So, after 6 weeks in Spain (four of those spent in Madrid) I am almost on my way out of the country. I last left off when I first arrived here and stopped through Barcelona for the first time. Now I’m back, this time to do a bit of sight-seeing and not just a place to stop over on my way to Valencia.
As for the past 6 weeks:
After leaving Barcelona, I did indeed make my way to Valencia, which is just a few hours south by train. The city is really beautiful. It’s not too big and not terribly interesting, but there’s something about it that makes it interesting enough to want to stay for a while. A river used to flow through the city. It’s not there anymore, but there’s now a park in the river bed where the water used to be. It’s funny to walk over a bridge and look down to see children running around and people picnicking under trees. Valencia was super hot, but the nice thing about that was…..it’s right on the coast. In my two days there I managed to get to the beach twice.
After Valencia, I went to Andalucia for about a week. First stop was Granada. This city is amazing, it’s been my favourite place in Spain so far. It was really hot while I was there, which made doing anything during the day extremely taxing. One morning I got up very early and went up to the Alhambra and spent the first half of the day there. It’s stunning; the entire structure is huge, and has the most amazing gardens that I’ve ever seen. The city was the last Moorish stronghold and wasn’t “requonquered” until 1492. It shows. There’s still a very large north african community and you find many, many restaurants and shops that specialize in north african food and/or wares. This was also the only place along the way that I got to watch any of the olympics.
Next stop in Andalucia was Cordoba. It’s known for the Mezquita (mosque) with the cathedral built inside of it. It’s really quite impressive. The town is pretty, but was fairly quiet when I was there…maybe because it was ridiculously hot or school hadnÃ‚Â´t yet started. My hostel was right in the middle of the old jewish quarter. It was a really cool place to wander around because there were lots of pretty courtyards and interesting sidestreets to get lost amongst.
After Cordoba I went to Seville. It wsn’t quite what I had expected to find. It was pretty, but extremely hot and everything was under construction. I also had lost my student ID with my wallet back in Munich, so I didn’t get any of the really nice student discounts for any of the sights. Over the course of three days, I didn’t really do too much except walk around, read and sleep. There’s something about that heat that just makes you want to sleep. I don’t think it helped that I was the only english speaker at my hostal, so I was on my own the entire time. The Alcazar in Seville is really beautiful, it was the residence of Ferdinand and Isabella in Seville once upon a time. However, after being to the Alhambra, everything else pales in comparison. There’s a big cathedral in town too, the biggest gothic structure in Spain that supposedly holds the remains of Christopher Columbus…but the fee they wanted for entrance was ridiculous- almost Ã‚â‚¬ 6 more than the student/senior citizen price. Ouch. I’ve seen enough cathdrals in my time…it’d have to be pretty darn impressive inside to be worth that price tag. But I didn’t really want to find out the hard way.
After leaving Seville, I headed down to the coast to Cadiz. Cadiz is on the atlantic ocean, but the water is fairly warm. The town is small, but beautiful, and everything is dirt cheap. Again, I spent most of my time here at the beach. I managed to go twice in the day and a half I was there. Not much to tell, except that these are “award winning” beaches…whatever that means. The water was nice and the sand was soft. I heartily approve.
I left the beach in Cadiz for the beach in Lagos, Portugal. Lagos is amazingly beautiful. It’s a pretty small town in the desert on the beach. There’s one big “normal” beach and then the rest of the coast is made up of caves, coves and cliffes with smaller beaches interspersed in between. The water, however, is really, really cold…and I didn’t do too much swimming. (Think of this as like swimming in Lake Michigan in June. Frigid!) I did take a nice walk early one morning out to the point just west of town where there’s a lighthouse. It was so beautiful- I have many, many pictures. The contrast between the desert plants and the bright blue water is amazing, not to mention that it seems that the most brilliantly coloured flowers thrive there.
After Lagos, I made my way to Lisbon. I’d heard how interesting and cool it was, but didn’t really see any of that myself. It rained most of the time I was there and I ended up reading alot and not doing much else.
I went from Lisbon directly to Madrid, where I’ve been for the last 4 weeks (up until last night). I was originally planning to take day trips every weekend, but I got lazy after the first weekend (my trip to Toledo) and the desire to sleep in and do my homework won over the desire to go see Segovia and Salamanca. Madrid is an interesting town. I don’t feel like I got to see too terribly much of it, though, since I was busy with classes. I did get to go see a Real Madrid soccer game, which was fun…but rather tame, energy-wise. I went to the three big museums in Madrid: Prado, Reina Sofia and the Thyszen (I think that’s how it’s spelled). The latter two were by far superior to the first, in my opinion. Then again, I maybe I was swayed by my being tired of iconographic, flemish art…
Also- I VOTED(!!!) in Madrid. So, here’s one vote that’s already been cast.
I’m off for the last portion of my trip now, just a little over 5 weeks until I come home. Hoepfully it should be good, I’m looking forward to spending more time in Italy and getting to Greece.
Hope the fall weather is treating you all well in your respective homes. It’s still nice and warm here (thought I’d rub that in a little). I am, however, having serious cravings for Mexican food, dr. pepper and reese’s peanutbutter cups. Now I have something tangible to look forward to getting when I arrive at home, besides seeing the lovely faces of everyone I’ve missed over the last few months.