Lili S. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Sidwell Friends in Washington, DC
Zaragoza, Spain is an amazing city in so many ways. It feels like the perfect size, it has a beautiful basilica covered in yellow and turquoise tiles, in the middle of old town, which is all cobblestone streets and tiny tapas restaurants. It is set on a river with a running path and great views of the city, parque grande, full of fountains, rose gardens, and amazing coffee. It has energy and excitement, but one thing Zaragoza doesn’t have? Mountains. Being set in basically the middle of a desert, this makes sense, but, seeing as hiking and rock climbing were such a major part of my childhood, I still missed the altitude, the breathtaking views at the top, and the feeling of accomplishment I always felt at the end of a hike.
This is where SYA becomes such a special and once-in-a-lifetime experience: independent travel. For our first independent day of travel, two friends and I went to the pueblo of Riglos, about two hours north of Zaragoza by train, in the Pre-Pyrenees. The gorgeous countryside town has about 250 people, and the tourist attraction is: hiking. Waking up at 6am on a Saturday has never been my ideal start to the weekend, but watching the sunrise over rolling Spanish farmland as the train sped towards the Pyrenees was definitely something I’d consider worth the early morning. As the first breathtaking views of the rocks of Riglos came into view, I could feel the fresh start to swirl around me. The cold air and loud wind added to the feeling of being truly outside, completely surrounded in nature.
As we began the hike, we befriended a native of Riglos, who walked with us part of the way up. He explained that he has walked the same path every day for lunch about 600 times, every Sunday for the past however many years. As we walked alongside him, he told us how to get to the best lookout spots, most of which were a little bit off the main trail. His dedication and incredibly clear love for the rocks was inspiring, and made our hike feel meaningful in a way that I hadn’t expected.
The world is big; people say this so often that I feel like it has sometimes lost its significance, but as I was sitting at the top of the Riglos rocks, and as I sit in San Sebastian, another new city I feel so grateful and excited to explore over the next few days, writing this article, I feel as though I’m finally beginning to grasp how much of this world there is left to explore.
- Campus Reporters
- SYA Spain