G’Day from Australia 2016

Ryan Kluk
Kluk Down Under Blog 3: A day in Freo

Fremantle (Freo for short) is a suburb of Perth just to the west. Freo is located at the mouth of the Swan River and is a port city off the Indian Ocean. This small suburb of Perth is a hustle and bustle town containing around 27,000 people. Freo is home to the Fremantle Dockers, and Australian Football League team. Freo is also home to two local breweries: Little Creatures and The Monk. I have eaten at both and I would have to say that Little Creatures has better food, but The Monk has better beer. I would definitely recommend the Monk Apple and Strawberry Farmhouse Cider. The cider is sweet, but has a great flavor that is not too fruity. However, there is more to Freo than just the two breweries such as the monuments and originals buildings.

Round House

Round House

The Fremantle Round House was built in 1831 and was the first permanent building in Freo and still stands to this day. In fact, the Round House is the oldest building still standing in Western Australia. The Round House was used as a prison for the city. The other historic building in Freo is the actual Fremantle Prison that was built in 1855 and is now a World Heritage Site. The prison used convict labor to help fix any issues with the buildings construction as well as the construction of Freo. The prison is almost original from when it was initially built. These two buildings are a must see, because they give the present day a look back to the early colonists days of Australia. After you look at the history of Freo, you have to walk Market St. and poke your head into all the little shops. And at the end of the road you will find the Fremantle Market, built in 1897.
The market only operates on the weekend and helps local farmers sell their products. Not only does the market have produce, but multiple stands that sell a variety of items from clothes to pottery to boomerangs. The market is always crowded, but is an experience all on its own. I could spend a whole day in the market if I was given the chance, but I have to study and get my assignments done.

High Street, a view from my camera.

High Street, a view from my camera.

Freo is a lovely town, but will keep you on your toes with a variety of architecture and vast array of people that inhabit the small but fast-moving city.
Come back to hear more adventures of Kluk Down Under.

This is Ryan Kluk signing off.

G’Day from Australia 2016

Ryan Kluck
Kluk Down Under Blog 2: Diving in Ningaloo

Ningaloo Reef has been a World Heritage site since 2011 and is gorgeous, but not nearly as popular a reef when compared to the Great Barrier Reef. Ningaloo is on the northwestern side of the country near Exmouth. Ningaloo reef is a fringing reef. A fringing reef is a reef that lies close to the shore, no more than 3 kilometers from land whereas the Great Barrier Reef is anywhere from 15 km to 165 km. Ningaloo reef is a very healthy reef that has little human stress added because of the reef’s remoteness.
While in Ningaloo, I had the opportunity to snorkel and swim with manta rays and a whale shark. First, I swam with the manta rays in Coral Bay. The rays were no more than twenty feet from me while I snorkeled at the surface of the water. Colors of the rays varied from pitch black to light grey. I got to snorkel with them during their feeding time. Now, the rays (as well as the whale shark) were in the wild. The only human interaction with the animals is humans swimming with them. I got to observe the rays in their natural habitat swimming on the fringe of the reef. Seeing the manta rays do flips to catch food was unbelievable. The rays were about four feet long with a wingspan of about nine feet.

Me swimming with a 14-foot whale shark at Ningaloo reef.

Me swimming with a 14-foot whale shark at Ningaloo reef.

Now, swimming with the biggest fish in the sea might give you a heart attack, but swimming with the whale shark near Exmouth was incredible. The shark we swam with was about five meters in length or seventeen feet. The whale sharks can reach up to eighteen meters or sixty feet when fully mature. These gigantic beasts are so peaceful and gorgeous. Our whale shark was a greyish-blue with white spots and was a juvenile male. I got to swim with the whale shark six different times over the period of ninety minutes. I was ten feet from the largest fish in the ocean and I couldn’t have been happier.
Until next time, this is Ryan Kluk signing off.

G’Day from Australia 2016

Ryan Kluk

Kluk Down Under Blog 1: Welcome to Perth, Western Australia

Hello, I am Ryan Kluk. I study at Hampden-Sydney College in rural Farmville, Virginia. I am a rising senior but for this summer I am studying at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia. I am taking two marine biology courses during my five week tenure here. Perth is so different from home back in the States. Perth is home to skyscrapers, 2.02 million people, and next to the beach. Perth is like Chicago, Illinois with its skyscrapers and enthrallment with sports but Perth is not nearly as cold and has 300,000 less people. Perth is a beach city, with suburbs like Fremantle (Freo for short.) Enough about Perth; let me tell you about Murdoch University.

