Thursday, June 30, 2011


Jun 26, 2011-1 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 26, 2011-1, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

my locker got to be kind of a hot mess towards the end... But almost everything fit back in the bag this morning when we left for Valencia. My towel now lives in a bag strapped to the outside. Oh well

Madrid hostel

Jun 26, 2011-0 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 26, 2011-0, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

picture of our room in Madrid. We stayed at the posada de huertas international youth hostel. Link. It was pretty nice. We had a five bed room, upgrade since we booked an eight bed room. Score

I am so cool and artistic

Jun 29, 2011-45 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 29, 2011-45, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

fire dancer guy in the plaza by our hostel in Madrid.

Botanical gardens

Jun 29, 2011-40 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 29, 2011-40, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

cool tree at the botanical gardens in madird. Sorry it is a little blurry... I was walking

Botanical gardens

Jun 29, 2011-34 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 29, 2011-34, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.


Look! We are actually in a picture!

Jun 27, 2011-7 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 27, 2011-7, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

at the palace in Madrid. No pictures allowed inside though...

Don Quixote de la mancha

Jun 28, 2011-25 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 28, 2011-25, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

so many don Quixote statues! More on flickr

Ohio shout out

Jun 28, 2011-29 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 28, 2011-29, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.


Toledo shade sheets

Jun 28, 2011-45 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 28, 2011-45, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

toledo had big fabric strips hung up over some of the streets which gave a nice path of shade to walk in. Aso fancy lanterns and garland type things were hanging all around. Woot.

Living wall in madrid

Jun 25, 2011-32 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 25, 2011-32, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

Here is a picture of a living wall in Madrid. It is part of the CaixaForum building. I had actually seen an article about living walls that featured this building and totally forgot about it until we walked was it on the way to the museum. Cool!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Sorry Toledo family, but this Toledo in Spain wins. All of the buildings are old and gorgeous. I haven't gotten those pictures off my camera yet, but I took tons! Small winding streets and huge stone buildings. Amy and I started off by following a group of Asian tourists around just to make sure we were going the right direction. Sorry strangers, we are creeps.
There was a lot of don Quixote things to look at and a large collection of weapons in each store. Think cross-bows and daggers. Amy and I each bought a hand fan, because it was a billion degrees and totally acceptable to use hand fans here.
Got back from Toledo and did a tapas tour. For nine euros you get tapas and a drink at three different bars. Shhh, don't tell the tour guide, but he forget to make us pay. Boom, free tapas and drinks. Then Amy went home and read and chatted with her family because she was tired from the day in Toledo, I had taken a siesta so I way ready to roll. I met our friend Jenna in sol and we went on a pub crawl for a little bit, then broke off and hung out with her Australian friends. The were very generous/ insanely wealthy. Brilliant. We found a late night burrito place. Five am burritos? YUM. Then one of the guys paid for our cab home so we didn't even have to walk. Score.

Today Amy and I went to get our train tickets, and you have to get a number similar to getting meAt in some grocery stores. We had to wait through 200 ish other people, so we had some food and walked around the station. It was huge, there was a rainforesty jungle type situation in the middle and tons of food and touristy stores. Finally got our seats reserved on the AVE rapid train to valencia. Came back and worked on shoving everything in to our backpacks again. I'm 47 percent sure I will get it to close tomorrow. So not too bad.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Not enough deodorant in the world

Went to the palace today. It was so extremely decorated that I don't think I could stand living there. But I guess if Spain asked me to move in, I couldn't really say no... Brocade cloth on the walls that matched the drapes and couches and things. And detailed paintings or carving on the ceilings. It was gorgeous though. Lots to look at. The apothecary section was cool, lots of bottles and jars and labels. Love a good label.
It was super hot out though and I almost took the guy near the line up on his offer for cold water. My water is hot by the time we get anywhere. On the way home we had to stop and put our feet in the fountain for a little bit.
I don't think Amy or I have ever put on so much deodorant in our entire lives. I thought the one stick might last me most of the summer. No way. But it is better than being one of those people you walk by in the street who smells horrible. Hey mom, super glad I packed my perfume in my quart sized bag. So much easier than laundry. Boom.

Last night Amy and I went out with some English guys from the hostel. Talked about Harry potter a lot. Ended up at some place called "laser karaoke" the seven of us sang a beautiful rendition of bohemian rhapsody. Killed it.

