Arzak in San Sebastián

8 August 2014

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Time flies so quickly when we are having fun. It has been 5 years now since The Husband & I got married in Bali.

For our wedding anniversary this year, we gave ourselves a treat by going to a three Michelin stars restaurant called Arzak in San Sebastián, Spain. The last time we went to a three Michelin stars restaurant was two years ago at Guy Savoy restaurant in Paris for our 3rd wedding anniversary in France.

The restaurant building was simple and low profile.

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We were the first to get there at 8.20 PM. Our booking was for 8.45 PM. Not long after we came, some other couples arrived as well.

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The chef at work:

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When we came in, they asked us our reservation number. I didn’t have one and I told them that we got an email from them and showed it. Apparently the email was saying that they were fully booked that evening!! I told them it was our anniversary dinner and the email was in Spanish, I thought it was just to confirm our booking. We were told to wait for 10 minutes at the bar and they’ll see what they can do for us.

I took photos of the interior and the Husband with a Michelin symbol.

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Whilst waiting they gave us some drinks and in about 10 minutes they came and told us our table was ready.

We opted for a tasting menu. The Husband had the pescatarian option and I had the meat eater option.

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The food in Arzak was top all the restaurants we have been so far! It was amazing to the last drop. The Husband even wanted to lick the plate off!!! Too bad we could not to that in this fancy restaurant.

These are some photos of the food:

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The wine selection was amazing. It ranges from €25 to €6000. We told the Sommelier that we like something sweet and he suggested the fruity wine for €28 a bottle. Maybe he saw that we were not the kind of people who would like to spend hundreds of dollars on wine.

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The service was good, attentive, quick and not pretentious. The wait staff spoke in Spanish with me and in English to The Husband. We like the service here better than at Guy Savoy. Maybe because it was less formal and they spoke with a simple language that we can understand. I remembered at Guy Savoy, we were asked “what kind of palette do you like?” and the waiter gave us 15 min to think about it. Too hard for simple people like us who only like good food without the snob of foodie language terms.

Half way during the course, Elena Arzak, one of the best female chef in the world came in to our table. She spoke good English. She told us that she loves Australia. She said Australians and Spanish are similar in term of food appreciation. She was in Australia on the invitation of Master Chef. When I told her that we are from Sydney, she said she has a brother there named Tetsuya!! She mentioned all the famous Australian restaurants in Sydney & Melbourne. It was quite impressive how she remembers all of them.

And of course I asked her for a photo:

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After dessert, the head chef, Juan Mari Arzak, came to our table. He doesn’t speak English but he got one of the staff came along and translated for him. I spoke with him in my limited Spanish. He seemed very happy that I tried. He told us that he has a son named Tetsuya in Sydney.🙂

We took a photo with him on the way out of the venue at around 11.45 PM.

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I think it was really worth the price to go and try Arzak at least once in a life time. Great food created by the chefs who love what they are doing. Todos muchissimo ricos!

The Beach & Salsa in Malaga

Sunday, 20 July 2014

I spent the whole day on the beach. I went at around 10 AM and got back to Club Hispanico at around 5.45 PM.

The beach was not the best beach but it was still nice. I rented a sunbed for €3 at a place called Picasso, near San Antonio hospital.

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For lunch, I had some seafood. Almost everything that I ordered in this restaurant were too salty! Except the nice tinto el Verano (a red wine with lemonade drink).

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In the evening I went out for salsa dance by the beach with some friends from school and the school’s salsa dance teacher.

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It was not a proper dance club, just a restaurant and we only danced with the teacher, one male students and maybe two friends of the teacher. I had a good time & learnt some moves that I’ve forgot.

We got back around midnight and according to the teacher, a usual Salsa dance clubs in Malaga won’t start until around 1.30 AM!!

A visit to Antequerra

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Antequerra is a town about 1 hour away by bus from the school. It has a very interesting stones mountain called El Torcal.

I went there with an organised tour by the school. I paid €35 for the trip.

The views along the way was nice, the El Torcal itself was nice but the town was pretty boring.

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The timetable of the tour more or less was:
9 AM (9.30 Club Hispanico time) – left for Antequerra

10.30 ish:
Went up El Torcal, sight seeing for about 10 min, sitting in a coffee shop for around 30 min & went to a church. They saw us a video on how the church was built.

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Some photos from the church visit:

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1.30 ish – free time until 3.20 pm

We had lunch in a local restaurant. The food was really nice.

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Then we went to see shelters built in Manga time.

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We arrived at the school around 6 pm.

It was worth it to see Antequerra. I’ll be coming back with The Husband when he comes to Spain in August.

