Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just because its Marchesa

Although I adore fashion and design, when it comes to following all the latest collections, I usually end up exhausted and ambivalent (and Im only looking at them online!). However, Ive always loved the romanticism of Marchesa's designs and basically wish I could be Georgina Chapman so I thought I'd share some of the beautiful and colorful designs from the resort collection. Just divine.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

El Escorial

Yesterday was mostly uneventful. I took my time in the morning lounging around the house before i did some more exploring of downtown Madrid. After class I came home for a cat nap before heading out for unlimited Sangria at Casa de Cerveza. A perfectly mellow day- which will be much needed as the craziness of this week progresses.
This past morning I finally made it out to El Escorial- an incredible monastery an hour outside of Madrid where all the Spanish kings are buried. While I was able to take pictures of the outside of the monastery, I was not allowed to take pictures in the most impressive part. Housed inside the monastery is an incredible basilica cathedral. They were playing coral music while I was in the church and I got to listen to the Hallelujah Chorus as I sat in the pews and took it all in. After I got back into the city, I was exhausted and so happy to come home and find my homestay mom had made Spanish comfort food for dinner: PAELLA!
This weekend is shaping up to be very exciting! The gay festival is this weekend in Chueca which means tons of people will be in the city. However, I will only get to enjoy it Friday night because I am heading to Costa Blanca (aka the beach!) for an overnight stay before I leave Madrid. With all the hecticness of the city, I am throughly looking forward to twenty four hours of white sand beaches & tropical cocktails. I can not believe my time in Madrid is almost over! Luckily I have Pamplona and all the festivities of San Fermin to look forward to!
p.s. here are some pictures of 2 things I LOVE in Spain: stumbling upon fun kitschy shops like the one with these vintage lamps & the amazing pastelerias

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reina Sofia & Rebajas

So for those of you who are not friends with me on facebook, I am happy to announce that I finally found a camera chord! I am hoping it will make these posts infinitely more entertaining to read.
Last night was probably one of the worst nights I have had here for one reason & one reason alone: the HEAT!!! The past few days Madrid and all of Spain has had record breaking heat. While I am more then used to these temperatures being from Arizona, the lack of air conditioning is what makes it miserable. I am fortunate enough to have a fan in my room but last night for some reason the heat made it impossible to fall asleep.
My day, even with the lack of sleep, was not ruined. I got up early and headed to the Reina Sofia. With 4 massive levels, it is impossible to see everything in one visit. Thus I focused on the modern art & the amazing Pablo Picasso collection. The most impressive work of art I have yet to see the Guernica; it commends your full attention. The exhibit begins with the various sketches and phases Picasso used to create his masterpiece. After seeing all the different sketches he did, I appreciate him so much more as an artist. I am also fascinated by the subject matter surrounding the Guernica (aka the Spanish civil war) and plan on reading more about it later tonight. After I finished visiting the exhibits, I sat down for cafe con leche in the beautifully modern cafeteria located in the museum's new, more modern buildings.

The Museum Gardens
The new addition- amazing architecture!
The museum library I could totally see myself studying in.
With time to kill, I decided to head to a shopping district near school I have yet to browse through. BIG MISTAKE! The large Spanish clothing chain Mango (I know, we have it in the states....but not in Phoenix) is having the "rebajas" (like every other store in Madrid) which means everything, and I mean everything, is 50% off. Needless to say, I picked up a lovely leather satchel as well as a beautiful skirt. After class I did a little more shopping with some girls from class but solely for gifts from my lovely friends back home. Between all of this, I had no energy to go out tonight- even though I wish I had because it is so hot in the apartment. Oh well!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Segovia & El Rastro

It is hard to believe I have already been in Spain for a week. While the days feel tremendously long (most likely due to the fact that the sun does not set until 10pm), this week has flown by. However, in many ways I feel like I have lived in Madrid for a very long time as I have quickly become accustomed with the Spaniard's way of life. Everyday, I am learning to fight my inner American self and take time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life- like sitting & enjoying a cup of coffee.

On Saturday, a group of us went and toured the nearby town of Segovia. Our first stop was the former winter castle of the King of Spain. While we did not go inside, the gardens were beyond incredible. With over 26 fountains, each was just as ornate as the next.
After the palace, we went over to Segovia- which is known for its ancient Roman aqueducts. After making the long trek up to the city center, we got to see yet another incredible cathedral before heading to the castle that inspired the Disney castles we see at Disneyland and Disneyworld!
The view from the top of the castle.
The Castle.
The Cathedral of Segovia.

