As a part of the two week orientation in Salamanca, the IES group takes a trip to Segovia and another trip to Zamora and Toro. Segovia is a small city to the east of Salamanca that is an attraction for its history and monuments. Immediately when we arrived we saw the Roman Aqueducts which run from one end of the city to the other. Since Segovia is a city built on hills and valleys, the aqueducts vary in height throughout the city and at some points even run underground. Our guide pointed out when we were walking over the aqueducts, which was unbelievable after standing next to the towering aqueducts that we first saw. This structure is particularly incredible because it has been around since it was built by the Romans and the stones are placed perfectly and precisely without any cement, and yet it’s still standing.
We took a guided tour throughout Segovia and learned about the history of the city and each structure we passed. Spain’s culture is so rich because of the presence of Christians, Muslims, and Jews at different points in history, which each brought their own structures, styles, and traditions. One of my favorite things we saw was a castle that inspired Walt Disney when he designed Cinderella’s castle! The castle was once inhabited by Ferdinand and Isabella, and was beautiful on the outside and filled with lovely art inside that is befitting of a castle.
Our trip to Zamora and Toro was a bit different. These towns are north of Salamanca and have a more rural feel than the more tourist visited city of Segovia. The wine of Toro is a worldwide export, so we went on a tour of a bodega and our guide walked us through the winemaking process. It’s more complicated than it seems! We got back on the bus and drove to Zamora, which is another small town nearby. This is another town full of history and detailed architecture like most cities in Spain. On our way back to Salamanca we stopped at an underground bodega restaurant. I did not know what to expect when we were told we were going to eat our lunch underground. Walking to the restaurant we kept passing small buildings, and our leader explained that they were the entrances to go to underground spaces. The entire restaurant was underground, and each neighboring bodega was owned privately by different families. It was definitely a new experience, and a fun taste of the way culture differs within Spain.
Classes officially start this week, and I’m excited to continue to get to know this city and this country!