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Toledo School Home


My life for the next 3 months

I have finally made it to my grand destination of studying in Toledo, a smallish city about an hour (50 km, but everything in Europe takes forever) south of Madrid.  The city is full of old architecture and still has its outer walls, so there's plenty of cool architecture to see.  Toledo used to be the capital of Spain and its big thing is the mix of the three religions that have been in power here: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  The influence of Christianity and Judaism is evident by the churches and synagogues throughout the city, and there are also Muslim baths and Arabic-style arches all over the place, showing the Islamic side of things.

The Old City

The city itself is a maze of alley-like streets filled with all types of shops, restaurants, pubs, and the occasional plaza, giving a place to sit and relax after all the mountain climbing necessary to get up and down the streets, as the city is very hilly.  As small and maze-like as the streets are, there are still cars that drive up and down them, forcing pedestrians to the side if they don't want to be clipped by the not too pedestrian-conscious drivers.  If the cars stay out of the way, the streets are great for just walking around, as you can keep going for hours and never find yourself in the same place twice.  I have mostly mastered the streets that surround my route from the bus stop to school, but there are still many to go.

My classes are held at La fundación Jose Ortega y Gasset, in what used to be San Juan de la penitencia monastery.  It's nestled snugly in the midst of various intersecting alleyways, as everything in this city seems to be.  Coming up to the building you don't even realize what it is, as the main entrance is off of a plaza down a long alleyway at one end that has a church on one side of it and some other building on the other side.  The school is relatively large, given the space it seems to be squished into, with three floors and extensive living quarters.  Classes are only held between I think four different rooms, since there are only about 80 students and about 20 classes.  There's also a tower with a classroom in the bottom, at about the 4th floor, and then another level one floor up with lots of windows that let you see out over the city.  It's nice, because no one ever seems to be in there so it's a great place to just sit and read a book or something.

Classes just started this week, and they seem like they'll all be good.  I'm taking Spanish Philosophical Thought, Recent Spanish Cinema, Colloquial Spanish, Ethnology and Folklore of the Iberian Peninsula, and another class that meets once a week, the "theory" section of an internship I'll be doing teaching English to elementary school kids, assuming everything goes well.  I am really excited about the internship, but its only drawback is that there's the class once a week that includes weekly assignments, and then the internship itself that requires 7 hours per week, and the class is 3 credits just like all the others.  As far as I can determine, the "theory" section of the internship has nothing to do with teaching an internship in Spain.  The first class we did "ice-breaker" style activities, like turn to your partner and ask them a list of questions, and activities where we have a list of general topics, like common articles of clothing, greetings, or ideas of justice (?),  and for each we give an example of something from our own culture in order that we get through our heads the radical notion that different cultures exist, and Spain is the happy owner of one, although the point wasn't even to talk about Spanish culture.  It's sort of a personal struggle, because the inner pragmatist just wants me to get down the answers, not that we'll ever be tested on them or anything, but some of the topics are very interesting, but it's hard to let myself be interested when they in fact have nothing to do with anything. 

So, here's what my schedule looks like:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
9:00-10:15am   Internship Ethno+Folk Internship
10:15-11:30am Philosophy Internship   Intership
11:30-12:45pm   Internship   Internship
12:45-2:00pm Cinema Colloquial Span Internship Colloquial Span
4:00-5:15 Philosophy   Ethno+Folk  
6:30-7:45pm Cinema (-8:30) Internship class    

There aren't any classes on Friday.  The seven hours of my internship will be split up between two of my free mornings.  My days will be kind of time intensive, but it's not like I will regularly have things to fill in the gaping holes in my schedule during my mornings.  Plus, I'm here to get exposure to and learn Spanish, so it's better if I keep myself busy with that than going off with other Americans when we talk in English half the time anyway.

