Another Year, Another Trip to Spain.

Why do I always leave packing until the last minute?

At least my Kindle has plenty of stuff to read and my iPod has enough of The National to keep me from wanting to gouge my eyes out after 6+ hours of B-movies and Kardashians re-runs that they’ll probably be screening on the plane.


See you in Madrid!

Galicia Profunda (Pontevedra, Ourense, and a little bit of Lugo)

El tiempo vuela…


Plaza America (Vigo).

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were a wonderful time nonetheless and it was great to spend time with the grandparents and hear their stories of when they lived in New York.  Andrea was positively hyper due to gifts from Papa Noel and the sugar rush from all of the turron.  A day later, it was time to bid farewell to everyone (and avoid an Iberia strike) and head back to the US.  Saying goodbye at the airport was extremely difficult (we were all crying), but I try to remember that it is not a true goodbye and I will see my Spanish family again sooner than I expect.

…and I’m back!

Normally, my plane rides are pretty eventless.  Yesterday, however, I had the honor and distinction of sitting next to this Catalan guy who proceeded to tell me how odd I am (“So, my kids want to go to the US to study and you want to come HERE?”) and that I speak in circles (“like a typical Galician.”).  Deep down on the inside he must have really liked me though, because 7 hours later (well, 9 if you count the delays), I had an invitation to visit him and his family in Barcelona.  Next summer!


All of the delays meant that getting to my connection was going to be tricky.  After running at light speed to the extreme end of Terminal 4 (Gate 92, to be exact) and not allowing myself to be distracted by the faint smell of coffee and remembering how badly I needed one, I was the final passenger on the flight headed to Vigo.


50 minutes later…and I arrived!  I can’t even put into words how happy I was to see everyone.  Hugs, kisses everything.  Their first reactions as we made our way into the parking garage:


“Oh wow, you’ve gotten so skinny.  Are you eating at school?  Do your parents know how much weight you’ve lost?”

“What happened to your Spanish?  You speak with an American accent now!”

“Do you have a boyfriend at school?  Why not?  You know, if you return to Vigo next summer, you’d have an internship AND a boyfriend.”


I’m glad that parents are parents no matter where in the world you are; I love it. 馃檪


So not only am I odd, but I am a great distraction tool.  Little Andrea was so excited that she was unable to focus for her evening classes and the professor told her it was better to stay home.  So of course, I was up with her, and she was telling me all about the past few months and planning all of these adventures for us.


I also met one of Mary’s students last night.  Her younger sister is looking to move to Chicago for her PhD and wants to know more about the city before enrolling in the short exchange program.  It looks like I’ll be meeting with the two of them next week.


Next week, I’m headed to Terras Gauda to speak with some of the directors, I’ll be meeting a couple in Vigo that knows “everyone” in the wine business in Rias Baixas, and I’m headed to a reception for female entrepreneurs in Vigo.


Because I did not pack my 60D and my new super-wide angle lens for nothing, I’m hoping to head to Leon for a day and a half with my good friend Laura!  Salamanca was going to be a bit far for such a short trip, but next time that we’re both in Spain together, I will pay her a visit.  (After typing this, I realized that I forgot to pack the cable for my camera so I’ll have to add photos once I’m back in the US.  Oops.)


Did I mention how horribly jetlagged I was?  I was practically sleeping at the dinner table last night.  I’ll have to cut this short, but after a glorious 12 hours of sleep, it’s time for a coffee and to get to work!



Living the Dream (Spanish wine and cheese edition)

During the past week, I have attended two very important events related to the products of Spain. Sure, it was a whirlwind of shaking hands, networking, learning about wines that have recently been imported to the US, and receiving the 3000+ year history of Spanish cheese production in a 2 hour class.  Despite all of the work, I am happy to report that both events were ridiculously fun.



On October 6, I attended Great Match, an event that brings Spanish winery representatives, importers, retailers, and consumers together for a day that begins with workshops and ends with tastings.  This event is unique in that it highlights ALL wine-producing regions of Spain, rather than simply continuing to market already-famous varietals and bodegas.

Blanca gave a wonderful explanation of the history of Spanish cheese production, how Sephardic culture influenced Spanish cheese production, and reasons why many Spanish cheeses are not eligible for import to the US.  Spanish cheese must be an interesting and exciting market to enter; in 1998, there were only 11 DOPs (cheese-producing regions protected by the Spanish government) and now there are 26.


Naturally, I asked Blanca where one can purchase Spanish cheeses in Chicago.  My next project: to chat with the owners of these stores and maybe even observe purchasing patterns.  I’d love to sell lesser-known cheeses (such as arzua ulloa from Galicia and gamonedo from Asturias) , but Blanca explained that many people here confuse Mexican manchego and Spanish manchego…it looks there’s some teaching to be done as well!

So long sweet summer…

 It’s been a while since I’ve written.  After my trip to the south of Spain at the beginning of the summer, my life in Spain (and in general) became such a busy whirlwind that it was impossible to sit for a little while, collect my thoughts, or edit photos.  But it was all in the best way possible – I was living in the moment, spending time with amazing people that I know will be friends for the rest of my life, and working towards my goals.  Never once did I feel homesick.  (Alright, except when my dear friend Colin told me how great Death Cab’s show was…THEN I felt homesick.)

