The starred places are all the locations in Spain I will visit over the course of the semester.

Sevilla: This is the part of Spain I’m spending my semester in! It NEVER snows in Sevilla so adapting to the hot temperatures at the beginning of the semester was quite difficult. Most locals will tell you that the summers are too hot to stay, but many of them have nowhere else to go. They can’t just uproot their lives so they stick it out through the summers and enjoy when the temperatures start to drop. Sevilla is a good size city meaning you wouldn’t want to walk across the whole city, but you can certainly walk places you need to go. The University here used to be the Royal Tobacco Factory. Sevilla is also the birthplace of Flamenco which is a popular dance in Spain. It also has the best Plaza de Espana which you can clearly see from the pictures below.
Madrid: Madrid is the capital of Spain. All of the ISA students in my program started in Madrid for two nights. Madrid was very busy and too crowded for my liking. The most interesting part of Madrid was the spot where all the roads begin in Spain. They call it Kilometer Zero and it’s in the famous Puerto de Sol which is the popular center of city that has a lot of shops and cafes. It was also interesting to see the place where people gather for New Years. In Spain the tradition is to split grapes when the clock strikes midnight. Calamari bocadillos are also very popular in Spain. These are sandwiches that simply have calamari in them, I didn’t try them in Madrid but, as I’ll mention later, I did eat one in Salamanca. Jasmine and I went to the artsy part of Madrid with a lot of interesting shops and street art and I was even able to find a place that sold kombucha that helped the cold I had from the jet lag. Here are a few photos of my beginning days in Spain: The first is of the Jerome Royal Church, it was visible while standing in line to get into the El Prado Museum (third photo). The sun was out early that day and the morning heat was just making itself heard. The second photo is of a shop in the artsy district of Madrid. It wasn’t open, but I liked the art around the entrance. The third photo is of the El Prado Museum. They were celebrating their 200th anniversary. The tour guide moved fast and we learned a lot about spanish art really quickly, but it was hard to absorb all of that information in a 2 hour presentation. After the tour of the museum we had a guided tour of the city where our tour guide told us where the best places to eat and get gelato were. It was difficult to remember where all the recommended shops were, but it made walking around the city more of an adventure!

Toledo: South of Madrid. This is a very¬†historical city in which whenever people try to build something new or dig somewhere they usually find historical artifacts that prevent them from finishing their project. Walking around this city entails lots of uphill battles and uneven cobblestones. There’s a lot to learn from this city as it is full of historical meaning and memories. It is quite literally a city upon a hill- and the best view is from the top. The pictures below depict Toledo as the stunning city it is.
Salamanca: Salamanca is a GORGEOUS city west of Madrid. I visited for a weekend because a friend from my summer league frisbee team is studying there and I had heard amazing things about it before I came to Spain. When I visited we went to the cathedral and walked around the city trying to cover all the famous touristy places and trying to find better viewpoints to see the whole city. The weirdest part about the city for me was the wall of shells. On every tourist site about Salamanca the shell wall comes up as a must see, but when I saw it I was very confused.  Other than the shell wall, there is a great view of the city once you cross the bridge. The city center is also incredible. There are so many shops and restaurants all centered around the one city square with an added bonus of an amazing chocolate shop only 5 minutes from the center.
Portugal: Portugal has incredible seafood. When I was in Portugal I got cod at one restaurant and another meal that included a different type of fish (pictured below). The views from the San Jorge Castle are worth the long trip up the hill. This castle not only offers a stunning view of the city and the sea but is also full of history and is a great place to get lost exploring. Our program also included a trip to the Jeronimos Monastery which was stunning. Pastel de Natas are the dessert typical to Portugal and the best place to get them are in the small bakery five minutes from the monastery. Right before we left Portugal we stopped at Evora, another Portugese city, where we explored the bone museum (pictures below) as well as the shops around the square. Portugal has a lot of cork and uses it to make all sorts of products like bags, hats, postcards, shoes, and more. No matter where you go in Portugal you can always find a touristy shop selling cork products.
Granada and Cordoba: We only spent a half day in Cordoba, but during that time I tried Berenjenas con Miel, eggplants with honey. This is a typical dish to the area and it tastes absolutely delicious. We also visited the Cathedral-Mosque and Jewish Quarter in Cordoba which where beautiful. The tour guide did a wonderful job explaining how the Muslim and Christian parts of the building were designed and when they were designed. Seeing the different architecture techniques was also very interesting to me. Granada has a heavy arabic influence as it was the capital of Spain while the Muslims had control. The famous Alhambra is the shining star of Granada- and rightfully so. It has a wide variety of flora and fauna in the gardens and the architecture will leave you speechless. Also, most of the restaurants give you free tapas and one of the restaurants gave us pulled pork sliders that were amazing!