Plaza Mayor, Madrid
I absolutely love Spain! It has been over two and a half years since I have been there and I am dying to go back. I want to visit my host family and the new friends that I made while I was there. Over my winter holiday from school, I was trying to get back there to visit. Unfortunately nothing fell into place and I was stuck state side.
It was a toss up between Segovia and Madrid for my favorite city. I loved the hustle and bustle of the big city! Madrid was everything I could have hoped for in a European city. When we landed, I was surprised at the lack of greenery, but I came to love the golden fields and rolling hills.
The view from my hotel room in Madrid
The city of Segovia was spectacular in its own right. The two highlights of visiting the city were the ancient Roman aqueduct and the alcazar. Standing in the open field below the alzazar, I decided that one day I would own my very own castle. Another one of the guys on the trip said that after being in Segovia that he decided he will retire there many, many years in the future. I definitely share the sentiment.
The aqueduct in Segovia
We spent a week crisscrossing the southwest of Spain. We even ended up in a sword shop in Toledo. The one thing I regret is not getting a sword from them. How cool would that have been? I will get one someday though!
The city I like the least was Seville. It was so damn hot there! We didn’t want to do anything outside and all of us loved the air conditioning of the hotel. We even skipped out on our scavenger hunt, went back to the hotel and asked the people at the front desk all of our questions. The teachers weren’t too happy about that.
I think this was the church across from Palacio Real
One of the things that surprised me the most about Spain was there wasn’t as much greenery as I expected. There were lots of trees and lots of space in between the trees giving it a very distinct coloring.
During the many long hours of riding that took place between the stops, many of the students would take naps, not me. I was intent on seeing everything I could, even if it was just the roadside and the hills beyond that. In the short two weeks that we were there, I ended up taking close to two thousand photos. Impressive, right?
One thing that almost everyone should love about Spain is the food. Even the simple salads tasted way better there!
Even the salads are amazing! Did you know that all you need for dressing is olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper?
Did you know that Madrid is home to the World’s Oldest Restaurant? The Botin specializes in suckling pig and lamb roasted the traditional Castilian way. Let me tell you, the suckling pig was like heaven in my mouth! The meal also cost around €40 per person, but it was well worth it to say you got to eat in a restaurant founded in 1725!
Another thing to love about Spain is the architecture. It has both Roman and Arabic influences and is simply gorgeous! The Alhambra in Grenada is one place you need to add to your bucket list right now.
I improved my Spanish the most while wandering through the gardens with another student and one of the teachers. One word I will never forget that she taught me is meil luna. I knew what the words meant individually meil is honey and luna is moon, but I struggled to figure out what they meant when you put the words together.
The three of us wandered around the gardens for what seemed like forever. It was nice, listening to the teacher talk in perfect Spanish with the other student, whose Spanish was definitely way better than mine! During that time, I felt the most encouraged to speak in Spanish.
After sometime, the three of us decided to wander through the city of Grenada long after it was dark. We were definitely lost too, so I suggested that we ask a couple that we were approaching directions back to Corte Ingles, the large department store across the street from our hotel. Since it was my idea, the teacher said I should ask. My Spanish was broken, and not perfect, but the couple was very nice and gave us directions that I managed to translate. That moment is one of my fondest memories from the entire trip!
Meeting a Jack Sparrow impersonator in the streets of Madrid