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July 21 – 29, 2012: Al Final…. August 6, 2012

Posted by luciabird in Travel Log.
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Our final excursion of the LBAT, to Toledo, occurred on Friday, July 21. We left the International House and traveled to Toledo with another student group from the school by bus. We arrived in Toledo mid-morning and first stopped on one of the surrounding hills to view the city from above. Toledo is one of the few cities in Spain that remains completely enclosed by its medieval wall, and, to me, it looked exactly like a fairy tale city out of “Sleeping Beauty” or “Cinderella.” We visited several noteworthy sites in Toledo. One fascinating place was the Sinagogue El Tránsito, which is a thirteenth century synagogue with a museum inside that displays exhibits on the history of the Jewish population in Spain. Another was Santo Tomé, a church that features The Burial of Count Orgaz, a painting by El Greco. This painting depicts the legendary burial of a benefactor of Santo Tomé, during which two saints miraculously appeared in appreciation of his donations to the church. Later in the afternoon, we had free time for lunch and souvenir shopping. I am proud to say that this is the first time we truly gave into homesickness and indulged in an all American mean of hamburgers and French fries, which proved absolutely wonderful and completely necessary. I spent the rest of the afternoon window shopping, for items like swords made of the famous Toledo steel, and purchasing souvenirs, such as fans and marzipan (a traditional Spanish treat).

Our last week was spent finishing last minute homework, consisting of essays for our first class of the LBAT, and our final documentary for the second class. Our four weeks on the LBAT program literally seemed to fly by, and when our last day of class arrived, it seemed as if no more than a day had passed since our very first. We had all decided during our last class that we should get together as a group with the professor for our final dinner. Late that evening, we walked to Plaza Mayor, a major plaza in Madrid I had not yet seen, and ate dinner at a restaurant in the plaza. Although we did not eat croquetas, which were by far my favorite Spanish food, a friend and I split a wonderful Italian pizza, and we all enjoyed eating together and reminiscing about the last four weeks.

The next day, Saturday, July 28, was our last in Spain, and we knew that we wanted to experience the most we could. So, after sleeping quite late because we were frankly exhausted from the difficult studying the week before and late dinner, we headed out into the city to go sightseeing. First, we walked to Palacio Real, where we saw a beautiful view of the palace and surrounding suburbs. We again walked to Plaza Mayor to get any last minute souvenirs. I was able to purchase several more fans, a Spanish tradition stemming from flamenco dancing, for my friends, as well as a beautiful copy of The Kiss by Klimt. I was so surprised and happy to see this being sold on the street, as I had fallen in love with the real painting two years ago at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna during the Oxford program.  Later that night, the students of the program again gathered together for tapas at a restaurant in our neighborhood, and I ate my last croquetas (at least for a while!). After leaving from our Residencia on an early bus at 6:00am, we boarded a plane to the United States. I arrived in Atlanta around 2:30pm, excited to be finally home but already missing Europe.

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