Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

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All my travels, encounters with language and culture, and of course, learning the language.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

This American Compares Teaching & Au Pairing

So, I just learned how to do an infographic and this is my first attempt at making one. I know, it's so awesome, it seems like I've been doing these for years. Well, thank you, but I'm still just a beginner. Wait until I really get good (insert wink face here. Or is it winky face? Or winking face? Hmmm, you get the idea though.)

To see the dynamic and interactive version, click here.

Travelin' with the TMax - Teaching vs Au Pair


Monday, December 28, 2015

11 Differences This American Notices between Europe and The USA

As a follow up to my recently posted 13 Things This American Misses About The US, I've come up with some differences that I noticed between the Americans and the Europeans (yes, I continue to lump all of those different countries together). These are purely observations, and not a post about who does things better or worse. I have plenty of those already. So, these are differences I notice between the US and Europe.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Cosas que he estado poder hacer en Español

Después de un año en España, ¿qué tal mi nivel de castellano? ¿qué puedo hacer? Obviamente puedo sobrevivir y hacer las cosas diariamente. Claro que tengo un buen nivel, pero no significa que no uso mis amigos españoles para ayudarme y apoyarme cuando lo necesito. A pesar de cualquier ayuda o apoyo que recibo, hablo bastante bien y estas son algunas cosas que conseguí en castellano.

Uno - Postular y hacer múltiples entrevistas, y al final, conseguir trabajo

Dos - Buscar y alquilar un apartamento

Friday, December 25, 2015

13 Things This American Misses About The US

People always ask me (read: ONE person ONCE asked me) what I miss most about the US. I usually struggled to answer this question, since I hadn't been to US in quite some time. Now that I've come back to the US to visit my parents for Christmas, I can finally put a list together. 

13 Things I miss about the US


Friday, December 11, 2015

Cádiz, Spain: La Costa de la Luz

Synopsis: I have been trying to get down to Cádiz and Gibraltar since I moved here, and I finally have some time to do it. Plus, I found some friends to road trip with me, so we can move around and do more in the area. Brittney and Ainhoa will ride with me in the car as we go down the Ruta de la Plata, and Eduardo will take the train and meet us down there. We got a nice AirBnB apartment near the beach and not too far from downtown.

This can't be safe, but it's fun
Road trips are the best, except when they're not, then they aren't
1,000km along the Ruta de la Plata
1,000km along the Ruta de la Plata

Sunday, November 29, 2015

French vs. Spanish: Which This American Thinks Is Harder To Learn

Like any good comparative article, I'll present the pros and cons of why I think each language is harder than the other to learn. Now is a good time for me to write this, as my Spanish and French capabilities are about even (though Spanish is slowly overtaking French, due to more use). Obviously, this is from an American's point of view, so it will be loud and obnoxious, with as much ethnocentrism as possible, yet somehow still awesome. Enjoy. 


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

TMax, tu parles toujours le français?

Bien, TMax est-ce que tu as perdu ton français pendant que tu as été en Espagne? Mais non! Grace aux années en Belgique, je pense que j'aurai besoin de plus que quelques mois sans français pour perdre tout! Et maintenant, pardonne-moi pendant que j'écris la reste de ce rédaction avec l'aide de Google traducteur!

J'ai appris le français à l'université, mais quand je suis arrivé en Belgique, je ne pouvais pas parler. Pourquoi? Parce qu'on apprend de la vocabulaire et de la grammaire, mais on n'apprend pas vraiment communiquer. En Belgique, j'ai appris plus pendant une année que pendant presque sept années à l'école. Maintenant, je parle français, mais le moyen Belge, comme je dis "septante" (70), et je demande "un essuie" après un bain, et je commande "une mitraillette" (un type de sandwich) quand j'ai faim.


Monday, November 2, 2015

16 Even More Random Things This American Has Noticed About Spain and Europe

First, I noticed 14 random things about Spain and Europe. That was like, whoa, Random City, population, me. Then, I noticed 21 more random things. I felt like arbitrary things were following me just so I could notice them. And, now, the whimsical bug has bit me once again, as I present 16 even more random things that I have observed, noticed, judged it to be random, wrote it down, organized it, and now I am sharing it with you. That's how the process works.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

11 Techniques This American Uses to Improve in Spanish

Obviously, my Spanish is getting better, since I am saying que and no entiendo much less than I used to. Now, it's only every other sentence, instead of every other word. I'm constantly looking for new ways to improve my grasp of the language, so my Spanish improves, and then people ask me how I magically got awesome at Spanish. 