Myself with a kangaroo

Myself with a kangaroo

Murdoch is about a twenty minute commute from Perth and containsabout 15,000 students. Murdoch is a wide campus divided into two separate parts. First, you have the academic side where all classes take place but where the courtyard and shops are stationed on campus. Murdoch is a gorgeous campus that has a wide variety of Australian wildlife such as: Australian Black Cockatoos, Quendas (Southern Brown Bandicoot), and Crows that wake you up in the morning and distract you during class. On the other side of campus, is the student living section. I live in the University Village. I share an apartment with four girls and three guys. This is my first time living with girls in a dorm and it is quite strange because Hampden-Sydney is an all-male school; where, I only live with guys. Here, I have my own room that is an average size with a bed, closet, and desk. We all share a kitchen and a common room that acts as a living room. My hall mates are great. I have truly bonded with them. All eight of us are from all over the United States. The rest of the students in my program live in the apartment style dorms that are across the street. There are thirteen of us total.
Classes started today and they are just like back home: fifty minute lectures with a five minute break in-between. However, we are not at Murdoch for long because we leave on Sunday, June 19th, 2016 for Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth, Western Australia. While there, we will be conducting research on the clams stationed along the reef.
Food here is not much different than in the States, except there are not nearly as many preservatives. Kangaroo meat is utterly amazing. It taste like steak, but better. Oh, and Australians love BBQ sauce. They put BBQ sauce on everything from breakfast sandwiches to pizza.
The Australian culture is amazing to experience. They love talking about sports and having a brew for lunch. Australians are extremely curious about American politics and ask about American stereotypes all the time. However, a lot of the Australian stereotypes seem to be true. A lot of Aussie’s drive jeeps, wear rustic clothing and are remarkably helpful.
Well, that’s all for now. Stay tuned for more adventures of Kluk Down Under!

Spain 2016

Week 4

Korbin Bordonie

The last week in Spain we visited a few other castles and famous landmarks. The biggest breathtaking memorial we went to the last week was Franciso Franco’s grave. The memorial and church inside this mountain was absolutely amazing.

El Valle de los Caidos

El Valle de los Cáidos

Franciso Franco was a fascist leader in Spain despised by many of the natives. Franco was a Spanish general and the Caudillo of Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975. People despised him for his views and support of the Nazi group. His grave place was built by slaves, which the natives did not appreciate as well. The monument (Valle de los Cáidos) is known for it amazing architect and the 500ft cross, placed on top in the mountain.

View of the monument form the highway

View of the monument from the highway.

While the monument is a grave and daily functioning church, it also was created to be a monument for the fallen of the Spanish Civil War. The inside of the monument and the outside are just breathtaking and to really understand how amazing the monument is, you need to see it for yourself.
Our last week here in Spain everyone seemed to want to go home. We all seemed to miss the United States a little after not having any summer time to ourselves in our home country. This being said, my experience in a foreign country has been great. Learning about a different culture in Spain has really been a big eye opener of how great we actually have it in the United States. I would definitely recommend anyone to travel overseas to have a similar great experience as my fellow students, friends and I had.

Adíos!

Spain 2016

Hasta la proxima (Until next time)

Nick Browning

 

After finally getting into my routine, it’s already time to leave Alcalá, but this past week has been awesome. On Sunday, my class went to Madrid to go to El Retiro, the Madrid equivalent of Central Park, and afterwards we stayed in Madrid to go to a bull fight.

La Plaza de Las Ventas

La Plaza de Las Ventas

The bull fight was exactly what I thought it would be, and although it’s becoming a controversial topic in Spain, I really enjoyed it. Classes this week were interesting because they were more of a conversation than a lecture. Because we have a small class, myself and three others, we were able to hold a few of our classes outside of a café. I guess that’s the perks of studying abroad on a small program through our small college. We talked about everything from the economic situation that Spain is dealing with, to the outlook for college graduates in Spain, and even the elections that are crazy enough to rival our own in the United States.

On Wednesday, we took our last excursion to El Escorial and El Valle de los Caídos (The Valley of the Fallen), and despite all the amazing places we went over this past month, I think this was my favorite trip. El Escorial was built in the 16th century as a tribute to the battles won by Felipe II and as a place to entomb his father, Carlos I. To this day, the building is still used as a school, a library, a monastery, a museum, and the actual burial site of all the kings and queens of Spain since the 1500’s. We went down in the octagonal room where all of the coffins are and could see the names of the kings that we had studied over the past month, and for me this was the coolest part of the entire building. I really appreciated El Escorial that much more after this visit, because I was able to follow everything that the guide was saying, and I was able to connect it back to what we had learned in class. After the tour, we took a trip up into the nearby mountains to visit El Valle de los Caídos.

