Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Booooooooo! Happy Halloween! I am pretty sad I am missing Halloween because I do love a good costume party, but eventhough they don't celebrate it over here, we are celebrating it at the school because it is an English-speaking holiday. The kids already know a little bit about it...mostly that they get candy and how to say trick-o-treat for that candy hahaha.

As a school we decide what arts and crafts activity that everyone is going to do for the holidays. This year we decided to make these candy holders and then have candy ready for them to trick-o-treat for. They got to decorate them with drawings (dibujos) and stickers (patinas) and then some shiny confetti (confeti) and write Happy Halloween in special markers (plumas). This was quite a hit. With the young kids, I made up bingo boards and had them practice drawing ghosts, witches, spiders, mummies and other Halloweeny things. I tried my hand at drawing on my white board and suprisingly got a lot of compliments on my artwork...which I am pretty sure looks terrible but they were pretty excited to see me draw bats and skeletons haha. With the older kids I downloaded some Halloweeny music. While they are not official Halloween songs, I downloaded The Monster Mash, I Put a Spell on You (from Hocus Pocus which no one knows out here), Thriller, Ghostbusters and some other silly songs. I looked up the lyrics and then deleted out a few words for the kids to listen to the song and have to fill in. They love doing activities like this because it's not book work and they get to listen to American music. Erika and Adam liked the songs I picked out too and they used them for thier classes and they were a hit! What the kids like the most about Halloween is the candy though. With my small classes of young kids, I would explain how we go trick-o-treating in the USA and then I would sit in my teacher chair and have a load of candy and make them come up to me like I was in my house and then they would knock on the door and trick-o-treat and so I would let them pick a piece of candy and then I would make them run around the classroom to go to pretend they are going to a different house (otra casa). They loved it! I also brought a white scarf to work this week and it came in handy in making myself look like a ghost and a mummy to chase the kids around. Overall a very fun week that the kids enjoyed!

They don't celebrate Halloween here but instead celebrate All Saint's Day on November 1st. This isn't a Spain-specific holiday and is celebrated all over in many different countries. This kind of reminds me of Memorial Day in the USA because this day is all about honoring the dead and going to thier graves and bringing them offerings (ofrendas). They bring presents and flowers, light candles and perform songs at the graves. Definitley not as commerical as Halloween right!?

Hope you enjoyed the cute kids in the pics! I love them! They are SO adorable and get so excited about learning English. I also hope you have a GREAT Halloween! Eat some Twix bars for me and get a good costume. I guess when Carnival comes around I will have a chance to dress up but right now I am wishing I could rock my Sacajawea or Safeway costume and go trick-o-treating hahahah!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

The end of another weekend

Hello again! Not much to report this time, but I got took some black and white shots that I thought you might want to see, so I figured I would write a short note. Today wasn't anything special. We celebrated a friend's birthday last night so I slept in late and spent the morning relaxing. Met up with my American friends for some cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and conversation. It was good to meet with them again (Derek and Mandy) and this time I got to meet thier kids which was great! They also invited a girl who just moved here. She is 23 and from Orlando. Her name is Christine and she is an Au Pair here for the year for a rich family. It was great to meet someone my age from the States. She seemed nice and told me about these free language classes she is taking at the Red Cross. That will be my quest this week, find this Red Cross and check out the times and such. I will keep you posted!

After walking around time, eating some ice cream and taking the kids to the carousel, we called it a day. I don't have any big plans for the evening...just relax! My boss lent me two Spanish movies so I will probably watch one of them tonight.

Wanted to share a few of these pics! These might make it to my 'favorite shots' strip! It's fun to play around on the camera once in awhile...I never really think in black and white so it's good to see when they turn out! Maybe I will change it up next time with sepia!

Anyways, I am off to cook some dinner! I hope your weekend went well and you start the last week of October off well tomorrow!


Un Sábado Ocupdado (A busy Saturday)

Happy Weekend! I can't beleive it's almost November...which will mean I have almost been here for TWO months, crazy! While I have been here that long, I still find things to do on the weekend that I haven't done before or go new places, and today was no exception. I slept in after a late night last night with friends and then was out the door, with no plan in mind (very Basque-like!) The day provided a relaxing walk and many pictures for you guys to see!

I started off on the Boulevard, the main drag in San Sebastian. I heard a bunch of music and activity coming from one of of the street and decided to go check it out. Guess what it was? Ohhhh a cheese competition. It was like San Sebastian Cheese Festival or something and there were about 20 booths sampling thier cheeses and selling cheese sandwiches for 1 euro. I, of course, was delighted. I sampled a few cheeses, I have no idea what I tried but I liked most of them. I also grabbed a cup of cider that is so popular here! The cheese was SO expensive to buy a big round of but I was quite happy with the little samples and the 1 euro sandwiches. Good lunch. I don't know how they determined the winner, but it happened to be one of the stands I bought a sandwich from! You can see the trophy in the pic...its that wooden thing on the left! Woo hoo, I have good taste in cheese besides Tillamook. Mmmmm cheese.

