Spain: take two

In the immortal words of Eminem, “Guess who’s back? Back again?”
That’s riiiiiiiight – I’m now back in Spain for the second ( and longer) semester of my year abroad. This time round it’s five months rather than three, which is great for me because it means more time for travelling and improving my Spanish (gotta get a head start on those 2017 goals, right?!).

After celebrating Christmas, New Year, and my sister’s 21st back home (and putting on two kilos thanks to countless desserts), I arrived back in Spain last weekend on the 6th. Unfortunately due to flight times I missed all of the celebrations for Los Reyes, but I guess that means I’ll just have to come back some other New Year to experience it.

This time around I decided to fly into Málaga rather than Sevilla for two main reasons: i) there are direct flights from Glasgow which means no stupidly long layover in London, ii) one of my favourite artists has his first European retrospective exhibit in the Contemporary Arts Centre in Málaga at the moment. I figured I’d rather just fly there and spend the weekend instead of travelling there some other weekend purely to see an art exhibit.

I actually liked Málaga a lot better this time around. I don’t know if it’s because there were a lot fewer tourists around, but it felt less over-commercialised and a lot calmer which is what I generally look for in a city. Not a big fan of either traipsing round shops all day or crowds of people, both of which I kinda took to be standard fare last time I was there. After arriving around half eight at night I made my way into town and through the old city to my air bnb where I promptly fell asleep without eating dinner because I was so tired.

As I had all day Saturday to chill and explore the city, I went and bought some groceries first before going to see the aforementioned art exhibit. Granted, I’m a big fan of Mark Ryden’s work and have been for years, but I genuinely cannot recommend the exhibit highly enough. Entitled ‘Cámara de las Maravillas’ (or House of Wonders), this is his first retrospective in Europe and features pieces from his work over the past twenty years, from the Michael Jackson ‘Dangerous’ cover to late 2016’s Wood Meat Dress. Although it was the Saturday after Reyes the place was absolutely packed out! So happy to see other people appreciating his work. I would have been quite happy to spend the entire day there, but unfortunately after the previous night’s lack of dinner I was rather starving, so had to go get some lunch.

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Wood Meat Dress, Mark Ryden, 2016.

I spent the Saturday afternoon lesson planning for my first week back and then went out to the cinema at night to see Hell or High Water (or Comanchería in Spanish) which I missed when it was out back home over the summer. Glad I made the choice to go and see it because, as well as being a very good film, it also gave some insights into the nuances around translating dialect. Because I’m a nerd I found it really interesting to see how they’d translated Southern US English into Spanish subtitles.

Safely made it back to Alcalá on the Sunday afternoon where I prompted unpacked my suitcases (both of which were heavier than they were before I went home for some reason) and chilled out for the rest of the day and all of Monday too. Side note: so thankful for having the first day of every week off so I can sort my life out. Despite some minor technical difficulties with a class in one of my schools (none of the digital boards in the school wanted to work for me so I ended up having an entire class gathered round a tiny laptop screen watching a video about mammals – not my finest moment), the first week back went off  without a hitch.

I have quite a few trips planned already this semester and friends who want to come and visit, so I decided not to travel for my first proper weekend back. However, I did go into the city both days. On Saturday to see La La Land with another auxiliar. Love love loved the film! Had a real nostalgic feel to it and the cinematography was excellent (that shot of the man diving into the pool with all the fireworks!!). And the fact that neither Ryan Gosling nor Emma Stone are professional singers and dancers added to the charm for me. Also…that soundtrack, man. Mmmmm. And on Sunday it was back into the centre again for the writing group meet up. I’ve kinda made a half-resolution to myself that the weekends I’m not travelling I’d quite like to go and write with them.

And today (Monday) I decided to try and run a bit further than I have before here (okay, so still not very far, but I have months until the half and I’ll push it more closer to the time) and found a really great trail along by the river that, I think, if I had followed for longer today may have wound up somewhere in Sevilla. Also, in very very very exciting news, I found baked beans in the supermarket here in Alcalá!!!!! After having been without them since September, I actually almost cried with happiness when I saw them hiding in the deepest darkest corner of Mercadona today (I wish I was kidding about the crying part, got some odd looks from the shop assistants).

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Beans glorious beans!!

No plans yet for next weekend or the following, but there are some good films coming out soon so they may be a repeat of this one. Or who knows…maybe I’ll stop saving money for my friends’ visits and go somewhere on a whim. We’ll see.

 

 

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