Well readers, it’s over! I’ve moved back to the UK and left Madrid behind to finish off my degree at Southampton. While I know I’ll miss Spain and its climate and opportunity for adventure, like Dorothy said, “there’s no place like home”.
I have a short and sweet update for you guys today with a quick look at my trips to Cuenca and Granada, which I took either side of my Spanish exams. And with this update comes a few words of warning for anyone wanting to take a trip without a tour group or responsible adult (Ella and I are hardly adults, I mean really…) So the first word of advice I have is this: make sure you know where you’re going! Now, on one of our previous trips, we took a bus to Alcalá de Henares from Madrid and, even though we were following Google Maps (#productplacement), we ended up getting off at the wrong stop. This meant that we had to walk a long long way to get back into the town; the next bus in the other direction wasn’t for another half hour. So this time, to Cuenca, we took a direct bus to a bus station so that neither of us could dispute the bus stop. And it paid off; we got a full day in Cuenca, exploring the Casas colgadas and the caves, which were used as air raid shelters during the Civil War.
A few weeks later was exam time so there was no travelling then but the weekend after was the Big One; Granada. We had been planning this weekend all year but there was still so much last minute booking to do! The hotel, the bus, not to mention the Alhambra tickets. So my next word of advice is this: delegate. Delegate different bookings to each person in the group; as long as all the dates match up there shouldn’t be a problem. Ella was in charge of the bus and the Alhambra, and I was in charge of the hostel/hotel, and it worked beautifully. We were in a central location, not far from the Alhambra, for three days, and got to clamber around the old Arabic-styled palace all afternoon.
Another Top Tip for Travel is to be able to speak the language. Of course, in Spain, most people speak English (as over the rest of the world) but it’s always useful to be able to converse with the locals. For instance, speaking Spanish to the waiters in restaurants means that they might give you the Spanish menu, as opposed to a menu in English with (sometimes) more expensive prices. It also means that people are more likely to be able to help you, because you can explain what your problem is in two languages, so there’s more understanding. In our case, it meant that I actually had a chance in hell of understanding the Andalusian taxi driver.
But now I’m back, and I doubt there’ll be much travelling once I’m thrown into final year, and I know my last few posts haven’t been particularly regular but I imagine they’ll become even less so once I’m in the throes of university work. But I’d like to just say thank you for joining me on this journey, my year abroad has really been an incredible experience and I wouldn’t have traded the year for anything.