Taking the night off so that we have a chance of waking up in time to go go Toledo tomorrow.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Polka dot balls

Jun 25, 2011-0 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 25, 2011-0, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

i liked this installation at the reina Sofia better than the strange empty room one. They had a lot of work by This artist...
It was interesting to see the different types of work she has made. Some of the painting were really intricate. Super detailed repeating lines and dots and things

25 Jesus's per euro

We went to the prado museum today. It cost four euro with our student card which wasn't bad. We wanted to make sure we saw enough art to get our money's worth, so we decided the best way to decide that was by the number of Jesus's we saw. Eventually stopped counting but we guessed approx 25 Jesus/euro... Not too shabby.

They had quite few paintings we recognized, by Goya, Velazquez, Rubens, etc. I wanted to touch the paintings, but i refrained. I just kept thinking about how difficult it was for me to paint skin tone without looking blue or green and these master painter guys totally rocked it. And we saw a few scultptures, lots of contrapposto.

After the museum we stopped for food and got something that was not French fries this time. Win. We each got a scrambled egg, potato, vegetable, cheese thing. They were delicious, but huge... We have leftovers for tomorrow now. Huzzah

Also ran into a protest/ demonstration for freedom in Syria. I'll post a picture later...

Thankfully the prado had Amy's favorite painting of all time...
Now we can check that off our list

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Went to the Reina Sofia today. Amy andi were almost late meeting the canadians because we were in the middle of a siesta. Also the cleaning guy has come in the past two days while we were napping and so was the French girl, and he makes fun of me each time. He'll ask how are you? And I go with my standard bien... He replies in Spanish: good? But you are sleeping... You sleep a lot...
He probably thinks we hadn't gotten up yet, but we ate breakfast and then went back to bed. Seemed reasonable.

Back to the museum: it was cool. They had some good Dali paintings and a lot of Picasso as well. We went into a room first thouh and thought it was empty or being prepared for the next exhibit because there were a few block things that looked like they could hold sculptures or something... Nope. That was the artwork. Installation about spacial relationships and architecture. Dislike. Not a good spot to start. It got better though.
I got super hungry part way through so we may go back and do the fourth floor later.
Amy and I had plans to get some Spanish food on our way back. Went into a little bar/restaurant and ordered some salad thing and some potato thing. Turns out we got a salad topped with mystery fish stuff and French fries. Ensalada mixa and patatas con dos salsa dos not sound like fish/lettuce salad and French fries. Oh well. We'll try again later. I left there feeling hungrier than before so I grabbed a piece of pizza at the cheap place next door. It is actaully pretty good. About 2 euros too, win.

Got a new set of people in today. Mother daughter duo from brazil. I feel weird about moms or adult type people staying in the "youth" hostel, which are typically supposed to be under 25 ish, but whatever floats your boat strangers.

Amy and I took the night off from the hostel activities/ pub crawling and wandered around Madrid. Got a little lost.... But we figured it out with the help of a cop and a guy closing an umbrella.
Came across some people doing insane bike and rollerblade tricks. It was crazy, so much spinning. The rollerblade guys looked like they were doing figure skating moves, but a little more hardcore.
Outside the reina Sofia there was a lady doing acrobatic dancing type things. She must have been super super strong the way she was lifting herself up on the block thing and flipping around.
I got a few pictures of these performing people... I'll put them up after I get them transferred off my camera.

Pictures are on flickr:

Adios! Time for bed.


Don't really know where to start on any of my blog posts... So hmmm, people in Spain stay out hella late. Five or six am easily. It makes the siestas really amazing but everyone is pretty much dead at the free breakfast at the hostel.
Thursday night the hostel had free sangria night along with some drinking games, it was funny to watch how everyone plays some things a little differently. After a while people started revealing some crazy things in never have I ever.. Those Australians are wild. We made some new friends from the hostel and then met up with Anna and sue, friends from Cincinnati, and joined a pub crawl that started in Puerta del sol. For five euros you got a few free drinks and a free tapa. The last place we went was pretty fun, good dancing, hilarious music though. The dj mixed Aretha's Respect with the shots song. Somehow that totally worked. I kept trying to use my Spanish, it sort of worked out. Between the two of us we get by. 
We bought phones yesterday. The sales lady was really nice, she slowed down her Spanish and threw in a little English for us. People do really appreciate if you try. Also got some delicious pastries and coffee. Cappuccino was great, really hot though, the server lady saw me struggling and brought some ice and laughed a little. Nice though, asked if we were from iceland which was cool. I wish. 
Our phones are all set up, took a little while to find how to switch it all to English, but now we can set alarms and have a better shot of making it to breakfast.
Got some new roommates last night, two girls from finland, they were nice, left today. And a girl from France. We are working on the talking thing.I speak zero words of French, unless you count moulin rouge lyrics....lady marmalade? I think not. But she speaks great Spanish and a little English, so we get by.
Last night we did the hostel organized pub crawl and made some new Canadian friends. We are all going to the museum together later. We bonded over our mutual dislike of some obnoxious girls from Michigan. Sorry if you read this random girls, but you are horrible people.
Spanish bars/ people in general seem to really love nineties music. We hear it everywhere. They also went pretty crazy for elvis and the beach boys last night. One guy broke out some killer moves to impress us. Loved it. 

