Volleyball in Malaga

Intro

When I first came to Malaga, I wanted to find a group I could meet with weekly where they spoke English and Spanish (so I could communicate and learn), and where I could be active. I searched for basketball and American football on Meetup (highly recommend you download this app if you travel a lot) and found nothing, but, almost accidentally, I stumbled upon this group called “The Coolest People in Malaga” which is basically a club for people from all over the world. I have met a lot of Spaniards (obviously), some Americans, Europeans and even a few people from the Middle East and Africa.

Volleyball

When I first started going to volleyball, the only interest I ever had in Volleyball was if a girl I was dating played. While volleyball is not my favorite sport, it checked all my boxes, so I went. It is 45 minutes walking from my apartment so the first time I went I thought I would probably never go again, but I enjoyed the games so much that I decided it was worth it. The long walk from Centro can actually be a plus. I view it as my alone time and a time to think and reflect.

People

As I said in the intro, the people you meet at the games have very diverse backgrounds, so it is a very culturally educating experience. A lot of the people speak Spanish (in fact, I have met maybe three people there that do not speak Spanish and have met more that do not speak English) so it is a good way to learn some words. I myself am not a particularly good volleyball player, so it is nice that most of the people are not too competitive and are very understanding. So far, I have not met a single person that I do not like, and I find just about all the people very interesting!

Conclusion

If you are ever in Malaga, you must join this group at http://meetu.ps/e/.qdlpmrybccbqb/Lx2h5/a and go to the volleyball games! They have other events as well if you are interested.

Holidays in the Costa del Sol

Intro

In the past, I have done Christmas in either the Washington, D.C. area, or in Montreal ,and New Year’s had always been in DC, but I had never done either outside of North America. It was quite a different, but interesting, experience.

Family from Washington

My Dad, brother, and grandma were supposed to come for the holidays, and, in a perfect world, they left yesterday. Instead, their flight to Montreal got delayed, and their flight from Montreal got cancelled. After multiple attempts to get to Malaga, they spent Christmas in Washington, but my mom and I talked to them almost every day.

Family from Canada

My cousins were supposed to fly from Toronto, Ontario on the 18th, but due to delays, ended up arriving on the 19th. They were tired when they got here, but by the next day were full of energy and ready to have fun in Malaga. One of them left the 26th, the other left the 31st.

Christmas

In Malaga, there is a major street called ‘Larios’. On Calle Larios, there is a beautiful light show during the holiday season, and on Christmas we went to see the 8:00 show, but the music did not work, so we walked for a bit, and my cousins made an amazing dinner. We exchanged symbolic gifts for the most part.

Seville

After one of my cousins left, my mom, my other cousin, and I took a train to Seville. We walked around and saw the cathedral, a few antique shops, and a few college campuses. Because we were only there for a day, we decided to use the opportunity to see what we want to do in future visits.

New Year’s

On New Year’s Eve, I went to a party with a few people who I play volleyball with every Sunday. It was more chill than I expected, but still a lot of fun. Fireworks are apparently very popular in Malaga, and I saw 4 or 5 firework shows (not sure how many of them were legal, but I must assume that only one was). Afterwards, I walked home with some friends of mine from the group.

Lessons Learned

  • Don’t fly through Montreal during the winter
  • Seville is great for a day trip, but if you have the chance, you should go for several days

Conclusion

This was my first Christmas and New Years in Spain. It was exciting, and I am excited for future holiday seasons here!

Tour of Istanbul

Intro

I took a three day trip to Turkey, and on one day I had am 8-hour walking tour of Istanbul. The tour ended up being me, the guide, and one other person. I saw a lot on my tour, so I want to talk about 5 of my favorite sights.

The Blue Mosque

The interior of the Blue Mosque features 4 pillars in the corners, but has many others that have been added for design purposes, such as the ones in the picture above.

