Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On Wednesdays, We Wear Pink

Just as I suspected, the excitement factor of my blog posts has gone down dramatically since we stopped traveling.  I guess that's to be expected, but it is still vaguely unsettling - the way the winner of the Ugliest Dog Contest is unsettling.  I'd like to say this onslaught of boring posts isn't my fault, but I'd be lying.  Mostly it is.  I could make it a bit more interesting, but I haven't had much to work with the past few weeks. (Never mind that epic 60 hour power outage that almost exclusively struck our building after the storm last week.  No one wants to hear about that.)

Until my Arkansas friends came to town, that is.  It is a documented fact that we Arkansawyers know how to kick the fun-factor up a notch.
See, we are a blast.  

Aside from Allison spending a good 24 hours explaining to me what "hipsters" are, (somehow I missed that entire sub-cultural movement.  Blame it on India.) Matt and I spent most of our time showing off our prowess as hot-shot big city dwellers and exposing the girls as the country bumpkins they really are.  Mostly we followed Matt around as he took us on the awe-inducing, ever-gleaming, lightning-fast CTA train into downtown, holding our breath surreptitiously so as not to gag from the stench of urine that seems to linger in every car of the transit system.  We got swept up in the sweaty masses of the Taste of Chicago, and swiftly moved on to the more comfortable quarters of Lincoln Park's Summerfest celebration.
Before my inbox gets overloaded with questions regarding where to find those masks:  you're out of luck.  We got those in Germany.  Best impulse buy ever.  

Later, we marveled at the treasures on display at the Chicago Antique Market Festival, where Allison bought a $3 necklace of unknown material (possibly silver, in which case - Score!  Possibly tin, in which case it's probably recyclable), Rachael bought a nuts and bolts bracelet (it looks just like it sounds), and Matt and I found the best prize of all:  two leather office chairs!  If you aren't jumping out of your skin with enthusiasm at this very moment, that's only because I haven't told you yet that we got them for the meager price of $75 for the pair!  Come on!  That is amazing.  That's like $4 a chair or something incredible like that.  I'm a little fuzzy on the math.
See?  They're even on casters.  Who doesn't love casters? 

These chairs not only give us a place to sit while we await our ever-absent Macy's sofa (which, let's be honest, we should probably chalk up to a scam at this point), but they also proved to be a hot commodity at the festival.  No sooner had Matt and I left to get cash from the ATM than a scavenging couple came up and offered the woman $150 for the chairs.  Thankfully Rachael and Allison were there to bare their teeth, sprout hair from their bodies, and morph into rabid werewolves, thereby scaring off those and any more amazing-chair thieves.  The couple asked me to sell them just one chair for $75 (ensuring me a free chair), but I told them I needed the pair.  I'm not sure if that's true, but I didn't like the look of that guy.  Plus, I probably did need both, as evidenced by the lack of sofa situation.

Anyway, after the excitement of the weekend, we are now back to just the two of us, in our humdrum day-to-day activities.  Today, I'm making potstickers.  Tomorrow it's a potato frittata.  This might end up being a food blog, but probably not.  Unless it turns into an "I'm not sure how to cook but God bless I'm going to persevere" food blog.  Doubtful.  

Monday, June 20, 2011


It has taken almost a month, but we are finally settling in here at Casa de Former Travelers.  We (and by we of course I mean mostly I... I've got to earn my keep in some way) have unpacked almost every box, and put almost everything in place.  Well, we've put things in a place.  It might not be a fully realized and organized apartment yet, but we're working on it.  Who knew unpacking was such a chore? Most of my first week here was spent sitting on the floor, surrounded by boxes and mountains of packing paper, shaking my head in disbelief at why we felt the need to store most of these things for three years.  A broken teapot.  A broken lampshade.  Three broken chairs. (All of these things were broken before the movers even touched them.) A package of chocolate covered pretzels.  A half-empty box of soup.  Three used candles, etc, etc.  I think we might be recovering hoarders. Also, for those of you who have never had the pleasure of dealing with the results of professional packers, I can only hope and pray that you do experience it at some point in your life.  While it is wonderful to have all your possessions packed for you - each piece wrapped in thousands of sheets of paper and then stuffed in its own four-foot-tall box - you have to keep an eye on those guys, for when they say they pack everything, they mean it.  A few of my favorite finds:  dirty dishes with caked on food, a stack of the library's CDs we borrowed for the wedding (a hefty late fee on those, I'm guessing), a coffee maker with the filter and old, moldy coffee grounds stuck in it, as well as my favorite find - a Fry Daddy with 3-year-old fry oil sitting inside.  It's bad enough we even own a Fry-Daddy (you can take the girl out of Arkansas...), but to have the oil still sitting in it?  Come on! Yet despite all this, I know I only have myself (and my husband) to blame.  Apparently you're supposed to get all your items ready to be packed before the packers pack them.  What a novel idea.
It may not look like much, but it was.  Kind of.  