After the winner was announced and I had loaded up on delicious cheese, I decided I should head to a part of the harbor I have not ventured to yet. The weather has went back to being nice so today it was sunny skies and about 70º out which was good because the breeze from the water can be chilly. I walked the part of the harbor that is right on the water and was suprised to see so many painters out. This town is lovely and I guess inspires many people to interpret that. I originally thought maybe everyone was part of some class and they were doing thier paint exercise outside but they were everywhere I walked, so I determined everyone just likes to paint ha. Maybe I will make it a new hobby!

I continued walking and found a spot where the waves sometimes rushed up over the bank and splashed on the people! It was pretty entertaining. I found a place where the waves had not come over the wall and decided to sit there for awhile. It was the perfect amount of breeze and sometimes the splash would make the air a little misty but nothing bad...UNTIL a huge wave came and I got soaked hahahahahah. After that I just gave up and started walking home, stopping along the way to see other people get soaked and I tried to see how long I could stand next to the wall until I needed to run haha. It was very fun but I had not planned on getting so wet, oh well! I did see this lady sitting on wall and she must go there a lot because she NEVER got wet, she just sat there while everyone else was getting soaked. Next time I go back to test the huge waves, I will just sit there...not a very good place if you're afraid of heights though!

I spent most of the rest of the day at the beach with friends. We did homework, practiced speaking in Spanish and just relaxed. It was a nice end to the day. Hopefully we have just as nice weather tomorrow!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Un Cena Fabulosa! (A fabulous dinner)

Hello everyone! The week is over half over, and while it is Thursday, the day I dread the most, it is gorgeous out, so you can't have a bad day!

Last night, after work, our boss took us teachers out to dinner and a super nice restaurant (restaurante in spanish and jatetxea in basque) in Hondarribia! My boss' name is Helena and she is Sweedish. She is married to a Basque man and has lived in Hondarribia for quite some time now. She has 3 kids, 2 of which are my students! She opened this school by herself and a year later met Erika, another Sweedish lady. Erika is a teacher at the school as well and has been here for 7 years. She basically runs the place because Helena is very busy with her kids. The other teacher is Adam Peck, a guy from Canada who has been living here for a few years after studying here for his Ph. D. And then there is me, the American girl who has never even been to Europe haha!

Helena wanted to treat us to a nice dinner and get to know us a little better. Around 9:30pm, we went to Abarka, which was the name of the restaurant. It was an old, rustic building...very Basque. You can check out the website by clicking here. She told us they customarily order an appetizer of meats, followed by a first course, second course and then dessert! There was SO much on the menu, most of which I wouldn't have even imagined eating 5 years ago. They brought us a complimentary soup, which we drank out of a shot-glass. It would have been like a triple shot glass, but it definitley reminded me of a shot glass haha. It was some tuna soup or something and was just right because we had just come in from the freezing outside! This was followed promptly by champagne, yum! We later ordered a bottle of red wine (vino tinto) from the Rioja region, which is the famous wine region in Basque Country. For my first course I ordered Raviolis Mariscos, which are seafood raviolis! Who would have and seafood! They were DELICIOUS...they rivaled Chef Boyardee haha. For my second course I ordered a filet mignon with a cheese risotto. Having never tried risotto, I was pleasantly surprised and also loved this dish. For dessert, I saved room for the carmelized french toast, again very tasty.

It was great to be away from the school and talk about other things besides kids, grammar and english games! I really like the people I work with and we all get along very well. Helena told us that she had been making her way around the playgrounds in the town (which are like THE hotspot and social scene in Hondarribia because all the kids go there, which means all the parents do too...always a million people at the playgrounds!) and that she had been hearing really good things about our teaching! Most kids that are in my young classes have a brother or sister that are in the older classes too and sometimes even a parent takes classes! Helena had said that parents are saying thier kids are really enjoying class and really like us - yay!

Once midnight hit, we decided we better call it a night. It was a great dinner and I managed to steal some pictures because I told them all about my blog and figured you guys would want to see the people that I work with! I was sitting next to Helena and Adam and Erika were sitting on the other side of the table! They all say hello :D

Off to work now, enjoy your day!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dulces sueños para mi! (Sweet Dreams for me)

I just woke up and am headed to work early for a private lesson, but wanted to share a quick funny dream I just had. I had a dream I got lost on my way to the bus, which is virtually impossible since it is about 5 minutes walking distance from my house. I ended up in a different part of town and what did I see? STARBUCKS! Hahaha, did I really just have a dream about Starbucks? Well, in my dream I went in and found out that the regular wait time for your drink is 30 minutes, no good. Since I was lost I realized I couldn't wait that long since I needed to catch my bus. I am guessing that if I didn't have a bus to catch, I would have waited. Then I woke up and realized, alas, there is no Starbucks here!

