Spain is a country with endless "must visit" locations. The landscapes, cultures, and ways of life vary a great deal throughout some of the regions, and the past few weekends I've been lucky enough to see a few of these unique places. My Spanish room mate Xavi is from Mallorca, an Island off the Eastern Coast of Spain, and a short 30 minute plane ride from Barcelona. I visited with a friend of mine from the program, and stayed in the gorgeous Hotel Valparaiso de Cala Murada in Manacor, Mallorca. The views, the beach, and the quiet, relaxing atmosphere was a welcome change from the never ending hustle and bustle that is Barcelona. I spent one day on the beach, one day in the capital city of Palma, and the third day I spent in a little town called Felanitx with Xavi and his family. The traditional Mallorcan feast prepared by his mother and grandmother was wonderful, and doubly satisfying because I spoke only in Spanish, which I'm actively trying to do more and more. The time spent with Xavi's family and friends was definitely the highlight of the trip. Oddly enough, I ran into some American tourists from my native Massachusetts, some of whom know students at St. Mike's. It's a small world, after all. Below are some views from the hotel, and a one from Palma, the capital city, and the incredible Cathedral there that Gaudi helped design.
The following weekend we had a program trip to Madrid. It was easy, fun, and felt like it was free because it was included in the program fees. We saw some beautiful sights, some beautiful museums, and maybe best of all I got to meet up with one of my favorite people from St. Mike's, Sarah Godlewski, who also happened to be passing through Madrid for the weekend. It was a great time, and it was nice to travel with everyone in the program.
The feel in the city is quite different than Barcelona. And though it's the capital of Spain, Barcelona just feels more electric, more exciting than Madrid. I suppose I am a little biased. On both trips, I was ready to go "home" to Barcelona afterwards. It's really something how quickly living in this city in another country becomes so normal.
For now, I'm struggling through mid terms and trying to write papers and study for exams and all that. Next weekend some more St. Mike's friends are visiting for the Halloween festivities, and that thought may be the only one that gets me through this week of doing all the academic things which are certainly the least favorable aspect of "studying" abroad.