Saturday, January 21, 2017

Las Cuevas de Nerja




Today we went to the nearby town of Nerja which is known for its incredible caves. Until I got there today I had forgotten that I actually learned about these caves in high school because there are these ancient prehistoric caveman drawings in them. I wasn't really sure what to expect from these caves, I heard they were beautiful but I didn't expect them to be as big as they were! These caves were MASSIVE. I kinda felt like I was in the lost city of Atlantis or something like that going through these caves. Honestly they were like nothing I've ever seen. After we went to the caves we did a little bit of hiking then went to explore the town of Nerja. Sorry some of these pictures are kind of similar but it was just so beautiful! 


















Monday, January 9, 2017

Málaga: Getting settled.



¡Buenas días desde Málaga! We arrived in Malaga a few days ago and are finally more or less settled in with our host family. Our flat is amazing. Our room has a little sun room area with an ocean view and we are directly across the street from the beach. We are within walking distance from the main town center where there is plenty of shopping to keep us occupied and about a 20 minute commute by bus to school. Honestly we couldn't have a more perfect location.

Our host family is very welcoming and we really like them! Already I can tell my Spanish is improving because whenever we speak with our host family we have to speak in Spanish. I have made a point to ask a lot of questions if I don't know the word for something or if I don't understand something too which is helping a lot. Our Señora is Pilar (Pili) and our Señor is Pepe and they have really just been so awesome. We also have a little pet turtle named Seal that roams the house, it doesn't have a cage so we have to be careful not to step on it.

Our first night Pepe took us on a little walking tour of Málaga and then yesterday they let us sleep in and then I went to church (which was very cool in Spanish) and then my roommate Bryce and I went shopping for a little bit before lunch. In the evening we had a walking tour of Málaga with our program group from ISA (International Studies Abroad). We saw a lot of the same things as the night before but it was nice to see them again and here things explained from a different perspective.

Málaga is I believe the 4th oldest city in Europe so it has lots of history to tell and I am very excited to have these next few months to explore. I only have classes in the morning Monday-Thursday so I will have plenty of time to explore the city and travel around Europe.

The view from our room. 
Bryce and I on our first night in Málaga. 
The Cathedral (La Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación)
The Cathedral from the other side. 
The Cathedral only has one tower and this is it. The other tower was never completed so it is only halfway done. 
Picasso was from Málaga and this is a museum featuring his paintings that he kept in his house. 
Plaza de la Merced. Picasso liked this park and there is a statue dedicated to him. 
La Alcazaba, the old muslim castle, is in the distance and directly in front are the ruins of an old Roman theatre. 
Seal our turtle. 
Walked and took the long way home from school today instead of taking the bus. I can walk along the water and the beach the whole time. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Toledo



Sorry for another super dense post but Toledo was so beautiful! The last time I was in Spain we didn't make it to Toledo but I had always heard how pretty it is and how awesome it is because of all the history, so I was really excited. It definitely did not disappoint. We were supposed to begin the day with a Panoramic view of the city but this time of year Toledo can be very foggy and it was far too foggy to see anything so we went straight to our walking tour.

Our tour guide Mario was incredible. He spoke very good English and did the tour in a very good mix of English and Spanish, switching easily between the two and making sure everyone understood what he was saying. He was hilarious (and he has his own tour company, if you are ever in Toledo, I would definitely recommend him for a tour). Toledo has two parts the new part of the city and the old part of the city, which has a big wall around it. Toledo used to be the capital and has a very rich history. Toledo is famous for its historic mix of cultures, Muslims, Jews, and Christians, co-inhabited Toledo peacefully for years, so there is a great mix of architecture throughout the city.

We began by touring the old royal church of Los Reyes Catholicos, Fernando and Isabel, the king and queen who united spain back in the 15th century. It was really beautiful, and surprisingly pretty small because it was considered a church instead of a Cathedral, (the Cathedral is a whole separate building on the other side of town.) The church is now home to Franciscan Friars and it had the most intricate Nativity scene I had ever seen, complete with running water in a small river.

We walked through the Jewish quarter of town and toured a Synagogue that embodied this mix of cultures. It was I believe the oldest Synagogue in Spain and Portugal and one of the oldest in Europe. It was built by Muslims so it had a very Moorish architecture style, though it was used as a synagogue. But there was also a cross inside and at one point it was likely used as a church as well.

We also went into a section of an old church that holds one of the most famous paintings by "El Greco" ("The Burial of the Count of Orgaz") who lived in Toledo for a majority of his life. There was no photography so I don't have a picture but the painting was of a rich man who did charitable works being received into Heaven. I'm going off on a tangent but the most interesting thing to me is that he included his son in the picture and put his signature where he painted his son, dating it not when he completed the painting but the year his son was born, as if to say that his son was his greatest creation.


We didn't tour the big cathedral but we got to see it from the outside and it was incredible. We ended our tour in the center of town and then had free time to have lunch, shop, and explore the city. We shopped a little bit and then found a place where we could see the views, as the fog had finally cleared up, it was picturesque, exactly how you would imagine the Spanish countryside. Overall I liked Toledo much more than Madrid because it felt much less like a big city and you could really feel the history there.

Outside the historic city walls. 




The Iglesia "Son Juan de los Reyes"

Just look at this Nativity Scene


Mario our Tour Guide

The Synagogue
Here you can see the cross (at top of the picture in the middle, and the arches represent a Moorish architecture style, combining the three religions/cultures cohabitation peacefully centuries ago in Toledo).



The Cathedral.


Toledo is full of very narrow streets ("calles estrechas").