Hi guys! I can’t believe I have already been here for two weeks and have yet to post a single blog entry- oops! Time has flown by already so I figured that starting this late is better than never starting at all..
I have so much to fill everyone in on that starting from the beginning seems a little overwhelming, so I’ll just start from here and try to back-track at some point to fill in the gaps. Thankfully, my roommate, Michaeline, is also keeping a blog of our time here, so I’ll have something to help me remember the details I may have already forgotten.
This weekend, our program director took us on a weekend trip to Madrid and Toledo, and it was absolutely wonderful. Can I just mention how much I love Madrid? The two days we were there was not nearly enough time to see even a fraction of what the city has going on, and I’m thrilled that when my parents come to visit in March I’ll have another chance to spend time there. (Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad!) It also helped (a LOT) that our program had us stay in a four-star hotel. I meant to take pictures before our room became a mess of clothes and luggage (confession: mostly my mess..), but didn’t have the chance. I was warned before I left home that I would have to cut my usual 20+ minute shower down to under 10 minutes when living with my senora, so the un-timed shower was definitely a highlight of the weekend.
After arriving at the train station and checking into the hotel on Friday afternoon, our group met up with Paco, our tour guide/idol/trendiest man in Madrid. Paco is a professor at a university in Madrid and also a friend of our program director, Elisa, and became a real highlight of the weekend. He shared great historical/cultural information about Madrid as he led us through the city, and also got us up to speed on the latest royal family gossip, showed us which trendy bars to check out, and gave us a quick lesson how to pretend to be an unknown American celebrity. Love. The rest of the evening was spent enjoying (very expensive) tapas and checking out a 7-floor discotech (also extremely expensive.. seems to be expected in Madrid) complete with stage performers and acrobats descending from the rafters.
A plaza near our hotel
Saturday morning came much too soon as we had a 9AM train to catch to Toledo, a very old, very charming little town about 40 miles out of town (yes, I haven’t quite caught on to the whole metric system thing yet..) It was cold when we first arrived but turned into a beautiful day later on–high 50s and sunny :) I tired to take some pictures to share, but my camera is not the best and didn’t do the real thing any justice- I promise to post links to some other friend’s blogs so you can get a sense of just how beautiful it was! The day was pretty uneventful, save a little mistake reading our return tickets back to Madrid- Elisa thought our train left at 3:40 when in fact it was 3:25.. and we didn’t realize this until 3:05. With no time to spare, Paco led us on an all-out sprint through back alleyways and down steep cobblestone steps, across a bridge and over a moat, down to the train station, and–thankfully–we all made it on time with a whole 3 minutes to spare! A friend of mine videotaped the whole thing, and I’ll try my best to post that too, I’m sure it’s hillarious.
Toledo from across the bridge
This morning Paco led us on a tour of the Prado, a world class art museum in Madrid, and then we caught an early afternoon train back to Sevilla. Our time in Madrid flew by, and I’m already getting excited about going back to visit next month! Unfortunately, the weather was awful when we got back–our first rainy day yet, and cold–so my roommate and I set out on a rather eventful excursion to the “chino” store (like a dollar store back in the states, run by Chinese families) to buy cheap umbrellas. On the walk back home, hurricane-strength winds nearly destroyed our new paraguas, and I managed to slice my finger trying to close it up :( Oh well, at least we’ll have something to keep us dry on our 30 minute walk to school tomorrow!
Sorry for such a long first post! If you made it all the way to the end, thanks for reading! I’ll try to keep future posts a little shorter, and update fairly frequently :)