holding your bag like I told you to) someone could only unzip it if his or her hand is in front of you.
  • If there are any zipper-pockets on the front of your bag, wear it so that side is up against your body to make it more difficult to access.
  • Never put anything of importance in a pocket that only clasps closed or doesn’t have any kind of covering. I don’t care if you want to have your phone/GPS/iPod/camera/passport handy for constant use. Don’t do it. It’s going to be taken.
  • Even when you are sitting (at the metro, at a restaurant, etc.), keep your bag on like you would wear it when you are walking and set it on your lap. Not on the ground. Never on the back of your chair.
  • Don’t keep your keys in the same place as the address of where you’re staying. This is especially important if you’re living with a family. If you haven’t memorized where you live yet, keep the address in your jeans pocket/backpack/etc. and your keys in your purse. If your bag does get stolen, you don’t want the thieves to be able to loot the rest of your belonging at your place while you’re out.
  • If you have to go the backpack route, be extra conscientious without looking like a nervous wreck. Hold it in front of you while in crowds and on public transportation. If you have it on your back, take a quick, discrete peek while walking past reflective surfaces to make sure it’s still zipped up.

My Thoughts on Madrid

As I prepare to leave the city I’ve called home for the last month, I find myelf reflecting on my Madrid life.

This was my first time living in such a large city and i was surprised how much I liked it.

I’m at a great point in my life where I can move my life anywhere. After graduation in December, I can pick any city I want to go start my career. The question is if  Madrid makes the cut. (more…)

Spain travel recap

A collection of the highlights reel that’s my odd life

I can’t decide if I attract the bizarre or if I just notice it more than others. So far, I have had some strange/hilarious/questionable things happen to me in Spain. I wish I could’ve told each story in detail, but living life is just so time consuming.

Instead, I’m going to give a list of the weird happenings to give you all a taste of my experience here.

1. No random Spanish man in your 30s… you may not keep me as a souvenir

On my first night out in Madrid, I was leaving the infamous club Kapital when a Spanish man that apparently wanted to take me home physically picked me up and threw me over his shoulder.  He also recited the entire storyline of The Princess Bride and adapted it to make me the “Blue-Eyed American Princess.” …I’m not even kidding. (Don’t worry Mom: I told him he was the quintessential Spaniard that mother’s warn their children about before sending them abroad.)

2. Do I look like a fire hydrant?

I was lying in a park and I started to hear running water. I looked up and saw a dog peeing on me… A dog peed on me…I have been peed on by a Spanish dog… Is this some kind of initiation process?

3. When that super chill guy gets real awkward

I was playing wing woman for my friend so she could hang out with her soon to be Spanish boyfriend. We were at what he described as “the poshest club in Madrid” with one of his other guy friends and a couple. One would assume that when there are three guys and three girls going to a club (and there are two couples in the group) the single guy and the single girl would hang out for social acceptability purposes. Nope. This guy (who had been totally cool before we were in a dancing situation) became a tangled assortment of limbs vaguely but fervently bobbing to the music while he avoided me like the plague. So there I was, in the “poshest club in Madrid,” dancing alone. #Fail #WingWomanOfTheYear #ShutUpIKnowHashtagsDontWorkThisWay

4. Oh language barrier. Stop trying to make me look like an idiot in front of my host mom

I was talking to my host mom (who is an elderly woman who can’t hear well) and I mistranslated what she said. I thought she told me there was going to be tornados and assumed she was talking about the ones in Oklahoma. I mean, of course the weather in Oklahoma is international news. So I asked her if she was talking about the United States. Nope. Turns out she was just trying to tell me that it was going to rain this weekend in Madrid.

Then there was this other time when I was trying to ask her where my laundry was but mixed up my prepositions. I accidentally asked, “Do you know where your clothes are?” Awkward.

5. Playing chicken with a bus

My normally lovely, wonderful, fantastic, stupendous, above-par roommate made us late to a Saturday morning school excursion that we had paid 45 for. This resulted in me running down the street…straight at a moving bus…to avoid getting left behind. Anyone who has seen me run knows that this about 97X funnier than if it was anyone else running.

This isn’t even all of the hilarity that has come my way in the last month, but it gives a pretty decent glimpse in on my adventure.

I hope all of you back home are making your own adventures. I expect many coffee/story dates when I return so I can hear all about them.