Cosas de Sevilla #9, Spring 2018
13 – 20 marzo
Dear Family and Friends of The Texas Tech Center in Sevilla,
With our trip to Madrid last week there is much to talk about so I'll get right to it!
On Tuesday morning, March 13, we set off bright and early, maybe more early than bright. Over the years it has become a tradition to start each trip with some of my famous (infamous) cow jokes. Some laugh, some groan, but secretly I know they love them. As you are now totally intrigued, I will give you just one, voted to be among the best. What do you call a momma cow who just had a baby? ...... De-calf-inated. Well, due to popular demand, one more. Why do cows have no money? Because the farmers milk them dry. Woo hoo.
We were lucky to be joined by some friends and family members who decided to accompany us for a cultural vacation. Our first destination, after a routine breakfast stop, was Consuegra, a lovely historic town about 60 km from Toledo, in La Mancha, central Spain. It is famous for its twelve windmills and a 12th century castle. These windmills have been christened with names taken from the immortal Miguel de Cervantes' work, Don Quixote, because windmills such as these inspired this writer to create the famous episode of the battle against the giants. It is easy to understand why Cervantes felt so inspired by them! The castle was Muslim in origin but was modified during the 12th century by the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. The views from the castle of the plains of La Mancha were spectacular!
Our last stop of the day was Toledo. Once we settled in at the hotel, students were able to wander through the streets of this enchanting town, famous for being a place where the Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures lived side by side for centuries in relative harmony. We all visited the famous El Greco painting entitled The Burial of Count Orgaz. This painting is considered to be El Greco's masterpiece, and then we toured one of the few remaining old synagogues. As far as shopping goes, the most interesting souvenirs from this city for many of our students are the swords and knives. Toledo has been well-known for its sword craftsmanship for hundreds of years.
We left Toledo Wednesday morning and headed to our next stop, the picturesque city of Segovia, to the northeast of Madrid. Segovia's most emblematic monument is its breathtaking Roman aqueduct. The aqueduct was built in the first century and is in remarkably good condition. Originally about 30 kilometers in length, there is still about 5 kilometers of the original aqueduct. There are many other sights to see in Segovia, one of them being the palace that inspired Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom castle. The other popular activity in Segovia is a lunch of suckling pig, the famous local dish. In the late afternoon we got back on the bus to head to the medieval city of Ávila. The original city is still surrounded by the medieval walls. It was pouring rain, but we still got a good feel for the city, and a number of students put it on their list of places to visit again.
Thursday, the group toured the massive Royal Palace of Madrid. Built in the mid to late 1700´s, the palace has over 2800 rooms. Luxurious is a fitting word to describe it. It is still a functioning palace and a number of royal functions, dinners, receptions are held there each year. Thursday afternoon, Dr. Scarborough took the upper level Spanish students to playwright Lope de Vega's house and on a very interesting tour of the Barrio de las Letras, a neighborhood dedicated to the many famous writers of the Spanish Golden Age. Madrid is also known for their international cuisine, which made for great dining after long walks around the city.
Friday was a free day, and most of the group visited the world-renown art museum, The Prado, which houses famous collections by painters such as Velazquez, Goya, and El Greco, just to name a few. Other sights of interest were the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art, the Thyssen Museum, Puerta del Sol and Gran Via shopping, and the Plaza Mayor.
This week we have gotten back into our normal routine of daily Spanish and History classes and Sevillanas dance lessons. That's all for now, the next edition of Cosas de Sevilla will be on or about April 4th, after the world famous Holy Week in Sevilla.