I do have Panchito's which I mentioned awhile ago. It is rather tasty and is a good Starbucks substitute. I usually get a vanilla latte, which when said with a spanish accent sounds more like bye-nilla latte. In fact, I am headed out right now to get one! Someone though...please get a carmel macchiato today and while you drink it, think of me! Hopefully I will feel the energy across the globe!

Enjoy your day!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Boos and Bravos of my Day

Well, today had its ups and downs. Here they are:

BRAVO - I found a store I can rent movies (películas) at, set up an account and rented Volver. Good practice saying my phone number and my address haha! While I don't really understand what day I am supposed to bring it back, I still think it is a Bravo because I set up some sort of account by myself!

BRAVO - I changed my computer to be Spanish so now I can type things like: ñ, í, á, ¿, ¡ and such. While it seems like an easy switch, there are a lot of differences on the keyboard, so it has taken me awhile to figure out where the colon, parentheses, quotations and other keys are because they have all moved around, so if you see puncation errors, I am sorry!

BOO - After all my raving about the amazing Fall weather, I should have known it wouldn't last! Today it started out nice, then BAM it started pouring and lasted all day. I started off the day in a long sleeve dress and flats, which fit the weather nicely in the morning, but man, when I was coming home on the bus, I was freeeeeeezing.

BRAVO - I bought the activity/exercise book for my Spanish text. Now I can do even more homework hahaha. So silly to be excited about homework, but I am really pumped to become fluent, so if homework helps then I will do it!

BRAVO - While walking to the movie place today, someone asked me- ME for directions to a store and I was proud because 1) I actually understood what they said, 2) I knew where the store was and 3) I was able to give directions in Spanish, which is something I have not done in quite some time!

BOO - I finally found waffles after a month of looking only to realize that I still have not found syrup. ¿Dondé está Señora Buttersworth? (Where is Mrs. Buttersworth?) I guess I will continue my searches.

BRAVO - My classes all went really well today. I had an 18-year old who is preparing for a huge English certificate test, 4 teenage girls who were very giggly today and a small group of 8 year-olds who loved learning about food.

BRAVO - I cooked a delicious dinner, am cuddled up in my pajamas and am going to watch a movie and then go to sleep...perfect rainy day weather!

That kind of sums up my day...nothing too exciting but still not completely dull! More Bravos than Boos! That's always good! I hope all is well with you guys and the weather is better for you!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Kicking the week off!

Whew, the day is almost over - I can't beleive it! Today went so quickly. I had a private lesson this morning, which was pretty good. It is with a girl that is 18 and today we talked all about adjectives (adjectivos). It's been a long time since I had to identify adjectives in a sentence and was a little thrown off by this sentence: "It is nice to meet you". Now I would say that there isn't an adjective in this sentence, but apparently, nice is the correct answer. The book we use teaches that adjectives always come before the verb, but the verb is 'It is' and 'to meet you' is in the infinitive. I know, I know, you aren't trying to learn English, so I will stop, but needless to say, I was a bit thrown off today ha! I guess I still have some English learning to do.

My Spanish class was today, for one hour. My tutor, Carmen, packed in loads of material for the one hour. I think we covered all of this: numbers (numeros), time (tiempo), adjectivos, the verbs Ser and Estar, which are the Be verbs in Spanish, money, phrasal verbs like 'I have to ___' and 'I am going to ___', possesive nouns, months (meses), reading, alphabet, talking about yourself and much more. It was like a whirlwind one-hour review of all of the Spanish I have ever learned! I was pleased with how much I remembered and that I was able to communicate, even if I do have a funny American accent when I speak Spanish!

The rest of the classes were good - a test for my teenage boys, an arts and crafts fruit mobile for my 6-year-old girls and interviews for my teenage girls. Overall, a pretty easy day and am home now for dinner and to rest up for tomorrow!

I did want to share a few pictures of a judo event I saw while on the way to work. It was like a recital but for judo, which is very popular here. The group was singing and using instruments to make the beat and then fighting to the beat. If it were an Olympic sport, I would call it rhythmic fighting. Wait...maybe judo is an Olympic sport already - hahaha I have no idea! There was even a little young boy, probably 8 or 9, and he was awesome and definitley kept up with the big kids, except that he couldn't roundhouse kick over thier heads, obviously! I saw my fair share of back-flips, break-dancing style moves and cool kicks. Just another day in the life I guess!

Hope your Mondays were great and you're starting your week off nicely.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

¡Otoño está aquí! Autumn is here!

