My Spain Travel Journal! Days 9 to 12 and Qs&As!
Day 9 - Madrid - 8:00 am - 12:30 am - Rainy
This was a free day for everyone. Salamanca was cancelled because most people wanted to experience more of Madrid and do some last minute shopping. For our group it meant a little extra sleep but only an extra hour or so! James, Aulop and I were out of the hotel by 9:00 am and got a better look at the botanical gardens and the train station. From there we got a quick glimpse of El Retiro Park. This park is massive and a much see, unfortunately for us on that day it was raining and we only got to see a little bit.
At 10:10 we met up with Marsha, Aminda and Wendy to visit the National Museum of Reina Sofia. There was plenty of modern art and many great works by Dali and the famous Pablo Picasso including "Guernica". Again I enjoyed learning of the history behind "Guernica". Eventually we left the Reina Sofia and dropped our souvenirs back at the hotel, then onto less traditional cuisine at McDonald's, referred to as the office American Embassy back in Toledo by Carlos.
After we at from 3:00 pm till 8:15 pm the group shopped in the Peurta Del Sol and Plaza Mayor areas. Swords seemed to be the item of choice on this day while I found a Paella pan to bring back home. At 8:15 we met up with Jesus and the larger group for more traditional cuisine again. After dinner we took the subway back to the Hotel Mediodia. We were extra careful at this time as during the day some of our American friends were victims of pick pocketing!! After getting back to the hotel the plan was to sleep but most people strengthened their friendships made on tour while Aulop and I went in search of one final glass of Sangria eventually settling for half a jug.
Day 10 - Madrid - 8:00 am - 8:00 am - Cloudy
Got up at 8:00 am and said some final good bye's to Jay, Aulop and Jesus. I took some last minute pictures as we there was a protest directly in front of our hotel. The topic of the day was the drastic oil spill in the Galicia region, which has ruined their fishery and tourism industries.
At 10:00 we met Susanna again who transferred us back to the airport in Madrid. It was a 9 hour flight from Madrid to Toronto where we messed up a little at customs and then enjoyed a 2 hour delay due to the weather in Halifax. We finally got into the Airport Hotel in Halifax at 3:00 am local time, that being 8:00 am on our Madrid time clocks. It was hear we said our good bye's to Aminda.
Day 11 - Halifax - 7:30 am - 9:00 pm - Flurries
Up early again in Halifax with only 5 hours sleep. We went straight to the airport in hopes of reaching Goose Bay. At 11:30 pm we learnt the flight was cancelled due to an extreme snow storm in Goose Bay and the airport was closed! This was not good for morale but firm evidence we were back in Canada. EF graciously helped us with our hotel for another night. We went straight to the hotel where we had soup and I hit the bunk to catch up on sleep. After dinner at 6:30 I quickly went back to sleep again!
Day 12 - Halifax - 7:30 am - 12:30 pm - Sunny - Tour Complete!!
Up early again but well rested. To the airport early where we were 10 minutes delayed. What was going to be next?? Luckily we caught a ride on a larger plane and were into Goose Bay 45 minutes early to everyone's delight.
"Questions and Answers!"
As you begin your trip, list some of the ways in which you think Europe will be different from home.
I know the money will be different and I am expecting the food and architecture to be much different.
How are your perceptions of European history changing during your tour?
I learnt a lot about the Moorish influence in Spain and got a much better sense of time and how long it took to built many of the magnificent structures.
What was the first thing you saw or did that really made you aware you were in Europe?
Once I got my first British coin, and tried the food in Spain, the hotel styles and the obvious change in language I was well aware I was in Europe.
Have your observed any evidence of "culture shock" in yourself or anyone else? If Europeans were visiting you at home, what adjustments would they have to make?
I didn't witness any true culture shock but if I were to host visitors I would have to change my schedule to include late nights, a siesta and a variety of tapas always on hand!
What do you notice about European fashions? Have you seen more similarities or differences in the way people dress compared to at home?
I thought the people were very well dressed and appeared confident and relaxed as they walked the streets. They were definitely very fashionable.
Suppose you could visit these same places at any time in the past. What time period would you choose, and why?
I was happy I visited Spain when I did. I wouldn't of wanted to visit Spain during the rein of Franco which is still just a short time ago and many people still remember today.
"More Questions and Answers!"
Have you seen anything in the shops or markets that's different from those back home?
The cured hams, the tapas and the wine. The churro stands were also different.
Have you talked to anyone outside your group? Have you spoken to any other languages?
I spoke mostly with our new American friends and unfortunately used very little Spanish.
List anything about Europe that is different from how you imagined it before you arrived. I done a lot of reading before departure and most everything was how I imagined it.
Describe any ways in which your perceptions of your home, or the people you know there, have changed during your trip.
In general I felt like we are much more stressed and don't socialize on the same scale as they do in Spain. They are very conscious of their quality of life. I was also very interested to learn how much annual leave they get each year in Europe.
What do you think would be most difficult to adjust to if you were to stay here for a longer time? What will you most miss when your trip is over?
The biggest adjustment for me would have been the language barrier. I would easily adjust to the culture and climate. I will most miss the culture and tapas bars.
Write about some of the foods you've tied for the first time during your trip. Was anything offered that you did not want to taste? If not, why? What do you eat at home that Europeans might hesitate to try?
I tried for the first time, Paella, cured ham, caviar, bull's tail, fried milk and Sangria. I thought I tried it all after the bull's tail but the group did refrain from ordering the blood pudding.
I think Europeans may hesitate to try seal meat, caribou, moose, rabbits and the vast amounts of salt used in traditional cooking in Newfoundland and Labrador.
What have you bought during your trip? If cost and availability were no object, what would you most like to take home?
I bought rugs and drums from Morocco, a sword and jewelry from Toledo. A flag, magnets, key chains and books throughout Spain. If money were no object I would have bought a larger Moroccan rug and several swords from Toledo!