Tuesday, January 18

January Thaw

My walk 
Just like in Minnesota, Spain appears to experience a January "Thaw" or a week of 20 degree (Celcius) temperatures with sun (none right now though). I spent the last weekend in Almuñecar and decided to explore the area a bit more, which involved walking to La Herradura without a map. Used my urban navigation skills (aka following cars and standing on tree stumps to try to see where to roads went) to get there. Maybe this weekend I will head up into the mountains!

After Christmas, I somewhat followed my vague itinerary and ended up floating around Spain. Catching bus after bus and even a train! Me and Alsa (the bus company here) are best friends now. So here is what really went down after Christmas.

First! I went back to Almuñecar to digest that amazing Christmas dinner and do some laundry. (exciting!!!). Then I finally got off my bum and went to visit friends in Granada. Made some pumpkin pies from scratch (inspired by Roxann and her pie!), attempted to make chili and then ate some yummy alBONdigas ala Dave.

After a couple days there, I headed up to Linares which is a city near Jaen - only takes like two hours to drive there from Almuñecar but the bus from Granada took three hours! The bus changed in Jaen and I, being the organized individual I am (already missed one bus that day - another story), lost my ticket and had to talk my way onto the new bus. In Spanish! They probably just took pity on the poor blonde girl whose Spanish was funny, but I got on the bus!!!!

Linares' Unique Xmas Lights
Finally in Linares, I got to stay at a work friend's family's apartment. Joaquin's mom was so nice to me and I got to sleep in a real bed! I barged in on their New Years celebrations: eating lentils for Medio Dia and then eating the 12 grapes at midnight, all to get good luck in the new year. J's family had a special dinner that evening (with all 40+ people, his Abuela had 9 children herself, she is quite a lady), where I got to try lots of new dishes and also get to see how a Spanish family celebrates the holidays. After midnight and a family concert, we headed to a cabin to celebrate 2011. I got to meet some more Auxilares and real Spaniards too! I have have understood about 30% of the conversation, it's all a learning process. Supposedly my Spanish has improved- or my ability to pretend I understand. I am a good mime.

Artwork in the Underground
Sleeping Beauty's Castle... Really
Two days were spent at that cabin, bbq-ing, playing with Turkeys and enjoying what little sun there was. Then  I caught the train to Madrid (with 2 minutes to spare to buy tickets). 

In Madrid I met up with Casey from Orientation and finally met Esteban, another Auxilare who is living there. Madrid consisted of a walking tour, a Museo de Jamon, experiencing the brand new No Smoking Indoors rule, exploring the Underground and its graffitti, walking around el Prado and Rebajas (like Black Friday but goes on for a month of so.) Esteban and I took a day trip to Segovia, saw the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty's castle and then caught a bus to Cordoba the next day.

Chris asking for Money

In Cordoba, I stayed with another coworker's family and ate LOTS. That is the theme of the holidays here: eating, drinking, talking, eating, and more drinking. I got to eat Spanish style ribs (with a honey sauce, yummm) and fried food in a shell, which is something the State Fair should think about. I was shown around the Mosque, the Catholic Kings Castle (where Colombus asked to go exploring)  and walked around the Juderia (that word makes me giggle). By then, I was pretty tired from all this bumming around and the fact I only brought clothes for 4 days was a bit of issue seeing that I was gone nearly two weeks (I brought enough undies! I'm prepared somewhat).

Fried Shell with Meat inside, then crackers with Pate
 One Meal in Cordoba. 
Overall, I believe my holidays went pretty well. Got to explore alot of Spain and distract myself from missing my family and friends back home. I miss you all back home and even the cold! 

Happy New Years Everyone!

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