A Thank You to All My Travel Friends

My life changed for the better the first time that I left the United States: my mind was opened to realities I hadn’t considered before, I was humbled by how much I didn’t understand about the world, but I was instantly ready and anxious to gain that understanding. I figure now is the best time to make such a reflection since the second leg of my South American adventure this May was back to where it all began. ¡Viva Chile!

Arrived in Chile yesterday exactly 4 years after I left my first adventure abroad! Look how far we've come. 🙂 #tbt

A post shared by Alexa Verink (@alexa_verink) on

If you’re one of those detail-oriented types, you’d notice that I went through Chilean customs 4 years to the day after I first left! How fun is that?

My first trip abroad was to Viña del Mar, Chile, as many of you know since that’s where Abi, Maddy, and I met. We had a blast roaming the relaxed beach town and actually spent only one day in the big city capital, Santiago. This time around, my entire stay was in Santiago, so I had a much different experience.

I’m not going to focus on the differences, though.

Instead, I’d like to highlight all of the lovely perks there are to having friends scattered throughout the world in order to encourage those who are nervous to take the plunge into international mingling and also to thank those friends of mine who have enriched my travels throughout the past 4 years.

1. You have somewhere to crash that doesn’t dent your budget and doesn’t keep you sleeping with one eye open at night. Two of the Chilean students, both conveniently named Javier, that helped with the Pitt program we did in Viña del Mar ended up being my hosts when I passed through Santiago. (One pictured above!) I’ll be forever grateful for having my own room with clean sheets and a friendly face nearby. Gracias a los dos!

Also, I'm pretty sure a hostel couldn't beat this view.

Also, I’m pretty sure a hostel couldn’t beat this view.

2. Getting a sightseeing recommendation from a local friend is a lot easier to trust than a guide book. Since I was on my own while the chicos were at work, they threw a few ideas my way to keep me occupied. I had some beautiful walks through the city, people-watched while shopping, killed a few hours in the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes), and (I’ll publicly admit this) did some work-related research in a Chilean Walmart. They obviously understand my interests!

Neighborhood walk

Neighborhood walk

Never know what you might stumble upon.

Never know what you might stumble upon.

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Just hanging out at Lider. Look familiar?

Just hanging out at Lider. Look familiar?

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3. You automatically have someone to hang out with (and make plans for you). I had some pretty lazy days (read: woke up at 11am) while I was in Santiago, but the Javiers had plenty of other things in mind for when they got home. I tried my first CrossFit class, got delicious Indian food, crashed a work party, strolled through the biggest park in Chile, and went out in the trendy Bellavista neighborhood.

I was told this is "THE shot" to take of Parque Bicentenario. Check.

I was told this is “THE shot” to take of Parque Bicentenario. Check.

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A view from my last night walking through "Sanhattan", as they like to call it.

A view from my last night walking through “Sanhattan”, as they like to call it.

4. You don’t feel so out-of-place even if you are alone for a stretch of time. Those times I was sitting on a bench outside stuffing my face with empanadas or lugging my gawky backpack through a residential neighborhood, I wasn’t thinking, “Oh my gosh, everyone’s definitely staring at me. I look like SUCH a foreigner right now. Please don’t question me on what I’m doing,” which is what I’d normally do on my own. Knowing you have some friends who are “in” with the local culture can really put your mind at ease. If nothing else, you know you can tell them an awkward, hilarious story when you see them later in the day!

... Like your struggles in using a Chilean espresso machine.

… Like your struggles in using a Chilean espresso machine.

Don't mind me carrying my whole life around.

Don’t mind me carrying my whole life around.

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You might make some new friends in the process.

You might even make some NEW friends!.

The main point I’m trying to make is that although it’s hard having to be apart from people who you’d like to spend more time with, knowing those people in far-away places is a privilege and absolutely indispensable when traveling. I couldn’t have had even half of the experiences that I’ve had without the wonderful humans I’ve met from all over the world.

So thank you to everyone that I’ve met so far… for opening your schedules and your doors to make me feel at home, for putting up with my language errors, and mostly, for being awesome people. Know that I’ll always return the favor!

