Friday, February 27, 2009

Real Madrid Football Game

Pictures from the Real Madrid - Real Betis game
Even though I'm not a fan of Real Madrid, I wanted to go to a game at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in order to experience the atmosphere. We went back to the American restaurant (Foster's Hollywood) we went to last weekend and got some really good American food. Woo! After the meal we headed to the stadium to pick up our tickets and buy some souvenirs (of course not me, I'd never buy Real Madrid propaganda!!!).

We headed up to our 25 Euro seats, up in the nosebleeds of course, and found out we were sitting with the opposing teams fans!! I've known that football fans in Europe are extremely devoted and fanatics but I didn't know the extent of their fanaticism till after this game. The fans were screaming and chanting throughout the whole game (even when they were losing). Of course, there were the obscenities being yelled at the players but (from what I could understand) the entire section was yelling cuss words at the players, it was rather funny! They also had a chant that went along with Frankie Valli's Can't Take My Eyes Off of You "I Want you baby" (Te quiero baby...) and it was quite enjoyable to be surrounded by these great fans. Although the game turned sour for Real Betis, to the tune of 6-1 in favor of Real Madrid, their fans kept beating the drum and chanting for their team until the finals whistle. There were fantastic goals (I do have to admit that) by Real Madrid but I hope that they slip up some and give Barcelona some space at the top of the league!

This weekend, I get to see my team! Barcelona plays Athletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid and a friend and I are going to see them play. I'm really excited and even though I spent quite a bit of money on the ticket, we got seats close to the field, so I should have some good shots of the players! I hope everything is going well with everyone back at home.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

¡Rellenos gratis! (Free Refills!) oh and some big stadium

Estadio Santiago Bernabéu album

Last Saturday I visited the northern part of Madrid with my friend Kayla (she's from Colorado State University). We were starving when we got of the subway stop at the stadium and I knew there was a Hard Rock cafe around so we asked for directions and started walking towards it. However, we ran into another American restaurant called "Foster's Hollywood" that served all the highlights of a typical menu from America. When I opened the menu I couldn't decide what I wanted because I wanted everything! I ended up getting a classic hamburger which was very good but the best thing about this restaurant was yet to come. In Spain, restaurants don't believe in free refills, so if you down that tiny Coke for 2€ you get to pay 2€ more for another drink but at American restaurants they give free refills!! I know this may seem very trivial but if you are a Coke fanatic like I am, you probably drink at least two Cokes when you eat out. Now just imagine paying 2€ (about $2.50 UD) for a 200ml (about 7 oz) bottle of coke! So these free refills (albeit Pepsi, I still took full advantage of these free drinks) we're the highlight of afternoon!

After we indulged ourselves with American food, we walked over and bought tickets for the self guided tour of Real Madrid's "Estadio Santiago Bernabéu" for 15€ and then walked into the stadium. The first stop was a panoramic view of the stadium and the pitch, then onto a mini-musem of the history of the team, after that we saw some more of the stadium from a lower view. We were also able to see the numerous amount of trophies the club has amassed in the last century. It was quite impressie and while I'm not quite a fan of the team (well really I hate the club) I do respect their stadium and history. The tour alo allowed us to get down on the pitch, onto the team benches, into the the team locker room, and then into the press room. Overall it was quite a fantastic tour and worth every bit of the 15€ I spent.

This weekend, I'll be going to a game at the stadium and then the weekend after that I'll be attending the Athletico Madrid - Barçelona game in the other big stadium in Madrid (Estadio de Vicente Calderon). I'm very excited about these opportunities and I'm sure I'll take plenty of pictures (when do I not?).

That's all for now, it's time for class!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Toledo, why are you so cold? -- and more.

Last Friday I went to Toledo on a group trip with the University. It seemed like it was going to be a great trip but that was before we got there and discovered the mini blizzard that was covering Toledo that day. We were taking to a viewing point to get a panoramic view of the city but we could barely see the city through the snow. The bus took us down to a plaza in the city and by the time we got down there the weather had improved, but only slightly. We visited a cathedral in they city and some other site but I couldn't really tell you the names because we didn't spend much time there. We came back early due to the weather so I don't have much to say about the trip but you can see my pictures HERE.

Tonight I am going to watch the International Football Friendly (basically an exhibition between two countries) between Spain and England. I'm hoping to go down to a bar and watch the game with some friends and maybe some Spaniards too, we'll see. This weekend I don't have any plans yet but I think I might go visit Madrid some more.



