I have only been in Spain for a couple weeks now, I have hardly even begun to work, and already I was given a 5 day vacation! I decided to go to Mérida and Seville with 4 other girls ( Addie, Lanae, Nadia, and Kate) whom I met at orientation.
Before I go on about vacation - first, a little bit about my life so far in Orellana La Vieja. Often Spaniards wonder why I “chose” to live in such a small town…my only answer is the honest one, that I didn’t choose to live here. I was placed here and am embracing its 16th century beauty. Although it is small, and to be blunt, pretty much really boring, it is situated on a beautiful lake and surrounded by mountains and fields for days. There are no lack of bars but a lack of…well, everything else. There’s a church and castle in the town which are both old and beautiful. The castle is at the end of my street and the church is super close as well. But, then again, everything is close in Orellana. It would take only about 30 minutes to walk through the entire town. I have already moved apartments once, but am currently living in two boys in a 3 bedroom, one bathroom apartment. It’s old, charming, and has some serious character. It also has a serious balcony which overlooks the lake and captures my favorite part of this town - all the nature surrounding it. Did I mention I also live with a tarantula? I have really only been here in the town a week so I’m still sorting it all out and searching for comforts. I spend most of my time in the bar (which here is a bar/cafe/restaurant/casino/whatever) on wifi, reaching out to family and friends, walking or running around the lake, watching cartoons, hanging out at the schools I’m teaching in or trying to cook for myself. It’s all still very new to me and many changes are still to come. At no disrespect to Orellana La Vieja, I had to escape it when the 5 day vacation presented itself. So, off I went to meet up with some new friends!
We spent one night in Mérida - we drank, ate, and bar hopped. We met some cool people but mainly it was great to be around some other native English speakers and get to know one another. The next afternoon we caught a bus south to Seville. We arrived after two and a half hours on a bus, followed Addie on foot for a while in the wrong direction before she finally gave up and we decided it was best to just hop in a cab and head to our intended hostel. We back tracked and arrived near La Plaza de Encarnacion and walked in hopeful for 5 beds at the hostel. Little did we know what we were about to endure. We spent the next 5 hours calling every hostel and hotel in the city, desperately trying to find a roof to put over our heads. Just as I was beginning to be comfortable with the idea of sleeping on a park bench, things began to fall into place. We managed to find a room for 3 of us at an expensive hotel in the city, and a room for 2 of us at another just outside the city. We were finally able to breathe easy so we dropped off our luggage, shook off the stress, and headed out for some drinks. We ate tapas, drank wine, then found a cool little street with a handful of hole in the wall bars filled with both foreigners and locals. We settled in one where we ordered a couple pitchers of “Agua de Fuego” which was basically a pitcher of shots. We each had our own little shot glass that we would refill at will. We met Americans, Swedes, Brits, and Spaniards and chatted the night away. Nadia and I were the last ones standing and after one last jug of some sort of chocolate milk, liquor concoction, we decided to head to our hotel just outside the city.
The next day we headed to another hostel we had booked for all of us to stay together in the city. Of course that took an hour or so to find in another labyrinth city of Spain, but we finally managed. After dropping our luggage, we sought comfort in McDonald’s. We stuffed our faces of what tasted like pure America and told Nadia, who is Canadian, tales of our high school homecomings which blew her mind. Apparently, it’s just like they show on t.v. The rest of the day followed suit with laziness and the night was typical, heading back out for tapas and drinks. We met up with a few of the other cultural assistants in the program and bounced around from strange bar to strange bar only to end up at the same street from the prior night. After that we hit up a late night club where Addie met a very nice German boy and I learned a valuable lesson in remembering that sometimes the people around me can understand English.
The next day we decided to really change it up and head to Burger King. After Addie falling up the stairs and spilling her precious food, more down time of just girl talk that we had been missing, we finally got up and wandered the city a bit. We ate gelato, took photos, and headed back once the rain got to be too much for us. After a siesta, we spent our last night watching Flamenco and getting into some deep conversations about our home lives and our experiences here in Spain so far. We left super early the next morning to catch a bus back to Mérida. We spent the day in Mérida wandering, eating, and exploring the Roman ruins. We even caught a little train tour around the city.
Overall it was a great first little vacation in Spain and we learned a big lessons in preparing better. Next time we’ll definitely book our hostels ahead of time! Although our laziness and hungoverness led us to miss out on touring Seville in depth, the trip was still a success and was more about us spending time together. This was especially important to three of us who are living in small towns by ourselves and were itching for some native English speakers to interact with. We plan on heading back to Seville in the near future and maybe then we’ll manage to stay out of the fast food restaurants and bars a bit more and actually explore the streets of Seville.