Stephen Brown's Blog

Concert in Broadway

Posted Friday 29 July 2011 15:52 by Steve in Learning Spanish

Yesterday, after my siesta was the first time I realised that I was alone and far away from everybody (well technically I am closer to my Dad...) as nobody was really around in the house and I had a lot of time to kill. As I was leaving the school yesterday Maite told us that there was a concert in a bar called Broadway at 10:30pm, and I had agreed to meet with Ahmed. He told me he would email me beforehand and choose a time. Charo and Paula (the little girl) were out swimming, Charo's son Christian is still on holiday, and Miguel was working so the house felt very empty. In the end I decided to go for a walk while I waited for Ahmed to email me.

When I returned an hour or so later, I had an email from Ahmed asking to meet at 8:30 outside the school but I told him 9:00 would be better - partly because I had just got back in and wanted to rest for a while and partly because I wanted less time in the bar before the concert so Ahmed couldn't drink too much. I sat downstairs and watched a Spanish tv show called 'Pasapalabra' (palabra means word) for half an hour, and I actually understood a fair bit of what was going on.

When I went to meet Ahmed I saw Martina sitting on some steps nearby. I explained to her that I was going to a concert with Ahmed, and she said that she was waiting for Veronica. We decided to all go to the concert which was a relief because I find it difficult to go to bars with Ahmed. We ended up all going to a little tapas bar and eating some small bocadillos (like a sandwich but with French bread) before heading to Broadway for the concert. I had fun explaining that I had pet rats in Spanish, and that they liked to drink beer off of my fingers. Veronica found it very funny.

When we arrived at Broadway, it was a tiny little place and the singer was setting up and doing sound checks. We ordered our first drinks and Ahmed had something with vodka that was served in what looked like a gold fish bowl!

The music was actually very good and I had a good time, although we didn't get much practice at speaking in the bar. After the concert, Veronica came over with some drinks and announced that it was Martina's birthday, and we would toast her at midnight. For some reason Veronica got me a 'clara' which is half beer and half soda instead of a beer, and I was thankful because I didn't really need anything more to drink. Just before the toast someone came around selling CDs from the guy in the concert and me, Veronica and Ahmed bought one. When we toasted Martina's birthday Ahmed gave her the CD and said happy birthday which was actually quite sweet.

Ahmed had been drinking all kinds of drinks - vodka, whiskey and now he was drinking Martinis. He was quite pissed. I saw Ahmed talking to Veronica, and a few minutes later Veronica walked off and talked to some very pretty Spanish girls at the bar. The girls came back to our table and posed with Ahmed for a photo, and chatted to us for a while. They thought Veronica was Ahmed's mum!

After we left, we saw the girls again and Ahmed shouted "te quiero" which was a little embarrassing, but at the same time the whole thing was really funny and we had laughed a lot. Veronica walked with me most of the way back to my house, and we stopped near the city gates and chatted for a bit. She spoke in English and I spoke in Spanish. I could have stayed for ages but I was desperate for the toilet so I had to go home.

This morning I really didn't expect Ahmed to turn up in class, and was surprised when he did, although he did leave the class room a few times to be sick.

At break time we didn't go to a bar, and instead they had cake and Sangria for Martina's birthday. Ahmed obviously didn't want to drink so he jokingly said "I can't because I'm a muslim". He then went on to explain how he got sick 3 times in the night, and one time he was asleep, and just laid on his back and puked all over the place. "I was like a volcano" he said. It was funny but pretty horrific really.

Ahmed had to leave early to catch a flight to Paris. On my way out Maite explained to me that everyone was leaving apart from me and most of them were flying out that afternoon. Veronica is going to be here tonight so I have arranged to meet her at 7 and we are going to go for a walk around the outside of the city and then have dinner.

I realised yesterday that Ahmed is actually quite a nice guy, and I quite like him, but I hate drinking with him because he just wants to get drunk. Sometimes it's easy to forget that he is only 16.

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Veronica and Martina

Posted Thursday 28 July 2011 14:51 by Steve in Learning Spanish

Last night I met outside the roman baths in Toledo for a tour. Lots of people from the school were there - Ahmed was there, and some others from the other class. The tour took us to some old Arabic baths and a church which used to be mosque. The last baths that we visited were in ruins on the edge of the city, and there was a lovely view across the river and of the mountains. I couldn't really understand much of what was said on the tour because there was too much information and it was spoken too quickly.

Ahmed left the tour half way through as he was bored, and afterwards Veronica and Martina asked me if I wanted to join them for dinner at Al Trebol. Veronica is German, and Martina is French, but has lived in Italy for 30 years - both of them have children the same age as me. In the restaurant I had a 'bomba' which is a tapa that was recommended to me by Maite. It was a stuffed potato, with minced beef and garlic and tomato sauce and was very nice! After eating we moved on to another bar for a few more drinks. We sat outside the bar, and there was a machine that sprayed us with a fine mist of water every few minutes which was amazing as it was still hot even at 11pm.

We spoke in Spanish the whole time (at least our version of Spanish!) and at one point an American couple asked me to take a picture of them. They didn't realise I was English and asked me in Spanish and seemed surprised that I was English. I may be able to fool an American tourist but I think I am a long way off fooling the natives!

The American couple told me they were on their honeymoon and I took a few pictures of them. Soon afterwards I returned to the house as it was past midnight.

Miguel was back in the house (the father of the house) after a business trip to the Basque country. I spoke a few words with him but he seemed to be working on something on his laptop and I didn't really want to disturb him.

Today when I got to class me and Cristina were predicting that Ahmed wouldn't turn up again. In the end he turned up half an hour late. We ended up going over some of the stuff from the previous lesson again but it was ok because it's good to revise stuff a little bit. We also talked about stereo types for people in different countries, and I spent a while trying to explain to Cristina what a chav is!

