A fun and interactive Saturday in Madrid

A fun and interactive Saturday in Madrid

Living in Madrid certainly is no boring city. There’s always something cool to do any day of the week.

Today, I had the privilege of being invited to my stylist and makeup artist, Shimada’s launch party. He was promoting his new eyelashes straight from Tokyo, Japan. And he also promoted his new Shine Frizz Control Color Protection Argan Oil hair serum. It contains macadamia extract so it smells (and perhaps tastes?) divine, mmm! If you’re interested in the lashes or serum, I’m sure Shimada would love it if you got in touch with him!

If you’ve read my post about being the model of the month, or modelo del mes, then these pictures will look familiar to you.

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The one and only: Shimada! This photo was taken before I was asked to have some lashes put on my face, as well as makeup.

Shimada’s friend and makeup artist gracefully added some eyelashes and makeup on my face and made me look brand new! She used some M.A.C. products. Can you guess what by looking at the photo below?

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Can you tell I’m wearing fake eyelashes?

The balayage in my hair was done by Shimada back in January, so well over 3 months ago. The Spanish sun can do a number on it in terms of brightening it up.

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I couldn’t leave the party without taking a picture with the beautiful makeup artist herself. I didn’t even intend on being worked on when I went to the party. It just happened. If there’s one thing I learned about being a model for a makeup artist, it’s that when they ask me what I want done, “natural?” or “go all out?”, my answer is, “whatever you want”, because it certainly made this one happy! She let free and did her thang. She tousled my hair up and made it look like she did more to it because I looked way different than when I walked into the studio.

Last but not least, I went ahead and bought Shimada’s Macadamia Argan oil hair serum.

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That’s my thumb.

None of these photos, taken with my iPhone SE, have filters. So au natural baby.

Did you like looking at the photos? If yes, what was the most interesting thing about them?

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

Featured image credit: @sethdoylee

Just another Monday…or is it…?

Just another Monday…or is it…?

It’s a Monday here in Madrid. No big deal, right? Well, it may be just an ordinary weekday for some, but not for me! As a teacher, I’m privileged to have the day off (woot woot!). Easter Monday. That means a number of things. I got to visit my favorite and only embassy (Canadian) this morning, go to my city hall and get some info regarding parking in my neighborhood, and well that’s it. In terms of getting errands done that is. Do you know how useful it is to have a day off during the week? An unfortunate thing as a teacher is that I’ve got to wait for days like these to run essential errands. I need to go to the bank? Well too bad, I gotta wait till the next “reading day” when teachers get the day off. Need my passport renewed? Guess what? Gotta wait for that weekday and get myself over there before the office closes midday. Same goes for banks. I find it unbelievable that they close as early as 2:30pm. Hey I’m no Einstein but I am positively sure that they can afford to stay open till at least 6. We mere civil servants don’t got the time to leave our work in the middle of the day and go to a bank. Anyway, it’s not my favorite thing to do if you know what I mean. Unless I’m cashing in.

Besides running errands I’m reminded by the beating sun on my head this very minute that I can spend the rest of my day off enjoying my day off at coffee shops. Sitting outside on the terrace of one coffee shop makes me remember all the good things life has to offer.

As I’ve stressed in previous posts sunny days all round has made everything worth moving to Spain. 🙂

3 Canadians in Valencia

3 Canadians in Valencia

Where would 2 Haligonians and a Quebecois go for a 3 day vacation? My cousins and I decided to meet up in Valencia to have a good time at the beach and see the city. Two of us live in Spain- Barcelona and Madrid. The other came down from Halifax, NS, to cover some soccer games in Madrid (he’s a sports journalist). Read my post for a larger than life experience.

A tip: DO rent bicycles if you like cycling. We got to see the entire boardwalk from coast to coast, the marina full of boats and even some country/farm life outside the touristy parts of the city. There are bike trails and the scenery is amazing, plus it felt exhilarating to let go of my hair and cycle away without a worry in the world. We rented our bicycles from a kiosk at the beach, which is the only bike agency there. 9 Euros/ day or 7 Euros/ 4 hours. We chose the day. We hauled our bikes up the tiny elevator in our Airbnb to leave overnight. Soooo worth the bike rental.

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Our Airbnb was cheap and point on value because of its central location. We would have paid at least 20 Euros more had we gone to a cheap hotel in a similar type of location.

For food we ate at Casa Montaña. Typical Spanish food – good – and the service our waiter gave us was much better than any other Spanish restaurant we’ve been to and he spoke good English. It’s the type of place where you pay a little bit more than average in exchange for slightly small portions of food, but it was good quality food and since it was rated high with many reviewers on Yelp we let it go. The potatoes were quite fresh and from a “good” farm. The bar is located in a nook a few minutes walk from the beach.