El Valle de los Caidos

El Valle de los Cáidos

This is actually a basilica that was completed 20 years after the end of the Spanish civil war as a memorial to those nationalist soldiers that fought in favor of Francisco Franco. It is an amazing place because it has a giant stone cross that sits on top of the mountain, but the basilica itself is actually built into the mountainside. The building itself represents a dark time in Spanish history, however, it is hard not to be amazed by the architecture.

 

I can’t believe that our month in Spain is already up. I definitely picked up on some subtleties of the Spanish culture that I missed before. One of the most interesting things that I realized while I was here is the fact that the Spanish people, and people from other countries as well, are extremely in tune with the American presidential election. Almost every day since I’ve been here, I’ve seen either Clinton’s or Trump’s face on the television. People would constantly want to talk to me about it, and I couldn’t believe how interested they were about the whole thing. I find it especially interesting that they are interested in our election, but the Spanish presidential election is coming up in a few weeks on June 26th. Their election is just as, if not more interesting than ours because it is actually a run-off election. The first election was in December but there wasn’t a majority winner out of the four candidates, so now they’re having another one. After talking with my host family and some other students from the University of Alcalá, I got the impression that they’re just as fed up with the political process as many Americans are. It was awesome to be able to have these in depth conversations with people in their own language. I realized that even though our cultures are completely different, Spanish and Americans deal with and care about many of the same issues.

I’m really going to miss the Spanish lifestyle when I get back to the States: the food, the laid-back attitudes, the weather, the public transportation, but most importantly the people. The people here have been extremely nice and helpful. I plan on staying in touch with my host family and especially my little brother here in Spain. They’ve been awesome this entire trip. I’m extremely glad that Hampden-Sydney makes it so there is only one student with each family because I don’t think I would’ve had the same experience had one of my friends been with me.

Spain 2016

Nick Browning

Finally Getting Accustomed

Classes this week have been more interesting in the sense that we’re finally being able to see how Spain’s history is affecting life today. Most of the issues that Spanish people are dealing with are due to a combination of medieval history and the struggles that the country faced over the last one hundred years. For nearly forty years, from 1939-1975, Spain was ruled by the dictator Francisco Franco. I’m not going to go into all the details of his reign, but just know that some of his biggest allies were Hitler and Mussolini. In 1975, after Franco died, the historical royal family, the Borbons, resumed power but only as a figurehead of the state. Spain is still feeling the repercussions of Franco’s reign as there is once again a lot of uncertainty and instability in the country’s government. One could say that their presidential elections that are set to take place on the 26th of this month could rival our own unpredictable presidential election. As for the effects of medieval history on Spanish politics today, the country is currently dealing with an attempted secession of one of its regions. Hundreds of years ago in the late 1400’s, Spain was united by the marriage of the Catholic Kings. King Fernando brought the region of Cataluña into the Spanish kingdom, but even to this day, the people of Cataluña speak a different language called Cataluñan (Spanish is also spoken there). Due to cultural and economic reasons, the region is attempting to secede from Spain, but I really don’t think that is going to happen for various reasons. We are only a few classes into our class on contemporary issues in Spanish culture, but I’m really enjoying the fact that I am able to apply what we learned in our Spanish history class to the issues that the country is currently dealing with.

Week three has been exciting in the fact that we’ve taken more trips to historical sites around the Madrid region.

Aqueduct of Segovia

Aqueduct of Segovia

On Tuesday, we went to Segovia to see the Alcázar of Segovia, the city’s roman aqueduct, and the Cathedral of Segovia. The Alcázar was not only the site of the marriage between the Catholic Kings, it was also the inspiration for the castle in Walt Disney’s movie Cinderella. The aqueduct is by far my favorite monument in the city because it is still standing perfectly after 2000 years. It is impressively large and is definitely a testament to roman engineering. The Cathedral of Segovia was interesting; however, I enjoyed the Cathedral of Toledo which we visited on Saturday much more.

