Networking at Leka Leka

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a networking event hosted by a group of internationals here in Madrid. It was at a very cute bar near my place and I roped in a friend to join me too, in short, a great Thursday after-work plan. My American friends and I often remark about how wonderful it is that in Spain that midweek get togethers are so common. So we celebrated juernes (thirsty thursday) and heard stories from some expats here about how they broke into the spanish job market.

I’ve been to a few “How to Make it in Spain” chats and they tend to veer towards similiar ends. Some folks went to graduate school here in Spain, giving them the insta-network you need to branch out, other folks were helped by their Spanish partners to make connections and others shared refreshingly independent paths to landing new jobs here. I was glad that I went and felt inspired to publish my own basic guide to breaking into the job market here!

Step 1: Humble yourself. Spain is a country with incredibly high unemployment rates and landing entry-level or junior positions is extremely hard, not impossible just hard. You will not make as much money at a desk job here as you could Stateside or even teaching English when starting out.

Step 2: Learn Spanish. Really.

Step 3: Polish your resume, look for a few great jobs you want and write cover letters for each one.

Step 4: If you get the interview, be prepared to conduct your interview in Spanish and answer personal questions. What are your long term plans here in Spain? Why did you study “insert your major here” and now you want to work in “job title that doesnt sound like your major”? Are you married? How old are you? Where do you live? You won’t discuss salary until you are signing paperwork, or unless your interviewer brings it up first, in which case they will usually ask you how much you’re looking to make.

Step 5: Never give up and stay connected to people in the sectors you want to be in. That’s easier said than done but nobody got a new job by waiting quietly in their current one. Be persistent and get out there!

 

Hope those are helpful tips. I casually omitted anything about making yourself legally hirable because everyone’s situation is different and that’s another topic all together! There are some great Spain bloggers out there who cover those topics like Young Adventures and Como .

 

Leka Leka is a cute-ass bar in Latina on a quiet little street. They have cold vermuth on tap and delicious little hamburger sliders. The menu del día is reasonably priced and very good; best of all they have a great indie rock playlist more often than not. Check it out and lemme know what you think!

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Hello 2017!

A new year always seems like a fresh new start and, in the middle of winter something fresh could not come sooner. I went home for the holidays to Portland and was able to visit with friends and family, reconnect with that Wild Pacific and snowshoe through the cascades. I got some great grub and beer too – particularly amazing was this cask-aged Red Chair IPA from Deschutes Brewery (and the homemade pretzel ring) that I enjoyed with my sister on New Year’s Eve.

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So malty and smooth!

I went to the mountain with my good friend Mollee, saw the new Star Wars movie and other than that didn’t venture far from the fireplace. Miguel is in Madrid finishing exams and enjoying his new job, he thinks he might make it for Christmas with my family next year.

Alright the update is over! On the mind these days, dogs. I want one bad but can’t bring myself to stuff a pooch in an apartment that my things and I can barely fit in. Also I’ve decided to join a Bikram Yoga gym in Madrid to get back in shape! I’ve been doing yoga for almost ten years but never had the guts to try hot yoga (for all the obvious reasons, it would be smelly and uncomfortable) then my sister convinced Miguel and I to try it with her while we were visiting her and I was totally hooked! I felt like a rubber band when the class was over. Miguel however I think has vowed to never step foot in a yoga studio ever again. It was, admittedly his first class ever and hot yoga isn’t for everyone. As for me, balancing my schedule this winter with tons of work will prove to be as tough as staying on one foot for tree pose.

Some pictures from the break and fall:

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Flat Top Mountain in Washington as we drove down the Columbia Gorge.

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A beautiful and freezing moon view over a house near SE Hawthorne in Portland.

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Snowshoeing with friends on Mt. Hood in Oregon..I still can’t decide if I should bring my gear to Spain, life without a car is hard on your sense of adventure!

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Miguel in Seattle last September after a Mariner’s game.

Hiking the Sierra

When I get the chance to escape to the mountains I take it! Being in Madrid without a car can make that tough so when Miguel’s friends suggested La Pedriza last weekend we jumped on the chance to get some fresh air and a little adventure! It ended up being quite a lot of adventure when we lost the trail and came across boulders with no foot holds. Some of the more experienced hikers gave it a go but I played it safe and took the long route with my friend Maria. We all ended up at the same peak with spectacular views just in time for lunch!

 

At the end of the route, nestled in the mountains there’s a little bar that has snacks and drinks for hikers. La Sierra de Madrid is the perfect escape if you’re looking for fresh air and most trailheads are accessible by bus with a little walking. Don’t forget sunscreen and extra layers!

Life’s Lemons and Wine

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Spain is one of the world’s largest producers of wine, and best of all it’s the kind of wine that won’t break the bank. A great Rioja or Ribera del Duero here may run you 10 and in the States around $15. What could be an excellent gift or treat for yourself is actually a staple of the Spanish diet and there are plenty of typical dishes that include it to make any wino trade their bottle opener for an apron. On either side of wine producing there are even more traditional beverages: Orujo, a traditional liquor that’s made with wine by-products and Mosto, a fresh and non-alcoholic grape juice served with a skewered olive. For times when enjoying a hard drink just sounds like too much, a wine cooler can be just the thing you were missing. Add these simple combos to your mixology library and quickly become the coolest person at any party.

We’ll start with the world famous and narrow in to the lesser-known bebidas.

