I have goals for our year abroad. They are not life altering, but more goals and activities to help me enjoy our time in Spain as much as possible—and in every sense.
Given that this is (most likely) a once in a lifetime opportunity, I want to make the most of our year in Madrid. Before we left Canada, I sat down and started to make a list of all the things I would love to do in Madrid to fill my time (yay unemployment!), grow a bit as a person, and experience the city and country as much as possible. Earlier this week I took the time to finally finish the list to see what had been accomplished, started, and what was left to do.
These goals cover a wide range of things: from food and travel, to conquering fears and wearing fashions. What can I say, I’m an onion and this list reflects my many layers.
It would be incredibly stupid for me not to learn Spanish given that we are living in the capital, plus, I kind of like the idea of being trilingual J We started taking lessons in the summer in Ottawa and I’ve continued since we arrived in Madrid (save for a couple of breaks here and there for travelling). Despite what everyone told me, it is not an easy language to learn. At this point, I know the basics and can pretty much get by at the grocery store, bank, etc., but I still have a very hard time understanding when spoken too (really, this has a lot to do with the pace at which Spaniards speak, I’m like a deer in the headlights). This is definitely one of those on-going goals, one I’ll probably keep up even after we leave Spain. I mean, it would be a shame to spend all this time and money only to lose it within a few months.
Learn to Make Paella
There is no way we could spend a whole year living in Spain and I couldn’t not learn how to make the dish. Granted, I’m not 100% sure I know how to make it properly (we don’t have the right pan and I’m using a premixed package of spices, so I know I’m not making it in a traditional sense), but what I have made has tasted really good.
The first time I made it I used shrimp and chorizo. It was great, but I was so concerned that I’d made everyone sick (just a bit of a travel bug it turns out – phew!) that the next time I made it I opted for a chorizo-only dish.
Both times I’ve made Paella it was great, but I know it could be better, which leads me into my next bucket list item…
Take a cooking class to Really Learn How to Make Spanish Food
I can follow a recipe like the best of ‘em, but I would love to take a cooking class to really learn how to make authentic Spanish food (although I’m sure the Barefoot Contessa and Martha Steward’s versions are just as tasty). I have my eye on a couple of courses via the Cooking Point school (Paella, Wine Tasting and Spanish Tapas have all intrigued me) now it’s just a matter of finding the right day and time to make it happen.
My wanderlust is insatiable and has been covered pretty in-depth on this blog (it’s actually the whole focus of my little corner of the internet). I recently posted about the top ten places I wanted to visit in Spain – everywhere from Avila to Bilboa and Mallorca to Cadiz, so I won’t go into too much detail. You can check out the entire list here.
Much like paella, this one is pretty much a no-brainer: you can’t come to Spain and NOT drink Sangria, so I didn’t. Everywhere we’ve gone I’ve sampled the sangria, and let me tell you, it is delicious! I’m really looking forward to warmer weather so I can continue my patio sangria tour of Spain.
I only learned about this last week when I took part in the SANDMANs NEW Europe Free Walking Tour (which was great – review to come). The arbutus unedo (or strawberry tree) is one of the main symbols of Madrid, and a liqueur, special to Madrid, can be made by distilling its fruit. This sweet and fruity liqueur is served in a wafer cup lined with chocolate (which you can eat afterwards—a drink and a snack, sold!). It can be found in a few places in the city, and by the end of the summer I hope to be able to give you a full report on what I thought – but really, it sounds pretty amazing!
I love food. I am not a picky eater and the older I get the more I enjoy trying odd and out-there dishes. From croquettas to pulpo I have enjoyed almost everything that we’ve eaten since moving to Europe and I look forward to eating many, many more new things in the coming months. High on my list: Paella in Valencia, baby shrimp in a cone in Cadiz, and pretty much any and all cured ham.
Espadrilles have been my go-to summer shoe for years and what better place to wear them than in Spain, their home and native land. Come summer time (or even spring, I’m sure it will be more than warm enough for me to wear espadrilles within the next couple of months) I hope to find myself cruising the cobblestones in these beauties (or something similar).
See a Futbol Match
Futbol is a religion in Spain, so what better place to see a futbol match. We had the opportunity to go in Barcelona (which you can read about here) and despite being terrified, it was pretty cool. While I’m apprehensive to take in a game at Barnabeu (rumour has it, it’s BIGGER than Camp Nou) I would still love to see Real Madrid play before the year is up.
Get the Birds Eye View of Madrid
My favourite views of a city are always birds eye views, which is rather unfortunate given my well-documented hatred for anything that takes me more than 20 feet off the ground or near a cliff or wall with a steep drop. I’ve conquered this fear a few times (and it’s conquered me a few more), but now that I am a (im)mature lady of 30 I’m not going to let it hold me back from experiencing (and photographing) something that I love. So far, I’ve made it to the top of a few notable buildings/sites, but there are still many more to see. Thankfully the warm weather, sunshine and longer days will soon be upon us, so I’ll have ample time to sneak onto rooftops and hold on for dear life to experience the city from above.
So there you have it, my year abroad bucket list. It’s missing a few of the stereotypical Spanish activities (i.e., bullfighting and flamenco), but those really aren’t my thing. I mean, if given the opportunity to check them out, I would take it, but for now, I’m going to focus on the aforementioned ten.
Tell me, what should I add to my bucket list?
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