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Adventure Time: Prague, Czech Republic

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Alright folks, I’m writing this from my apartment in Madrid (It’s our last day here), and it’s currently 100 degrees (literally), so let’s keep this one short and sweet.

CollageBridge* These two pictures are from the famous Charles Bridge, it’s pretty cool and no cars can go on it

* This was where we saw a momma dog and her 12 very little puppies (cue Shannon meltdown)

* It’s also lined with these really weird statues that I think are derived from Catholicism CollageCastle*So I was really excited because Prague has a “castle,” but it turns out the castle is just a lot of houses built around a beautiful cathedral #woeismeCollagedessert

* Prague has this traditional sweet that’s like a hollow churro, we opted for a chocolate-filled one

* Funny story: we ordered a chocolate-filled one which turned out to be a regular one and a packet of nutella we had to spread on ourselvesCollageFood

*Prague food is all alarmingly similar (and delicious)

*Most dishes are some type of meat with sauce, potato dumplings, and that’s allCollageMarket

*We stumbled across a market where there were lots of pretty trinkets

* How cool is Czech money?!

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*Prague has a super dope Old Town Square

* All of the buildings are pastel colored with pointy tips (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this architecture, but I’m feelin too lazy to look it up)

* This is an astronomical clock that not only tells the time, but also the date, and the position of the moon LOverlook SOverlooks

And ya esta! Our next adventure is homeward *TOMORROW!*

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Adventure Time: Venice, Italy

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Stop #2 on our Semana Santa vacay was the beautiful island-like city of Venice! We arrived to Venice by train, and we were instantly greeted by one of the city’s beautiful canals. We then instantly realized we had forgotten to look up directions to our hotel before we got there, this is of course a problem when your phones don’t work… While Logan and I usually stay at AirBNBs when we travel, there weren’t any in Venice so we stayed at a moderately-priced hotel (woo hoo big spenders. Luckily it was pretty centrally located so we were able to ask a nice lady at the train station for directions (the old fashioned way). Our hotel was also super close to this Basilica.

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So the thing I liked about Venice is that there really isn’t a huge array of globally renown monuments and historical landmarks that you HAVE to see. This aspect makes Venice the perfect city to simply wander around and take in the narrow streets (there are no cars, only boats), the winding canals, and the numerous colored houses. This is exactly what we did.

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We were only in Venice for a little over 24 hours, but honestly that’s all the time you need there. We did see some of Venice’s more popular tourist attractions like Saint Mark’s Basilica, Rialto Bridge, and the Grand Canal.

5 Things I absolutely loved about Venice:

  1. Gelato is everywhere and super cheap (I’m talking 2 euro status)
  2. There were 1 billion adorable dogs (lots of muts)
  3. There is a lunch special similar to the Spanish Menu Del Dia
  4. The gondoliers really all wear striped shirts and straw hats
  5. The canals and scenery in general is TDF (translation for mom: to die for)

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3 Things about Venice I thought were weird/annoying

  1. The winding streets often end in a dead end
  2. There are like 3 places on the whole island where you can cross over the grand canal
  3. Everything seems a bit touristy (like does anyone actually live in Venice…?)

Stay tuned for the next stop on our Semana Santa vacation: Barcelona.

3 Spanish Habits I Envy

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1. The double cheek kiss

 This is the most common greeting in Spain. Not only do you do it when you first meet someone, other acceptable times to give besitos are: if you haven’t seen each other for a few days, holidays, birthdays, or simply just because. Something about the intimacy and kindness of this greeting is really touching to me, and I desperately wish this was common in the states *hmph.*

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2. R&R
  Taking things slow, resting, and relaxing are pillars of the Spanish lifestyle. I’m not saying they don’t work hard, I’m saying that they are better at mastering a good work/life balance (at least what I’ve seen from my colleagues and roommates). So let’s all take a chill pill and understand most seemingly stressful situations are actually nbd.
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3. Not drinking to get drunk
  Fellow youths take note. If you set foot in any bar here you’ll immediately notice the striking differences between these bars and the ones in the states. Whether it’s the florescent lighting (but hey, at least I can see your face), lack of club music (I can actually hear you *gasp*), or the tapa that comes with every drink – Spaniards know what’s up. The bar scene is geared more towards catching up with your friends, eating some good food, and ultimately relaxing (refer back to habit #2). P.S. it is still very easy to get drunk solely from red wine and beer.