Cathedral of Toledo

Cathedral of Toledo

Toledo is the home of the grandest cathedral that I’ve ever seen. I’m not Catholic, but just being in the building made me appreciate the magnitude of the project and the power of the religion in Spain. Toledo is also famous for its mixture of three cultures: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. Before Spain was united as a Catholic country, the three religions lived peacefully in the city. My favorite example of this is the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca. It was a synagogue that was built for the Jews by Muslim architects at the order of the Christian king Alfonso VIII. Toledo, aside from Valencia and its beautiful beaches, is my favorite city that I’ve visited thus far. On top of visiting historical monuments, we spent Thursday in Madrid visiting the Reina Sofia Museum and going to a Flamenco Show. Being modern art, some of the art in the Reina Sofia was a little too abstract for my liking, but I did enjoy Picasso’s Guernica and the Salvador Dalí collection. The show was interesting; even though I didn’t understand half of the words in the songs because it was Spanish sung like opera, I understood the storyline. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before in the States. Despite the fact that I’ve been to and seen most of these places and things before, it was awesome going back to see everything again, and this time I found out and saw new things.

Plaza Mayor in Segovia

Plaza Mayor in Segovia

It’s hard to believe that our trip to Spain is coming to a close. It really feels like we just landed a few days ago, but I’ve already seen and learned a lot on this trip. My ability to speak and understand Spanish has increased immensely which has been awesome. There’s something about being able to communicate with people that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to that makes me want to continue to work at becoming fluent. The way I see it is that if I can speak another worldly language, then it opens many more opportunities for me. One example of this is the conversations that I’ve had with my host family. My little host brother has taught me a lot about soccer just by us being able to play FIFA together on his PS4. I’ve talked with my host parents and their friends about the state of the Spanish economy and comparisons between the United States and Spain. That’s awesome for me, because I’m talking to them in their language. I didn’t realize I would be able to have these high caliber conversations before I came here, but my Spanish has really advanced over the three weeks that I’ve been living with them.

Spain 2016

Nick Browning

Work Hard, Play Hard

Our second week in Alcalá was a little less exciting than last week, but that’s because we had to do all of our classwork in the first half of the week, so that we could enjoy a vacation during the second half of the week. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were each days full of six hours’ worth of class. For us, that meant covering Spanish history from the medieval times until the early 1900’s. This completed our crash course of 2,500 years of Spanish history that we completed in six days of class. We didn’t find out until the last day of class, but we completed in two weeks what Spanish high school students learn over two years. At first it was very tedious having to learn dates, the organization of the government, the various capitals and the constant power struggle in Spain; however, for our final project we had to write a paper about one of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain, and I realized that everything in Spanish history is still relevant to everyday life. Learning the history of the various regions of the peninsula gave me insight into why things are how they are today. For example, Aragón has historically disagreed with the kingdom of Castilla. The two were brought together through the marriage of the Catholic Kings, but even today the land of Aragón (Cataluña) is fighting to be an independent, sovereign nation.

Once we finished our final paper on Thursday, we were able to travel for the rest of the weekend. Most of the group, including myself, went to Valencia. I traveled with two other guys, Kyler Vela and Brett Shaw, and I enjoyed not only my first hostel experience but my first Blablacar experience as well. Blablacar is like a long distance Uber, you can catch rides with people driving to other cities for only a fraction of the cost of a train ticket. Our driver, Benjamin, grew up in Valencia, so on the 3.5-hour car ride he told us where we should visit and what we should do. It was a cool experience given that he didn’t speak any English and we were able to travel the highways like Spaniards do. It was my first time really getting outside of Madrid in either of my trips to Spain, and it was awesome being able to see the changes in the landscape as we drove from the middle of the country to the coast. While we were in Valencia we divided up our time between visiting the

Paella

Paella

historic monuments like the two medieval towers, the silk market, the cathedral, and the functioning market in which you could buy almost any food you could desire. When we weren’t exploring the city, we were either trying out some local food like the famous paella,

or we were hanging out on the beautiful Playa Marvillosa.

Playa Marvillosa

Playa Marvillosa

The lifestyle of Valencia was a lot different than the lifestyle in Madrid; it was still a giant city, but it had a small town feel that would be impossible to obtain in Madrid. Valencia is large and historic but it is also inviting and modern. As of now, if I were able to move back to Spain, I would more than likely move to Valencia.

The UEFA Champions League final was on Saturday, and just like in 2014, the two teams were Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. Soccer in Spain is a religion with politically infused sentiments, and it was awesome being able to experience the madness that takes over during big games like this. We weren’t even in Madrid during the game, but the Valencians were going crazy. We were at a restaurant that didn’t have a TV when we realized that the game was going to be determined by penalty kicks, so we ran over to a bar. When we got there we found out that there weren’t any TV’s in any of the restaurants or bars on the street, so we listened to the end of the game on the radio with the Argentinian bartender. It wasn’t ideal, but it was an experience that I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy if I wasn’t able to understand the Spanish language.

