Buenos días y bienvenido, reader, to another edition of my study-abroad blog. As you know, I’m a bit behind on posting, but, slowly but surely, I am nearing the end of them. That, of course, means that these posts are nearing the end of my time abroad, causing both a little sadness and nostalgia in me as I write them. If I haven’t made it clear, let me do so here: studying abroad was an irreplaceable and invaluable experience and gift in my life. If you have the opportunity to do so or to travel outside of your home country, I would highly recommend it!
Friday, 28 April 2017 was the official end of my time in Toledo, Spain, in St. Norbert College’s program in that city through the University of Minnesota and the Fundación Ortega-Gasset y Marañón. In reality, however, I only had two-and-a-half days left in my host city, since I returned from Zamora early Tuesday afternoon and left Toledo early Friday morning. I tried to make the most of this little time left to me, and I was lucky enough to encounter some incredible sights and make a few indelible memories within it.
First, though, let me tell you the rest of my experience on the Fundación’s trip to Zamora, Spain. I intended to return to Zamora from Toro, where I had stayed Sunday night in the Premonstratensian convent of Santa Sofía (the only Norbertine institution surviving in Spain), by taking the first bus headed to the city. This would have gotten me to the bus station and then the hotel (only two blocks away) in plenty of time for our departure to el Lago de Sanabria at 9:30 a.m.
Remember how I said things didn’t go exactly as planned Monday morning? Well, it turns out that Monday, 24 April was a festiva, or holiday, throughout the whole of the autonomous community of Castilla y León, of which Zamora and Toro are both members. Such regional and city holidays are more common in Spain than in the United States, especially since each town, city, and region has its own patrón o patrona, patron saint. If you go back to my post from 29 January, you’ll read about Toledo’s unique festiva, the feast day of Saint Ildefonsus on 23 January.
The previous Saturday, 22 April, was the 401st anniversary of the death of Cervantes, an important figure for all Spaniards, including those in Castilla y León. Alcalá de Henares, a community located just northeast of Madrid, was a Castilian (Castilla) town at the time of Cervantes’ birth in 1547. Even more important for Castilla y León, however, was the next day, Sunday, 23 April. This happens to be the feast day of San Jorge (Sant Jordi in Catalan; he is Catalonia’s patron saint), or Saint George of England. Most of us know this saint from the legend about him killing a dragon in the days of yore.
What most of us don’t know is that 23 April also marks the day when, in 1521, the Battle of Villalar took place. The Battle of Villalar was the turning point of La Revuelta de los Comuneros, the Revolt of the Communities, a revolution of Castilian citizens, especially nobles, between 1520 and 1521. Castilla had entered into a period of instability after the death of Isabel the Catholic in 1504, even as her husband Ferdinand the Catholic, with whom she had united Spain, continued to rule his inherited kingdoms of Navarre and Aragón. This allowed the local nobility to exercise more power and increase their wealth. The arrival of Charles V (known as Carlos I in Spain) to the Spanish throne in 1516, however, changed the game.
Charles was only 16 when his father Ferdinand the Catholic died, and he had been raised in the Netherlands since early childhood. Thus, when he arrived in Castilla in 1517, he knew almost no Spanish (Castilian) and had Dutch instead of Spanish advisers and confidants. The Castilian nobles could perceive the threat to their privilege and power, so they conspired against Charles and started a rebellion in, of all places, Toledo. At the height of their success, the comuneros controlled the cities of Toledo, Tordesillas, and Valladolid, all in the center of Castilla.
The Battle of Villalar marked the beginning of the end of the Revolt of the Communities. Charles’ forces crushed those of the Castilian nobility and captured three of its most important leaders, who were soon beheaded. After the battle, liberals in Spain held up Villalar as the unfortunate end to the laudable struggle against autocratic monarchy and the reduction of regional autonomy. Such a view obviously didn’t curry the favor of centralized governments in Spain, including the dictatorship of Francisco Franco from 1939 to 1975, so the Battle of Villalar did not become officially or widely celebrated in Spain until after the transition to democracy. 23 April was pronounced El Día de Castilla y León in 1986 and has been observed ever since.