PROOF: Both the Javiers in Pittsburgh along with a Frenchy and a Spaniard that I've seen in their home towns!

PROOF: Both the Javiers in Pittsburgh along with a Frenchy and a Spaniard that I’ve seen in their home towns!

– Alexa

Everything’s STILL Different in Texas

In about a week, I’ll have been living in San Antonio for 7 months. Can you believe that? I think back on how much I accomplished after 6 months in Argentina, and the times don’t even seem comparable. Everything’s been flying by, and I still don’t think I know much about where I am. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been looking!

It’s about time for another random observation post about Texas, don’t you reckon?

1. My way or the highway… or the “feeder” or the grass between the ramp and the road.

There are several observations I’ve made that all have to do with Texan driving habits and infrastructure, which are as follows:

– Every highway has a frontage road on either side, and I’ve been told you know someone isn’t from Texas when they call it a frontage road (guilty) because it’s a “feeder”. They’re regular roads that have stop lights, but they follow the highway exactly. People who have come to visit see them as unnecessary, but they’re fun to play with when traffic sucks and you want to try beating everyone by getting on and off the ramps.

– Turnarounds are both a blessing and a curse. These are extra lanes far to the left that allow you to make a full U-turn legally. They’re great once you figure out what they’re for, but have fun understanding your GPS when you first get here.

– Even though turnarounds give you DESIGNATED SPACE FOR U-TURNS, Texans turn around whenever they damn well please. Unexpected U-turns galore. Don’t think they need a road, either, because I’ve seen cars drive straight off of a highway or road through the grass to the road they really need on more than one occasion.

– Finally, despite anarchist views towards road rules, everyone drives under the speed limit. Yes, I said UNDER. Being from up North, where everyone’s in a hurry and 5mph over the speed limit is the minimum, this continually baffles me.

2. Aggie rings are a status symbol

Texas A&M alumni are united by an excessively large ring that you WILL be able to see from across a room because that’s exactly what they want you to do.

Taking it up a notch.

Taking it up a notch.

3. White people

Fact: They’re a minority here. I’m totally ok with that, but it’s just never something I’ve experienced in the U.S. Have you ever checked out the Racial Dot Map? It’s pretty cool, so go play with it. The country from afar looks like this…

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I’ll let you guess what blue represents. San Antonio is the big orange dot in the middle of Texas! If you’re thinking it’s a touchy subject by any means, it’s not. Everyone has a pretty good humor about their Hispanic heritage and embraces stereotypes of it, which I find hilarious. I’ve jokingly said that I’m too white to live here, and people have laughed and agreed that, indeed, albino girls aren’t meant for the Mexican heat.

4. Texans knows what to do with their pickles.

Uhhh no… there was not any sexual innuendo intended there. I don’t know if it’s a Texas thing or a Southern thing, but my taste preferences have been drastically altered since moving here.

Boring fact from Alexa’s past: I used to hate pickles. Fast forward to the present day, and I literally have cravings for fried pickles.

Texas, you're an enabler.

Texas, you’re an enabler.

The best I’ve had were at Banger’s in Austin, which were dill spears coated to perfection and served with spicy buffalo ranch to dip. They are my religion.

ALSO! Pickle juice shots — real life.

– 1.5 oz whiskey (I’ve seen vodka, too.)
– 1.5 oz pickle juice

I dare you.

Speaking of drinking, here are two lovely tidbits I picked up from a coworker at happy hour one day:

“Not only is it ok for you to get two drinks at a time, down here you are EXPECTED to get two drinks at a time. God gave you two hands for a reason.”

and

“In Texas, alcohol abuse is when you don’t finish your drink.”

Take from that what you will. Or if you don’t feel like thinking, I’d like to guide your assumptions to San Antonio’s 2nd place finish of Drunkest Cities in America. Weeee!

5. Living in Texas basically forces you to listen to country music

You can’t really avoid it when there are just as many country bars as “regular” dive bars and the majority of the live music acts that come in town are twangy and wearing boots. I guess it doesn’t help that my fellow Northerner coworker, Jordan, is a big fan and keeps dragging me to concerts. LIFE’S HARD, HUH?

