06 April, 2016

Where am I now?

I've started a new blog with my husband where we share our experiences traveling the world together. Please check it out at


09 November, 2012

FALLing Back to Normalcy (temporarily)

It came and went in the blink of an eye... again!  Another transatlantic trip under my belt.  Experiences so meaningful are difficult to put into words.

In real life, my trip was not all I dreamt it to be. I dreamt of sitting at a wedding spending lots of time with two of my best friends, my man, and my parents. I dreamt of showing off my university to Esteban, while reliving the past with many other great friends.  I dreamt of the Red Jug Pub, of T-shirts and Ho Chi Minh, of Hairy Tony's Nacho's and of Long Beach Iced Teas. I dreamt of walking up my college hills, of visiting professors, turning back time. I dreamt of pumpkin picking in a wild field and of making pumpkin pie and celebrating fall. I dreamt of jumping into piles of leaves and of wine tasting and drunk strolls through Greenport, as well as normal, breathtaking strolls through NYC while inhaling the scent of hot dogs and roasted nuts.

Well, thanks to an unexpected, freakishly unnormal hurricane... all plans were put on hold. Well, almost all. I still had a great time at my best friends wedding. However, I did not get to catch up much with my friends there.        

The next day, when I was supposed to be taking off for a trip to my school to see 4 fantastic friends (or more!) I had to make a tough decision and analyze weather maps and trends etc. I tracked hurricane Sandy and based on her projected path and strength, that I was either going to become stranded in my parents house, or upstate near my university. Bridges, tunnels and trains were projected to close. The threat of floods loomed over Long Island and Binghamton. I decided I would rather be stranded at home, with the comfort of home, my family and the few belongings I still had there.

I still got to do some things on my bucket list, like eat bagels, pizza and drink massive amounts of deli/7eleven coffee with flavored creamers. I also did get a pumpkin, but from a fruit stand/farm with strategically placed pumpkins (We did carve it though, and roast the seeds!) I did get to go shopping at the gap, target, and bought lots of shoes, vitamins and floss. We took a few walks, ate some mexican, lots of pepper jack cheese, rode the bicycle built for two, and had lots of family time. We also squeezed in a road trip out east to Montauk, then to Cutchogue for some wine tasting.
A beautiful Eastern Long Island Mirador

National Landmark thanks to G. Washington

What did I realize this trip?

Going back to the states doesn't give me such reverse culture shock anymore. It is easier for me to change the chip in my brain! I can easily maneuver a toilet and hearing English doesn't send my ears on supersonic mode. I remember how to drive a car with confidence and it doesn't seem so much like a dream.

I notice that I temporarily slip into a Long Island accent, and crave things I don't usually crave (i.e. grilled cheese and waffles)  I don't feel so much as a stranger as I did in the past, after a shorter time being away. Why could this be? Could it be that I've found someone that makes me so happy, that some void inside has been filled? Or am I just more accustomed to going back and forth?

I also have realized that coming back to Spain has become incredibly harder. The past two times (plus the time my parents came to Madrid) it has ripped me apart inside, leaving me with a broken heart, as well as exhausted, and craving chocolate. I've given this a lot of thought.... its all Estebans fault. 

Being with him makes me so incredibly giddy and happy... but it makes my dream of living in Spain forever a possible reality. Life in pre-Esteban times, I thought "yeah, I'm going to live in Spain forever!" But now, what if I really do? Can I handle that? That is scary... something so permanent becoming a reality. Forever is a LONG TIME!

What will become of my life? Where will I go? Can I get some sign, some sort of hint, of at least a continent? Maybe a country?

Today at the mall, I saw this quote on a picture frame, I had to look away and hold back my emotions... is this some sort of SIGN?

07 November, 2012

Spaniards' First Hurricane

If I had known there was a hurricane brewing in the Atlantic in late October, I possibly would have reconsidered my trip...

Ok that's a lie... but Sandy seriously came as a huge surprise to me! I found out while my dad was driving us down the Southern State parkway. I almost missed it while admiring the beautiful foliage! 

Another Hurricane???? I always seem to come home just in time for extreme weather and natural disasters! December 2010: Noreaster with inches and inches of snow, closing airports for 2 days.  August/September 2011: freak-earthquake followed by Hurricane Irene.

Just my luck.

Well, thanks to Irene of 2011, I didn't take Sandy so seriously. Long Island news loves to hype up hurricanes, next thing you know people are clearing supermarkets of bread, water, and non perishables. People are strapping generators onto their cars, and loading up sandbags. What happens next? Nothing. Some rain, a little  power outage, and a some wind gusts.
This is my house.... note the lack of water under the deck area

Well this year was different. 

Stores started closing the day before the hurricane at 5 pm... meanwhile wind gusts picked up. The clouds made their way in, and so did the fear. Ok, its time to take this seriously. I cancelled my trip to my University to see my best friends ever (sad face) and decided if I have to be stranded someplace, I'd rather be stranded in my parents house with them, rather than in central new york with townies. 

