As our remaining time in Spain quickly comes to a close, not only are we working to cross things off our ever-growing to-do list of cleaning and packing tasks, but I've also got a small but (equally?) important list of things I'd like to see and do one last time around Madrid. One of those things was a day trip to Ávila, a small town northwest of Madrid that we visited during our first fall in Spain (November 2015, actually, which sounds like forever ago now!). Three of the best day trips from Madrid are, in our opinion, Segovia, Toledo, and Ávila, and while we've been to the first two multiple times, for one reason or another, we'd never returned to Ávila.
Last Christmas break we went back to the U.S. for my brother's wedding, and at the end of our trip, my parents told us that they intended to come visit us in Madrid, so as soon as Danny and I decided on the best time for them to visit, they said, they would start planning their trip. They booked their flights not long after the initial conversation, and after that point, it was like we were on a countdown - see you in three months...two months...six weeks...etc - June 17th couldn't come soon enough (see, I can still remember the date!).
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.
In January we decided to stop spending money from our savings, and to start living entirely from the money we were making from teaching English in Madrid. This was easier said than done, because paychecks, or rather, envelopes of cash (which is how we get paid here), come once a month rather than every couple of weeks like we're used to back in the U.S., but we decided to go for it. Part of not spending anymore out of savings meant doing so in all areas, not just with our daily expenses. The hardest area for me to let go of was travel. We decided to stay around Madrid unless we had the money to leave the city, and we haven't had that ability until the past week or so - and now it's kind of too late (we're leaving in just 11 days!).
However, it was sort of a blessing in disguise, because we've really made an effort to see Madrid in the last couple of months.
Though we won't get to experience Christmas in Madrid or on Día de los Reyes Magos (Day of the Epiphany, or the day that the three kings apparently arrived in Bethlehem), the day that most Spanish people celebrate even more than Christmas, on January 6, we still got a taste (both literally and figuratively) for how Christmas is celebrated in the capital of Spain. Take a look, and I'll do my best to explain...
Two months ago today we flew into Madrid with our five suitcases, two backpacks, and a good idea of what we were getting ourselves into. Ha. Turns out we I kind of overpacked (really regretting those seven pairs of shorts that made the cut) – I didn’t have to rewear anything but pants for over six weeks - and as far as what we thought we were coming here to do (learning Spanish and teaching English, by the way) – we’re not doing a lot of it.