Trains, Flames and Automobiles
Trip Start Jan 15, 2011
18Trip End Jun 27, 2011
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Where I stayed
Albergue Zaragosa Hostel
I hope everyone was able to dig out of the blizzard this past weekend without too much trouble. I can't believe how much snow has hit the Midwest this winter. I guess I chose the right time to jump ship!
All of last week, a few friends and I were trying to decide where we could go for the weekend. After all the events in Valencia and getting settled with classes, we felt the urge to explore somewhere new. We were originally thinking of heading to Barcelona or Madrid, but the prices are pretty rough so close to the weekend. With time running low, we searched random cities around Spain to find some sort of deal and ended up stumbling upon Zaragosa. I had heard of it, but wasn't at all familiar with the city and had never really heard of anyone talking about traveling there
However, on Thursday evening we were persuaded to look into renting a car instead of taking the train since one of my friends (Patrick) is from Austria, and therefore, has an international driver's license valid within the European Union. We were excited to turn the weekend into a European road trip, so we reserved a seven person mini-van that night and planned to wake up Friday, attend our classes, and meet at the airport to pick up the van.
**Side Note: I went to my Biomaterials class for the first time on Friday afternoon, which actually turned out to be very interesting and I somehow managed to line up a "tandem" with one of the Spanish girls in my class. A tandem is basically an informal study/tutor session where you use both English and Spanish in order to practice language skills while learning the course material. This is especially great because it's the only class I don't have any international friends in, so I'm the only native English speaker.**
So getting back to the Zaragoza trip, after class I met up with Derek and our friend from Chicago, Phil, and we set out for the airport to meet up with the others and pick up the rental
Four and a half hours later, we arrived in Zaragosa, and took taxis our hostel. The hostel, by the way, turned out to be very accommodating and we received our own 10 person room upon arrival. The rooms were clean, bathroom was decent, and the whole place had a nice atmosphere as it was a newly renovated medieval style building. Overall, great first hostel experience, but I doubt we'll always have this kind of success.
We ended up going out Friday night, which was blast. We started with tapas (traditional dinner 'snacks' in Spain that generally consist of bread, cuts of cured pork, cheese, sometimes seafood, meat/fish pastes, etc
Once we finally got everyone mobilized on Saturday morning/afternoon, we grabbed brunch from the supermarket and headed out to see the sights. Unfortunately, it was raining all day, but we equipped ourselves with rain jackets and/or umbrellas and braved the elements. The main attraction in Zaragoza is the Basilica of Pilar (explained below), so we started there. Then we spent the entire day walking around the city center and I don't think we missed a single historical attraction. After the long hike, we grabbed some dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant and went out for another night of festivities. Zaragoza is a city of approximately 600,000 and has multiple universities like Valencia, so there was no lack of student activities.
Our train left at approximately 3pm on Sunday, so we had enough time to tour a medieval Moorish castle, turned government building called the Aljaferia. It was very cool and we spent a couple hours walking around and having fun with our cameras. Then we took the bus to the train station and ran into yet another European travel adventure. When we got to the train station, the last train to Valencia was full. It never occurred to us that it could be full because the train to Zaragoza was almost empty
Zaragoza was an amazing city and this trip was definitely a great way to start off our European adventure. I think the travel mishaps and snags along the way just add to the memories. If nothing more, they teach you a whole new level of patience. : ) I can't wait to see what else Europe has in store for us!
Disfrutad las fotos!
Miss you all!