A lot of Erasmus students choose their host country based on the location. For instance, a more central country in Europe allows easy connections to other European countries, so you can almost do a tour of Europe. As I mentioned in previous posts, I didn’t have that option. The few other European universities that had an agreement with mine were in very appealing European cities…but way over the budget I had at the moment. So, instead of a tour of Europe, I ended up doing a Tour of Spain during my semester in Madrid. And this isn’t a smaller challenge and not in the least less interesting.
Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the fourth largest in the European continent – it’s almost 5 times the size of my country, Portugal! It is rich in culture, history, all kinds of nature. Spain could be indeed multiple independent states (I’m not going to try to arise any politics here, yes, I’m talking about Catalunya) and when you travel to Spain you find yourself getting surprised at every corner.
Not far from Madrid, there is Toledo, a town I definitely recommend you visit if you’re staying in Madrid and have some extra time on your hands. I love places like these, places where you go and feel you have travelled to the past, places where you not only feel dislocated physically (as you certainly are) but more so realistically. You’ve stepped on a new reality, a new world. And you just have to let yourself emerge in it. Toledo is one of those places. And it is more. Also called the “City of the Three Cultures”, you will find the cultural influences of Christians, Muslims, and Jews in different parts of the town, illustrating the rich history of the city, and giving you a glimpse of the complexity of Spanish culture through the centuries.
Yet, I’m not one to give history lessons. Walking in the city is a walk in history. The traces of modernity are often there, but well integrated within the medieval looks of the buildings surrounding it.
Hope you enjoyed this post about Toledo. All of these photos are from September 2012. For more about my Erasmus experience go here.