En mi último viaje a una ciudad grande en España tuve un comienzo muy desafortunado. Algunos compañeros y yo nos equivocamos de estación de tren al ir a Atocha en vez de Chamartín. Tuvimos que coger un autobús para llegar a Bilbao por treinta euros. Es importante en esos momentos tener la mente calma y pensar positivo y fue lo que hicimos y llegamos a nuestro destino sanos y seguros. Al otro día los cuatro decidimos reunirnos para ir a comer aunque tuvimos un poco de dificultad al principio porque en Bilbao las cocinas no abren entre las 13:00 y 14:00 horas del día. Exploramos el centro de la ciudad en el casco nuevo y cruzamos algunos puentes para llegar al casco viejo. Anduvimos al lado del río de Bilbao (Río Nervión) y cogimos boletos para visitar El Museo Guggenheim! El Guggenheim es una maravilla arquitecta y dispone de un arte muy particular que realmente cuestiona los pensamientos. Como es costumbre compramos algunos recuerdos en unas tiendas de regalo. En la noche asistimos al Festival BBK Live y fue un evento inolvidable al ver los cantantes Yolandi y Ninja que forman el duo Die Antwoord. En nuestro último día nos separamos para poder visitar diferentes sitios. Dos muchachas fueron a un tour por barco, otra fue a una iglesia, y yo fui al estadio del Athletic Bilbao pero desafortunadamente la tienda oficial del equipo estaba cerrada. Ese momento fue triste pero pude tomar algunas fotos del estadio dentro de un restaurante.
Before heading to Sevilla, I was warned about the extreme heat that envelopes the city. All was true as the day of my tour the weather was around 95 degrees which, by looking at the weather, was not so bad since in a couple of days the whether would reach up to 107 degrees. The tour I attended lasted a great amount of time starting from 10am and ending at 6:30pm. Although it did become really exhausting from the heat and the walking I got to see many sites throughout the neighborhood. I visited the alcázar, la torre de oro (where the gold that was brought from the americas was kept), the bullring, and an incredible boat ride that demonstrated the four bridges in Sevilla and their different arquitectural designs. After the tour colluded I visited a tablao, a place where people dance the flamenco sevillano, and it was beautiful to see professionals dance right in front of me. One can totally see the passion and hard work that goes into learning such a style of dance which has its origins through the gypsie culture.
Nuestra segunda excursión tomó lugar en Candeleda, Ávila! Primero, antes de llegar a esta localización paramos en las Grutas de El Águila. Básicamente, son cuevas con formaciones hechas desde hace millones de años y fue encontrado por unos muchachos curiosos que andaban caminando por el cerro. Dentro de las cuevas te encuentras con una temperatura muy fresca y húmeda. También está plagada de picos que a la vez, usando la imaginación, forman ciertas figuras. Llegando a Candeleda tuvimos la oportunidad de ver el hermoso paronama de naturaleza. Hay que fijaos en la grandeza de la moñtanas y los cerros que rodean la piscina. Claro que disfrutamos del agua natural nacida en las montañas. Aunque acepto que el agua estuvo súper fría a la misma vez estuvo muy refrescante! Por último, tratad los tintos veranos porque allí son súper ricos! Deberaís provarlos en los restaurantes que hay afuera de la piscina!
Our first tour of our stay here in Toledo was to the city of Segovia, but before arriving I did not hesitate to carry batteries to sleep on the bus. The arrival to Segovia was impressive from the first step to see the Roman aqueduct in front of the city. Our guide was very specific with every detail and history when explaining the use to bring clean water to the city and its use in houses and Roman baths. Then we went to my favorite part, the castle of Segovia said to be the inspiration of the same Walt Disney for the design of Disney Castle. We saw many halls where parties were held in former times, the fourth of the kings Fernando and Isabel, to their chairs where they received important people or discussed political matters. Then we went to the cathedral in Segovia which has great architecture and many religious works of art. After lunch we had some free time to explore the city and of course we took the opportunity to go to the main square to go shopping for some souvenirs.
The second day on our trip to Barcelona has now become the most iconic moment in my life. On this particular day, I got to visit FC Barcelona’s stadium, Camp Nou! Although we struggled a bit at first due to the fact we had to go pick up our actual tickets in the city of Barcelona all of it was washed away the moment I dropped off my backpack and made my way into the stadium. As soon as we took the first pictures my heart started to race out of control because of all my excitement. I got to see the trophy room, the players dressing room and shower, the press room, and the inside of the stadium from the highest level to the lower level. Sitting in the stadium seats was emotionally intense and I am not embarrassed to say that it almost brought some tears. Although, the most incredible moment of the tour came when I got the opportunity to lift the actual Champions League Cup and raise it high in the sky as if I just had won the entire tournament! That’s a feeling I will never forget ever in my entire life! To complete my dream I have a goal of coming back soon to attend a game but not just any game, El Clásico!