Anyway, Monday we decided to take full advantage of cable and electricity, fearing the inevitable: power outages. Low and behold, around 430pm, during the last 3 minutes of Hocus Pocus, the power went out. 

We taped up windows, removed lawn furniture, parked the cars on the highest part of our lawn. Bring it on Sandy!

Right before nightfall, disaster struck! Our boat, Hawaii Kai broke loose from her bulkhead! She started swinging around, hanging on by one rope. We all put on some crappy clothes, broke out the galoshes and life vests  and went out to the battlefield. We tred through the water which was up to our knees immediately. Dad quickly demanded I go back into the house where it was safe and dry, but I decided to play on the deck instead. 

the 90 mph wind gusts were almost too much to handle!
Finally the boat was tied securely to the dock. Time to take things extra seriously.... So we got some boards and using light from pocket sized flashlights, we boarded up our large sliding door/window that sounded like it was about to break.

Then we broke out the glowsticks and the dance moves.... and wine and cheese. 
Hurricane party!
We kept an eye on the boat, but it was hard to see... until suddenly the boat came into vision! Where is that light coming from? The full moon! One of the dangerous factors of Hurricane Sandy.... that whore. 

By 9pm, I was exhausted, so we cuddled up into bed, and fell asleep to the sound of the wind shaking the house. 

I felt like a kid on christmas, I couldn't sleep! At 2 am I crawled out of bed with my flashlight to investigate:
Street and yard: Flooded
Garage: Flooded
Boat: sideways. I slightly panicked... until I saw that the boat had ripped out the dock it was secured to, and trapped itself into our boat slip. Better than nothing. 

The next morning we surveyed the damage. Flooding in the basement and garage, one damaged car, a beached boat. Could have been worse.

As for a Spaniards' perspective? I believed that he loved it. It was exciting and thrilling, especially because we were safe the whole time. Although we lost power for 48 hours, we were able to visit grandma's house to shower and have a pizza =)

I think Estebans favorite part of the hurricane was definately the clean up. He got to use lots of tools, wear big yellow boots, and drive a lawnmower... his first week on lawn duty and he did great!

could be the cover of a newspaper


19 October, 2012

Stuffing Suitcases

During my time here, I have learned to live without many of my favorite American things (711, tex mex and target) I have also learned to make substitutions and how to make lots of things from scratch (apple sauce and brown sugar)  But some things just can't compre!  

With my upcoming trip to New York, I have already began my shopping list, and my actual shopping (horray internet shopping!) 
the view of my back yard during breakfast

So what am I planning to bring, to buy and to bring back?

To Bring: 
*My bridesmaids dress for one of my best friends' wedding (the main reason I am making the trek across the Atlantic!)
*6 Desperados (a beer mixed with tequila for my daddy)
*6 bottles of wine requested by my mother (she requested one, Estebans parents bought 6)
*A touristy MADRID bag for my moms coworker
*Perfume from Valencia's Perfumarte
* 5 Other bottles of various wines (I have a feeling all of these wines won't make it
* Gifts from Istanbul (turkish delight! yum!)

To Buy:
*Flats (already have 3 new pairs waiting for me at home)
*Boots (sorry Spain, I have big American feet and need American shoes... made in China)
*A fall/winter wardrobe from the Gap. I need warm sweaters because all clothes in Spain are made for layers and I prefer minimal clothing
*Tootsie rolls and tootsie pops (ive been craving them)
*Dark chocolate hershey kisses... sometimes I just want a small dose of dark chocolate, individually wrapped.
*Vitamins. Here I paid 16 euros for a bottle of 30 vitamins. On target.com, 60 or 80 vitamins for under 10 euros.
*Anything from target, victorias secret, and the Tanger Outlets
*Sponges for school as well as buttons

To Bring Back:
*My scrapbooking supplies and embellishments
*The afghan my grandma knit for me
*Possibly my viola
*More sweatpants and sweatshirts

Things to Enjoy (The things that are available to me once or twice a year:)
Flavored Coffee creamer
Pumpkin Picking, and carving
Apple cider
NY pizza
My family
Hopefully a trip to Cortland
My comfort zone
Bagels yummm
halloween cerca 2009... will not be repeated!

08 October, 2012

Hanging out in a Hanging House

This past weekend was a much anticipated reunion familiar, unfortunately not with my own biological family. But non the less, the weekend was a good one, and it helped me feel more a part of this country and culture and brought me closer into a family that is slowly evolving to be my own.

Destination: Cuenca. A small city about 1.5 hours from Madrid, famous for their hanging houses and all things Manchego.

Invitees: The Rodenas Family, including spouses, children and significant others. We were 20 adults and 3 children in total. This is Estebans side of the family, originating from the province of Albacete, however many now reside in and around Madrid.

The Plan: We started off at La Ciudad Encantada which is about 15 minutes form Cuenca in the forest, where you can find large rocks in the shapes of things, imagination needed. There is a 3 km circuit, and it is a very nice paseo.
alligator and an elefant, joined in the center

Then we went off to lunch where there was entirely too much food (no surprise, here in spain). Afterwords a siesta then off to check out the city by night.

