a TAPIF language assistant blog / un blog d’une assistante d’anglais

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chansons, Pt. 2

I did one of these in October, and I actually wrote this one back in January but never got around to posting it. Here are some songs currently playing on the radio ici en France!

Tony feat. Tunisiano "Avec Toi"
Tal & MPokora "Envole Moi"
Brice Conrad "Oh La"
Mika "Underwater"
Sexion d'Assaut "Problemes d'adulte"
Generation Goldman "Je te donne"
Avicii "Last Dance (Radio edit)"
Youssoupha feat. Ayna "On Se Connaît"

Alicia Keys "Girl on Fire," Pitbull & Christina Aguilera "Feel this Moment," Birdy "People Help the People," among many other English language songs.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Rain in Spain falls mainly on... Madrid?

We left Morocco on a terrifying RyanAir flight (worst turbulence I've ever experienced), we miraculously landed in Madrid!

No nos gusta volar con RyanAir.*

It was all three of our first time in Madrid, and we were happy to be there (and to be alive in general after the flight we had). We headed over to Zack and Lyndsay's rented apartment (Airbnb, holler!) for a little fiesta before going out on the town (because, well, it's Madrid).

6 ladies representing 5 countries (N. Ireland, Ireland, Canada, England, the US) waiting for the last subway of the evening!*

...Somehow this turned into a beautiful Irish sing-a-long in the metro in Spain at 1:45 am. You know how life is. This will be a memory I love to think about for... forever.*

Team North America!*

Todos! These guys (& the Irish girls) are all Zack's friends from a kid's camp he worked last summer in Spain.*

trying to figure out where our hostel was*

The next day, we woke up for our first full day in Madrid, which was... SUPER RAINY! We started the day off in the Parque del Buen Retiro, which would have probably been a lot nicer in the sun. Oh well.

Monument to Alfonso XII

Palacio de Cristal

Palacio de Cristal interior

Puerta de Alcala (Gate of Alcala)

There was a demonstration going on; I'm not sure why. However, if you aren't aware, Spain is currently in a crisis. Of course, everyone's in a crisis these days, but it's particularly serious in Spain. In Europe, Spain and Greece are the two countries with the most problems at the moment. The economy is bad and the government is corrupt (which, again, seems to be the universal situation at the moment but is exaggerated in Spain). Young, educated people even in their 30s are having difficulties finding jobs, and many still live at home or head to nearby countries (like France) to find work. The people are angry and the flame is rising; there's a bit of a revolution happening.

This is in French... which doesn't really line up with the whole "being in Spain" thing... but it's cute. And a Texas shout out. (When I grow up, I'll be a cowboy.)

After a while, we got FED UP with the rain and realized it was time to buy umbrellas. We ducked into the closest souvenir shop and found three umbrellas left: destiny. Of course, we were a bit of a spectacle after that point. But at least we were less wet.

Em: "This is exciting, I've never had an umbrella before."
Me: "Ummmm don't you live in ENGLAND?!"

Viva España (at the Palacio Real - Royal Palace) Did you know that Spain still has a royal family? Yeah, I didn't either until this year when I got Spanish friends. It's basically an England situation where the monarchy is pretty much just a figurehead.

Lottie just being a monument. With an España umbrella and a balloon sword. You know how it is.

Viva España, part dos. We could not stop laughing at ourselves with our obnoxious umbrellas.*

Catedral de la Almudena



Apparently a bear and a strawberry tree are the symbol of Madrid (due to the many bears and, I'm assuming, strawberry trees that can be found in the nearby forests). I think it's kind of adorable.

Mercado San Miguel - an indoor market like Les Halles in Narbonne (only better)

Holler! Also, I can't quite figure out what a "Tejas" is - it looks like just a taco shell. But I'm assuming it's something sweet as this is a sweet bakery.

Off to a café for a Spanish tradition - hot chocolate & churros!

Don't be fooled. I actually didn't really like them, and this will be my last time to eat them. They're just too plain; it's not worth it. (This was unanimous.) The chocolate, however, is pretty good.*

Then we went to the weirdest Carrefour ever where random items were in theft-proof boxes. Seriously?!


Plaza Mayor, completely deserted due to the rain
This was the point at which we decided to give it up and go back to the hostel for a while, because really, Madrid?! We were soaked and tired of it.

After a long rest at the hostel, it was off for tapas!

Tapas is a lovely Spanish tradition, in which you buy a drink and then get free food (which is called tapas)! Awesome. This place, El Tigre, was delish. A drink & dinner for 6. Set for the evening!

... And then there was just a random lizard made of CDs.

What a difference a day makes! Our street, the next day, NOT in the rain.

Madrid in an entirely different light (literally)

bench breakfast*

Neptune's bum

Palacio de Cibeles

Edificio Metrópolis

Mercado San Anton

We don't really know what these pigs were all about (maybe Spain's obsession with pork?), but they were cute.*

Plaza Mayor, looking much happier than the previous day

little girl and strange street performer

more Plaza Mayor

time for a sangria/postcard break*

MUCH IMPROVED, Madrid. That's more like it.

Museo del Jamon, which is not a museum in the slightest, but a restaurant which serves (you guessed it) tons of ham.

inside view... MEAT

where they make/sell joy, I can only assume

Prado Museum, which we really wanted to go into during the free hours

... But we didn't, because of this situation. No gracias.


This is basically just hilarious. I really wanted there to be a Texas one. (Why does Ohio get one but not Texas?!)

More tapas! This tapas experience was much different - less busy, less food, but more relaxed. And you got to pick your food instead of just getting whatever they give you. In the end, I think I still preferred the first experience. But it was all delish!*

This... girl... is on fi-yahhhhh! Nope, JK. That's just my chorizo.*

Then we went to a Mexican place, where I had flautas! Not as good as real TexMex, but it was still good to pretend for a bit. :)

We only had 3 nights and 2 days in Madrid, but it was fun to have a little stopover to ease ourselves back from vacation to Narbonne. It's too bad Madrid was rainy the first day, but luckily the second day was beautiful. I didn't necessarily go crazy for Madrid, not because I didn't like it, but just because it seems to me like a big, beautiful, European capital city. I didn't get a really good sense of a specific atmosphere (unlike in Paris or Rome, for example, where the character and atmosphere of the city is so distinct it's almost tangible). I will give Madrid one thing hands-down: nightlife. NOTHING is happening in the city before 2 pm, and it honestly doesn't really get crowded until 5 or 6 in the evening. However, if you walk around at 2 am, it will look as crowded as if it were 2 pm. It's kind of unreal. But, as someone who hates mornings and prefers nights, I can definitely see myself being happy with a Madrilenian schedule! Also, tapas are just fabulous. I must confess that of Barcelona and Madrid, I preferred Barcelona because I feel like it has a more distinct character. (Shhhh.) Even though they BOTH rained on me. What's the deal, Spain?!

view of the Pyrenees during the train ride home

And thus concludes the vacances d'hiver. (Narbonne, Carcassonne, Montpellier, Sète, Perpignan, Toulouse, Marrakesh, the Sahara, and Madrid - Not bad, eh?!) What can I say, you gotta profite! :)


*Once again, stolen pics!