From the bus stop, which is a 5-10 minute walk from school, the bus gets me to my house in a little over 10 minutes.  I live with a family in Buena Vista, a suburb of the city, in a closed-in living facility of condos and apartments.  It's sort of a shame not to be living in Toledo itself, but I really like my family here.  I have a father, Miguel Ángel; a mother, Noemi; a 19-year-old sister, Lara; an 8-year-old sister, Rebeca; and 2-year-old twins, Miguel and Susana.  My host parents talk sort of fast, so they can be a little hard to understand, but I can usually get the jist of what they're saying, and my comprehension is improving rapidly.  The two older sisters are pretty easy to understand, and while to 2-year-olds are really cute, they have certain peculiarities of their vocabulary and pronunciation that I haven't yet familiarized myself with and can complicate communication at times.

I have my own room and bathroom here, which is really nice and means I don't have to worry about when others want to shower or be in there and everything.  My host mother tidies up my room, which took some getting used to.  She also does my laundry and everything, which is very nice.  I generally eat breakfast and dinner at home on schooldays and also lunch on the weekends, and the meals have all been great so far.  Breakfast isn't usually anything too out of the ordinary, just cereal and juice in the morning.  Lunch is usually a bigger affair with several courses, but I unfortunately miss it most of the time since it's not convenient for me to come home for lunch on days when I have school.   The Fundación gives us the option to have dinner in the cafeteria.  I was a little skeptical about how the food would be, but the food there is quite good so eating there is no problem.  The strangest thing about lunch is that you don't eat it until after 2, and then the siesta goes until about 4.  Many Spaniards sleep a siesta, but my parents told me they don't usually because it's hard with the little kids.  I don't usually because I'm at the Fundación and I can't quite get used to sleeping with a full stomach.  Dinner, which is eaten between 9 and 10, is a little smaller, usually with an omelet and vegetables with maybe meat or something.

Having all the exposure to Spanish has been great, causing my speaking and comprehension to improve rapidly.  It's sort of strange, but it's so much easier to talk in class about philosophy or history or something than to have to explain things in a simple conversation, with all the strange vocabulary and colloquial expressions involved.  One of the most interesting things has been getting to watch Spanish TV.  A significant amount of the programming is dubbed shows and movies from the United States, so I've gotten to see Scooby Doo, The Smurfs, The Bugs Bunny Chase Movie (The part where Daffy Duck is trapped in Bugs Bunny's cartoon had one scream that I'm pretty sure wasn't dubbed, but then the good scream where he tears up all the black matter in an angry fury was dubbed, unfortunately), Demolition Man, Big Fat Liar, and The Lion King.  It's especially interesting to see things where I'm really familiar with the dialogue (like, um, Disney movies), so I can see how they decide to translate things and what they decide to change.  Spanish TV has followed the American trends and consists largely of reality-style shows, with one that's on all the time that's sort of like American Idol.

Wednesday, October
12th, 2005
Today the streets were empty as I made my way to the Fundación in the wee hours of the morn (9:15am).  Today is the first national holiday I have been present for in Spain, Pilar Day.  What does this mean?  The most substantial effect seems to be that all the stores and restaurants are closed and the morning buses come late but make incredible time on their routes do to the lack of anyone needing to be awake so early.  The McDonalds in the plaza Zocodover seems to be open, so I may be making a visit to them later on.

Spain has continued to be good since my last update.  When I came out from class Monday it was raining.  This may not sound too incredible, but it barely ever rains here and it seems the country is in a situation with regard to water, as there just isn't much left here.  I wasn't exactly thrilled to be walking to the bus in the chilliness and rain, but it was great with the water cascading down all the insanely inclined cobblestone streets.