The Blue Mosque was one of my favorite sights of the day. There was a lot of history behind it, including its competition with the neighboring Hagia Sophia, the reason there are 6 minarets outside it, and the reason that it is called the Blue Mosque. The Blue Mosque is something I would recommend that everyone visit because it is so close to so many things, it is free, and one can learn a lot about history and culture there.

The Grand Bazaar

One of 22 entrances to the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar officially has 4000 stores. In addition, there are 3000 stores on the streets around it. In total the Grand Bazaar has 7000 stores, making it just a little bit bigger than the malls I am used to hanging out at. There are stores selling a varity of items, from rugs to fidget spinners, at varying levels of quality. You can buy jewelery, fake designer brands, real designer brands, suits, and more. The Grand Bazaar is a spectacle, and if you are ever in Istanbul a visit there is required.

Underground City

Istanbul is home to an underground city. Literally. Under almost the entire city there are tunnels that are part of an ancient city that have had various purposes at different times in history. Unfortunately, nowadays these tunnels are home to a lot of homeless people and drug deals, so a lot of the enterances are being blocked off, but you can still see some parts. I went to a waterway that features two Medusa heads that are upside down. In the past, these heads served as protectors from invaders, but today they just protect tourists from not having something to take a selfie with.

Horse Square

One of the obelisks in the Horse Square

In Istanbul, there used to be a lot of horse races. They would feature chariots led by 4 horses. This used to be done in a square that also hosted parties, executions, gladiator fights, and more. Today, there are two obelisks, one of which was partially rebuilt after one of several invasions into Turkey, and the other which is still standing. There are still a lot of horse races in Turkey, but they are held at Veliefendi race course.

Sultan’s Palace

The Sultan’s chair in his office

I saved the Sultan’s Palace for last because it was the last place I visited, as well as my favorite part of the tour. The Sultan’s palace is now a museum that features artifacts from all over the world, including relics from Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. There is a display of where the Sultan used to have meetings with his advisors, where he used to work, and a kitchen that puts those granite countertops you see on HGTV to shame. To visit some parts, such as the Harem, or “woman section” of the palace will cost more than the initial 72 TL ticket. The Sultan’s palace really inspired me to become a sultan one day.

Conclusion

You can not see all of Istanbul in one day, or even one year, but if you are fortunate enough to visit, you should go see these 5t sights:

  • The Grand Bazar
  • Any part of the Underground City
  • The Blue Mosque
  • The old horse track
  • The SUltan’s Palace (Topkapi Palace)

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Traveling Solo in Madrid

Intro

On November 8, I went to Madrid on my own to visit IE University for an open day. I was in Madrid for less than 5 hours, less than I had spent on the train ride there and back (I spent 5 hours and 20 minutes on the train), but I still learned some valuable lessons. This was my first solo trip in Europe. I had taken flights on my own in the states, but it is not the same experience. At all.

Train Rides

I had 5 hours of train ride ahead of me, so I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to try something: not downloading any movies for the train rides. Now, this was my first time, so I did download a documentary, but the goal was to learn/be productive for 5 hours straight where I had limited access to the internet. Apart from writing this blog, I did not do much that was productive, but I will try this again on my next flight and write about my experience!

IE University open day

During the open day we were treated to a lecture by one of IE’s professors. Here he is teaching us about Deep Work.

IE University is one of my top choices for university. They advertise innovation and the encouragement of entrepreneurial thinking, and the open day proved it. I showed up 15 minutes late because I had poorly timed my train rides, but they were still showing the marketing presentation that I had already seen twice, so I did not miss much. After I got there, they had some former students talk about their experience with IE university. Right when I had chalked this up to yet another marketing session, a professor said he was going to give us the first lecture on focus and concentration; he had my attention. A lot of it was about social media and its negative effects on us. I already knew most of what he said, but I did learn a lot as well. The open day really was an interesting and educational experience and totally worth the trip.

