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Blog No. 2: Kristen Hinckley 17 In Spain

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¡Hola, again! Update time:

I have had an amazing last week and a half of travel and exploration here in Spain! Last week the program gave us a week off for vacation, even though being in Spain enough for me!

We travelled to Madrid as a group for the weekend and had a great time touring around and experiencing our first big Spanish city. Madrid is a BEAUTIFUL, old, historic city situated in the center of Spain and serves as its capital. It was great to learn first-hand from our Professor and our tour guides about the Spanish history, literature, and culture that we have been learning about in class. We visited three very famous art museums: Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Reina Sofia. They displayed notable works of all different styles by celebrated artists such as Picasso, Goya, Velázquez, Monet, Van Gogh, and Dali. I especially enjoyed seeing the surrealist art because I wrote a term paper for my writing seminar at Dartmouth in the winter on the same surrealist film that was being shown in the museum that we visited. Furthermore, even though Madrid has plenty of beautiful buildings, the one that impressed me most was the “Ayuntamiento” (town hall. Ironic, right?). Visiting the “Palacio Real” where the official government activities take place was remarkable because we were standing in a building that has over 1500 rooms! I was lucky because my Mom flew over and we spent the week together. We had a special experience when we went to Restaurante Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world, and had the privilege of sitting at the table where Ernest Hemingway sat to eat! Our favorite memory from Madrid was rowing on the pond because it was so relaxing to be on the water in such a beautiful place.

Next, off to Barca! Barcelona was a lot of fun, but very different from Madrid. We saw the Olympic Stadium from the 1992 Summer Olympics and the FC Barcelona soccer stadium. My favorite part about Barcelona was the fact that there were street musicians playing everywhere you walked — always entertainment! We saw many of Gaudi’s works throughout the city including the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo, the Gaudi fountain, and La Pedrera. This was the most interesting architecture I had ever seen and it inspired me to write my Spanish term paper on Gaudi’s life and work.

After touring around Spain’s largest cities, my mom and I took a trip to San Sebastián, a small town on the northern coast of Spain. A city full of Basque culture, history, beautiful beaches, and welcoming people, San Sebastián has been chosen to be the European Capital of Culture in 2016. After spending one day in this beautiful town, I decided that it is my favorite place in the world. We had the fun Spanish experience of “pincho-hopping” where you go from restaurant to restaurant in the old part of the city eating one “pincho” (bread with food on top) and then moving on to the next place. Next, we took the funicular up to the top of the mountain and went on a boat ride at the top, marveling at the beautiful view of the beach, city, and mountains. Afterwards, we went to the Palace where we were captivated by the beauty of the flowers and garden. The view from the palace was the most beautiful view I had ever seen. 

Back to Santander — my Spanish home! It was great to be able to show my Mom where I have been spending my summer. She got to see everything — my house, my school, the gym, the beach, and the old part of the city. Because last week was “La Semana Grande,” meaning the big week, in Santander, there was a plethora of activities. My friends and I went to the city carnival where we enjoyed the Spanish fair rides that were terrifying to say the least…Yesterday our class had the honor of having class and lunch in “Palacio de la Magdalena” that used to be the summer palace of the king and queen. Lastly, we attended a horse-flamenco show that included horse tricks with flamenco dancers simultaneously — a cultural experience that you can only find in Spain!

Overall, the past couple of weeks have been so much fun and very eye opening. I love to travel and it was great to spend time with my mom. I am so excited for my last three weeks here in Spain and am trying to take advantage of everything that this wonderful country has to offer. I have included a picture of my Spanish family, as well.