The second week of our program was definitely front loaded with

Torres de Serrano

Torres de Serrano

classroom work given that we had to study nearly a millennium of Spanish history, but it was well worth it. I’m loving being back in Spain again. It’s like no place else. I can’t believe how fast the experience is flying by, and even though it’s my second time here, I’m constantly learning more about Alcalá and all of Spain.

 

Spain 2016

Korbin Bordonie

Week three
Week three was quite an adventure. We visited many very important Spainish landmarks. The first landmark and most fascinating landmark we visited, in my opinion, was the Royal Palace.

Royal Palace

Royal Palace

You may think your own personal house is big, but try a 1.45 million square foot one. We were not allowed to take any pictures of the inside of the house, but let’s just say the chandeliers were as big as cars and everything was gold. To put it into perspective of how much money is in this building, in 2012 there was a violin that fell off of a table that was on display and the damages were worth 20 million. The family itself actually lives in the palace, only a few months out of the year, if any. They are always on the go and have things to do. I’ll share some pictures of the courtyard and from the outside of the X10 huge mansion.
The second place we visited was the Nacional Bibleoteca.

Biblioteca Nacional

National Library of Spain

This library holds 26 million different books, newspapers and manuscripts. The library is by far the largest library in Spain and one of the largest in the world. There were many sculptures of famous Spainish leaders all around the library that helped represent it’s 304 years of establishment. Right next to the library is a huge museum of modern art. There were many Picasso and Dali paintings here. I’m not really a big art guy but these paintings really caught my eye. Many of the paintings that were on display were almost priceless and extremely unique.
Don Quixote’s hill and castle of windmills was the fourth landmark we visited. Don Quotis windmillsThis is a famous folk story of Spain, and has been around since there were knights walking around in armor (1607). Don Quixote was a man who was very mentally confused. To summarize the story, he went to the top of the hills in his small town to fight the windmills alone, which he thought were dragons. He failed miserably and the “dragons” clocked him in the side of the head, he then retreated. This story is one of the most important stories told in Spain and has been the most popular for many years.
Learning about the Spanish culture has been quite an experience and by going to major landmarks, plays, castles and museums, it has really opened my eyes to see a different perspective of the world.

Spain 2016

Korbin Bordonie
Week one
After I stepped off the bus into the city of my new home earlier this week, I noticed things were a lot different in Spain. Along with the extremely fast language they speak in Spain, something as small as the layout of their grid of the city is different. This first week I found myself pulling out my phone quite a bit after I got lost a few times to check my GPS. The grid of the city is set out however it fell hundreds of years ago. There is no coordination in the streets or any set structure, so the streets go all different ways and directions. The people of Alcala de Henares and of Spain walk an enormous amount. The amount of walking they do in Spain has resulted in a very fit population. And when I say walk, if it’s 5 miles a day to get to work, they are walking. They walk to dinner, they walk to the grocery store, they walk everywhere. With this being said, the streets are not as clean as ours in the United States due to the amount of traffic they endure. One of my first experiences, on the first day, was an old man almost getting hit by a car. The cars here do not have to yield to pedestrians as they do in the United States, if you would like to cross the street you just take a step out into the street. Kind of risky if you ask me, so I look both ways every time I cross, as they do not. Things are very different here and I’m sure I’ll discover some new things to share with the readers in the next few days.

Week two
I just ate my fourth piece of bread for the day. For every meal of the day, Spaniards eat non-processed bread. Bread cleans your pallet in your mouth and has some kind of history with their culture I have not figured out yet. (The language barrier is quite difficult, haha!) Oh, and lunch is at 2:30 where dinner is at 9:30, a little different than at home, huh? The nice family that is sharing their house with me for the month has two boys. One of the brothers is 15 and the other is 17. Both speak very little English and the parents speak none at all. The conversations between the family and I have resulted most of the time in me saying, sí and no, from what I can translate from the rapid fire talking.

I went to a bullfight earlier this week. There were tons of people in the coliseum. It was kind of strange to see a human fight an animal because that would never happen in the United States. This is part of their culture, and has been dated back all the way to 1726. Things like this may be something us as Americans would not agree with, but it is their culture and we must respect that.

