September 21, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Uncategorized

The vacation is over my friends – this last week I officially headed back to work. It felt so good though to finally have a real purpose here! It was a very, very long week, but at the same time very gratifying. I’ve definitely found the right place here. I’ve also decided to postpone my return to school for a semester or two so that I can focus on work first.

So, a little about the company. It is a startup with under 20 employees, most of whom are in Bucharest, Romania. In Madrid, it is just myself, the CEO, and one other part time employee. I am managing the marketing end of things, which is proving to be a challenging, but very enjoyable task. Erepublik is a hybrid of many things, but can most closely be described as a massive online social strategy game. I know, it’s a mouthful, so here’s the translation – it is an online social experience in which people from all over the world can reinvent today’s real world countries in an accelerated reality. I may not be the typical player, but I have to say, this game is absolutely fascinating. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about a new occurrence in the game and am not completely blown away by the creativity, passion and innovation of our players. Truly, if you know anyone who likes gaming at all (without the crazy time commitment – the game only takes 15 minutes a day, and is free!), let me know and I will try to get them an invitation to the game – otherwise the game officially launches in the next month (it is currently in Beta). You can visit the site at www.erepublik.com.

The office is in the very best part of Madrid – at least in my opinion. It’s close to the best shops, great restaurants, and even a Starbucks so that I can get my US fix! I actually went to a yummy restaurant in the area earlier this week and found myself admiring the food and how much it reminded me of home. I grabbed their business card and sure enough their cuisine is considered “California Cuisine” – the discovery was the highlight of my week!!! The office itself is on the 7th floor of a charming old building – which also includes a charming old (and I mean really old) elevator that seems to be hanging by dental floss…I’ve been taking the stairs as much as possible.

The commute to work has been exhausting to say the least. I’ve been leaving the house at 7:00 (which is very early here considering we don’t ever go to bed before midnight), driving to the outskirts of Madrid to park, catching the metro, then I switch metro lines halfway, then I arrive near my office and walk a few blocks. It’s tiring. Right now, fortunately, I have Jacob’s car, but soon I won’t. That is why yesterday I went car shopping for a Smart! They are awesome little cars. I just need to figure out the car insurance situation here and then hopefully I will have a new car in the next couple of weeks.

Ok friends and family, that’s all from me for now. Don’t forget to tell your friends about the site if it’s something that will strike their fancy :). Hasta luego!

0 comments
September 14, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Uncategorized

DSC03319
Today marks the beginning of Fashion Week here in Madrid and this afternoon Jacob and I were lucky enough to see one of the shows. We were able to go because the designer was incorporating the BlackBerry Bold (the new BB model) in some of the looks. It was a unique space for a fashion show as it was not the traditional long catwalk flanked by rows of chairs, but instead a large, theatrical-type room, with tables and large chandeliers. A beautiful space for the event. Plus it was in Retiro Park, and I never mind an opportunity to walk through Retiro (especially in today’s weather – which felt so much like the weather at home!).

The line was fantastic – I would have liked to have worn several of the dresses right off the runway. What also made the show special is that they had two of the Spanish Olympic gold medalist walk the runway. I believe they received golds in rowing…but really, I would have been impressed if it were trampoline (which I secretly want to start training for for the 2012 Olympics!).

The rest of my weekend has been spent relaxing and getting things done since it is the first weekend in a month that I have not been off traveling somewhere. I especially wanted to get mentally prepared for my big return to the work world. I must say, while I am excited to return to work, I sure was getting used to my life of leisure! Not much else from me for now. Until next week….

Tags:
0 comments
September 10, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Travels in Spain

DSC03171
Well, I think I’ve gone on my last official excursion prior to my return to the work world. I spent the last four days in the Baleares Islands in the Mediterranean. The purpose of our trip was to celebrate Jacob’s good friend Manu’s 30th birthday – not a bad place to throw a party, for sure!

We left early Saturday morning on a quick flight from Madrid to Ibiza. Once arriving in Ibiza we had to then take a ferry to the smaller island of Formentera, where we were to stay for the duration of the trip. If you know anything about Ibiza, you probably know that it is renowned for its wild all-night party scene, attracting party-goers and tourists worldwide. Formentera is the lesser known, smaller island just south of Ibiza that is more remote and has many insanely beautiful beaches. Since Formentera is more isolated, you will find that there are only a few main paved roads, and thousands of motorbikes for rent in order to navigate the small island. We opted for a rental car….a good choice on Jacob’s part.

