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Showing posts from January, 2015

Zamora, Spain: An Open-Air Museum of Romanesque Architecture

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There are a few parts of Spain that I know really well, places like Jaén province in Andalucía to the south, the populated western coast of Galicia, or even central Madrid to a degree. Others are just completely off the radar for me: Madrid’s bedroom community of Guadalajara, coastal Castelló de la Plana, or the Basque Country’s inland capital, Vitoria-Gasteiz. Had it not been for my friend and fellow Spain blogger Kaley (who writes at Y Mucho Más), the northern Spanish city of Zamora would have been relegated to this proverbial no-man’s-land in my mind as it typically gets lost between pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago to the north (e.g., Burgos, León, etc.) or weekenders hitting up Salamanca and Ávila to the south.

You see, Kaley’s husband is a native of Zamora, and so, naturally, she has talked a lot about the city and province of the same name a lot on her blog. Having followed her posts for the past several years, I was eventually inspired to check out this mid-sized Spanis…

Goals for My Last Year in Spain

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It’s almost February, and that means there’s only one more month of wintry coldness left to endure—but also that my contract to work as a language assistant here in Spain is halfway up. I’ve got four more months left until it’s time to start writing the dreaded “The End” to this volume of my life and figure out what the name of the next book is called. I’ll keep y’all updated, but for now I’ve got some big, and hopefully attainable, goals I’d like to accomplish by the end of June this year.

How my trip to China fell apart Originally, I had been planning on flying out to China in June to take advantage of 475€ round-trip flights from Madrid to Beijing; from Dallas it costs twice or three times as much. My college roommate is currently teaching English in Beijing and two other good friends from college are also teaching out west in Xi’an. I was looking forward to making a Grand Tour of the country, swinging down to Shanghai and maybe even a tea plantation on the way back to Beijing.

Thi…

10 Things to Do in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

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Santiago de Compostela is a real crowd-pleaser. My family came to Spain to visit me for the holidays this December, flying into Madrid before all of us hopped on the train up to Segovia and Santiago for two nights each before returning to the capital for New Year’s Eve. Last school year I had two American friends I met in Jaén province down south stay with me while we explored Galicia, and I’m expecting at least two more friends to visit Santiago this spring.

Safe to say, after visiting dozens of museums, churches, and parks, I’ve whittled down what I think are the ten essentials of any visit to the Galician capital. If you’ve got limited time, stick to the cathedral, the market, and octopus-eating, but if you can stick around for longer I hope you can try to hit up everything on this list.

1) Enter the CathedralTake away the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and the city—both past and present—would literally fall apart. Santiago, the capital of Spain’s northwestern region of Galic…

The 3 Reasons I Fell in Love with Santiago de Compostela, Spain

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I think it says a lot about the city of Santiago de Compostela—up here in Spain’s green northwest corner—that I stuck around for another year here despiteit raining every single day for two months straight last winter. For some people, that might be a deal-breaker, but I held out hope that the following year wouldn’t be so bad…and I’m only just now breaking out my umbrella and rain boots for the first time in nearly two months.

So what is it about this enchanting city that made me renew my apartment lease for one more school year? Read on to learn about what I love so much about the Galician capital.

1) The granite old town I love old towns just as much as the next guy, but there’s something magical about Santiago’s that makes it irresistible. Declared a World Heritage Site alongside the cathedral, this historic center once circled by medieval walls deserves as much attention as the 800-year-old church it grew up around. Its centuries-old houses are built from local granite, sometimes…

The Huxhams Invade Spain

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This past Christmas break, rather than hopping on a train or a plane and exploring another European country like France or Italy like I did the past two breaks, I stayed in Spain. I was originally planning on going home to spend the holidays with my family, not only because I didn’t feel like traveling for 2+ weeks and draining my savings, but also because I had been away from home on Christmas for two straight years.

However, that all changed when my dad texted me early last year wanting to bounce off the idea of flying the family over to Spain so we could all spend Christmas together. Back home during the summer I had always joked about them coming to visit; after all, they would have a free tour guide and translator! I wasn’t expecting my parents to actually seriously consider making a trip across the ocean to come visit, so I was surprised (and excited!) when I learned that my mom had finally come over to the idea of a six-night jaunt across the country. My brother had gone on a t…

Rediscovering the Magic of Segovia, Spain

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Jetlagged, running on little sleep, and exhausted from the go-go-go life of touring Madrid, my family and I daze out on four spacious seats that face each other while riding the high-speed Avant train from Madrid. The train rumbles beneath a mountain going 250 km/h (155 mph) and sharp blue security lighting regularly whooshes by the windows. The ride is so smooth it feels like we’re flying through the Earth…and then we emerge from the darkness on the other side of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range: welcome to Castilla.

As the train begins to brake for its approach to the Segovia-Guiomar station, we look out the windows and gasp in excitement at the powdered-sugar dusting on the mountains we just cut through. Thankfully, the snow is limited to the mountaintops; the brown, desolate fields that undulate for miles around are dry and lifeless, except for a few steers who are unamused at our arrival.

Once we’re settled the shuttle bus, we anxiously crane our necks for a glimpse of the…

A Guided Tour Inside & Around the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

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Take away the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and the city—both past and present—would literally fall apart. Santiago, the capital of Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia, was founded on the belief that the relics of the Apostle James the Greater were discovered in the year 820 in this lonely outpost of Christian Spain—back when the Muslim Caliphate of Córdoba dominated the peninsula. Over the centuries, devotion to St. James grew and grew causing millions of Catholics to set off from all corners of Europe and hike on foot to Galicia: the Camino de Santiago or “Way of St. James.”

The cathedral we can see today is actually the third such church to occupy the purported burial ground of St. James. Constructed in the austere Romanesque style between 1075 and 1211, grand Gothic cloisters were later built to the south and an over-the-top remodeling left almost no corner untouched during the Baroque era. There’s a lot going on here, from façades and side-chapels to palaces and bell to…