Many times when people give advice about learning a new language, you always hear cliché things like "focus" or "be the language", but I have more practical ways to get better. Here are a few techniques that I've used to improve my Spanish skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. 

1. Take a spanish class.  This one seems obvious, but learning grammar and fundamentals from a native speaker is essential for a strong foundation in the language. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

14 Even Yet More Fun Things This American Has Learned About The Spanish Language

It was inevitable. There was no way that it wasn't going to happen. You all were waiting for it. You weren't sure when it would come, but you knew I wouldn't be able to resist. You knew I kept immersing myself and that I was bound to stumble upon more random and quirky things about the Spanish language. 

Apple will be jealous of the amount of people waiting outside my blog door for this new post to become available to the public. Well, for all two of you who were waiting for this moment, it has arrived. 

If you haven't read part 1, part 2part 3part 5part 6part 7, or part 8 you don't have to start with them for this to make sense, but they will be fun to read later.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Teachin' English in Spain with the TMax

Now that my adventure as an au pair is coming to an end, I need to find a way to stay in Spain (legally), which means finding a job. Thanks to la crisis, the job market isn't too receptive to Americans, therefore I found an opportunity via UP International, which provides me with another student visa, that allows me to work part time until next summer. I will be teaching English to 3-15 year olds in Colegio Santisimo Sacremento. At the same time, I am required to take some online courses with Foro Europeo Business School of Navarra.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

¿Sabes qué me saca de mis casillas? pt.3

"¡Venga! Este hombre ¿¿esta quejándose de nuevo??" Si estas pensándolo, deja de quejarte de lo que estoy quejándome, ¡Jolín!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Salute to Great Friends

Emcee: Thank you all for coming. We will now hear remarks from their closest friend, the TMax.

TMax: A pair of greats are no longer with us. They supported me through so much. They were always working together, each carrying their share of the burden. They always made me feel so comfortable. Of course, I'm referring to my former everyday/travel shoes.
Walking the city walls in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Walking the city walls in Dubrovnik, Croatia


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Guest Blog: Realizations of an Expat in Europe

By Stephanie Condon
She is married, with one son, living in Europe (Germany and Belgium) for the last 13 1/2 years. Works at NATO. Loves to travel and experience other cultures, especially the cuisine. Speaks English well, and can get by in French, German, and Dutch.

After living in Europe for 13.5 years, I've made some observations. Here are a few.  Have you noticed the same things?

Life as an expat realization #1 
There is no such thing as personal space. Get used to it. If you need it, move back to America. Maybe Ohio.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Buñol, Spain: La Tomatina 2015

Happy 70th birthday La Tomatina!

We drove to Valencia the night before and stayed at a pretty sweet Airbnb place that Alex found. Aside from the lack of air conditioning (it was so hot) and wifi (who doesn't have wifi???), the apartment was cheap and well-located. We walked around the city a bit and then headed back to the apartment, since we have to be at the bus at 730 the next morning. 

We wake up the next morning, dress ourselves in clothes we plan to never see again, and walk toward where the bus is supposed to pick us up. Greg booked the bus tickets with a company that was not the main company running the buses for la tomatina. So, we walk around for half an hour, asking different bus drivers where to find our bus, and no one knows. We even walk to the bus station to ask them, but they know nothing either. Finally, on our way back from the bus station, we stop and ask another driver, who points us in the right direction, and we  get on our bus. Obviously, not many people have heard of this company because there are only 15 people on the bus, including us and the driver.

Tomatina or bust
Tomatina or bust

Thursday, August 27, 2015

An American Party in Spain

Back in December 2014, when I moved to Spain, I was greeted with fiesta after fiesta. As I spoke with the locals, they wanted to know about me and what I thought of their culture and parties. I always struggled to answer their questions (mainly because my Spanish wasn't that good yet), so I decided that one day I was going to throw a party to show them how we (Americans) get down. I planned the whole event, with food and music. Eight months later, I still hadn't done anything past the planning stage. 