Sunday is already a day of rest in much of the Western world, including Spain. Thus, just like in the United States, the observance of the Battle of Villalar and Castile and León Day was postponed until the next business day, that is, Monday, 24 April. Many businesses had reduced hours or were closed throughout the region this day, and, most importantly for me, bus schedules were shifted. The first bus to Zamora from Toro would not leave until 9:20. True, Zamora was only 25 minutes away from Toro, but the group had a strict schedule to follow and could not wait much past 9:30 a.m. Thus, I arrived in Zamora only a quarter-hour after the rest of the Fund group had left the city, leaving me most of the day to figure out something to do.
Thankfully, the most stressful part of the day – trying to figure out when the bus would come and wondering whether or not I would make it back in time – was over. I had the key card to my hotel room with me, so I went to the room to rest and regather myself since I had left the convent at 6:50 to arrive at the bus station in time for my non-existent bus. I then left the hotel and struck out for Zamora’s historic center, mainly in search of old churches but also for cool sights in general. I did not have high expectations of entering any museums or attractions, and for good reason: Mondays are traditionally off days for these and other more tourist-oriented institutions so that their workers and other locals can enjoy a respite from the crowds. Combined with the festiva in the region for Castile and León Day, this Monday was particularly sleepy in Zamora.
Closed businesses and museums did not prevent me from walking around and taking photos, however. The first major sight I saw was Zamora’s plaza de toros, or bullfighting ring. I then went past the Church of Saint Vincent and through the city’s old judería, or Jewish neighborhood. After that, I walked around and past (and may have briefly and illegally climbed up) the medieval city walls, eventually making my way to the Duero River and the base of the plateau that rises from it and on which Zamora’s Alcázar, cathedral, and old city were built. I walked away from all this briefly to find and admire the Church of the Holy Spirit and the Hermitage of the Remedies, then returned and started walking around the plateau.
The Duero has a bend beyond the point of the Alcázar, making space for a broad incline down to its banks that contains the neighborhood of Olivares. I visited the church of this neighborhood (known simply as El Arrabal de Olivares), walked through a park on the banks of the Duero, and made my way to the centuries-old stone bridge that crosses the river. I crossed the bridge, came back, and walked up the plateau to the old city, where I discovered the Diocesan Museum, the Semana Santa Museum, and the Ethnographic Museum of Castilla y León, all of which were, naturally, closed.
(A note on the Semana Santa Museum: Zamora has it because Semana Santa is huge in this city, so much so that Zamora is one of the most recommended sites for tourists to visit in Spain during Holy Week. As it is in the northern half of Spain, the nocturnal processions and observations are steeped in silence and solemnity, more so than in Toledo and especially in Sevilla. Sixteen hermandades participate in the celebrations, while thousands of people flock to the city during them.)
By this time, I was ready for another rest. I returned to the hotel and enjoyed its sauna (called a baño turco or Turkish bath in Spain). I went out from the hotel again late in the afternoon and went to the old city once more, where I visited the churches of Saint Andrew and of Santa María de la Horta. The Fund group returned from Sanabria Lake around this time, so I eventually regrouped with my friends and enjoyed dinner with them while we exchanged stories of what we had seen and done during the day. It was wonderful being able to be around and talk with people whom I knew, both in English and in Spanish!
Tuesday was our last day in Zamora. After breakfast, we left the city, made it to Madrid after a few hours, dropped of the Fund students who studied there, and then returned to Toledo in the early afternoon. I spent most of the rest of the day unpacking from my most recent trip and packing for my upcoming departure from Toledo and, after another week, Europe. I also took a walk through the judería and by the church of San Juan de los Reyes in the casco (old city) to bid adieu to these places.
One final note on Zamora: I ate a lot of helado (ice cream), while I was there. As a goloso (sweet-tooth) and a resident of Wisconsin, I feel that it is only natural that I’ve grown to adore ice cream more than any other dessert. What I had in Zamora wasn’t Italian gelato, but it was still certainly delicious!
Wednesday was a pretty busy but incredibly enjoyable day. It started off with a delicious breakfast of churros y chocolate at the Kiosko Catalino, the best churrería in Toledo, in the park just outside the Puerta de Bisagra that I passed every day on my way to the Fund. I met my friend Lexi there and dived into my churros, porros (basically, larger and straightened churros that are served hot), and chocolate. After we had finished, we walked across the river and trekked to La Piedra del Rey Moro, the Stone of the Moorish King, one of the highest points overlooking Toledo and the spot where, supposedly, the last Moorish ruler of Toledo sat, gazed at the city, and cried as the city was conquered by the Spanish Christians. Centuries after this supposed episode, Lexi and I gazed down at and admired the city in the morning sunlight.
