Caves, Bus Rides & Flights: I think, more than anyone else on my program thus far, I’ve faced my fears many, many a time. Excited for a group adventure, (but slightly anxious for enclosed spaces, bugs, etc.), I hopped on a bus to see the cuevas. Little did I know, we’d be curving through mountains, getting way too close for comfort to cliff sides and being stuck in a sauna of a bus. I survived, a minor anxiety attack later and got to explore some pretty intense caves. Unlike the ones in Israel, these are MASSIVE. They are about as opposite from tight enclosed spaces as it gets and really are huge and majestic. After the caves, we were treated to an assortment of tapas (including some delicious deep fried cheese balls) and vino.
Thursday night, Alex and I stumbled upon another restaurant for dinner which happened to have the best salad I’ve had on this trip so far. Lots of different cheeses (my fave), beets (even better), apples/pears/orsomething, and fresh lettuce.
At 2:30 am, we boarded our 4 hr bus ride headed towards Madrid to start our Portugal journey. Once we got to Portugal, we got one of the fastest taxi rides I’ve ever been in. Casually going 120 mph on the freeway, we quickly arrived to our “hotel.” This so called “hotel” might as well of had blood prints on the walls, to match its spotted and stained sheets, and foul shower… but! it was what we got for our total of 30 euro a pop for two nights. We settled in as best as we could and hit the streets to try our first of three bakeries. Portugal has the most delicious morning treats in the world. So fluffy, and doughy - I could not have been happier. We wandered for a while, then decided to finally be the tourists we are and buy a 2 day pass for a double decker bus and boat tour of the city of Porto. What a fabulous idea this was! We toured around the city, admiring the interesting statutes, architecture and tiled buildings until we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore. Took a quick siesta, made a much needed stop at Zara and stumbled upon a SUBWAY. Now, I think it’s fine that I ate there because I haven’t had ANY American food, Chinese, Jap, anything until now so it was okay. Alex, Yair and I took a city night stroll to the water and had drinks by the river with some good conversation.
Sleeping in our steamboat of a room (no windows, no air) was a sick joke. I woke up as unrefreshed as ever to a rainstorm Saturday morning. Of course, thinking I’m going on a vacation, I only packed my favorite silk sundresses and sandals, light cardigans and bathing suits. Possibly the most unprepared I could’ve been. One cheap umbrella, and a pair of the most kicked kicks ever, I was set for the rain. We all purchased the same, matching, haggard purple high tops and hit the streets looking fresh. The sun came out a couple hours later naturally, just in time for the first set of blisters to kick in. Alex, Karin, Yair and I took the opportunity to explore Porto’s most famous sector, wine! Porto is full of ports (shocking) and has tons and tons of wineries with barrels of stored wine. After touring a few different locations, our overall consensus is that Porto wine is EXTREMELY sweet and would only be tolerable (I know, I’ve never used such a word to describe wine) for dessert.
A quick siesta later, and it was time to take down the town. Starting the night off right with sangria and crepes was a great call. We tried to experience a salsa club and failed, walked around for a while enjoying the night and eventually came back home.
Sunday morning, we woke up early and tried our final cafe/bakery which was the most disappointing yet unfortunately. Then, I took my friends to the only Jewish synagogue in Porto. With only 35 jews currently living there (I think), I was eager to see the place but yet again, was sad to find out that it was closed. We still hung around for a while, admiring the exterior and answering all questions my friends could think of about Judaism. I was happy to see how curious they were and excited to learn all about it. We are now currently hunting for somewhere to have shabbat this weekend. The trip had to be ended with a stop at a chocolate factory, then we were off to our long day of travel (a flight, 4 hr wait, 5 hr bus later). We finally made it home at 3 am - forcing me to pull yet another all nighter.
Monday morning I finally moved in with Tessa! My neighborhood/housing assignment had some issues and the best solution was to be reunited and boy, does it feel good. I can’t wait to experience the nightlife of Leon now that we can walk home together and feel safe as can be! We finally finished interviewing the locals and now can focus all of our energy on the last week and a half of our time in Spain and our final paper.
I cannot believe that its already week 9. I’m sure the majority of the trip reflection will come after I’ve been home for some time but I already know I’m leaving here a different, more mature and experienced person than I came as. Off to London in 11 days and on to the next!
With Love, From Spain (with Tessa!)