I have been settling into my internship nicely.  I go Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (but not today, because MOST schools are off due to the holiday) and teach 3 Infant Education classes, which is like preschool, and then 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.  I haven't gotten an excellent feel for the different levels of comprehension yet, but I generally talk in English and repeat myself in Spanish for the older kids and for the younger kids it's mostly Spanish with occasional English words thrown in.  I like it a lot, and they tell me I've been doing well.  The only downside is that I have given up being able to sleep in since I have to be somewhere at 9 Tuesday through Thursday, but Monday I have class at 10:15, so that's sort of my sleep in day (and then there's the three-day weekend, I guess).  A group of visitors from the U of M sat in on one of my classes yesterday.  I thought they were coming to inspect my internship or something but I guess they were just were getting a feel for what internships were like.  I was a little nervous, but the lesson went great and they said I did a really good job.

Last Monday we had the pleasure of seeing a solar eclipse that passed over Spain and then went down through Africa, so I'm assuming it was not visible in the United States.  I was in Philosophy, but our professor let us go out in the hallway to look out the windows, and then we went up to the tower where there was already a group of students and a professor who had eclipse glasses.

On Friday we had a tour around the area to follow "The Route of Don Quixote."  It was fun, and we got to see a few pueblos and a castle at the end, which was definitely the high point for me.  I was hoping there would be time at the end to run around the castle, but alas there was none.

The high point of my life over the past week or so (aside from having my internship go awesomely) is getting to watch the Lord of the Rings movies on TV.  They've been playing on Monday nights and it's really interesting to watch movies I'm reasonably familiar with in Spanish.  Return of the King will be next Monday, so I'm pretty stoked.

Anyway, there are more pictures under the picture page but no link specifically to them from this update, so go check them out!

October 17th, 2005
My friends Clarissa, Mindy, and Hannah frequently refer to what they call "the Spanish stare."  This refers, as one might expect, to the way that Spaniards will unabashedly gape at passers-by for as long as they like, regardless of whether the person who they are looking at notices, looks back, waves, or starts yelling (okay, the last one hasn't been thoroughly tested, but they're pretty persistent.
October 18th, 2005
Today at the school where I do my internship my second-grade class had a healthy eating presentation during the first half of the class period I had with them.  I got to go and see it too, and my findings were strange indeed:

The recommended Spanish breakfast consisted of orange juice and little baguettes served with olive oil.  It seemed so weird to me to have that for breakfast, whereas it would be perfectly normal of course to eat something like that in the United States for lunch or dinner (maybe with something else, though, probably not by itself).  The teachers all told me that it's a very Mediterranean thing, and that olive oil is actually better for you than butter, which I hadn't really thought about before but I suppose I'd believe (although whenever I use oil I use way more than I would use of butter, so I think the healthiness may be reduced some).

Next week is midterms week.  This weekend will be a little insane, but I expect everything to go fine.  This week has been hard enough just due to big assignments sneaking up here and there, but it's already mostly over, and tonight there will be volleyball, which is a good time.

October 31st, 2005

Pumpkin Pictures

Portugal Pictures

Midterms have come and gone without too many surprises.  The tests all pretty much went as expected, so the minimal pre-test freaking out that occurred was for the most part unnecessary.  Perhaps there will be some surprises this week when we start getting tests back, but let's hope not.  Being the week before Halloween, the great American holiday, my teaching sessions were mercifully spent carving pumpkins, the most interesting part of Halloween I could think to share with the kids.  I explained to them all the steps to a properly carved pumpkin, and after cutting out the top I let them all scoop out a handful of seeds (some of them didn't want to at first, but after everybody else did I think everybody wanted in on it.  There were echoes of "¡Qué asco!" or "gross!")  They were really impressed with the final products.

As a post-test week relaxation, I took a trip with Margaret, Leah, and Zlata to Portugal, the land of ornate tiling, port wine, and roosters.  It was all great, but we did have to deal with a bit more rain than I would have preferred.

