(I wrote this post before our Sevilla trip, so I’ll do another one ASAP about Sevilla because it was awesome!)
Buenos días! We’re currently en route to Sevilla for the weekend. I was working on a very subjective paper for my history/grammar class about finding your perfect match, but I’m feeling too cynical to continue that, so I’ll update you guys on our first week in Spain.
We’ve officially been in Spain for eight days (Cádiz for seven), and it honestly feels like we’ve been here forever. After a free day last Sunday, classes started on Monday. We’re all taking an art history class, an intermediate or advanced grammar/history/composition class depending on Spanish abilities, and conducting an independent research investigation over the course of the next month.
We have class from 9:30 am to 2 pm every day, with an hour-long break from 11-12. A couple friends and I have been going to different café-bars during that break for una merienda: usually café solo (espresso) y un sandwich o tapitas. After class, we go home and eat el almuerzo at 2 pm and then my roommate and I usually take advantage of siesta time from 2-5 pm if we don’t have a preplanned afternoon activity. Almost everything closes during that time, and we’re usually in food comas from lunch, so it’s a perfect storm for a siesta.
Training-wise, after a weekend spent doing nothing but eating and traveling, I discovered last Monday that it’s entirely possible to aqua jog in the ocean! The beach is right across the street from the university, and it’s calm and there are very few waves, which makes it perfect for aqua jogging and swimming. I aqua jogged for an hour on Monday and Tuesday, and the views, sunshine, and vast expanse of water were a huge step up from my university’s windowless basement pool.
I joined a gym on Wednesday afternoon, so now I have the ability to aqua jog and stationary bike and lift weights/do core. I feel like myself again! Not that working out is the main focus of my time here, but it’s nice to be able to train J We walk to everything here, so I’m not too worried about training volume because I’ve been pretty tired from the walking. I also don’t want to overdo it with my foot, although the plan is to do my first walk-to-run session this coming Monday. I am pumped! My foot has been feeling pretty good this week- I quit wearing the boot on Monday because it was just making the foot feel worse, and it was a pain in the butt to lug around for 5-6 miles every day.
So far, we’ve seen and done so many amazing things. Cádiz is an incredibly beautiful, historic city, and the interior streets are a labyrinth of tiny stores, markets, plazas, and homes. It’s completely unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. Everything in the older part of Cádiz (where we’re staying) is within walking distance, so we’ve been meeting up in different plazas at night for helado or cerveza.
On Tuesday, we got to visit Gadir, which is a super cool underground archeology site (Gadir was what the Phoenicians originally named Cadiz). We also climbed the Torre de Tavira to see a birds’-eye view of the city, and it was incredible. Their cámara oscura uses mirrors and sunlight to create a live panoramic view of the city—so it was like a photo but you could see the birds flying and laundry flapping and ocean waves in real time. I was at a loss for words.
We went to el Castillo de San Marcos on Friday, and it was incredible (and overwhelming) to be surrounded by such rich and sometimes violent history. Parts of the interior dated back to the tenth century! We got to tour the bodega and have a wine tasting. We could see the bullet holes from the executions that occurred there. I think I went through every emotion during our visit.
As far as the food here, it’s a huge change from what I’m used to! As I mentioned in the last post, breakfast is the smallest meal of the day and really doesn’t contain any protein. Our host mom has started to learn our preferences, so I’ve been enjoying decaf black coffee before classes 🙂 My breakfast around 8:45 am consists of two pieces of pan tostada, topped with either almond butter and jelly or tomato with olive oil. I usually have a piece of fruit as well.
The almuerzo at 2 pm is the biggest meal of the day, but I usually get hungry before then, so I usually have a snack around 11 or 12. This “snack” is usually espresso with either be a bar, fruit and nuts, or even an entire ham and cheese sandwich, haha. Lunch at 2 pm is usually enormous and delicious, which is a wee bit tricky because I sometimes work out at like 3:30 pm while still very full. Some examples of lunch:
- A huge bowl of lentejas (lentils) y pasta, followed by tuna steaks and potato salad with vegetables and olive oil
- Salmon with lemon and roasted eggplant and zucchini, followed by a big bowl of spaghetti with homemade meat sauce
- A plate of meat and potatoes, and a plate of sautéed vegetables and olive oil with an egg on top
Yesterday, after spending the morning touring the Castillo de San Marcos en el Puerto de Santa María, we had a huge lunch. After instructing us to eat a lot because dinner was going to be small, our host mom served us pretty much an entire chicken each, along with potatoes and a big pan of arroz con verduras y pescado. I took her advice too literally and ate so much that I had to lie down for like 3 hours. I dragged my butt to the gym at 6:30 pm and still felt like exploding, and I wasn’t even hungry for dinner (personal ham and cheese pizzas). Oops! No regrets. Well, maybe some regrets.
Anyway, as I mentioned, la cena (dinner) is small compared to lunch, although probably pretty normal-sized as I think about it more. We’ve had omelets and a chicken-vegetable stir fry; last night’s personal pizza; lomo adobado y patatas al horno (marinated pork loin and roasted potatoes); etc. Every meal ends in fruit.
The biggest adjustments have been meal timing, not as many vegetables, and trying to figure out what time of day is best to work out based on how much we’re eating at different times of day. It’s been interesting surrendering control of my diet to someone else and having every meal be a surprise. I kind of miss oatmeal 😉 But we’ve eaten some truly incredible things- yesterday, the crispy chicken skin marinated in what tasted like sherry was divine- and I’m learning a ton about Spanish culture, Spanish cuisine, the intricacies and colloquialisms of the language, Cádiz history, etc. I love it.
Now if I can just get more sleep…