We still don't have all our furniture, but we're getting there.  Our discontinued (and probably soon to be collector's items) Martha Stewart sofa and chair have yet to make an appearance, but I think it will be soon and very soon.  Possibly next week.  Thank you Macy's for your prompt and courteous service. (I'm kidding.  They were pretty courteous.)  In the meantime, Matt and I have been sharing the old sleeper couch which Arpit and Hema helped us move.  Why, even bother, you ask?  Who can know?  In theory it is because we only have one bedroom and a pull-out sofa bed will be nice when company comes a-calling.  The reality is probably that we are cheap and didn't want to fork out $300+ for other seating items for the sunroom.  Also, I mentioned we were recovering hoarders, not recovered.  The tense makes all the difference.
Ain't that fine?  We have since put a slipcover on it, making it look slightly less tacky.  Or slightly more tacky.  I haven't decided which yet.  

Aunt Mickie took me to a used furniture store in the area last week, where we met up with Betsy and Riley, and then Dave showed up as well.  It was quite the family affair.  I immediately fell in love with almost everything in the store, and took Matt back there on Saturday, where we ran into Dave again!  Between the three of us, I think we put a pretty big dent in their inventory, which will give them room to put out more stuff for me to buy.

I still don't have a job, and am in the process of scouring (and by scouring I mean lazily searching when I get the chance, which isn't very often considering I'm still on borrowed Internet) the Web looking for employment, and thinking of ways to beef up my resume.  It shouldn't be too hard.  Who wouldn't want to hire a journalism/English major with no experience but who has taught English in several (three) different countries?  That's what I thought.  I'll keep truckin'.

In the meantime, I will continue to settle in here, asking those questions that surely plague newly domesticated couples everywhere, such as:  Why is there blue lint on every surface in my bathroom?  How do I get rid of it?  Can I wash my clothes in the dishwasher? (- Stepbrothers) And when is housekeeping going to come in and clean my room?  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spain - "I think dis is de best"

El toro.  They have these huge bulls on the side of the highway all over Spain.  I was impressed.  

As you all know, we went to Spain on a last - minute honeymoon.  We have since returned to America and are stressed and pressed for time moving into our new apartment.  I was just going to skip blogging about Spain, but after repeated requests for info and pictures, I realized I just couldn't let it slide.  We here at "She's Gone Rogue" strive to keep our fans happy, yet we really are exceedingly busy and don't have Internet at home now, so we will try to keep this as short and sweet as possible.  And now, courtesy of the free wifi at Atlanta Bread Company all the way in Fayetteville, AR, I present to you:  Spain:  

Day 1 - Madrid
Flew into Madrid.  Got there around 9:00 am.  Were exhausted, but knew we had to fight the jetlag.  Did the only thing we knew how to do:  hit the streets with our guidebook and toured the city until we literally fell over.  Took an impromptu nap on a park bench for about an hour after we decided to sit for "just a minute."  Woke up with all our belongings still intact.  Close call.  Ate some delicious Spanish food (ie, jamon).  Went to bed around 11pm.  
Jamon at the jamon store.  Affectionately known as "Matt's Paradise."

Metropolis building in Madrid's city center.  Possibly the most beloved building by Madrilenos.  Modeled after a French building.  Oooh, burn.  
Day 2 - Madrid
Awoke refreshed and ready to kick the day's ass.  Went to the Prado (famous art museum).  Got in for free because it was a holiday.  Saved 18 euros.  Score.  Spent far too long at the Prado, but saw interesting art (mostly religious).  Bought a magnet of Goya's depiction of Saturn devouring his son.  (Said magnet is now located on refrigerator at home to discourage overeating.)  Went to park to drink wine.  Went to tapas area at Alberto's suggestion (he thought dis was de best place), and had the first of a long list of the very best tapas in the world.  Drank more wine.  Went in search of chocolate con churros place.  Found it, but the line was far too long.  Saw a huge demonstration in the plaza.  Didn't know what was going on because didn't speak enough Spanish.  Resolved to learn more Spanish.  Went to bed.  
Delicious pintxos (tapas from the Basque region - arguably the best region for tapas).  

Huge demonstration.  Maybe political?  Who can know?

Day 3 - Segovia
Took the high speed train to the medieval city of Segovia from Madrid.  Walked with our two rolling suitcases 30 minutes across cobblestone streets to our hotel.  Bad idea.  Tooled around.  It was cool.  Ate the local delicacy, roast suckling pig.  Surprisingly good.  Went to a castle.  Walked up a hill to take pictures.  Read on a park bench.  Fell asleep on said park bench.  Had delicious homemade ravioli dinner.  Stayed the night.  
Cathedral in Segovia.  Muy cool.  

Aquaduct left over from Roman times.  Very big.  Very cool.  

