Monday, February 28, 2011

Chamonix, France

I'd skied the Swiss Alps.  I'd skied the Italian Alps.  Heck, why not ski the French Alps?  While Zermatt still reigns as my favorite ski destination in Europe (and Beaver Creek still tops the entire list as my favorite place in the States), Chamonix has a lot going for it -- if only we hadn't been there when the rest of Europe was on ski week!  Nevertheless we had a blast exploring the town, meeting tons of people, eating excellent food, and getting a few runs of early-Spring skiing in.  My first snowshoeing experience was also amazing, I can't wait to do it again!

It was a great 5-day getaway with a wonderful group of ladies but I can't say I'm sad to be putting away the ski gear.  It's beach time now!!


Au revoir, Linds

Monday, February 14, 2011


Every so often I get an intense urge to be around English speakers.  Not that I'm not around them daily at my job... but once I leave the confines of my workplace I'm bombarded with Spanish.  Loud, fast, obnoxious Spanish.  The lisp is starting to drive me bonkers (you all know why the Spaniards talk with a lisp, don't you?  If not, google it).  I thought Puerto Rican Spanish with their dropped letters and slang was bad... wow.  I've picked up a ton just through listening but needless to say I can't wait to get home at the end of the day and get out of the Spanish madness. 

So, with that being said, I jumped at the relatively cheap tickets to London one weekend and made it a 36 hour trip.  To say it was a whirlwind is an understatement.  Dana and I literally traversed the entire city, saw every major sight, stopped more than enough for a pint (or four) and even caught a show in the West End.  It was tiring, it was crazy but it was so much fun.  And the Brits didn't disappoint.  More than once we found ourselves saying, "Wouldn't life be so much different if we lived here?  I think I could actually live here permanently!  The people are so nice!  The men are actually attractive!"  None of those phrases are ever uttered in Madrid  :) 




And Happy Valentines Day!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Real Madrid Game

Although I find watching soccer to be right next to eating vegetables and reading science fiction on my list of least favorite things to do, I got the opportunity to go to a Real Madrid game and couldn't pass it up.  Not only are tickets to games extremely hard to come by, if you do they are super expensive and typically in the nosebleed sections.  A coworker of mine has season passes because his wife works for Real, so she had a few extra tickets and I was able to go along.  It was quite the experience.  Not only is the stadium bigger than anything I've ever been in (I think it holds 80,000) but the people are insane!  Since it's Spain, we went to the bar for a few hours before the 10 pm kickoff.  Our seats were on the goal line about 20 rows up--- incredible.  While it wasn't the most exciting game (Real scored their two goals in the last 4 minutes of the game) I thoroughly enjoyed watching the people heckle one another, yell at the refs, and laugh at the "injured" players.  And in true Spanish style, we went to the bar during half time and after the game.  Not a smart decision on my part considering I had to get up for work 3 hours later...

 The Stadium

 My coworker Juan Carlos and I

 The view from our seats... amazing!

 The beloved Ronaldo

Our crazy crew, out way too late!

Now that I've seen both a bullfight and a futbol game, I feel I've truly had the full Spanish experience. :)

Ciao para ahora, L

Friday, January 28, 2011

A New Beginning

For the first time in my life, I've entered a transitional phase where I am not only hopeful but fearful.  Never before have I quit a job without having another job already lined up.  The ease with which I've found finding a job internationally makes it all the more frightening to attempt to move back to the States in the recession and poor economy.  At times I find myself thinking, "What the hell am I doing?" but am quickly reassured that I'm making the right decision when I think about all I'm looking forward to come summertime and beyond. 

But needless to say,  it was hard to resign from a job that I enjoy so much.  In Puerto Rico, I loved my life on the island and my ability to go to the beach at whim, but I didn't love my job, per se (there were definitely things I enjoyed a great deal but I didn't jump out of bed eager to go to work on a daily basis).  In Spain, it's quite the opposite.  I love my job, the challenge and stimulation it provides me everyday, how much I learn from my coworkers and my students, but I don't enjoy my day to day life in Madrid.  It's hard to live in a place where you constantly feel as if you have to be "on" in order to communicate, protect yourself, travel from one place to another, etc.  I get home after a nearly 12 hour day, each day, mentally and emotionally drained.  To be honest, I think I might go crazy if I didn't know I was leaving in 5 months (exactly!). 

Who knows if I'll ever get to a place in my life where I love my job and love my life simultaneously but I will be constantly seeking it out until I do!  I should be hearing back about grad school acceptances in the coming weeks, I have applications in to a few public school districts, I have a head hunter looking for jobs in the private school sector, and I'll be coming back to Portland the week before my spring break (April 9-16) to attend a 2-day job fair and hopefully set up some interviews and/or look for an apartment to move into July 1.  It'll be a very busy next few months, so keep your fingers crossed!

