There are so many traditions in Spain, it would almost be impossible to learn and understand them all. They vary from region to region, culture to culture and also from generation to generation, but I have been really lucky that during the first two weeks, I have been able to participate in at least two of them.
When you are in downtown Madrid, in “La Plaza del Sol,” there is a plaque on the floor that reads “Kilometro 0.” The tradition says that when you step on the plaque with your left foot, then you will be back to Spain. I hope it is true, as Spain is a very beautiful country!
This weekend we traveled to Santander; it is located in the North of Spain, and it is a little colder than Madrid – different yet so neat and exciting. Before arriving to Santander, we stopped at “El Monasterio de las Huelgas,” en Burgos. This is a monastery built under the kingdom of Alfonso VIII in 1187, and is still in use today. This monastery contains a great display of religious art and some tombs, as it was also intended to serve as a cemetery in that time.
Upon arriving to Santander, we had the evening free to visit and experience what this part of Cantabria has to offer.
On Saturday we went to “El Palacio de la Magdalena,” where King Alfonso XIII and the Queen Victoria Eugenia spent their summers for 17 years. It is now an international school. That evening, we participated in another one of those great Spaniard traditions I had mentioned earlier, “Las Hogueras de San Juan,” translated; “The Bonfires of Saint John.” This occurred at the beach, at midnight, and is a rite with fire about renovation and transition. People jump the bonfires and dream of a wish. It is really spectacular.
The last day of the weekend we went to the “Museo Marítimo” and to “La Neocueva de Altamira.” Our last stop before going back to Madrid was “Santillana del Mar,” a small town full of charm and delicious food.
Talking about food, the gastronomy in the North is very different than Madrid. Because Northerners are so close to the Cantabrian Sea, they eat more fish, but they also have great dairy products. The picture on the side shows just the first entree of our dinner at the museum; it was “Setas con queso de cabra y jamón serrano.” A great dish to finish a great weekend.
Now we have to get ready for midterms (oh no!).
Nos leemos la próxima semana.