Virginia and Leo's backyard, AKA: party central
Virginia and Leo's backyard, AKA: party central 


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

21 More Random Things This American Notices About Spain and Europe

The millisecond after I published the article 14 Random Things This American Notices About Spain and Europe, I already had new ideas for a follow up list. This one is new, improved, and even more random than the first list. These things are interesting to me, to you, and to everyone you have ever met in your entire life, with all of whom you will share this. That is all. Enjoy.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

16 Common Mistakes Non-Native English Speakers Make

I am more than 100% sure I've said some things completely wrong in Spanish (and French), mostly because I can see the people I'm talking to crying from laughter after I say it. Some mistakes we just can't seem to stop making, even though we know they are wrong before we say them!

Well, since I am here teaching English and practicing it with those who want to, I also get to hear funny things, like butchered expressions and grammar errors. Now that I've lived in Europe for almost a decade (wow, that makes me feel old) I put together a list of mistakes that I hear A LOT. Some of them so much, that I don't even recognize them as mistakes half of the time. The majority are latin-based mistakes (speakers of Spanish, French, Italian, etc.), but a few are universal to all non-native English speakers that I've met.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Santander, Spain: (El Fin de) Semana Grande

Synopsis: Before my amazing Asturias trip, I was planning to go to Santander, but upon further research, I saw they were having a semana grande (it's like a week-long festival with food, music, art, and activities) the last weekend of July, and I postponed my trip until then. I invited some friends, and Suzana, one of my Pintxo Pals, took me up on my offer. However, because I was in Asturias, I did not do any planning, and the weekend is turning out to be a bigger event than I thought. So, we will go there for the weekend, with no plans and no place to sleep...

Two days of fun, sun, and beach-un (so that it rhymes)
Two days of fun, sun, and beach-un (it has to rhyme)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Oviedo & Gijón, Spain: Asturias, A Hidden Jewel

Synopsis: So I want to see the northern coast of Spain and I found a pretty sweet deal on Airbnb in the city of Oviedo. I know absolutely nothing about this city or the region, but I reached out to a bunch of couchsurfers, so hopefully someone responds and shows me around.

Cider is serious business here - they have a street dedicated to it
Cider is serious business here - they have an entire street dedicated to it


Thursday, July 23, 2015

How This American Stays Fit While Traveling

The best way to stay in shape is to run with the bulls!

Click for more info!

Aside from hours of walking, I like to do a bit of exercise while traveling, mainly to keep my muscles active so I won't be sore next time I do a heavy workout. So the idea of these workouts are not to build strength or speed, but rather maintain my progress from my workouts at home. While traveling, I have a small box of tricks I use to stay fit on the go. I own a TRX. I own a jump rope. Gravity is free. Check out the video below, and some sample workouts below that.


¿Sabes qué me saca de mis casillas? pt.2

¡Ostras! La vida puede ser tan mucho más simple si las cosas fueron la manera que preferimos. Pero, la vida no es así. No voy hablar de nuevo de cosas del gobierno y cinta roja y lentitud y estar castigado cuando intentas seguir las leyes y hacer un ciudadano bueno. Tengo muchos más otros opciones! (Lee pt.1 aquí)


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pamplona, Spain: El Encierro y San Fermin 2015 - I Ran With The Bulls

Synopsis: Since I've arrived here in Spain everyone has told me "wait until San Fermin" whenever I told them I did, saw, or experienced something cool here in Spain. So, I have super lofty expectations for this event. It goes from the 6th until the 14th of July (always same dates every year), with many different events each day, but the main event that starts each day the same way is running with the bulls, aka el encierro.

*Note: My bull running experience actually started the 2nd of July, as I traveled to Ronda, just outside of Málaga, to train with bull runner Julen Madina and matador Rafael Tejada. I practiced running with, dodging, and even feeding bulls.

Wikipedia does a fairly good job of explaining what San Fermin is, so I'll just share my experiences with less detailed explanations of the event and more details about me and my humble awesomeness during the event.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ronda, Spain: Running with Legends

Synopsis: I first decided I wanted to run with the bulls when I found out I was moving to Pamplona back in November 2014. Of course, everyone I meet in Spain mentions how great San Fermin is and then asks me if I will run. 

