Lindsey Spanner is a sophomore studying Communication Studies and Spanish while also pursuing the Writing Certificate. Follow her travels as she visits Toledo, Spain for 10 weeks during Spring Quarter. She can also be found on Twitter, @ListenToLindsey.
It is so hard to believe that my stay here in Toledo is coming to a close. Eight weeks have passed in the blink of an eye! It feels like my first day here was not so long ago, when my host mom showed me around the city and I felt completely overwhelmed by its size and unfamiliarity. I was certain that I would never be able to find my way around! Thankfully, however, things have changed, and I finally feel as if I am a resident here and not a guest. I have adapted well to living in Toledo and almost feel like a local.
Several factors have contributed to this feeling.
First of all, I now know my way around the city. When I first arrived, Toledo was just a maze of winding, narrow streets and brown stone buildings that all looked the same. However, I now not only know how to get from one point to the other within the city, but I also know of several shortcuts to take in order reach my destinations more quickly.
Some of the streets are so narrow!
Secondly, I have become a regular at certain establishments. This is a great feeling, as it makes me feel that I belong somewhere and have a place to call my own, like the locals do. There is one restaurant-bar in particular that my friends and I always frequent, so much so that the employees know us by sight and some of us even by name. Many native Toledanos also frequent this bar, and being able to eat, drink and socialize with them only adds to the feeling of acceptance.
Speaking of food, living here for two months has allotted me the chance to try out different restaurants in order to find my favorites. This is something that ordinary tourists do not have the time to do. For example, I have visited multiple gelato stops to find the best and the cheapest. This is insider knowledge that only a local has time for. (In case you’re wondering, the best flavor I have encountered in Toledo thus far is frutas del bosque, although nothing beats the rose-flavored gelato I had in Rome!)
Enjoying gelato from our favorite stop!
Not only can I get around Toledo on foot, but I can also get around Toledo, and the rest of Spain for that matter, via other modes of transportation. In fact, I feel that I have mastered almost all forms of transportation here. I have become an expert at using the national bus system and local bus system, at traveling on the national train network, at flying in airplanes, at navigating multiple urban metro systems, and at taking taxis. I actually think the only thing I have left to do is travel by boat.
Our first train ride here!
Finally, several tourists have asked me for directions, which makes me feel like a local, or at least that I seem like one to visitors. Moreover, I have successfully been able to give directions to these people! The other day a Spanish tourist asked me for directions to the post office, and I was able to help him without hesitation.
I actually feel like a resident of Toledo now. It’s funny how living here for two months can do that. I definitely feel that getting to know the ins and outs of the city has added to my experience. It’s one thing to visit another country, but it’s another thing to actually feel that you are a part of it, for however little time you may be there.
A view of the city that I’m going to miss so much.