In about six hours, I will be departing from Paris-Beauvais airport and arriving a short while later in Barcelona, Spain. While I am excited to see Spain – Barcelona has been on my world-travel bucket list for years – I am sad to say that much of the excitement comes purely from the prospect of getting out of Paris. It’s not that I don’t love Paris…and the food…and the wine…but I am just getting a bit of “cabin fever”: that feeling you get when you just need to get out, see something new, and throw yourself into a different culture. While Paris has treated me well, I am ready to immerse myself in something new and different – especially something Spanish. My speaking skills in the language are sorely out of the practice, and I cannot wait to hear the rolling and trilling of Spanish all around me for four days. French is beautiful, but sometimes it is so curt – French is like the business language of the world, to-the-point and unemotional; Spanish, on the other hand, is passionate and vivacious, exaggerating and exacerbating emotion. It will also be nice to feel comfortable speaking the local language, something I don’t often feel here. Spanish people are warm and open, and welcome to foreigners who try their best at the fast-paced cadence of their tongue. Spain, in short, will be a relief from the French life.
For those of you who don’t know, when I was in high school I studied abroad in Madrid and Almeria, and loved it. Spain is an incredible country, and I’m happy to be heading back. Let’s take a little trip down memory lane…
Our stop in Madrid for about a week was magical. The above photo of the Palacio Real, the former palace of Spanish kings and queens, was toured by our eager group on a rather grey day (not uncommon in Europe). We were jet-lagged, tired, hopped up on Red Bull, and simultaneously zealous about exploring the city.
Our exploration through Madrid’s park (I can’t remember the name) was amazing. The park surprisingly rivals the Luxembourg Gardens and Tuileries, as it is slightly more quiet and well-groomed. Though Madrid is a large, international city, it is less of a tourist center than Paris, which makes it a bit more tranquil to visit.
We saw a lot of churches. A famously Catholic country, once run by Muslims, Spain has some of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe. I can’t remember which ones we saw, but they were all just amazing. More interesting were the castles, which demonstrate a fusion of Christian and Muslim architecture (arches were Muslim, square characteristics were Christian). Spain’s architecture is one of its most appealing aspects, besides the warm people and delicious food!!
Class is over – off to Spain!