Im going to split todays blog in two, this morning we woke up and met my brother for the bus to head to the school he teaches at! We got a little lost and well ended up making him late... sorry!
He teaches at an international school in Alcalá, it is one of the oldest cities in Spain dating back to the 1st Century. We got to hang around his school for about an hour, meeting all the kids and they were the sweetest, most of them middle school age. They were so excited to try their English out and couldn't believe we had travelled all the way from The United States! They were shy and sweet and just perfect.
They let Doug go early, which allowed us to explore this city and its vast history. We first stopped by the house of Cervantes, who wrote Don Quixote, we were able to take a tour of around the house, which was free! The well that he used for water was still standing from the 1500s. They had this amazing bench outside of his house with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza outside cast in bronze. We were trying to get a photo with them but they had a school of kids there and well they were being adorable and climbing all over them! I couldn't help but snag a few photos of their sweet little happy faces!
After that we walked down one of the oldest streets in Alcala, Lining the street there are arcades supported on columns dating from the 19th century. The houses in Calle Mayor have two floors: the ground floor, which was used for the commercial premises, and the upper floor, used as a dwelling.
We turned the corner to the main square, the Plaza de Cervantes and they had kids playing all over and music going, little book stores, monuments and brick roads. All on our way to the University of Alcalá where my brother graduated college! I got an obligatory photo of him in front of the sign!
The buildings and the structures date back to 1293, the University took over in the 70s but keeps everything preserved. He gave a tour around the 800 year old buildings and it was just unbelievable he got to walk these halls everyday for school. The library was originally a chapel and they turned the alter area where they keep the books. We got to walk around the grounds full of perfectly placed pebbles in the walkways that huge 6 foot wide columns lined. It was breathtaking.
After a stroll through the University we picked a few souvenirs up for our mom and headed out to find a good Spanish restaurant for lunch! This is where we encountered our first Spanish English Bulldog and we had to stop and pet her! The owner was so nice for letting us stop to be weirdos. The culture around dogs in Spain is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of ours. People don't acknowledge other peoples dogs, Dogs don't acknowledge anyone but their owners, its as iff they don't exist, but everyone has dogs. Its hard to be an animal lover and restrain yourself from wanting to pet them all, but thats the culture we are in.
We went back to a restaurant not far from Cervantes' house and sat for about 3 hours drinking beers, eating tapas and having a very long Spanish lunch. We were pretty much ready to get up and go after the first hour, but in Spain its common to have a 3 hour lunch.
Off to the train to head back to Madrid where we parted ways with my brother and were on our way to the Reina Sofia!