After Segovia, we decided to keep the night relaxed and just had wine in the park where Templo de Deblod is located. One of our favorites things about the Spanish culture is how everyone gathers in parks (with Sangria of course!)
Today, I got up (relatively) early and had coffee at a plaza near the outdoor flea market known as El Rastro. Later I met up with one of my friends, and we explored the seemingly endless vendor booths- I have never seen anything like it! After spending too much money, I came back and layed by the pool and also practice by spanish with the "soccrista" (lifeguard). Afterwards I headed to the Plaza de Toros with my room mates to take some pictures and grab some ice cream. While they decided to actually go to the bull fight, I decided this was one Spanish cultural item I would skip out on.

As you can see, my weekend was full but I enjoyed every minute of it. And no- I did not find a camera cord, just stole some photos that my friends have uploaded to facebook. Tomorrow I will FINALLY be visiting the Reina Sofia.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Toledo para Corpus Cristi

Hello everyone!
Sorry for my short leave of absence...yesterday was tremendously exhausting and I ended up sleeping for 13 hours (those red eyes finally caught up with me!)
Wednesday night was the pub was definitely an experience. I had a lot of fun getting to know some of the girls better and it's always fun to dance the night away.
On Thursday during the day I went to Toledo with a few friends I met in class. Toledo is an amazing city 30 minutes outside Madrid. It sits on top of a hill and is one of the oldest cities in Spain. We were there for the holiday Corpus Crisit so the city was packed with tourists there to see the parade and celebrate the holiday. After lunch we ventured into the Cathedral which was indescribably beautiful- no picture can do it justice. The rest of the time we just wandered in the beautiful old cobblestone streets. It reminded me alot of what I believe Italy too look like, and luckily one of my friend's who is Italian, was able to confirm my suspicions. After we got back we went back into the city center for a mojito & tapas.
Today, I made the mistake of using my new cell phone as an alarm clock and instead of getting up early to explore the city, I slept till 1 in the afternoon! However, my body needed the rest. After class I went with a few girls to have "vino de verano" (red wine & lemonade) in the parque de oriente across from Palacio Real. As for tonight, my big plans consist of catching up on some American tv on my computer. However tomorrow we are visiting Toledo- another ancient city outside of Madrid- so I will need my rest.
(Interesting fact: It was the marriage of Fernando of Segovia and Isabella of Toledo that united Spain in 1469- not only am I learning the language but the history as well, mom you should be proud!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

El Palacio Royal

The more time I spend in the city, the more I fall in love with it. Today has been my best day so far. This morning I stumbled upon some amazing neighborhoods while exploring el centro. I took so many amazing sad I can not share them! After I looked around the incredible Plaza Mayor, I stopped for cafe con leche & a crossiant in the mercado san miguel- a historic market that is filled with wonderful tapas & bebidas. After looking around the palace gardens, I went on a tour of the palace with some students from school. It was incredible & elaborate to say the least. I also made some more friends (who are NOT from Cincinnati- which at this school is rare) and went with them to Parque Oeste after the tour. It has a beautiful view of the rural areas surrounding Madrid. The park also has an ancient Egyptian temple they transplanted brick by brick to Madrid. Tonight we are doing a bar crawl which everyone has been raving about since i have been here. Needless to say, I am a little afraid! Tomorrow we have the day off for Corpus Cristi and I will be visiting the nearby city of Toledo. I hate keeping these so short but it's difficult to find time even to write this!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Impressionists & Vino

Today has been so lovely. I spent the morning browsing the museo thyssen-bornemisza. It had a lot of impressionist art as well as some of Picasso's earlier pieces. I wore my "Spain" pants I bought yesterday at an outdoor market (there are essentially genie pants and are INSANELY popular here) and everyone thought I was "una hispanola". After the museum, I walked around and took pictures of the amazing buildings in the Museum district. I will definitely have to go back next week to explore more! Classes were the same as usual- mundane in many ways. When I came home, I talked with my homestay mom for almost an hour about all the things I have to do while I am in Madrid. Needless to say, I am throughly excited about the day trips I have planned to Segovia, Toledo, & Sevillla. However, tonight I am headed to a bar with over 300 beers to choose from (we meant to go last night but ended up falling asleep...go figure!) Tomorrow I am planning on wandering the "centro" as well as visiting the Royal Palace.
hasta manana!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mi primera clase

