Tag Archives: #thatgingeranna

Day 6: Probing, The Finer Set, and Revisits

Today I had to go get a Covid test and I got to see another ritzy area of the city.

I woke up and cleaned my apartment and repacked which was quite sad.

After cleaning, repacking, showering, and getting ready, I set out to get a Covid test. I got a covid test on 31 January 2020 after finding out I’d been exposed on my birthday and tested positive but I’ve since gotten both vaccines and the booster so I haven’t been tested again.

I booked this trip so impulsively that I didn’t look up all the requirements but I saw on my way out that I had to get a test in order to come back. I panicked a bit but Google Maps (and reviewers) told me to go to Clinicas Vieco. It’s a cosmetic clinic right around the corner from the Supreme Court. It’s open from 10:00 to 8:00 and I showed up around 2 but they were out for lunch. I went and sat on some steps outside the court house next to a super cool legal bookstore (if I hadn’t tried History, I would have loved to have been a lawyer specializing in maritime law).

After about 35 minutes, I called the office and they answered so I walked back. I got an antigen test for 30 and had the results in 10 minutes. The lady at the desk was super kind and comforting and she wasn’t rough when she administered the test. If you are in Madrid and need to get a test this is the place to go (don’t forget to take your passport-I assumed I would need it since it was a medical procedure and I wasn’t wrong)!

After the test, I walked back down Paseo del Prado (this is an area where all the rich business people and civil servants work so all the restaurants and cafes are super swanky) to barrio de Las Letras. I went back to Casa de Diego and ordered something different this time: Jarrete de Cordero. It was so good and this is BY FAR my favorite restaurant I’ve visited or walked past in Madrid. It’s in a nice area but the prices are great and the food is phenomenal! I had a full meal with bread and 4 glasses of wine (with accompaniments) for 22.90.

Casa de Diego

I walked back down Calle de Atocha and went to “my” coffee counter one last time for an espresso and dessert and then stopped back by the Church of the Holy Cross to say some prayers of petition and intercession.

After all of that, I came back to my place and finished packing up my carry-ons and gathering the trash. I have to take it out after 8 PM because they don’t have fixed dumpsters here–from what I gather, the department of sanitation brings the dumpsters after 8 and collections them at some point throughout the night.

When I took down the trash, I went back to La Carboneria (formerly Harry & Sally) and had a couple of Vermut de grifo, They were 60 cents cheaper tonight even though it was way busier. I went back to the mini-mart (what you would call a bodega in NYC is a wine store here and a mini-mart or NYC bodega is an “alimentacion” and I don’t know why or how) for a snack and a couple of beers to spend my remaining euros. I did the best I’ve ever done this time and only have 90 cents left!

All in all, I spent 372 this week. With airfare and the AirBnB, that comes to $1,645. My tax return was $1,200 so I spent $445 for a very full and entertaining week in Spain. Absolutelyyy worth it! I had two nice meals and I drink–I also wasted a lot of those groceries I bought. If you skipped all that and stayed in a cheaper area (my AirBnB was smack dab in the most popular area) you could easily do this (or any) trip for way, way cheaper.

Tomorrow is airport day. I’m not too nervous since I’ve figured out the metro system this week but it will be interesting to see how check-in goes with the Covid test results.

I am going to try to write more when I’m back in NYC so please consider subscribing and of course, follow me everywhere else (click the button for links).

Side note: If you know ANYONE who can get me an EU work visa for ANY job (cleaning, elder care, marketing, academia, literally anything) please contact me. I want to live here (and no, it’s not a passing urge–I’ve wanted to move over here since about 2010).

Day 5: Death, The Enlightenment, and Beer!

This will be a short post but yesterday might have been my favorite day, unexpectedly.

I went to school to become a historian (that didn’t pan out, obviously) so I probably enjoy museums and cemeteries more than the next person but those were the two highlights of the day: the Municipal Cemetary of Our Lady of Almudena and the Madrid History Museum.