Via some friends of friends, I have been extended the opportunity to train with bull-running professional, Julen Madina, at matador Rafael Tejada's finca (ranch), Reservatauro Ronda, in Ronda, Spain. The training will be filmed for a promotional video for San Fermin.

Alright Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up
Alright Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up


Friday, June 26, 2015

25 Yet More Fun Things This American Has Learned About The Spanish Language

Good news is I'm still learning a lot of Spanish. Bad news is that I have only reached the level of speaking of a 4 year old. Better news is that I am noticeably improving all the time. Worse news is that I mix advanced expressions with child-like mistakes. Best news is that I don't care about any of the bad news. Worst news is that the people listening to my Spanish do care about the bad, worse, and worst news', because it makes it hard for them to understand me.

Like in part 1 and part 2 (and part 4, part 5part 6, part 7, part 8) of this series, I am constantly noticing the subtleties of Spanish, and I want to share them with you. Here are 25 Yet More Fun Things This American Has Learned About The Spanish Language.

1. Parejas disparejas (pairs that don't match) - There are many words that have different meanings depending if the word is masculine or feminine. Fruta (fruit) is the delicious food that you consume, whereas fruto (fruit) is a general term to describe fruit of plants, or the outcome or benefits of something (i.e. fruit of labor = fruto del trabajo). 

Also el televisor is the medium through which you watch la televisión


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bilbao, Spain: White Night and Nice Weather

Synopsis: Guess who has a friend in Bilbao? Yup, this guy! (I set you up for success on that one). So, I'll visit my friend, Iuliana, for two days in the largest city of Basque Country, and check out the home of the Guggenheim museum and delicious seafood. 

Con Puppy
Con Puppy (pronounced "poopy" in Spanish)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

12 Stereotypes This American Notices in a Language Class

I thought about doing this as a follow up to Sabes Que Me Saca de Mis Casillas, but I didn't. How anti-climatic was that explanation? Anyway, here are some things in Spanish class that I notice/irritate me, but probably are the same in any learning environment. I present to you: 12 Stereotypes This American Notices in a Language Class. (cue theme music)

1. Know-it-all's 

some ecards: know it all prescription
It's ok to be smart. It's ok to show off your intelligence. But when the teacher calls on someone else, and you are blurting out the answers, now you're just a jerk. 

2. Know-nothing's

We've been taking this class for several months and you still don't know the basics? Why do you even come to class?


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

El Matrix Trilogía - Un Revisión

Acabo de ver las tres pelis de trilogía El Matrix, en español. La primera peli ha salido cuando tenia 15 anos y no entendí todo. La segunda y tercera han salido cuando estuve a la universidad y realmente, no entendí todo en ese momento tampoco. Pero ahora, soy adulto y mas inteligente que un bebe y por fin, entiendo la historia completamente. La primera vez perdí algunas detalles pequenas, que en realidad, estaban grandes y influye la historia mucho. Y no puedo mentir, puse los subtítulos en ingles, porque hay muchas palabras grandes en esas pelis, aún difíciles en ingles!

La historia es de un programador de ordenador, Neo, que buscas algo que se llama el matrix. Encuentra alguien que se llama Morpheo que le ayuda descubrir la verdad: esta viviendo dentro una programa de un ordenador y la vida real es mucho menos bonita. Los ser humanos han destruido la tierra y las maquinas han asumido control de la tierra, incluyendo los ser humanos, que los utilizan como pilas por energía. Dentro el matrix, Neo y sus amigos tienen que luchar para buscar como ganar las maquinas en el mundo real. 