Can't go wrong with Cowboys Dancehall.

Can’t go wrong with Cowboys Dancehall.

Miranda Lambert's back there somewhere.

Miranda Lambert’s back there somewhere.

6. Iced tea > water

I knew that iced tea was much bigger in the South, especially SWEET iced tea, which is basically sugar water hidden behind the healthy connotation that “tea” provides. I didn’t realize how big it was, though, until I walked into a catered lunch at a work meeting in San Antonio to find iced tea at every table setting where water would normally be. Where did this trend come from? Someone help.

7. “Is that your area code?”

San Antonio’s the 7th largest city in the U.S. and 9th fastest growing (yeah, I was surprised, too). Somehow, despite that, it maintains one area code (210) which makes me feel like I’m back in my little hometown Manhattan, IL where we used to only need to know the last 4 digits of someone’s number to be able to call their house. It’s cute, but I’m a little confused as to how that’s possible.

ANYWAY, that was a real random assortment of Texas/San Antonio facts that in no way connected to each other. Welcome to how my brain works.

If you have explanations for any of these or something else that you’ve noticed, please let me know!

– Alexa

OH, and HAPPY NEW YEAR, y’all! 😀

San Antonio vs. Seattle

It came and went far too quickly, but we DID have another SIBling reunion in Seattle, just like we told you we would. Robby did a pretty great wrap-up of our weekend with a social media collage, of sorts. Since THAT exists, and our Argentina vs. Chile comparison post is one of our most popular, I thought I’d do a comparison of cities.

WARNING: I absolutely loved Seattle and could easily see myself living there, and on the flip side, I’m not a huge fan of San Antonio. Meaning, I’ll try to make this a pretty neutral comparison, but there may be some (glaringly obvious) bias. Woo, here we go!

THE NATIVE PERSONALITY

San Antonio: country, to the point of being a little redneck

Seattle: as hipster as a coffee shop in an Apple store

The easiest way to notice this would be the bar scene, I’d say. Places I’ve gone out to in San Antonio include Cowboys Dancehall, Wild West, and Thirsty Horse Saloon. There’s also this gem right down the road from my apartment…

Back Camera

They have bike night every Wednesday.

When I got to Seattle, though, Robby was waiting with a bottle of locally grown and bottled wine.

This is a true friend.

This is a true friend.

And then we walked about a block and a half up from his street to the Eastlake Zoo Tavern, which looked like a cleaner and less shadowy frat house basement that got thrown into an old barn and was full of flannel-and-beanie-clad young folks playing pool.

I tried to blend in.

I tried to blend in.

That may not sound appealing, but I assure you it was charming and delightful.

The Zoo

The Zoo

Local craft beer, of course!

Local craft beer, of course!

WHERE’S THE WATER AT?

San Antonio: the Riverwalk and not anywhere else super close, since it’s the desert.

Admittedly, it's pretty cute.

Admittedly, it’s pretty cute.

Seattle: literally, everywhere

I mean... SEAPLANES?!

I mean… SEAPLANES?!

Beach time

Beach time

An Abi Original

An Abi Original

NOMS

San Antonio: south of the border and/or as big as possible

All Mexican all the time!

All Mexican all the time!

Food as big as your face!

Food as big as your face!

BONUS: There are many margs to be had.

BONUS: There are many margs to be had.

Seattle: fresh, local, sustainable, VEG-FRIENDLY

So fresh, it's still alive.

So fresh, it’s still alive.

Molly Moon's! My sophomore roommate worked there!

Molly Moon’s! My sophomore year roommate worked there, so we *had* to.

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Truth is, as much as I adore Mexican food, one can only have so many greasy cheese-only enchiladas in a city that doesn’t understand why you wouldn’t want a huge bloody chunk of cow on your plate. Seattle was all about local sourcing, which I’m all for, and I don’t remember seeing anywhere that DIDN’T have a pretty decent vegetarian option on the menu. Sign me up.

