Tag Archives: photography

nochevieja

cava and sweet treats from the parador de san francisco in granada.

Every once in a while, I look around at my life and I wonder if this is all real. Is this actually happening to me? Right now, on the first day of 2012, I can’t believe that I’ve been this lucky. This is a post I wrote on December 31 while drinking a cafe con leche at one of my favorite bars, essentially waiting for the year to end. I’ve chosen to add in a few images of my Christmas break traveling with my family.

my mom, sister, and i wandering the alhambra on christmas day.

It’s the last few hours of maybe the most transitional and eventful year of my life to date and I’m more in limbo now than I’ve ever been. The majority of the students in my program, many of them good friends, have returned to the States for good. Christmas has come and gone and with it, my mom and sister, who I probably won’t be seeing until I get back home. I’ve packed up my room in Asa’s house and will only be going back to pick everything up on my way to my new apartment. I’m only ten hours away from 2012, but I’m completely at a loss to picture what this next year will look like. It’s almost as daunting as stepping onto that first leg of my flight to Sevilla almost four months ago.

shoppers in madrid admire the turrón (nougat) offerings.

With all this change coming in the next month, I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions. I make a lot of them, and not just around New Year’s. As evidenced by my (rather extensive) list of goals I wrote for my year abroad, I tend to think ahead. And right now, I’m feeling the need to spend a little time thinking about what I want from this experience. After all, even though I’ve finished up the first half of my schoolwork, I still have at least six months of time left here, and I want to make sure I’m really taking advantage of this incredible opportunity.

poinsettias and christmas lights in the mercado de san miguel, madrid.

See how I did on my goals from 2011 as well as my new goals for 2012, after the jump.

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la vida extremeña

the alleys of caceres's jewish quarter.

I’m starting to realize how much I like traveling alone. I don’t have to worry if I’m boring my travel companions. I can eat when and what I want. And if I get lost, I can wander at leisure until I eventually find my way back to a place I recognize. I think that’s the best part of traveling – turning up a street just because you like the look of the cobblestones, or ducking into a cafe solely based on the cute sign. A few weeks ago, I was sent to Extremadura for an interview and got the chance to do just that. I was headed to an isolated farm in the middle of nowhere and ended up spending the night in the small city of Caceres, which I had never heard of before I bought my bus ticket.

When I pulled into the city that Friday night, Caceres looked like any modern town in Spain – blockish apartment complexes, department stores, freeways. I was glad I would be leaving at 7 the next morning. But when I went hunting for a bocadillo at dinnertime, I found this.

the plaza mayor of caceres. a lovely place to stop for a coffee and people watch!

Turns out, Caceres’s medieval walled city is a UNESCO heritage site – just like Toledo. I immediately extended my stay a night so I could explore all day Sunday. All thanks to a lucky right turn as I stepped out the front door of my hotel.

To be honest, Caceres can be seen in a day. But i liked having time to turn up random streets as I felt like it. I didn’t even have a map – I had no idea what the important sights even were, let alone how to find them. And that was nice. So if you have a day or two, check out Caceres. Or any little town on your way to the next must-see city (I’m looking at you three, Madrid, Barcelona, and Granada!). You just might be surprised.

bougainvillea in the casco antiguo.

If you go…

Stay: Hotel los Naranjos. Clean and cheap, los Naranjos has a great staff. They’ll even be nice to you when you wake them out of a deep sleep at 5 am when you hit the doorbell accidentally on your way out. Not that I’ve done that. It’s located just outside the Casco Antiguo, and about a 5-10 minute bus ride from the main bus station.

Eat: At any of the little carnicerias lining the streets. You can order a sandwich made fresh with the best jamon iberico in the country and delicious sheep’s milk cheese for under 3 euros.

See: The whole old city. Climb the wall (free on Sundays!), walk through the cobbled streets, and stop when you feel like it. It’s worth it, I promise.

caceres seen through the arrow slits in the citadel walls.

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