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Showing posts from February, 2016

The Ups & Downs of Traveling to Cologne, Germany

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For the longest time, Germany never showed up as a blip on my travel radar, even when I lived in Santiago de Compostela, whose Ryanair airport hub has connections all across mainland Europe. I was focused primarily on getting to know northern Spain, especially Galicia, or neighboring countries like France and Portugal before finally moving back to Texas. Germany seemed so foreign and distant, even though it’s as close to Spain as Chicago is to Dallas. While my fellow language assistants hopped from Amsterdam to Hamburg to Berlin, I focused on places like coastal Portugal, southeastern France, or central Italy—all southern European countries.


It’s not that I had anything against Scandinavia, the British Isles, or central Europe…it’s just that I didn’t want to spend my limited savings and strategic vacation time going to places that I had almost no desire to visit. My true passions, the places that I longed to explore and made my heart ache with wanderlust, lay in the Mediterranean basi…

Alcalá de Henares, Spain: The College-Town Birthplace of Cervantes

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Something that’s always striking to me about Spain is that in one moment you can zip around beneath Madrid on the Metro, refresh your Twitter feed at a McDonald’s in between sips of espresso, and rub elbows with visitors from around the globe at some of the world’s leading art galleries…and in the next moment—a mere 40-minute train ride—you can emerge onto the sun-baked plains of Castilla where it seems as if a village hasn’t changed much since its most famous son, Miguel de Cervantes, was born here way back in 1547. Yes, that Cervantes, the author of Western literature’s first novel, Don Quixote. Some may call Alcalá de Henares a mere suburb of Madrid, but this “small town” of 200,000 is a world away from Spain’s cosmopolitan capital when it comes to architectural and cultural heritage.


One warm spring morning last year I was excited to check out what made Alcalá deserve World Heritage status—but first, coffee. At the venerable Café de Libreros in the city’s old town, I briefly dipp…

Mornings in Spain

Putting on my threadbare IKEA slippers, I shuffle into my apartment’s kitchen to figure out what I might have for breakfast. I open a cabinet and find no eggs left in the cardboard container, and it looks like the only tea I have is caffeine-free chamomile. Ugg. The kitchen window that looks out into the light well is ajar, and from it I can hear pigeons softly cooing, almost in derision that I have no food. I make a mental note of the things I need to go to the grocery store for and hop in the shower.

Waiting on the train 🚊 // #latergram #santiago #santiagodecompostela #fog #galicia #spain #travel #visitspain #vsco #vscocam A photo posted by Trevor Huxham (@trevorhuxham) on May 11, 2015 at 10:01am PDT
My hair still drying, I pull the house door shut behind me, in accordance with the handwritten “Mantén a porta pechada—Grazas” sign I see every day on the way out, and I quickly zip up my hoodie: it’s a little chillier out here than I was expecting. Four faint, almost-imperceptible ding…

Spain’s Controversial Valley of the Fallen

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It’s hard to believe but it’s already been almost four years since I first left the States to teach English in Spain. After a sleepless trans-Atlantic flight, I caught my first glimpse of España over the western coast of Galicia, in the northwest. Cities along the densely-populated Rías Baixas glittered in the soft baby blueness of dawn—beneath thick clouds; this is Galicia we’re talking about, now—and it wasn’t long before the plane had passed over rolling hills and entered the meseta central, the high plains of central Spain.


Ávila was next, still neatly enclosed by its medieval walls, but what caught my attention the most as we crossed over the Guadarrama mountain range was a striking monumental cross that seemed to emerge from a heap of granite boulders. This fleeting image would soon be replaced by the sprawl of metropolitan Madrid and the runways of the Barajas airport, but it was unmistakably the lightning rod of modern Spanish society: el Valle de los Caídos, the Valley of the …

Photo Post: El Escorial, Monument to Golden-Age Spain

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As far as monuments go, Madrid doesn’t have much to offer. Yes, the Spanish capital’s got a Baroque royal palace, a cathedral that was finished in 1993, and the opulent San Francisco el Grande domed basilica. But compared with other Spanish cities like Sevilla or Toledo, there’s not much for history nerds with a checklist to see in Madrid. That’s where daytrips to nearby World Heritage Sites come in, places like Alcalá de Henares, Aranjuez, and El Escorial.


To get your history fix, you’ve got to head northwest out of Madrid toward the Guadarrama mountain range to reach the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Conceived primarily as a royal mausoleum by King Felipe II, it was constructed between 1563 and 1584 and is one of the purest (and largest) examples of Renaissance architecture in Europe. But El Escorial isn’t merely the burial place of all Spanish monarchs since the 1500s; it also contains a still-active monastery, a soaring basilica, a library of old books, a small ar…

Ordes, Spain: Galicia’s Street Art Mecca

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You might get the impression from reading this blog that the region of Galicia happens to be one of the most beautiful in Spain. It’s true, this northwest corner of the country is blessed with white-sands beaches, dramatic coastline, Roman ruins, and charming medieval town centers. Modern architecture from both the turn of the century and the early aughts adorns cities like A Coruña and Santiago de Compostela. And you’re never too far from well-kept-up public parks and the green countryside.

Loved this street art mural by @nanako_nene done for the village of Ordes' "Desordes Creativas" festival in 2012. It depicts the wildfires that affected the region's Fragas do Eume national park and Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, who is seen here protecting the animals. // #streetart #desordescreativas #ordes #acoruña #galicia #spain #travel #snapseed #latergram A photo posted by Trevor Huxham (@trevorhuxham) on Feb 20, 2015 at 3:41am PST

But many of the rural areas that ha…