When I got back to the house I had spinach in Bechamel sauce, followed by grilled chicken and bread, then watermelon. Now it's time for a siesta!


Dad & Sue on Friday 29 July 2011 09:40

Hola Steve

enjoying your blogs

sounds as though you are having fun, seems to me you are mostly eating, drinking and sleeping (perfect).

dad xx

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Posted Wednesday 27 July 2011 15:32 by Steve in Learning Spanish

Yesterday evening, I had planned to go to the cathedral with Ahmed. We arranged to meet at 6, and when I found him he told me that the cathedral closes at 6:30. I'm not sure why he didn't tell me this before!

As the cathedral was going to be closed we walked around a bit to find somewhere to have a drink. Ahmed once again ordered something stronger than necessary - this time he wanted a Jack Daniels. It was huge as Spanish 'measures' are about 3 times the size of English ones. It was painful to watch him drink it and he obviously didn't enjoy it, but tried to drink it anyway. When I ordered my second caña (small beer) I got him a coke and he mixed it in and was able to drink it. I made an excuse after this and went home for a while.

When I got home I replied to my emails and went down stairs on my way out. Oliver and Charo were in the kitchen and Oliver invited me to eat with them. Charo told me they didn't really have any food and it was a bit awkward. I wanted to say "I was going to eat out, but I can eat here if you want me to". Basically the rules are that I get breakfast and lunch here, but eat in the evening on my own.

I couldn't figure out how to word it so I told them to give me a minute and ran to my room to look it up. This a really useful phrase: "Iba a ..." literally "I was going to ...". When I found them again I told them that I was going to eat out in the restaurant, and I can still do so, but I can eat here too. I will only eat here if I am invited. Eventually we all understood each other and Charo said they don't really eat a meal in the evening - they just snack on bread and fruit. It was all a bit difficult because of the language barrier.

After that I went to a restaurant in the "Plaza amador de los rios" - the square of the lover of rivers. In some ways it was better eating alone than with Ahmed because I chatted to the waiter more. I asked the waiter what "Alcachofas con Jamon" was and he said serano ham with vegetables so I ordered that. When it came it was a plate of artichoke hearts with little pieces of ham and was very nice. Every time I saw the waiter I asked him to repeat what it was called until after about 3 times I'd got it. He seemed impressed that I wanted to learn.

I slept well last night and awoke feeling refreshed. When I got to class there was no Ahmed - apparently he was ill. I predict that he had drunk more spirits and was ill because of that but I don't know for sure.

Class was pretty good as it was just me and the teacher. The first half of class went extremely quickly, and as usual we went for a coffee in the break. In the second half of the lesson I had a lot of fun trying to explain Imperial Units (feet, inches, ounces, pints etc.) to my teacher. I always knew it was a stupid system, but it seems even more so when explaining it to a foreigner! "What - there are 12 inches in a foot? Why?".

Lunch today was the best so far and I ate a lot. I had green beans with ham to start, and tortilla for my main. I had a custard desert (natillas). I have also mastered the words for knife, fork and spoon at last!

This evening I am meeting up for some kind of tour of the city (in Spanish). I'm not 100% where so I will go now and try and find it!

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Gazpacho Soup

Posted Tuesday 26 July 2011 17:28 by Steve in Learning Spanish

Last night was not good - for some reason I woke up about 3am with stomach pains and couldn't sleep again for hours. I think my body is struggling to adapt to the new eating routine.

Lunch today had a really nice starter - it was gazpacho soup (a cold tomato, cucumber and onion soup). Charo served it with chunks of cucumber, tomato, tuna and croutons. It was really nice and refreshing.

The main course I didn't think so much of. It was risotto, but it was just too heavy and I only managed to eat half of it. Afterwards I had my favourite Spain food - Sandia, which is Spanish for watermelon. Normally I don't like it that much but here they are amazing. So refreshing in the intense heat.

Tonight I am going to the cathedral with Ahmed.

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Dinner with Ahmed

Posted Tuesday 26 July 2011 00:30 by Steve in Learning Spanish

When we met up at the school, it was actually a tour of the city by the director of the school, Maite. It was just me Ahmed and Maite, but it was quite interesting. Maite explained some of the history of Toledo which was very interesting, and showed us some monuments, bars and restaurants. She explained everything in Spanish and I understood most of it!

Afterwards I went to dinner with Ahmed. He seemed ok - but we quickly reverted back to English so I will try and avoid spending too much time with him in the future. He told me how he drives around with a machine gun in his car in Lebanon and that his dad has a bazooka! He said it is normal in Lebanon - but he finds it a bit strange as he lived in Paris for his early life.

I had a few beers and Ahmed said he wanted to try something different, so he had a Gin and tonic. You have to remember that the Spanish measures are very big and he is only 16. Afterwards he couldn't walk in a straight line.

After a few drinks it was still too early to eat so we went to the Alcázar. This was a large building that was built by the Moors when they controlled Spain. It has since been destroyed and rebuilt, and now has a library in it. We went to the library just to see the view out of the window, as it is very tall. You could see a long way, especially considering Toledo is on top of a mountain!

I also got a phone call from Dad and he is coming to visit me on 12th which I am looking forward to.

When I got back to the house, I saw the eldest son (Oliver - pronounced Oliber) from the familly walking his dog so I walked around with him for a bit and chatted in Spanish. Then when I got back I talked to Charo (the mum) for a while. She said that she couldn't believe how much my Spanish had improved in 1 day - but I think I am just less tired and have got a bit more confident. It is still difficult for me! At the moment I am trying to learn some useful words like fork (tenedor) and knife and spoon which I forgot already! And a tap is a grifo.

Going to bed now - I'm tired.

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