Since I arrived in Madrid in September I have had the opportunity to take several weekend and day trips to different regions in Spain! The first was a trip organized through my school to the North of Spain. We traveled to Cantabria, Asturias, and Leon all in one weekend, so it was very busy but I saw and learned a ton! The North of Spain is awesome because there are many cities that are located on the coast but very close to a range of mountains called the Picos de Europa. Our first stop in Cantabria was a small town by the sea called Santilliana del Mar. It was famous for its seafood, chocolate, and cheese- 3 things I love! It was very pretty and a lot smaller than the other places I have traveled too.
We then traveled to Santander which is the capital of Cantabria. It is a smaller city on the beach and was one of the prettiest beaches I have been too! It was awesome how you could still see the mountains even though you were standing on the coast. It was not warm enough to go swimming (even though some brave Spaniards were) but we played a game of beach futbol with one of the professors Julio! It was very a very fun day.
After the beach, we headed into the mountains to stay in the small town of Potes in the Picos de Europa. Our hotel we stayed in was tucked away in the mountains and had great breakfast! It was really cute.
We hiked around the mountains and saw some breathtaking views. We also went into a church and old monastery that supposedly had a piece of the cross that Jesus was crucified on inside the church and we all got to kiss it so hopefully that will earn me some points!
Afterwards, we went in a cable car up the mountain. This was one of the coolest things I have ever done even though it was a little frightening since I am not the biggest fan of heights! The views at the top were amazing! We hiked around at the top of the mountain for about an 1.5 hours and then went back down the mountain in the cable car.
We spent the second night in Asturias in a town called Llanes which was also on the ocean. Llanes is famous for its sidra. The sidra I think tastes like a combination of apple cider and beer. It was really good but at the restaurants they tell you that the best way to drink the sidra is by pouring it from high up in the air and then finishing it without letting it sit on the table. So our waiter poured us our first sips of the sidra, but then we were on our own for the next time. We were definitely not as skilled as our waiter at pouring the sidra- more of it might have ended up on the ground and our hands than in our cups!
On Sunday on the way back to Madrid, we stopped in Leon. We got to go inside the Leon Cathedral, explore the city, and have lunch. All in a all it was an awesome weekend!
The next overnight trip we took was on our own to Salamanca for a night. Salamanca is only a 3 hour bus ride from Madrid and we have some friends from Wake Forest who are studying there who we met up with. There is a large university in Salamanca, so many students from the United States chose to study abroad there. At one bar they even had a shot dedicated to Wake Forest students that was black and gold!
Our friends showed us their favorite spots and it was fun seeing what Salamanca night life is like. The next day we toured the city. It was so pretty! There are several famous buildings here such as the old and new Cathedral and the bell tower and they all have great views of the city.