The other place we liked is called Restaurante Alma. It’s located on calle Franca 58. We Yelped “paella” and we found that restaurant. It’s known as L’azud on Yelp. We telephoned them and ordered 3 paellas for takeout. When we arrived we had to wait 15 minutes longer than expected, but when they brought us our food, to our surprise they added real knives and forks because they didn’t have plastic ones. Our host also gave us free cans of Coke. The hospitality was out of this world. I’ve never experienced such detailed attention to costumers in Spain, ever. We took our paellas to the train, and after our knives were confiscated from us at the police control, we scarfed down the grub. It was delicious.

There’s an ice cream shop called Grasol on Calle de Mediterráneo next to the beach. I haven’t had ice cream this good as far as I can remember! The two flavors I asked for were Banana split and chocolate.

We didn’t forget to go to the City of Arts and Sciences on the last day. It’s worth going there if only to see the exterior part of the buildings.

On the way back there was a train strike which meant the cafeteria was closed and the tv nor music was working. So, I happened to have extra water and an extra can of coke with me. When one of my seat mates found out about the strike she almost dropped her jaw to the floor and didn’t know what she’d do with her life without water. I offered her my extra water bottle and she took it gratefully. I also gave my extra coke to what looked to be a university student and he opened it and took a sip in an instant. Glad I could be of some service during this untimely train strike!

All in all, us 3 Canadians enjoyed our stay in Valencia. Everyone needs a little vacation at some point!

Signing off –

Shamim Sobhani

A Canadian’s experience at a Madrid Derby football match, VIP style

A Canadian’s experience at a Madrid Derby football match, VIP style

I always wondered what the point of going to a football match was if you can’t see the players’ faces or even just be able to read their jersey number to make out who they are. It pretty much doesn’t matter where you sit because all you’re going to see is heads with what may be their bodies attached, running after a ball, which looks like a speck in the field. I don’t even know what my eyes are following most of the time when watching a match because it’s all so far. I’ve been to several football matches thus far and this is the experience I get in exchange for big bucks, rather, big Euros, since I live in Spain.

However, yesterday something out of the ordinary happened. My husband and I got to sit not two meters from the main level of the football field and enjoyed seeing larger than life players and actually keep track of the ball. I could clearly see their expressions whenever they came to wards us. Even the press was as clear as the sun sitting right there on the border of the field snapping their cameras away. If I wanted to I could have jumped and made it into the field in one swoop (and then also made it to prison just as quickly). We also had the perk of having food and drinks in the VIP lounge, which, if you’ve ever been on a tour of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium you’d recognize it, because it’s one of the rooms where some of Real Madrid’s trophies are kept.

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We were ever so fortunate to be offered two VIP tickets to see the big Derby match, which doesn’t happen often. A “Derby football match” is referred to two teams that happen to both be from Madrid which play against each other. They’re called Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid. Why these tickets happened to reach our hands is beyond me. Anyway, the real story it that my cousin, Kiyan Sobhani, who is a Canadian sports journalist from Halifax, asked me if we wanted these tix because one of his friends offered them to him because he wouldn’t be able to make use of them. As I’m married to a Real Madrid fan and I pretend to call myself a fan just to be a participant in the fun craze of football, we immediately accepted them. The master behind the tickets is Anton Hakberg. Thank you, Anton, for being such a nice person, for letting us appreciate your star seat tickets for you.

The featured image is courtesy of Shamim Sobhani. I took the photo myself from our seats. We were so close to them I could smell their b.o.

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

What’s it like living in Spain…

What’s it like living in Spain…

I’ve got to follow up on my recent post, Expat Coffee Talk – these are the days of our L.I.V.E.S. mainly because I promised you I would. But you have to read the post above, otherwise you won’t get any of what I’m about to share with you.

So what I can tell you is that the style of life in Spain is pretty much a completely different experience than that of Canada. I’m going to throw in the United States of America just because. I also happen to like the US (minus a few things to obvious to mention); it’s our sister nation so I don’t want to leave it out.

Before I continue, let me just say that I’ve been assumed to be American too many a time because people here me speaking English here. Because of that, too, I’ll be including the US in this post as well.

I’d also like to say that when I’m talking about Spain in this post, it’s always going to be about Madrid the city, unless I say otherwise. I live in Madrid, so I figure it makes sense.

One thing that pretty much differentiates Spain from Canada and most American cities are the beautiful palm trees. Need I continue? I could stop right there because that’s a big difference in alone. I live in a city, a pretty big one, and there are actual palm trees here. It’s so nice to see them. I, as a “cold” Canadian, think it’s pretty cool.

Sun. Say the word out loud, nay, merely think it, and you’ll have the sun at the back of your hands for days on end. You know what the even cooler thing is? That I’m not even talking about summer. In winter there is sun for what seems forever, day after day after day. Why call the season winter even, when my cold Canadian heart knows what real winter means in Canada? You want to talk about sun in the summer in Spain? Please, brace yourself because what I’m about to say is going to make you want to drop everything in North America and come here: The sun is around for weeks, weeks, and weeks on end. What does that look like? Come 8am, say good morning to the sun and expect it to stick around until the wee hours of night. I feel like it’s 5pm, as I’m originally from Halifax, but when I look at my watch it’s actually 10:30pm Spain time. It makes me feel like there’s something wrong with that picture. Let’s give it up for the Spanish dictator “_______” for doing something interesting in a positive way. You know what they about sun: less seasonal depression in Spain because we see the sun all year round. I just made that up, but it’s got to be true.