The action started Thursday night, when we met at the train station around 8 and got to Madrid around 9.  We found a place to eat dinner and had a last-minute dash through El corte inglés to get some ice cream (the dash was actually only me... they closed just as we stepped up to the entrance but let me in and told me to hurry, so I was running around trying to find ice cream and plastic spoons in probably the largest grocery store I've ever been in, but boy did I get the job done.).  The bus for Lisboa left at 11 and provided minimal opportunity for sleeping.

We arrived around 7 on Friday morning and set out into the dimly lit streets of Lisboa to find our hostel.  A man near the metro stop offered us directions and eventually we found the place.  We were let in but it was too early for us to check in, so we had to leave until 12:30.  We spent our time walking around and exploring the city, which is awesome.  It's right on the river Tejo where it drains into the ocean and the city is full of ornate tilings and awesome little old cobblestone streets.  Things seem for the most part to have been cheaper there than in Spain, and there was just a really cool atmosphere all around.

When it was about time to go back we kept our eyes out for a restaurant since we were all starving, and we found a little place that had a super-good 5E lunch (except for the pork in the main course... the meat still had the skin, and from the look of things it had been one hairy pig... it was best not to look at it).  It was taxing trying to order and speak in Portuguese, but I got through it okay (the Portuguese understand Spanish, but there are some cultural tensions there so it's best not to use it).  After lunch we were able to go back to the hostel and sleep for a few hours before going out again Friday night.  We walked around the north-eastern part of the city, which we hadn't been through yet, and it did not fail to please.  Leah and Zlata really wanted Coke Light (Diet Coke in European) but as no stores seemed to have it we went to a McDonalds in one of the big plazas that happened to be one of the coolest McDonalds ever.  There were even computers upstairs, and I really wanted to use one to send an e-mail or something, just so I could tell someone I was on a computer at McDonalds in Lisboa, but I think they had been shut down for the evening.  Either that or they required payment, but if so I wasn't interested in finding out.  We continued on walking for a bit and then headed back to the hostel.

On Saturday we went to Sintra, which is a town about 45 minutes from Lisboa by train.  Item one on our list was to see Castelo da pena, a sort of Disney-esque castle located a hearty uphill walk from the center of the city.  The walk was on a road that went through the woods, and due to the strange weather situation there was fog everywhere.  Without the cool temperature the walk would have been agonizing, but the fog made the overlooks from so high in the mountains slightly unexciting.  I got a lot of pictures, but from most of them you can tell that you wouldn't be able to see more than about 100 feet in any direction. The castle was great, and on the walk back to the city we decided to take an alternate route that went through a little town.  It was very lucky, because it started raining just as we got in the little town, and before becoming totally sodden we found a little cafe that had good soup and sandwiches in addition to an assortment of amazing pastries.  We were originally sold by an old woman standing in the doorway who told us that it was cheaper and better than the place across the street, and the place did not fail to please.  It was very un-touristy and inexpensive, and the Portuguese crowd didn't seem to mind us staying there, waiting out the rain.  By the time we had finished the rain had for the most part stopped.  Having decided that we had seen everything we wanted to, we went back to the train station and caught the next train back to Lisboa.

Our bus back to Madrid left Lisboa at 9:30 on Sunday morning, so after some minor confusion regarding where our bus actually was we made it with plenty of time, got some snacks, and settled in for the 10 hours until we reached Madrid.  Overall, what I saw of Portugal was great, so hopefully I'll be able to go back some time.  I guess my 90 day no-visa stay is running out though (I have until some time at the end of November), so pretty soon my excursions will be strictly confined to within-Spain travels.