And it wouldn't be life in Europe if I wasn't traveling!  I've tried to plan a trip every few weeks to keep my mind off of things and to see the last few corners of Europe that I've been dying to get to before I move away.  As I always say, if anyone is ever in this neck of the woods or if you'd like to do some traveling in the next few months and Spain is part of the intinerary, please let me know.  My tour guide skills have gotten quite good over the past year and half, and my home is nice and cozy, just waiting for visitors!

Here's a few pictures of some of my closest friends in Madrid... the very reasons (and pretty much only reasons) it will be really hard to leave.

 Watching the Seahawks

Celebrating Birthdays

 Our favorite bar


 Don't know what I'll do without these two

Streets of Madrid

Flamenco aprons

 Good friends and good times together

Hope all's well in your corner of the world.  Until next time... ~L

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Swiss Alps

I love sun.  I love warm weather.  I love the beach.  I dislike winter immensely.  But I love to ski. 

Since there isn't much warm weather to be had in Madrid in the near future and the beach is a long haul, I decided the best way to beat the winter blues was to indulge in a bit of snow.  And considering that a friend of mine lives so close to the Swiss Alps, I figured, why not?  Aside from one week spent in Zermatt last January and a 5-day trip planned for Chamonix-Mont Blanc this February, I haven't taken advantage of the proximity of excellent skiing here in Europe nor have I made lugging my ski gear across the world worthwhile. 

While there wasn't too much skiing that was done throughout the weekend (due to going out Friday night which caused everyone to sleep in, due to multiple beer pit stops on the slopes on Saturday, and due to an impromptu sledding adventureon Sunday), the thought and effort to put the ski gear to good use was not lost!  It was a wonderful 48 hours spent in a gorgeous country with pristine weather and great friends.  What more could one really ask for?

Skiing the Swiss Alps


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Boy, was 2010 a good one!  I don't think I could feel more lucky for all that happened in the past 365 days--- this truly has been one of the best years of my life.  The monthly highlights include:

January:  Rang in 2010 at one of the craziest New Years parties I've ever been to in Madrid, then spent a week skiing the Swiss Alps.

February:  Collin and Erin's gorgeous wedding in Puerto Vallarta (we are so lucky to have an amazing new member of our family!) and a solo, weekend trip to my favorite city in the world, Rome.

March:  Turned the big 2-7 and visited my friend, Carol, in Lugano.

April:  Spring Break in Ireland with my best friend from grade school, Calli.

May:  Beer drinking in Belgium (one of my favorite trips of the year)

June:  Springtime in Munich and many, many parties in Madrid marking the end of our first year.

July:  Greek Isles... the most relaxing 4 weeks of my life (aside from Spain winning the World Cup!)

August:  PNW!  Also, a cruise to Alaska, one of the best family vacations we've ever had.

September:  Another school year-- an extra class, two additional job titles, excellent students, and a brand new apartment.  Lots more work but lots more money, too (insert sarcasm...).

October:  Oktoberfest.  Enough said.

November:  Conference in Tunisia and Thanksgiving in Istanbul.

December:  Winter break in Prague then HOME for 3 weeks. 

If there's anything I want to do in the early part of 2011, it's to appreciate Spain more.  While living in a foreign country has its perks, when you aren't fluent in the language and the culture just isn't the same that you grew up with, it's hard to really love a place.  There are soooo many things about Spain and Spanish people and the Spanish culture that really tick me off and I feel I have a right (whether deserved or not) to get ticked off because I deal with it on a daily basis--- I'm not just there on a week-long vacation.  But, aside from all our differences, I want to leave Spain on a good note because whether I like it or not, the country has opened my eyes to so many diversities, has brought together some of the best friends of my life, and has given me opportunities I never thought possible.  I feel I'd be doing myself a disservice if I didn't leave Spain on a good note, loving (or maybe just liking) the place I called "home" for two years (although you won't find a happier soul at Madrid-Barajas airport the day I leave, June 28-ish!)

Although it will be bittersweet to leave my family, the TV, Mexican food and the golf course this week, I go back to Spain knowing, without a doubt, that I want to move back to the US.  Many of you know the anxiety I've had in recent months about wanting to move back, not wanting to move back, where do I go, what do I do, etc. I wanted to use my time home to really figure out if uprooting my life is something that made sense right now when I love my job so much. While I still don't have the answers to many of the those questions, I at least know with confidence that living abroad has lost its luster.  So..... the teaching test has been passed. The teaching license has been applied for. The grad school applications are in. Now, I play the waiting game. Here's to hoping Lindsay gets a job in 2011!!