Well, today it seemed official - eventhough it happened almost a month ago - Fall is here! Today it was warm out, nice enough just for a light sweater but the air had a tint of wind in it that blew the leaves all over. I spent a good amount of the day outside, doing homework - fun fun! It really wasn't bad, and I can't complain too much since I assigned it to myself haha. I took the newspaper and picked a few articles that looked interesting and then read them. Sounds easy enough, but it seems like there are so many words that I didn't know, so I made sure to write down all the words I didn't know and then took the time to look them up in my dicionario and define them! After doing that I made myself write a little synopsis of the article to practice my writing. It was a nice day to be outside so I picked long articles so I could stay out in the sun. Exciting stuff - I picked 3 articles - one about a new exhibit at the Museo del Bellas Artes in Bilbao, one about the financial crisis and Europe's response and such (that was rather difficult since it was all about economical terms and sorts) and the last one was a travel peice on Air France's 75th aniversary (aniversario). I learned quite a lot of new words, some of which I might try and slide into conversation from time to time! I think it was a good exercise and probably helped quite a lot. I read the paper all the time but I don't ever write down all the words I don't know, so this was good.

I started off here on a bench in front of the river. It is a long walkway that I usually jog, so it was nice to sit down and relax there. The leaves were blowing all over in the wind and people were out in droves enjoying the weather. I kept getting distracted people-watching, but no big deal. One leaf, a kind of sad one, blew up onto my newspaper. It was like Fall saying: "Amanda, here is Fall, stop doing your homework and enjoy it." Kind of made me laugh, so I took a picture, finished my article and did just what Fall said - I got up, walked around took some scenery shots, enjoyed the new season and then decided on a new place for the second article. You can see in the shot the article I read - the one in big, bold headline letters. Pretty boring. The article above it is the art exhibit one - much more interesting.

My second location was further down the river. With the sun setting, it was nice to find a place in the rays. I worked on the second article about art, and suprisingly knew some Spanish art terms - who would have thought?! After I read this one, the sun escaped and I was chilly in the shade and decided to move one more time for a last homework location. I snapped some more shots on the way. You would think I had never seen a Fall with the way I was so excited about the leaves changing! The last article was pretty entertaining compared to the last two. It showed some of the outfits that the air hostesses (azafatas - yep just learned that one today!) wore in the 1950's and other decades. Pretty comical!

I finished the day off with a movie in Spanish. I was going to rent Volver, but figured I would be cool and try and buy it online and download it. That didn't work out too well, so then I tried to find a place to rent movies. I finally found it and then there were about 30 people in the small store, so I figured it was probably not a good idea to try and set up an account and check out a movie for the first time when a huge amount of people were in line behind me. I decided I would watch a movie I took from my work and just watch it in Spanish. It was Little Women, which I have never seen, suprisingly. It was good, but pretty difficult to understand in Spanish. Maybe someday I will watch it in English - probably will understand a bunch more!

Now the day is almost over and I am preparing for bed. I have Spanish class tomorrow - yay! I hope you had a good weekend!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Walk Around Town

Well, today was a gorgeous Saturday. Not a cloud in the sky but still a crisp feel to the air that lets you know it´s Fall (Otoño). I spent a few hours of my day walking around taking shots of the city that I thought you might enjoy. The Basque people live thier lives outdoors and are always walking around during the weekend (well, all days I suppose). They do not have any specific destination, but rather just walk and talk with friends and enjoy the joy of both. I enjoy talking with friends, but am still adjusting to meandering. Americans rush from place to place, always a destination in mind, and I am trying to embrace this new way of thinking. My wandering today seemed to be a good start and produced many good pics!

I started off by my house and caught two ladies standing on thier balconies studying the people on the streets. It´s funny once you start thinking about it, balconies, because they are part of your house which makes them private, but once you step outside onto it, you come into the street, a very public place. Weird tangent, I know. I have always loved people-watching, and still manage to do quite a lot of it here, but it was fun to people-watch someone who was already doing thier own people-watching.

I did not venture too far today, stayed in the Parte Vieja and Centro, but wanted to give you an idea of what the buildings and streets and such look like. I still appreciate the beauty of these historic and massive buildings, but they are becoming normal to me, and I sometimes forget to share it with you. It´s like if you look at your own house, library or churches in your own town, you forget that other people don´t see stuff like that every day - so here are some pics! First stop - City Hall! This building sits right next to (al lado de) the Concha Beach and faces a large plaza with a carousel, benches, fountains and sculptures. I stayed here for some time, reading, relaxing and of course people-watching! After somet time I meandered through the streets towards the grocery store (dang, I still have an end place in mind, can´t just wander mindlessly yet!) All of the streets besides the main Boulevard and a few other large roads are made of grey stones. The sidewalks are all made of white stones and the bike lanes, which run all over the city, are made of red stones. Overall, its a nice mix (mezclav). The buildlings here are what I would normally call Spanish style, which I know is a silly explanation since they are in Spain, but I think you get the idea. They are all right on the street and when you open your front door you are RIGHT there on the stones. They remind me of the buildings in NY for the fact that they are all 4 or 5 stories high and many of them do not have elevators. Supposedly, there were some zoning laws at some point that restricted builders from having too many stories so as a result a lot of buildings here are kind of tricky. The first floor will be named Entrada (entrance) and what I would think of as the second floor is really the 1st floor (1º piso). So when I say that I live on the first floor, it really means that I live on the second story of the building - silly.