Walk to the Train Station

Here is a photo of me outside Madrid Atocha train station

The open day finished at 6:30 pm and my train was not leaving for almost 3 hours. Naturally, I did what anyone would do with three hours in Madrid: walked to Tim Hortons for donuts. I then walked back to the train station, taking a longer way to walk through Retiro Park. I had heard a lot about Retiro Park, mostly from my mom, and decided since I had time, I walked through it. I mostly walked within eyeshot of the fence so I wouldn’t get lost, but it was a nice experience. Although it was a little scary, the walk through the park was worth it!

Lessons Learned

As I said in my intro, this was my first time traveling alone in Europe, and here are some lessons, most of which can be applied to travel in general, I learned:

  • Bring a pair of sweatpants in your bag. This will definitely make your train/plane rides more comfortable
  • Always double and triple check times of events if you are doing a trip for the sole purpose of going to said event
  • You never know what you are going to learn, so always be open to new experiences and listen to what people are telling you
  • Watching the Minimalism:  Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix is a good use of an hour and a half
  • Charge your phone before going on a trip, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOUR TICKETS IS ON YOUR PHONE
  • Even if you charge your phone, bring a portable charger

Conclusion

While it was only a short trip, this journey was definitely life changing. I am grateful for the opportunity to take the trip and I am excited for my next solo trip!

How to Deal with the Spanish Bureaucracy

Intro

Throughout our visa process, my mother and I have had to deal with Spanish bureaucracy, and I wanted to share some of the good, bad, and ugly of moving to Spain.

A picture of the building we had to apply for our travel permits and residency cards

Visa

We applied for our visa in late May this year, and it was fairly straightforward. We had to bring in a large stack of papers and they were stamped and sent to Madrid for approval. The Spanish Consulate in Washington, D.C. told us it would be 2-3 weeks before we were officially approved. For my mom, these were the 3 most stressful weeks of her life. I knew we were going to get it, so I was not worried at all. In the US, we are used to either late or early. I have never even had a package delivered on time, only early or late. On 3 weeks to the day we had our approval. With the visa process, there are few struggles or complications outside of getting a few documents translated and apostilled. You just be prepared for a little bit of wait.

Residency

While the Visa was fairly easy to get, the process for our residency was a NIGHTMARE. First, we had to get our Padron, which took like 15 minutes (though it wasn’t delivered for maybe a month) and then we had to make an appointment to get our fingerprints scanned. Of course, we couldn’t leave Spain until we got the fingerprints scanned. We thought that would be simple, but noooooooo we had to make an appointment with the police station with the help of a lawyer. And it wasn’t for a month. Oh, and we couldn’t leave the country until we did. SO, on October 25th, we got our fingerprints scanned. They told us we could pick up our residency cards in 40 days. We walked out like we had just been granted citizenship. Right before we walked out of the front entrance I stopped and asked if we could travel before we got our cards. Of course, the answer was no, not without a travel permit. Of course, the permit is a whole other process.

Lessons Learned

There are so few experiences that do not teach us valuable lessons. In dealing with the Spanish bureaucracy, here are some of the lessons I learned:

  • Do Your research when it comes to appointments
  • Make sure you are setting appointments in your area
  • Set appointments as soon as possible
  • Plan your move when you won’t need to travel outside of the country for at least 3 months

Conclusion

As much as dealing with bureaucracy can be annoying, it is totally worth it to move to such a beautiful country!

Hostel Survival Guide

Intro

On October 19, my mom and I took the train to Madrid. We had booked a stay at what we thought was Salamanca Hotel. When we arrived, we realized that it was “Salamanca Hostel,” not hotel. There, I learned many lessons about what to do, and what not to do, when staying at a hostel.

Beds

The “apartment” was nice; however, there was one problem: the slats in the middle of my bed broke as soon as I sat down. I didn’t throw myself on the bed, I just sat down. This created a problem for me all night because it felt like my mattress was sinking in the middle. This made it difficult to sleep. However, I was very tired, so it ended up not making too much of a difference. All unfortunate circumstances come with a lesson; I learned that, when staying in a hostel, do not sit in the middle of the bed.

