Zamora, probably the most medieval city we have visited in the whole trip.
The predominant architecture style is romanic with a lot of small little churches around the city. The most relevant visit was the cathedral with a Byzantine section. Students were tired but the attitude and behavior was great.
Today we went to Zamora, a region of Castilla y León, a one-hour bus ride from Salamanca. This city was influenced by the Romans which can be seen in the buildings and churches. When we arrived, our guide pointed out the characteristics of Roman churches, and we got to go inside a few. In one of them there was a First Communion ceremony. Next we went to the Museo Semana Santa which had a display of biblical scenes that were used to teach the illiterate the bible stories, and warn them of the punishment they would receive if they were not good Catholics. We then saw the remains of a castle made out of stone and took pictures of the amazing view from the top. From there we went inside a museum of a cathedral, and next the cathedral which had incredible displays with detailed artwork. After viewing that, we had an hour of free time, which was when it began to rain. When we met up again, we walked through the streets where the craftsmen work to see their businesses and that concluded our excursion to Zamora.
Today we went on an excursion to Ávila and Segovia, two cities in the same region (Castilla-León) as Salamanca. We left from the Plaza Gabriel at 9 and arrived in Ávila at 10, where we visited a large wall/fortress. Although the day was a bit chilly, we got to take in the amazing view from above and grab a bite to eat (cute and yummy pastries that were surprisingly very cheap!). Then we left for Segovia, where we ate our lunches (tortillas con patata, anyone?) and got to see a Roman aqueduct and later Alcázar, a beautiful castle where the Catholic monarchs resided (fun fact: this structure inspired Disney's castle!). Afterwards, we shared delicious torrejas, a dessert similar to mini bread pudding. We arrived back in Salamanca at 8 and rushed back home to watch the soccer match between Sevilla and Barcelona. Though extremely sad to be leaving this country soon, we are making the most of the time we have left!!!
This is our guide, Andrea. She works at our school, Colegio Delibes, and she taught us a lot about the history of different cities.
Sarah: If you could choose a Spanish food to represent your personality, what food would you choose?
Andrea: My personality or the personality of Spanish food?
A: So difficult. Probably one from my home, Segovia. In Segovia, the typical food is Cordero Asado or Cochinillo Asado. Cochinillo is a small pig roasted in a wood stove.
S: What is the personality of this dish?
A: It's a little strong. It's a food that's normally eaten with family on the weekends or in restaurants and it's a little heavy. Yeah, afterwards you have to go for a nice walk.
Hannah: And is there a funny or weird expression that wouldn't make sense if it were translated to English?
A: Well, I don't know if you have this expression, but to me it seems a bit strange because sometimes when we don't feel well, something hurts, or we're really tired, we use the expression "Today, I'm not very Catholic!" With the verb "estar" not with the verb "ser." [Both "ser" and "estar" mean "to be," but generally, "estar is for more temporary conditions and "ser" is used to describe permanent traits] With the verb "ser" it refers to religion, to be Catholic. But when I don't feel well, when my head hurts, I'm tired, "today I don't want to go out. I'm not very Catholic." It's a little bit dated, this expression, but it exists.
.We started off our typical school day at Colegio Delibes from 9:00 – 1:00. We then transitioned into a relaxing siesta and delicious home cooked meal by our host families. After, we learned about the 17 autonomous communities – similar to states. We are currently in Castilla y Leon and have been to 3 of the 17 including Madrid, where we flew into, and Castilla-La Mancha, when we visited Toledo. Among others, some include Andalucía and Cataluña. After this geography lesson, we had free time to look for gifts and we rented bikes to travel around Salamanca. Again, concluded the day with a meal from our host family
Day 9 had to have been our longest, fullest day from start to finish. Almost everyone was up an hour earlier than usual to meet for an authentic Spanish breakfast of churros & chocolate. Review of the day's schedule & classes followed. Students dispersed to their Salamanca homes for comida, while the teachers joined teachers from Italy, France, Lebanon, & Spain for tapas & conversation. We would like to share with you that during our conversation, the Colegio Delibes director, Miguel, made a point to tell the group about how wonderful he thinks our kids are. He is very impressed with their ability & willingness to speak Spanish, their respectfulness & punctuality, and their overall attitude to fun & challenging days. This school has become so popular that they have had to turn down many groups, but Miguel told us privately that he will always make room for a group from Lyme-Old Lyme!
