Christmas in Spain

A castle! I see an old ancient castle!

Across the aisle and through the bus window, I see an expanse of lush green fields with hills in the distance. Majestically positioned atop the largest of the hills is a castle more the style of a fort, with small houses surrounding the tall stone walls and the steeple of a church completing the Middle Ages scene.

I love that practically everywhere I go here, I see castles as everyday landmarks. How did I get here? In my favorite style of traveling: one of the local buses. Let me back up some and explain how I got here, so you don’t have to keep guessing where you can also travel among castles.

In my previous post welcoming Ethnos Travel, I gave an overview of the kind of traveling that the blog will focus on: traveling with an emphasis on the local people. What better way is there to truly experience an area than to encounter and interact with its cultures and Peoples?

I consider myself to have already experienced some diverse traveling in my twenty-nine years thus far. From international to domestic, I’ve been to the Dominican Republic, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Scotland, Spain, France, and all throughout the USA in cities such as Miami, San Francisco, New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago, and many more. But in my mind, I have so much traveling to still do and know that this is an endless passion of mine. As much as I will enjoy referring to past travels for this blog, I’m also thrilled to have my second visit to Spain as my first trip to write about in Ethnos Travel.

My Mother and me near Madrid

This trip to Espana (Spain) is quite special to me since it is to visit my mother who I have not seen in two years. She is originally from the Dominican Republic and her father was from Spain which is what brought her to live in Barcelona just over one year ago. Only weeks before I arrived in Spain for this trip she had moved to a new home in an area of Spain that I have not visited: Extremadura. The town she is residing in is remote, small, and older than the entireU.S.by hundreds of years. Higuera la Real is located close to the Portuguese border and southwest of Madrid by approximately 280 miles (450 km).Seville is only 81 miles (131 km) southeast of the village and has the other major airport.

I flew into Madrid from Denver just this past Wednesday, December 21st, connected through Frankfurt, Germany, and arrived early evening Thursday, December 22nd. My ticket is booked to return home to Denver January 5th, but you never know what possibilities there may be to extend my stay.

And now to get back to castles…here I am, riding on a local bus with not a single tourist on board (I certainly do not count and consider myself to be a visitor). This means of transportation may take longer than the trains, but is far cheaper and grants me the opportunity to view the countryside at a slower speed. This is how I spotted the castle I was referring to. It appeared off in the distance as the bus started to drive out of the fog we were previously surrounded by.

The scenery has been beautiful, with weather contrasting from thick grey fog to clear blue skies. As I write this, the bus has stopped at its second drop-off point along the six-hour ride, a town named Almendralejo. My mother and I can hear families joyfully greeting their loved ones as they step off the bus. As we leave the town only minutes later, we are told by a fellow passenger that we are driving past a bull ring that the town is known for. I quickly take in the old stone walls that form the arena. It reminds me of a miniature coliseum but with red Spanish tiles along the outer edges and white plaster over the stone walls. The scene is completed with the statue of a fighting bull in front of the large gates.

These glimpses of castles and other historic buildings and sites are just the beginning, the previews. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be traveling throughout the regions of Extremadura, Andalucia, and crossing the boarding into Portugal. Not only will I be able to take in what the eye can see of castles and bull rings, vineyards and villages, but with my mother and her Extremadura boyfriend as my host and guides, I plan to fully experience the sites and area by learning all they have to share about its history and origins. Most importantly, I am excited to experience places and practices that are off the well-known and more popular paths of tourism and instead are the essence of the local people and culture.

Wherever you are this holiday season, I hope you and your loved ones safe travels and that you stop in to my blog for a local experience of Spain. Feliz  Navidad!

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