Met a group from osu, Kelly if you read this I met your old neighbor, billy?, he was nice... You are famous. They are studying in toledo, and one girl said she would email us and offered to show is around on Monday. Also met some guys from England. They said they could show us around London, or maybe get some lunch when we are we'll see about that. A few of us were blonde and we were getting some stares... A weirdo in a vest was all about throwing his full body roll dance moves our way and in general being a huge creeper...I'm good enough at glaring and looking like a mean person so he gave up. Huzzah.

Our new Canadian friends were really funny, although it was their last night, they started about a month ago and are going home tonight. One is a lifeguard...insta-bond. Amy and stephanie, one of them heading back a little before Alex and I. They were hungrier... Totally valid. You are starving after a few hours of walking and dancing. Alex and I got pizza on the walk home...yum five o clock pizza. It was amazing.
Met a cool guy from Australia last night while making some pasta. He has been going for four and a half months now... Going to do six. Super cool.
When you meet people here everyone has the same questions: where are you from? Where have you been? What is next? How long in Madrid? Hw ling total? I'm getting really fast at listing off our locations. Woot. Hoping to keep improving throughout the trip, at the end I'm sure I'll have it down to a second or so. 
Bathroom update:
Showers have a thirty second timer... So you have to push the button a lot. The stalls are bigger than the shower in cincinnati though, we must really live in squalor. 
And my towel only covers the top half of the door.... So I can block my face... Now people may only recognize me from my rear. Hmmm...

Time to siesta. We are meeting our Canadian friends at the museum at three. 


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Puerta del sol

Jun 23, 2011-5 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jun 23, 2011-5, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

It is taking a while to upload photos to flickr.... But here is one. Statue of a dude on horse in Puerta del sol. I think pablo mentioned that he was a king and knocked down some stuff in the original puerta del sol...

Walking tour


Took a three hour walking tour around Madrid today. Our tour guide's name was Pablo and he was pretty good. Told some funny stories about current Madrid and some history. He recommended a lunch place which as nice, difficult t read the menu though. Tere are some tricky words for meats... I'll have to learn those.

Amy and I are in a five person dorm, only four people in it right now though so that is nice.
One of the people is Muslim and it was interesting watching her prayers, she used torn out magazine spreads as a floor covering so that was unique.

Other things about the hostel, they have an activity type thing planned for every night,flamenco dancing, sangria night, walking tours and pub crawls... We are thinking of doing the flamenco thing on Sunday, I think it is a performance or something not a lesson...

The showers are see through, but you can hang a towel over them to block some of your bod, not many people do that. Also I think they take the semi frosted glass as permission to be naked throughout the whole bathroom. Hello people, I am trying to brush my teeth, put it away.

They have bathrooms with three showers on each floor, a men's and a women's bathroom, and they clean them every day which is nice. Everything is pretty clean.

Went to plaza mayor on the tour. I t was really touristy and kind of weird. There were three different people dressed up as minnie mouse trying to get you to come up to them... And a spider man. And a few people selling strange things you put in your mouth to sound like a bird. Chirping everywhere! Gah.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I have arrived in Madrid... Super tired but otherwise okay. Asked for directions to our hostel and the fish market guy responded in rapid fire Spanish. Clearly we don't actually speak spa spanish... Rough. But we found it eventually. Nw we are just waiting to check in.


People wearing backpacks in front, saw this a few times in airport, looked uncomfortable

Also noticed that it is difficult to arrive somewhere and have people ready to start their days when I am so ready for bed....

Nap time?!
I think so

Don't have an alarm clock though so who knows when we'll wake up!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Sorry for the weird posts. I was trying to figure out how to blog through an iPad.
solved it.