Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Home stretch

Who knew two weeks could go by so quickly!  A lot has gone on since I last updated (weekend trips, museum visits, excursions) so I'll do my best to keep things brief.  Where to start!  A few weeks ago, our group took a weekend trip to Salamanca, a community in Castilla y León about 50 miles away from Portugal.  Like the majority of what we've been able to see since arriving in Spain, Salamanca was beautiful with a very rich history.  It's incredible to think just how long some of these cities have been in existence and the sort of legacy they carry.  Salamanca, especially, has a fair amount to boast about as far as the gems the city has to offer: two large cathedrals each with an extremely intricate façade, one of the oldest universities in Europe and their very own Plaza Mayor.

In the last week or so, I was able to pass through a handful of museums, including the CaixaForum, Museo de América and Museo Reina Sofia.  It's incredible just how many treasures the city of Madrid holds.  Visiting Museo de América was a particularly amazing experience for the sheer age of many of the items inside.  There were pieces dating back to the 400s!  It's amazing to me that such objects have been found, yet alone preserved.  At the CaixaForum, I was able to see two exhibits: William Blake and Piranesi.  The Reina Sofia was probably my favorite museum out of the three.  I saw several of Dalí's paintings, as well as Picasso's extremely well-known piece, 'Guernica.'  I still find myself incredibly blown away by the fact that many of these pieces of art are so accessible to me here.  As a student, I also have the privilege of free admission to many of the museums in the area, another port of access to several extremely significant historical landmarks, artifacts and works of art.

We were also able to visit El Escorial, a historical residence of the King of Spain. It functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school.

This past weekend a few of us were able to take a weekend trip to Barcelona.  I have no clue where to start as far as describing Barcelona goes simply because it is SO different than Madrid.  A cooler climate, closer to the coast, far more tourists and some extremely stunning architecture.  We took the RENFE (train) to the city--a trip which ended up to be about nine hours total--then took the Metro to our hotel.  Much like Madrid, the easiest way to get around Barcelona seemed to be the Metro!  During our time in Barcelona, we were able to walk through the city center, visit the Picasso museum, have tapas and sangria, go on a walking tour with pit stops at some of Gaudí's most well-known buildings and visit Barceloneta beach.  Despite a few bumps and frustrating moments, on the whole, the trip to Barcelona was extremely worthwhile and although it was a very short stay, we were able to see a fair amount!

Anyway, we've made it to our last week of the program and I'm already having a bit of separation anxiety as far as leaving Spain goes.  Being here has been such a positive experience and I feel like there is still so much for me to see and do here, just not enough time.  I do very much miss my family and friends though and will be happy to come home in two weeks after a pit stop in Norway to visit Claudia and Tony.  The next time I update I will most likely be in Bergen!  Thanks again everyone for all of your love and support.  This month has been truly amazing. xo

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