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September 03, 2006

¡Hola de León!

Hola, estado en España por las tres días pasado. Estoy en León; es 300km noroeste de Madrid. Soy visitando con mis amigos quienes hablan un poco de ingles. ¡Es muy bien, porque cuando aprender mas español mientras mis amigos aprenden mas ingles! Estubre gustando León mucho.

So, after butchering some Spanish... I've been in Spain since Friday, specifically in León, which is 300km north-northwest of Madrid. The friends I'm staying with speak a bit of English, which when combined with the bit of Spanish I speak works out just fine! I took 5 years of Spanish from 8th grade through high school, but I haven't really spoken it since then, which is about 9 years. It's interesting how my Spanish is these days; I have trouble conjugating "simple" (e.g. basic but totally irregular, though no language matches up with English for irregular conjugations) verbs like to be, which a first year Spanish student would probably know, yet I remember how to say pointless things like hovercraft en Español. My Spanish is rapidly improving, though I'm leaving in two days so it's not like I'm going to be fluent anytime soon. It's interesting that my brain works in such a way that any words that I remember or re-learn I have no trouble spelling (with accents and such) at all. Yet I can't remember most of the useful vocabulary that I learned in the past; it's a slow process to re-learn it.

So León is quite a cool city to visit. It's about 1km above sea level, surrounded by mountains and some rivers. I went out to the mountains with my friends today which was quite nice and picturesque. There's an interesting tradition here of free tapas (e.g., "small plates" for anyone who hasn't had Spanish-style tapas before; basically little appetizers) with your drinks. And that can mean anything including a coke, sparkling water, or, more likely, una caña de cerveza; that's literally a small glass of beer, anything from 125 - 200ml or so, for 1 - 1.5 euros. With tapas included! A lot of them are just tasty bread, olive oil, cheese, and ham (good soft cheese and serrano ham usually), but many places give you quite a few, more interesting, tapas. I've never been anywhere before where you can just go out and have a few mini-drinks and get more than enough dinner at the same time with them! And as for real dinner itself, they have quite amazing and tasty buey (ox) here that one can get barely cooked.

Anyways, before that, since I haven't blogged in a while, I spent 5 days or so in Dublin. Went to the World Cultures Festival over the weekend with my friends there which was kind of cool; lots of interesting foreign music. Spent a day just wandering around the city, which was nice since it's one of those compact cities that one can just walk around without any transportation. I think the highlight was wandering upon a public Shakespeare performance in one of the parks when I was looking for the James Joyce memorial. They were reenacting the Twelfth Night, 80s style! It was pretty funny since they had Cordelias instead of Cordelios. I think the funniest part was when the fake-Cordelia was fighting with one of the courtswomen(?) in slow motion... with Kung Fu Fighting playing in the background... Great stuff.

Let's see, other than that and various wanderings around London, I had a good time up in Glasgow. Succinctly, we didn't see Nessie, but we saw all of the city and such which was pretty cool. Saw a really cool modern rock concert as well...with pipers! (It WAS the International Piping Festival that upcoming weekend.) I think I need to go back up to Scotland some time and actually make it to Inverness.

Anyways, I'm back to London in a couple days, though I may just stay in Spain for another week; I'm not sure yet. Perhaps going to Serbia in a week or so. After that it's off to Norway and Sweden, and Germany afterwards. Too many countries to see and too little time! I might need to spend more time in Europe than planned.