Only 80 km from Madrid and 7km from the city of Segovia, one of my favorite day trips this year has been to La Granja, Spain.
The most famous attraction, the 18th century palace, is the former summer residence of Spanish royalty.

This city has been called the Versailles of Spain because of its beautiful Baroque architecture and its sculptured fountains. Each of the 26 fountains that are located around the palace are different, representing themes of Greek mythology. 

Unfortunately, the fountains were off on the day we had visited, but they were still equally as stunning. 
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The gardens surrounding the palace are of French architecture, and equally as beautiful as everything else surrounding the palace. They are made to gaze at, as we did for the entire overcast afternoon. 

We also opted for a hike through the woods and terrain surrounding the palace on our day trip. Many Spanish kings have used the over 1,500 acres of land for hunting.
 
 
You know You Live in Spain When:

-Every toddler around you has better style than you.

-Your own two feet (or Renfe) will take you anywhere you need to go.

-You add 'super' to any Spanish adjective to make it sound extra special.

-There is a can or jar of recycled olive oil next to your stove.

-You hear "GOALLLLLLLLL!" being shouted from somewhere within your apartment building.
(No joke, literally just happened while I was writing this blog.)

-You basically hock a loogie everytime you say 'jamon, jugar" or any word beginning with jota.

-You eat a bocadillo while keeping the foil wrapped around the bottom.

-You know a man in his 30's whose mother still does his laundry.

-You scan Mercadona at 9:10pm on a Saturday night just in case you are missing something you will need for Sunday's comida.

-You pay for other people on your birthday.

-Your new name to every stranger on the street becomes either your hair color or your nationality.

-The old couple walking hand-in-hand next to you makes you think of Allie and Noah from The Notebook and smile.

-You know the best place to store clean pots and pans is inside of the oven.

-When you, for the first time in your life, fall in love with a country and a culture. And never let it go!

And coming soon: You Know You Live in Valladolid When...
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Your new life's staple.
 
 
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The Spanish language (and the fact that I don't know it) has limited me in social situations. I am normally the girl who strikes up a conversation with the woman at the checkout counter. I have no problem pleasantly questioning the cute guy on the bus about his equally cute dog. If you have ears, I will speak to them. 

In Spain, this has been almost impossible for me. There are times that just as I think of what I want to say in a conversation, the beat goes on, and the topic changes to something else.

I make at least one mistake everyday. I sound like an idiot, almost everyday. Today was no exception. And tomorrow won't be either. When I am tired, or sick, or in the mornings before my coffee, I am a Spanish desastre.

Committing to living in Spanglish was something I was prepared to do. But some days, it feels like I have commit to a vow of silence. I am funny, I am witty, I am intelligent, and obviously, very modest. But it is difficult to express myself in those ways in a second language.

That being said, I came to Spain with absolutamente no español. And now, I can find a way to say almost anything I want to. But my timing is off, my grammar is off, and I can't be the true Spaniard I want to be without the right words.

When will the Spanglish stop?
 
 
I am proud to announce that my blog has now officially become my very own web address:

 www.siestayfiesta.com

That's right everyone, update your bookmarks!

Keep reading, subscribing, questioning, and commenting. I love to talk and read about all things Spain, so anything you want to know or any suggestions you have about my blog, don't hesitate to write me at siestayfiesta@yahoo.com

Thanks for reading!

Muchos besos,
Jen
 
 
One of the most significant phrases a person can utter is "I love you."

In Spain, there are two ways to express your love.

After discussing with many a Spaniard the meaning of these phrases, I am still confused.

This is my own opinion on the matter:

"Te quiero" literally translates to "I want you." This is a kind of love you can have for your boyfriend, your chihuahua, or your favorite tapa. For me, it is a less serious, friendly, beginning of a relationship love.

"Te amo" is the more oficial, old-fashioned, in love with you, never let you go type of love. 
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Spanish countryside, te quiero.
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Chocolate con churros, te quiero.
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Beautiful architecture, te quiero.
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Authentic Spanish Vino, te quiero.
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La Cuidad Dorada, te quiero.
With February and El dia de San Valentin coming up soon, I am filled with love!

Love for life, love for adventure, and love for speaking a language that gives me two different ways to express that love!

¡Te quiero, España! Or is it te amo?
 
 
On New Year's Eve in Spain, there is no ball drop. And no big midnight kiss.

Instead, the clock in the Puerta del Sol of Madrid chimes for the last 12 seconds of the old year. With each chime, you must eat one grape.

Both a Spanish tradition and superstition, it is said that if you finish all of your grapes, you will have 12 months of good luck for the new year. 

Good luck never comes easily though.
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Be careful...they have seeds!
I was nervous about primarily, finishing the grapes. Secondly, I was envisioning myself choking on the seeds inside, not being able to ring in the new year at all. Also, being surrounded by friends and their family members, I didn't want to look like an unattractive grape-hog. 

I will admit, I struggled with a few of the grapes. And a few others, I concentrated on a bit more. The 2nd grape: February. My applications for next year are due. The 4th grape: April. My brother's wedding. The 11th grape: November. My 25th birthday. All symbolizing a year that is yet to come. 

Overall, I had no problem, and finished them like a true campeón

There are other Spanish traditions related to the doce uvas. Standing on your right foot while eating them will help you begin the new year in the 'right' way. And dropping your ring in your glass of champagne for the first toast of the new year is said to bring luck as well.

Another tradition says that wearing red (red underwear especially) on New Year's Eve in Spain brings good luck. But, they have to be gifted to you by somebody else.

What are some traditions or superstitions you have for New Year's Eve?
 
 
Things I have learned during the past 3 months:
-How to use a city bus system.

-Don't sweat the small stuff. You will miss that bus, take the wrong turn, and say the wrong verb conjugation sometimes. No pasa nada.

-There will always be things that remind you of your home, no matter where you are.
-Watching movies in Spanish > watching movies in English, especially the romantic ones.

-The rules of futból.

-The actual words to the Macarena.
-How to really enjoy a cup of coffee when I need that caffeine in my sangre the most.

-The reasoning behind "From the lost to the river" and "Very well, Fandango."

-Where the best tapas are.
-A little bit of Portuguese. "Nossa, nossa..."

-Eat it first, then ask what it is. 

-Sometimes the best experiences will come from the unplanned, inexpensive, kind-of-strange adventures.
-Skype is the best invention for holidays away from home.

-How to make a mean authentic Spanish paella.

-The best siestas can come from just 10 minutes of closing your eyes in silence after a long day of high-schoolers.

-Blogging is fun. And helps you share the things you love with people who may never know them.

-It's important to make new friends from different places and cultures.
And the most important lesson I've learned in my year in Spain so far is the power of being positive. So, here in Europe, there in America, or wherever you are, live life with a good attitude, and disfruta la vida even when things don't work out as planned.