First, I took the Red Line to La Almudena, out in a working-class neighborhood east of the city called Ventas. Originally I decided to go to the cemetery because I am interested in Filipino and Cuban history and there is a mausoleum dedicated to Spanish soldiers who fought there. I’m obviously interested in contemporary memory and the history of colonialism so I wanted to see what was going on. It was a nice monument–I obviously cannot deliver commentary on its existence since I’m neither Spanish nor Filipino/Cuban but I am glad I saw it.

I read an article about the cemetery and to quote: “Alien to ideology, its streets are inhabited by tributes to war heroes, Nazi pilots, hustlers, and innocent martyrs of Francoism.”

That’s the interesting thing about cemeteries. We spend our lives separating ourselves and others based on a host of labels and categories but you wander through a cemetery and you don’t know one grave from another as they relate to those categories (except maybe class since the rich have their own tombs…there’s a lesson to be had there too).

The cemetery was deserted and HUGE. I saw a few famous graves marked on Google Maps and obviously went to see the mausoleum. I made a mistake and didn’t check my camera battery so I was only able to take pictures with my phone which was a bummer. So many of the graves were in serious disrepair which was ironic because many of the inscriptions said things like, “Your wife and kids will never forget you.” etc. I have been to a lot of cemeteries in the US and I’ve never seen one in such horrible disrepair (I’m sure they exist) so it was a little strange for me.

After an hour or so of wandering around the cemetery, I realized I hadn’t eaten and found a neighborhood spot close to my train stop. Bar El Rincón de Juanca was a great choice. Unfortunately, the kitchen was closed for siesta (I was really looking forward to the bacon and cheese bocadillo) but I had a couple of beers. It was a Filipina-run bar and the ladies were singing karaoke in Tagalog which made me nostalgic for Hawaii and high school. They were super friendly and the place also has a terrace so it would be perfect in the late spring and summer. I will definitely go back when I’m here again.

After a couple of beers (2.50), I got back on the train and decided at the spur of the moment to go to the Madrid History Museum. I’m not a huge fan of art museums but I usually enjoy other museums. This one DID NOT disappoint and I would recommend it to everyone. I took a couple of classes about Enlightenment-era Europe in graduate school so these exhibits were right up my alley! It was also free because it was Sunday night, so win-win.

The museum follows the history of the city chronologically from 1561 to the 20th century with special emphasis placed on the Enlightenment and societal changes as they related to gender and urban planning (two of my favorite subgenres of history). Also, if you like fans, curiosities, and material history, you should definitely stop in. It’s an expansive exhibition with paintings, maps, objects, photos, and a really well-done and extensive narrative that guides you through each hall and helps to put everything into context. My favorite parts were about coffee houses, paying calls, promenading, women at work, and other aspects of social life during and after the Enlightenment.

The last exhibit was a temporary one dedicated to Arturo Soria and the urban planning of his Ciudad Lineal. This was also interesting because he created the Madrid Company of Urbanization in 1824 and helped conceptualize this planned city. They had pictures and different things that were part of the plan (most of the buildings are gone now) but he was a really smart guy. This was probably one of my favorite things I’ve learned about on the trip. I love being taken down rabbit holes of previously unknown topics and subject areas and this one combined a LOT of different ones.

Looks like Jiu-Jitsu! Click to learn about her!

After the museum, I realized I was in a part of the city I hadn’t gotten to explore yet (between Malasañ and Justicia) so I decided to walk from the museum, in Justicia, back down to my AirBnB. On my walk, I happened to stumble upon what appeared to be a hipster area full of little bars with different themes and an upper-middle-class area with eateries, stationery shops, and lots of young people. I ended up back in my neighborhood and decided I finally needed to eat.

