Thursday, January 16, 2014

Adventuring Around

My first weekend in Spain was definitely a success... I was skyping my parents Sunday night telling them about my weekend, which did not last long, because I could barely keep my eyes open. So here is how it went...

On Friday, I decided to go on another tour of Madrid. I did a lot on Friday even though I did not leave my house until two. Thank goodness I did the second tour because it was much better than the day before, I was out for about seven hours! I saw more places and got to take some great pictures of the architecture, the streets, and anything that caught my eye. I even got to go inside the Almundena Cathedral, which was beautiful with the high, decorated ceiling. We went to the Temple of Debod, which is an ancient Egyptian temple rebuilt in Madrid. The Temple of Debod was originally built in southern Egypt, but due to some technical stuff, was donated to Madrid and now there it is in all its glory. It is in a prime scenic location too, you can see an amazing view of Madrid. It was perfect timing for us because the sun was starting to set so it put a hazy feel over the whole city. Naturally, I had a short photo shoot to capture it.

After, we went to the Plaza Mayor and decided to get some churros dipped in chocolate. I was so hungry that the churros did not last long on the table. They were delicious. We were all still hungry so we met up with a bunch of other students from my school to go to a popular tapas spot called El Tigre. I had never eaten tapas before so I did not really know what to expect. I loved it! They ordered drinks for everyone, I got sangria, not knowing it would be in a huge plastic cup. Gulp, gulp. I sat with a great group of girls, we chatted, we ate, we ate some more. They brought out five plates of tapas and everything was 6 euros. I would say that was a great deal, definitely going back there in the very near future.

Calle Serrano
Temple de Debod

Plaza Mayor

On Saturday, I woke up early to go on the school trip to el Parque Natural del Monasterio de Piedra near Zaragoza. Let me just start off by saying this is definitely one of those places where pictures just do not compare to the real thing, but I will still share obviously. I met a really cool kid who happens to live across the street from me. Now I have a friend to walk home with! It's the simple things in life sometimes. We got to know each other on the bus ride there and back, he is from a small town in Tennessee. He asked me if his accent was the first southern accent I have heard, and thinking about it more clearly, I think it was. Clearly, I am from California. Anyway, when we arrived to our location we got a tour of the very old monastery. After, we went on the trek to explore the beautiful natural waterfalls and streams. The interesting thing is driving to the Monasterio it was only dry, mountainous land. I was a little confused because I was expecting lush, green scenery all around. I definitely got that in the end. As a group, we explored and took pictures. I tried to take in the views as much as possible because honestly, I have never seen so much water with everything being so picturesque. The only downside to the whole day was the small group of people I was with somehow lost the very large group, so we did not get to see the caves underneath one of the waterfalls. To say the least, I was upset but I know it was not the end of the world and I got over it. It was a really great day over all.

Monasterio de Piedra

First sighting of the beautiful waterfalls at Monasterio

On Sunday, I woke up again to go with my school to the city of Toledo, Spain. I did not know much about the city other than it was beautiful and definitely a must see. When we drove in, all I saw was fog covering the entire city! So I am sitting on the bus like great, yesterday I missed the caves and today I am going to miss Toledo too. Luckily, everything worked out because after we were given a tour of the city, the sun started to come out. Phew. Toledo is a city with a lot of history because here lied the coexistence of the Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The streets and buildings were amazing especially knowing how far they dated back. After the tour of the city, we were allowed to eat and explore for about three hours. I hung out with a small group of students as we ventured around for a cute little place to eat. Then we set out in search of some panoramic views (I made clear that was on my agenda). Naturally, we got lost, which was not hard to do with all the small streets and our inability to read a map properly or follow signs. It worked out though because we found the edge of the city by the river and I got some great pictures of the houses layered on top of one another. We even made it to the bus on time. At this point though, I was still missing my panoramic view. Lucky for me, our bus driver took a short detour and we ended up at a prime location for the best panoramic view. Flash, flash, flash. I could not get enough of it.

Early morning fog in Toledo, España
Catedral Primada Santa Maria de Toledo

My first semi panoramic view

Toledo, España

Me and the beauty of Toledo

In the end, it was a really great first weekend in Spain. Not only were the sights amazing, my company was really great too.


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