Once Lexi and I were done looking at Toledo, we climbed down from the rocks and walked to the Puente de Alcántara, where we parted. I headed into the old city to sit in the Fun for a bit and then go to the cathedral and climb up its famous bell tower. The day had just started but had already been incredible, especially since I had gotten to share good conversation, delicious food, and beautiful scenery with a friend. Lexi, thanks for walking with me!
I had already visited the cathedral with my Christian, Muslim, Jewish Art class to learn about the Gothic and Baroque styles of architecture as they appeared in Spain, as well as on Easter Sunday for Mass. Thus, when I went in this time, I knew most of what I was seeing and made a beeline for those areas where I hadn’t had much or any time to look before. One of these areas was the bell tower: my ticket granted me entrance to it at 10:30 a.m. At 10:35 (Spanish time, remember), I went up to the second level of the cloister within the cathedral complex and from there ascended the bell tower. The view from within the tower isn’t the most breathtaking, given that it itself is one of the major points of interest in the Toledo skyline and that its windows are covered in grilles to keep birds out, but the opportunity to be in it and see its set of bells – the heaviest and largest in all of Spain’s cathedrals and centuries old even with its “newest” bells – certainly was. I also explored the Chapel of Saint Blaise, the Major and Minor Sacristies, and the Chapel of the New Monarchs. The last space is the burial space for the grandparents of Isabel the Catholic and, in its antechamber, has some of this famous queen’s religious objects (translation: a lot of gold), as well as some richly illustrated manuscripts.
Once I was done with my tour of the cathedral, I went on my second – and last (¡qué triste!) – Patrimonio Desconocido tour, a program run by the government of Toledo to show its citizens (and anyone else interested who can understand Spanish) lesser-known aspects of its history. My first tour with the program had been of El Convento de los Concepcionistas in February. Today, I would be visiting another convent, that of Saint Isabel (Santa Isabel).
Due to the time I had taken in the cathedral, I actually missed the first part of the tour, during which the group visited El Convento de Comendadoras. I was lucky enough to run into the group as it went to the Convent of Saint Isabel! This convent, still functioning, is near the major and minor seminaries of the city. We visited just one cloister in the complex, but it provided plenty to look at and talk about. It is one of the best-preserved examples of mudéjar architecture in the city, especially because some of the wooden beams used in it still bear carvings from the 1400s! I was so grateful to have signed up for the tour and to have understood what was being said by the guide, especially since a few minutes’ difference would have made me miss the group as it went to the convent.
Once the tour was finished, I finally treated myself to a full, multiple-course meal at a restaurant in Toledo. The one I chose had been on my list since my first weeks in the city: it was the Cafetería Alex, so of course I had to visit it! I had a delicious meal, with gazpacho (a soup of tomatoes, vegetables, and spices served cold) as a starter, carcamusas (a traditional dish of Toledo consisting of pork stewed with tomatoes, bay leaves, and vegetables) as the entrée, and torta de manzana (apple cake, which tastes much like apple pie) for dessert, with vino tinto (red wine) and the ubiquitous pan (bread) on the side. I savored every bit of this meal and thanked God for it and the wonderful day I was having.
After lunch, I returned to the Fund to sit and relax a bit before meeting with most of the other SNC students, as well as another SNC student visiting from London, where her program had just ended. From there, we headed to the Piedra del Rey Moro for some photos with the scenic backdrop and contemplation of the vista and our time abroad. Yep, this would be my second time to the Piedra in the same day! The scene laid out below the stone was no less awesome, however. Moreover, it was unique from the morning with the shift in light. I cannot adequately express or give gratitude for this beautiful vista and the opportunity to share it with friends.
From the Piedra, we SNC students made our way back to the city. I walked a little in the shopping district just off the Plaza de Zocodover; I was searching for a damasquinado to take with me to the United States. Damasquinado is a traditional handicraft of Toledo in which artisans use small mallets to hammer gold onto plates and other objects in intricate designs, both of Moorish and Spanish origin. Today, damasquinado objects are both man- and machine-made. This night, I found an example of the art form that appealed to me – and, even better, my wallet! I was so happy to have finally gotten this souvenir and reminder of my time in Toledo.
