25/02/2013

I went to Madrid and did nothing else with my life

Oh hey there, ¿qué tal?

Firstly I'd like to alert you all to the fact that I'm almost up to date with Glee, so that's alright and you can all stop worrying. It's proper kicking off on the programme though. Of course, that's not why you're here (although why you'd prefer to hear about my life instead of the inner workings of Glee, I have no idea...), and instead let me regale you with tales from my exciting life. 'Exciting' here meaning 'average going to uni, watching TV, rolling around on the floor shouting 'HELP I'M SO BORED', doing uni work (... sometimes), and going to Madrid for about 3 days.

Madrid is the capital of Spain, so obviously I had to go at some point. And also because el boyfriend   was going to watch something football-related (it was 'Man United v Real Madrid'. He says it was a 'good game' and that 'it was daunting celebrating the United goal in the Madrid end'. He equally '[wants] to be viewed as a mysterious character', but that's nothing to do with football).

Wikipedia - the greatest, most reliable information provider EVER - says that '[Madrid] is the third-largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan area is the third-largest in the European Union after London and Paris', which is definitely interesting, and probably an essay topic for many a Spanish student the world over. Or not. I haven't a clue, no hablo español. Anyway, the Spanish royal family live(d?) there, I reckon it's the past tense, but then again, where else would they live? I have no idea; I'm only providing my opinion. They don't live in the palace though, although I only know that because I went in and had a look around. 



This is inside the palace, you're not allowed to take pictures. F-word the police.

We also were very very cultured and went to two art galleries - the Reina Sofía, and the del Prado. Fancy fancy fancy. The Reina Sofía is a more modern art gallery - it's the one with Picasso's Guernica in - and you're allowed to take photos and things, except not of the Guernica, alas. However, please enjoy some cultural diversions for a couple of seconds:
This is the entrance to the Reina Sofía
The boxes are part of a book sale, and the huge sculpture is by Roy Lichtenstein

Cubo de Nylon - Jesús Soto

This was part of a larger exhibition on Feminism, the images surrounding this one
focused on waitressing and submission to men. 

Spain is very Anti-Capitalist I've noticed. Although this is written in French.

If I can't include any Picasso, you can have some Dalí instead.

After those artistic musings, which I'm sure you very much appreciated (because I did - I can be quite a stereotypical English student, you know), we went to El Retiro, which is a massive park, and had a wander around/got a bit lost. There was another exhibition the Palacio de Cristal which is basically a very fancy greenhouse, and the exhibition was loads of string wrapped around the inside. Mental. We weren't expecting it, to be honest. And then we went in a rowing boat, because we're romantic as romantic things. Although I did most of the rowing, because I didn't get into the boat for romantic reasons. Just had a laugh rowing lol. 


This is the string wrapped around. It's called 'Two Golden Rings', by Jiří Kovanda.
Also I took this picture. A* GCSE Photography student, thank you.

This is me having a laugh in a boat. Look at that grin. Terrifying, truly terrifying.
The next day, we went to the Prado, which had much older paintings, and I had a bit of a look at pictures by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: or literally just Raphael, and a student of Da Vinci, but we spent so long trying to remember their names that they deserve a mention. Anyway, because the paintings were so old, I couldn't take any pictures. 'WHY?!', I hear you cry in your masses. Well, dear readers, it's because the flash is too bright and something to do with acid. I did work experience in an art gallery in Year 10, which is why I remember about as much as I do of my Science GCSE: 'something to do with acid'.

After this (like directly after) we triumphantly returned to Zaragoza, powered by sour cream and chive Pringles (the best ones, if you're not in a Paprika mood, of course) and the man driving the bus back. 

That's it. That's my Madrid blog. It was good. I'll go back to whinging about uni from now on. 

05/02/2013

Why Spain isn't England, and other tales

Hola! 

I'd like to begin with a picture from Zaragoza (I really need to start showing you what Zaragoza is actually like).

At Christmas, they build a lifesize Nativity scene in the Plaza del Pilar, complete with palm trees and little buildings that you can walk in. Although I went in the middle of the day, but it's huuuuuge. And excellent.

And now normal service shall resume:

¡¡Han terminado los examenes!! 
Cheeky bit of Spanish there... In the only version of the past tense I can use confidently. It still shows that I've learnt something, right? 

Anyway, the exams. They are truly nothing (NOTHING!) like they are in England. You're actually tested here, like, on things that were mentioned in passing in one class; not that you aren't tested in English universities, of course, those wonderful pillars of education, standing proud amongst a sea of mediocre foreign universities, charging thousands of pounds a year to give us the best education possible (I may be being assessed on my blog...). But seriously, English universities are actually better than the Spanish public universities, of which I attend, and that actually is because we spend so much money to go there. I know; it's a revelation. I know what you're thinking, young English university student with the joy of graduating with £30,000 debt, you're wondering if it's worth it. My answer is yes. Why is it worth it? Because in Spain they still use blackboards. I'm not joking.

This has lead me to consider the differences between our great and noble nation, England, and the equally great and noble (albeit much more confusing) nation, Spain. 

  • I shall firstly address the electric kettle issue. There are none. I've seen one that cost about 35€. I have to heat my water on the hob, and the kettle I use actually whistles. It's like being in the past.
  • No one is fat but everyone eats all the time. 
  • If you don't eat fish, drink wine, or rabbit, you're a social pariah when it comes to eating out. I am a social pariah when it comes to eating out. 
  • I've had a banana and biscuit flavour fromage frais. It was nice, and I thoroughly recommend the English yoghurt sellers to pick it up.
  • I equally think there should be more panaderías in England.
  • Sharing food is normal and you should do it to make friends (I did this today, in exactly the same way I did in Year 2 of primary school: 'Do you want some of my Kit Kat?').
  • A dreadlock mullet (I have no idea if that's its name) is a popular hairstyle. You have to just accept people's lifestyle choices and discuss this with anyone that isn't Spanish.
  • Older Spanish ladies wear mink coats; if they're less fancy, they wear long puffa jacket things with belts, like this, and generally from El Corte Inglés.
  • People use either plain or squared paper in Spain. Lined paper is pretty much unheard of. 
  • When in doubt, compare the weather to England (this works especially well if you're from the North).
  • If you finally get to grips with a verb, don't worry, it can be used 700+ different ways and you can always learn more ways to use it. The fun truly never stops.
  • You have to kiss people when you first meet them on both cheeks. Even if you think they're not Spanish. Besito, besito, besito. 
  • If they don't have a small dog, they're not really Spanish.
  • Dubbed films/TV programmes are common. As are (the truly excellent) game shows.
  • El Corte Inglés is brilliant. It sells everything (relatively expensively, but still...) Want an Innocent smoothie? Corte Inglés. Want something ridiculously Spanish? Corte Inglés.
  • Chino shops also sell everything. Very cheap. Everything. From socks to spanners, and kitchen scales to terrifying statues of Jesus. 
I reckon that's all for now, but I'm going to Madrid next week, so that's a super fun post to look out for!