Monday, September 8, 2008

One year anniversary

Not our one year wedding anniversary, but our first year in Lugo. Thankfully, it went so well that we're starting our second year, and we hope this one will be even better. Jon and I will both start teaching next week, which will be interesting since we'll be working together for the first time.

We just got back from our brief vacation to Portugal and Italy. Not that we didn't have plenty of time to travel, but a one month English summer camp salary doesn't go that far. We only had 3 days in Portugal, so we didn't really get to do Porto and Lisbon justice. We definitely need to go back and spend more time there. We had fun though, because we went with our friends Dave and Adrienne who came and visited us in the middle of their European tour.

After they left, Jon and I went to Venice for two nights and Florence for five. A few tips: 1) Don't ever go to Italy in August unless you have to--it's unbearably hot and packed with tourists. I literally heard more English and Spanish than Italian. 2) Don't even try to use Italian, they'll just answer you in English anyway. I really wanted to practice what little I knew, but they just wouldn't give me the chance. 3) All the hype about how good Italian gelato is is TRUE. We suggest you have it at least twice a day, and try different gelaterias and different flavors (panna cotta is the best). 4) Take plenty of cash with you. Not even the museums and other sights take credit cards.

With all of that being said, we had a really great time. Venice was nice, but really expensive (14 euros for 2 croissants and 2 coffees). Two days was plenty, given its size, and its system of canals and bridges is pretty cool. Unfortunately, we didn't do a gondola ride because they started at 80 euros/40 minutes, and we just didn't have that much cashflow to spend on it. Hopefully next time :) Florence was the highlight because we rented an apartment in the center of town and got to feel like we lived there for a few days. It's the best way to see a place for more than 2 nights or so because it's much cheaper, and you get to feel like part of the community while you're there. The best part was getting to see so many of the great works of art like The Birth of Venus and the statue of David all in the same place. It's amazing how one small town was the cradle for so many geniuses.

One day we'll get around to cleaning off Jon's computer so there's enough space to edit our video and post it online. Also, Jon and Richard should be starting their radio show again soon, so look for new podcasts soon.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Happenings

Again, it's been a while since we've posted, but we're just not very interesting people. However, now things are changing since it's summertime. Right now, I (Sarah) am in Guernsey (one of the Channel Islands off the coast of France) teaching in a summer camp. So far, it's been good, except that Jon couldn't come with me. So, he's in Spain and has just started a two week intensive Spanish course. I have posted some new pictures to our flickr, and we'll have more video on YouTube soon (I hope).

The island is beautiful and still has an old-timey feel to it. Like Lugo, there are still lots of streets in town where cars are prohibited, and it seems that everybody knows everybody. For example, I'm staying with a family here, and their daughter-in-law's mother used to date my boss (who lives in Lugo now). Also, most people have lived here all their lives, and so have all of their relatives. I guess being on an island tends to keep you in the same spot. However, although they're cut off from everything, travel to England and France is very cheap and doesn't take much time, but since everything has to be shipped in, the cost of living is higher than other parts of England. Other interesting points are that it is neither part of the UK, nor the EU, so my cell phone doesn't work on the same network here, and they use pounds, but have their own "guernsey notes" which can't be used outside the island.

Anyway, that's enough for now, I guess. I'll post more curious facts as I come across them in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Another year in Lugo

Sorry it's been a while since we've posted, but we haven't had much of anything to say lately. But, now we have an announcement: We'll be staying another year! This means we won't get to come home to visit this year, but we hope that will give any of you who want to visit us more time to plan a trip :)

Also, this summer, I will be teaching in Guernsey (a British island off the coast of France) for three weeks while Jon does an intensive Spanish course in a bigger city nearby. We're still deciding what to do the rest of the summer because it will depend on cash flow and visitors' schedules. We know we at least want to go to Italy, and maybe Portugal since we're so close to it.

Another big piece of news is that Jon will be teaching with me at the academy in the fall, which is great news for our bank account!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Podcast Repair

The podcast problem has been fixed. Enjoy!

Galician Culture Lesson #2: We want to eat!

This second installment is called We want to eat! It may well apply to all of Spain, not just Galicia, but I have only experienced it here.

First, it should be clear that there are two types of eating establishments: cafés and restaurants. Most cafés only serve food until 4 or 5 in the afternoon, and restaurants typically don't open until 9/9:30 p.m. Therefore, if you are hungry between the hours of 5 and 9, there aren't too many choices for you. We spent a few starving nights figuring this out before adjusting to the Spanish eating schedule.

The other phenomenon worth mentioning is how you're supposed to ask for food/a menu. Our first few attempts at lunchtime meals were a little frustrating, to say the least. We noticed that if you sit down and just order a drink, they will not bring you a menu and will not come back to your table without being flagged down. It's assumed that you only wanted something to drink.

To solve this problem, I thought, "I'll just tell them we'd like to eat, and they'll know to bring us a menu or ask what we would like." Since Queremos comer means "We want to eat", I thought this would be the easiest way to let them know we'd be needing menus. Wrong! We went to a smaller café in the area and said that we wanted to eat, they told us they didn't have anything, but when we looked around, a few people were eating sandwiches or other small things. The only explanations I could think of were that they suddenly ran out of food, or realized we were Americans and didn't want us there. So, we made our way to a second place, saw food coming out of the kitchen, tried again, and got the same response. At this point, I was completely baffled, hungry, and frankly, a little pissed.

Here is the explanation: Lunch is the biggest meal of the day in Spain, so many cafés serve big combination plates or 3-4 course meals*. Not all of them do, though...some just serve sandwiches and snacks. Little did I know that saying Queremos comer in this cultural context meant we wanted to have a big lunch, not the basic meaning of "We want to eat". After clearing this up with a friend, I discovered that we have to say Queremos picar "We want to snack/graze" or ask for their carta "menu"** if we want to order something smaller.

Master these conventions, and you should be able to eat what you want when you want.

*One interesting thing to note: if you do order one of these big meals, you get a table cloth, cloth napkins, silverware, oil/vinegar/salt&pepper, and bread. If you don't, you get nothing.
**Be advised that asking for the menú, which is what they call the 3-4 course meals, will also cause confusion.

Monday, March 24, 2008

1 Year Anniversary

We can't believe we've been married a year already! Time really flies, and does so steadily faster the older we get. It feels like we were just in Ojai with all of our family and friends. This has been the greatest year for both of us, by far, and we feel truly blessed to live the life that we do. They say the first year of marriage is the hardest, and if that's the case, we are headed for some of the easiest years ever. We never thought we would have all of the stories, pictures, and experiences in a lifetime that we've had in these 12 months. Here's to the next 50+ years!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Travel Pictures

We just got back from our trip to La Molina and Granada--there are some new pictures up on our flickr account, so check 'em out if you want. We also took some video, so we will try to add that to our YouTube account soon. Jon met up with Matt in Barcelona for a few days before I hooked up with them to go snowboarding. The weather was great, but the snow had turned to slush from the warm spell, so it was really difficult to snowboard on. But, we met some nice people and had a good time anyway. After that, we took an overnight train to Granada (in Andalucia-the south of Spain). We stayed in this amazing old house in the Albaicin (the old Moorish neighborhood) which looked up at the Alhambra (a big, famous Arabian castle).

We had a great time traveling, but it's nice to be back home in Lugo. I start working again on Tuesday, but Jon will have Matt to keep him company until Friday, the 29th. Also, check out Jon's radio show podcast on the left side of the screen, if you get a chance. That's all we have to report for now ;)