I eventually made it to the grocery store where I picked up some raisins (pasas), bananas (plátanos) and muffins (panecillos). Not an exciting trip, but wanted to get some stuff today because everything will be closed tomorrow (mañana). Stopped again at Plaza Guipuzcoa to see the ducks and was not able to find anyone feeding them lechuga, which was a relief ha! Made my way through some more streets and then home where I will take a little siesta and then meet up with friends later tonight for some wine at an outdoor bar to enjoy the weather. I hope your Saturday is going well and Fall is starting nicely! I miss you and will write more later!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

First Spanish Class Today!!!

Today was my first day of Spanish lessons - it wasn't really much of a class, but more a meet and greet of my teacher. Her name is Carmen and she is a friend of my boss who speaks Euskera (Basque), Castellano (Spanish) and Ingles (English). She seems very nice and helped my friends who taught here last year with thier Spanish as well. We met and talked about where I am from, how I am liking the job, yada yada. That was all in English, which I happen to speak very well haha. Then we switched to Spanish! She talks SO fast! I was able to understand most of what she was saying but I get so embarassed and nervous when I have to speak - I guess for fear of sounding like an idiot. I did pretty well and was able to carry on a converstaion. She taught me some new phrases and funny thing - one of them included my Spanish Word of the Day that I post on my blog for you guys. Today the word was 'contar' which can mean to tell or to count. Today she told me how to say 'tell me _____' which I guess could be a helpful phrase! I just thought it was quirky that the day that I post that verb, it comes up in a converstaion! That doesn't happen! I will have Spanish lessons on Monday and Wednesday for an hour each and will be purchasing the book over the weekend - it is called Rapido Rapido, which means Quick Quick - hopefully that means I will become fluent in Spanish quick quick! I will keep you posted. And get this, I ASKED for homework for this weekend. She agreed and I assigned myself a Spanish movie to watch (Volver with Penelope Cruz), a TV show to watch even though I don't have a TV - hopefully I can find it online, and I also volunteered to read some articles in the newspaper and explain on Monday what they were about. Jeesh - I must miss school because I just asked for a ton of homework (tarea). I am really excited though :D

As for the rest of the day, nothing crazy, just a gorgeous sunny day here in Donostia! I snapped this pic of the beach (playa) and part of the city (ciudad) from behind a plant that looked rather palm-tree-ish. I thought it was pretty and a nice bright green - something different than a plain shot of the crystal blue water, a new view. I also added it to my 'fave shots' on the right :D

Off to bed now - tomorrow offers quite a challenge - four classes in a row of kids all under the age of 8 - aaaaaaaah! I am hoping I don't go crazy...Thursdays are a bit rambunctious!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Lovely Lunes

Hi again! Just a quick note to say that I am feeling better and had a great Monday - as I hope you did as well. Got up early and headed to work for a private class. I spent about 1.5 hours prepping for my young classes. Each week they do a new 'manualidades' which I guess translates to arts & crafts. Anything that involves cutting, gluing and all that jazz. This week we are making clowns (payaso in spanish) that are holding balloons. The class that did it today loved it - I am glad it's a hit. I always love making these kids excited about learning - they have such a good time!

During my break, I grabbed a sandwich and headed down to the water. It was a gorgeous day out today and didn't want to waste it. Here is a shot of the water where I was sitting. On the other side of this body of water is France - I get to see it every day! Sadly, I only know how to say j'ampel Amanda - which is not even how you spell it- but it's how you say my name is Amanda. That's my extent of French! Spanish classes start on Wednesday...I will master that first then maybe I will attempt French - we will see.

After a nice jog (yay tennis shoes) I bought my holiday tickets! While I will not be coming home for Christmas, I am packing my holiday break full of fun. It will be my FIRST Christmas not with my family, and I know it's going to be sad and very weird, but I am hoping that I will be so busy that my holiday spirit will stay up. I get off work on the 19th and then fly to Brussels, Belgium on the 20th. I am meeting up with my friend from Kelso, Natalie Roberts (now Natalie James) and her husband (Beau) and thier son Owen. Beau is in the military and is stationed in Brussels and they have spent Christmas here before and already have it all planned out! We will spend 4 days in Brussels, seeing the sights, then head to Garmish, Germany from the 24th-27th for Christmas. From what Natalie tells me, it is in the mountains and basically is like being in a perfect snowglobe - I am excited. On the 28th I fly to Rome and meet up with a friend! We are spending New Year's Eve there and will stay until the 6th, when I have to return to Bilbao. I am very excited for this different and adventerous holiday break :)

I am headed to bed now. Hope everyone had a lovely Lunes as well.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Una Semana Aburrida (A Boring Week)

