All in all, the trip was amazing. I made life time friends (Americans and Spaniards). Survived the language gap, and even passed my class (WOOHOO). I would say that my favorite things in Madrid were doing the Real Madrid tour and visiting Sol every night. Tapas and Mondaditos were my favorite food, and Sangria and box wine are the way to drink in Spain. The flight home was better than the flight there, I can now sleep in without feeling like I am wasting the day away! I am typing this from the U.S. now…
Until next time Spain
My girlfriend and I took a 5 hour bus ride at 1:30 AM on Friday to Granada. We arrived just in time to get in line to Alhambra before the morning rush came. Alhambra is the definition of beautiful. I am by no means a «flower guy» but was in complete awe at this massive garden on the side of a mountain! Afterwards, we explored Granada until we had to make our bus back to Madrid around 5 PM. Once we got to Madrid, we went straight to bed to make our 7 AM train to Barcelona the following morning (Saturday). Once in Barcelona we arrived at our hostel, settled in, and immediately visited all of what Barcelona has to offer (or should I saw what Gaudi has to offer). First we went to Sagrada Familia and was not blown away at all like many people said they were. You pay your 15 euros, walk in, look up, down, and side to side….. That’s it. Don’t get me wrong it was beautiful, but totally not worth the price! After, we visited Gaudi’s house and the park that his house is in. This was pretty cool. His house was very modest and from his window he can see the whole city of Madrid and even the ocean because his house is halfway up a mountain. Saturday we went to the beach and WOW…..by far my favorite beach I have ever been on. It was man made, with the sand a little rockier than normal, with maybe 40 feet of beach before it turns to concrete/grass. The best part was how the beach floor was pure rocks… made your toes tingle! That night we headed back to Madrid, our final vacation was over.
The second weekend my friends and I got train tickets to Valencia. The train ride was about an hour and a half long when we got to the coast of Valencia. Most of the first day we toured around the city, checking out anything that caught our eyes. Valencia had an awesome market in the city, just like most Spanish cities do. After we and checked out the beach and we were all overjoyed. After about 20 minutes we found a place to eat some seafood and boy was the service bad! 1/10! Following the poor meal we made our way to l’oceanografic which is an aquarium. This was my favorite part of the trip to Valencia. So many different sections with animals you probably have never seen before. They had a dolphin show and even a tunnel with a shark tank all around it with at least 50 sharks. That night I slept in my Spanish made hammock on the beach! All Sunday our whole group laid out on the beach and enjoyed some summer fun.
Our first weekend we took a class trip to Segovia for that Saturday. First thing we see when we pull up is an aqueduct system that is hundreds of years old, extremely beautiful! After that our teachers gave us a tour of the city, showing us everything we needed to see! Two things really stood out, firstly The Segovia Cathedral which is in the center of the city. It is very beautiful, tall, and well made. The insides ceilings reached 200 feet I would guess, and in the inside were many sections for praying, religious paintings and monuments. The second noteworthy thing was The Alcazar of Segovia. Placed perfectly on the side of a mountain, this palace was something out of a movie. Every room had a unique design in the ceiling, and usually coated in gold paint. You even had to walk over a bridge to get in it!
My first couple of days in Madrid were full of activities! We started off with meeting all of our host parents, which was quite an experience. My family was awesome and extremely nice. They immediately took my back to their casa and served me some food, showed me my room, and told me to siesta! (MY FAVORITE PART OF SPAIN, their culture takes siestas (napping) very seriously! Businesses even close during napping hours.) After the siesta, our University of Arkansas group met up in Sol with our professor Reina. She showed us around a bit then left us on our own for us to learn the city.
The next day was when we took our placement exams for our Spanish classes at Nebrijah Universidad. The campus was beautiful, the teachers were incredibly nice and helpful, and the top floor had a Arial view of the whole city…. Perfecto. I did not do too well on my placement test, having not had a Spanish class in 2 years, but Reina moved me to B1.
The Spanish culture is incredibly different than anything I was used to in America. The food… nothing was similar, everything unique, and my body took a few days to get used to it. Travelling… the main transportation is metro in Madrid, I had never used a metro before then so it took some time to figure out how to get to where I want to be. Smoking… most of the people in Spain are chain cigarette smokers, something that I do not prefer. Sewage…. their sewage system in Madrid, and the rest of Spain, is very old. Therefore, most of the city is smelly.. haha.. just something you have to get used to!
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