Bathrooms

In the “apartment” where my room was located, there were 4 or 5 rooms that shared two bathrooms. I had forgotten to bring flip-flops and so I had to borrow my mother’s to take a shower. The lesson learned here is to always bring flip-flops when you travel, no matter where you are going.

There is another lesson that I learned as it relates to the bathrooms in hostels. Use them early, because a lot of the residents will come home later in the night and you won’t be able to shower without waiting in a line. I discovered this by accident when I took a shower at around 9:30 pm and within 20 minutes of me being done, three or four residents came to the hostel and the bathrooms were occupied within seconds of their arrival.

Living Room

As far as hostels go, Salamanca Hostel is probably very nice. I suppose if the hostel is not so nice, you should not spend a lot of time in the living room. You never know what could be on, or in, a couch or chair.

Conclusion

This was my first time staying in a hostel, but I have passed many in Madrid, and reached the conclusion that Salamanca Hostel is a more “upscale” hostel. With that being said, I still feel that all these lessons are relevant. If you find yourself in a hostel for a night, or even for an extended period, following the tips I have given above is a good way to make your stay more enjoyable!

Instituto Picasso: A Review

Intro

I signed up for Spanish lessons at the Instituto Picasso in Malaga. For two weeks I took classes on Mon-Fri that were each 4 hours a day (10 AM – 2 PM). I started on October 7, and I finished on October 18.

Group Classes

The group class I signed up was for two weeks and was VERY intensive. For two weeks I had class 5 days a week for 4 hours a day, but at the end I learned a lot of Spanish. Besides the actual learning of the language I gained a lot of interesting knowledge. I met people from all over the world, including Germany, Ireland, Denmark and Iceland to name a few, and gained some interesting perspective on many topics. You also learn from many teachers (I talked to almost 10 different professors) which allows you to practice speaking to more than one person. Overall, while intensive, I found the experience of the group lessons to be amazing!

Tutoring

While I never had a one on one tutor at Instituto Picasso, my mother did, and she has told me a lot about her experience. There is more flexibility with tutoring because you are not bound by the 4 hour a day schedule that the classes are. While my mother did one-hour-a-day lessons, they have more options. The only real issue, in my opinion, is that there is less organization with tutoring. My mom ended up having 4 hour-and-15-minute sessions instead of the 5 1-hour-long sessions she was supposed to have. I definitely recommend that you do group lessons instead, but if you end up opting for a tutor, please request Jorge.

Conclusion

My two-week experience at Instituto Picasso was nothing short of amazing and I will definitely be signing up again! I met many amazing people, both classmates and professors, and even made a few friends. I recommend group classes over tutoring, however both will teach you a lot about the Spanish language and culture! If you would like, you can learn more at https://www.instituto-picasso.com/ !

The Joker: Moviegoing in Malaga

Intro

On Friday, October 12, I went to see the Joker in theaters with my friend Isaac. This is the story, along with a few lessons I learned about moviegoing in Malaga, and a small review of the movie.

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker

Story

I had seen that there was a 5:45 PM movie time, perfect for us to go to. So at 5:00, we both left, Isaac by bus and I walked. We got up to the machine to order tickets and noticed that it said the movie was in Spanish and that the only time for the movie in English was at 9 unless we went to the theater in Plaza Mayor and saw it at 7. We took the train to Plaza Mayor and got our tickets. Yelmo Cines is now my personal recommendation because the tickets were basically free compared to AMC in the states. Two tickets cost less than the equivalent of $17.50. Food was still fairly expensive, but compared to the states, it was still cheaper.

Joker: A Movie Revies

The Joker has gained a lot of attention, both positive and negative. For one there is the hype. A lot of people say Phoenix’s acting is Oscar worthy. While it is excellent, I don’t know about Oscar worthy. The movie itself was very good, but very much overhyped. The negative attention has all been about how it could inspire mass shootings or violence in general. In my opinion, this movie could not possibly cause or inspire violence in anyone who would not do it anyway.

