Sunday, January 07, 2007

Christmas holidays - Part II - Madrid, Spain and some new year focus areas :)

Dates: 29th Dec - 2nd Jan
Location: Madrid, Spain

Cornelia, Nico , Mairi and I had an absolute blast over New Years! It was very refreshing and re-energizing to laze around and have tons of fun in Madrid - though I must admit the girls made me walk so much - I haven't walked that much EVER in a span of 4 days in my life than I did in Madrid. But I loved it :) I definitely had a great time! Couldnt have been better - thank you all of them for making it so special with your unique personalities :)

Madrid is a beautiful place, really ancient and medieval. The buildings are old and the environment was so perfect - heard a random group of musicians playing on the street, was absolutely melodious!

Some key highlights:

1. To start off, the tricky part was that all of them wanted to buy pairs of shoes, but hey to do that, I visited almost 90% of all shoe shops that exist in Madrid :) I had already refreshed my entire wardrobe as I mentioned in my post about holidays in India, so basically I dint have much shopping to do.

2. Visiting the royal palace and the arts museum.

The palace is fascinating - you can check more pics on the flickr badge. Learnt a lot about arts, definitely. Some of the paintings depict shocking and extremely interesting things which I absolutely had no clue of. About 3 hrs spent in that was absolutely worth it. I was always on the english walkie talkie that I had hired to continuously hear about what different paintings had to reveal, their style - some really interesting stuff!

3. New Year's eve in Puerta del Sol, Madrid

There's a tradition in Madrid that when the clock strikes 12, with every dong you need to eat one piece of grape and wish for 1 thing. So basically with 12 dongs, you need to eat 12 grapes and have 12 wishes ready. Now since its a matter of seconds, you can see almost everyone chomping away the grapes with every dong. We all had some reflection and had a paper with 12 wishes ready, it was really cool to be amongst thousands of people - the square was absolutely packed and the atmosphere was full of frenzy - crazy!!!

4. Staying at the hostel

The hostel which was booked last minute turned out to be pretty cosy and nice - came to know that it was awarded the best hostel in Europe in 2004 and was pretty economical considering the last minute booking. The name was Cat's hostel - though it sounds like its a dodgy place (believe me, I was so sure that its gonna be so dodgy with mysterious people - girls (associating with cats), but well turned out to be a really nice hostel! Met some people randomly - Argentians, Australians - had a good time with them!

5. Having hot chocolate
Chocolate a la taza as people call it - thick hot chocolate! Loved it...

Last but not the least, some good reflections for the New Year resolutions. Few focus areas that I pondered over and identified for 2007:

a. Health - My love for sports and exercising and gym (plus a huge need for pumping in some muscles into my body) led me to take this as a focus area. I would want to continue sports and practice weights (already bought weights here in Rotterdam) to build some muscles. Also making sure I go back to cooking habits like in Sweden (atleast when I am in Rotterdam and not travelling)

b. Consciously give in for all my relationships - love, friends, family etc. I realized after my 1,5 year of visiting India that I want to keep my family happy and I could see them being so happy when they could see me and taking care of them, giving them presents, spending quality time with them etc. Secondly I realized after being with close friends that this is something I cherish and would consciously want to give in to keeping in touch, sending those emails and phone calls to keep that touch point to know how everyone's lives are going and sharing the wonderful experiences we are going through.

c. Learning a Language I realized after being in Spain that I love spanish and I had to be discplined to get this going. The best period I realized to pick up the language would be to get a start in the first 7 months where there are so many Spanish speaking people on our team. Mondays and Thursday lunches are booked for Spanish classes with our office administrator who has been taking Spanish classes.

d. Reading 12 books in 2007 (atleast) I realized how much I learnt and loved reading books. I finished 'Blue Ocean Strategy' and now 'Blink' over flights. Blink is about the power of thinking without thinking. Definitely an interesting way to see how thin slicing and making fast decisions can be made effectively. Any recommendations about good reads - please let me know :)

e. Professionally - I have decided that I want to consciously put more thought into maintaining my networks - since I meet so many cool people through my role on AI and after I finish in 7 months, I dont want to lose this. So I will want to put more conscious thought into structuring my networks.

Overall, a great time - now back in Rotterdam, refreshed and re-energized for the last 7 months of my term!

Wishes from my side to everyone for a year filled with success and happiness!

For pictures - please check the flickr badge on the right!

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