Spain has slowly been changing into winter this past week after a gloriously long Autumn that has seen temperatures staying up around twenty until last weekend. My housemate, Hodel, and I have been on several nice walks out into the countryside, in just t-shirts it has been so nice and warm. The landscape here is so flat, that once you get out from the town the browns and reds of the hills roll on for miles. Aranda itself doesn’t take long to explore and we’ve definitely done it to completion now, having ticked off the final thing which is checking out the underground wine cellars. We just went to one bars cellar, about 15-20m underground with about 10 rooms and tunnels, but the maps show that the tunnels cover the entire town and there are many now sealed and lost tunnels that used to connect the entire network together so that people could discreetly move around during wars.

We’ve also nearly finished ticking off the ‘Tapas run’ – a group of bars that hold a monthly prize draw if you’ve got a stamp from all the venues. Just got three to tick off this Thursday then we can hope to win copious Christmas prizes! Although unfortunately no wine with my Tapas this week as I’m on antibiotics and other meds to get rid of a sinus infection I’ve been hit with. One of my Spanish friends very kindly came with me to the hospital to see a doctor as otherwise I would have been pretty lost with the Spanish, although I did manage to sign up for my Spanish healthcare card alone to get my prescription costs refunded.

I’ve been out supporting the local Aranda handball team, which are quite a big deal here. They play in the national league and we beat second in the league the other day. With the stadium being inside, the noise really reverberates round and creates quite an atmosphere.

Aranda is nice enough, but it is lovely to get out of it which I have on a couple of occasions. The first for the last long weekend, when I headed to Madrid, seeing the sights and catching up with a couple of other teachers that I have met in Japan and Italy. I was surprised how much I liked Madrid, with its gorgeous architecture and sprawling parks. It’s not been a city I’ve known a lot about and doesn’t have it’s ‘feature’ like other big European cities, but it was beautiful and lots of delicious tapas. I’m heading back the weekend after next for a full 6 days as it’s another Spanish holiday! Super excited to get back there and hoping for more glorious weather.

I also headed North to Burgos last weekend with Hodel, to see some more of Spain. I discovered the Spain has been shutting down its regional train network for the past decade with its economic downturn. What would have been a delightful route from Madrid to Burgos has, since 2010, just been tracks gradually overgrowing, so my favourite mode of transport has been replaced by my least favourite.. buses.

Nevertheless, Burgos was a lovely city, a fair bit larger than Aranda. We explored the mandated sights of the Cathedral, old entrances to the city and the climb up to the castle for the views out over the city.  We also went to the evolution museum, on recommendation from some of my adult students, managing to get in for free as we are teachers and finding it fairly interesting, I found the huge structure of the museum itself the most interesting. Of course whilst in Burgos we couldn’t not sample the tapas. There is a narrow road leading up from the main square which is the tapas run, packed with small bars, the street teeming with people on the Saturday afternoon and some truly fantastic tapas. I very rarely eat out for a proper meal here in Spain, it is so much more focused on visiting a few different bars and trying the tapas in each that you don’t want to sit down and properly order.

I sorted heading back to England for Christmas a couple of weeks back, a bit of a nightmare with airlines prices skyrocketing due to the holidays and my tight schedule of trying to get back in time to see friends and having to teach until late on the 22nd. So I’ll be having a fun evening bus ride, followed by spending the early hours of the morning in Madrid airport, then catching a dawn flight to London for a busy day sorting life admin then a train ride up to York for a reunion night out. I’ll definitely be completely crashed by the time I get to bed!