 

Sangria

One of Spain’s most popular exports, this is a wine and sugary lemon fizz drink. You know it’s good when it has a hint of cinnamon and lots of yummy drunk fruit. It’s simplified by many here for large parties and family gatherings to simply wine + lemon soda. This drink is, unfortunately not common outside of touristy areas and warmer months.

Tinto de Verano

The tinto is the wine and the verano is typically “Gaseosa”, a sweetened fizzy water. A Tinto de Verano can also be made with lemon soda (just like the “cheap” sangria above) just order to your liking. Lighter than Sangria this can be had at essentially any bar or restaurant, its ubiquitous and hard to get wrong!

Kalimotxo

Popular in North of Spain among all ages, this drink is a combination of wine and Coca Cola. It’s a funny combination that tastes almost savory; ordering this concoction in a classier place and you might get a little scoff – the Kalimotxo tends to be the drink that many adolescents go for at their first parties.

Rebujito

The lightest, sweetest and most “Southern” of the wine mixers is this combination of white wine (typically Reuda or Verdejo) and Sprite. It’s incredibly sweet and pairs great with salty crunchy tapas on a hot day.

In a glass

Of course, one of the best ways to enjoy Spanish wines is to just pop open a bottle and pour yourself a glass with no fussiness added. A wonderful, full bodied red or a light spritzy white tops off any meal or stands alone just fine.

Wine production here is taken very seriously but not so much so that it can’t also be enjoyed! Try these out at home and let me know what you think 🙂

Sights and Sounds of Christmas in Madrid

Each December the Plaza Mayor is decorated with lights and holiday vendors, a stage is mounted for Christmas music and a carousel is set up in one corner. At night it is spectacular, the smell of roasting chestnuts and chocolate dipped waffles reminds many madrileños and tourists that Christmas is near.

Early this morning I crept outside for a walk in the cold air and I stumbled upon the Plaza, preparing for a day of visitors and merriment. I wanted to share the sights and sounds with you at home and I hope you feel transported. Older gents are trading stamps, street vendors are talking prices and testing their battery powered toys, and madrileños enjoy a typical winter breakfast at a hot chocolate and churro shop.

Close your eyes and enjoy the morning sounds of winter in Madrid.

 

Bloggers Unite

I got a Sunshine Bloggers Award Nomination from Ashley at Cómo perderse en España. Thanks a mil Ashley, I’m stoked to have my first nomination for a blog award and absolutely love connecting with other bloggers!

For the nomination I need to answer some questions she sent me so here we go:

1. If you had to choose, which would be your favourite of all the the posts you’ve ever written?

Hands down Boquerones! It was fun to make the gif and especially fun to eat the boquerones while I worked on the post.

2.  What’s your favourite season?

Fall in Madrid is spectacular, cold and crisp and the trees are firey red. In Portland the summers are the best.

3.  What’s one blog that you always read?

Is is bad that I don’t actually read many blogs?? I’m green to blogging and I kind of like it that way. I listen to Majestic Casual on youtube while I write and frequently check out Creative Mornings events for inspiration.

4.  What is the most beautiful place, home or away, you’ve ever visited?

Iguazú Falls on the Brazil/Argentina border. Breathtaking.

5.  Do you have a go-to recipe or meal that you always make?

I eat a lot of pasta; I make a quick sauce with whole canned tomatoes, canned tuna, chili flakes and garlic all mixed together and sautéed in a pan while the pasta water boils. I like rigatoni best but penne works too, then finish with grated granna padano on top. I had this last night for dinner!

6.  What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do, but have never ever gotten around to learning?

To surf, really well. I want to be a surfer chick.

7.  If you could go back in history and relive a time period, when could it be and where?

The Mayan Civilization, to taste the first hot chocolates see the lush tropical forests.

8.  Do you have a favourite thing about your city or town?

My favorite thing about Spain is the people: they are opinionated, extremely passionate about life and endlessly forgiving.

9.  Is there a post that you’ve been meaning to write, but haven’t yet gotten around to writing it? What’s it about?

I’d love to write/post about street-style, there are some really gusty and cool fashionist@s in Madrid and I’d love to show you all what they wear everyday. Stay tuned 😉

10.  If you could visit any place in the world where would it be?

Today I would love a bagel from the Russian deli by my grandmas apartment in Queens, NY. I can’t remember the name of the place but wow, the bagels are great. In general I would like to go to Peru.

11.  What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?

The Golden Rule – treat others as you would like to be treated. Works every time! And also, dance like nobody’s watching!

Thanks Ashley that was fun!

 

Las Puertas de Toledo

Eusevia in front of her door

Miguel and I had another holiday weekend last week and we needed to get out of town. For whatever reason Toledo sounds nice in the Fall so we decided to do a repeat of last November’s trip and see the little town on a hill one more time. I booked an afternoon at an Arabian bath house: beautifully preserved pools of cold and hot water that have been the Moorish spa tradition since Toledo was ruled by the Islamic empire centuries ago. We relaxed, had a massage and then floated back to our hotel, catching up on some much needed sleep. Toledo is a bit touristic and this weekend it was especially crowded but Miguel and I managed to slip away from the masses of people and wound up meeting a local woman who told us the story of how she came to Toledo. She invited us into her house and let us take a picture of her!

Back in Madrid the apartment is an adventure and figuring out how to live together is a step by step process. A little bit of rest and relaxation never hurts. I’ve got to get back to the kitchen and let my stresses go. Tonight I think I’ll make cookies in my (much loved) oven – stop by if you want one!