Castle of Santa Barbara in Alicante

Along with ridiculously intricate cathedrals, Spain offers some pretty epic castles as well. I took a trip to Alicante and there you will find one from the ninth century. The history of Alicante is basically just like any other city in southern Spain. First it was conquered by Romans until eventually it was taken over by Muslim troops, called Los Moros in ancient times, who built a magnificent stronghold.  However, there are no traces of the original structure built by the Moors.

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It was reconquered by King Alfonso X (kingdom of Castilla) on the day of Saint Barbara in December of the early 13th century giving the castle it’s new name. In 1296 King Jaime II, who was the king of Aragon, attacked the castle to claim it for his kingdom from Nicolas Peris (Castilla). Nicolas ordered for the battle to be just between the two men but ended up losing. He was holding his sword in one hand and the keys to the castle in the other. There is an old tale that on a full moon you can hear the keys clicking when Nicolas haunts the castle. ((I’m wishing there was a full moon when I was there!)) Continue reading “Castle of Santa Barbara in Alicante”

Roman ruins in Cartagena

Spain has an incredible history with many different artifacts and ruins left over from it’s glory days in the past. You can find interesting relics and cave paintings dating as far back as the B.C. era in many cities and one of them is Cartagena, Spain. IMG_20160315_094735_resized.jpg

Honestly I’ve never even heard of Cartagena and I came here on a whim with a good friend. I’m so glad I did. It was founded in about 227 B.C. according to the guide in the theater there and it’s a major naval base in Spain since it’s right on the Mediterranean. The name Cartagena comes from the Carthaginians who founded this city.  Continue reading “Roman ruins in Cartagena”

El Dia de Los Mujeres en Burgos

Today is the 103rd anniversary of the International Women’s day. INWD celebrates the political, economic, and social accomplishments of women from all periods of time. It officially began in 1911 but the idea was sparked years before. The first record of an organized action by women for their rights was in 1857!  It was a movement that quickly spread across the globe and today even countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cuba, and China hold demonstrations. In the past it was celebrated on a few different dates but since 1913 the date has been set to March 8th. IMG_20160308_214618_resized (1).jpg

In 1977 the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution inviting every country to announce any day of the year to recognize the United Nation’s Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace; though, many countries celebrate this on March 8th alongside International Women’s Day. Like I have stated earlier it is celebrated in many countries around the world which gave inspiration to  The Guardian to put together a series of photographs of communities celebrating this day. Even Google has made an encouraging  video  in support of today. It is also really compelling to see supporters of INWD in countries that were very oppressive to women in the past.  Continue reading “El Dia de Los Mujeres en Burgos”

Expat files: Giovanna Tapia in Castilla y Leon

The next totally rad expat that I want to introduce you all to is Giovanna. She’s based in Castilla y Leon in a city called Valladolid (the rival to my city, Burgos) Giovanna is a bubbly globetrotter taking on the European continent while she is here. She has traveled to Hungary, Turkey, France, and Austria to name a few but she is here to answer a few questions about Spain.

I’ll let her take it away.

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A bit about me: I’m a recent(ish) graduate from the University of Washington in Seattle, where I studied Business Marketing and minored in Law, Societies, and Justice. Following graduation I worked in human resources for about a year where I was- to be honest- left completely disillusioned with the corporate world in the states. I’d previously studied abroad in England during college and felt a strong conviction to get back to Europe for longer than just a couple of months, so I began to research ways to legally work across the pond. I stumbled upon this program on Google and decided to take the leap of faith and quit everything back home to come teach English in Spain:) I chronicle some of my adventures, thoughts, and recommendations on my blog; sinceramentegigi.wordpress.com

1) Why did you choose Spain?

I was actually looking into ways to work in the UK, but after realizing that it is near impossible for a recent university graduate to obtain a UK work visa, I stumbled upon this program on Google! I’d visited Spain two years earlier and had also loved it, so I decided that although it wasn’t the UK, it’d be a great way to continue traveling, practice my Spanish, and step outside of my comfort zone!

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Streets of Valladolid 

Continue reading “Expat files: Giovanna Tapia in Castilla y Leon”

The basilica of Zaragoza

It seems like every city in Spain boasts a magnificent cathedral that some famous saint, explorer, or a member of royalty has religiously performed the sign of the cross. The city of Zaragoza in the region of Aragon is no exception. There’s an impressive Roman Catholic Church (minor Basilica) nestled near the banks of the Ebro river.

It is said that shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus the apostle James went to Spain to preach and he spent some time in Zaragoza. James was praying on the banks of the Ebro then the spirit of the Virgin Mary appeared to him, gave him a statue of herself, and told him to build a church in her honor. Bascilica en el dia

 

Continue reading “The basilica of Zaragoza”

Expat files: Macey Hallstedt in Extremadura

There are plenty of super cool expats here in Spain. Most people who decide to move to a foreign country are open-minded, fun, and maybe just an overall bad ass. I feel very lucky to have met some and connected with others on social media. Moving to a foreign country can be a little intimidating but it´s a hell of a lot easier when you know that there are people just like you out there. So I thought I´d introduce some of these charismatic travelers on my blog so you can hear their story. Maybe their story is similar to yours and it can help you with any problems you´re facing or questions you may have. For me I find it so interesting that people love exploring just as much as I do. I´ve asked a few expats some questions and I´m linking their blogs below. Follow along and let´s meet them.
The first awesome blogger in Spain I want to introduce is a fellow Midwesterner Macey Hallstedt hailing from Michigan
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Her background: I never knew how thoroughly American I was until I moved to Spain. I enjoy sports (especially tennis and volleyball), reading, hiking, eating, cooking, and hammocking. I will go very far out of my way for a good hike or some excellent live music. But Spaniards call me an anciana because I love drinking tea, going to bed early, and am the biggest friolera you will ever meet.