Tras viendo las pelis, me he fijado que me olivdado completamente la tercera peli y no he dado cuenta como la historia ha atado junto al final. Con escenas muy elaborado, gran batallas y efectos especiales, las tres pelis son muy divertidos, excitantes y emocianantes. Al final fijamos lo que nos hace ser humanos es nuestra capaz a elegir lo que queremos pensar y creer. Eso es ser ser humano.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

8 Major Differences in Youth Basketball: Spain vs USA

Since the family I au pair for has two children that play youth basketball here in Spain, I've had a first-hand look at how youth basketball works here, and at times I've been completely shocked at some of the differences. Of course, it's possible that youth basketball has changed in the US as well, and I'm just comparing two different generations of basketball, not differences in countries, but we'll pretend that's not the case.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Andorra: Outdoorsman's Dream, Shopper's Paradise, Everyone Else's Meh

Synopsis: Going to Andorra to support Emilito and his basketball team at the national championships. Not sure why it's in Andorra, but I've been wanting to go there, so I'm not asking any questions.

The Spanish National Basketball Championship for Spanish Cadetes is in a different country???
The Spanish National Basketball Championship for Spanish Cadetes is in a different country???

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Por que estoy contento con mi nivel de español

Bueno, he estado aquí en España desde hace seis meses. He hecho dos años de los clases de español antes de llegar aquí, pero realmente fui 60% del tiempo. Entonces, podemos decir que tengo un año y medio de experiencia con español. 

Si piensas de aprender un nuevo idioma como eres un bebe, según este pagina web (es en inglés) a 18 meses debes poder decir 20 palabras. Conozco por lo menos 23, entonces estoy mucho mas avanzado que los bebes normales. 

Seguramente soy adulto y estoy mucho mas inteligente que un bebe, ¿no? Pues, si y no. Si, porque puedo irme al baño sin ayuda (a veces) y entiendo como utilizar comunicación con gestiones. Además, puedo utilizar Google cuando no entiendo algo para traducir y al final entender. Enséñame un bebe que puede hacerlo!

Pero, no tengo tan sabiduría como un bebe porque tengo demasiado inteligencia! Que irónico, ¿no? Para decir lo que los maestros de kung-fu dicen, mi copa esta ya lleno, y no puedo rellenarlo hasta después que lo vacío. Digo más sobre este sujeto en este blog (en inglés).

Entonces, estoy contento que puedo hablar y escuchar a un buen nivel. Claro que quiero aprender más rápido y poder decir y escuchar mejor, y hacerlo ahora mismo, pero entiendo que necesito tiempo y nunca dejar practicando. Gracias a todos que me ayuda y voy a haceros orgullos de mi! 

Algiuen totally debe comprarme this t-shirt!


5 Reasons This American Thinks It's Easier for Kids to Learn Languages

I'm learning Spanish. I was / am still / should be doing more to learn French. Languages are hard. Not because they are hard, but because I am an adult. Remember when you were a young child (this may be a long time ago for some), how easy life was? No bills, no significant problems, no responsibility. Ah, the good ol' days!


Saturday, May 23, 2015

16 Super Cool Things This American Did While Living in Belgium

Now that I have had some time to think about it, and now that I have a pretty good rhythm going here in Spain and I could sit down and focus, I have finally come up with my list of some of my favorites things I did during the four and a half years that I lived in Belgium. I tried to pick things that were specific to Belgium, and though going to the theaters to see movies in French is cool, I opted for more rare activities for this post. Here are 16 of the hundreds of memorable moments I experienced in Belgium, in chronological order.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Córdoba, Spain: Fiesta de Los Patios

Synopsis: Fresh off La Féria in Sevilla, still questing along and hitting all the major fiestas and events. Next on the list: los patios de Córdoba, a contest where inhabitants decorate their patios (courtyards) with flowers, plants, and other garden-related fashionable items. I found a host on couchsurfing for three nights, and then the last night I'll stay in a hostel. Found a good deal on the train, too!

In such a hot place, it makes sense they would celebrate things that are cool
In such a hot place, it makes sense they would celebrate such a cool thing

Friday, May 8, 2015

¿Sabes qué me saca de mis casillas? pt.1

Soy un hombre tranquilo, tengo sangre de horchata, pero hay algunas cosas que me queman la sangre (he aprendido unos frases idiomáticas con sangre, ¿no?). Si, ya está etiquetada la parte uno, porque hay muchas cosas que me molestan. ¿Que piensas de mi título? Es una buena expresión para decir lo que me enfada. Entonces, ¿qué me saca de mis casillas?