Hola everyone! Nothing too exciting to report here. I haven't been feeling too well this week or this weekend so I spent a lot of time resting and watching movies trying to recouperate. Now as I type, I am watching an episode of Law and Order - just like I used to every Sunday in NYC. While it wasn't an action-packed week, I found some things worthy of sharing :-)

I went to Eroski (the place like Target/Wal-Mart) to buy a blow-dryer. Now in Target or Wal-Mart you would normally find them in the area around the bathroom stuff like shampoo, razors, toothbrushes, etc. So I would figure the same would be for this store, but oh I was wrong. After searching that section I thought, ok, maybe it's in the section of bathroom stuff like bathmats, shower curtains, etc. Wrong again. Finally I asked a lady where the secadoras (I think that's how you spell it or something - it's the word for blow-dryer) and plancha del pelo (literally iron of the hair - for hair straightners). Turns out they are in the electronics section. I was a bit suprised when I walked there to find a blow-dryer sold next to microwaves, TVs, stereos and toasters. I guess it kind of makes sense - sell anything that plugs-in in one area - but I never would have thought of it haha.

Next weird thing of the week happened at my busstop. I was running to get a coffee before I jumped on the bus and walked past a lady feeding the ducks. Not normally a weird act, but turns out she was feeding them lechuga (lettuce). Now I have done my fair share of duck-feeding, and I think that you feed them bread crumbs and such - am I right? I though it was so funny that she was feeding them lettuce - like they were on a diet or something. I tried to steal a picture of her, but wasn't too successful because she saw me doing it and ran off.

On my way home on Friday night I saw a nice little demonstration. I took one of the pamplets that they were handin out and it was all about how they don't want a building built in some area of town. It was amusing because they were blocking the main street for about 20 minutes. People were just sitting in thier cars, not able to move. A parking garage empties out on to the street and people were backed-up into the garage and honking loud as can be! After a bit of time they marched off the street into the plaza and life continued like nothing had happened.

During a random walk around the town, I stumbled onto a street fair, which I always love. I found a bunch of stuff - art, frames, jewelry, crafty stuff, etc. Of course I had to stop by the jewelry booths and check out the rings - my favorite. I picked out a homemade ring from some Basque lady - my first Spanish jewelry purchase. I am sure there will be many more to come!

Highlight of my week: Grammy got home from her cruise that seemed like it lasted for months! It was the longest I had went without talking to her since I moved away from Washington and I missed her TONS! Everyone knows how often I talk to my Grammy so to go for 3 1/2 weeks without talking to her was hard! But she is back, safe and sound, and sounds like she had a great time on her amazing cruise! Glad to have you back Grammy!

As you can see, nothing too crazy happened this week. After many naps and a bunch of sleeping-in, I feel much better and am ready to take on another week of kids! I made a couple updates to the blog for you guys! You now will have a Spanish 'word of the day' to brush you up on some Spanish lingo! I also added a few of my favorite shots of Spain so far...more to come! I hope you had a great weekend - hopefully more exciting than mine!


Monday, October 6, 2008

Highlights of my Monday (Lunes)

Hi everyone. It was just a regular Monday but I wanted to share the good highlights :)

1) I woke up early to go to the grocery store to buy some cereal so I could eat breakfast before I caught the bus at 10:30am. I go to a grocery store called Lidl by my apartment that sells food but also a random array of household stuff each week. So, I arrived at the store at 9am when the store opened and found out that the new items come out on that day, so within 5 minutes of being there, the store was PACKED. It worked out though - I bought a nice rain coat, which I have been needing, for 11 euros. I got my cereal too...Sugar Smacks are the pick of the week. Tasty cereal and a good deal on a rain coat - good start to the morning.

2) My boss told me that my students have all been saying really good things about my classes and they love coming to English class and really like me. One of my students today asked me if when she gets older can I still be here English teacher - adorable.

3) I found out that you can take the fresh baugettes and loafs of bread at the grocery store by my work and take them to the deli/meat counter and have them make you a sandwich (bocadilla). Turkey (pavo) and cheese (queso - I get Havarti) - oh the regular joys of life. No mayonaise, but I won't complain. Highlight 2 of the grocery store - I found applesauce.

4) Got a new roommate today and when I arrived home, he had made dinner for the entire house...perfect, since I was starving. Another German, this one just hiked the Pyrenees for 40 days and just moved here for fun - random but very nice. What would be REALLY nice is if a girl moved it!

5) I determined that my bus driver has a crush on the girl who works at the toll booth on the freeway when the line for the pass (that you know ALL buses have for toll freeways) had no one in it, and the line for actually paying cash had a long line and he stopped in that one, and held a little conversation with the girl, who was blushing and smiling the whole time. Aww crushes.

Well, that's my day in a nutshell - nothing crazy but some high points :) It's the little things in life that make it great! I hope you had a lovely day as well!


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tranquilo weekend

Hi everyone! I hope that your weekend is finishing up well. I didn't do anything too exciting this weekend, just relaxed but wanted to write you anyways!