Overall I would rate the movie 4.5/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who likes DC movies/comics.

Lessons Learned

  • When watching a movie in Spain make sure it says “VOSE” (Version Originale Subtitles Español) or else it will be in Spanish
  • Subtitles can help you learn a lot about Spanish, but it is better to know a little bit of Spanish first

Conclusion

Joker was a very good movie, though a little overhyped, and Yelmo Cines is a very good movie theater to watch it, or another movie, in.

Fafa’s Visit

Intro

My aunt Rafah (my mother’s sister who I call Fafa) came to visit us for 10 days. While I cannot possibly write about all the fun and excitement that we experienced during her visit, I want to write about some of the highlights.

Malaga through a different set of eyes

Me, Fafa, and my mom (left to right) on a walk in which we discovered new things thanks to Fafa.

I have been living in Malaga for now a month, so the way I see Malaga is, for the most part, through the eyes of someone who lives here. My aunt saw Malaga through very different lenses: those of someone visiting for a short time. There are things I either see differently or, in some cases, miss entirely. For example, I had walked through Plaza Merced probably a million times. In the middle of the Plaza, there is an obelisk. I had seen it, but I had never noticed any of the details on it until she pointed them out. I had also not noticed an antique shop that I had walked by probably thousands of times at that point.

Benalmadena

The view from the beach near the restaurant that we ate lunch at

My aunt has been here before, and one of her favorite destinations is Benalmadena, specifically this one restaurant called La Cala. We went there and had the most amazing view. The service was only ok, but the food was very good. Afterwards we walked to the nearby beach and took pictures together. After we walked on, we realized we were thirsty and stopped at a seemingly nondescript café. To our surprise, we had the most amazing mojitos (sin alcohol, of course!).

Cards

Over the summer, my family and I played cards almost every night. My mom and I had not continued this tradition, though. When Fafa came to visit, we resumed the tradition. We started playing a game called Concan. I had learned how to play it before but had forgottenthe rules. Fafa and my mom made the mistake of teaching me; I won almost every single game (although there were also quite a few embarrassing losses). You may think, “who the hell plays cards when in Malaga?” The reality is that the time spent playing is also time spent bonding, remembering the most important events of the day, and generally sharing thoughts with family members.

Health

La Plaza in Plaza Merced has the best smoothies!

Fafa encouraged us to start taking part in more healthy activities. Going for walks throughout the day, socializing with each other at night, turning off our phones an hour before bed, and having smoothies everyday are just a few examples. I don’t know if I would say she is the only reason we adopted all these, but she certainly did push us to do better with some things. Another Fafa-Positive-habit is slowing down, appreciating what you are doing, and experiencing the after-doing. I think other people call this “mindfulness.”

Bathrooms

Fafa has a funny way of ranking restaurants. If the bathroom is nice AND clean, then the restaurant must be nice as well, in her eyes. While there is some validity to this system, we all had a good laugh even though we discovered some truly unlikely awesome spots.

Conclusion

Malaga is a great place to live, especially if you have family members who want to come and visit you. But remember this: just because you live there, does not mean your guest can not teach you a thing or two about your new home.

Barcelona Trip

Intro

My trip to Barcelona was from September 16 – 21. A friend of my mother’s lives in Barcelona. He was going on a business trip and offered us his apartment for a few days. We happily accepted. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for allowing this amazing trip to be possible!

First Day: Sitges

My mom and I timed our trip to be there a day before her friend left for Germany. After exploring Air BNB for an hour, we decided that staying in Barcelona was not the best option because we found an amazing place not far from Barcelona that was less than two miles from the beach. We each did a little bit of work, her on proposals and me on content design for one of my Instagram accounts (you can follow @the.dailyentrepreneur to see what I designed) and then walked to the beach for dinner.  Afterwards, we went home, and my mom worked some more, and I watched some of the Jets game before going to bed.