ACTIVITIES

San Antonio: two-stepping, walking around malls, and floating on the river

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Seattle: biking (EVERYWHERE), walking (everywhere you can’t bike), paddle boarding, wind surfing, [insert various other water sports, etc.]

Pike's Place strollin'

Pike’s Place strollin’

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Follow the leader... up a mountain of stairs

Follow the leader… up a mountain of stairs

And I wonder why I’m not getting in any better shape here…

THE TOWERS

San Antonio: Tower of the Americas

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Seattle: the Space Needle

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Surprise Fact: The Tower of the Americas wins the heigh contest by just 17 feet.

POLITICAL VIEWSnothing too taboo for this blog!

San Antonio: Texas, as a whole, is super-de-duper conservative, minus the liberal bubble that is Austin. One of the hot button issues that’s been ongoing since I’ve moved here is Planned Parenthood vs. a restrictive Texas abortion law, which you can read the updates on, if you so please. Spoiler: women’s rights are not the current victor.

Seattle: Same-sex marriage has been legal for almost a full year in Washington state, as has recreational use of marijuana. There are, of course, tons of other issues to be considered, but you can draw a general conclusion from that one statement.

Found in Seattle's Urban Outfitters - I rest my case.

Found in Seattle’s Urban Outfitters – I rest my case.

THE ‘HOOD

San Antonio: The city is a huge circle with few ways to distinguish sectors; usually it’s done with cardinal directions (i.e. I live in northwest San Antonio). Everything runs together and, besides Downtown, looks like a continuous strip mall.

Seattle: Like Pittsburgh, Seattle has very distinct neighborhoods with their own personalities, essentially making a bunch of mini-cities under the Seattle umbrella. Robby lives in Eastlake, which has its own bars (as you saw), restaurants, markets, shops, and office spaces. You could easily survive without leaving the few-mile radius of your neighborhood, but each area is so unique, why would you want to miss that?

There’s a lot more I could cover, like sports teams and history and nearby attractions, but I think I’ve rambled enough.

From that circular narrative, I hope you could see that we had a grand ol’ time in Seattle! It was nice to remember what seasons feel like, and Seattle’s honestly like the Pittsburgh of the West. I needed some quirkiness back in my life.

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This wasn’t really supposed to be a Battle of the Cities, but I guess I can’t help myself. I’m sure you can tell I have my eyes looking beyond the Alamo. Even so, I have at least a year left in San Antone, so I’ll be trying to make the most of it and find some nifty little pockets to show you!

– Alexa

Everything’s… Different in Texas

HEY, remember that time I said I was moving to San Antonio? Well, that happened. And, woops, almost 3 months has gone by, and none of you have any idea what I’m doing down here. Since we FINALLY FINISHED our coverage of #EuroTrip2013, I have no choice but to fast forward to my current life as a real person working in the state of Texas.

Rather than putting up a bajillion pictures and saying, “this is what I do now!”, I thought I’d write one of our ever favorite Random Observations posts (thanks for the suggestion, Abigail) to give you a feel for what I was greeted with upon stepping out of the Uhaul.

The most basic observation I can make up front is… Texas is practically a different country. If you’ve read more than 2 posts on this blog, you’ve probably gathered that I’m definitely ok with that – I even prefer it! I just didn’t know it was a feeling I could get without a passport. That being said, here are some of the confusing, hilarious, delightful things that I’ve noticed since moving down south:

1. “You guys” = “y’all”. Always. This is so true that I’ve gotten to the point of feeling awkward saying “you guys” out loud, and have switched to “you all”. I’ll be honest, sometimes the words get kind of strung together, but I have yet to commit to the full changeover.

2. I live in a city, so I figured that the country influence wouldn’t be as noticeable as in rural parts of the state, but I quickly realized I was wrong. No one bats an eyelash at the people walking around wearing boots and cowboy hats.

Running errands outfit (PS That's Justin Moore, for you country music haters that don't know.)

Halloween costume? Nope, running errands. (PS That’s Justin Moore, for you country music haters that don’t know.)

