Once upon a time... 
there was a young girl who went to a land far far away from her own. 

At six feet tall with blonde hair and light eyes, the girl looked nothing like the people around her. 

They stared at her and shouted at her on the street, "¡Rubia! ¡Americana! ¡Hija!" in a language she didn't understand. They spoke very quickly, and insisted on giving her two kisses each time they met.

The people ate strange foods she had never seen, like the ears of pigs. They drank, a lot. Sometimes early in the mornings. And usually until very late at night.

Their towns and cities shut down in the middle of the day. And they walked. Everywhere.

The young girl was very uncomfortable in this land, and cried almost every night wishing she could go back to her own land.

After time had passed, as it always does, the girl began to learn.
She learned the new language. She learned to like strange foods. She learned how to fiesta and how to siesta. She learned how to be comfortable in a land away from her own.

She not only began to learn, but, she began to love. With every new word she spoke, every bite she took, and every step she made, she began to love the new land she was living in.

In a short time, this young girl has turned into a young woman. In her heart, she remembers her old land, and still misses it everyday. 

But today, on this Valentine's day, she is learning and loving, in her new land.
 
 
What makes a vacation?

Relaxation? Adventure?
Is it the weather that's most important? Or the people you are with? The new foods you try? Or maybe your accommodations?
I went to a casa rural over the holidays with Spanish friends. Other than falling in the freezing cold river during a hike (me only, not everyone), we had a wonderful time. 

If you like hiking, beautiful views, skiing in the winter time, and overall just, peace and quiet, this is the place for you. 
La Sierra de Francia is an area in central Spain consisting of many small pueblos. Each day we visited a different area and took in wonderful new sites and adventures.
La Alberca had wonderful cobblestone streets and a tiny tea shop with the best Chai tea I've ever had in my life.
Our rented house was in Mogarraz which was a town in the middle of a hiking trail "El Camino del Agua" and in a perfect secluded location for renting a vacation house.
Béjar is the most beautiful pueblo, situated on a mountainside, covered in snow.
Miranda del Castañar and San Martín del Castañar were two other must-see picturesque villages to visit.
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Beautiful views
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Typical foods in La Alberca
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Mountainside Hiking
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And a little bit of snow! (Well, ice.)
I am a Florida girl, all the way. I love the beach, and I have spent the most part of my childhood covered in sand. 

However, in the middle of Spain, in a rural house surrounded by good friends and beautiful atmosphere, this, for me, was a perfect vacation.
 
 
In the teaching program I am in, I will be re-newing for a second year.
As a second year teacher in the program, I will have priority of my choice of destinations.

My choices are limited to:
ANYWHERE in the entire country of Spain. 

For an American not living in Europe, you make think it's no big deal. But, this is like having a job opportunity in any state, and having to choose just one, when each one is filled with so much different culture. 

Before deciding, I'm doing my research on any and all destinations in Spain. Along with it, I thought I'd give y'all (I'd probably choose a southern state if this was the US....yeehaw!) a little lesson in Spanish geography.
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This is Spain. Member of Europe. Neighbor of France and Portugal. See Italy close by? The boot? And Africa underneath?
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Sidenote: THIS is not Spain. We don't eat spicy foods here. We don't say "¡Ay mamacita!" on the streets. Nobody wears sombreros here (at least not anyone I associate with). And we aren't just over the border from the US.
If you did not know that, please shut down your computer and go buy a map.
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The orange part of this map is Castilla y Leon, Spain. The capital city (and center) of this region is the place where I live now, Valladolid.
Castilla y Leon has rich wine, beautiful cathedrals, and the best, purest form of Castellano Spanish you will ever find.

Salamanca has the prettiest plaza mayor and golden light in the streets. León has history and free tapas. Segovia's castles are breathtaking. And there isn't enough I can say about Valladolid. I really do love my cuidad

The weather is pretty much the opposite of Florida, and the people are said to be frio right along with it. I find this stipulation to be untrue, in general.
Asturias, Galicia, and Cantabria are all in Northern Spain. 

These regions bring fresh seafood and beautiful landscapes. You have the mountains on one side of you while the sea is on your other. It can be rainy at certain times of the year, but when it isn't, the landscape glows with green grass. 
In the south of Spain is Andalucia

When you hear "Spain"...this is what you picture in your head. Or at least I did before I knew my own version.

White houses (no, Americans, not like Obama's). Flamenco. Sangria. And SUN. In summer, it gets up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 
On the east coast of Spain on the Mediterranean cost is Barcelona and the region of Cataluña. 

One of the most famous tourist spots because of its picturesque surroundings. In this region, they speak Catalan in the schools, which is an entire other language. That, I don't know if I'm quite willing to take on.
The Balearic Islands are off that same coast of Spain, situated smack in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

The climate is supposed to be perfect, and the people are said to love fiesta. Ibiza, one of the islands, is a party capital of the world.
The Canary Islands are another option. A popular vacation spot in Spain, off the coast of Africa. And they are just a bit closer to my home in Florida because we both share the Atlantic ocean.

It goes with out saying there is MUCH more to Spain than these few highlights on the map. I haven't even touched on Castilla la Mancha, Extremadura, La Rioja, Madrid, Navara, the Basque Country, Aragon, Valencia, and Murcia.

If you had your choice, how would you choose? The hardest part, is I am not going on a vacation, I am going to live there. 

The first time I came here, I had no other option. The second, I knew where my heart was. 

Now, I'm ready for another year of adventure!

But, where do I go?