On our first day in Barcelona we decided to take a tour bus, Barcelona Bus Turístic, which had three different bus lines that included 44 stops all around Barcelona and the greater Barcelona. We got on the bus in a bus stop right outside the Camp Nou Stadium, FC Barcelona’s home turf, and almost immediately the beauty of the city revealed itself to us through its amazing architecture. Of course, our first hop-off out of the tour bus was outside the incredible Sagrada Familia, which is by the way still under construction and funds itself through donations and money from visitors from around the world. The building is simply breathtaking and enormous! As we made our way through the streets of Barcelona we saw many amazing sites such as, Plaza de Cataluña, Plaza de España, Museum of Barcelona, and the two main ports in Barcelona. Our second stop was in Parc Güell. Although the walk was a bit long, mostly because it was all uphill, we really enjoyed the whole scenery even though we were not able to sit on the beautifully designed benches that the Cheetah Girls once sat one. Our last stop was at the beach! Fantastic beach although, unlike my classmates, I did not get into the water because that is just not my thing. Overall, the first day in Barcelona was more than the expectation and to celebrate we drank some sangrias at a local bar restaurant near our hostel.
Hoy culmina las primeras dos semanas en Toledo y vaya que han sido las mejores de mi vida. He visto casi cada rincón de la cuidad y está completamente llena de hermosura durante el día, al igual como de misterio por la noche. Lo que más aprecio en estar aquí ha sido asistir al festival de Corpus Cristi, los tours que hemos hecho por parte de mi clase de cultura española, y mis compañeros que se han convertido en fenomenales amigos!
On our way to a Barcelona filled weekend we had to overcome a few obstacles, which were riding the high speed train for the very first time. I have heard of this high speed train before through Professor Stephen Vilaseca, whom described the feeling of being inside the train as if you were not moving at all as a result of its 300 km/hour (approximately 187 miles/hour). Well I can tell you that he is 100% correct! But, before I got to experience that feeling we had to make our was to the bus stop in Plaza Zocodover, where I took bus 62 to the train station. The train station is astonishing at first glance, a true work of architecture that takes your breath away. I can not lie, I got lost when boarding the first train as I sat on the wrong chair due to the fact I was not in the right train car. This train ride only took 30 minutes! The trip from Madrid to Barcelona took three hours and forty minutes mostly because the train made a few stops along the way. The feeling you get being in the high-speed train is that you do not feel anything at all. My experience on the train was exactly as Professor Vilaseca described it. It’s super comfortable riding the train and they play a movie for the passengers and even have a small cafeteria where you can buy some drinks and food!
First week in Toledo has been magnificent! So magnificent that I do no longer get lost through its streets and can easily find my way home or towards la Plaza Zocodover. The most important event has been attending the Corpus Cristi Festival yesterday! the parade of the Gigantescos was phenominal as huge puppets walked through the streets accompanied by a school band. The main festival is even more delightful as you get to see the the archbishop deliver a speech in the main plaza. The city is covered with banners and beautiful flowers that take ones breath away. Probably, the best festival I have attended in my entire life and, also watching the Spanish Army march was super fantastic. I was able to take a picture with two soldiers! Felt super lucky! Now for the weekend I prepare myself for another journey in Barcelona where I will be visiting Barcelona F.C.’s stadium Camp Nou! I’M SUPER EXCITED!!! Wooo!!!
The first day (June 11th, 2017) in Toledo, Spain was one filled with a high level of excitement which rivals the high amount of heat this city acquires every day. Some fellow program attendees and I decided to explore the city that very same day we arrived to see the layout of the city and get to look at some restaurants, exchange currency, and, possibly, go shopping. That simple exploration turned into a lesson we will never forget because we got super lost and spent two hours trying to find the main plaza, la plaza de Zocodever, only to find out the banks were closed. Next, adding another two hours to find our place of residency in la plaza de Juan Padilla.
Monday was a fantastic journey as we got to meet some of the faculty and the other professors that were teaching the 300 level classes. We were greeted with open arms and were shown our dining hall, classrooms and around the city, which helped a lot because I now know how to get to the main plaza with no problems at all, just don’t ask me to take you anywhere else but there because I am sure we would get lost again. We took a train on the outside of the city and got to see the city to its fullest! Our day concluded with a very delicious lunch where we tried various everyday Spanish dishes such as pan tumaca, croquetas, la tortilla de patatas, empanada gallega, y unos pasteles deliciosos!