It is the last week of June, which sadly means my time in Madrid is coming to an end. As the date of my return flight gets closer and closer the more I realize I don’t want to get on the plane. Madrid has finally begun to feel like home away from home and I have gotten very accustomed to my new Spanish lifestyle. I wake up every morning and am off to conversation class by 8:30 A.M. with espresso and croissant in-hand. My Spanish has improved quite a bit and I often find myself getting more mixed up with my English. As much as I love Madrid, I have been most grateful for my weekend excursions out of the city. We went on three different trips to three different cities: Toledo, Segovia, and Salamanca.

My personal favorite was Toledo, a city full of history and culture. As you drive up to the city you can look down upon it from the mountaintop and see a silhouette of magnificent buildings. We explored many ancient cathedrals and castles constructed and used by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. It took me a moment to realize that these are the oldest structures I have ever laid eyes on (having never left America which is a relatively new country). Due to their extraordinary sizes and intricate details it was nearly impossible to believe that these had been built by hand probably taking years and years to complete. I also was able to see “The Count of the City of Orgaz,” a world famous painting by El Greco. The colors were so vibrant that it looked as if it were painted yesterday. For the first time in my life, history was brought to life right in front of me. The other cities were just as magical and the beauty never ceased to shock me, but there was something about Toledo that made a lasting impression.

Here is a panoramic photo of the scene driving into Toledo:

Although I am not ready to leave Madrid, I am excited to return home with a complete new outlook on the world. I am curious if my everyday life will feel different because I feel that I have changed as a person after this short month. Until then, I will enjoy my tapas and coffee while I can.