I have discovered that even devoid of a man asking me what I want to eat, it is SO hard for me to choose restaurants and commit to eating somewhere. Last night, I chose a Mexican spot called Patron Taqueria, and yet again, it was completely worth it. First and foremost, they had margaritas with a chamoy rim–and those are one of my favorite things ever. Second, they served Mexican-style tacos for 1.50 each. But the star of the show was something they called a gringa which was like a combination of a quesadilla and taco. It was one of the best things I’ve eaten here, by far! So, I got 3 food items and two drinks and it was only 15.50. The more Mexican food I eat, the sadder it makes me that NYC’s Mexican food is so different (and not to my liking). A group of guys came to the counter to check out when I was ready to leave so I got up to go and I was already outside when one of them yelled after me to stop. The waitress wasn’t paying attention when I paid her colleague and she had these guys stop me because she thought I was dining and dashing, LOL!

After the restaurant, I decided to stop at a little mini-mart and get some beers and ice cream (since I won’t be able to stay out late tonight as I need to leave for the airport tomorrow morning). Then I went back to my place.

This was another absolutely perfect day: slept in, saw some historical graves, found a woman+immigrant-run neighborhood bar, got to learn some things, had some amazing food and drinks, saw a slice of life in the suburbs, and only spent  30!

Today is my last day and I need to go get a Covid test to reenter the US so fingers cross. Come back tomorrow for one last rundown!

Day 2: The Rain in Spain…

Well this will be a short post because it rained all day and was in the mid-40s so I skipped a couple of things I had planned and caught up on some sleep in the evening.

I still managed to see some cool stuff and walked 11,500 steps though!

I walked from Plaza Mayor where I’m staying to Atocha and the National Museum of Anthropology, had a late lunch/early dinner, and called it a day.

For me, yesterday is the BEST thing about traveling alone–or doing anything alone, really. Had I been with someone else or had other people spent money, I would have felt obligated to be miserable and stay out in the rain and cold all evening. Since I’m by myself, I can do what I want and I don’t have to worry about upsetting or disappointing anyone else. It’s so nice and relaxing. Maybe that’s selfish? I had a talk with a friend a couple of weeks ago and they couldn’t believe I liked to go to the movies alone. They said going to the movies and sharing that experience with someone was the best part but I completely disagree. In most cases (there are many exceptions–like with a good romantic partner), when I do things with others I feel this overpowering obligation–at the cost of my own happiness–to make sure they are constantly and fully enjoying themselves even if that means I’m not. It’s like being around others automatically means I have to forego what I want and enjoy because I feel like they deserve to enjoy themselves more than they should feel obligated to sacrifice for my enjoyment. *shrug*

Well, enough of my psychobabble, let’s recap.

First, I stopped at Parroquia de Santa Cruz (the Church of the Holy Cross). One of my favorite things about Europe is passing random churches and walking in without any expectation of what I’ll see. This one didn’t disappoint. There were little chapels dedicated to different saints, acts, and events all around the edge and one of them was dedicated to La Virgen de 7 Dolores.

Not my photo

After saying a few prayers and looking at the other relics I went on my way. I stumbled upon a memorial to the Lawyers of Atocha who were killed by Fascists in 1977. It’s so interesting to read about recent history in a huge city, especially to remember that Fascism in Spain was still so powerful the year my mother graduated high school that lawyers were being murdered in the streets of the capital city.

The Hug

After seeing the church and monument, I saw another smaller church, Parroquia de El Salvador y San Nicolas and popped in. It was really dark and there wasn’t much to see and a bunch of old people were praying so I left. Just up the block, I found a cute little coffee counter across from a huge blade store called Luso. I got an espresso and a “zumo vit” and sat under the awning and watched people for a bit before I got too cold.

Calle de Atocha is also a street filled with fabric and yarn shops, which I love. When I was younger, so many places in the US used to sell fabric by the yard but I seldom see these stores anymore (besides JoAnn’s I guess). I wonder if a lot of Spaniards sew or have machines? Like more than in the US. It was raining pretty hard and was cold and I only have a raincoat so I tried to get to the National Anthropology Museum in a hurry.