Learning Spanish – Day 10

Friday, 18 July 2014

Today is the test day. Yikes! I now know how my students feel about the test. The good thing is we had our home room teacher, Amalia, all day today. It was nice to have her. Sadly she is going for a two weeks holidays to Italy starting next week. We do not know who is going to replace her yet.

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The test was according to Amalia, muy muy muy muyyyyyy facil (which was very very veryyyyy easy). It has 60 multiple choice questions. We were given one hour to complete the test and some of my classmates finished within 30 minutes. For me, the test was not super easy, it was even difficult for me to do. So many choices and I kept changing my mind everytime I reread my answers. At the end I got 68 %. I still passed the test according to the school standard but not passing the test according to DFAT standard. At DFAT, the pass mark is 75%.

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We also did some activities like writing postcard to one of the classmates. I had to write for my classmate from Switzerland. Amalia than corrected our work in class.

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Today was the last day of two of our classmates. We took a class photo:

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For discussion class we had a teacher named Maite. Apparently we had her on our first day at school. I complitely forgotten about this. We played a game by using the verbs Voy a + ar/ir/er. I enjoyed her class because it was a really good guided sessions where everyone has a chance to talk about something. She told someone off if they talk too much and gives more chance for others to talk more. I found this is a difficult technique to master as a teacher. In a group of students, there was always someone who is more talkative than the others.

In the afternoon, I went to the gym for my Zumba class and I went shopping at El Corte Ingles. I bought a red La Pliage Longchamp bag and
a pair of pants there. I then went to the main shopping district. One of my teachers said that it’s a good time to buy shoes now because of the Summer sale. I bought a pair of leather sandals from one of the shops here.

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After that, I caught up with one of my classmates, who finishes study today. We went to a Turkish themed tea salon. I had a very interesting meal. It was a sweet outside and savory inside chicken pie called pastella.

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Cheers!

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Some photos of Malaga & what some of the shop sells here:

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Learning notes:

+ exams are scary, even though it is not really important, just a weekly thing
+ I am still struggling with verbs. My friends who are studying at a higher levels said that it’s normal and they are still struggling as well.
+ I am still trying to find ways to remembers the vocabulary. I keep making mistakes and using the wrong vocab when I speak. It creates a lot of confusion.

Teaching notes
+ Guided conversation is a really good exercise when it is managed well.
+ Giving students multiple choice test is a good idea.

Learning Spanish – Day 9

Thursday, 17 July 2014

In the morning we learnt the future tense IR + a + ir/er/ar from Javier. I felt that we learnt something useful with this tense. I can now ask someone on what are they going to do tonight (que vas a hacer esta noche) and answer the question.

At 10.30 AM we had Rodrigo. He is a really nice teacher. He has been to Bali and sometimes he wears Batik. It was kind of nice to see someone actually knows a bit about Indonesia in this part of the world. We did some work on the workbook and learn expressions such as
+ todo el mundo (everybody)
+ muy poca gente (few people)
+ casi nadie (almost no one)

Macarena taught us at 12.40 PM and we had spoken activities. We talked about our countries’ customs and traditions. When asked what Australians’ food, what I can think about was only BBQ and my classmate from Germany said, all over the world BBQ is a tradition especially in Summer time. So it made me thinking what is actually an Australian thing? Eating hotdogs and beers when watching footy maybe? I’m not so sure really.

I asked Macarena what is her favorite online shop, she said she does not shop online bacause she has heard so many bad things happened with online shopping here from her students. Nevertheless, she said privalia.es is one of the most popular sites to buy clothing here. I also asked her where are her favorite shops in Malaga. She said that she likes Strandivarius, Berska, Blanko, and Pull & Bear. I haven’t been to those shops before. I should check it out sometime.

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In the afternoon we had spoken sessions with Maria-Jose. She is lovely and very friendly. We talked about our countries. She asked me a lot of questions about Indonesia. The class was shocked when I told them that Indonesia has 250,000,000 people! We also talked about religion. I learnt a lot about European countries from my classmates. Now I want to visit their countries someday.

I got enough of the noise

The admin personnels in the school are very helpful. I went to see one of them to ask whether I can change my accommodation into something else. This is mainly because I can’t stand the noise here.

It’s horrible maybe because summer school is on. Those young people needs to respect other people’s space.

Someone who stays next to my room seems like to redecorate his room by moving furniture in the wee hours in the morning. WTF!

There are three options of accommodations in Malaca Instituto.