Castle on which the "Sleeping Beauty" castle was modeled.  

View of Segovia from the park on the hill.  Worth the walk.  
Day 4 - Granada
Took train back to Madrid from Segovia.  Rented a car at the train station.  Matt drove, obviously.  Drove to Granada, approximately four hours.  Incredible drive.  Amazing countryside.  Couldn't find a fast place to stop for lunch, so we skipped it.  Went hungry.  Arrived in Granada.  Checked into beautiful  hotel.  Walked around the city.  Ate Jamon in the room.  
View of countryside on the way to Grenada.  Those are olive trees.  
Day 5 - Granada
Woke early and drove to     , an hour outside of the city.  Went on a seven mile hike through the mountains to another city.  Would have gone further, but we were completely spent.  Hike was amazing - possibly best part of the trip.  Possibly.  

View of a lake from up in the mountains.  

Town we hiked to.  Don't know the name of it, but it was really pretty.

Day 6 - Granada
Walked around sightseeing, then went and had an unanticipated two hour lunch at a cafe in the shadow of the Alhambra, a Muslim fortress and palace built in the 14th century.  Matt freaked out about the time because we had tickets to see the Alhambra's palace at 7, and had to see the rest of the grounds before that.  Ran/walked up the hill to the fortress, and sped through the gardens, museums and fortress.  Took lots of pictures.  Finished in plenty of time to see the palace.  Saw palace.  Impressive.  Took even more pictures.  Went down the hill to dinner at a middle eastern restaurant.  Had lamb and rice dish.  Delicious.  
  Panorama of the Alhambra from a touristy hill where everyone goes to take pictures.  It probably won't show up fully in the blog, so click the picture to see the whole view.  Please.  I worked hard on it in photoshop.

View of the city from the fortress.  

Inside the palace.  This is all carved marble that looks like...
this up close.  Someone should learn this skill and come to my house and do it on my walls.  Please.  I'll pay you handsomely in mediocre home-cooked meals.  

Day 7 - Sevilla/Seville
Drove from Granada a couple hours to Sevilla.  Ate our first and only paella, which was fantastic and very expensive.  Saw a beautiful gothic (maybe?) cathedral.  Skipped almost all of the other recommended sights in favor of just wandering around.  Ate the BEST tapas and drank beer at an outdoor restaurant just underneath our hotel.  Went to bed.  
Might not look like much, but that's just because of my photography skills.  It was incredible.  

Seville Cathedral.  It is the largest Gothic cathedral and third largest church in the world.  You can't tell, but again, that's because of my limited photography skills.  
Days 8 through 10 - Costa Brava 
Flew from Seville to Barcelona, then skipped out on all the sights and took a bus to the city of Palafrugell, on the Mediterranean Costa Brava.  Checked into a wonderful hotel with a gorgeous beach right under our balcony.  Went to said beach.  Walked all over town and into neighboring towns to visit different beaches, each possibly more impressive than the last.  Saw lots of topless women, and one naked man. On the last day, taxi-ed to Aiguablava, a different but no less amazing costal town.  Stayed in a Parador situated on a rock that juts out into the Mediterranean.  Learned the meaning of Parador (a hotel located in a historic place such as a castle, palace, convent, monastery, fortresse, etc.  I don't know what ours used to be.  Not a palace or castle, but it was acceptable anyway).   Weather was not up to par on that last day, but what can you do?  I'll tell you.  You can be persistent, take a walk around the beaches, lay out in the freezing windy conditions by the pool pretending that it is 90 degrees and sunny, and finally give up and go drink wine and play cards in your hotel room.  
View of the beach and restaurant from our balcony in Palafrugell.

Beach where we saw the naked man.  I don't think he's in this picture, but maybe he is. Feel free to look for him.  

Third beach.  

A rope seen from afar can look like a dead body.  Like this one.  I was convinced it was a dead body so I had to go investigate.  I was wrong.  Still, cool rope.  

Day 11 - Barcelona/Madrid
Took a bus back to Barcelona.  Didn't learn our lesson from Segovia and took our rolling suitcase around the city sightseeing.  Went to La Sagrada Familia, or as I call it, Gaudi's church.  Walked around it taking pictures and marveling at all the people who were willing to pay 12 euros a piece to go inside.  (Note, probably would have forked it over if it hadn't been our last day... my pockets get a little tighter toward the end of a long vacation.) Took bus to airport to fly back to Madrid.  Nicest airport I've been to.  Good thing, because our flight was delayed two hours.  Flew back to Madrid, stayed the night, left early next morning for Amurca. Boom.  Spain.  

It appears I don't have any pictures downloaded yet from our Parador on the rocks or Barcelona, so I'll have to get those later.  Or not at all.  Anyway, that was our honeymoon.  Now we're back in Amurca, living in the real world, setting up our new apartment, and reeling from the prices of everything.