Welcome to Valladolid, Spain

Spain is a very interesting, diverse, and a very cultural country. It is believed that the origin of the Spanish language originated in the region of Castillo Y Leon and therefore Spanish is referred to Castillian or Castellano in Spanish to track its linguistic roots. I visited Spain while in Study Abroad and it was amazing. I attended the Universitas Castellae located in the small city of Valladolid. Here I studied Spanish Culture, Spanish literature, and Latin.

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School of Universitas Castellae in Valldolid; Spain, Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

Everyday I would visit the center of the city known as Plaza Mayor. It is here that Christopher Columbus was buried on May 20, 1506. There is a statue in the middle of the Plaza Mayor commemorating Christopher Columbus.

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Statue of Christopher Columbus in Plaza Mayor; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

This is also the center of the nightlife in Valladolid. It was very safe and the Plaza Mayor area has restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, and many hang out spots.

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Plaza Mayor at night time in Valladolid, Spain; photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

Valladolid is  a hidden gem. The city still practices “siestas” in which businesses, schools, and the entire city closes down for people to get rest. This seemed ridiculous at first until Thursday and Friday comes around. After taking siestas, I felt so energized especially on Fridays (Party time!). After taking my first siesta on a Friday, I went to a club and it was amazing. I made a few recommendations I was allowed to DJ. I had everyone dancing to everything from Bachata to Hip hop music.

I definitely recommend visiting Valladolid as it not mention often in Spanish travel guides.

In the Catalonia Region of Spain: Barcelona, Part 2

Barcelona is very unique and distinct in its culture, history and architect. Another popular attraction is the Gaudi House Museum. The museum was designed by Francesc Berenguer I. Mestres and was sold to Antoni Gaudi for his own residence as he resided there form 1906-1925. It became a museum on September 28, 1963. Another fascinating building is the Casa Batllo. Also known as the House of Bones, this building is very surreal and appears dream-like. It was one of Antoni Gaudi’s houses in which he also designed. This Museum looks marvelous as it reminds me a life-sized gingerbread house. I saw the museum from the Güell Park and it looks very surreal.

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The view from Güell Park in Barcelona; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

After viewing the Casa Batllo, I accidentally found myself at Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is a long pathway in the middle of Barcelona that serves as a major tourist hub. You can find people street busking (performers of all types), shops, restaurants, souvenir vendors, barbers, and so much more.  Exploring the city of Barcelona was very simple. The Metro subway takes you all around the city. It was not as elaborate as the subway system in Madrid but you could still visit all the attractions by using the subway.

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Subway in Barcelona; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

Barcelona has very amazing architecture everywhere you look. Later, I found myself in the Gracia area. This district is the second most densely populated and the most cosmopolitan area in Barcelona. A real tranquil spot to hang out was the Plaza Trilla. I spent  an hour there just catching the amazing view of Barcelona while practicing my Catalan.

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Gracia District of Barcelona; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

Barcelona, Spain is a must-see for art enthusiasts and cultural travelers!

The saint of Assisi, Italy

After our experiences in Florence, the crew started it’s way to Assisi. At the time, I never really thought much about this city; however, it would be an unique experience.

Arriving to the city was actually exciting because we were very hungry. The crew thought it was best we did not stop to eat and just drive straight there to save time. Well of course, we got stuck in traffic. So we feed on light snacks. Once we got to Assisi, we ate like Kings and Queens.

So this city is actually the place where Saint Francis is from. My home town San Francisco was named after this Saint. It was a weird experience that is truly hard to put into words. I could see the similarities in the city and the Saint. Saint Francis to the Catholic Church is the saint of animals. San Francisco has a lot of vegans and animal rights activists. I found that to be very interesting.

Assisi itself is just a normal sized city. The buildings were nice. The narrow alleyways reminds you are in an european town; yet, the mountains in the background, reminded me of the mountains on the Californian countryside.

The city was so beautiful in a classic European way. No big skyscrapers, just beautiful Italian scenery.

The shops had everything in them. From assassin’s Creed gear to soap. It was weird to see soaps being sold right next to coats with hidden blades. There’s a joke hidden in there but I’m not going to touch it (pun intended).

As we explored more of the city, we were shown where Saint Francis was locked up by his dad. His dad was a very rich man and was angry that Francis wanted to become a priest. So he locked him in a small room similar to a dungeon. Eventually, Francis became a clergyman and later, one of the most well known saints.

(All photos were taken by Hugo Morel)

Thank you for reading, enjoy your weekend. Next time, we will finally go to Rome!!

In the Catalonia Region of Spain: Barcelona, Part 1

After spending a few days in Madrid, I headed to Northern Spain. North Eastern Spain is very interesting. It contains its own autonomous community known as the Catalonia Region. The Catalonia Region consists of fours provinces including Girona, Lleida, Tarragona, and Barcelona. Barcelona is the largest of all the provinces and is also the second largest populated municipality in Spain after Madrid.

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Catalonian Flag; Courtesy of Google. 

As soon as I arrived, I noticed the diversity of this city. The official language is Catalan but people speak other languages including Spanish, Aranese, French, and English. Catalan is so interesting because it is a mix of French and Spanish. That makes so much sense because Barcelona borders France! I met a Cuban immigrant whom showed me around several places in Barcelona. There were so many beautiful beaches. I felt like I was in the California of Spain. All beach lovers should visit Barcelona!

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Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona; Photo Courtesy of www.renfe-sncf.com

One of the main highlights of Barcelona is the Basilica Temple of  Sagrada Familia. This is a Roman Catholic church that started to be built in March 19, 1882. It still remains incomplete. It is also worth mentioning that because of its Basilica status, the temple receives certain privileges from the Pope. It a wonderful marvel and when I was there I noticed that they were adding modern figures to the building. I spotted an astronaut figure sculptured into the main entrance. It is expected to have 18 towers once completed. These towers are to represent the apostles, the evangelists, Virgin Mary and even, Jesus Christ. It one of the world’s most famous temples and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was mainly designed by a Catalan architect named Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí specialized in Catalan Modernism and used his own highly-unique architectural designs. Therefore, the Basilica Temple of  Sagrada Familia is Barcelona’s most visited tourist attraction with over 3,000,000 visitors each year.

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The Basilica Temple of Sagrada Familia; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.