November 1st, 2005

Halloween Pictures

Last night the Fundación threw a Halloween bash for all of us.  It was a good time, and everyone was very creative about getting costumes together, considering the very limited resources available.  Some of the highlights were the Don Quixote band, made up of Lacey as the Don, Stacey as Sancho, and Michael as Dulcinea.  There was a group of Fanta girls, and also a band of witches about.  Danny and Ted, dressed as players from Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, respectively, and with a broomstick connecting one arm of each, came as a foosball players.  The cooks made hamburgers and hot dogs, giving us a truly authentic American holiday.  The place was also thoroughly decorated with pumpkins and other Halloween accouterments, so it was just like being back at home.
November 8th, 2005

Madrid Pictures

I went to Madrid this weekend with Hannah and Mindy to see a real European football game.  We spent some time lounging about the city before the game in parks and museums.  Mindy got some canned meatballs at the grocery store that turned out to not be so great when eaten right out of the can in a park, so we got in some pre-game footwork rolling the can down the sidewalk.  The game itself was really fun.  As one might imagine, Spaniards get really into the sports here.  The game was Real Madrid versus Zaragosa, and since everyone had been telling me that Zaragosa was terrible I assumed the game would be no sweat (I decided to support Madrid, since Toledo is sort of near Madrid, although in an entirely different province since Madrid, being the capital, gets its own).  The game turned out to be sort of frustrating, however, since no one scored until there were 20 minutes remaining, when Madrid got a goal on a penalty.  I was later told that Madrid was playing without several key players, and David Beckham was playing injured, so I guess they would have gotten a few more goal with everybody there.
November 13th, 2005

Segovia: Day 1

Segovia: Day 2 

The weather here has turned rather frosty, and as Spain lacks the metaphysical barrier of Thanksgiving to usher in the Christmas season (although I realize it doesn't stop most department stores), Christmas stuff has started popping up everywhere.  The advantage of the cold is that should you have the misfortune to step in any of the animal excrement that no one decides to pick up, you are now more likely to roll off and land on your backside than walk away, cursing yourself for the new smell you've picked up.

On Friday we had our last of the four day trips of the semester, which was to Segovia.  Segovia is like a bigger and more cosmopolitan version of Toledo.  We started at the Alcazar (or rather at the bottom of a big hill at the top of which was the Alcazar), which is an incredible old castle.  I was thinking of Sleeping Beauty the whole time.  The castle had a fire some time ago, so all the stuff in it is actually of the correct time period and style, but taken from other places.  After the Alcazar we walked through the town to the aqueduct, where we spent some time before continuing to the restaurant where we ate lunch.  There we witnessed several times the Segovian tradition of roasting whole pigs, bring it out into the dining room, cutting into it with the not-so-sharp side of a dinner plate, and then smashing the plate on the floor.  We asked one of the teachers sitting at a table adjacent to ours what this was for, and he told us that they cut it with a plate to make sure it's really done and that the outside is crispy, and then they smash it for good luck or something.  After eating we were turned loose, and since I was staying until Saturday with Hannah, Clarissa, and Mindy, we went off to find a hostel.  That night we met up with Clarissa's friend Rick, who is studying in Segovia, and we hung out for a bit.

On day two we saw a few more things, walked around a bunch (although we didn't end up walking to the end of the aqueduct where it runs into the ground, after learning that that was about 11km away).  Around noon we took the bus back to Madrid, and then it was back to Toledo.  Included in the Saturday pictures are some pictures of the Cathedral here in Toledo I took this evening.

November 25th, 2005

November and some Thanksgiving pictures

Did anyone notice that this past Sunday marks one month until my return to the US?  Of course you did.  It's really strange to think the time has gone by so fast, which it continues to do and will most likely do long after I get back.

Yesterday was, as I am sure many of you probably noticed, Thanksgiving, and the Fundación had a special dinner for us.  The day itself was really strange, since if I were in Minnesota I would have (first off not have had class,) sat around all morning, watched the parade, probably cleaned some and helped with some preparations of the feast, and then eaten in the afternoon.  The Spanish version of my holiday was: get up at 8, go to teach English at 9, have my only class of the day at 12:45, have lunch at 2, hang around until dinner at 8:30 (8:30!  We were probably eating at the same time as a good percentage of the citizens of the United States, given the 7 hour difference).  The dinner only failed to please in that there was no pumpkin pie, but the turkey was good, the stuffing (the most important part) was a bit over seasoned but yummy nonetheless, the potatoes and gravy were good, and there was a not bad bean in creamy sauce thing that was also good.  The dessert was a sort of apple cobbler thing that was very good, but I was hoping for pumpkin pie.  My host parents told me that pumpkin is not such a strange flavoring here, because there's a type of filling for pastries called "pelo de angel" ("angel hair") that is made from pumpkin.  It sounds interesting, so I'll have to track some down.  There are some pictures of my room and various things, my classes yesterday, and then Thanksgiving.