Being a farm girl, it didn’t blow my mind too much, but it still makes me giggle when I think about how friends are going to react to this cultural nuance when they come visit (ABI’S COMING NEXT WEEKEND!!). No human can deny how adorable tiny children are in rainbow-colored cowboy boots, though. Creeper pics to come.

Oopsies, look what I bought!

Oopsies, look what I bought!

3. Texas loves Texas more than anywhere else on the planet. Don’t try to convince anyone that there’s anywhere better. Remember that American flag trend I noticed in Europe? Replace that with the Texas flag, and you’ve got it right.

At a Macy's near you! Or, actually, only near me.

At a Macy’s near you! Or, actually, only near me.

Tastes better this way.

Tastes better this way.

I can’t even pretend to estimate the amount of Texas tattoos I’ve seen.

How I’ve noticed the influence of Texas pride in my job is that Hershey reps in Texas call on, mainly, two accounts: Walmart and the local grocery chain, H-E-B. H-E-B is the ONLY company that can legitimately compete with the corporate monster that is Walmart, and I think it has a large part to do with the Texas branding that they know works wonders down here.

4. Everything really is bigger: state pride, school pride, vehicles, food portions, opinions, malls, dancehalls, bugs, religion, barbecue, football… I could go on forever. Don’t believe me? I refer you to an always trustworthy BuzzFeed article.

No, it's not a large; it's a TEXAS-SIZED order of onion rings. I dare you to finish that and live.

No, it’s not a large; it’s a TEXAS-SIZED order of onion rings. I dare you to finish that and live.

Twofer: trucks and dancehalls

Twofer: trucks and dancehalls

5. People actually dance. On my first night out with some girls from Texas, this conversation happened…

 

I was thinking, “well, you’re right, but that’s a pretty bold claim to make based on what state I’m from.” What she meant was that I didn’t know how to two-step, which was even more true. If you go to any bar, you can expect to see people two-stepping to the country songs. I’ve since learned the basics and been spun around the dance floor a few times, but there’s progress yet to be made.

6. Chivalry is not dead. It’s a small gesture, but when you’re not used to it, having doors held open for you feels like having someone lay a red carpet down at your feet.

Taking it to the extreme.

Taking it to the extreme.

To tie this observation with the one about dancing, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that guys genuinely want to dance when they ask you to do so, and that’s all that it has to be about. I’m not saying there’s never an ulterior motive, but, similar to what we learned about Chileans, they will politely ask you if you’d like to dance, thank you for it when the song ends, and there’s no assumption that you’re then tied to that person for the rest of the evening and need to either give up your number or beat them away with a stick.

Ma'am, may I have this dance?

Ma’am, may I have this dance?

7. It’s not necessarily a Texas-only thing, but I was ecstatic to find out that sand volleyball is a lot more popular down here. I literally don’t know how I would have made friends without it.

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If I’m not working, best bet is I’m here.

Dream Team

Dream Team

8. This place is an oven. In preparation for her upcoming trip down here, Abi asked me yesterday, “is it still hot by you?” To which I replied, “upper 90s/low 100s every day.” You decide. Because of this, water is a way of life. No big plans for the weekend? Floating the river easily sucks up a whole day, in the most relaxing way possible.

My 4th of July plans were pretty simple.

My 4th of July plans were pretty simple.

Got the tubes. Got the cooler. Just add water, and you're set!

Got the tubes. Got the cooler. Just add water, and you’re set!

You can be sure to find every other Texas resident out there with you.

Shout out to my Texas-based cousin, Leanne, for letting me know this was an Alamo reference and not a pirate flag, as we originally thought.

Shout out to my Texas-based cousin, Leanne, for letting me know this was an Alamo reference and not a pirate flag, as we originally thought.

9. Whataburger is king.

They even sell Whataburger ketchup in grocery stores, and I’m pretty sure it does better than Heinz. As a former Pittsburgh resident, this is heartbreaking.

And as a vegetarian, I have a feeling this is one of the Texas trends I won’t be embracing.

