Friday, June 20, 2014

Teruel y Albarracín

Last weekend we made a trip to Teruel, where I lived in Spain before. I attempted to make contact with a few old friends, but we primarily hung out with Ana Belén and her new husband, Jorge. It was sad that I didn't get to spend some time with all of my old friends, but in a single weekend, it's nearly impossible to meet up with everyone. Ana and Jorge were amazing hosts, though. They got us a hostel room across the street from their apartment, just above a tavern. They bought us all kinds of food and took us around Teruel and even to Albarracín!

We ended up taking the bus to Teruel, which was every bit as long as I remembered. We somehow arrived thirty minutes ahead of schedule, despite it still taking nearly five hours to get there. I took Susan on a quick walk through part of the city center and the Plaza del Torico so she could get a glimpse of everything. Then we doubled back and met up with Ana at the bus station.

Although her life has changed quite a bit, she seemed mostly the same. She was noticeably happier with her life (she's headed to Kansas in July to teach Spanish for the foreseeable future) and she very recently got married to her boyfriend (mostly so he could accompany her to Kansas, though they seemed to be in love). The biggest difference I noticed was that I could now understand her much better. It's not that I didn't understand her before, but I could pick up on all the slang that she was using without nearly as much trouble. I believe I was automatically tuning out some of her slang before in order to pick up on the important bits of what she was saying. I was proud of my progress.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A week in Madrid

Last weekend (6-8 June), we took it relatively easy by staying in Madrid. I had a late night on Friday celebrating Las fiestas de Getafe with Ana and her friends. We had a wonderful dinner at Home, a partially vegetarian restaurant that allows you to bring your dogs inside. Later on, we ran around town, where everyone was out in the streets partying just about everywhere you looked. I ended up coming home when the sun was already out and took a nap on the couch.

After my four hour slumber, we decided to go hiking around. We walked part of the GR-124 Senda Real, which ended up mostly being us walking along a highway with occasional breaks where we had to dodge people on bicycles. We ate lots of pumpkin seeds and some sweet red peppers that Susan chopped up for us. We eventually got kind of lost because the markers for the trail were confusing and misleading. In the end, we hiked over 13 miles, which I consider quite the feat given my lack of sleep.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Up until last weekend, it had been about two years since I had seen my Spanish roommate and his girlfriend here in Spain. When I last saw David, he was dropping me off at the airport in Valencia at about 5 a.m. (which saved me a five hour bus ride to Madrid and a hotel stay). I was so glad to have the opportunity to hang out with them again after all this time, as they were always so good to me here in Spain. David patiently put up with my ferocious appetite for learning Spanish and for visiting Spanish Civil War sites (and even took me to a few). He cooked me dinner, made me a cake, and toured the medieval festival in Teruel with me for my birthday. He was one of the most open-minded and laid back Spaniards that I met here. Thankfully, none of that has changed in the past couple years.

David and Irene received us like kings. Upon arriving in Huesca, they picked us up at the train station and took us to their house outside the city, in a little town called Tierz (which, if I'm not mistaken, is related to the Latin for 'third' according to David). They moved here about a year ago, but we had visited Huesca together before in May 2012. We dropped off our backpacks and headed straight towards a historic site (they know me well), El Castillo de Montearagón. Atop the castle site, we took in the beautiful Aragonese landscape, a welcome change from Madrid's endless view of rooftops. It reminded me a lot of my time spent in Teruel. I may have had a little nostalgia trip for most of the weekend. But not everything was familiar. Even though I had seen this castle from a distance while visiting some civil war trenches, I had never actually seen it from this perspective.