November 26th, 2005

The University and the city

Last night I went to a class at the University of Toledo with my conversation partner, so I put up some pictures of that (don't be frightened, it really is a university).  Today I walked through the city a bit and took some pictures, so that's about it.
December 8th, 2005

Christmas memories

Well it's been awhile, hasn't it?  This afternoon I had my last final, meaning the semester is officially over!  It's sort of weird, especially since I won't be going home for another 2 weeks or so.  The atmosphere around here is sort of weird, since everything's suddenly over, people are antsy to go home, and lots of people are leaving.  I myself am super excited to come

We have finally gotten down to the last week of classes, which means both that next week is finals and that this week is the last week for me to do my internship.  I said goodbye to my first three classes today, each of whom surprised me with cards and gifts.  When we finally got around to class time we talked about some Christmas vocabulary and traditions.  In Spain, the feast of the Three Wise Men is the tradition, and it's celebrated on January 6th.  They have Santa Claus (or "Papa Noel," as they call him) in some families, but it's more of a borrowing from the US.  On Wednesday we talked more about Christmas stories and I made some videos of those.  I tried to provide a transcript where I could, but on some of them I just give a basic idea where there's too much that I'm not sure about.  It occurs to me now that the majority of these videos are in the 15-20 megabyte range, so not only will they take a long time for you to download, but they'll take me even longer to upload.  I'm uploading by size now, so the smallest ones are currently found here, here, and here (these are still 8, 5, and 4 megabytes respectively).  More should be coming in the following days.

So I have yet to solidify my traveling plans, but all of Spain is my oyster.  I of course can't leave since I don't have a visa so if I do leave I wouldn't be allowed back, and my flight home is out of Madrid.

December 10th, 2005





That last update from Thursday ended up a little rushed.  By the time I get this update posted hopefully I will have made some more progress in getting the rest of the videos up (although seeing as they're all huge I'll probably only do them after everything else, and yesterday had lots of videos too so it's possible that last Wednesday will have to wait), and I have now made galleries for all my pictures taken within the last two weeks, with one day of pictures being previous to the the one uploaded in the last update just to keep things exciting.

To recap the activities of my hermit-like lifestyle... Last week, as I previously mentioned, was the last week of classes and the last week of teaching English.  On Tuesday I had both fifth grade sections and one of the second grade, all of whom surprised me with nice little gifts and cards.  We talked about Christmas vocabulary and songs, and there's a video of one class singing "Jingle Bell Rock."

On Wednesday I had my last third and fourth grade sections, which I mentioned in the previous update.  The videos are of the third graders and the rest of the pictures in that section were me being bored at the bus stop that night.

On Thursday I had my last classes in the preschool building.  We got to play games for the whole class in honor of my last day, and I also got a sash with my name on it from one class and a crown from another, the honors generally reserved for birthdays.

The weekend was a frenzied time for everyone, with the trepidation of the rapidly approaching finals competing with the mounting feelings of apathy after being away from home so long.  I have about a month and a half on everybody else though, so they've got nothing to complain about.  No, I'm just kidding, I strongly empathize and I will be so happy to finally get home, a short 10 days from now.  The amount of general studying seems to imply that apathy was the winner, which set us all up for a thrilling first few days of the week.  I had two finals on Monday and then a 10 page paper for my (more than moderately irrelevant) internship "theory" class that was due on Tuesday to add in to the fun.  Tuesday I had a break and then Wednesday and Thursday one each, so that wasn't so bad.  On Wednesday I also went back to the school where I was teaching English to talk to the professors for a bit and say goodbye, which was nice. 