Is it really over?  I can’t say for certain.  I can hope that I secure the internship of my dreams next summer and then no, it will be a continuation of what I have worked on this summer.  I just fear that if there is no such opportunity, that Plans B and C may not work out, and I’ll have to take any old internship for the sake of taking it.


After a full day of unpacking, assembling, hammering, and pretending like I know how to use a level at my new apartment in Chicago, all of this “hit” me.  It’s the end of the summer and I have no clue where it went.


But all of the 11am coffee breaks, aimless walks after dinner, Saltamontes, quests for about a sapling’s worth of paper to burn for San Juan, mojito-making, inside jokes about furancho employees, public transportation SNAFUs, an excursion to the Vigo Zoo, culiminating with pijama party on the eve of my departure – I will carry those memories with me always.

Oh, how I love C谩diz.

Ahh, Cádiz.  It may have been upwards of 40 degrees centigrade, but at least that deceptive breeze from the sea kept me temporarily cool (and duped me into thinking I wouldn’t need to reapply sunscreen…oops).



Cádiz is unique in that many of the sights to see are spread out, rather than concentrated in one central location.  The beach is quite a distance from the cathedral, the cathedral quite a haul from some of the museums, etc.  Unfortunately, time was of the essence here; this is what happens when you only have a week off from school and want to see as much as humanely possible.  With only 24 hours at my disposal, I had to be efficient.




Catedral de Cádiz: Definitely a humble cathedral in comparison to many of the others that I have seen in Spain.  That crypt, however…oh boy, how creepy.  The echoes, weird shadows cast along the walls – I didn’t spend too long down there.  If you walk across the plaza, you are able to enter the cathedral’s museum, which has all sorts of artwork and religious articles from the 15th century through the 19th century.




Museo de Cádiz: I was amazed by the sheer number of Phoenician and Roman artifacts in this museum.  I was also impressed by how advanced many of the tools from this period were.  The museum also contains some modern artwork, the juxtaposition of which was very interesting.


I also can’t believe how content my stomach was from this particular trip.  Lightly fried seafood and albondigas de merluza (and beer and wine to cool down, naturally)…mmm.  Looks like shopping for all of the clothes I’ll need in Chicago will have to wait if I want to have anything close to an accurate measurement of my actual suit size.


Speaking of shopping, my dear dad had given me all sorts of random things this weekend that I’ve been toting around in a very heavy backpack.  I just couldn’t take it anymore and caved – I bought another piece of luggage.  At least I can now justify purchasing those espadrilles…


C贸rdoba…the British are coming?

The title of this entry is half-serious.  My first observation: There were SO many Brits in Córdoba.  My second observation: Good God, everything is at least twice the price of anything in Galicia.  A friend that I made on this leg of the journey, Luis, explained to me that there is a correlation between the two.  Wealthy British folks have made Córdoba their home and as a result, the city is like a modern-day Babel AND a can of Kas is 2 euros.

You call THIS a tortilla?!  Womp womp.

3) I ate the Famous Ray’s Original “The Real Deal” version of tortilla espanola.  And it was not pretty.  I’ll have to Yelp it.

4) There’s apparently a hipster bar in Córdoba, where one can drink cheap beer (if the beer in Spain isn’t cheap enough already!) and listen to indie dance tunes.  Cool!

5) It was 45 degrees centigrade.  In the shade.  I’ll let the Yanks do the temperature conversion on that one.

6) That Andalucian accent “drop the d” thing is catchy.  I wish I could speak like that.

After two action-packed days in Córdoba, it was time to move along to my next destination: Cádiz.  At the risk of sounding like a nerd, I’m on the edge of my seat awaiting the results from my exam!


A little bit of C贸rdoba…

Fountains at the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos


…with tales of my travels to follow shortly!

Playa America > Playa Misericordia

Playa Misericordia in Málaga.


Even though the water in Galicia is about 10 degrees centigrade, the beaches are much better maintained than they are in Málaga.  Although the beaches are very picturesque in Málaga, a lot of people litter (unfortunately) and the sand is pretty rocky.  With that said, I am now somewhere between amber and crimson in color…

…and then it was off to M谩laga

After a lot of San Juan revelry, my first Spanish exam, and an “eventful” night, I was running awake for 48 hours with 2 hours of sleep.  As I like to say, there’s nothing a little caffeine can’t fix.  At 5:45am, I was off to the airport for the first stop on my Andalucian adventure: Málaga.  An even better treat: my dad made a stop in Spain to hang out with me on Saturday.


After catching up over a caña with my dad, we headed over to a tapas bar (El Tapeo de Cervantes) for dinner.  My dad and I caught up on life and strategized my move to Chicago.  (I honestly have no idea how I am going to pull this off.)  It only took two days for me to be known as a “regular” here and to have the bartender sneaking single malts my way.


Next stop: Córdoba!