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2 posts from April 2014

04/01/2014

hiking the madrid mountains

By Ana Balcells

Wellesley College IMG-20140224-WA0003
When this hike was first announced, I have to admit I was very surprised- I had no idea there were mountains anywhere near Madrid! But sure enough, only a short train ride away from our bustling city are the Sierras. During the winter, these mountains apparently receive quite a lot of snow, making them a hub for practicing all kinds of winter sports. However, since I’m not a big fan of the snow, when we arrived I was thrilled that we were there one of the equally beautiful sunny spring days.

At the mountain, we were joined by a group of Spanish families, both parents and children. Each of us paired up with one of these Spanish speakers. After about an hour, we finally reached our destination-a Roman bridge! This bridge is an original, making it more than twenty centuries old! We enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch at this vista point, giving us a better chance to converse as a whole group.

While the conversation up to this point had been in Spanish, on the way back we switched to speaking in English. After all, this hike was meant to be a two way cultural exchange. By speaking in both English and Spanish, both parties were better able to share elements of each of our cultures. During our hike, we each had a chance to chat with quite a few of the locals, and we discussed everything from Spanish TV shows to cheerleaders at American football games. We also got a chance to see the inner workings of a Spanish family-a part of Spanish culture which is every bit as important as the language.

More students will have this same opportunity during the second round of “Come Around Sunday”, and I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to share some great conversation with an equally great view!

a window into traditions: Las Fallas

By Abigail Ardnt

Coby College

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On the weekend of March 15 I visited Valencia for a festival called Las Fallas. Artists work year-round creating massive papier-mâché sculptures (called fallas) which are then all burned together. The festival is an old Valencian tradition.

I visited the city with a group of Spanish friends; we were 22 people in total. I met up with my friend Cristina and five of her friends at a metro stop at 7:20 in the morning to get the bus. The bus ride was about 5 hours, and we ended up arriving in Valencia at about 2:00 pm. We started by exploring the city and having lunch (paella), before the festivities began at night. The sculptures are placed throughout the city, so it was fun to just walk around and discover all of the art.

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By nightfall the streets were completely crowded with people out drinking and celebrating. We went as a group to see the calle de las luces (street of lights) in which there were massive structures of lights of all colors that people are able to walk through. At around midnight we walked to a fireworks show, and then we went back into the city center where there was tons of music and people dancing on the street.

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 By 4 am we had all gotten tired from standing all afternoon/night, and we all started to group back up again to return to the bus, which was going to leave at 6 am. The walk to the bus took about 45 minutes, and we were all happy to get on the bus and fall asleep around 5:45 am.

Las Fallas was an amazing experience and a window into traditional Spanish culture, and I was so happy to be able to share it with my new friends from Madrid.