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Archive for December, 2010

Hello America

I’m  back! (have been for about 4 days now but all this jet-lag had me slacking on the bloggy)

I tell you what, the adjustment from European student-world-traveler-hello-I-have-an-incredible-life girl back to little old Tucson has been quite hard. What do you mean I’m not going to travel to another country this weekend?

And the next??

…wait, and the next??

😦

BUT, I have been filling my time with lots of fun activities, seeing how I’m not in school yet and all, including going to farmer’s markets, lunching with old friends and my newbies (reminiscing about all the crazy fun we’ve had the past 3.5 months) and playing with this new girl…

Blog world, say hello to “Pimienta” which means “pepper” in Spanish. We call her “Pimi” for short :).

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while now you’ll know that before I left Spain I had my dear Mr. Grem. Unfortunately, Mr. Grem had to go back to his original owners who we found months later after I found him alone at CVS. It was definitely devastating to have to return him back since we had gotten so close, but it is good for his old owners who I’m sure had been missing and worried about him all this time. On the bright side, I still get to go visit him :).

Little Pimi is only 9 months old and quite the shy and lady-like one. Already I can tell we are going to be the best of friends ;).

Today, I am off to take Go-go boy (remember him!?) to the airport and then I’m making my way up to Phoenix to pick up my little piece of Europe that I just couldn’t let go of.

I hope America is ready for Pablo Suave. I know I’ve missed him!

Before I leave, I’ll leave you with my breakfast from this morning…

I call this the “happy to be home breakfast bagel”:

– 1 whole wheat bagel, sliced in half and toasted

-1/4 avocado smooooshed and spread on one half of the bagel

-1 Tablespoon organic goat cheese (compliments of the farmer’s market) spread on the other half

-1 small organic red bell pepper (or half of a large one) sliced into thin strips, sauteed in a bit of olive oil and nestled in between the two bagel halves for sweet, peppery deliciousness.

Enjoy!

xoxo

MM

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Hasta Luego, España

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

 

As I am sitting here packing my things, getting ready to say good-bye to Spain for…who knows how long…the sensation of overwhelming sadness has hit me like a bag of bricks. Although all good things must come to an end, I am truly blessed to have had this life-changing experience and will carry it with me forever. I left Arizona one way and am coming back another. I have a feeling of more self-security, confidence and happiness with much of the self and world discoveries I’ve made in my short 4 months here. For anyone who has traveled for an extended period of time and has experienced reverse culture-shock, advice on dealing with it is greatly appreciated.

Time to start another chapter of my life. Luckily, I have a little piece of Europe in my heart and anchoring me down in Amsterdam for many new and exciting experiences to come.

As for España, you’ll always be my second home away from home and I’ll miss you dearly.

See you back in the land of star-spangled banners.

xoxo

MM

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Practicing my ABC’s

I think it’s safe to say that this past weekend was one for the books…

I should have known that a 3.5 day road trip with the boyfriend in the country of chocolate and beer would be an adventure…

And in terms of fun…

Well, I believe we had so much it would be hard to pinpoint one favorite part. Although, I would have to guess that Pablo Suave would definitely choose my incredibly talented road trip karaoke skills to have been his.

Obviously.

During our time in Belgium and Holland, I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt and learned a great deal of new things along the way.

For instance, I can now (more or less) recite the entire alphabet in Dutch, as well as count to eleven. Yes, eleven…because ten was just too easy, of course.

So, in honor of the Dutch alphabet (and because I thought I needed to switch things up a bit), I give you the full recap of our Belgium-Holland tour starting from A-Z. Here we go…

A: AMAZINGLY romantic hotel which used to be an old, private Chateau in the woods of Namur, Belgium.

A is also for AMSTERDAM which I was able to visit for the third time in the past two months…and I have a feeling it won’t be my last trip to the beautiful Dutch city.

B: BRUSSELS…

BEER…

And a BURRO…

C: CHOCOLATE and CHEESE, a CEMETERY and CHRISTMAS TREES. All in that order.

…did we already mention B is for Beer?

Mmmm Beer and Cheese. Apparently slight lactose-intolerance and a usual distaste for anything malty goes right out the window when you have a Dutch boyfriend (and when the beer is raspberry ;))

So long are the days of veganism and anti-brewskies. Ladies and gentleman, we have a convert.

Another thing “C” can stand for? Creepy. Which, according to Pablo Suave, is something I am, especially when I beg to pull over to the side of a deserted, snow-covered road to take pictures of a hundred-year-old (probably even older) cemetery.

…and when I speak in my demonic “I like to scare Pablo Suave” voice, but that is another story for another time.

