My, these past two weeks have flown by! I have been busy trying to make the most of my time here in Spain. Last weekend my “family” and I visited Bilbao’s mountaintop and also Bilbao’s neighboring city, Getxo. Because it was my host mother’s birthday, we had a small lunch party here last Saturday with some guests. I really felt like part of the family. After the feast we went to Getxo, where I was able to spend some quality time with my host brothers as we walked together along the waterfront of the city. The next day we went hiking to the top of a mountain in the outskirts of Bilbao, where we were able to see the entire city! Spending this extra time with my host family was really special, and I feel much closer to them because of it – I am so very thankful that these loving people have taken me in!
This weekend I traveled with the other students in my program to Madrid and Toledo. Madrid was a very impressive city, simply because of its size! It is huge. Unlike Bilbao, it is nearly impossible to walk from one end of the city to the other. Also unlike Bilbao, it was rather dirty and not very pretty!! It made me appreciate my quaint little city that I call home now. There were some cool parts of Madrid, though! We visited the old Royal Palace where Spanish monarchs used to live, as well as the beautiful city cathedral. I think my favorite part was the Prado art museum…surprisingly enough! I am not much of an art person, but I was entranced by every painting in the museum. I was fascinated – even emotionally moved – by the stories that the exquisite paintings told. Perhaps I have found a new interest?
Toledo was absolutely beautiful. The ancient architecture of the buildings nestled in the mountains was so picturesque. On this trip it really hit me how incredibly old Spain is! Toledo is the former capital of Spain, and I felt like I was walking back in time as I explored its cobblestone streets. This country truly puts anything “historical” that we have in the United States to shame. (Let’s just say that it was nothing like strolling through Colonial Williamsburg!)
In addition to my excursion to these other cities in Spain, I am also planning on traveling to Paris (and possibly Rome) in November! I’ve found myself thinking, “Is this real life??” But yes, it is really happening! I can’t wait to see what else there is to see.