We celebrated the end of the week by going out for Chinese food on Thursday night.  A lot of the students partied all night long, but I had been feeling a little sick earlier in the week, so none of that for me.  Everyone has been leaving now to go home or for more traveling before going home.  As for me, I'll probably hang around Toledo until next Wednesday doing all the touristy stuff I haven't done the entire time I've been here and getting myself nice and ready to go home.  Next Wednesday is a sort of regroup day at the Fund, where most people will be meeting back there for a bus to take us to Madrid, correlating to the different group flights.  I haven't quite figured out my schedule beyond that.

With regards to the new pictures, I have to go and my picture program won't make the main indexes, but since the galleries are already uploaded, the links are all under the date for this entry.

December 12th, 2005
Right now for
St. Paul, MN

Feels Like

Updated Dec 12 06:30 p.m. Local Time

Right now for
Toledo, Spain

Feels Like

With only 8 days remaining, it's time to start facing the bitter reality of being back in Minnesota weather.  Not to say that it's 80 with sunshine here, but it's a little warmer and there's no snow, so it doesn't really fit my idea of winter.  That, and this evening I couldn't keep myself from getting hot while walking here.  I tried everything modesty permiting, taking off my coat and everything (just my coat actually, not my shirt or anything, as people probably thought I was crazy enough as it was), but I was still hot.  It was actually really frustrating.

I got my train ticket and booked a hostel for Salamanca today, and last night I talked with my host parents about what to do in and around Salamanca.  I have four days there, and it's a pretty small city, so I'm going to hang around there for the first two days and then visit some pueblos in the vicinity on the last two days.  I'll be in Madrid and possibly Toledo if I need to come back for anything on the 19th, spending the night in Madrid before flying home on the 20th.  It's going to be nice to get back to my crazy traveling days for at least a little bit before coming home.

I've been updating videos sort of like crazy, but there's still a ways to go.  There's a particular issue with the gallery generator I've been using that you may have noticed, which is that first off there are no comments under the thumbnails of video files, and secondly that if you click on the thumbnail of a video file you go directly to the video file, rather than to the slide page, as you do for photos (there is the way around this, which is to click on a photo thumbnail, going to a photo's slide, and then using the "Previous/Next Image" buttons to get to the videos' slides, allowing you to see the caption).  I have been updating these pages manually to make the video thumbnails link to their slides, but so far I've only done 2005_11_30 and 2005_12_09, both of which were pretty video-intensive days.  I hope you're enjoying the videos!  If you're feeling daunted by the quantity and download time, this one and this one are fun choices from the first date, and this one and this one are fun choices from the latter.

December 13th, 2005

Yesterday's adventures

Yesterday I managed to complete several key tasks, getting my Salamanca tickets and reserving my hostel, as well as checking several people off the gift list.  I walked around the city a bit, playing around by a bridge and then the city walls where I discovered you can walk around on top, just as a guard would no doubt have done in days of yore.  There's a virtual montón of pictures.

So it's finally my last night in Toledo.  I said goodbye to my family earlier and hauled my overstuffed and poorly organized bags over the the Fundación, where I was instructed to spend the night so I'll be here for the 7am bus tomorrow to Madrid.  At Madrid I'll be storing my suitcases, still in the process of being repacked and organized, before continuing on to Salamanca for five nights, returning to Madrid for a night, and then heading home.  It's going to be a crazy several days and I'm sure it will be over before I know it, but it'll be a good time.

This will probably be the last update for awhile... perhaps when I return to Madrid on the 19th and get my computer back I will post more pictures, but if not, see you in Minnesota!