The city at night was breathtakingly gorgeous. However, also strenuous. Hanging houses dont mean they are just magically hanging above you... you have to WALK up there to see them! So, it was an uphill battle all 23 of us embarked upon, with worthwhile views (sorry, no photos.. the camera used at night is still on vacation)

After a cena de ensaladas, we went back to the hotel for bizcocho de chocolate and champagne in Estebans parents' hotel suite! Yum!
beautiful day in plaza mayor

The next day we ventured back up to the city for some day time views. We saw the palace, or whats left of it (nothing) and then we split up. I chose to go into the Abstract Art museum, only because it was inside of one of the coveted hanging houses. Inside it was like a maze, rooms on different levels, it felt never ending!

a view of the sierra from the hanging house
After we snapped some photos with the houses again, and then went to our farewell five course meal. Of course, delectable.

Cuenca was a gorgeous quint city with lots of beauty around every corner. Its a place I would definitely take a foreign visitor to. I would love to go back and have more time to explore, and less time dining in restaurants. Luckily, its very close by!

16 September, 2012

Feliz Madriversario

Today I have reached a MILESTONE! 

One year ago today, I arrived in Madrid, tired, groggy, super jet-lagged, but filled with optimism and hope for the year to come, and big plans for all areas of life.

I remember the strangest thing about my departure from JFK this trip, was that I didn't cry at the security checkpoint goodbye. No tears. Just a "see you at christmas, love you!"

I think I couldn't cry because I knew what was ahead: two new jobs, old friends, new friends, night life, sangria, wine, city life, a future relationship (yes, I had a feeling), and of course, my beloved city of Madrid.
enjoying christmas in Sol
Madrileño foliage 
Rio Park

Puerta de Alcala and good friends

The past year has truly been a whirlwind: I have au paired (and survived), I have also survived another year as an auxiliar, being a "language assistant". I have traveled to Eastern Europe, to Asia, to tranquil houses in the mountains, I have returned to relive Valencia, I have danced until dawn, I have gained the perfect boyfriend, and I have a more in depth understanding of Spain and different views.

I no longer find Spain to be so different from the states. Spaniards like the same music, they like to have fun, they are family oriented, they are unhappy with politics... No place is perfect

dia del mercado... the best thing to come to Madrid
no life in madrid is complete without a row in the retiro Lago
Supporter of Real Madrid for a few years now
This year, I have learned to adapt myself more smoothly. I have learned where to find the things I thought were impossible for American baking or cooking recipes. I have learned that if you want it, there is probably a store for it, it will just take hours searching expat blogs and google (still looking for Target) I have learned that decent Mexican and Chinese food does exist, as well as good serve yourself frozen yogurt. I have also learned that I hate Ikea.

an outdoor cinema is somewhere I've always wanted to go!
after a delicious CHINESE dinner
making do: superbowl 2012
a bbq on our terraza! =)
Sushi Pizza, trying to recreate a typical plate from Astoria, queens ;)
Madrid has treated me so well in the past year, I sometimes can't believe it. I still suffer extreme homesickness some days; but a drive through the city center oddly makes me feel so much better. It reminds me of how lucky I am to have this life. A life in another country. In Europe. With Someone I love.

15 September, 2012

Madrid on Two Wheels

For almost a year now, Esteban has been telling me that Madrid is best seen by bicycle.

Yeah yeah yeah, I said, always doubting his "Madrileño ways'. I was always comparing the thought to my beloved bici rides in Valencia, riding through rows of palm trees that ended at the Mediterranean sea on Valencia's wonderful Valenbisi system. 

And for almost a year now, he's been talking about buying us bicycles... yeah yeah yeah... we'll see

Well the day finally came! He bought a used bicycle from a friend, and had his parents bring his beloved bici from Albacete, and here we are with two bikes on my coveted terraza next to my coveted BBQ!

After some tune ups on the bicycles we were ready to rock and roll. Last sunday we went on our first excursion. Destination: Retiro

We followed one of the very few bicycle paths within the city, that lead us straight to the gates of Retiro, the central park of Madrid.

The ride was nice, with the hustle and bustle of the sunday cyclists and sunday park goers. It was a nice change from going by car or even by metro. It allowed me to travel above ground and to glance a moment longer at my surroundings during the commute. 

The next excursion was yesterday, we went to Parque Juan Carlos I, east of the city. We passed by Estadio Olimpico, a completely different atmosphere from the ride to retiro. This one was a whole lot greener, with a lot more empty space, and a lot more room to ride. The bicycle path was a lot bigger, but it was shared with a lot more cyclists. It did get a little dangerous around curves with the ballsy cyclists who wanted to pass into oncoming bicycle traffic. 

Well you can get a glimpse of the few bike lanes that exist throughout the city here, or you can get yourself a helmet and brave it on the main roads. I prefer to be safe than sorry. 

There is also this fun website I found En Bici Por Madrid that organizes rides throughout the city, something Im hoping we can check out soon!