Hey Linfield! The week of Thanksgiving, my class took a week long study trip to Spain. We found out where we were going a week before we left, and found out that we would be driving over in a bus and that they had made reservations for us at a hotel. If you are considering doing this program, you must be flexible and patient, it is the Portuguese way. After all of our speculations of hostels, we were delightfully surprised. It was a pleasant hotel in the city center of Zamora, with easy access for food and exploring the city!
But one of the best parts… we had heaters! The first night there, we all stayed in and cranked the heaters up. It felt overly luxurious and the long hours in the bus slipped behind all our thoughts.
I won’t lie, my living situation right now is not the best… frankly, it has started to really suck. But, for the entire week, I shared a hotel room with a friend and didn’t really interact with my roommates at all. It was the perfect break and perfect Thanksgiving. And now here I am, procrastinating studying for my finals that are in a week. But I wanted to share for future prospective students about the first study trip!
What to bring:
The bus was of course not very comfortable, but I brought a neck pillow (BRING A NECKPILLOW!) it made it so much better. We drove up to around seven hours a day so headphones and a portable battery charger for your phone are essential unless you want to listen to Portuguese static. We had the same bus and same driver each day which made it easy and stress free. (I left my purse on the bus one night with my passport… not a good idea but it was still there in the morning.) SNACKS/lunch. We ate breakfast at the hotel each morning (much better than any American hotel I’ve been too) and then stopped at a restaurant for lunch each day, and then went out for dinner when we got back to the hotel. The first day, everybody was excited to eat out, but then everyone started packing lunches to bring on the bus. Portuguese and Spanish food is very heavy and the servings are HUGE. On the third day, over half the class had brought salads for lunch–ha!
I brought my passport because we were crossing borders and thought we might need it to check into the hotel, but I didn’t take it out once.
Because there is so much time spent driving, we typically did not arrive back into Zamora before sunset, and left just a little after sunrise. So, if you get a late start day (we got one) take advantage of it. I walked to the Puente de Piedra bridge with a friend from class to catch the sunrise. And if you’re not an early riser, it was worth it I promise, it was absolutely beautiful with the rising sun and the quiet city. Plus, we typically had an hour drive each morning to our first destination!
And the wine, so much wine! We visited cellars that were built in the 1700’s and are still being used today, even with brick archways without cement in between. We visited a winery that was dug underground with pickaxes and shovels so largely, an entire city block was then built on top of it (I got the feeling the family sort of owned the town, everyone knew who the owner was when we walked down the street). We stood in fields of goblet trained vines with no other view in sight. We tasted wine everywhere we went, and learned even more. Now, I do not know if in future years if the school will go to the same places, but I have no doubt that no matter where you go, it will be memorable and worth every minute!