And then there are the CHRISTMAS trees…

Christmas, Christmas is in the air :).

D: DINANT, Belgium…

E: EGGS on grilled cheese.

The locals of Dinant, Belgium are onto something here. Don’t knock it till you try it.

F is for…FORTRESS. As in, the one we trudged our way up to in the ice and snow on the side of a mountain in Dinant, Belgium. Scratch that, Pablo Suave trudged. I heaved and puffed, blamed it on the altitude and made Pablo Suave hold my purse. Hellooooo exercise, it’s been a while. We’ll be meeting again in Arizona, I assure you.

yup, that one way up there

G: GHOSTS

Don't even TELL me this old fortress wasn't haunted.

G is also for GENT, Belgium which was quite GLOOMY. Raise your hand if you like alliteration!

H: HORSIE

I: Iiiii….have nothing to say about the letter “I”.

J: JAZZ hands

K is for…KARAOKE aka making Pablo Suave’s ears bleed.

L: Lekker. It means delicious in Dutch.

M: Mistletoe 🙂

N: NAKED, peeing fountain boy

O: ONION soup with Dutch cheese and…wait, is that another Belgium beer? Ay dios mio.

P: Pompoen Soep also known as Pumpkin Soup!

Q: QUALITY time in the car. Drive, sing, laugh, repeat.

R: REEEAALLLYY old…everything.

S: SNOW!!

T: TOO much fun 😉

U: Uber-delicious Vietnamese/Thai dinner in Brussels (which I forgot to take a picture of. Doh!)

V: Very, Very dark chocolate.

W: Warm wine

X: X-cellent views

Y: YET another smile…

And Z…Zombie. Which was exactly what I was after hitting up 7 different little cities in a short 3.5 days. Phew!

But…of course…it was all very much worth it and the good news is, it won’t be the last of road trips to come this month. As the best christmas gift a girl could get, Mr. Suave will be joining me back in the States this year for the holidays.

Watch out USA. I’m coming back…and I’m bringing a little bit of Europe home with me ;).

As I near the end of my study abroad experience I have very bittersweet emotions overwhelming me. With finals in the next two days and then a plane ride home this next Friday, I don’t know how I am supposed to say goodbye to a place, or should I say a lifestyle, that I’ve fell so deeply in love with.

I’ve grown to fully enjoy living outside my comfort zone so going back to comfortability in the cactus-filled city of Tucson will be far from easy, but then again, there really is no place like home.

And for the holidays, home is exactly where I need to be.

xoxo

MM

 

 

 

 

 

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Roma

*sigh*

Rome.

Oh, Rome. Stunningly beautiful, culturally rich and historical Rome.

Where the people are just as warm as the focaccia bread and you leave with a full heart and stretchy pants.

Yes, Rome.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a little heartbroken to have left this city (although this sorta sounds like what I say about EVERY city I visit these days). Although, this time, Rome made me feel like I was…home.

You see, I come from a very loud, warm and vivacious family. I am a mix of Mexican, Colombian and yup, you guessed it, Italian. If that’s not hot blood, I don’t know what is. Rome reminded me of all the things I miss about my family. Warm, succulent food served by loud, passionate, hot-blooded people. There is a reason why Rome has been named the “eternal” city since it is so full of never-ending liveliness.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t hold back in Rome. Besides leaving meat for the carnivorous, anything and everything my tastebuds wanted I gave them. Pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Psh…duh.

Pizza and gelato to round out a meal? Obviously.

Dessert two times a day?

Is this even a question?

I would highly recommend going to Rome and trying all of the simple classics and feasting on pasta for yourselves but, unfortunately, I believe my friends and I ate every last piece of pasta Italy had to offer.

…and tirimisu.

Sorry 😦

BUT…I would love to give you a full recap of our never-ending gluttony pasta feasting. Keep in mind we were only there for three full days and I didn’t even take pictures of ALL the meals. I did manage to catch some of the meals of my fellow traveling friends, so for you bacon-lovers out there, lay a towel over your keyboard. I feel some drooling coming on…

homemade tomato and olive bruschetta

beans and celery (came with the bruschetta)

Spaghetti Puttanesca (my dish)

This spaghetti was simple, yet so flavorful. There were olives and a very robust tomato sauce, topped with fresh basil.

spaghetti carbonara

spinach and ricotta ravioli

homemade tirimisu = foodgasm

Italian Panettone (christmas fruit cake)

*note about this cake: I’ve never found a fruitcake I’ve enjoyed and this one didn’t change my unfavorable attitude towards fruitcake one bit. It. Was. Nastayyyy. Now, I may be biased because I tend to have fruitcake-repelling taste-buds but I say this gift from our apartment “landlord” was much more a “thought that counts” sorta ordeal. Blech!

