Last Sunday I left Madrid for the town/monument of El Escorial, then hightailed it out to the university town of Salamanca. The weather alternated between grey clouds and rain and blazing sun. It was fun to see the University (founded in 1218) but I got bored being on my own and nabbed an 8 hour bus ride to here. On the ride down I sat next to Patricia, a Spanish girl going to visit her sister. They helped me find a hostal for the night and we made plans for later that night.
Hostal searching is pretty much the same everywhere. There are a large concentration of hostals in the same section of town, usually the oldest or most interesting section. The hostals are mostly full by late afternoon, but a lot of travelers don't hit town until the evening. So, you'll see a lot of people, looking tired and disheveled, trooping about town with their nose in a guidebook (usually Lonely Planet) and going from one hostal to the next. Later in the evening you'll see small groups of rejected backpackers resting in doorways, their backpacks to the side, as they try to figure out where to go next. Not that there is nowhere to stay, just that there is nowhere cheap left to stay. At least, not for one or two people. Often, you can team up with other travelers to get a triple, which are harder for the hostals to fill (and thus available until later in the night).
I ended up in a triple with a Tomasso, a guy from Italy, and Rayanne, the girl from Seattle. After dinner, we all got together with Patricia and some other Spanish girls, and another backpacker couple, and hit the town.
There aren't a lot of historical sights in Seville, but there is a lot of ambience. After touring the Alcazar and the Cathedral (the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, BTW), there isn't much else for a tourist to do other than enjoy the city, eating tapas and exploring the streets and practicing Spanish on unsuspecting strangers. Well, it's enough...
Even though I'm have no classes anymore, I think my Spanish is getting a little better. I find myself having to practice what little I do know, and some things are becoming a little bit clearer (still not sure about the difference between 'por' and 'para', though). I can actually carry on whole conversations in Spanish, albeit very simple ones. Last night I was talking to a girl who didn't know any English at all and we managed to communicate alright. It's a lot of fun.
I think tomorrow I'll swing south towards Algeciras. It should be a good base for exploring Gibralter and perhaps Morocco. I haven't decided if I want to go to Morocco yet; maybe I can make it a day trip. We'll see...
I should have Internet access again in Malaga, maybe by next Wednesday. ¡Hasta luego everybody!