guadalupe, spain

Guadalupe was our last stop on our long-weekend road trip through Extremadura this past May.  It's a tiny little town of about 2,000 people, and if I'm not mistaken, the primary reason it gets visitors is because of it's UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Real Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, or Royal Monastery of Santa María of Guadalupe.  The only way to visit the 14th-century monastery is by taking a guided tour (available in Spanish only)...something we weren't necessarily stoked about doing, but we were willing to put our Spanish to the test in order to get farther than the lobby.

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what i learned this summer

This past Monday we started school, which means that, for us, summer is over.  We're also feeling fall in the weather here in Madrid - it's been in the 50's when we wake up and my choice of skirts and dresses everyday so far this week has seemed a bit unwise until late afternoon hits.  As we talk to friends and new coworkers about our summer and relay a similar story each time, I get a chance to think a bit about the past three months - what went well, what didn't, and even, what I learned.  

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trujillo, spain

Trujillo, a small Spanish town of less than 10,000 inhabitants, has a lot going for it - a well-preserved castle, one of Spain's most beautiful Plaza Mayors, plus churches, palaces, and homes that retain their 16th century glory.  Much of that is thanks to Trujillo's most famous son, Francisco Pizarro, legendary for his capture of the Inca and founding of Lima, Peru.  His brothers were also successful conquistadors during a time when Spain was a global superpower and the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world.  Pizarro and company brought fame and wealth to the area, and a statue of him still stands in Trujillo's Plaza Mayor.

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mérida, spain

Mérida earned a spot on my "must-see Spain" list almost as soon as I learned that the town has Roman ruins in it.  And there's not just a wall or two from an old temple, there are serious remains from over two centuries ago - Mérida was founded by the Romans in the 1st century BC and they left behind an aqueduct, a circus, a theatre, a temple, and a bridge...this town was a big deal to the Romans, and as a result, it has more ancient monuments than any other Spanish city.

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cáceres, spain

Cáceres is kind of a big deal  - at least in history and on paper.  Its walled city (Ciudad Monumental), which dates from the 16th century, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 and includes remarkably well-preserved homes, churches, and palaces.  The various buildings found inside of the historic quarter seemed (at least to us) to all be very similar in style, but in fact Roman, Islamic, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture can all be found in the area.  

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monfragüe national park, spain

After spending a day in the Jerte Valley and Plasencia, we drove to Monfragüe National Park, home to the largest and best preserved Mediterranean forest in the world.  While in the park we went to a few overlooks, drove on most of the roads that go through it (there's not many, and the majority of the park is closed to visitors anyways for the protection of the land and animals), and climbed to the top of Monfragüe Castle (don't visit just to see the castle though - almost nothing of the 9th century Arab construction remains, so use it as a way to get a good view over the park).  

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life lately: may to august

The past four months, while they may have started out in a fairly ordinary manner, certainly didn't continue that way for long.  In May we carried on teaching at our respective schools but saw classes very rapidly take a more...relaxed turn, shall we say?  In many ways the last two months (ever since returning from Semana Santa/Spring Break) in the middle of April felt kind of like we were on the downhill, especially since just nine days after our 11-day break, we had a four day weekend.  Kids and teachers alike took cues from the weather and started checking out a bit.  

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plasencia, spain

We visited Plasencia for only an afternoon and evening, but the time that we spent there was enough to make an impression.  The modern, contemporary parts of town may look like most any other small town in Spain, and well, the old parts may too, but the historic area of town is really clean, charming, and cohesive and our Airbnb stay certainly didn't hurt in helping make our experience so positive too.

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