Toledo revsited album

I revisited Toledo last weekend and it was 100x better than the weekend before. The weather was gorgeous which in turn made the city fantastic. We took a high speed train from Madrid, which took about 30 min for a 55 mile trip (= average speed of 100mph) so that was a cool experience. I hope to take a high speed train somewhere else before I leave just to experience long distance traveling on a train like that. Once we got to Toledo, we climbed up the hill that the city was on and happened to stumble into a FREE musem of artifacts from the period of 1808 to 1814 ( I think that's the right time period). The musem had paintings from the time, royal dishes, navegation tools, and so much more. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take any pictures so if you want to know more about it just ask me.

After the musem, we went and had lunch at a pizza place (except the pizza here isn't close to what it is at home, so I got some pasta). Then, we explored the city some more and took picture of the Alcazar, the highest building in Toledo. It was once a royal palace for many different people but now it is being converted into a military musem. We found a nice panoramic view of the mountains, so we decided to soak in the sun for a while. That was a nice change from the cloudy weather we have had since the beginning of the semster.

Next up, we visited a small church that housed a very famous painting by the painter "El Greco". You can read up on him at Wikipedia. We saw this painting, El entierro del conde de Orgaz (the burial of the count of Orgaz). It was quite an amazing painting and I can't even imagine how much work it took to create it. He even painted himself, his son, and Cervantes into the painting. I guess he wanted to have a little fun while he was making the thing.

Overall, this trip was much better than my last trip and I would recomend a visit to anyone.

That's all for now

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Last weekend, I went to the South of Spain to visit Granada, about a 6 hour bus ride from Madrid, and see the most visited site in Spain -- the Alhambra. We took the overnight bus so we could get to Granada in the morning and have an extra day to visit the city without having to pay for another night at the hostel. The hostel we stayed at was very chill and had a hippie feel to it. It had hammocks in the courtyard and a hookah tent, plus the staff were very helpful and really laid back. There are a few pictures in one of my albums from the weekend of the hostel. Speaking of pictures, I took over 200 pictures in Granada -- I think that is some sort of record for me!

You can see the albums here: First, Second, Third and Fourth.

After we arrived in Granada, we found the local bus to take us to the city center and then from there we took a smaller bus that took us to our hostel. The streets in the hills of Granada are about ten feet wide, now imagine a small bus getting through that, it was only slightly scary. Once we checked in, we found our beds and rested for a while. After our nap, we went out and walked around the city for a little while just to see what there was to do. We shopped for a little bit and then we went back to the hostel to get ready for dinner.

Since we booked out rooms so late in the hostel, I had to sleep in a separate room from the rest of the group which actually worked out pretty well. I got to meet some people who were on a "Semester at Sea" program who had just docked at the city of Cadiz which is about 4 hours away from Granada. They told me they left from the Bahamas and had traveled across the Atlantic and this was the first country they stopped in. That is a ridiculous itinerary but they do get to go travel all over the world, not sure if I'd want to do that though. Anyways, we all got ready for dinner and went out and found a Mexican restaurant. There wasn't any free chips and queso and the food size was small, but besides that it was a good attempt at Mexican food in Spain. We went and visited some tapas bars next and had some wine and a drink called "tinto de verano" which is red wine with lemonade, it's really good. After a few more places we decided to call it a night and get some sleep for our big day tomorrow.

But before I went to bed, I watched the latest Lost episode. WOW. That show is absolutely ridiculous, I won't go into it now but if you are the fan of the show you know what I'm talking about.

The next day we woke up early and headed towards the Cathedral of Granada. This place was absolutely gorgeous -- just check out my pictures, theres really no need for descriptions after seeing them.

After the Cathedral, we found a bus to take us up to the top of the hill where the Alhambra is. Good thing too because it was a very steep hill, even during the bus ride. The Alhambra was orginally built by Moorish rulers in the 1300s then was later taken over by King Ferdinad II of Aragon and Queen Isabel of Castile in 1492. It is a fortress of palaces where each different ruler, Moorish or Christian, built there own to make there mark. Also, right next to the Alhambra is the gardens of Generalife. These two places are magnificent and you should look in my albums for pictures because my words will not do it justice.

After our visit, we had some pastries and then went back to the hostel. Instead of having dinner, we just decided to go to different tapas bars and get tapas when we ordered drinks. We went to about 4 different bars and ended up hanging out with some locals who showed us a few cool places and got us into a club for free. It was an excellent night and we were out till about 4AM -- still 3 hours short of what a regular night for Spaniards is, eek. The bus ride back was uneventful and we ended up in Alcala at about 8:30 PM.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and I would not mind visiting Granada again when it is warmer and the flowers are blooming. Thats it for now, have a good week everyone.