I’ve been to Europe several times, but have never been privileged enough to visit the same place twice. There are many spots I would love to go back to, particularly the city of Salamanca where I studied for a semester in university.
I did, however, have the chance to return to Spain several years ago. While I was visiting completely different regions of the country, it definitely still felt a little like coming home.
I was taking pictures of every little detail that reminded me of my previous visit: a grocery store I had shopped at, a favorite jewelry store (I had to make a quick stop there to pick up a pair of earrings).
I loved being able to converse in Spanish again; though I was a bit rusty, we were mostly in tourist areas, and I only had one confusing issue where a cafe asked for a PIN for a credit card, despite the fact that US credit cards didn’t have those at the time. I did my best not to get flustered, as I was used to a bit of miscommunication; during my studies, my friends had once ordered lemon juice instead of lemonade, and I had once stood in a phone store for about 10 minutes trying to explain which phone card I wanted to buy (one I had previously purchased at that exact store).
Stained glass in Santa Maria del Mar
Palma rose window
Palma de Mallorca Cathedral, La Seu
It was wonderful to be able to see castles and Gothic cathedrals and be able to view them with my previous knowledge of Spanish history and architecture. We were also happening to visit soon after the Great Recession, which hit Spain quite hard, so we tried to patronize local cafes as much as possible.
Beautiful streets of Spain
In the meantime, I had also picked up the habit of photographing sewer and utilities covers that were interesting.
Continuing my theme of staying in castles from last week, on our class tour of southern Spain we spent a night in the parador of Jaén. “Paradores” are fancy, historical hotels across Spain, and this one was originally a 13th century castle, from the time of conflict between the Christians and the Moors in this area. It is strategically situated on a hillside, which gives some amazing views out of the rooms’ windows.
We traveled on to Granada, where we visited both the Generalife gardens and the Alhambra palace, situated right next to each other.
The mix of Arab and European architecture in that area is just marvelous, and so is the natural scenery. Both the windows themselves and the view of out them are worth seeing!
Some of the most impressive Roman ruins I’ve seen were actually in Spain, or Hispania as it was known then. In fact, this one hardly counts as a ruin, considering that it has been restored at various times over the years and was used for its intended purpose until the mid-19th century. This aqueduct, built around the 1st century AD, is one of the symbols of Segovia, Spain. Seen here in 2006, it has two beautiful layers of arches, one large on the bottom and one smaller on top.
You can see the layers of unmortared bricks in this closer shot. The niche holds a statue of the Virgin Mary, which the Internet tells me may be la Virgen de la Fuencisla, the patron saint of Segovia.
When I studied abroad in Spain in 2006, we had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling around the country, both with our university group and on our own. We saw not only the main cities of Spain, but also the beautiful countryside.
We took a quick day trip to Segovia, a beautiful city with a rich history. From the castle, we saw this amazing view of the city and the surrounding countryside.
Our group took a trip through the south of the country later in the fall. We traveled through the region of Castilla-La Mancha and saw some of the old windmills made famous by Don Quixote.