Christmas 2010 in AZ

Here's to another great year--- Salud, Sláinte, Prost, Salute, Santé, Na zdravi, Cheers,


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Prague, Czech Republic

When you hear people telling their "trip from hell" stories you never think it's actually going to happen to you.  Well... it did.  But, it has a good ending so at least there is a silver lining!

Here's a "brief" play-by-play.  Arrive 1.5 hours early for our flight from Madrid-Frankfurt-Prague.  Check in, check luggage (don't normally do this but we had to pack all the winter gear plus some), go through security, sit for a few drinks (this has become standard procedure), get to gate... and everyone is standing around.  We hear some random English and someone saying, "Flight to Frankfurt is canceled."  Turns out it was about 20 military guys returning to their base in Germany that were on our flight and they heard from so-and-so who heard from so-and-so that something was going on with the air traffic controllers.  We debate whether e should stay at the gate and see if things get resolved or go back out through security to the check-in counters to see what the deal is.  We decide to leave the gate,.  They close security behind us and now all departure TV's have "Canceled, Canceled, Canceled" flashing across them.  As we rush to the check-in counter my bag breaks and tumbles to the floor, with my fancy camera inside.  Luckily, it was protected by my 500-page book and 2 scarves.  So... we keep running and then we see it.  No joke, no exagerration... at least 3,000 people waiting in the terminal.  And in just the Lufthansa line, at least 500.  This terminal is not large.  Probably 300 yards by 50 yards.  Filled with 3,000 Spaniards whose flights just got cancelled due to striking bastards?  Are you catching my drift yet?  And now... it's filled with international journalists too. Newscameras, flashes, spotlights, microphones, etc.  No one knows what the hell is going on, women are going hysterical, men are pounding their fists and screaming.  And what do the three of us do?  Fall to the floor in a heap of laughter.  What else can you do at this point?  It was such an outrageous scene I'm not even doing it justice.  We begin calling the Lufthansa customer service number and by the grace of God, someone answers, helps us and rebooks one of the three flights.  Then the phone goes dead.  Sidenote:  we have to use pay-as-you-go phones here until you prove you have lived in the country for 2 years... and the phone ran out of money.  On another phone we try to start calling again but by this time the 500 people in line are doing the same thing.  Waiting... waiting... waiting.  Finally get through and get the agent from hell.  She begins to yell, and in true Lindsay fashion, I start to yell back. I ask for her name, her boss, then click.  She hangs up on me.  Sweet.  We all start calling again and finally get someone, an hour later, who helps us, gets all the tickets rebooked... but for two days later.  By this time all of our friends who are at home are trying to call us telling us we are on all the news channels.  If I'd had known that I'd have made myself look presentable!  We go to reclaim our luggage and head home (now 5 hours after we got to their airport) and our friend Fil, who went to the bathroom, is no where to be found.  I finally go to try to find him and I hear him, yelling my name.  He got locked in the bathroom stall.  No one would help him, he couldn't climb under or over.  And now at this point, I really start to laugh.  Uncontrollably....  We finally make it home at almost midnight.  It's Friday.  We were supposed to be in Prague at this point.  And now we don't leave until Sunday night.  :)

Hope you enjoyed the tale.  Once we finally made it to Prague we had a wonderful time full of snow flurries, holiday cheer and lots of beer.  Sometimes it's the trips where nothing seems to go right where you have the most fun.  And this was one of the most interesting to date, that's for sure!  I'll spare you the details of our journey through the enchanting city that is Prague but if you choose to view the pictures, you can find out about all that we discovered in the captions.  Enjoy!

Hezké prázdniny!  ~Linds

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Best Job

Everyone has the days where they hate their lob and they love their job.  Luckily, I'm typically very excited to go to work because every day is truly different. 

Today I had a moment while watching some of my students in a Christmas concert where I sort of tuned everything out, looked around the auditorium and thought to myself, "This is the coolest job.  I can't believe I get to do this every day."  Why did this come about?  I'm not quite sure.  I think part of me is really struggling with the fact that I know I won't be here at this school next year.  I love my coworkers and my students and it's hard to think of life without either of them.  If I didn't have such a strong desire to live a life with some sort of normalcy and/or if I was in a city where I felt more at home, then I would probably never leave.  But maybe this perspective has been good for me because it has made me not take any of my time here for granted and really cherish the moments at school when the students aren't annoying the hell out of me!  :)

Another reason I felt so lucky today is because the students that I have are some of the most inspiring people I know.  They are so overly talented it's sickening sometimes.  I look back at my middle school days and all I can remember is playing sports and doing homework.  The majority of my students here speak 3+ languages fluently, play an instrument or sing, play a sport, and still excel at school.  It boggles my mind.  Many of these students do all of this without the support of their parents at home because the reality is, many of them are being raised by their nannies, butlers, drivers, etc.  They crave love and attention and I think that's why many of them enjoy coming to school-- they have the attention of 8+ adults at all times!  As I always do, I've become pretty attached to the majority of my students and the thought of the last day of school nearing breaks my heart... I don't even want to think about it (and luckily I have 6 more months of not having to).