Our social & cultural activity of the day was a very cool outing to a neighborhood on the west side of the city where art & graffiti are integrated into the environment & architecture. Our guide had us do an interactive photography scavenger hunt using a map & asking locals for directions to find specific murals & graffiti & create innovative poses with them. See the results & some of the art below.
A one-hour break allowed us to get ready & catch our breath for the next social event, 2-hours of music & dancing with kids from all groups at Colegio Delibes who come from France, Italy, Lebanon, USA. & other parts of Spain. A very fun & popular event!
We ended the day with a group walk to an area of the city famous for tapas. We ate delicious samples of chicken, tuna, goat cheese, and various special creations for vegetarians & those with special diets. 4 days left & lots of fun still ahead!
Today we woke up to sunny skies and went to eat breakfast the usual with a chocolate croissants and an espresso. We ran to school per usual, trying not to be late (again). As soon as we arrived, we were greeted with more coffee, and went to our first grammar class. After the class with our wonderful teacher, Paqui, we switched to our communication class which was fun as we talked about our plans for the day and played a fun heads up game packed with vocabulary. We later went home and ate a soup with chicken, and potatoes with cheese for Lexi. We later looked to buy things for our family and friends at the typical shopping plazas. We excitedly headed off to our next excursion where we competed to take the best photos with graffiti. We had to ask many people along the way for directions as we were distracted by the beauty of the town. After taking many artistic pictures, we happily headed home to get ready for the discoteca. There, we quickly got dressed and met at the plaza mayor and walked to the Camelot to dance for hours meeting nice people from other countries and talked about the differences in our cultures. Finally, we went to go eat Tapas which included bread with meat, potatoes and sauce and fish with bread or chicken with bread. Walking home with the group, we looked at the beautiful city and thought about what fun activities were planned for the next day. (Ps we might come home with matching face tattoos! Jajaj solo una broma.)
Hola! Day 8 already -- it feels like the time is passing more quickly. We are taking advantage of every hour, however! We gathered to watch a movie at the school. It was all in Spanish (of course) and was based on a true story of a Spanish teacher who goes looking for John Lennon in Spain during the early '70's. We adults could relate more to the movie, but the students did not really like it at all:) Then we walked as a group through the city to a cool car museum near the river. The sun was out & the light was beautiful as we mingled with the throngs of people of all ages from many parts of the world. It really is a joy to see the kids navigating through so much -- the stores, restaurants, crowds, & finding their way around the city & home again! The Plaza Mayor fills up every afternoon & evening with middle & high schoolers, babies & adults, gathering talk, stroll, have an ice cream, or just enjoy the evening air. The car museum featured cars from the last 100 years with standouts like a vehicle totally powered by solar panels, the Cadillac that drove General Franco around, and fantastic sports cars & racing motorcycles. We closed out the day with free time & dinner at home with families!
As usual, we spent 9am-1pm in class at Colegio Delibes. We then went home for lunch with our host mom and then spent a few hours of free time during siesta looking around at local mercados (markets) and zapaterías (shoe stores). In the afternoon, we returned to Colegio Delibes to view a movie called "Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados" (Living is easy with the eyes closed), which recounted the true story of an English professor who travels to interview John Lennon. After the movie, we went to a car museum to view automobiles from all different eras. After, we had a few hours of free time to walk across the bridge, talk to locals, and shop before returning home for dinner with our host family. ¡Qué tranquila!
Emma y Caroline
Maybe our best weather day so far, and one of the best overall in our 7 days here. Clear, sunny, & cool in the morning while in classes and warm & sunny for our excursions in the afternoon (sunblock, anyone?) We toured another landmark cathedral, but this time instead of a guided tour of the history & architecture as we strolled & listened, we got to climb narrow granite steps up & up to the clock tower of Salamanca's largest & oldest cathedral! It was definitely worth the workout! Fantastic vistas of the city & beyond as well as interesting history & stories of this ancient cathedral.