Back to Spain

The Royal Palace, Madrid

The Royal Palace, Madrid

The Plaza de Espana, Madrid. With Miss Mary White, who studied nearby.

The Plaza de Espana, Madrid. With Miss Mary White, who studied nearby.

I boarded a flight back to Madrid on June 16th to spend some time with my “cousin” Antonio and my Mom’s Godmother. I put cousin in quotes because we’re not actually blood related, but we call each other that anyway. I haven’t seen Antonio since 2005 when I visited Spain with my family.

Antonio works in Madrid, but lives about an hour away in Segovia. Madrid is the capital so it’s huge and not very historical or charming in any small sense. Segovia is smaller and quite the opposite. I can see why Antonio chooses to live there and commute.

I spent one day in Madrid to meet Mary, one of my close friends from home, who was studying in Alcala about 30 minutesfrom Madrid via train. We explored Madrid a little, saw the Royal Palace and the Puerta del Sol, which is equidistant from the borders of Spain. Other than that, Madrid is modern, and HUGE, so it lacks anything out of the ordinary. I did take this cool picture of a peacock outside of the Royal Palace, though.IMG_6273

Segovia, on the other hand, was surprisingly pleasing. The city’s claim to fame is a gigantic Roman aqueduct that stretches 1 kilometer in length and was built between the 1st and 2nd century AD. It was an awesome site to see. Nestled below it are small tourist shops and restaurants where they serve a plate called “Cuchinillo” (sp?). It’s actually a whole baby pig that they roast and bring to you. It was delicious, even though looking at it was a little weird.

Over the next few days, I spent my days at work with Antonio at the University in Madrid. But that weekend we took off to La Pena de Francia to do some hiking and see Las Batuecas, a mountain range around that peak. We got to hike around a monestary. We weren’t allowed inside because we weren’t monks, but we did hike all around the outside near a pristine river. The weather was up in the 90’s (Fahrenheit) so at the end of the hike, we stripped to our underwear and jumped in one of the river’s pools. You could probably do this in Colorado, but you’d wind up with Giardia.

From the top of La Pena de Francia.

From the top of La Pena de Francia.

A small touristy town at the foot of the mountain.

A small touristy town at the foot of the mountain.

Beautiful. Near the monestary.

Beautiful. Near the monestary.

Post-hike swim.

Post-hike swim.

After leaving Las Batuecas we began to head over to Muga de Sayago, a small pueblo near the border of Portugal. It is there that my Mom’s Godmother lives and most of the people we met 4 years ago. Antonio’s mom cooked us Paella, which was AWESOME, because I’d been in Spain for 5 months and not had a plate of Paella. I was lucky to spend the night there and head into a neighboring town, Argenin, where my grandparents are from. I caught up with some old friends there.

Pilar and Jose.

Pilar and Jose.

Argentinians!

Argentinians!

Friends from Argenin

Friends from Argenin

Diana's parents.

Diana's parents.

My grandparents' old house. They fixed the roof and added a 2nd floor.

My grandparents' old house. They fixed the roof and added a 2nd floor.

Back in Muga, Pilar told me that I had distant family in Argentina. I did not know this. Coincidentally, they were in the same country visiting, and I’d get to meet them! They were so friendly, and they’re Spanish was so different! It was fun to hear them talk and go through pictures from a loooong time ago. We exchanged contact information and Antonio and I left that afternoon for Valladoloid and Salamanca to see Pili and Diana, Antonio’s younger sister and one of our friends from 2005.

Diana and Me

Diana and Me

Pili, me, and Antonio in the Plaza Mayor in Valladoloid

Pili, me, and Antonio in the Plaza Mayor in Valladoloid

Incredible Sunset on the way out of town.

Incredible Sunset on the way out of town.

My last day in Spain was approaching really quickly, but Antonio had one more surprise for me. He took me outside of Segovia to a natural water fountain that is piped through some fantastic statues.The water shoot hundreds of feet into the air and was well worth it. After that, we tried Cuchinillo and got ready to go out that night.

The fountains

The fountains

Since it was pretty much my first experience with all Spanish people, I didn’t expect we’d be out until almost 8 am. By the time we walked out of the club, this is what we saw. I’m going to miss Spain.

Hot air balloons! The club was still dark inside, and people were still dancing!

Hot air balloons! The club was still dark inside, and people were still dancing!

U2 Cover band

U2 Cover band

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