The first day we were there we headed straight for the beach in order to catch up on some Z’s and rest up for the big birthday party that night. The warm weather with the cool breeze made for a perfect nap time….and ultimately an intense sunburn. While I am now proudly sporting a nice deep tan (relatively speaking – certainly not in comparison to my Spanish amigos), I must say the first day put me a bit out of commission in terms of laying out at the beach (I know, Dad, I should have worn sunscreen! I had some on my face though!??!).

That night we went to Manu’s big 30th birthday bash, which was held at a chiringuito (a beach restaurant/bar), and also in honor of two other people that were celebrating their 30th. It was a group of about 50, which made for a fun evening and lots of new people to meet. It really was a fantastic party that they threw and many thanks to Manu for having us along – we had an spectacular time.

The next day we headed out to the beach again – me being equipped with sunscreen and prepared to spend the day on my stomach so as not to burn my front side any further. The beach was absolutely stunning – crystal blue water like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life (and also many non-Spanish men in speedos like nothing I’ve never seen before either – ha ha!). We spent the day at the beach, having lunch, touring around the island, and then later dining in a downtown area, with the group of people that came to celebrate Manu’s birthday. It was a great crowd to spend the vacation with.

On Monday Jacob and I took a ferry back to Ibiza so that I could see that island as well. We toured around the old city with its beautiful views of the island and charming little streets. We capped off the day in Ibiza with a delicious lunch on the harbor – I am really starting to become obsessed with these manchego cheese sandwiches. After returning to Formentera we had a relatively uneventful evening going to the gym and having dinner at the hotel, followed by drinks at a nearby chiringuito.

Yesterday, our last day of the trip, we went back to the beach we had gone to the second day only to discover that it had been overcome with bad weather. Instead we met up with the rest of the group at another beach for a little while before heading back to Ibiza, and ultimately Madrid.

Now we are back and it appears that the weather gods have figured out that I have returned to Madrid and that it is now time to rain again! Fortunately I will be able to use Jacob’s car for a couple of weeks (thank you Jacob!). Monday will be my official return to work at a company here in Madrid. I am ridiculously excited to finally have a routine again. I plan to continue with my mini-excursions on the weekends though, so may the blogging continue! I miss you all back home!

0 comments
September 4, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Traditions, Travels in Spain

DSC03048
As if Spain isn’t already great enough, sharing it with friends makes it just that much better. This last week I was able to share my love of Spain with my dear friend Robin. We tried to mix it up a little so that her itinerary wasn’t a carbon copy of Kim’s, but of course even though there was some overlap, I couldn’t complain. I am officially an expert on giving the walking tour of Madrid, and I will gladly do it many, many more times.

Her trip began with a return to the last day of the running of the bulls here in San Sebastian de los Reyes. While exciting, I must say this time around was a bit more intense than my previous experiences. Several people were trampled during the run, and then in the actual Plaza de Toros it was a similar outcome. I learned quickly that bulls and people together are only fun to watch when nobody gets hurt. I think I will pass on the actual bull fights….

During Robin’s trip we made the journey down to Sevilla for a night. It had been over a year for me since I had last visited the South, so I was super excited since it is my favorite part of Spain. Sevilla was as beautiful as ever and boy did we ever luck out with the weather! Usually during this time of year Sevilla is scorching hot, but lucky for us it was relatively mild with a refreshing breeze. In fact we’ve had impeccable weather during Robin’s entire trip.

After our trip to Sevilla we took Robin out to Avila, a city I visited earlier this year and fell in love with. We really wanted to share the charming city surrounded by its famous walls, along with a fabulous restaurant that I had discovered via one of my English students. Robin loved it, so our mission was accomplished!

Upon our return to Madrid we took Robin to a Flamenco show, as well as dinner at one of our favorite restaurants – La Favorita. The restaurant is owned by the opera school here in Madrid and the waiters are actually students who do various operatic performances throughout the evening. For Robin this was especially close to her heart since she sings opera.

In addition to Flamenco and our night of opera, we also had the chance to have dinner at our friends Carolina and Jose’s house. Then last night we took Robin to the same restaurant we took Kim – a restaurant that is nestled in the caves of a local town – each table having its own little cave. A very special way to sum up a fabulous trip.

So now it’s back to reality for me – well almost. I have one last excursion before I really return to work. This weekend Jacob and I will be heading out to Ibiza for a friend’s birthday. After that, I will officially end my hiatus from work and begin my new job here in Madrid. I hope to keep the weekends filled with new adventures though as there are so many more to be had here! More to come very soon….