After my long but satisfying day, I headed home for dinner with my host family. After dinner, my host mother presented me with a big bag chock-full of stuff from and about Toledo from 2016, its 30th anniversary of being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site by the UN. My host parents also gave me a book on the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage route that ends in the city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, and a box of – wait for it – mazapán (marzipan)! Before this, I had already been beyond grateful for the day; now, I was simply speechless. My host family had itme and again proven themselves to be generous, friendly, and patient, and this was just another example of the first two traits. I thanked my host parents as best I could for their gifts and went to bed both looking forward to and sadly musing my last full day in Toledo.
Thursday was, unfortunately, not as fun as Wednesday. I spent most of the day gathering all my things and packing them into my bags as I prepared for my departure the next morning. I ended up having to ship a box of souvenirs and books to the United States in order to have space in my suitcases. I should have done this long ago: the process at the post office ended up taking forty minutes and costing me 90 euros (about $98). Let me be honest, reader: I was disappointed in and frustrated with myself, and I questioned whether I had really learned anything while studying abroad. The answer, of course, was that I had, but I had (and have) trouble seeing beyond one mistake to life in general.
Thankfully, my Thursday evening went much better than the rest of the day. Starting at 6:30, we Fund students could look at our final grades for our classes and talk with our professors if we had any questions or final comments. I showed up later than 6:30 due to the whole package debacle, but I was able to get my grades (all As, yes!) and talk with my professors and thank them in person for the semester.
At 8 p.m., the closing ceremony for the Fundación’s Spring 2017 program occurred in the auditorium of the building. My host parents attended the ceremony and the party (with lots of tapas, fruits, vegetables, and desserts!) that was held afterward. There, I got to talk with them and my friends from SNC, the University of Minnesota system, and Notre Dame. I had such a wonderful time (and such amazing food!) that I forgot about the drearier aspects of the day. It was sad to say goodbye to so many people in so little time, but we all told each other it was only hasta luego (lit. “until later,” so “see you later” is the best English translation) and not adios (goodbye). I returned to the house in San Antón that had become my second home for my last night there and went to bed.
At 5:50 a.m. the next morning, my host father drove me (and my bags, ¡gracias a Dios!) to the bus station in Toledo, and I left the city for the last time of my semester abroad. I arrived in Madrid and used the metro to get to the bus station of Avenida de América in plenty of time for my bus to Barcelona and, from there, Venice, in plenty of time for its departure at 9 a.m.
You read right: I was taking a bus all the way from Madrid to Venice, a trip of 31 hours spread over two days. I had opted for this mode of transport because 1) flights from Madrid or even Barcelona to Venice ranged from slightly to way more expensive and 2) I did not want to pay the additional cost to check my luggage for even the cheapest flight available. All in all, the trip went smoothly, though it deteriorated in quality the longer it lasted.
The first leg of the trip from Madrid to Barcelona went swimmingly. ALSA, the principal bus line in Spain, had one of its own buses for the journey, so I got to enjoy free movies and wifi onboard and frequent-enough stops at gas stations along the way. I sat next to a man from East Asia who appeared to be on a long journey himself. He knew a little Spanish and a bit more English, so we talked a bit. The Spanish woman in front of us was kind enough to give him some of her food throughout the trip, as the man did not have much with him.
We arrived in Barcelona around 5 p.m. Many of the passengers on my bus in addition to other people waiting at the station boarded a Eurolines bus that would make stops in Spain, France, and Italy before the final stop in Venice. This bus was good, certainly, but not quite as comfortable as the ALSA bus. The wifi had a limit of about 10 minutes, without any notice given to those on the bus, so for the next day I had no way of contacting my friend Alyssa, whom I would be meeting in Venice and with whom I would be traveling for the next week, or anyone else. All the same, my baggage was securely stored and I had plenty of food and water and a place to sleep for the night, so I was grateful to e where I was.
The bus drove through the evening through Catalonia, arriving at the French border around 10 p.m. Here’s where the first stressful incident of the trip occurred.
The French border with Spain is pretty heavily guarded at the time of this writing. My guess (though let me be clear that it is only a guess) is that the security is due to French experience with the ETA, the Basque separatist group that for decades practiced terrorism and based themselves in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain; the potential for illegal immigrants coming from Morocco or other African countries through Spain to France; and the spate of terrorist attacks in the past three years in France. Whatever the reason(s) behind the security, all passengers on the bus had to present their passports or other legitimate documentation to two security guards while dogs were taken around the storage compartment.
