Tag Archives: europe

The Sweeney’s and Beer: One More Week!

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Cliffs-of-Moher1

SPRING BREAK IS COMING. This teacher is definitely more excited than her students about the one week countdown. Oh goooooodness, I can’t wait. I’ve had itchy feet for a while now. Dying to “get outa town” as they say. Took a quick trip to Fredericksburg recently, but that didn’t really do the trick.

Six more days and it’s NYC (purposely lengthened our layover so we could squeeze in Aladdin on Broadway) and then Dublin for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Apparently if you go overboard with green and leprechaun mentions, you will be judged and shunned, hard. Glad I learned that. Who woulda thought that Americans have warped other culture’s traditions into their own versions… Strange.

Anyway. Guinness tour, Jameson distillery, St. Paddy’s parade, Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, and more. GET HERE, SPRING BREAK, GET HERE NOW.

I should also mention that this intensely awesome and affordable Groupon deal comes with a rental car—so we will be driving ourselves all around the Irish countryside. What the. I know. I’m not very good at driving here in Texas so I can only imagine the danger we will surely be in with me behind the wheel in a foreign country.

But then again: beer.

Not to be combined with the driving, geez. I’m just saying: beer.

It’s going to be in the 40s and 50s and rainy the entire trip: beer. That one makes more sense I guess.

Also, it is imperative to tell you that we will be staying at B&B’s across Ireland, most of which are your average European hostel-type stays, HOWEVER, one of them is a legit farm overlooking the sea, owned by the cutest old couple named The Sweeney’s. I cannot express how excited I am to meet The Sweeney’s. I also may ask them to adopt me, if they’re as adorable in person as their picture and description portray. Isn’t it crazy how some people’s “norm” is feeding their donkeys, drinking coffee while gazing over the Cliffs of Moher?! Just, ya’ know, another day in the life. Meanwhile I’m over here in Austin, scraping myself outa bed and shuffling out of my crappy apartment complex onto I-35, realizing that I put in my left contact but not my right.

You know what, though? Even if The Sweeney’s turn out to be super creepy Roald Dahl’s “The Landlady” types: beer.

Men in Spain v. Men in America

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I really hate to break this to you ladies, but I’ve learned that men are the same everywhere. I thought maybe I’d find some tall, dark, and handsome Spanish man to sweep me off my feet (for the summer) but surprise—assholes, creepers, and boring dudes are everywhere. Here are the differences and similarities that I’ve calculated and recorded. It’s all very official.

 

Men in Spain: It’s ok to wear a pink shirt with purple pants, half a bottle of hair gel, half a bottle of cologne, leather loafers, and Gucci sunglasses. We like to look pretty too.

Men in America: I’m with you on the hair gel. But throw on an Ed Hardy shirt and some ripped, faded jeans, bro.

 

Men in Spain: Let’s go find an American who only knows how to say, “Hola! Cerveza, por favor.”

Men in America: Let’s go find some foreign chick who only knows how to say, “Hello! Beer, please.”

 

Men in Spain: Maybe if we stare long enough without blinking, she’ll take her clothes off.

Men in America: Maybe if we stare long enough without blinking, she’ll take her clothes off.

 

Men in Spain: It’s ok to live with your parents until you’re 30 years old. It’s also normal to not own a car (possibly not a bike either).

Men in America: Definitely. Being poor is very “cool” these days.

 

Men in Spain: Let’s get wasted! I also have cocaine.

Men in America: Let’s get wasted! I also have weed.

 

Men in Spain: I went to Miami last year. Is this a good enough connection to wherever it is you said you were from? Because that’s all I can think of that we have in common.

Men in America: Oh, Texas, cool. Yeah, I’ve never been. Yeah, I’ve heard that Austin is cool. Yeah, I have nothing else to say really. Oh, I thought of something—do you say y’all? That is hilarious.

 

Men in Spain: You sound like a Mexican.

Men in America: You’re Mexican?! Never would have guessed.

 

Men in Spain: My girlfriend is very, very far away tonight.

Men in America: No, of course I don’t have a girlfriend!

 

Men in Spain: I would just like to have sex with you.

Men in America: I’m just not emotionally ready for a real relationship, I can barely take care of myself, and you deserve more than that. I still want to see you though…

 

Men in Spain: We don’t use AC or fans here even though it’s unbearably hot, so I’m just going to take off my shirt. What I can offer you is a place to put your clothes, if you would also like to survive the heat.

Men in America: Do you want to get more comfortable? I can give you a thin, white shirt or something.