The list goes on, quite well, I may add. Stay tuned.

Palm trees and sunny days. This is the Spanish craze.

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

 

 

 

Expat Coffee Talk – these are the days of our L.I.V.E.S.

Expat Coffee Talk – these are the days of our L.I.V.E.S.

This post has been brought to you by the Chronicles of LIVES – Living in Very Entertaining Situations.

I’m a Canadian who lives in Spain. Forget about the “Canadian” part for a moment. I’m an expat who has chosen to live in a land far, far away that isn’t my home country. Are you American, Australian or from another part of the world and have always wondered why people like me leave their country of origin to go live somewhere else?

Maybe you’re that person that only travels to other countries to spend time on the beaches, a.k.a. all inclusive resorts. If you are then perhaps you’ve asked your expat friends when they’re planning on returning to their country of origin, because surely, they don’t plan on being away from “home” forever….right? “What about being close to your family?” “Raising your kids?” No? Ok, ok, well, I hope I’m wrong. One thing is someone growing up with the same friends all their life, getting married in the same town, having kids in the same town, and having the same job in the same town, but another thing is being presumptuous and expecting everyone else to do all that. There are friends who grow up in the same city and travel to places like Punta Cana and Riviera Maya, and believe that they’ve seen the country, or *cough* *cough* the world.

I digress.

It could be that our expat friends who live away from their country of their upbringing call their new residence “home”. Thank goodness for the existence of diversity of thoughts because I’m an expat and do not call my country of residence “home”. I’m fortunate to be able to call both Canada AND Spain my home. What, you think that just because I’ve left my native land I don’t think of it as “home” anymore? Or just because I’m a foreigner in Spain means that I can’t call it “home”? I actually feel comfortable calling two completely different countries “home” because I’ve been lead to feel that way. Plus, it’s a complicated way of life and I like it 🙂

Maybe you have expat friends who believe that there are no such thing as borders along countries, that if they feel like living elsewhere then they will go do it.

I always wondered how expats do it. Do they just wake up one day and say that they feel like picking up their stuff and moving to a foreign country? What if they don’t even speak the language? What then?

Do expats move to be adventurous? Or because they are adventurous? If by adventurous they mean that they’ve been treated differently because they’re not from that country, or misunderstood because it’s not their native language, then I’ve been there! Like I said, my way of living is complicated but I always feel like it was worth the move.

So, what’s it like living in Spain? I’ll have to leave that topic for another time now, so feel free to stay tuned.

Signing off,

Shamim Sobhani

 

Photo courtesy of Utomo Hendra Saputra

 

Chronicles of L.I.V.E.S. – Another day in the life of an expat in Spain

Chronicles of L.I.V.E.S. – Another day in the life of an expat in Spain

This post has been brought to you by the Chronicles of LIVES: Living in Very Entertaining Situations, while living abroad.

I get off the bus at the same stop as I have been the last 5 years, every Monday to Friday. As I enter a green, quaint, residential area, I see parents and children walk in the same direction, some wave at me, others smile and say hello or “Buenos dias”. My face lights up as I see all these people, children and adults alike. “What am I, a Canadian expat, doing in Madrid?” I still ask myself from time to time.

As I walk through the door, I sign my name on the sign in sheet, and make my way to my still-empty classroom. I hang up my coat and paraphernalia, wash my hands (because after taking the subway and the bus, I’ve been in contact secondhand with hundreds of people), touch up with some hand creme, take a gulp of water for a hydration boost, and I enthusiastically go back to the front entrance and start greeting students and parents walking into the school. I say “Hi” and “Hello”, and whatever else that I come up with impulsively. A kid clasps onto my hand and I guide her into her classroom. I go back to the lobby and walk another 2 year old and 3 year old, and more, to their classroom. Every time I leave them with their teacher the other toddlers try to throw themselves at me from excitement of seeing me (and me them). I instantly feel grateful for having this job.

Can you guess what I do?

No, I don’t just greet children and their parents and take the children to their classrooms (although it’s so fun doing it). That’s part of my job. I’m a language teacher for babies, toddlers and children who are short a few months of losing their first tooth. It’s an adventure every day and there’s never a dull moment.

I can’t imagine doing anything else in my life at the moment because I love what I do so much. Sure, I had other plans and ideas of what I’d imagine myself working as when I was in university, but reality doesn’t always reflect our plans. I don’t regret any of the decisions I made leading up to this day, and every day I’ve lived in Spain so far. Am I lucky? Do I deserve it? Is it fate? All I know is that I waking up looking forward to my day and going to work has had a lot to do with it. That and working really hard. But because I’m happy with my job, it makes working hard feel faint.

Sometimes what we plan doesn’t exactly pan out the way we expect, but life isn’t about planning…

…it’s about living.

Signing off –

Shamim Sobhani

Photo credit: Luca Upper @lucistan