“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Do I have to come home?


Today was yet another beautiful day in Espana! I'm still jet-lagged and my body is still trying to adjust to a new schedule, but everything is going well.

Today we took a trip to Toledo (only 20 mins by train). Toledo is one of the oldest cities in Spain and has a strong Arabic influence. Every building has a unique history. We were guided by a woman named Elena, who was incredibly kind. She spoke slow, clear Spanish - which we greatly appreciated. We walked along cobblestone paseos (paths, sidewalks, streets) through the city.

There were a number of shops lining the streets. Toledo is known for several unique crafts. They include: knives and swords, ceramics, wood carvings, and something very intricate known as damascene. Damascene pieces are very ornate and handcrafted and involve inlaying threads of gold and silver.

We then took a short walk around the main part of the city and visited El Catedral, which is completely breathtaking.

El Catedral de Santa Maria de Toledo

El Catedral is the second largest cathedral in Spain (the largest is in Sevilla) and is one of the most important religious sites in the entire country. It was built in the early 1200's and took over 500 years to complete. You can see Baroque and Cothic influences throughout. There are gorgeous stained glass windows that reflect off the natural light and create beautiful rainbows on the marble floors. There are 5 entrances (the main entrance is only used when a Cardinal or the Pope is in town). Inside, there are small chapels that line the Cathedral and in the center is the chorale - a large rectangular space with organs that date back hundreds of years. There is also an incredibly ornate main chapel where mass is held. I wish I could have taken pictures inside - I encourage you to google it and see for yourself! I could have spent hours in this place. It's beauty was overwhelming and we did not want to leave!

We spent the rest of the trip making quick stops here and there. As you know, I am a BIG fan of El Greco art work and since we were in his town - there was plenty to see. One of his most famous works "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz" is on display in Church of Santo Tome. It has been cleaned and restored, but has never left the church. The story behind the painting is fascinating - check it out! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burial_of_the_Count_of_Orgaz

We then stopped at a synagogue and Elena explained to us the religious turmoil of the Spanish Inquisition. It was here that one of the most interesting moments of our trip took place. Elena made an analogy - she explained how the King and Queen of Spain had demanded that all citizens convert to Christianity or face persecution. She compared that to President Obama ordering all Americans to become Muslim, because he was Muslim. Theresa said, "No, he's Christian." And Natalie, Elena, and I all shook our heads in agreement that he was not. We then had a brief discussion about how in the states, everyone wants to call Obama a Christian, even though he was born a Muslim and practiced the faith for part of his life. I was very interested to hear the European perspective on this topic. It was quite a discussion.

We then stopped for a quick bite to each, did some window shopping and took a train back to Madrid. Carmen held a short meeting about Cadiz, our host families, and school. We are all so EXCITED about meeting our host families tomorrow night!

We have the weekend off and then Monday we begin intensive Spanish classes. For 2 weeks we have Spanish class from 9-2, Monday through Friday. After, we register for classes at the university and we won't have class on Fridays. Isn't that great?! More time to travel and explore!!!

Ok - time for Tapas! There is a place nearby that on Wednesdays  - everything on the menu is only 1 euro!

Besos y un abrazo!


  1. Alicia, it looks beautiful!!! I can't believe how much you have already done. Way to go!!! I hope you get this. Love Mom

  2. hey leesh its your bro connor!#@$% hope your having fun in spain! i cant wait for you to come home. i wish christmas was tommorow! well im gonna go. i lovee youu!

  3. I agree with connor...Christmas should be tomorrow, I am glad your having a great time. I love you

  4. Hola Cariño, que bueno que lo estes pasando a todo dar. Juventud divino tesoro! Disfruta mucho y siguenos contando tus aventuras en la madre patria ;) Un abrazo, Belinda

  5. alicia you must be tired today i havent' heard about today's adventures. it's the highlight of my day. love mom