 

Men in Spain: Yeah, I’m going to University, but I’m just going to take over my dad’s business. Why would I try to do anything else?

Men in America: Yeah, I majored in Business. A lot of other bros were picking it, so it just seemed like a good choice.

 

Men in Spain: Can’t hang out, soccer is on. SOCCER IS MY LIFE!!! Blah, blah, blah World Cup.

Men in America: Can’t hang out, football is on. FOOTBALL IS MY LIFE!!! Blah, blah, blah Super Bowl.

 

Men in Spain: SPAIN JUST WON, LET’S GET NAKED!

Men in America: I’m sure I can find some excuse…hold on…IT’S MY LANDLORD’S BIRTHDAY, LET’S GET NAKED!

 

Men in Spain: You can be my American girlfriend!

Men in America: Just so we’re clear, I don’t do long distance.

 

Men in Spain: I can get my grandma to whip us up some paella, croquettas, salmorejo, and pan real quick.

Men in America: Do you want to order a pizza or something?

 

Men in Spain: I’m going to just call you “guapa.” Or Alicia, take your pick. Because I sure as hell can’t say or remember you actual name.

Men in America: It’s a lot easier for me to just call women baby. Or just never use names, that works too. Avoiding catastrophe.

 

Men in Spain: No, I don’t know how to do laundry or clean, or any of those other woman things.

Men in America: I agree completely with that guy.

 

Men in Spain: I am a very uninteresting person, so I’m just not going to talk to you.

Men in America: I am a very uninteresting person, so I’m going to ramble about a very uninteresting topic…

 

Men in Spain: Kissing on the cheek in greeting is normal. I’m hoping you won’t know the difference if I kiss extremely close to your mouth instead.

Men in America: I’m going to put zero effort into this hug. Then, later, you’ll be dying for more.

 

Men in Spain: I’m going to touch you inappropriately and blame it on the European culture and sense of love.

Men in America: I’m going to blame it on my penis.

 

Let it be known that I’m not giving up. Next stop: I’m thinking Canada. Somewhere that I’d never expect anything good to happen. Maybe that’s where all the hotties have been hiding.

Libre

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Things move a little more slowly here. But not in the annoying, nothing-gets-done, “island time” Hawaii fashion. More of a relax, be happy, love people, eat pan and drink vino kind of slow. I am obsessed to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, people love other people in places outside of Spain…but not the same way. And people eat bread and drink wine in those places too…but not in the same way. People relax and people are happy…well, maybe not. Not in the same way, which is the best way.

People here…are seriously the nicest, happiest people I’ve ever encountered. The lifestyle, the culture…is amazing. Taking naps and eating every few hours is simply normal because it eliminates stress. To them, there is no other way. Wake up before 8—why? Wait to drink any alcohol until nighttime—why? Go to the gym—why not just ride horses for a bit and swim a few laps in the pool? Diet? Never. Why not just have one piece of bread with dinner instead of the usual four? Work 8-5? No way! They work the hours that they’ll be most productive—which also means they take a large break in the middle of the day. So 9-2 and 5-8, roughly. Or whatever they feel like that day.

Everyone kisses, which made me uncomfortable at first. In Hawaii, it’s easy to handle because only some people do it and it’s always on one cheek, usually not even touching the lips to the cheek anyway. And in Texas, it’s only with Hispanic close friends or family. But here—EVERYONE, and I mean everyone, kisses you (as in full mouth contact) on both cheeks. “Es Ali-Cha,” (we’re still working on how to say my name), “Es Americana!” is said to the grocery store cashier, the maid, the gardener, the doctor, and every other random acquaintance, friend, family member, or passerby that we’ve come across. This is followed with a huge smile, a hug, and two giant kisses. After only a few days, I’ve gone from uncomfortable to loving it—especially when there are so many attractive men that seem to know my host family… The point is, they’re overflowing in a way that Americans don’t understand.

In the States, when we decide NOT to eat or drink, it’s because a) we want to save money, b) we don’t want to get fat, c) we don’t want to get drunk, or d) we don’t want to be sleepy. In Spain, saving money is not a priority, “fat” means extremely obese (everything else is curvy and sexy), getting drunk is never a bad thing, and if you’re sleepy—nap! There is never a good reason not to have one more beer or one more bite of paella. Trust me, I tried. They are very convincing. Oh, red wine is good for me? You’re right, I’ve heard that, sure I’ll take my fourth glass. Oh, it’s tradition to have rum at the end of the night? Well, I don’t want to break tradition. Oh, this restaurant serves the best ice cream in town? Ok, I guess I have to order dessert then. And so on.

