Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Madrid and Segovia

Roman Aqueduct 
It’s about 5am and I can’t sleep, I don’t particularly feel like studying for the midterm I have today, and it’s too early to take a shower. So I’ll blog. I’m finally moving onto the start of the semester! As a general update I only have a little over two months left here in Seville and while it’ll be exciting to see everyone, I’m not ready to leave. I booked my flight the other day and it was kind of (really) sad. Last week when I was tutoring one of my adorable/well-behaved/hilarious students, it hit me how hard it is going to be to leave. She was showing me her yearbook from the previous year, as it was picture day, and I asked when she would get her new one. She was like “I’ll get it in the fall and then I can show you”. I was like “sweetheart, I have to go back to the United States in May”. “Wait you’re leaving, for how long?” “Well it will take at least a year to finish my degree…” “A WHOLE YEAR?” Of course I want to come back to Sevilla eventually but I do have other planes for after I graduate. Needless to say a stake was driven directly through my heart.

More on Sevilla mía later. The first weekend in February I went to Madrid with JYS. I went to the museums and stuff last semester so I was free to do whatever I wanted. It’s a pretty sweet deal because I got my AVE tickets, food, and the hotel for “free”. The trip was part of the program fee, but whatever. I decided that I would go and see Segovia while the others were in the museums. Segovia is a smaller city/town a bit to the north of Madrid and the alcázar there is the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle. As a Cinderella lover, this has been on my list for a while. Oh there’s also a Roman aqueduct. I ended up not getting to Segovia until pretty late in the day, almost 4pm. By the time we got to Madrid and I got out to the other train station I had missed the 1:30 departure by like 5 minutes. I spent some quality time in the station waiting. Luckily for me one of the cafes was having a Valentine’s Day coffee/doughnut special.

When I got there, after a 30 minute AVE ride, I had to take a bus into town. The first thing you see is the huge Roman aqueduct which, I’ll admit was pretty cool. Since I only had limited time, that and the Cinderella Castle were the only things on my to-do list. I di un paseo por la judería (strolled around the old Jewish neighborhood) and some gardens before I got to the castle. At first sight, I was not impressed. I remembered what had happened in Fussen and was determined to find a better view point. That’s exactly what I spent the rest of my afternoon trying to do. I went up and down a million staircases and hills but eventually I did find the perfect view, more than one actually. There was this mini-field almost directly under the fortress and at one end there were houses and at the other end was a line of trees and a river. If you stood on the edge of the river and looked straight up, you’d be staring right at the castle. Talk about growing up dreaming big. I know that I would have spent my childhood (and/or adulthood), had I lived back in the day, simultaneously splashing around in the river and pretending I’d be a princess who lived there one day. Casual castle in the back yard.

The sun was just starting to set when I made my way up some of the hills in the “back” of the castle. I had an amazing view and decided that I was going to wait there until dark so I could see it all lit up. It was really cool seeing all of the lights in the city slowly turn on. All the churches slowly lit up and the street lights looked like strings of lanterns and the car lights looked like hundreds of fireflies. Of course the castle was the last thing to be lit up and by the time it finally started, it was dark, cold, and I had missed the bus I wanted to take back to the train station. I waited anyway, and it was definitely worth it. The walk back into town was a bit of a struggle because it was so dark and my phone was dead so I didn’t have a flashlight. Also those stairs back up into the actual town were so rough, but I made it! I looked at the bus schedule and saw that if I got on the next bus I’d make it back to the train station just in time to catch my AVE. I had time to kill so I went and got a caramel McFlurry and people watched. It was prime people watching time because it was the weekend of Carnival so everyone was dressed up like they would be for Halloween in the US. According to my host sister Carnival is much more fun in the pueblos than in the big cities. I really felt that in Segovia, it’s not tiny by any means but it has a much more family-y atmosphere. Next time in in Spain, Carnival is on my to-do list!

I got back to the hotel in Madrid about halfway through dinner. I was glad I had the McFlurry because after my primer plato of green beans/sauce they brought out a fish dish since they didn’t get the memo that I was vegetarian. Normally when we stay in hotels it’s a buffet but this time it wasn’t. I just ate the fruit we had for dessert and that was that. I wasn’t planning on going out that night but with the promise of an apartment party I said yes. It ended up being pretty boring but Caroline and I went and got churros con chocolate at San Gínes which is a famous churro place in Madrid that I’ve been to almost every time I’ve been in the city…that would be three out of four times. It down poured all night, but who can complain when churros/chocolate are involved?

The next day was low-key. I walked a bit and then sat myself down in a café to catch up on journaling. The women who worked there were really sweet and took the time to figure out why the wifi wasn’t working for me. It was nice to talk in Spanish. Even though I feel, more often than not, that my Spanish is actually getting worse there are occasions like that were I can just have a nice conversation with no problems. I definitely love being back in a country where I speak the language especially after my trip in January!

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