Monday, May 4, 2015

Battle of the Kitchens: España vs USA - Round 2

Since I moved into the Linzoain's home, I haven't noticed many differences in the manner of cooking or food choice, between Mariasun and I. But, after several months, I've picked out some idiosyncrasies in the way we run our kitchens. Here is the much anticipated follow-up battle to the last bout, between Virginia and I, of Battle of the Kitchens: España vs USA. 

Mariasun's kitchen vs Mine

Mariasun's kitchen vs Mine: 

1. Mariasun does not own a microwave, nor will she ever buy one. She is not a fan of the radiation and I can respect that. However, sometimes, I need to warm up some leftovers or make some popcorn, and using the stovetop or oven just take way too long. I'm a busy man, with all of my stuff and things that I have to get done, and stuff.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sevilla, Spain: La Feria 2015

Synopsis: Continuing on my quest to do all the biggest festivals in Spain, I couldn't miss the opportunity to go to Sevilla for La Feria de Abril, the annual fair that attracts millions of people to eat tapas, enjoy aperitifs, ride fair rides, and more than anything, bailar sevillanas - dance to the traditional music. Virginia and I are going with a two-time La Feria veteran, Javier, to enjoy in the festivities for the weekend. If you don't know what La Feria is, refer to my cheat sheet before proceeding.

TMax's La Feria cheat sheet 2015


Thursday, April 23, 2015

TMax, ¿ya hablas español?

¡Claro que si! Y, ya esta. Jaja es broma. Sé mas español que antes, pero no mucho. Después dos años aprendiendo en Bélgica y cinco meses aquí en Pamplona, debo hablar muy bien, ¿no? Al menos, yo sé como poner los puntos de interrogación y exclamación. Y no puedo mentir, mi ordenador sabe donde poner los acentos y lo hace su mismo.


Monday, April 20, 2015

XVII Semana del Pincho de Navarra

Synopsis: I run into a bar last week to grab a quick pintxo and I see a pamphlet on the counter for a festival of pintxo taste testing, happening all over Navarra, with most of the participants being in Pamplona, called Semana Del Pincho de Navarra. Along with my "Pintxo Pals" we hit the streets on a few different days, to try as many as we can of the 76 bars/restaurants participating. 

Below, I only describe the dish, but a lot of them have clever names in Spanish. For more information on the event, and the original names, check out their website. Three reviews. 

All dishes are rated using the Timchelin 5-star system.

Day 1: Three reviews. 

Pintxo Pals


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Girona, Spain: Costa Brava and a Bit of Basketball

Synopsis: Since Emilito has a basketball tournament in Girona during semana santa, the holy week of Easter, the entire family sets out to go support him in his games and take advantage of seeing the beautiful coastline of Costa Brava. This is the first multi-day trip I'm taking with the family, so I'm not going to make any plans and just go with the flow. Plus Emilio is an enthusiastic tour guide and will take us to see some great sights.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Set out at 2am on a six hour drive. Emilio and I take turns driving while the ladies sleep in the back. Emilito is on the bus with his teammates. We stop at Porta De Barcelona for breakfast, and what do you know - all carbs! Glad I brought my coconut oil.

We arrive in Girona and check into the apartment, in a nice and good location, close to the historic center. We go to Emilito's first game and they are clearly tired and play poorly, but win by one.

Along with the parents of the other players, we head into center of Girona and grab lunch. In the second basketball game, they play way better and win easily. We say goodbye to Emilito for the night and head to apartment for a siesta. Around dinnertime (remember it's late here in Spain), we go to a Japanese restaurant and it's quite delicious. 

Thoughts: Catalan is like Castilian and French had a baby, yet I still don't understand. Thankfully, everyone still speaks Castilian here. I notice many flags and posters for independence, just like I saw in Basque Country. 

basketball tip-off
Go Emilito!

The family watching intensely
The family watching intensely


Monday, March 23, 2015

Valencia, Spain: Las Fallas 2015

Synopsis: Since I only have one year in Spain, I want to go and experience as many of the local customs, traditions, and of course, celebrations, that I can. Valencia is a short 4-5 hour drive from where I live, so my buddy, Greg, and I are gonna road trip it there, and partake in the last days of the Las Fallas celebration (official website in Spanish). We found a sweet deal on AirBnB and this will be our first time using the website to find a place to stay. 