We are obsessed with working, becoming rich, famous, or remembered. We are obsessed with exercising, dieting, looking better than everyone else, and doing whatever it takes to stay young. We are obsessed with the material. We are obsessed with ourselves, really. In Spain, the word beauty is understood and used in its intended format. Generosity is everywhere, compliments are constantly oozing out of every mouth, affection and appreciation are never concealed but rather lavished. I haven’t seen a single argument. Not even a frown, come to think of it. If you love someone, you tell them, immediately, in that moment, even if it’s every two minutes. If you want to touch them, you do. In fact, most people don’t stop touching. And yet, somehow, they are not “showy” in the way that most Americans are. For example, my host family is filthy rich but they all wear the traditional plain gold wedding bands, no diamond. People work for them, but not beneath them. They are not “too good” for anything or anyone. They are open books—what do you want to know? Sharing, divulging, honesty, having no shame—these are all part of love—and they love everyone.

Americans hide everything—every emotion, every thought, every little detail that could possibly, one day, maybe be embarrassing or awkward or expose any part of our true selves. We are the land of the free, but we do not live freely, the way they do here.

Libre: I wish I could bring this word and everything that comes with it back home.

That Time I Went to Europe

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One of the best decisions of my life occurred after I got accepted into TFA: I decided to quit my terrible cubicle job early and book a trip of a lifetime. I seemed to have blinked and suddenly been in Europe, surrounded by sexy Australian men. This was definitely a dream. Oh wait, that’s right, I was on a Contiki.

Now, on the days when living in the paradise of Oahu are bleak and exhausting, filled only with the frustrations of 7th graders, I think of these things:

London: Here’s where the streets were so cold and wet, but invigorating, like New York. Here’s where coats and boots walked past Westminister Abbey like it was nothing, while I snapped photos like the crazed tourist that I was. Here’s where Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor Castle were a surreal, tiring day trip. Here’s where I went off on a red bus adventure by myself, finding it hard to leave Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Here’s where I first met the insane and amazing group of people I’d be spending the next few weeks with, packed onto a bus.

Paris: Here’s where I ate bread and cheese and meat on the grass outside the Louvre and felt oh-so-sophisticated. Here’s where I walked what seemed like hours from the Arc de Triomphe, just for the highlight to be a divine banana crepe. Here’s where I was satisfied just photographing and waving to the Eiffel tower, because wasting time waiting in a line would’ve killed the temporary Parisian me.

Beaujolais Region: Here’s where I could’ve kissed under the stars for literally days. Here’s where a “gender bender” in a château sounded like the worst idea ever and quickly became the best. The picture says it all.

Nice: Here’s where I got sunburned but didn’t care because it was a French sunburn.

Monaco: Here’s where I fancied up like a Bond girl and pretended I was one at the casino; lipstick, heels, and poker chips.

Pisa & Florence: Here’s where I started finding it hard to breathe from all the beauty. Here’s where I took illegal pictures of the statue David with the friend David.

Rome: Here’s where I learned how lovely crumbling, ancient rock can be. Here’s where I dropped two pennies in a fountain and begged with all my existence for both of them to hold true to tradition (one for love, one to return to Rome one day). Here’s where we all wore I ❤ Rome shirts and wrote all over them with sharpies, drinking and dancing and then heading back to our cabins for showers and mischief and sleeping bags.

Venice: Here’s where I was enchanted by the movie-esque gondolas and prosecco. Here’s where I ate the best lasagna of my life, wide-eyed, wine-filled, wishing I could sing in Italian. Here I could’ve died happy, surrounded by pasta and tipsy smiles.

Dachau: Here’s where I felt the most sobered and grateful that I’ve ever felt.

Munich: Here’s where I genuinely enjoyed swinging a beer around, scarfing down pork knuckle, and yelling things in German that I didn’t understand, watching blondes in short green dresses prance about (here’s where I was a “real man” for a little while).

Amsterdam: Here’s where no amount of vodka or coffee shop muffin could prepare me for the things I saw at a live sex show, or in the red light district. Here’s where the Van Gogh museum reaffirmed my love for him. Here’s where I laughed in a taxi harder and longer than I knew physically possible.

Here’s where I could write a novel about each city, each person, and each meal. But instead, here’s where I leave out a few stops, a LOT of fantastic details, hilarious details, inappropriate details, and definitely a handful of significant details (there was not one single insignificant moment on this trip).

Can’t wait to go back (after all, I did spend a whole penny making sure that will happen).