The inspection should probably have taken no more than thirty minutes; we stayed at the checkpoint for an hour. Six people were taken off the bus for improper documents, and only two were allowed back on it. The other four were held at the checkpoint, probably for eventual deportation. Even though my passport was immediately OK’d (as another passenger put it, “You’re American. You can go anywhere!”), I still felt very anxious as the process of inspecting documents unfolded, especially when arguments sometimes broke out between passengers and the guards. I think most of the other people on the bus felt this second-hand anxiety, too. I felt (and still feel) bad for the people left behind at the boarder, but when the bus finally pulled away from it I was glad to leave the situation and get a little sleep.
I slept through most of the ride through southern France; our first stop in the morning was in the Alps in Italy. We drove through them and past them, making stops in Genoa, Bologna, Verona, and Padua before reaching Venice around 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon. At this point, I was one of only two passengers left on the bus. It was great to have more and more space as time went on, but it was much worse to keep staying on the bus. It produced a sense of dread in me, as though I would never reach Venice or that, if I did, I would be completely lost and have no idea what to do.
Thankfully, neither of these scenarios turned out to hold truth. We did arrive in Venice, and from the bus station where the Eurolines bus stopped I walked to the Chiara bus station, a main tourist hub due to its proximity to the Santa Lucia train station that connects to the mainland and its own bus services to the mainland. I hopped on a bus that took me to the neighborhood of Tessera, just southwest of Venice’s Airport (perhaps I should have taken a flight…). From the bus stop there, I walked to my hostel, where my friend Alyssa – worried since she hadn’t heard from me for so long – was waiting. I was incredibly happy to see her, to see anyone at all that I knew, and I thanked God that I had made it safely from Madrid to this location. Alyssa showed me our room in the hostel, and I quickly connected to wifi to let my family know that I was safe.
Due to how tired both of us were after traveling and the late hour of the day, Alyssa and I decided to remain in Tessera for the evening and explore Venice as much as we could on Sunday. We went to a local supermarket and bought groceries for dinner and breakfast, then purchased bus tickets from a Best Western hotel in Tessera (yep, they’re all over the world!) for our trip to the city the next day. That night, we enjoyed pizza while we exchanged our experiences of studying abroad (Alyssa had been in London for the semester) and got ready for our subsequent travels.
On Sunday morning, we checked out from our hostel and took a bus first to Venice Mestre, a train station on the mainland that connected to the islands of the original city. Actually, we ended up about a twenty-minutes’ walk away from the train station, so first we trekked there – with all our luggage, mind you! At the train station, we checked our heaviest bags at a luggage storage available there so that we would not have to worry about them as we toured the city. We then hopped on an extremely crowded bus (Venice is a pretty popular tourist destination, surprise!) and eventually reached Chiara station.
Venice has its origins in the invasion of the Huns, a group of nomads from Central Asia, into Europe in the 450s CE. As the Huns, under the well-known Attila, pillaged through Europe to Italy, many Romans fled to swampy land bordering the Adriatic Sea and the marshy islands just off its coast. They made the wonder city that is now Venice, stretching over 118 islands through canals and bridges. The city is sinking at a rate of about 1 inch every ten years, though, so the city is frantically trying to stop Venice from being drowned. Still, Venice receives up to 70,000 tourists each day, so many that it is (or at least was) considering putting a cap on the number of people allowed to visit the city each day in order to preserve its monuments and its citizens’ sanity.
Alyssa and I made our way over the canals and bridges of Venice, following the signs for Saint Mark’s Square on the opposite end of the city. I wanted to take pictures at almost every stop, but I knew that we had to keep going in order to make the most of our day. Suffice it to say that Venice is an extremely beautiful city, especially in areas less-frequented by tourists (and the trash they sometimes leave behind them).
We made it to Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica just as Mass was ending there. Saint Mark is the patron saint of Venice, and a magnificent cathedral with numerous golden mosaics in the Byzantine style decorating its interior was constructed in his honor in the 800s, with the present church’s construction begun in the 1000s. Believe it or not, this massive church was the private chapel of the doge, the leader of Venice when it was a republic, until the early 1800s, when it was made the cathedral of the city.