Friday night as very uneventful in terms of activities, however I did manage to make a tuna casserole. For all that know me, you know that tuna casserole is pretty much a weekly meal for me. Since in Spain, I have not had it for a few reasons - 1) they do not have Tilamook sad, and 2) they do not have cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. But on Friday night I was looking for some food from home and was determined to figure out how to cook some tuna casserole. I found some 4 Cheese grated cheese at the store (Gouda, Cheddar, Emmental and something else - basically 3 cheeses I don't eat haha) and mixed it with some milk to make the sauce and ta-da easy as that I had tuna casserole. Here in Spain, they don't have the regular milk that you buy at your grocery store - we have UHT milk, which is ultra-heat-treated milk. It is sold in cartons and isn't refridgerated. Amazingly, it is good for months. Check it out here! The milk I bought this week is good until December! The tuna casserole wasn't as amazing as I could make at home, but it was delicious and made my night. I made a movie night out of it and stayed in because I was pretty tired from the week. Exciting life I know ha.

Saturday I made it a mission to buy a bookshelf. San Sebastian is the uppity city in Basque Country and as a result there are many high-end botiques that sell things for ridiculous prices. Seeing as I will only be here a year, I didn't feel like paying 100 euros for a bookshelf. Ikea is miles and miles away so I found the bus that goes to the mall and hopped on it. What did I find when I got to the mall - something EXACTLY like Wal-Mart or Target. I kind of felt like I was at home! I got my bookshelf and a random array of other items like groceries and things to sprurce my bedroom up so it feels homey. I found some Mexican food - in the international aisle. I am used to getting tortilla chips for like $1 but here since it's international and fancy a baby bag costs like 2 euros! Tacos here I come! While I managed to find a lot of good deals, it wasn't so fun to lug it all home on the bus and then carry it the ten minutes from the bus stop to my apartment. The shelf was rather heavy and I considered it my workout for the day! The room is coming together and I should have some pics up soon!

I went out with my roommates and some friends Saturday night to a disco. Now, normally I would say I went to a club, but if you say club here, it means brothel. I don't want anyone thinking I go to brothels on Saturday night haha! We stayed out until 6am, which is how they do it over here. The place was still packed when we left, but man I was tired and just wanted to sleep!

Sunday was perfect and very tranquilo. It rained most of the week, so I was happy to wake up to warm weather and sunshine. I dedicated my day to the Concha Playa and spent about 4 hours laying around, swimming and taking cat naps on the beach. I saw some other colored swimsuits besides black this time, so didn't feel like my brown swimsuit stuck out so much! After 4 hours, I decided my skin probably needed a little break from the sun so I grabbed an ice cream (which was huge - probably about the size of my face) and started walking around, looking for language schools. My new favorite ice-cream is yogurt con frutas de bosque con yogurt con frescitas. They let you pick two flavors to mix so I always get this combo - it's yogurt with fruits (raspberries and blueberries) and yogurt with strawberries. It tastes EXACTLY like Pinkberry for those of you who appreciate Pinkberry in the way that I do hahahah!

Once the sun started to set, I made my way back home to get ready for another week! Of course I snapped some pictures during the day though - it seems like I won't leave my apartment without my camera! I caught a man fishing, a shot of the Parte Vieja from an opening in the railing of the Boardwalk and a shot of me with the Concha Playa in the backgrou. Weekends are best! Hope you're enjoying yours!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Wheels on the Autobus!

While it seems like a silly topic, I spend about an hour or hour and a half on the bus each day so I thought maybe I could share some of that lovely experience with you! It may seem wierd but it's my life ha!

Every day that I got to work, I catch the bus at the Plaza Guipuzcoa (see left). This bus stop is pretty popular I guess...lots of buses. The building in the background is a government building, and I wait in this little park of a plaza. My Starbucks-esque coffee place is right on the corner, so I usually head to the bus stop, get a coffee and wait for the ride. When I arrive in Hondarribia (see right), here is my view - so cute. Everything in Hondarribia is very pure Basque - hardly any tourists at all. My bus stop is on a round-about, which are every where here. You can't drive for more than 5 minutes and then you run into a round-about. Most of them are pretty and have a fountain or some foilage in them.

I am becoming pretty used to public transporation. In NYC, that's all you really use, and since I don't have a European liscense, that's about all I can use here. It's pretty convenient and cheap, but you are always at the mercy of the bus schedule. When I lived in NYC, I would always pick up this paper - The Metro - and read it on the subway. It was just some free daily paper that they handed out at the subway entrance and it was the easiest to fold in half to either 1) read or 2) fan yourself if it was super hot in the subway. Funny thing now is that they have The Metro here as well - a San Sebastian edition! So now instead of reading it on a 30 minute subway ride, I read it on a 30 minute bus ride! I was actually so suprised and thought it was such a funny coincidence that I took a picture of myself on the bus with the paper - which I am sure made me look like a crazy woman. Those crazy Americans...

