España: Verano 2016

It has been almost five months since I last shared my adventures from Spain, and for that I am sorry. Between senior year, editing the newspaper, playing soccer, and college applications I have had almost no time to stop and take a breath, never mind sit down and write an amazing, high quality blog about my trip.

I know I have been back in the U.S. for a LONG time, but don’t worry, I kept a prayer journal that tracked what I did each day, so I’m not making up the details of the trip. Ok, here it goes.

Sevilla

Dia Tres: Málaga to Ronda to Sevilla

We started off bright and early, leaving Málaga behind in the morning light, and driving two hours to Ronda, a city in the mountains. The drive to Ronda was filled with farms and small towns perched precariously on the slopes. Ronda sits on the top of a small mountain (or large hill, I’m not really sure) and is absolutely stunning. The city is small, but bustling and full of history. It is separated down the middle by a giant chasm, complete with an old bridge that is the only way to get across (as far as I could tell). Fun fact: the bridge is large and used to house the town jail inside of it. The idea was that even if criminals escaped, there was no where for them to go but down into the river at the bottom of the long fall. Cool right?

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The bridge across the chasm in Ronda. June 17, 2016

We wandered around Ronda for a little bit, checking out the amazing views and the bull fighting ring, which is very famous, then headed out to finish driving two more hours to Sevilla. Sevilla is a larger city than Málaga, which made me nervous because I’m more of a small city person so I know where I am at all times. Our hotel was not as close to the center of the city as the one in Málaga was, but it was next to the Sevilla FC stadium, which was really exciting for me as a soccer fan and player. Our first stop once we unpacked at the hotel was to lunch, where we enjoyed an assortment of delicious Spanish food. I sat next to Señora Richardson and a few of the boys and our topic of discussion centered around Will and the bidets in our hotel. It was hysterical and I was laughing throughout the entire meal!

After lunch we had our first experience on a Spanish metro system and it was very stressful trying to make sure our large group got onto the same train. We all made it on, but I was uneasy with the size of Sevilla the rest of the time we were there because I always like to know where I am in the city and Sevilla was too big for me to know where I was at all times (Madrid ended up being like this too).

Before dinner Robin and Pablo surprised us with a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city. We got to see the Plaza de España and many different parks and buildings during the ride and I really enjoyed the Plaza de España because of its size, unique architecture, relation to Star Wars and beauty. The people in my carriage challenged ourselves to speak Spanish the entire ride, but when we heard our driver softly giggling at us, we broke into English more than once to laugh at ourselves and joke about what he must be thinking.

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La Plaza de España in Sevilla. June 17, 2016

We ate dinner at a more modern, pub-like place that had TVs to watch the España v Turkey fútbol game in the EuroCup. Spain won easily, but the festive atmosphere was still very different from the soccer community in the U.S. and it was refreshing to be a part of it. After dinner we walked back to the hotel, and I was able to have an awesome conversation with Chris. He’s really nice and easy to talk to and I like him a lot (even though he goes to X). I’m glad we became friends through this trip.

That was it for day three of Spanish adventures but I was excited to get up and do longer more in depth tours of Sevilla the next day!

I almost forgot! La Plaza de España fun facts: Star Wars Episode Two was filmed there (it was Amadala’s palace), it was built in the 1920s to host an event similar to the “World Fair” that was meant to soften relationships between Spain and different South American countries, and it now houses government offices (imagine going to work there every day)!

Dia Cuatro: Sevilla

Today was all about the historical tours (yay)! We toured the Real Alcazar and the Cathedral of Sevilla and, for me, it was a great day. I know a lot of people don’t like historical tours, but I live for them. History is so cool!

La Real Alcazar was stunning. It is a palace a king built to hide away his mistress. The details in the artwork, glass and gardens is astounding when you think about how long it must have taken to build it. There was one wall of purple flowers that was my favorite spot in the palace. The flowers grew on the side of a wall and contrasted perfectly with the light blue tile work underneath them. I wish I could sit against that wall all day, every day.

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My favorite spot in La Real Alcazar. June 18, 2016

After the Real Alcazar we moved right over to the Cathedral of Sevilla, same tour guide and everything. I was in the more advanced group, so our guide spoke Spanish the entire time. This was great for learning purposes, but because I love history so much, I became a little frustrated when I wasn’t picking up on a lot of the facts. It became exhausting to try to translate back and forth so I had to take a break every once in a while. Our tour guide was very nice and funny though, and did a great job of being through.

The cathedral is huge. Inside, it had a gigantic gold alter that filled an entire wall and a tomb with the “real” remains of Christopher Columbus (a few different places claim to have them). One thing I learn while in Spain was that Columbus is a hero to them. He discovered the New World for their crown and set up years and years of colonization and benefits for them. His “discovery” also had a hand in the eventual founding of the U.S. making Spaniards believe they were crucial to our success. Whether this is accurate or not, they are very proud of Columbus. I found this very interesting because here in the U.S. (at least in my school) we are being taught that Columbus was actually a terrible person and his discovery was pure luck. We don’t even get school off on Columbus Day. The different perspectives on this topic are drastic and really showed me the cultural differences.

The cathedral also had a tall tower visitors could climb up. The trek up the twisting ramps was long, but worth it. From the top we could see over the entire city and it was breathtaking. On the way down, I dropped and broke my sunglasses and then dropped my water bottle. The bottle rolled down multiple levels of the tower ramps and I chased it all the way, drawing a few laughs from the other tourists calmly making their way to the bottom. It was embarrassing, but I guess it makes for a good story.

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The “real” remains of Christopher Columbus in the Cathedral of Sevilla. June 18, 2016

After our tour, a group went back to the hotel and a group stayed out to shop longer. Guess which group I was in. We weaved through small alleyways and in and out of small (touristy) stores, finding gifts and trinkets for our friends and family back home. After we finished shopping, an even smaller group (guess who was in it??) broke off and headed back to the Plaza de España to revel in its beauty one last time.

Our dinner was outside, on a large patio next to the street. I sat with Señora Richardson, Robin, and Julie and had a great time. We were lucky enough to witness a Spanish wedding taking place in the church down the street and Julie told us all about her wedding to Alberto that was held in Spain. A lot of us girls really bonded and decided to walk the streets some more after we finished eating.

We wandered for a while until we found fresh potato chips and a helado shop to get some sweet and salty snacks from. Señora Perry overheard a restaurant playing an Enrique Iglesias song and shouted “Enrique! Mi novio!” into an alleyway filled with Spaniards. They turned and stared and we laughed and kept moving on our merry way.

When we got back to the hotel, the high school boys and all of the eighth graders were playing volleyball and soccer in a back area with a group of Spanish boys who apparently appeared out of no where (Pablo explained that they were poor kids who spent a lot of time out on the streets). They were very good at soccer and quickly engaged the younger kids in a dance off that was very fun to watch. Even though the communication was limited, it was great to see the different kids interacting and having a good time.

We all went to bed excited to being our adventure to Granada the next day! Even though we were only four days into the trip, I was having the time of my life and thanked God every night for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime like this. Onto Granada!

Click on images below to enlarge and view as a slideshow.

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