Onto the next one…

marzipan central! Didn't buy, just browsed...

BEST cafe latte EVERRRRRRR. Not even lying. Better than S-bucks fa shooo

when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie...

thats amore

insalata with the freshest mozzarella I've ever had mmmmmmozazarella

steamed sea bass and zucchini linguini in a wine-tomato sauce (my dish)

Fettucini Funghi

Pause for corny joke:

Why did the Porcini mushroom want to hang out with the Crimini mushroom?

Because he heard he was a funghi!!!

…get it? 😉

tirimisu...round 2. Mama mia!

and of course…

Cappuccino. Because no real Italian meal is complete without one.

The best part about eating in Italy (or should I say eating Italy), aside from the food of course, is the experience. The first place we went to, which was recommended by the owner of our little apartment in the neighborhood Campo dei Fiori (more on this in a minute) was a tiny, hole-in-the-wall trattoria, tuckered away in a small niche of a street, barely visible to those who pass by. Just how I imagined a perfect, little trattoria to be.

We were greeted by one incredibly enthusiastic Italian man who spoke a mere two words of English but had no problem speaking to us in Italian besides the fact that none of us speak it. Despite this minor detail, I didn’t want him to stop. The smooth, fluid words of Italian are as melodic as a bird’s song and as sweet as the chocolate-dusted marscapone we demolished in every tirimisu. It is no wonder those Italian men are so charming. They simply open their mouths and…

“Buena sera bella regazza! Que cosa fai?!”

*swoooooon*

Once seated, the girls and I (nearly passed out from travel-induced starvation) looked over the menu in great detail. How were we to decide?! Gnocchi, ravioli, linguini…ok, so pasta was a given, but what type!? And what sauce!? Mama mia! Too many choices!

I decided to go with a basic linguini in a slightly spicy red sauce, the puttanesca. What I love about Italian cooking is how delicious a meal can be with such simple ingredients. In reality, less really is so much more…or at least in the case of Italian cooking. A little olive oil, some pasta al dente and a robust tomato sauce all tossed together with a side of strong glass of Nero d’avola wine and you’ve got yourself a meal. And by golly, a good meal!

As for the more basic meals, i.e. breakfast (which usually happens to be my favorite meal of the day), we decided to hit the local market for some necessities and eat in our little apartamento.

In this little grocery outing we bought some fiber toast thingies (since fiber has been lacking in comparison to my usual intake back home), along with some peanut butter and jelly. This is the same pb Pablo Suave has at his place and I am addicted. Hint: this would make a great xmas stocking-stuffer. Cough P. Suave cough. On the list was also some American yogurt (holler for Activia fiber and Jamie Lee Curtis) and some Italian yogurt that I didn’t try but my friends said was “okay.” Then there was the OJ, about 9 clementines (we’re clementine-addicted) and some bananers, all for only 17 euro which fed 3 mouths for 4 days of breakfast. Bargain!

As for the place of stay, I was lucky to find a wonderful little apartment as a weekend rental in the Plaza Novara/Campo dei Fiori area of Rome. It was quite cozy and fit for us three, traveling gals and close to all the must-sees. The Vatican city was a mere 15 minutes walking from our front door step!

our little cucina

As for the tourist attractions, we were able to hit up the majority of the good ones (minus the sistine chapel but I’ve already seen that last time ;)). There was the Vatican…

with a visit to the pope…

Then, there was the Trevi Fountain…

The Pantheon…

So this is where they keep the light…

We saw the Colosseum…

in the day

and at night

And then there was the Spanish Steps…

amongst other shenanigans…

Yes, Rome sure did treat yes well. And I have every intention of going back (hey, how about study abroad round II learn Italian? What what?)

As for the rest of my time left in Europe (10 days…sniff sniff) I still have ONE last big trip to fulfill. Luckily, I get to spend it with one of my favorite people 🙂

I’m off to Dusseldorf, Germany tomorrow where I’ll be meeting my Pablo Suave for a little Holland-Belgium-Germany road trip. Mr. Suave, being the amazing (and so darn handsome) tour guide that he is, has booked us a room in a castle for a few nights in Belgium. I’d say I’m a lucky girl, no?

This evening I’m headed into the heart of Madrid to get some sushi with miss Alejandra. We’ve been needing to go into the city to take advantage of it as much as possible during our last week and a half here. So much to do, so little time!

Until next time…

Ciao

MM

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