Here's a video that I think any educator, past or present, can appreciate and enjoy:

I'm so proud of my students and what they accomplish on a daily basis.  Getting to see them grow and mature and become knowledgable global citizens is so rewarding.  And they aren't even my own!  I can't imagine what I'm going to be like as a Mom...


Friday, November 26, 2010

Istanbul, Turkey

It has become a tradition of mine to go somewhere for Thanksgiving (although since living in Europe... I go "somewhere" just about every weekend!) The past five years I've spent the holiday at Macchu Picchu in Peru, diving in Dominica, cruising through the Caribbean islands, lounging in the Canary Islands... and Turkey Day 2010 was spent in, none other than, Turkey!

Istanbul has been near the top of my list of places to visit since I moved to Spain, so I had high expectations and was armed with my guidebook and camera.  The city did not disappoint.  I'm not sure which gained more weight during the trip: me or my luggage!  The sights were breathtaking, the food incredible, the shopping, oh, the shopping.  There was even a marriage proposal (from our waiter one night at dinner... he informed me he wanted to have seven kids together... I was frightened). 

We made many friends during our four days of traversing the city.  Everyone was so warm and knowledgable and always invited us in for a cup of tea.  I'm a total coffee snob (unfortunately) and have never been particularly fond of tea but I accepted every offer and am now obsessed with their version of tea-- basically glorified apple cider, delicious!  I was totally shocked by the liveliness and buzz in the modern area of Istanbul and the availability of alcohol.  My ignorant perception of Turkey was that every woman would be in a burka, younger Turks would be very conservative and it would be hard to find a good time.  Boy was I wrong.  And I thought Madrileños liked to party... damn!

It was a wonderful trip with three of my closest friends.  I don't often just stop and realize I have quite an amazing life with the most supportive friends and family, a job that fullfills me, and a thirst for adventure and travel that is quenched by living in one of the best continents in the world for both.  I truly am thankful for the ability to do everything I could ever want at this time in my life. 

Aşk için tüm, Linds

Thursday, November 11, 2010

America's Favorite Cities 2010

Travel and Leisure, a magazine that I always thumb through in the airport, recently came out with a list of American's Favorite Cities.  They picked 35 cities from across the country and ranked them on their culture, food, shopping, nighlife, etc.  I found it very ironic that this article just came out since many of the cities listed are ones that have been on my "wish list" of places to move back to.  Embedded in the article is a tool where you can compare two cities to each other.  So, of course, I spent the next hour seeing how Portland vs Seattle, San Francisco vs San Diego, and San Juan, PR vs anything stacked up. 

Here are a few highlights:

Portland: #1 for summer, microbrew beer, farmer's markets, intelligent people, environmental friendliness and public parks (hence why I want to move here...)

Seattle:  worst for any season other than summer (duh...), but high up for coffee bars, skyline views and intelligent people.  Not really many surprises here.

San Diego:  #1 for weather, and also high for athletic and attractive people (why am I not moving here??)

San Juan, PR:  This one really cracked me up.  Having lived on the island for 2 years, there were many things I knew it was known for (highly ranked for good weather, spending the winter, romantic escape, and happy hour) but two things that San Juan was highly ranked for I can assure you are false:  New Years and attractive people.  Let me explain both.  Spending New Years in San Juan might rank in the bottom 2 of places I've ever spent it (with the bottom being at home when I was 14).  Nothing was open and what was closed at 1 am (when most places in PR stay open till 4 or 5 on a regular night).  It was a complete let down.  Not worthy of making the list AT ALL.  And attractive people?  Just because someone is tan and in a bikini does not qualify them for being attractive.  Now, if you only took the cross section of people that live in Rincon and surf everyday, this might be correct.  But PR has to have one of the highest obesity rates of any place I've ever been and unless you like men with long, greasy mullets, this is not a place to find a significant other.
If you'd like to see the article for yourself (and not just my commentary on it) you can find it at the following link:

As you can see, it looks like Portland suits me the best.  Not that I haven't known that since July...but this was some good reassurance.

Cheers!  Linds