Alyssa and I toured first the museum of the cathedral, which goes through the building itself, and then the cathedral’s main floor and nave. Even with its interior lighting off, it was still an incredible sight. The mosaics were hands-down my favorite aspect of the church: as I’ve mentioned before, I adore the Byzantine style of Christian architecture and art, and the mosaics inside St. Mark’s Basilica display the Italo-Byzantine style to a tee.
After St. Mark’s, Alyssa and I ate lunch at a nearby restaurant and then went across St. Mark’s Square to the Correr Museum, where we bought tickets for that museum, the National Museum of Archeology, the National Library of Saint Mark, and the Doge’s Palace. The nice thing about this bundle (other than the savings we got for buying them together and as students!) was that the first three buildings are link, allowing visitors to pass through them and get glimpses of St. Mark’s Square as they look at the exhibits.
The Correr Museum showcases Venice’s history, from its origins to its height of power as a republic and major force in the Mediterranean arena to its time under Napoleonic rule in the early 1800s. Rooms from the palace created by Napoleon in the Correr’s current site start off the tour.
The National Archeologic Museum displays vases, statues, coins, and other objects from Greek and Roman antiquity, as well as relics from Egypt and Assyria (modern Iraq). Beyond that lies the National Library of Saint Mark, a beautiful set of two rooms with rich wood paneling and impressive paintings on the ceiling of the larger room depicting the various sciences. (Can you tell I love libraries?)
Once we exited the first three museums, Alyssa and I went to the Doge’s Palace, which we toured at near-lightning speed due to the museum’s impending closing and our need to return to the luggage room at Mestre before its closing at 8 p.m. The palace is connected to St. Mark’s Cathedral (remember that it used to be the doge’s private chapel) and speaks of the wealth and opulence of the city and its leaders in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Doge’s Palace also housed the various branches of the government of the Republic of Venice; both these and the private rooms of the doge are, to say the least, impressive. Take the Chamber of the Great Council, for example: at 53 meters long and 25 meters wide, it is the largest room in Venice and one of the largest rooms in Europe as a whole. You can even get a glimpse of it through the Google Art Project.
Our tour in the Doge’s Palace also took us to and over the famed Bridge of Sighs. The palace, being as it was the seat of the judicial as well as the executive and legislative branches of the government, had prison cells close by, just over a canal behind it. An enclosed bridge was built over this canal in 1600, and prisoners walking on it got a last glimpse of Venice from its barred windows before entering their cells. The bridge was much romanticized in following centuries, but in reality one can see little from the bridge’s windows (I speak from experience) and the prisoners held in the palace after 1600 were mainly petty criminals. Still, the Bridge is a famous sight in Venice today, and I’m glad I had the chance to traverse it and even more grateful to have toured the palace that contains it.
After gazing in awe at the palace some more, Alyssa and I went to a dock on the canal right next to the Doge’s Palace and Saint Mark’s Square. We bought tickets for a public water bus, a less-glamorous (and way less-expensive) alternative to a gondola ride through or around the city. I have to say, this was, to my surprise, one of the most efficient forms of public transportation I have ever taken. The workers herded passengers on and off the boats rapidly but did so in a pretty friendly manner. We arrived back at Chiara in only twenty minutes and from there took a bus (much less crowded this time) to Mestre, where we picked up our bags at 7:45.
We had some food in the train station and then walked outside to the bus stop where, we believed due to our research, our bus to Prague would pick us up at 9 p.m. It turns out that we were right; the bus indeed showed up, just a bit later than we expected. Thankfully, this delay was only fifteen minutes, but it still caused us a bit of anxiety as we waited…and waited…and waited for it to arrive. We boarded the bus without problems and settled in for the trip of approximately nine hours to Brno, where we would switch to another bus to Prague, where we would arrive around 10 a.m. the next morning.
Regiojet, the company with which we booked our tickets and that runs many lines within and from the Czech Republic, has my approval for sure. The bus had comfortable seats, wifi, free movies and music, and even free drinks (which the bus attendant had to tell us first before we accepted them, cheap college students that we are). I was able to watch The Shawshank Redemption for the first time on that bus ride, so during it and now I am very appreciative of it.
We made a few stops the night of Sunday on our way to the Czech Republic, but otherwise that was the end of another week in Europe for me. I’ll write more about my feelings toward and thoughts on Toledo and my semester in Spain in another post (yep, there will be more!); I think I’ve written enough in this one! Thanks as always for keeping up with me, reader, and until next time, ¡hasta luego!