 

1). Why did you choose Spain?

I chose to move to Spain for many reasons of varying rationality. Besides the obvious urge to travel, I love learning about and trying to understand other cultures. My desire to travel is partially because I am curious and partially because it is my life mission to make myself as open-minded and flexible as possible. But on a more practical level, I have studied Spanish my whole life. I spent three months studying and living in Costa Rica and have visited Mexico a few times. I had learned so much about Latin American culture and language, but nothing of its origins, Spain. I thought it was time to change that. Also, when I applied I was 21 and about to graduate from the University of Michigan. Being debt-free, bilingual, and, let’s be honest, fucking terrified of finding a 9-5 and wasting my life away, I thought this would be a good way to postpone “real life” for a while. I was right!

2). Can you tell us a little bit about where you are located in Spain?

I am located in a little medieval mountain town called Plasencia, in the mostly rural province of Extremadura. I am surprised by how much I love it. Coming from a decently sized city in Michigan, moving to a small city of 50,000 inhabitants is very relaxing for me. I love the chill vibe of the city. It is small enough to provide the safe, homey feeling but big enough not to feel suffocated. For example, when I first moved here, everyone would ask me where I was from and then why I was here. I would say “estoy aqui para enseñar ingles” and they would say something along the lines of “no, I know why you’re here, but why are you HERE?” They meant it in a nice way, and always ended the conversation wishing me well in the classroom and hoping I enjoy it. The Plasencians I meet are usually very welcoming, from teachers inviting me for lunch to hiking buddies inviting me asparagus-picking.

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A view of her city
I am also learning more and more that Plasencia is actually becoming a bit of a hippie city, all over you see yoga studios, stores for fancy organic cosmetics and food, and the people here are really into hiking and nature. Plasencia is in a mountain valley, so anywhere you go there are lovely views and hikes nearby for those with their own transportation. I have gone on many excursions with some of the local hiking clubs and it is always a day well-spent.
Plasencia is also potentially the cheapest city in Spain to live in. My rent each month is 150€ and I can eat like a queen for 30€ per week or less. One of my favorite things about living here is the fresh fruit scene (laugh away, but it is dope).  I can go to the fruterìa and FILL my backpack with stuff and it always ends up being like 6€.
The only downsides about this town are the connectivity (if I have a flight out of Madrid any time before evening I usually have to spend the night in Madrid) and the sports scene. Because I don’t play fútbol, it has been kind of difficult for me to find random drop-in groups to play with.

3). What was the biggest obstacle when you moved to Spain?

Not to evade your question about my biggest obstacle in moving to Spain, but I found my transition to be quite seamless. Profex is a clusterfuck, but I just read manuals, used the Aux group for support, and was very deliberate about following all instructions. I had studied Spanish extensively in high school and college so I could express myself decently well and didn’t have to worry about that too much. I read many blogs from more experienced auxiliars before moving here and made notes in my journal about the tips and tricks they suggested. I used Couchsurfing when I first got here to find a place (in my opinion, Couchsurfing is probably the most underrated tool we have in living this expat life – MAKE USE OF IT PEOPLE!) so that was no problem. All in all, I think if you have your shit together and make sure to keep yourself informed, the move should not be too much to handle.
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Macey hiking in Montserrat with another couchsurfer

4). Describe Spain in three words.

welcoming, inefficient, mañana

5). What is one thing you wish you knew before you moved here?

The one thing I wish I knew before I moved here is how much I would change. Before living abroad for so long, I had always considered my personality to be so fixed. But now, I feel like a different person completely. All of a sudden my identity has been stripped of some very important aspects. For example, as a lifelong talker and communications major, being able to express myself clearly with nuance has always been integral to who I am. Now, always working in my second language means I am wayyyyyy less funny/witty/confident in my communication abilities in my everyday life, which is a strange adjustment. Also, having always been an athlete, it is a little weird for me to all of a sudden not have practice or pickup games, or something to train for. But I guess that’s what growing up is like. I have traveled extensively before, but setting up a whole new life on a different continent always yields way more change than we expect.
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She makes bungee jumping look so effortless (In Plasencia)
About her blog:
 Her blog is called MaverickMacey (as is her instagram) and it’s kind of a compendium of all her intellectual activities. She likes writing about travel, life (philosophies, lessons, etc), and things she cares about, like feminism, books, languages, hiking, cultures, etc. 
Now go check out her blog!

 

 

And stay tuned for more awesome expat stories.

Hasta luego!