Today’s blog post comes to us from Josh Weaver! The UW-Plateville student is studying abroad with us in Spain this semester. An awesome part of choosing a program provider (like API, if we can so humbly suggest), is that excursions to amazing places like Grazelma, Spain are included in your program cost!
On Friday we were able to take a day trip to the area of Grazelma, Spain.
Our first stop was at a traditional bakery along El Bosque. It is one of the only traditional bakeries left in Spain, using water from El Bosque to turn the mill that grinds the wheat into flour. All of the equipment is authentic used for grinding the flour and separating the flour. The original brick oven is still in a workable condition, but those processes are done with modern ovens.
After grinding the wheat into flour we took it to further separate by hand with trays that had very fine screens in them. The guides there showed us how to properly knead the dough and shape into our desired shapes. The finished product was the best bread I have had yet here (might have been a little bias since I made it).
I’ve mentioned how wine has been/is an important part of culture, though the number one cultural food associated with Spain is bread.
I learned from pre-departure research and from prior classes that bread is considered an important part of the Spanish diet, but it wasn’t until I arrived here I fully understood what the importance. While everything else in Spain has changed with modernization, store bought bread is not common like in the United States. Instead, at every meal I’ve eaten I am fed bread in mini-loaf form that was made within the past couple days at a local bakery. McCafe here also caters to the Spanish breakfast and standard of bread with muffins, croissants, rolls, and other forms of bread.
After making our delicious bread we went on a two hour hike along El Bosque (a river) which runs between the mountains. This area receives the most amount of rain in all of Spain and combined with the beautiful spring weather, everything was in full bloom. As much as I love seeing the historical cities of Spain, I also love nature. Hiking in Wisconsin’s state parks is one of my favorite activities to do during the amable months, so I was thrilled to see some of Spain’s less frequented areas of nature!
As we were going up and down rocks and changing direction due to the challenging landscape, I couldn’t help but think about all the wars that I have been fought over the centuries in difficult locations like Grazalema.
A few years ago I read Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls which is set in Spain’s mountains in the late 1930s during their Civil War. It’s been a lot of the moments like this one that has made appreciate coming to Europe to study abroad so much. As I’ve mentioned before, I love history so being able to visit and see cities and monuments that have hundreds of years of experience is wowing.
We ended the day in the village of Grazalema which is nestled in the mountains. It was nice to see a small village that was for the most part absent of tourists compared to all of Spain’s major cities which attract thousands of visitors every year. Per the recommendation of one of our program leaders, we tried their relatively famous cheesecake made from goat milk. While it had very good texture, as a Wisconsin native I will sticking with cheesecake made with cow’s milk. The flavor was just not what many of us were used to, but I am still glad I had the opportunity to try it!
With now having passed the halfway point of my program, I can see why there is no prime time to return.
On one hand I miss my friends and family, but on the other there is more history to be seen than is possible. As always, I look forward to making the most of what time I have!