10. Downtown San Antonio is pretty. 🙂

View of the Tower of the Americas from HemisFair Park

View of the Tower of the Americas from HemisFair Park

La antorcha de la amistad (Torch of Friendship)

La antorcha de la amistad (Torch of Friendship)

I actually live in Mexico.

I actually live in Mexico.

Welcome to my life.

– Alexa

Lisbon’s for Lovers: Day 1

Remember that time I went to Portugal?! No? I didn’t tell you about that yet? Oh yeah. Well here’s how it went…

Friday morning: My roommate & I get on a plane.

ONE HOUR later: We’re flying over the coast of Portugal!

Last time I saw the Atlantic was in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Here’s the view from the OTHER side!

We had wanted to try CouchSurfing for this trip, but our fellow Madrid interns who had already been to Lisbon highly suggested that we stay at The Independente Hostel. We also highly suggest you stay there because it was freaking amazing. I might have to write a separate post about how grand it was. Getting there involved more hill-climbing than expected (were we actually in Pittsburgh?), but it was more than worth the huffing and puffing.

View from the lookout across the street from our hostel

Traveling makes you a crazed hungry person, though, so we had to find food fast. Good thing there was a restaurant attached to our hostel! Out to the patio we went! All the food served at The Decadente, as it’s known, uses solely Portuguese ingredients that are in season. I figured I’d give the sardines a whirl since they’re used so often in Portuguese dishes. Remember that time I was a vegetarian? Yeah, me neither.

“These still have eyes…”

After filling up, we threw our stuff in our room, and went downstairs only to run into two other girls from our program who were checking in downstairs. Yes, in Europe, you can just run into people in other countries. Once they got settled in, we jumped out into the streets of Lisbon.

These little gumdrop chairs with trees in them were everywhere. I’m a fan.

I was happy to discover that Lisbon is much more graffiti-friendly than Madrid.

“Remember who you are.”

Hey, your house fell over!

A real Angry Bird

We got to see so much of this art because we walked approximately forever plus an hour or so to get up close to the Ponte 25 de Abril (25 of April bridge) in Lisbon that’s based off of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, but that everyone says looks like the Golden Gate Bridge. We were thinking it was a rip-off, but it’s ok because they were made by the same company. 🙂

Also note the mini Christ the Redeemer statue, like in Rio de Janeiro, in the back there.

Oh, and remember the OCEAN?!

Fishy fishy fishy

That’s where you could find us the next day.

– Alexa

MVM: Portugal via Brazil

Happy Monday! Ha. Sorry for rubbing it in. I understand.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I was in Lisbon this weekend! Weekends honestly do not give you a sufficient amount of time to give justice to a city, let alone leave a proper impression of an entirely new country. Despite how fast the trip was, I have so many pictures, I don’t even know what to do with them! Being out of Spain seems to make me remember to be a good little tourist. Those will be up as soon as I can find a pocket of time; the end of this week is when I give my presentation of the study I’ve been doing at work, so I imagine the next few days could get kind of crazy and stressful. That’s why happy, dance-y music is absolutely necessary!

While in Lisbon, I was hoping to find some native Portuguese tunes to freshen up my Portuguese playlist, but I ended up hearing lots of songs from Brazilian artists that I already knew. Enter: Gusttavo Lima. He’s Brazilian, but I heard this song played by a group of kids on the metro in Lisbon when we were on our way to the beach one day. It gets played all the time in bars and clubs in Spain, too, so it’s doubly-relevant!

If you’re looking for a laugh, follow him on Twitter. I couldn’t handle it after a while, but he is the epitome of bro culture in Brazilian form, and it’s hilarious. If you’re not down for seeing pictures of him working out every other tweet, then stick with the songs because they’re fun. Well, até logo!

– Alexa

A Needed Dose of Awesome from MULAFEST

I literally just got back from a weekend in Lisbon, Portugal. The pictures from that will be up really soon (because it was fantastical!), but first I had to share the things I’ve done in the last week that are all backed up on my camera! #1 on the list: MULAFEST in Madrid.