Spain 2016

 

 

My First Week Back

Nicholas Browning

 

I have been lucky enough to be able to return to Alcalá de Henares for the second time during my career at Hampden-Sydney. We are lucky that we are able to return to the historic town and study at one of the oldest universities in Spain: La Universidad de Alcalá de Henares. When I came back, I felt like I never left. The town hasn’t changed at all over the past two years, and with laws in place that maintain the historic feel, I don’t see much change happening any time soon.

Historic Plaza de Cervantes

Historic Plaza de Cervantes

The town has a rich history that includes being the cite of the birthplace of the famous author Miguel de Cervantes, the first meeting between the Catholic Kings and Cristopher Columbus, and the creation of the first Spanish grammar books used to teach the language to natives in the new world. However, it is very much so a modern city. Once you venture away from the center of town and the countless historic buildings and churches, Alcalá becomes much more modern.

On my 20-minute walk from my host family’s piso (apartment) to the school, I walk by other apartment buildings until I reach the main road that I take all the way to the Plaza de Cervantes. On my walk there, I pass by everything from clothing stores to bakeries. The window of my favorite bakery is filled with freshly baked pastries and sometimes paying 1.50 euros for three of my favorites is too good of a deal to pass up. This is especially the case when I’m heading home for our siesta/lunch break in between classes.

I love the experience of living with my host family. My host mom, Tere, is always checking up on me when I’m in the house to see if I need anything, and she has constantly been reminding me that I can grab some fruit or yogurt whenever I want anything to eat. There’s absolutely no chance of going hungry. My host dad, Nacho, kind of reminds me of my own dad. He’s serious when it comes to work, but likes to hit the one-liner jokes. He’s constantly giving me a hard time, but it’s always in a lighthearted manner and makes me feel at home. I also have a little brother this time around. Pablo is 15 and most of our relationship thus far consists of us playing FIFA together on his PS4. Sometimes I’ll sit down at the kitchen table with my host mom or on the couch with my host dad simply to talk. It took me a couple of days to reacquaint myself with only speaking Spanish; however, the entire family was and continues to be extremely patient with me.

Despite the fact that I’ve been here before, it is still extremely difficult to get used to the eating schedule of Spain. Here, breakfast is not bacon and eggs; it’s coffee and a sweet pastry or cookies. I don’t usually eat either with breakfast back home, but I’m slowly getting re-accustomed with it. Another difference is, due to the fact that breakfast is so small, the first filling meal of the day is the lunch we eat around 2:30. Then we won’t eat a real meal again until about 9:00 or 9:30.  This isn’t just my family, it’s the way the Spanish culture works. Another thing that is hard to adjust to is the way we dress. Everyday it is between 85-90 degrees during the hottest part of the day, but you’ll only see foreigners wearing shorts. I don’t understand it; it’s as if Spaniards just don’t feel the heat because they are always wearing pants and usually a long sleeve shirt. I tried to wear pants for the first couple of days in an attempt to assimilate, but it was way too hot for me.

So far we have visited Consuegra and Madrid. Consuegra is famous for its windmills that Don Quixote fought in Cervantes’ novel and the 1100-year old castle that sits between the windmills. We toured both and then we were able to explore through the modern town.

Roman Caves converted in to a dining area

Roman Caves converted in to a dining area

I use the term modern loosely, because Kyler Vela and myself ate in a medieval palace that had been converted into a restaurant. We took on the “when in Rome” attitude, so we paid 13 euros for a ration of Manchego Cheese from the region and then decided it needed to be paired with some wine from Consuegra. It was definitely worth it. When we were done, the owner took us inside the restaurant and showed us that the dining room in the back of the restaurant is made up of old caves that the Romans used to store their grains.

On our two other class trips thus far we went to Madrid. Every Sunday morning in the middle of Madrid, there is an open air flea market that takes over called “El Rastro”. There, you can buy anything from clothing to kitchenware and anything in between that you could imagine. We also went back this past Friday to see some of the major attractions of Madrid. With these being a feat that would take more than one day, we stuck to touring the Royal Palace of Spain and going to El Museo del Prado. In 2014, we were unable to go inside of Palacio Real; therefore, it was extremely cool to see the inside of it. It is beautiful from the outside, but the inside is unbelievable.  After we toured a portion of the Palace, we made our way to El Prado. This museum houses art dating back to Roman times up until the start of the 19th century. My favorite painting, El Jardín de las Delicias, is housed there, so I immediately made my way to go see it. I know we have more trips coming up as a part of the program, and I’m excited to see what other new things I learn this time around.

Panaroma of el Palacio Real and la Catedral de la Almundena

Panaroma of el Palacio Real and la Catedral de la Almundena