Today was my first official day of class. While I thought I would end up with morning classes like a majority of the students, I unfortunately was stuck with classes in the afternoon. Even though at first I was disappointed, now I embracing having the mornings off to roam around the city. After our tour this morning, I made an incredibly long list of all the places I must visit while I am here. Luckily, I have mastered the metro system and also discovered that most of the museums are free at certain hours.
Seeing the Palacio Real and various "centres" surrounding downtown Madrid was indescribable. What I love most about this city (besides the people, food, & my homestay) is how every inch is dripping with history. The only thing I am truly disappointed about is that I forgot my camera cord so I will unfortunately not be able to share any photos. Tomorrow I should have more exciting things to write about, but right now, I must take my "siesta" before I head out for my first night in Madrid!

Summer Bucket List

While Kacy is off exploring exotic Spain, I am spending the summer at home in northern California. Although I don't have the advantage of the unknown and the charm of Europe on my side, there is plenty to do locally, and so I have made a summer bucket list to keep track of all my little goals.

1. Organize family photos
2. Make lavender ice cream
3. Learn photoshop
4. Indoor sky diving (my mother gave me a gift certificate for this ages ago, and of course I have yet to use it)
5. Take a cooking/baking class
6. Ride bikes at the baylands and pack a picnic
7. Read 12 books (currently on number 5!)
8. Go to Edgewood Eats- a local food truck event
9. Walk my dog at least 5 times a week
10. Go on a boat ride
11. Master my makeup ritual
12. Have sparklers on 4th of July
13. Blog more (obviously!)

Even though I have been working like crazy, I am hoping to be able to find the time to accomplish everything on my list. I made a point to not include anything work or school related- just carefree, quintessential summer activities. What is on your list for the summer?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bienviendos a España

The past 24 hours have been a flurry of events that have left me exhausted. After a 4 hour delay on my flight to New York, I arrived with literally minutes to spare to the matinee production of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway. For all of you who have heard the hype around this show, the new revamped version was incredible. I highly recommend it to anyone. After the show we had just enough time to grab a drink at the Mariott and an all-american dinner of burgers and fries in Hell's Kitchen. After frantically running around JFK and maneuvering the maze known as the "airtrain", I finally made it to terminal 4 for my flight to Madrid. Only when I got to the gate did I realize I was one of maybe 3 passengers who were American on the fight. I was thrown into using my Spanish even before I left the states.

The journey to Madrid was incredibly smooth and painless. When I arrived at my house family's flat in downtown Madrid, I was again amazed by house blessed I have been when it comes to host families. I feel like I am staying in a 5 star resort complete with pool and laundry service! My host mother is incredibly warm and friendly and immediately made me feel at home. There are also 2 girls from Cincinnati staying in the house with me who were gracious enough to show me around town. After a little relaxing by the pool (which felt heavenly), we headed to the famous Buen Retiro Park which puts even Central Park to shame. We spent the afternoon wandering the various winding paths as well as catching up with some friends they had met earlier in the week. And, not to boast or anything, but so far I have had numerous compliments on my Spanish speaking skills (hey, I worked hard to brag about this!)

By far the greatest surprise I have received so far on my trip is the internet access in my homestay which will make staying in touch with my family (and blogging of course!) that much easier. I am so excited to see what the next month has in store for me...but right now all I can think about is sleep!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Empire State

Hello friends!
For those of you who have come to expect more lifestyle & fashion related posts here on Indulgent Ambition, over the next 6 weeks I will being using the blog as a travel diary. I thought there would be no better way to share all of my experiences in Spain & France than through the wonderful blog world. However, before I get to Madrid, I will be spending a bittersweet 12 hours in my beloved New York City. While I am dreading two back to back red eyes in a row (I know...I'm crazy!), the thought of an entire day wandering the city streets instead of being cooped up in JFK left me with no other choice! I can not wait to share some pictures of the city in all it's summer glory, as well as some initial pictures of my first encounter with the lovely country known as España!