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Thursday, August 26th "Arrival; Coffee meets the 20th century; U.S. defeats Spain in basketball!"

It's good to be back after a solid day of travel from N. C. to Sevilla. A note if you are traveling to Sevilla and plan to take the AVE instead of a plane from Madrid. The AVE has it's pluses in that the tickets are generally cheaper with the air connection discount (i.e.: use your train ticket in conjunction with a flight). There's also a good amount of space on the train compared to a plane and of course there's the bar car. Still, some disadvantages can be the cab ride from Barajas to Atocha - about 20€ - and the fact that you have to drag all of your luggage with you and reload it in the AVE. It's much easier to check your baggage through to Sevilla if you are given the option. If you have a lot of luggage note that it's best to get in line early so you can claim the baggage racks, which fill up quickly. If you fly to Sevilla you face a 15-18€ cab ride from the airport to the center. Taking the train to Sevilla means a 5€ cab fare more or less, but you can always walk if you pack light. The AVE will take you about 2 hours and 35 minutes, while the plane will take about 50 minutes. Also keep an eye out for cheap plane tickets. On one trip I purchased a one-way ticket from Sevilla to Madrid for 36€, but the return trip would have cost me 120€, more than double the price of the AVE. If I had wanted to wait in the airport for 7 hours I could have caught a much cheaper flight, but who wants to do that after spending the night flying to Madrid? So what is my advice? There are many variables when considering the AVE versus a flight. When it comes to convenience I'd pick the flight over the AVE. But sometimes you need to watch your euros, and that may mean the AVE is the best bet.

As I get older I feel the effects of the time difference more and more. I think it's worse coming back to Spain or Europe than it is going to the U.S. Last night I went to sleep at 4:30am. In my attempt to get my schedule back on track I awoke at 9am and drank a lot of coffee! Now that lunch is over the siesta is so very tempting, but could prove to be my downfall should I decide to nap. So work has been a good distraction and my hope is to push forward until 10pm.

As for drinking coffee one of the first things we did upon our arrival was buy a coffee maker at El Corte Inglés. The ofertas are in their last week and we managed to purchase one for 22€. Before the coffee maker we used a little silver percolator, whose technology likely dates back to the 19th century. While it made good coffee it was a pain to clean every day. That may sound lazy, but after spending a month in the states with an automatic drip which was timed to brew as we woke up we kind of got used to the convenience. Waking up to a pot of coffee every morning has it's appeal!

Finally today I managed to see the U.S.-Spain Olympic basketball game. We got away with an eight point win and moved to the semi-finals. There was much hype in Spain leading up to the game and some friends were able to harass me a bit before the game. I don't seem to be hearing from them now...