The thing that made me think to write this silly blog was my bus ride today. I got on the bus, minding my own business and a few minutes later two ladies get on and sit right behind me. They start talking in English about how they are confused with the schedule and the price and all this stuff. I turned around and explained the schedule and fare to them and they asked where I was from. When I get that question, I always say from Washington, but just moved from NYC. Turns out these ladies were from NYC as well - only about 4 blocks from where I actually lived! They were in the 60s and just wanted to come to Spain for a week for fun and check out the Guggenheim and some wineries. We ended up talking the whole bus ride - about thier travels, my decision to move here, etc. No one on the bus ever speaks English, so people were just staring at us like we were celebrities. It was really funny and such a random event to find someone who was basically my neighbor all the way over here in San Sebastian! Marion and Sally - they made me smile.

Well, that's it for tonight - obviously not that exciting of a day for me hahah! Hope all is well! Watch the Vice-President debate tonight (I can't watch it until tomorrow morning because of time difference) so I have that on my agenda for the day tomorrow!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A bird's eye view...

Hi everyone! I thought it was about time I gave you an idea of where I am actually living in Spain. When my little sister asked her Spanish teacher if she could show her where San Sebastian is on the map and her teacher had NO idea, I figured everyone doesn't know where I am haha! I had no idea where San Sebastian, Spain was before I came here either - so no worries!

So, this first picture is of Spain and the states/provinces in the country. Madrid and Barcelona, the very well-known cities are on the east side of the country...I reside on the West Coast. I guess if I didn't move back to the West Coast of the USA, atleast I moved to the West Coast of Spain ;) So, you can see my province - Pais Vasco (Basque Country)- with the arrow! There is also a province in France that is considered Pais Vasco but for today, let's just do Spain! Since my province likes to consider itself it's own country, there are actually three provinces in my province! They are: 1) Alava (Araba in Basque) which I have not been to yet; 2) Vizcaya (Bizkaia in Basque) which main city is Bilbao (Bilbo in Basque) - where I flew into; and last but not least 3) Guipuzcoa (Gipuzkoa in Basque) which is my province! There you go, a quick lesson on the Basque Country! You learn something new every day!

The next map is of my province so you can kind of see where San Sebastian is located in the province! You can also see Bilbao - which is only an hour by bus away. Sorry it's kind of a crappy map - not too many good maps of the Basque Country out there on the internet, so this one will have to work!

So, next is my city - San Sebastian (Donostia in Basque). I barely ever get to call it San Sebastian, because people only call it Donostia here. When I tell the bus driver where I am going, I don't even think of saying San Sebastian! I have put up a photo of the neighborhoods (barrios) of the city. I live in the Parte Vieja (it's called Old Quarter on this map). As you can see I am on a pennisula between The Concha Playa and Playa Zurriola. This makes for some cold nights - as I get wind from both sides! The barrio right below me is called Centro, and it is where most of the shopping is. It is much newer and has a lot of good restaurants and stores! The barrio to the northeast of me, across a bridge is Gros. This is the barrio that Playa Zurriola is in, and it's very popular for surfers and non-tourists. That's where I lay out and attempt to get tan! Those are the only barrios I really visit...there are more that are farther away that I am sure I will explore, but right now I have everything I need in those three. That area at the very end of the pennisula called Urgull is really not a barrio - its a hill for hiking - Monte Urgull, so disregard that!

Are you learning a lot yet? Now we move onto Parte Vieja - so you can see where I live! Parte Vieja is very small - you can probably walk from one side to the other in about 5 minutes! While it's small, there are a million shops, restaurants, markets and people crowded in! I have marked things that I thought might interest you...if you really wanted to know what I do on a daily basis. The red star is where my house is. I live on the street -31 de agosto - which is a very famous road here in San Sebastian (more about that a different time). While I live here, I don't get my mail here, so don't worry that the addresses don't match up. The purple star is what I mentioned early, the Monte Urgull where I go hiking. The green star is on Playa Zurriola, where I go to the beach! It's getting colder, so not so much of that anymore. And last, is the blue star - where I catch my bus at Plaza Guipuzcoa.

Last but not least, is a map showing where I live (San Sebastian) and where I work (Hondarribia). It is only about a 30 minute bus ride, so pretty close. From the water in Hondarribia, I can see France because it's directly across! It's pretty cool! Hondarribia is a very very small town, but quite quaint. (I am impressed with myself that I used two Q works in a row - hahaha). I would say it's more old and picturesque than San Sebastian, but definitley doesn't have the amount of shops, restaurants, etc to go out. Regardless, it's a nice little place to teach and meet adorable little kids! I have marked San Sebastian with a red star and Hondarribia with a green star.

Well, there you go. I hope that someone finds this information somewhat interesting because it took a lot of time to edit and make all those maps! Now you hopefully have some sort of idea of where I am in the world! After an exhausting hour of maps, I am headed to bed! Enjoy your week!