Corinne & Liz helping to advertise at the entrance 😉

As soon as I found out about this… let’s say “alternative” festival, I was super excited and knew that I absolutely had to go. On the news, Madrid referred to it as a “festival of urban tendencies”, which I thought was pretty funny. Basically, it was a big showcase of various art forms like dance, graffiti, painting, and tattooing along with a free-for-all of BMX biking, skateboarding, motorcycles, and souped-up cars. How could I possibly miss seeing all of that craziness in one place?

First sight: Motorcycles galore

There were bands playing at stages all throughout the convention center!

There was a workshop going on by this artsy printing company, & I just thought the butt pillows were hilarious. You’re welcome for the image.

Mulafest graffiti artists made sure there was not a blank wall untouched.

Paint something!!

It spells “GRAFFITI”. Get it? Eh?

The BMX bikers made me feel lame for being on the ground.

Sk8r b0iz (Sorry, I had to.)

Corinne, Liz, & I in front of the GRAFFITI wall

Side story: I asked someone in Spanish to take this pictured and realized later that he probably didn’t speak any Spanish at all. Might have even been American. Woops!

Tattoo booths! As tempting as it was, none of us got anything done. Breathe easy, parents.

There was karaoke with a live band. This guy started it off, and was absolutely fabulous with his rendition of “Billie Jean”.

Dance class!

Crazy paintings – Wasn’t sure what this one was supposed to mean with its combo of brands and zombies.. Especially because all of the zombies were actually Snow White..?

I bet you thought the graffiti was over! It’s not!

We ended our visit hanging out and watching these dancers do crazy amazing things. It was sweet.

I don’t remember having an extremely artistic or urban experience when I was younger, but for some reason, being at this festival made me feel like I was in high school. Everyone was doing whatever they felt like doing, experimenting with random ideas, and was really passionate about the things that brought them the most joy. Mulafest’s main goal was to bring together artists from all backgrounds and places to collaborate in this one space and feed off of each other to allow their best work to come out. The result was more than impressive, and it highlighted a side of Madrid that I don’t think everyone gets to see. All of my waiting and anticipation was definitely justified.

– Alexa

Thanks, Brazil, for sharing the tunes.

Obviously, I was looking forward to a lot of things before coming to Madrid: being in Europe for the first time, having an internship with an international company, getting to know and live in another Spanish-speaking country, and so on. I’ll be honest, though, something I looked forward to the most was the day I’d get to use the ticket I bought for Rock in Rio Madrid. 69€ and months (and months and months!) later, that day FINALLY came!

Last Friday, my roommate and I took the afternoon to recover from the workweek… Meaning, we took extra-long naps. Besides being tired from work, let me tell you why this was absolutely necessary: The day before, we found the line-up for the noche electrónica, which is what we had tickets for. We must have forgotten that we’re in Spain because there was a moment of utter disbelief when we found out that Pitbull, half the reason we bought the tickets, wasn’t going on until 3:20am. Yeah, you read that right. Thus, waking up from a nap at 9pm and getting to a concert by 11:30ish was an acceptable plan.

We had to get ourselves to the Real Madrid stadium to catch a shuttle to the festival. I’m pretty sure it took all of our strength to tolerate the excitement plus a half-hour ride out to Ciudad del Rock, the complex that was built especially for this 4-day festival.

I mean that literally. It was built ESPECIALLY for this festival. Why so elaborate, Madrid?

Really, though, I’m not complaining.

We showed up RIGHT as David Guetta was starting! Perfect timing.

Absolutely everything ever, Sponsored by: El Corte Inglés
PS – People were zip-lining over the crowd from that tower. True story.

After David Guetta, we discovered that our vouchers for a free beer and sandwich still worked. Imagine the happiness that resulted! Oh wait, you can see it.

There were zumba classes nearby because… Well, why not?

Back to the stage for Pitbull! Fireworks!

HE’S REAL!!!

I really think my life is complete.

This is what happy chicas look like. Even at 4:30am.

We didn’t stay for Afrojack, who was the last act. The line to get on the shuttles back to Madrid was absolutely insane. I was supposed to leave for Almería at 6am… but we got back at about 6:30, so that didn’t exactly happen as planned. That whole ordeal is coming up next!

– Alexa