Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stuffing my head

This week for me has been really, really full of un-tangible stuff.
I mean how does one mark progress in a new language on a daily basis? It is really not possible. 
I am also busy applying for jobs.

One bright note on DH's job front is that we will be able to call Madrid home for a longer than we originally expected. This is GREAT news. I have been moving around too much, I need to, long to, put down roots.

I have not had much opportunity to explore my new city on my own recently, but I wanted to post, so here are some photos form a couple weeks back.


One of the unexpected pleasures of Madrid is Atocha station. Here you can get trains to almost anywhere is Spain. My DH found this treasure when he first came to Madrid from Barcelona about 10 years ago. All of the trains now run underground, so what to do with the old train station building with all of it's windows?

Build an indoor garden with street lights, walkways, and a pond for the turtles in the back.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Settling in

Although I pointed out earlier that my brain had finally worked out that I am here to stay - not just on vacation. I feel like this week marks the time where I finally feel like I am settling into my new life and country.

That is not to say that going to the grocery store does not still give my a flutter in my stomach, but at least I have been enough to know the routine. I feel like I am making friends now and have finally had the time to seriously start applying to jobs.

Things take SO MUCH time when you are in a new country, heck they took a lot more time when I moved to a new city in the US! Ok here is an example: going tot he grocery store is only about a 5 minute walk from my house. You are new to the neighborhood so taking time to look around and get the feel of the area can take a long time in and of it's self. You look for what the buildings look like, where the post office boxes and recycling containers are, where the cars are going to pop out of (you spend a lot of time doing the last one). So your walk takes about 10 for the first couple of times.

Now you are at the store and have successfully navigated around the guy asking for money. You take your old-lady-wheeled shopping cart to the lockers and lock it up as it is not allowed inside the main part of the store. This can now take 2 minutes, before it could take around 7 as you look for the appropriate coin deposit in your purse, then turn around and go back to the cart as you realize you have forgotten something like bags. Something I really like about Spain is that now a lot of the food stores charge you for bags, therefore giving an incentive to bring your own and cut down on waste (up until recently I was not very organized and forgot my bag frequently.)

Now you are in the store and have a basket for your purchases. Of course this is Spain so everything has a different name then you are used to (both brand and common names) but the biggest time suck is figuring out what to buy. I am a non-traditionally raised American, so I tend to cook healthy meals from various parts of the world. This has been something that is really hard to wrap my head around here in Spain. Even though there might be more international people around (being in Europe and all) there is less access to international food. And by international food I mean non-Spanish cuisine ingredients. You Americans out there reading this might think that your grocery store isn't very international, but I assure you some of the smallest grocery stores I have been to in the states (and I have lived in a lot of places there) are more international than some of the biggest stores here. The food is not is just different. More on Spanish food later, the point is that everything is so new and different it can take you an hour to choose what to make for dinner. Now that I am more used to what is available in certain stores I can head straight for the items that I want.

The checkout lines are needlessly long. HAHA I am telling you right now that hard thing for me to adjust to here well be the laid back attitude. I have long realized that I have the American tendency to want things NOW, but this is pushing me to my limits. Spain has a whole difference Cadence of life which will take a huge mental shift on my part.

You bag your own groceries here, and that has been tricky to try and figure out how you are going to have the time to put things on the very small conveyor belt, bag and, pay (especially with your old-lady-wheeled-cart locked up by the front of the store) in a smooth way. I have to admit I have yet to figure out just how to do this dance, especially as I tense up for any questions or conversation the cashier might say to me in my second language.

Then there is the walk home, the ride up the elevator, the find where to put things in your tiny kitchen.

Going to the store 2 hours, meals you bought for = 2. Which means that you get to do it all over again tomorrow. HAHA but like I said the timing is getting better. Really the relief is knowing where all of my time is going to. Between going to the store and getting four hours of Spanish in - that is a full days work! ;)

Friday, June 24, 2011


whosebear by gemmadw
whosebear, a photo by gemmadw on Flickr.

My bear!
This is the second year that I had been knitting for the Mother Bear project ( This is the first time that I have even seen one of my bears (ok so only 3 so far) out in the 'wild'.

I am really excited that both Dr Gemma (of the Cogknitive podcast) and Amy (mother bear founder herself) spotted this bear in the pictures for me.

This is going to be a good day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

El Dia Corpus Cristi

So today is my first 'holiday' in Spain. I put the holiday in quotation marks because I have heard from various sources it is just an excuse to have the day off. It is not a national holiday but it does effect my providence of Madrid. For those of you who may not know Madrid is a city in a providence called Madrid. Just like for NYC you can have New York, New York, you also can have Madrid, Madrid.
The holiday does not effect me much as my work-o-holic husband is working at the office today anyway. So I am doing my usual thing of, looking for a job, cleaning, laundry, and putting in a couple hours of Spanish. It is actually really nice to have some sort of routine again my life has been so topsy turvey lately.

Today I am going to do a pretty post and talk about my Park. I live within a reasonable walking distance of  El Parque de Berlin. The park is not surprisingly a park dedicated to the city of Berlin, Germany. As the park is within walking distance to the local German school I am sure there is some interesting history that ties everything together, but maybe more on that another day.

This park is a good size, pleasant, hilly, and green with fountains, basketball/futbol courts, and plenty of benches. There are nice bars with plenty of outside seating on one side of the park, and a bar even in the park itself (Madrid has a crazy number of bars).  But by the far the coolest thing about this park, it is thing that strikes you first as unimpressive:

I need a closer shot of the fountain one day. But it is just three cement slabs with graffiti on them. Very ugly at first glance. However, when you read the plaque in front of them they become suddenly valuable, beautiful and poignant.

Can you guess what they are?

Pieces of the wall, the Berlin Wall.
See what I mean?

The area around the Berlin Wall fountain is Very pleasant to sit with lots of chestnut trees, pines, magnolias, and roses. I am very happy to live near such a beautiful park.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


MAD 147 by kaydelbarco
MAD 147, a photo by kaydelbarco on Flickr.

The longest that I have even been in Spain was one month. A good percentage of my long term vacations have been in Spain. To me Spain=vacation. I kept wondering when it is going to hit me that I live here yet?  Oddly enough it turns out that it was a time thing. It hit me yesterday as I crossed the one month time limit.

Our minds are so odd, you know? You would have thought that the fact that I have my pets here, I do all of my shopping, I have done mountains of paperwork, I have an apartment, a cell phone,  that all of those mundane things would have been the trigger for the understanding to finally hit my brain. I mean it really would have not surprised me if buying toilet paper for the first time would have been the trigger! And maybe that is the hear of the issue right there. Every time I have been to Spain I have been surround by my Spanish family. Before this move I have gone and bought groceries and toilet paper. I have only ever spent  one night in a hotel in Spain and that was a foggy memory due to too much Sangria.

This whole move has been so much of a whirlwind from the beginning, that there has not been much time to think.

I have been so restless that I have not been able to sit still long, even now I just feel the need to MOVE. Which is bad as I need to spend some serious time with the internet today and find a job.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Missing home

I have moved to Spain - for some reason that makes me want to start a blog HAHA. I have lived in Madrid for exactly four weeks as of today, and everything is so new and different here I find myself want to journal my thoughts and experiences.

Maybe blogging in my native tongue will alleviate some of my homes sickness. This is a wonderful city that I live in, but it does not feel like 'home' yet.

How often over the past five years have I burned with desire to move to Europe? How often did I long to be able to use public transportation to get around, to live in a 'greener' city? How often did I long to live in a place where even the grocery store was different, so that simple daily tasks would be fresh and new?

Bienvenidos a Madrid kaystir.