As I probably mentioned to many of you who I talked to before my trip, a huge part of this trip was my desire to go to Greece. After seeing pictures of Greece from my friends Clara & Kyle’s trip last year, I knew I had to go. I’ve only been in Athens for a few hours, but I’ve already fallen in love. It’s a very English-friendly city, but it still has its own language and culture. The food is absolutely delicious (the dinner I had tonight was one of the best I’ve had in Europe). The buildings are light-colored with lots of windows and balconies. If I wasn’t exhausted from travelling and a late night last night, I’d probably still be out walking around. I can’t wait for tomorrow.
I enjoyed Madrid more than I expected I would. It seems to be the most main-stream, americanized city I’ve seen so far, which surprises me. I mostly spent my time there shopping, but I did get to the Prado (my favorites were the late Goya paintings from when he went deaf — creepy but fascinating stuff, and the Tintorettos). We also went to a bullfight last night. Needless to say, it wasn’t particularly easy to watch, but I am glad that we went. It’s such a huge part of the culture of the city, and it was truly an experience we couldn’t have had anywhere else. I would’ve liked to know more about the history of it, and more of the protocol, and I think I may look into it a little bit when I get home, just to have more of an understanding of it. It’s particularly interesting that it’s considered an art instead of a sport. We saw two of the three bullfights, and after that decided to head out. I don’t think any of us will return, but again, I am glad we went. We also got to Toledo, the former Spanish capitol, which was darling, and definitely worth a visit, though I was disappointed that so many things seemed closed. My only qualms with Madrid were the immense heat, and the unfriendly-ness of the people. It most likely has to do with the fact that I don’t speak Spanish (or the notoriously lackidasical Spanish work ethic), but I met more rude people in Spain than I met anywhere else. It was mostly in Madrid, though, not so much Barcelona, and we did meet two very nice people our last day.
It was incredibly sad to bid adieu to the Med Highlights (Reverse!) tour group. As one of the girls, Melissa, put it when we said good-bye, “it felt like I went with friends.” I will appreciate having a few days to relax and go at my own pace before the next tour, but I’m also glad it’s only a few days, because all the people I’ve met through Contiki so far have been nothing but fabulous. So here’s to the next adventure (and more of Greece)!