Las Fallas 2015 Valencia, Spain
Las Fallas 2015 Valencia, Spain

Thursday, March 5, 2015

10 More Fun Things This American Has Learned About The Spanish Language

If I am doing this post again (and a 3rd time and 4th time and 5th time and 6th time and 7th time and 8th time), that means that I am learning more about the Spanish language, and thus realizing my goal of speaking the language. Yay for me! I think it is funny when Spanish people say that English is a difficult language, as though Spanish is a cake walk and doesn't have over 100 conjugations per verb, compared to the barely 20 an English verb has. 

But, aside from that, the Spanish language is a rich and interesting language and offers me many things to comment on (and share with all of you who are clearly bored or killing time between doing something productive, and reading my blog). To the content!

1. Poco a poco (little by little) - the catch-all phrase for progress or for saying something is not happening right now, but hopefully it will be in the future. How's your Spanish?  Poco a poco. Bill is in the hosptial? How is he recovering? Poco a poco. I hear your kids are doing better in school? Poco a poco. Are you going to eat all of those pintxos? Poco a poco. What do you call a fight between two small children? Poco a pocoTM.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Zaragoza, Spain: Who knew that Zaragoza = Caesaragusta???

ZaragozaI've had quite some success with people visiting me in Spain, so far: Guillermo, my parents, and now Staša. We decide to go visit a city that I haven't been to, that is also convenient for her to fly to, so we pick Zaragoza. The Linzoain's will go with us the first day, and then Staša and I will explore the city for a few more days.

Trip Overview:
Day 1:Wake up, eat a deliciously prepared breakfast made by yours truly, and head out with the Linzoain's, 90 minutes by car, to Zaragoza. As we are driving we notice the shift in weather from rainy Navarra to sunny Aragón. Staša is already in the city center of Zaragoza, so we meet her at Plaza del Pilar. We have a coffee and chat before taking photos outside and then entering the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar. Inside is quite large and we arrive just as mass is beginning. After leaving there we go to La Seo del Salvador but it is closed. We walk over to the Roman stone bridge, over El Ebro river, which is very windy.

We can't go to Palacio de la Aljaferia because it's closed, so the Linzoain's decide to head back to Pamplona and Staša and I go off into the city. We end up at a tapas restaurant, La Pilara, which happens to be in the renown "El Tubo" district. Head to the hotel, Hotel Avenida, to drop off our stuff and head back out to the city. We snap photos and walk along a new route. We stop at a quaint cafe, La Bendita, that is actually pretty crowded, despite it being siesta time. 

We walk around some more and find ourselves back at Plaza del Pilar with an amazingly lit up Basilica. Stop at a tapas restaurant on the plaza, Piazza, with pretty good tapas, and quite cheap.

The hotel has some awesomely thin walls, so the people in the hall and other rooms who come in late and make various disturbing noises, are very clearly heard.

Thoughts:Quite a lot of people out and about for a Sunday, especially since all the stores are closed. Barbershop and salons around the city are open and crowded. Murals and graffiti (street art) are everywhere and really good. Africans selling stuff. Ridiculously windy all day.

The whole group ready to explore the city
The whole group ready to explore the city

Thursday, February 19, 2015

14 Random Things This American Notices About Spain and Europe

I am learning something new everyday here in Navarra; usually it's a new Spanish word that I immediately forget or the name of someone I've just met. My brain is always working, whether actively to help me reach my goals, or passively causing me to zone out in Spanish class and think about unrelated things. Whenever I think of something, I write it down so I don't forget it. Well, if you do that enough, you end up with a list of random things that you decide to share with people via a blog. Here's that list:

Spain related things

1. I have no idea why (and if anyone wants to chime in and explain, please do) but Spanish gas stations have plastic gloves for use while pumping gas. I have not seen this outside of Spain and I have never used the gloves.

gloves to pump gas

2. It seems it is taught in Spain that there are only 6 continents. North and South America are not individual continents because the are connected, unlike Europe and Asia... I also learned that in the past, people were taught there were only 5 continents (hence 5 Olympic rings) as Antartica is just a block of ice and not land. I'm sure there were some offended penguins somewhere.


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