Barcelona Day 1

On the first day we were in Barcelona, my mom’s friend greeted us and showed us the ins and outs of his apartment. It is a very nice apartment near a downtown shopping area. It is also near plenty of restaurants and 24-hour grocery stores, both of which came in handy several times. Afterwards we went to a brunch place that was less than a block away. The restaurant is called El Arbol Brunch ARIBAU. If you are ever in Barcelona, you must check it out. We then hung out in the apartment for a little bit and I took a nap because I had not gotten much sleep the night before. We then walked around, got some travel toiletries. For dinner, we stopped at a ramen/pho restaurant that I never got the name of. All I have to say is that the ramen in Spain is much better than in DC.

Barcelona Day 2

On the second day of our trip we had breakfast from the Granier. Afterwards I went to the gym. The gym in Barcelona is much nicer than the one in Malaga (our membership is with a chain which is nice for traveling) but it was kind of annoying that it was 5 floors and each floor had a different purpose (i.e. one floor was the locker room, another was for cardio and another was for weights.) Afterwards, my mom and I had lunch at the brunch place from the day before (we ate there all but one day out of loyalty) and then I read part of my new book: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I highly recommend this book for any entrepreneur and especially for people who feel that they want to improve their people skills. We then did some shopping and had dinner at a restaurant near our apartment. Afterwards, we had a sort of family movie night and watched part of The Great Gatsby.

Barcelona Days 3 and 4

On our third day in Barcelona we went about our normal routine (I went to the gym, read a little bit, we went for a walk, etc.) when we stumbled upon GBSB, a local business school in Barcelona. I stopped in and asked about meeting with someone to ask some questions and the receptionist took down my contact information. The next day while I was walking to the gym I got a call to make an appointment for an interview, so I set the appointment for the next day (Friday, September 20) and after my workout I went shopping for a shirt. Again, we had dinner near our apartment and on the third and fourth days of our trip we watched a little more of the movie.

Barcelona Day 5

On the morning of September 20 we ate at the brunch place with the friend of my mother’s friend who let us stay in his apartment. Afterwards, I wrote an essay for my class. Then I went to the gym and went back home and got ready for my interview at GBSB. I got there and it turned out that they had not told me my interview was over the phone. I felt a little annoyed because I had gotten dressed up for the interview, but I did the interview in a conference room, went home and then my mom and I went out. We went to El Corte Ingles and did more shopping and afterwards we were walking home and saw a protest. At first we assumed environment, but after seeing a few signs and reading them as best we could (they were in Spanish) we came to the conclusion that it was a protest against violence. We then went to another restaurant near the apartment and went home to pack for the journey home the next day.

Flights

The flight to Barcelona was very smooth. We had a small delay but took off within a half-hour of the listed time which, by our standards, is good. Part 7 of The Ranch had just come out on Netflix and I was able to download it from home in Malaga, so I was all set. Besides, the flight was under 2 hours.

The flight back was not nearly as smooth. As soon as we got to the gate after rushing across the airport, we got an E-Mail that said we would be delayed two and half hours. I asked at the gate and they said they weren’t sure and that it could be longer. My mom and I were preparing for the worst. After what felt like 5 hours (it was like an hour and a half) we boarded the plane and took off. Once again, the flight itself was smooth.

I highly recommend flying with Vueling.Com for any of your travels inside Europe. I am concerned about their baggage checking system (they don’t protect the checked luggage with a tarp like I’m used to with United and other larger airlines) and I would not fly with them if you are pressed on time but, overall, it was a very good experience!

Conclusion

Barcelona is probably my 3rd favorite city in the WORLD. It combines aspects of Paris and New York City, my 2nd and 1st favorite cities, respectively. I’d like to thank my mom for her hard work, and her friend for letting us stay in his apartment, for making this trip possible!