1. Club Hispanico. This is an in-campus accommodation. It’s like a hotel. The good thing about staying at this place are,
+ it is in the school complex and basically it’ll only takes 2 minutes to go from your room to the classroom
+ it has room service who cleans your room everyday and change the sheets and towels
+ most important thing is it has wifi 24 hours a day
+ it has a common laundry room for you to use. You need to pay 2 Euros for using the washing machine and 2 Euros for the dryer.

The bad things about this place are,
+ no common kitchen. When I first came I asked whether is there any microwave that I can use somewhere. The reception told me that I can use the one in the restaurant and when I went there, the people in the restaurtant told me that I’m not allowed to use their facility or bring food from outside there. It’s annoying because the room does not have any kettle or anything except a fridge.
+ the noise is horrible. Especially when the French summer school kids were around. They were the worst kind! They were loud, smoking, and talking in French until 3 AM in the morning. Come knocking on people’s door for no reasons in the wee hours at night. Some of my friends got a random calls to their rooms at around 3AM for nothing.

2. Apartments. Normally people shares this with some other students. It is located within walking distance to the school. Some of my friends told me that it takes them between 10 to 20 minutes to walk to the school. The people whom I talked with are happy about their choice. Many of them said that the apartments were very spacious. It has a kitchen and full facilities. They don’t have any cleaners and one most important thing is they don’t have a Wifi.

3. Host families. The good thing about staying with the host family is you can talk more in Spanish when you get home. This is presumable that they have a good and friendly host family. Some places have Wifi and you can ask the school about this. They are more expensive than staying at a cheap room at the Club Hispanico. It’s normally takes more time to travel to school if you live with the host family.

The admin said she’ll recalculate my payment then she’ll let me know soonest.

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In the afternoon, I went to the gym as usual and went to a mall called El Corte Ingles to get some groceries.

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And I studied for tomorrow’s test.

Learning Spanish – Day 8

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

It seems like our usual teachers were all having a break from our class today.

In the morning we had a male teacher, his name was Augustin. He was more strict than the others. He taught us a lot of grammar.

We learned the grammar “Hay” which is like “is there/there is-are” in English, modals “Tener+que” as well as “Deber”.

Then we had Macarena at 10.30 AM. She explained the concept again with a bit of English which helped a lot. Now I can understand more about the concept that in the earlier session. We practice more about it as well. She gave us some clues on how to recognise which grammar forms to use in sentences.

At 11.40 we had a new teacher. His name was Javier. He is very sweet and soft spoken. He taught us the concept “Hay+que” and vocab for parts of the body.

In the afternoon we has speaking session with Maria. Only me, the Russian guy and a German girl were there. We played guessing games. I feel I did not participate as well as I would like to because of my lack of Spanish vocab.

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In the evening I went to a Tapas tour in the city which was organised by the school. We had to pay €16 Euro and got a glass of Malaga’s port and eat so much tapas.

Here are some photos from the Tapas tour:

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Learning Spanish – Day 7

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

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We had Amalia again in the morning. It’s always good to have her early in the morning because she is very enthusiastic. I need someone like her to lift my spirits up. She taught us the verbs “Tener” and practice to differentiate it from the “Estar” verbs.

What works the most for me in this session was when we played guessing games using photos of famous people whilst practicing what we’ve learnt before.

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At 11.40 AM we had Luisa and she taught us the house & content related vocab. We had to draw our own place and described it to our partner and then she asked whose place we like the most.

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In the afternoon we had guided speaking class with Maria Jose. She is nice and very enthusiastic. We asked her a lot of questions such as where in Spain is good to go for holiday.

She said in Andalucia she likes Granada the most, followed by Sevilla and Cordoba. She said Toledo near Madrid was also worth a visit.

Learning notes:
– I feel we don’t have enough practice for each subject. For example the topic on the household items was only taught for one hour. So it doesn’t really stick in my brain.
– with more grammar learnt, I am more self conscious and getting more confused on which one to use when speaking with people.

Teaching notes:
– Important steps in teaching a concept / ideas are:
1. Teach the vocab first
2. Teach the expressions how to use the vocab in daily life. I.e for household items set; where can I buy mirrors around here, is there any second shops selling second hand washing machine, etc.
3. Get the students to practice them in pairs or in one-on-one class, create different set of scenarios to use the vocab.

– always remember that a speaking session means that the students need to speak not you. They need to learn to form questions and express ideas. Try to limit speaking time for each student in a way so everyone has the chance to speak, not only the one more talkative in class got to speak.

In the evening, I went to see a Flamenco dance performance at a restaurant in a city centre. The restaurant is called Restorante Vino Mio.A friend from the States was nice to booked it so I can just came along with her.

The food was nice and the main was around €13-22. It is considered cheap because we had two hours live entertainment included.

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