January might be almost over, but it's not too late to round up all my miscellaneous photos from the last four months. In between work and some traveling, here's some of what we got up to from September to December...
We may be almost three weeks into 2018, but I'm not going to let that stop me from doing a little round up of some top highlights from last year, with a little peek into this upcoming year tacked onto the end, too. Aside from the very first few days of 2017, which we spent in Colorado due to my brother's wedding, we spent the entire year abroad, mostly based out of Madrid, Spain. During the school year, we taught English at Spanish Catholic schools, and during the summer, we taught English at a summer camp in Istanbul, Turkey.
Well it's that time again. We're in our third apartment in three school years and so for anyone who may still be interested, I think this one may just be the best yet (the photos are some of the worst, but try to see past the lighting situation we're dealing with here). Our place was about as clean as it's ever been yesterday morning (we'd hosted people the night before) so I seized the moment and the wee bits of morning light we get to snap these pictures.
My parents came to visit us in Spain this past summer (all about their time with us in Madrid here!), and like I mentioned earlier this week, spending nine straight days in the city just felt like a bit too much. About a year ago Danny and I spent one of our extended weekends off of school in the south checking out a couple places that are kind of "must-sees" in Spain (Granada and Córdoba), as well as a few others (Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas) that seemed interesting. While in Ronda, we decided we really liked it (our first trip here!), as well as the place we stayed at while in Ronda and after spending weeks (okay, months) this past spring tossing around where to go and what to do with my parents, we finally decided on my first thought - an extended stay at Finca la Guzmana just outside of Ronda with a few day trips from there.
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!).
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.
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.
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.