I was pleasantly surprised by the anthropology museum. They had two exhibits about Pacific Island anthropology and that’s one of my favorite topics ever! Besides these special exhibits about the Philippines and the Chamorro in Guam and the Marianas they also had two bigger galleries dedicated to African and Indigenous American anthropology. It was only 3 which was great. I was disappointed some of the main galleries were closed for renovation because I wanted to see some European anthropology but it was a great way to escape the rain, it was super empty, and they had a clean bathroom.

My favorite thing I saw, besides the Chamorro language pieces and the historical maps of the shipping routes between Spain, Mexico and the Philippines, was a group of paintings by Sal Bidaure. It was neat to see a small connection between Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, and Mexican art!

After the anthropology museum I walked to the Prado but I was really tired and wet and cold so I decided to try to find a spot for a warm lunch. Spain loves its tapas and there isn’t a shortage of places but I really wanted a hearty meal. Again, just by chance, I stumbled down Calle de Cervantes and passed a neat Mexican store I had actually saved on my agenda to visit (it was closed for siesta) and the home of Miguel de Cervantes. En route to a soup spot I found on Google, I walked past Casa de Diego and saw that they had a full menu so I decided to stop there instead. I ordered a salad “ahumado” and albondigas which came with bread. It was the best meal I’ve had so far and I really liked the vibe in this place. The owners were helping customers and the bar was really nice too. I finished my meal with a small Mahou and then decided to forego the Prado and go back to my place for what was meant to be a nap.

The 27 hour day the day before caught up to me and I passed out for about 11 hours (only to be awoken at 3:45 by my panicking mother thinking my 33 year old, soft-bodied, ginger self had been kidnapped and sold into sex slavery) so that’s the end of day two!

It was abouttt as close to perfect as it could be for me. I got to see some Pacific Island history/anthropology, I got to go to a really neat church, I got to see a monument about contemporary European political history (my other favorite), I got to have a great coffee, eat a nice lunch, and then sleep.

I spent almost exactly 30 Euros bringing my total so far to 71.37 for two days. Let’s see what today brings!

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Roll: 20 May 2021

I started back to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tonight after taking a month off to see my family back in Texas. If you are interested in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and think you’d get a kick out of regularly seeing me be submitted, make sure to follow this page and check back regularly!


I became interested in Mixed Martial Arts over 10 years ago when I was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A few of the guys I went to high school with were really into it and UFC was extremely popular since wrestling was big in Oklahoma. My favorite fighter was Forrest Griffin. I wasn’t really aware of any gyms in Tulsa that would train teenage girls but I did go to a few Jiu-Jitsu tournaments that a friend entered, as a spectator. I really enjoyed attending the tournaments and wanted to try but was too scared.

Fast forward to 2018 in NYC and I became friends with a guy who was a member of a kickboxing and grappling gym and another guy who trained Jiu-Jitsu regularly. They both convinced me (along with a few other friends online) that I could do it and that it wouldn’t be as bad as I was imagining. I was a super small kid and when I took Judo for a few months in Hawaii I remember even the warmups before every practice being so hard. I was scared I would show up to one of these gyms and embarrass myself, not to mention the gyms in Midtown Manhattan are crazy expensive.

I put it off again and then the pandemic hit in March of 2020. Fast forward about a year and I joined several neighborhood Facebook groups in my area. One day another female posted in one of the groups inquiring about Jiu-Jitsu classes in our neighborhood and someone responded telling us to check out Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu of Washington Heights. I decided to face my fears and anxieties and sign up for a trial–after 12 years of debating and being too scared to try, I finally bit the bullet!

I don’t regret it at all! The coach trains under Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro in his Times Square facility and is a Purple belt. He offers kids classes too. NONE of the hundreds of things I was scared of happened–all of the anxieties I had were pointless. I haven’t embarrassed myself, I wasn’t too out of shape, and even though I am the smallest person in the class, everyone has been really supportive, kind, and helpful while teaching me. Tonight I have my first class as a full member of the gym!

One great thing I love about this gym is that it isn’t cost-prohibitive like the Gracie schools in lower Manhattan. This is the cost of my investment so far:

If you are looking for a new sport to try, I can’t recommend Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enough. Leave a comment below if you have any questions!