November 09 2016
The WiFi gods have struck again and decided to abandon us, hence my lack of beyond intriguing stories. No, but seriously Spain, get it together with the WiFi sitch. It’s getting old.
Olite is a small medieval town about 35 minutes from Calahorra by car. I had never heard of it until my roommate Sara mentioned the castle. And then later when some of the English teachers here decided to take a trip to visit it.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. Castle, small town, the adorable quaintness of it all in my mind… but it was so much more than that.
The castle was built over the remains of an ancient Roman fortress and underwent changes during the 13th and 14th centuries. You can still see parts of the Roman fortress on the far side of the castle. Though you can’t step inside them, as the structure is unsafe. It was used as the high seat of the Kings of Navarre, and was once considered one of the most luxurious castles in Europe.
Unfortunately (and I was very upset by this fact), it was set on fire in 1813 to stop the French troops from holing up in the castle during their retreat. Cue the destruction of amazing furniture, wall-hangings, and history. I swear. Restoration of the castle occurred in 1937 to recreate the lost glory of the castle, but minus the trappings.
Because of this restoration, almost the entire castle is able to be traversed. This includes many climbs to high watch towers and the central tower. From the top, we were able to see some spectacular views, including an old monastery to the right of the castle, the still medieval looking town of Olite, and the setting sun when the day finally came to a close.
Exploring castles is one of my favorite things to do in Europe. It’s amazing to witness the beauty and time spent on these structures, and to appreciate the intricacy of an idea come to life. We don’t make structures like the Romans and Europeans used to. Their structures are made to last, and when you witness pieces of that kind of history its like stepping back in time.
The pictures don’t do it justice, especially once the sun began to set and it hit off the light stone beautifully.
It´s these kinds of trips that make the long weekends, but also the hard weeks worth it. This past week my classes behaved horribly. Maybe it´s something in the air, or simply the changing of season, but the amount of screaming and carrying on was overwhelming. There is a very different kind of cultural acceptance on how to behave here in Spain then in the States. Here, telling a class to hush up a hundred times in one hour is perfectly normal. The kids are in and out of their seats, pulling at your arm, begging for your attention. Loud noises and throwing of objects is commonplace. And sometimes it all becomes too much.
I don´t have a teaching degree, and so perhaps the chaos seems more to me because I've never experienced it, and most days I just have to laugh. And the laughter just eggs them on to behave more terribly, which is ridiculous and hilarious all at once.
In other news, I’m heading to Ireland for this coming long weekend. I am so pumped to see a familiar face and explore the great Isle once more.
In order to get there I must take a bus to Logrono this evening to catch a 1 AM bus to Madrid. It will arrive at the airport at 6:15 and my flight to Ireland is later that morning. Suffice it to say, the art of traveling is hindered a lot by my location, but I´m thinking the sacrifice is worth it.