Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Adventures In Toledo & Barcelona

Hola Amigos!
I have had a pretty packed week and a half here in Spain. I went to the quaint, beautiful city of Toledo. We took the fast train from Madrid to Toledo, getting us there in just under 30 minutes. Stepping out of the train though, I felt I retrogressed many years- the simple natural beauty as well as the intricate architecture of every single building amazed us. The small streets are so different than the streets back home. Needless to say we got lost a few times due to the maze-like pattern the streets follow. Nevertheless, we accidentally found some hidden gems while lost. Toledo is known to be the city that is of three cultures because there is a synagogue, a mosque and a Cathedral all in the same area. We visited each and were blown away by both the inside and outside. Some places here do not look like much from the outside, but when you walk inside they are surprisingly beautiful. You can see the antique regal beauty everywhere you look.
Luckily, when we arrived there were still decorations from the celebrations of Corpus Christi, a religious holiday that is celebrated in places in Spain. There were fresh flowers hanging from balconies and from building to building as well as plants roping the streets and fresh flower petals on the floor. We missed the actual celebration but it must have been very extravagant and lively. After hours of walking we found our way back to the bus and then the train, relaxing in our fast train seats calmly awaiting the mad rush we knew would be coming when we got off to catch our train from Madrid back to cozy and slower paced Alcala.
I had my first full week of school. I am taking an art history class and a spanish class. My art history is solely in Spanish while the other the teacher uses English when needed. I still need to practice speaking Spanish a lot! I am surprised how much I am picking up just from listening in classes and, of course, clutching a dictionary for those "just in case" moments- which for me happen quite often. I do enjoy the schedule of the classes. We have classes monday-thursday. Each class is 2 and a half hours long, 9-1130 and then 12-230. Then, of course, we go home for lunch and some people take naps, siestas. It took a little getting used to the eating schedule. We have lunch around 230- 3, then dinner around 930-10! It seems a little late to me, but I am pretty much accustomed to the time and the fact that there is daylight until around 945 at night! That is good for me because I love long days. The normal time to go to sleep, at least in my host apartment is around 11:30-12:00. It is so interesting to see how much how human bodies can really adapt and how quickly we can get used to a change.
After the long week I went to Barcelona for the weekend with a few friends to see the sights and all the famous city has to offer. We went to many places, like la Sagrada Familia, this amazing cathedral that has stopped all construction, it has yet to be finished. What has been created though is crazy, tall and beautiful to look at. We also went to a famous market called La Boqueria which is on Las Ramblas, a well known road filled with places to eat, shop, browse, and many many tourists! A lot of people spoke English there, which is a lot different from Alcala. Others spoke Catalan or Spanish. I wasn't sure what to try to speak when I talked to someone! Many different cultures as well- which is also how Madrid is. Both cities have an array of people. Seeing my first beach here and touching the realllyy cold water was fun, even though the weather was not quite up to par for the beach. My face in the photo shows how cold the water really was! We snapped a few pics and went on our way. Although going to new cities are fun and adventurous, I was a little nervous about the metro system and how we would do getting around. Luckily, the metro was so much easier than in Madrid and we were able to figure it out relatively easily. That was nice to be able to get on the metro and know for sure where you are going and knowing you are on the right one! Barcelona was great but the weekend went very very fast! It seemed strange staying in a hotel rather than staying in my host family's apartment. I love hotels but it is also comforting residing with nice people in a homey-comfortable setting.
We had our midterms today- I cannot believe how quick everything is going! I am going to the Prado Museum in Madrid with my Art History class tomorrow. It is awesome to get the chance to learn about a painting or piece of art and then be able to go and actually see the real thing, apply our knowledge to real life objects. I mean lets be real here, it also makes you feel reall intelligent when you can identify the period or characteristics of a piece of art haha. Hopefully by tomorrow I will have plans figured out for where I want to go this weekend =0)
Hasta Luego!
Courtney =0)


  1. Courtney- I'm so jealous!!! Sounds like your having a great time. I'm glad you seem to be enjoying the art history class- El Prado is awesome! I want to go back!!! Cuidate y disfruta los viajes que viene <3

  2. Thanks Sashaa! I will see you soon =0)