Adventure Time: Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Hello all! Its time for part two of our Christmas break vacation. If you haven’t read it yet, check out Shannon’s post about Cologne, Germany.

Shannon was by far the most excited about the Christmas Markets of Germany, but I was looking forward to going to Amsterdam the most. We didn’t have a ton of specific places to visit for this city, so we spent a lot of our time exploring and wandering the many canals of Amsterdam.

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On our first day our only real priority was seeing the Anne Frank house (this is the canal outside the Frank museum). There is an entire museum now that takes you through Otto’s old warehouse where he ran his business and the secret annex where the Franks spent their time in hiding. I read the diary when I was in middle school, so it was really cool to see the actual diary and to be in the building where Anne wrote it. All of the furniture that used to be there is gone, but you can still see the swinging bookcase that was used to hide the secret entrance and the pictures Anne glued to her wall as decoration. Overall the museum was super interesting and worth every minute we had to wait in line. (P.S. you aren’t allowed to take pics).

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After the Anne Frank house, we walked to a quaint little dutch cafe with a view of one of the many canals for lunch. Luckily EVERYONE in Amsterdam speaks nearly perfect English, so ordering food or asking questions was never a problem. We just walked in to places and ordered in English as if it were the US. When we finished eating, we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the city and wandering into stores and tourist shops.

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During our wanderings, we stumbled across this little stroopwafel shop. Stroopwafels are very thin waffles filled with a caramel sauce. This place was especially delicious because they made the waffles to order right in front of you so they were nice and warm.

 

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Later on in the evening we went out for dinner at a cool little Dutch pub and then checked out one of Amsterdam’s finest museums: the Sex Museum. In reality it was a super cheesy museum that looks like something out of a bad 80’s movie. You could say it wasn’t what we expected. We then ended the evening by walking through the Red Light District. Although it seems like it would be a shady place, the Red Light District is actually full of tourists and feels very mainstream. It’s another place where we weren’t allowed to take pictures, we even saw a lady of the night throw water on a tourist who took her pic.

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Our last half day in the city before our flight was pretty uneventful because it was Christmas Day. Most of the shops and restaurants were closed, so there wasn’t much to do except walk around and see more of the city.

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A Day in the Life: Logan

Hi Guys!  As Shannon already explained, there is a lot more to our Spanish life than traveling and generously priced food.  We unfortunately do have to work.  Now that I have my weekly routine all figured out, I think its time I share what I do.

My official job title is Auxiliar de Conversación, and that basically means I pretend that I totally know what I’m doing in front of a highly critical audience made up of 11-18 year olds.  I have exactly zero teaching experience and was pretty much thrown into it.  Essentially, they pay me for speaking English with my “perfect American accent” (their words, I swear).

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7:30 AM: Wake up and get ready to educate the future of the Spanish people.  Schools here tend to be pretty relaxed, and like Shannon, I don’t have much of a dress code to adhere to.  I can wear jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.  I try and keep it moderately profesor-y with a minimum of jeans and a collared shirt.

8:40 AM: I (ideally) leave my house for my commute.  Its a grueling 15ish minutes…foot and on the metro (aka its super close).  I really lucked out with the location of my school, and the fact that I can walk there is almost unheard of in Madrid.  Unlike Shannon, however, I work Monday through Friday.

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9:00 AM: Start working.  Everyone at my school is amazing and the teachers have made me feel like a part of the team.  Everyone values the work I do, and it is really nice to feel like I belong.

I am mainly responsible for conversing with the students.  This can range from just asking them questions about their lives to creating vocabulary worksheets.  I do some lesson planning, but it is all based around conversation stuff and never anything like grammar.

11:00 AM: Break time.  I just go to the teachers lounge and hang out and practice Spanish.  I normally have between 1-3 classes between this break and when I start at 9.

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11:25AM-End of day.  My end time varies a lot more than my start time.  Monday-Wednesday I finish around 2, and Thursday-Friday I finish around 5.  I have anywhere between 3 and 6 classes each day, and I am anywhere between 50% and 100% worn out when I’m done.  Its not that the job is hard, but I spend most of the day on my feet using my “teacher voice.”

Tuesdays and Thursdays I also have private lessons that I do on the side.  I don’t really love doing them, but the money is good and I enjoy teaching the students.  Overall, its not too demanding, and I am enjoying things here in Spain.  I hope you enjoyed learning a little about my life here.

Besos y abrazos,

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